5 Ways to Boost Your Body Image (Without Going on a Diet)

The truth is, you can take steps to start loving yourself more right now, and they don't involve stressing about whether you do or don't measure up to a set of (often unrealistic) cultural standards.
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By Paige Singer

Who doesn't want to love what they see in the mirror?

With media and society placing so much emphasis on our appearance and glorifying thin ideals, being satisfied with the way we look can be a challenge. After all, there are so many "perfect" looking celebrities to compare ourselves to, even if we know they have 5-person glam squads, personal trainers, and airbrushing on their sides. And what about the countless juice fasts and diet trends advertised everywhere we look? It's easy to think, "Maybe I should lose a few pounds, then I would look great" or "If I can tone up, I would be happy." Often, this cycle doesn't make anyone feel better, it makes people more self-conscious as they focus on "fixing" their "flaws."

The truth is, you can take steps to start loving yourself more right now, and they don't involve stressing about whether you do or don't measure up to a set of (often unrealistic) cultural standards.

Here are some of our favorite tips:

1. Wear clothes that you like and feel comfortable in.
Whether you're having a good body image day or a bad body image day, it's important to wear something that makes you feel good about yourself. Forget the trends and be your own style guru. Whether you want to dress up in jeans and a nice top (ready to go out), or you prefer your most comfortable pair of sweatpants and graphic tee, wear what feels good to you in the moment.

2. Make positive affirmations your best friend.
When you want to love your body but can't figure out how, you sometimes have to fake it at first. Look in the mirror and tell yourself you're beautiful. Put sticky notes up on your walls and around your mirrors with sayings like, "You're beaming today!" Try to tell yourself at least one nice thing about yourself a day. It will feel weird at first, but as time goes on, you'll start to believe what you're saying.

3. Focus on your hobbies.
Doing what you love and getting better at something you enjoy gives you confidence. It gives you the ability to base your self-esteem on something other than your appearance.

Do you want to learn guitar or a new language? Try cooking or run a mile faster than you have before? Set some goals for yourself and get started. If you don't have one specific hobby that you already love, go out there and try new things. Exploring different activities can be really fun, and you never know what new interests you may discover.

4. Resist the urge to compare yourself to others!
It can be a struggle to get past comparing yourself to celebrities and even good friends. But, no body is the same. We all are different shapes and sizes, and it's time to embrace the beauty in that. Don't dwell on the fact that your best friend looks good in a certain dress style or shorts, and you don't. You have different body types. Instead, find what looks good and feels good on you. It's a lot more productive to focus on the positives of your body type rather than wishing for a different one.

5. Move your body doing something enjoyable.
As Elle Woods said in Legally Blonde, "Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy." She's right. Get yourself moving at least once a day. You may not be a fan of going to the gym, so you have to find what works for you. If you're not already doing sports everyday, try going on walks around town, rocking out to a dance workout on YouTube, hiking, or doing yoga in your living room. It's all about what makes your body feel good. (Quick note: It's always a good idea to check with a knowledgeable adult, like a parent or doctor, before beginning a new exercise routine. You don't want to overdo it!)

Some of these tips might work better for you than others, and you might figure out your own strategies on the way. If you don't feel completely confident right away, that's OK. Remember that boosting your body image is a process. It's something you have to work on over time, and it will pay off.

Have you tried any of these or other ways to boost your body image? Tell us in the comments!

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