I have been working out consistently for about 7 years. I have also maintained healthy eating consistently during that time. Granted the intensity at which I worked and the dedication to my meal plan have not always been 100 my commitment, passion, and interest to maintain fitness and achieve physical goals with my body have always been consistent.
Despite all my work I still see areas of my that need improvement. I am probably like most girls that complain about particular areas of my body. A lot of my commitment and dedication to working out and eating well was an attempt to change my body. And still after all this time, I struggle to accept, appreciate, and value areas of my body. In fact I felt ashamed of parts of my body and I would try to hide these “flaws”.
Outsiders see my body and have their own opinions and I have been called crazy for not fully accepting my body. People may say “you are so skinny”, “you are so fit”, or “I wish I looked like you”. However kind those words may be I struggled to accept their compliments because all I saw was “thunder things”. How I viewed my body, known as body image, was not accurate and was based on a skewed idea.
Researchers posit that body image consists of an individuals thoughts about their body and these thoughts are based on the individuals situation (Bruin, Oudejans, Bakker, & Woertman, 2011). For example you see your body as it relates to an idea in your head that developed from seeing others, watching TV, and reading magazines. When what you see does not match the idea in your head you will start to judge your body. Judging your body and having negative thoughts about your body will prevent you from seeing your body accurately. It will cause you to have negative thoughts and feelings about your body. If you think you have “thunder thighs” then when you look at your body you will see “thunder thighs”. This is not just an issue that will impact individuals with eating disorders. No, body image will also impact people that strive for fitness and health. This is known as “athletic body image” (Bruin, et al., 2011). Athletic body image is based on your evaluation of your body as compared to another athlete or fitness professional. You may be working hard but if you are comparing your progress to someone else’s you can develop a negative body image. This will only cause you to continue to compare, continue to make you feel bad, and keep you from seeing all your hard work and feeling proud about that work.
Your progress toward a healthier body is directly related to how you think about your body. For example if I see my thighs as big and fat then I will see my thighs as big and fat when I look at them. All of this information is necessary to tell you the one thing you need to do to improve your body and make progress on your fitness and health goals.
Simply change your thinking!
Your work in the gym and your dedication to healthy eating is working but if you continue to judge your body you will not see this progress. As I shared above I have really struggled to accept my legs. Despite all my hard work I continued to judge my body and dislike my progress. There is power in thinking! So I decided to hink differently about my legs. I decided to praise them. I choose to see the positive and remember that my legs are strong. I expressed thanks and gratitude that my legs help me move, walk, lift, run, and live a blessed life. This thinking shifted my attitude. Once all the negative thinking was out of the way I was able to see my body in a different way. I was able to see progress in my legs. I was able to see the muscle definition I had been working toward. I was able to embrace my legs and found excitement in the progress.
Embrace the things you do not like about yourself. Honor, respect, and value your body. Identify your problem area and point out all that is great about it. Rather than criticize your body for what is disappointing, praise your body. Doing this will allow you to see the progress. Thinking more positively will help you learn to love and enjoy your body, flaws and all.
Tell me, what is your favorite thing about the least favorite part of your body?
Bruin, A. P., Oudejans, R., Bakker, F., & Woertman, L. (2011). Contextual body image and athletes’ disordered eating: The contribution of athletic body image to disordered eating in high performance women athletes. European Eating Disorders Review, 19(3), 201-215.