Last week I discussed falling in love with food, tradition, and how each bite we take feeds our bodies, allowing them to do amazing things. It’s not necessarily what we eat that makes us unhealthy, but how we eat and view food. This week, I want to discuss something that I wish would trend: love your body.
The beauty, plastic surgery, cosmetic, health and nutrition industries have made self-hate their bottom line. Here are just a few headlines I’ve scooped up from 2018 articles (keep in mind, we’re just 10 days into the New Year).
- 57 Ways to Lose Weight Forever, According to Science
- 32 Ways to Reverse Holiday Weight Gain in Just One Week
- The Skinny on Holiday Weight Gain
- Weight-Loss Solutions for the New Year
- New Year’s Weight Loss Tips – Ways to Keep the Pounds Off
- New Year’s Resolution: Lose Weight and Get in Shape
This happened with a quick Google search. And as much as I promote fitness and health, I don’t doubt that we are feeding billion-dollar industries at the price of millions of people’s self-esteem and real health. When we focus on weight and numbers, we’re losing the big picture of what health means. Numbers are arbitrary and, contrary to what the industries sell that thrive on us wanting to be that “perfect” wrinkle-free size, health can come in every size, every color, every shape, and at every age.
So, this week, in my month of New Year’s resolutions, as a registered dietitian and personal trainer, I want you to resolve to love your body. This doesn’t mean you won’t want to find ways to be healthier. It simply means you value your body and its incredible attributes. When you truly do that, finding a healthier path to eating better and exercising is pretty easy.
So, here are five tips to truly start to value YOU and your beautiful self. It’s time to build you and your family’s body self esteem.
- Don’t diet. Live. Diet implies sacrifice, pain, and punishment. All of the headlines focused on losing that “unwanted” holiday weight. Certainly, we all indulged over the holidays, but food and health isn’t a crime and punishment relationship. In fact, as Linda Bacon says, when we value our bodies, all bodies, it’s the first step toward “compassionate self-care.”
- Watch your language! Kids catch on quick to what parents value. When Moms and Dads talk about fat and thin, diets and weight, children are more likely to be highly self-critical. This can be a slippery slope to body image problems and disordered eating. Here are some ways to talk about weight in positive ways to children:
• Always talk about health, not weight.
• Getting healthy is always an option.
• Don’t criticize or compare.
• Don’t put foods or activities on the naughty/nice list.
- Write it down. Take a long hard look at yourself and write down five things you love about your body. Yes. Five. Do you love your freckles? Do you love that you can walk anywhere you want? Do you love your arms so you can hug your children? Every time you think about another thing to love, write it down. Do not write down negatives.
- Put down the magazines, turn off the TV. Photoshop, makeup artists, special effects, and really tiny or freakishly in-shape actors are what we see every day. But in no way does the media mirror the reality of American men, women, and children. At all. Without being critical, notice the shapes and sizes of the people you work with, people at the grocery store and supermarket. I’d venture to say none of them look like Thor or Wonder Woman. There are so many ways to be beautiful and healthy. You’re one of them.
- Give yourself time. It takes so much time to construct a healthy body image, support the ones you love, and really become an advocate for health. We’ve been inundated by such negative messages for decades, it will take time to peel them away. So, please, give yourself time to nudge away the negative thoughts and really love your body.
Being kind and compassionate toward your body and the bodies of others are critical first steps toward making this resolution happen. I’m an advocate for Linda Bacon’s HAES – Health at Every Size. She writes, “Imagine a world where all bodies are valued and all people are supported in compassionate self-care.”