By Cecelia Smith
The food guilt, the negative self-talk, the still ill-fitting clothes—diets can do a number on your self confidence, especially when your goal seems forever-plus-10-pounds away.
But wanting to lose weight doesn’t mean you have to hate your body now. In fact, studies suggest self-love may be integral to your success; diets that lack self-compassion often lead to “emotional” eating, elevated stress levels and stalled weight loss. So how can you love and nurture your body as a work of art while it’s still a work in progress? We reached out to a handful of body image experts for some tips to love away the pounds:
Think: Instrument, not Ornament.
“Realize first that you are awesome. You should be doing these things—eating well and working out—because you love your body and you want to become a stronger, more awesome version of yourself. When it comes to working out, put the focus exclusively on what your body can do, and be proud of its abilities. Strive to improve your performance each workout, because when you change your focus from what you weigh to what your body can do, you’ll achieve the weight loss results you want while improving your self-confidence, and become a more awesome version of yourself. Do these things, and you can be happy today; you won’t have to wait until you achieve your weight loss goals.” — Nia Shanks, Coach, Health & Fitness Writer, and Leader of the Lift Like a Girl revolution
Wallow in a hot bath.
“A hot bath is one of the simplest expressions of self love and care. Skinny dipping in the privacy of your own bathroom clears the mind, soothes sore muscles, and releases pleasure-giving endorphins. It’s a sensual pause from the stress of our daily lives; a hotspot for indulging our bodies, minds and appetites for pleasure—calorie-free! So grab the bubble bath, some extra-large fluffy towels, a candle, and a “do-not-disturb” sign, and draw yourself a steamy tub of 20-minutes peace. The kids can wait. (Think: Pretty Woman bubble-bath scene.)” — Melissa Milne, Author of The Naughty Diet
Practice journaling words of self compassion.
“Only when you love your body will you truly nourish it and care for it the way you need to in order to lose weight healthfully, without gaining it back. One simple way to start this process is to write in a ‘self compassion journal.’ Every morning you’ll write down 3 things about yourself that you think are fabulous–one physical trait and two character or personality traits. The more you write, the more you’ll be open to love and compassion towards yourself.” — Neghar Fonooni, Fitness & Lifestyle Coach, and Author of the Lean & Lovely Program
Get outside your comfort zone.
“Do things that challenge you physically! It can be as simple as going for a run or as extreme as taking a kiteboarding lesson. When you do something challenging, your mind automatically shifts to being present; and when you are present, there’s no judgement. Now you can enjoy the strength of your body and feel connected to it. How do you feel after a challenge? Like a winner! And that’s exactly the mindset that will boost your self confidence.” — Jill de Jong, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and Founder of Models Do Eat
Request love notes.
“Positive affirmations can help to boost your confidence, but they can sometimes be hard to use when you feel at odds with your appearance. Turn the idea on its head a bit. Look in the mirror. If you are having trouble saying anything kind about yourself or your body, ask those you love to help you! Request notes from your best friends, your parents, your siblings, and anyone else whose opinion can lift you. Post these notes on your mirror and read them out loud each day. Allow their words to become your own!” — Dr. Robyn Silverman, Body Image Expert, Author of Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It
Adopt a weight-loss mantra.
“You can still love your body while working towards weight loss by coming up with a phrase that’s personal to you—something like, “I feel stronger and healthier every day that passes”—that you can think to yourself when negative thoughts about your appearance or progress start to creep in. Repeating this phrase to yourself can help you to de-stress and focus on the positive aspects of your weight loss journey. I like to take a full inhale, and then repeat the phrase to myself in my head as I exhale. Let it all go …” — Jen Comas Keck, NASM Personal Trainer, and Owner of Beauty Lies In Strength
“Learning to put yourself first is an important part of your weight loss journey. Treating yourself to a massage, manicure, pedicure, or simply a new lipstick can work wonders in lifting your mood, and also provides an alternative to rewarding yourself with food. Remember that self care is not selfish! When you take steps to pamper your body, you’ll feel more beautiful, more confident and more able to share yourself with others.” — Keri Gans, RDN, Author of The Small Change Diet
Celebrate small accomplishments.
“Viewing health behaviors as an act of self-care is essential. Begin taking notes on a daily basis, noting positive behaviors and what you’d like to accomplish or continue tomorrow. For example: Today I was happy that I got to step away from my desk and eat lunch. I was more mindful with my food and got to read a chapter in my book. I felt more upbeat and productive the rest of the afternoon. I hope to do that again tomorrow and plan a balanced dinner…” — Leslie P. Schilling, MA, RDN, CSSD, LDN, and Creator of Your Supper Solution