I Hate My Body. Now What?
By Courtney McNamee
Let’s face it… sometimes we just hate our bodies. And for some of us, it’s not an every-waking-moment kind of thing. There are times when we genuinely feel beautiful, confident, and healthy. But the stats don’t lie; 91% of American women are unhappy with their bodies.
The reasons for that unhappiness will vary based on who you ask. But one truth prevails…the media, particularly social media, has played a large role in creating unrealistic body image expectations that fuel the negative perceptions we have of ourselves.
So how exactly can you accept (maybe even love) the body you’re in while working towards your long-term goals?
Well, we’re glad you asked.
Acceptance Is The First Step
When someone once told me to accept my body as it is, I literally laughed out loud. I feel like “body acceptance” is a myth people talk about but never actually practice in real life.
How is it possible for someone to not pick their body apart on a daily basis?
A relatively easy first step to accepting yourself where you’re currently at is to focus on a concept we call “body neutrality”. If you can’t be body positive, being body neutral is the next best thing. Because picking yourself apart isn’t productive, and it’s not going to get you where you want to be.
There’s an old saying that comparison is the thief of joy. And yeah….it really is. What you see on social media is not reality. If you’re trying to practice self-acceptance, comparing what you see in the mirror to a heavily curated, highly filtered highlight reel that’s more fantasy than fiction is the LAST thing you should be doing.
Most influencers, fitness professionals, and/or public figures you’re comparing yourself don’t even look like their Instagram alter egos. Face Tune, Photoshop, and filters in general, have removed texture, curves, lines, dimples, and pimples from even the most naturally beautiful people.
If you can’t adjust your perception of this, it might be time to unfollow people who make you feel negative about yourself or take a break from social media entirely.
If a social media break and practicing body neutrality aren’t doing the trick, and you’re still not happy with what you see in the mirror, then it’s probably time to enact change.
But significant change doesn’t happen overnight. Many people get caught up in a vicious cycle that looks something like this:
The best action plan involves understanding your personal goals and creating a realistic, habit-based action plan to achieve those goals. To start, ask yourself four crucial questions.
- Who do I want to be?
- What are the habits I need to implement to get there?
- How long will this realistically take?
- How can I love myself (or be neutral!) through this transition phase?
Since body image is so closely related to what you see in the mirror, understanding the timeline of change can help you stay the course. Holding yourself accountable for unrealistic and time-dependent outcomes is going to lead you to disappointment.
“If you want to make long-term behavior change, you have to start small.”
Stop Thinking, Start Doing
Now comes the hard (but rewarding!) part — putting the plan into action. Start keeping track of the habits you need to implement to create change and use your adherence/adoption of those habits to gauge success. Measuring your progress based only on where you’re at in relation to the desired outcome will almost always lead to repeating the cycle of failure.
To do this, we recommend implementing a habit stacking framework that helps you visualize your daily progress of the desired habits you want to implement to get you to where you want to be.
For example, let’s say you want to lose twenty pounds. And to do that, you’ve identified that you need to drink more water, exercise more often, drink less alcohol, and track your food intake so you stay in a calorie deficit. Because losing weight takes time, you will find more short-term satisfaction focusing on your habit adherence’s success than focusing on your success against a long-term goal of losing 20 pounds that could take 3-6 months or more.
Give Yourself Grace
Like any big change in life, the path to self-acceptance and not hating your body will take time. So give yourself grace, find happiness in the small wins, and remember that making peace with where you’re at will enable your long-term success in whatever direction you head.