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How Can A Person Maintain A Healthy Body Image?

Last updated on July 11, 2020

Eating Enlightenment348
Eating Enlightenment

How can a person maintain a healthy body image in light of social media and the thin ideal?

Everyday you look at yourself in the mirror.

So this means every day you have multiple opportunities to compare yourself, notice your flaws, and ruminate on how much more beautiful people are than you.

Except, no.

I filmed this video in front of the mirror because a few people have been telling me that when they look in the mirror and HATE what they see.

So today I give a simple exercise called ‘mirror exposure’, which I sometimes gives to clients I work with in Sunnyvale.

how can a person maintain a healthy body image
Here’s me leading this exercise during a workshop. For thousands of years mirrors were incredibly rare. Imagine, for the first time thousands of years ago being able to see yourself in mirror? Incredible.

How can a person maintain a healthy body image using mirrors

It’s a technique rooted in acceptance and commitment therapy.

All you do is look in the mirror state the TRUTH. You can do that right?

I’m not asking you to say you’re skinny if you’re not.

I’m not asking you to say you love your image when you don’t.

However, I am asking you to speak aloud (or write) the truth. The facts.

Doing this can help you shift your perspective!!!!

How can a person maintain a healthy body image in face of tremendous social pressure to be thin?

The difficult answer I am proposing in this article is to become your own friend.

To learn how to love yourself. Knowing that all bodies are created equal helps you see yourself in the mirror.

The mirror is perfect for several reasons:

  1. We go in front of the mirror each day
  2. While in front of the mirror, we have a chance to see ourselves, and to see how we see ourselves

Have you ever looked around in the mirror and hated what you saw?

Better knowing you hate yourself than to live your life in denial.

Because you can transform self-hatred. It isn’t easy.

But the alternative is denial. The alternative is to be overly sensitive for the rest of your life. The alternative is to not live our your dreams until you reach the perfect size …

And oftentimes, we do this. We numb. We avoid. We distract.

We don’t look at ourselves in the mirror and take responsibility for our lives, our relationships with ourselves and how we show up in the world.

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What if the mirror was an opportunity to practice loving yourself, just the way you were. Not that you will always be the same way you are now, but realizing that making peace with the present is the best way to change the future.

Negative Body Image

The reason this topic is incredibly important is because oftentimes the harmful effects of a negative body image go unnoticed and cause you to self-sabotage.

What we want instead is to realize that bodies have different shapes but there can be healthy at every size.

How does self-sabotage happen?

Because oftentimes we don’t realize we are holding our self-image up to society’s image.

And this sets us up for the trap of perfectionism!!! We see ourselves as imperfect and flawed in the mirror and not looking good enough.

Subconsciously, we are comparing ourselves to those skinny girls on instagram or in magazines or the buff guys on covers.

So every time we look in the mirror, we’re reminded of how we fail to live up to societal standards.

And if everytime when we look into a mirror … we don’t like what we see …

We start hating our body.

And when you hate your body it becomes nearly impossible to heal the body, or to respect the body.

It becomes much more difficult to respect your personal needs, and the vulnerable feelings held within your body …

The vulnerable feelings that, when validated and loved, are the key to unlocking your courage and health transformation.

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When people carry within themselves a negative body image, it becomes much easier to get trapped in obsessive thoughts.

But the biggest problem when you don’t have healthy body image, is that it becomes WAY harder to love yourself.

The reason I bring this topic up is because I’ve been struggling to help a client connect to her body.

This client is coachable, eager to do the work, but we have been making slower progress than normal in terms of building up body confidence.

And we just had a breakthrough.

That in order for this woman to build trust with her body, she would have to stop hating her body.

She would have to start accepting that she had this body of hers, and it wasn’t going away.

How can a person maintain a healthy body image?

You must practice self love.

Ah but isn’t self love only for hippies?

No, it’s not.

It’s a skill you develop over time.

(here’s another useful article on practical tips you can use to maintain a healthy body image by TAMF)

And you can practice everyday in the mirror.

You can say to your body:

  • Thank you for giving me an existence. Without you I wouldn’t
  • Thank you for keeping me alive.
  • You do 1 million things so well, thank you

(Here are some other affirmations you can use too)

And yes, this will be difficult in the beginning. But perhaps, perhaps there is some tenderness you can feel towards your body.

Just a brief light, a brief feeling of tenderness. When you look at yourself in the mirror, can you feel for your body, how hard it is on your body to fight a food war?

Just noticing that you care for your body – that you do not want your body to be in a war with food – this is practicing self love.

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You must learn to care for your body. Like literally care for your body. Instead of disregarding your body or shaming your body for not being the right shape, you must develop a caring attitude towards your body.

Developing and training a healthy body image to maintain is incredibly tough

I don’t want to pretend and say that the mirror will solve all the problems.

It won’t.

But the mirror represents something bigger …

First, the fact that you can practice self love everyday in front of the mirror ….

That you can see how you see yourself in the mirror. Do you react with revulsion?

How can you care for yourself instead of feeling repulsed?

And if repulsion is your default, that you are going to feel repulsed no matter what, how then can you practice loving yourself, even though you feel repulsed?

It’s a difficult question, and I’m not giving you any excuses.

You can love yourself. Maybe not 100%. Maybe all you can do for yourself in the beginning is to look at yourself in the mirror and smile to start your day.

But you don’t have to be perfect.

The mirror is nonjudgmental.

You can see all your layers of judgment in front of the mirror.

And perhaps you can just accept the fact that you do judge your body, and that it’s okay for you to instinctively judge your body as that’s what you’ve done your whole life?

But what if there was a different way … and that it started everyday with you and yourself in the mirror?

Trust me, you can eat like a normal person too! You can eat intuitively without fear!

But eating like a normal person has to start with self-love. If detest your body image, and can’t love yourself through this self-hatred, it’ll be difficult to come through on the other side.

For another article on overcoming these struggles, read here.

Eating Enlightenment348
Eating Enlightenment

Please know Binge Eating Disorder (BED) is a serious problem that can lead to obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

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A great way to find out if you are suffering from binge eating disorder is by taking this test!

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