Wednesday, February 23, 2011
1. Rewire your brain. If you know that constantly thinking negatively about your body teaches your brain to focus on the bad stuff, why not flip the script? It's absolutely possible to create neural pathways that favor affirming thoughts. Keep a pen handy to note things you do that make you feel good about your body. Doing this puts positive stuff front-of-mind and starts becoming instinctive.
2. Ask yourself: Is this really about my body? Or am I trying to distract myself from being upset with someone or something else? Address that issue instead of thinking negative thoughts.
3. Exercise! Working out regularly tends to prevent harsh thoughts. And it's not just that being physically active improves your shape and health; it actually boots your mind-set, too. One new stude found that women felt better about themselves after exercising even when their bodies didn't change, suggesting that the feeling of "That was challenging and I did it!" played a bigger role than weight loss in boosting body image.
4. Say "stop!" - literally, that word - when your mind goes all negative. Just imagine a giant screaming sign. It's funny, but it really does shut up that negative voice and clears your head.
5. Remind yourself that obsessing about what you eat or look like doesn't make you look any better. A study found that young women who obsess over their diet don't actually weight less than those who generally eat what they want. Some women look at a brownie and think: Oooh, that looks good, but brownies are 'bad'. I wonder how many calories are in that? Maybe I could just have a teeny bite, and on and on. A woman with a healthier relationship with food would either eat the brownie, or not, and be done. At the end of the day, both get the same number of calories. The message: Fretting over every bit gets you nowhere. Eating mindfully-enjoyed food and putting your fork down before you get too full-feels better and works better.
6. Appreciate your body for what it does, rather than how it looks. Next time you're, say, cursing your wobbly arms, pause and think of their purpose-is it to make you feel bad? Or to let you your and enjoy life? It may seem a bit "Kumbaya," but this mental tweak helps you think less negatively.
7. Finally, play up your strengths. Comparing yourself with others doesn't help anything. Focus on making the most of what you've got. Hold your head a little higher and walk a little taller: That attitude is absolutely magnetic. Hear that? You're MAGNETIC. And don't forget to tell youself so, either. We all could use a few more compliments!