“I’m too fat.”
“I need to get rid of my muffin top.”
“Why can’t I have abs like her?”
“Look at that girl lifting weights, I hate her.”
“Why don’t my legs look like that?”
“You’re too skinny, it’s gross.”
“You’re too fat, it’s gross.”
“I am not strong enough.”
“How do I get a thigh gap?”
“Maybe if I skip this meal my abs will look better.”
“Guys will like me more if I look like her.”
“I hate my face.”
“Do you think I’ll get more attention if I dress like that?”
Body image. We all deal with it. I have never met anyone who is 100% happy with their body or the way they look. The issue is that people are taking their body image issues to the extreme. Above are all things that I have heard in recent weeks. Some are friends describing themselves and some are snippets of conversation I have overheard on campus, at work, and at the gym. I am not going to pretend that I have not had similar thoughts. Some days I wake up completely unsatisfied with my appearance. This is an issue that cannot be ignored though. . Imperfection is unattainable, our society has created this list of ideals for perfection that are constantly changing and completely unrealistic for those of us out here in the ‘real world’. These ideals cause insecurities, they cause raised expectations, and in some cases they cause us to harm ourselves in the process of obtaining them. I would not expect anyone to be perfectly happy with themselves every day, but I want to shed some awareness on how to be happier in your own skin. I’m not a professional, these are simple tips that I have picked up myself. I have posted this blog in hopes of reaching someone or encouraging someone because I feel that there is no greater reward than feeling happy in your own skin no matter what.
FIND SOMETHING POSITIVE ABOUT YOURSELF EVERYDAY
Do not let a day pass without pointing out something you like about yourself each day. Maybe you wake up and love the way your hair looks. Or that outfit is killer. Perhaps you’ve excelled at the liquid liner finally! Something as small as your smile looks brighter today. Force yourself to find the good things about your image rather than allowing your mind to slip straight to negative thoughts. After a while of consciously searching for the good, it will come naturally. You will start to pick out your assets without even considering it. This is a great place to start. In a world that teaches us to hate our bodies, love yours. Ignore others as they harp on about what they need to change and feel confident in you. Treat yourself with respect and that will attract positive attention towards you.
IF YOU DON’T LIKE IT, CHANGE IT
So you think you need to lose weight? Okay, sit down at your computer, carve out a specific time each day to exercise. You don’t need a gym membership, go on youtube or pinterest to search home exercises. Yoga and Pilates are my go to home workouts because all you need is you and a mat or some carpeting. Plan your meals well, grocery shop with a meal planner so you are only getting what you know you are supposed to eat. I have a bad habit of snacking so I have to even plan out snacks or I’ll end up with a face full of fudge cake (which may or may not be happening as I write this). You don’t like your hair? Fine, go get it cut or dye it, maybe mix it up a little. There are plenty of tutorials on youtube to show you how to try different styles. There are no limits, if you want to see change in yourself, go out and make that change happen. That is not to say that if you think you need to lose weight you should do so dangerously. Work hard and reap the reward. Don’t hold yourself back. Set goals, meet them. Set goals, don’t meet them, set them again. There is no failure, just trial and error until you find the method that works for you.
YOU ARE YOU, NOT SOMEBODY ELSE
The sooner you realize that you are an individual, the better off you will be. Someone at the gym may have very defined abs, your body simply may never do that no matter how hard you work. Genetics is a big factor in how you are going to look. Understand that, come to terms with it, set realistic goals. You want a flat stomach, okay, find a fitness plan that works for you. Use others as inspiration, not goals. Thigh gaps or genetic, defined abs are not conducive to all body types, hips are going to exist no matter what you do, and you may not ever be able to fully eliminate the muffin top. Be healthy, respect your body, but most importantly BE YOU. Love your body the way it is, love it as you work to change it (if that’s what you are trying to do), and love it as you reach your goals. Your goals are your own, nobody else’s. This has been a big lesson for me as I’ve gotten more and more into my yoga practice. I want to jump on my mat and be able to do a handstand or a flying crow because I saw someone on Instagram do it. I’m simply not there yet, I’m still working on strength and the core components leading up to those poses. Coming to terms with that has been frustrating, but I am learning to ease my body into things one day at a time. I am at a different place than others, but I use them as goals. I find poses and ideas from them, but I understand that my practice is on a different path. Use those around you to inspire you, let them lift you up, but don’t get caught up in wanting to be someone else.
SURROUND YOURSELF WITH POSITIVE PEOPLE
Have you ever had a friend who cut you down at every turn? I have. But not anymore. Surround yourself with people who encourage you, enlighten you, and inspire you. Spend time with people who offer positive commentary. Those who support your goals and lift you up on days you are feeling down. When you spend your time with people who are genuine, people who make you laugh, people who love you for who you are (not who you will be one day) your own outlook will become lighter and brighter.
Don’t take yourself so seriously. You’re having a bad hair day? So what, throw that mess into a ponytail or bun and take on the world. You are exhausted after a workout and all you want is something sweet? Go for it. Tonight, I enjoyed a delicious slice of fudge cake and the only thing I regret is forgetting the glass of milk to go with it. Don’t get so wrapped up in your goals that you forget to let loose and enjoy yourself. There is nothing wrong with a cheat day or a lazy day. You go do you and don’t apologize for it. Find happiness within yourself and be happy with yourself no matter what. Because when the day has come to an end and you’re laying in bed reflecting over the day (that’s not just me right) you deserve to smile because you were happy. Don’t go to bed with regrets, don’t focus so much on your own imperfections that you forget to enjoy your perfectly imperfect life.