Why is it so easy to fall into the pattern of negative self-talk about our bodies? One look at the latest models on fashion show runways and some bad lighting in a fitting room and suddenly we have gone from walking tall to shrinking under our puffiest down coat. It happens to the best of us, even the women on the actual runway themselves. We are all susceptible to negative self-talk, but the quicker we can learn to shift those thoughts back to the positive track the more we will stay on course to truly show up shining for every moment in our lives. Here are seven ways to instantly show yourself some love and celebrate your shape.
1. Lift weights -- It is easy to get stuck in the rut of long, punishing sessions on the elliptical trainer or stair master. I've been there, trying to burn off last night's dinner or dessert or get in shape for swimsuit season. Cardio exercise is an important part of a workout regimen, but instead of focusing on shrinking yourself, think about how you can take up some space in the world with your strengths and start a weight training routine. The more you focus on what your body can do rather than what shape or size it is, the more you will appreciate it. The weight room at any gym can admittedly be intimidating, especially if you feel like you don't know what you are doing. If you are a weight training novice take a group class at your gym, try CrossFit or find a circuit training studio. You will find inner strength you never knew you had and you may be surprised at your extra superpowers that develop outside of the gym as well.
2. Phone a friend -- Or even better, get outside and go for a power walk together. Nothing lifts the spirit quite like spending time with someone who reminds you that you are not alone in this world. Female friends give the incredible gift of nurturing, supporting and uplifting one another. They remind us we are worthy, just because we are here.
3. Drop the guilt -- Often times we overindulge on food or drinks and immediately feel guilty, rather than truly enjoying the splurge. By pouring guilt all over our moment of decadence we don't even give ourselves a chance to savor it and are more likely to feel the urge to repeat it again the next day. The guilt won't erase what happened. If you eat some fries or choose to have dessert, truly taste and enjoy. Be grateful for the food you are so lucky to have access to. Forgive yourself for your judgments and get back on track.
4. Toss the scale -- Scales don't measure muscle or strength or endurance or flexibility. Who wants to attach their self-worth to a number anyway? As long as you are eating healthy foods, getting regular exercise and feeling good in your clothes there is no reason not to celebrate your body. Do your clothes fit? Are you getting enough sleep? How is your stress level? These are all more important questions to know the answers to then the number on the scale.
5. Practice yoga and meditation -- when we bring our body and mind to a state of peace, it is easier to be kind to ourselves and the world around us. It becomes easier to feed ourselves nourishing food and get the exercise our body craves. With a quiet mind we create the space for self-love. Often times women think they will love themselves once they get to their ultimate size or fitness goal, but one is not conditioned on the other. The more we love ourselves right now, the easier the journey is.
6. Choose your media -- Nobody looks like the girl in the magazine, even her. Photoshop is used in everything now, to erase anything from a pimple to several inches on a persons midsection or thigh. It is important to remember this when looking at any mainstream media. Find positive and healthy people to follow on Instagram like @mykindoflife_em, @aldawomen and @ _theshift_. Did you see the unretouched photo leaks of Cindy Crawford and Beyonce lately? This shouldn't be news, it's just what women really look like.
7. Accept yourself -- I know, easier said than done, however the faster we can learn and love the kind of body we have, the quicker we can be to take care of it for optimal health and wellbeing. Some things like cellulite and long second toes may not be ideal but everyone has something they are better off accepting then spending precious time trying to change. If we can focus on how to be the best version of the body we have we are able to enjoy the gifts we were given, like amazing hair and the ability to stand on our head. If you don't know what type of body you have been given naturally, spend a day eating only what would truly make you feel full and nourished and take note of what those foods are. Ask yourself what form of movement would actually be fun and make you laugh and want to do it again the next day? These are all clues to your lasting health, enjoyment and wellbeing.
Erin Henry is contributing on behalf of www.theshiftmovement.com.