6 Ways To Accept Your Body And Increase Your Self-Love
For many people, the pandemic helped them focus on their fitness and body goals. For me, it was the opposite. I gained the Covid-15 and had a hard time finding and sticking to a new workout routine.
Due to stress from the pandemic, my gym being closed, and other health conditions, I gained 25lbs in 9 months. I hated taking pictures and seeing myself on zoom, and I spent most of my days looking up quick ways to lose weight, non-surgical procedures, and diet teas.
Coping with my weight gain was challenging - physically, mentally, and emotionally. I had to come to terms with it - I was getting older, and my metabolism had slowed down from being sedentary during the pandemic. I was unable to quickly drop the weight like I was at 25 years old and had to grow to love and accept my new and older body.
I accomplished this by redefining my goals I had for my body to include body acceptance actively loving myself and body at every stage. Truly loving my body allowed me to properly care for and accept my body and self, rather than trying to alter, fix, or punish it.
If you’re feeling down on your body or are unhappy with your reflection in the mirror, try these six tips to help you love and accept your body again.
Be Your Own Body Goals
When practicing self-love and embracing who you are, it is important to understand how others love their body will be different than how you love yours.
Because of this, it is not a good idea to idolize anyone else relationship with their body and define your body goals for yourself.
Someone who you once identified as your same body shape, ideals, and values can quickly change and cause you to become confused, depressed, or disappointed. We've seen this most recently with Lizzo receiving backlash for promoting "diet culture." And I've experienced this firsthand, idolizing a celebrity for her natural body only to learn she recently got cosmetic surgery.
The truth is women can do whatever they want with their bodies. And we shouldn't shame them because they went against everything we stand for. To manage your expectations, be your own body goals. Find what lifestyle, routines, and values work for your body goals and overall wellbeing.
Do Not Apologize For Your Body
As women, we often apologize for our appearance or body changes. This can be little things like, apologizing that you have stretch marks or your hair isn't done to something bigger like apologizing to your partner for gaining weight or losing your hair (sex- drive)
You do not need to apologize for your acne, wide hips, disability, visible disfigurement, complexion, body changes, or any physical characteristics that make you who you are - temporary or permanent.
Body shame limits you from loving yourself fully and unapologetically. Do not apologize for the way that you were made.
Neutralize Your Language
Remove the negativity particular word carries based on social constructs. When speaking about your body, I look "Fat/dark in this picture" should be said in the same context as the sky is blue or water is wet. We do not limit the words we use to describe ourselves but rather stop the negative connotation connected with some words.
As a Black and marginalized person, I'm familiar with stripping oppressive language of language of its negative power by reclaiming words as my own. You can do the same with words like "fat" or "dark." When I gained 25lbs, I said I was fat. I spoke this as a fact because it was. It was not used to demean or criticize my body. I used the same concept when speaking about my dark skin.
Stripping the words from their negative language will allow us to describe our bodies in neutral and truthful ways. Of course, be cautious of using the word with everyone as some people are not where you are in your self-love and self-acceptance journey.
Limit Social Media
Social media can influences how we look at ourselves positively but can also have a negative impact on our self-esteem. We must understand the effects to limit their impact on our mental health.
I used social media to help me find workouts and healthy food options, however I often got discouraged by seeing people getting results faster than me. To help combat this, I limited my social media intake on platforms like Instagram and followed workouts on YouTube. I also unfollowed accounts that I believed were being dishonest and used language that I disagreed with. For example, accounts that made statements like "no excuses for you not to work out during the pandemic" did more harm than good.
While you are scrolling through Social Media, take an inventory of how the pictures, accounts, captions make you feel. Unfollow any account that makes you feel bad. Also, find new alternatives to surfing social media, like reading or journaling.
Practice Body Neutrality
When all else fails, practice body neutrality - the acceptance of your body beyond it's appearance physical characteristics. In short, body neutrality says, "You may not always love your body, but you can still live happily and well."
Your body houses all the vital organs that keep you alive and functioning. It also contains your mind, heart, and spirit — aspects that drive personality and self-identity, aspects far more valuable than physical characteristics. Focus on this and remove your body from the conversation.
Prioritize Health Above All Else
When coping with body changes and practicing self-love you must prioritize your mental and physical health above all else.
I put my body and mind through so much while trying to lose weight as fast as I gained it. I did juice cleanses, diet teas, no carb diets, and punished myself if I broke any of my rules. I spoke about myself negatively (before neutralizing my language) and no matter how beautiful I looked, I bought up how unhappy I was with my weight gain every chance I got.
To prioritize my physical and mental health, I had to shift my focus on doing things to increase my energy and overall wellbeing, rather than changing my body.
This help me accept and appreciate my body and be more kind to myself while working to increase my self-love for changing body. This also helped me start up my new routine with a focus on becoming healthy and seeing what my body could do, when my gym finally reopened.
If you are unable to pull yourself out of a funk and you are constantly feeling miserable, try connecting with a therapist with experience in body image.
Shifting your feelings about your body is hard work, but it can be done. You deserve your own adoration and acceptance.
How are you redefining your body goals?