Celebrate Your Body

If I asked you to stand in front of a full-length mirror and state three things you liked about your body what would happen? Could you do it? Would you be pulled to notice what you do not like and struggle to compliment yourself? For those of us who grew up in the “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” era this simple question can feel like I am asking you to instantly speak a foreign language. And in a way it is. We were not taught to think or speak kindly of our bodies and sadly society still reinforces the idea that we should look a certain way. The critic in our minds seems to also subscribe to this idea despite all the positive messaging to the contrary these days. 

One of the best parts of living in or visiting this valley is that no matter where you go you will see active people of all sizes, in all seasons. Confirmation bias may convince us to only look for bodies that fit that “ideal type” we have cultivated in our minds, often based on photoshopped images. It is time to break free from this conditioning and here are a few ways to start that process:

Talk to your friends. Find a friend you trust and voice your critical thoughts about your body and habits with them. Giving voice to the thoughts allows you to hear out loud the things you would never say to someone else. It also strengthens common humanity in sharing struggles we all face. 

No one is thinking about you the way your critic tells you they are. Honestly your friends are not thinking, “oh man look at the size of her, there is no way I am going out with her.” They just aren’t. And on the rare chance they are, it is time to find new friends. Do not allow others in your life to make comments on your body, fat shame you, or monitor your food intake or exercise. Even subtlety these behaviours can cause significant damage. You are worth so much more than this, you beautiful human. 

Stop celebrating weight loss when you speak to others. This a tough one. The problem with saying, “you look so great” or “wow you lost weight” is that we grow to depend on this as external motivation for our behaviours and it can be reinforcing in a negative way. For example, did you used to hear these things and now you do not? How does that feed the critic? Or are you driven to exercise to get these compliments? If you notice that someone has made a change in their eating habits or exercise habits instead of commenting on them, ask questions, something like, “Hey I noticed you have been walking more, how does that make you feel? What is the best part about it?” This has two impacts: It promotes intrinsic evaluation of our behaviours and it promotes a conversation of what we are doing and how it makes us feel, not how we look. Please remember you never know why someone lost or gained weight, life events and stress can have a huge impact on our bodies, be aware of what you are complimenting and offer support as needed. 

Celebrate your body. Seriously, our bodies work so hard for us every single day. Imagine being 99 and looking back at your life and remembering all the times you didn’t dance, swim, or participate in something you really wanted to all because of a belief that others would judge your body. It is time to live life in our bodies as they are and do all the things they are made to do! 

The content provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you find yourself in distress, please reach out to your local physician who can provide mental health resources in your community.