One of the things people get completely obsessed with in our culture is the idea of having a “good” body, a “perfect” body or just meeting generic body “goals” criteria. A “good” body for women seems to be defined as one with lower body fat, at least lower body fat everywhere except for our breasts and butt (those need to be plump and round), moderate muscle (but not too much, if you have too much, you’re too “manly”), no stretch marks, stray hairs, dimples or any other imperfections. You can’t have any belly fat and certainly no skin rolls when you sit down.
A “good” body should possess tank top arms, daisy duke worthy thighs, and is synonymous with a “bikini body”. Other physical traits of a person with a “good” body should include a pretty face (but not so pretty that you look like you had work done – that’s too much!), no wrinkles, perfect skin (ew, who do you think you are with those visible pores?!) and they have to be a natural beauty (if it’s obvious that you’re wearing makeup you’re trying too hard and you’re deceiving people). Being ghostly pale is no good but you better not be too tan either. You should look like the girl next door, but also be mysterious and exotic. You need to be all of these things at the same time and you should look as good when you get up in the morning as you do when you go out to the clubs . . .but you better not have to put any effort in to look that way or you are fake AF!
I’m kidding if you can’t tell.
This is the kind of ridiculous stuff that is flung at us day by day.
The way we talk about women’s bodies and beauty ideals is completely unobtainable and trying to achieve it would drive even the most sane person to total insanity. There’s no fucking way any real human can meet all of these criteria (and anyone who can, can’t do so for more than a moment in their whole life). There’s no way you can be subjected to this stuff and not feel completely horrible about your body.
The result of living in a culture that sends out these kind of messages and values this kind of impossible beauty more than almost anything else is that women all over and of all ages wake up every morning and go to bed each night worrying about if they ate too much, if they ate the right things, if they’re working their bodies hard enough, if they should think about starting botox and fillers, if they are using the right skin care products, if they need to think about getting a breast lift or butt implants, if they really do need a nose job and when they’re going to finally achieve that thigh gap. They fear aging more than anything else, because aging takes away what little physical beauty nature gave them in the first place. That shit is cruel.
You need to know that you already have a GOOD body. In fact you have a GREAT body, an incredible, amazing body. We don’t have to go around feeling like our bodies are less than but we need to take a more active role and a different approach to feel this way.
How to Have a Good Body Day, Every Day
If you’re tired of feeling like crap about your body, read on. Here are a few ways that you can actively work to have a good body day every day
Clean Up Media Sources that Suck (both social and otherwise)
Check your media sources and scrub them of people and ideologies that aren’t helping. Unfollow people on social media that make you feel like terrible about yourself. This can be people you know who are negative or over sharing details about their diets that you don’t need forced in your face all the time or nonstop unattainable #bodygoals #bodyinspo type of posts – bloggers, recipe mavens, people doing fitness competitions or those promoting detox teas and stuff – if it’s making you feel terrible about your body, you don’t need it in your life.
On the reverse, start adding people who make you feel amazing and who share a message that aligns with the things you believe and the things you WANT to believe about yourself. Add people on social media of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds who live lives you want to emulate and who you also respect.
Toss out and cancel magazine subscriptions to women’s and health magazines that write nonstop articles about how you can drop two dress sizes in 14 days or who only share “skinny recipes”. If you finish reading a magazine and feel like there is something wrong with your body because of the content inside, it’s not helping. Same with TV shows, news stations, podcasts, radio, the websites you’ve been visiting for a decade – try looking at them with new eyes and ask yourself if they are filling your brain with messages that hurt or help you?
The media we consume daily has a huge effect on us and most of us don’t realize it until we start changing the way we interact with it. This will change how you feel about your body in a big way!
Dress Your Current Body to Feel Fabulous
The delicious meat of life doesn’t come from how we look or how the people we spend time with look. Even though that’s true, there is no denying that when you feel like you look fabulous, you act and think differently. And when we act and think well of ourselves we take more actions that affect a positive outcome on our lives. That’s why I advocate for dressing yourself and styling yourself in a way that makes you feel amazing, in your current body. Not your future body, not a past body. The body your spirit is inside of right now, at this very moment.
Have at least a few outfits in your closet that you feel fantastic in – and don’t necessarily stick to one size. A lot of women’s bodies fluctuate between a size or two or three and what happens when we get dressed and our clothes don’t fit? We feel like crap and you don’t have to feel that way. I know I tend to be a good 5-10 pounds heavier at the end of winter than I am at the end of summer so my closet (finally!!) reflects that reality and I’m a lot happier now.
High quality clothing can be expensive and we’re all tight on money, that’s for sure, but that’s no excuse to not making this happen. Chic pieces can be found at consignment stores everywhere on the cheap and if you have zero funds to spend, there is always the option of throwing a closet cleaning party with friends (like this Naked Lady Party). The real struggle with dressing the way you want to in the body you are currently in is less about money and more about the time and effort it takes to find stuff that flatters your particular shape and style. That’s where the media cleanse above can come in helpful (add fashion bloggers who have your body shape and style for inspiration) and online shopping can be a godsend of a time saver (compare your current body measurements to each retailer’s size charts ahead of time and order the size that you know will fit your now body, not just because it’s a size you usually wear. And return it if it doesn’t fit or you don’t love it.
And don’t you dare buy clothes for your future body. That body may never be a reality and those clothes will just make you feel terrible each time you check to see if they fit. Buy clothes for your now body and make them good ones!
Choose to Talk About Something Else
When we get together with our girlfriends, we talk about everything under the sun, but one subject that always seems to come up is what’s wrong with our bodies or what new thing we’re going to try to change our body this time. Diet talk is huge and even if you’re not on a diet, women want to talk to you about why you’re not on one or how you’re so “lucky” to be able to eat “that way”. It’s so normal we don’t even notice how much of our conversations are around this stuff! I can’t tell you how many women I “bonded” with over the years (before I was in coaching) based on weight loss tips, lighter recipes and fitness challenges and it feels kind of scary to stop talking about that stuff, because suddenly you feel like you don’t fit in. As scary and uncomfortable as it can be to not participate in this kind of talk, it’s absolutely worth doing.
You don’t have to be aggressive and confrontational. You don’t have to make a big deal about it or even say anything if you don’t want to. But if you make the effort to change the conversation or at least not participate, you will have an impact, not just on yourself, but on others too. Eventually people notice that you aren’t talking about your own diet or body unhappiness and they’ll specifically ask your thoughts and you can share your feelings then. If you feel more comfortable talking about this stuff, it’s helpful and usually goes over ok to just say “Hey, do you guys mind if we talk about something else? Diet talk is so boring, isn’t it?” or “Negative body talk just makes me feel worse, how about you? Let’s talk about what we do like about our bodies.”
It is hard to change the conversation but so worth doing.
Remind Yourself of All the Reasons You Have a Good Body Every day
I can list at least a dozen reasons why I have a good body. My body isn’t better than yours or more special than yours, but I take the time to recognize and acknowledge all the ways it does me right on a regular basis. Doing this makes me feel appreciation, love and generosity towards it. It makes me see less of what I don’t like and more of what I do. I have a good body because: I have legs that carry me everywhere I want to go. I have eyes that allow me to read juicy fiction and study old genealogical records. I have lungs that take in breaths while I sleep peacefully and also when I’m running outside. I have a good body that recovers from colds pretty quickly (also one that rarely gets sick). My good body takes the food I eat and digests it so that I have energy to do lots of fun things. My good body is equipped with strong muscles that make me feel like wonder woman every time I bring home groceries and have to lug them up the basement stairs. My body is a good body because it’s mine and it does so much for me.
Can you come up a with a few reasons why your body is a good body right now? It might be hard at first (especially if you’re not used to thinking nice stuff about your body) but with practice it gets much easier.
Move Your Body only in Ways That Feel Good
Physical fitness is really important to me. I LOVE feeling strong and capable and regular physical activity helps me do that. I like not getting too tuckered out from regular daily stuff that I have to do. I don’t want to feel winded doing basic tasks. That motivates me to do things that challenge me physically, but it doesn’t mean that I ignore what my body needs and wants. If I hate an activity, I’m not going to be able to do it for long. If an activity causes me regular pain or is total torture to get through, it’s not sustainable. If I dread an exercise, I’m not going to keep doing it. Dread, hate, pain and torture are fast tracks to both permanently avoiding exercise but also feeling bad about your body.
There is an infinite amount of ways we can move our bodies and get the activity we need. Bodies crave movement (even the most sedentary person sometimes gets a feeling of restlessness in their body) and there’s no reason why we have to put our attention on activity that isn’t enjoyable. If you don’t like going to the gym, don’t go to the gym! If you don’t like running, don’t run. If you don’t like zumba, don’t zumba! Try something else! What did you like doing as a child? I spend hours biking around town, rollerskating in my driveway and exploring the swamp in my back yard. As an adult, some of the activities I do include wheels (biking) and being out in nature (hiking, running). I can find some of the “fun” I used to find in movement as a child in the activities I choose as an adult. Don’t settle for what you are doing if you don’t dig it.
A body that enjoys moving is a body that you will appreciate and enjoy more. A body that gets it’s fill of fun activity feels good. Find activities that make you feel good about your body that you will want to continue to do and you’ll find more “good” in your body daily.
So there you go – 5 easy ways to have a good body day every day! This isn’t to make light of the challenges of feeling good in your skin. I know that stuff can be all consuming, but if we don’t feel like we have any power in changing it, where does that leave us? Miserable in the only body we have. My goal is to give you tools and ideas you can use in your own life to feel good about your body and the way you engage with food. Does this help do that? Let me know!
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