Body Bliss: 8 Ways to Honor Your Body Today

By , SparkPeople Blogger
Even though I have a pretty healthy outlook about food and exercise these days (summed up in a single word: moderation), I spent years struggling with a negative body image, disordered eating and exercise habits, and weight fluctuations. I feel fortunate to have been able to overcome these issues and return to "normal" eating and exercising, which was a major feat. But even though my outward habits were positive and healthy, I was still struggling on the inside, and didn't like what I saw in the mirror. Even though no one else could hear them, I said hurtful things about myself. I didn't wear shorts or even a bathing suit for nearly a decade because I never felt like my body was good enough to be on display. Clearly, I had more work to do.

It's been an ongoing process for me to go from loathing my body to liking it to loving it (at least some parts). It's an ongoing process for me to care less and less what anyone else might think about it. Some people view this as a common struggle that we just have to deal with, but I don't. No one should have to feel bad about how they look, and everyone CAN develop a healthier body image with practice.

In honor of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (Feb. 20-26), I'm going to share the 8 simple ways you can foster a more positive body image starting today.
  1. Dress for the body you have today. This is one of the best things I ever did for myself. Don't wait until you're 2, 20, or 200 pounds lighter to wear clothes that fit you well and flatter your figure. You deserve to look and feel your best right now.
  2. Talk back. Talk back to your TV when you see commercials that use a woman's body to sell products. Talk back to companies with your wallet by NOT buying said products. I used to subscribe to a lot of women's health and fitness magazines, until I realized that they tend to glorify just one body type: super skinny. Reading these magazines made me feel bad about myself, so I canceled my subscriptions. I stopped feeling pressure to look like the pictures since I didn't have to look at them anymore—and I sent a message with my dollars (and feedback) to the publishers.
  3. Turn every negative thought into something positive. It's not easy to suddenly say "I love my legs" if you don't feel that way, but there are plenty of ways you can turn negative thoughts into more positive ones: like that your legs are strong and get you up the stairs at work without getting too tired.
  4. Compliment yourself in ways that have nothing to do with your looks. We tend to focus so much on what we see in the mirror and overlook our many other amazing attributes. Are you a good friend? A good listener? A successful professional? A smart driver? How about simply a warm, caring, friendly, or positive person? Make a list of 10 things you like about yourself that have nothing to do with your looks. Then next time you feel down about your appearance—or start to self-criticize—take out this list and remind yourself just how awesome you are. Better yet, start and end your day reading that list. Every. Single. Day.
  5. Exercise because it's good for you. It took a long time for me to view exercise as something more than a means to: burn calories, lose weight, or change my body. But you know what? Now that I view it as something that makes me feel good, strong, fit and healthy, I actually exercise more consistently than I ever did before, which ultimately means that my body has never looked better. It's funny how focusing on the wrong thing can undermine your efforts. If you're obsessed with the calorie burn or hate to exercise, stop counting your calories burned (I still NEVER track them to this day), and start exercising at an intensity level that simply feels good to you. Even more important: Find something fun that you really love and do it, even if it's not the biggest calorie burner. Your body deserves this respect.
  6. Eat healthy because your body deserves it. Honor your body by eating as much nutritious and nourishing food as possible so that it can perform at its best and be healthy. Stop making every food decision based on calories alone.
  7. Don't feel bad about cravings—or giving into them. I still struggle with this one myself. When I eat things that I know aren't good for me, I tend to "feel fat" and guilty. A little bit of guilt may be OK—that's what stops you from eating ice cream for EVERY meal, after all. But food is one of our greatest pleasures in this life, and you can and should enjoy eating. Sometimes, that means indulging in some less-than-healthy foods (notice I didn't say "bad" foods). What's most important is that you are present, making these choices consciously (not emotionally or on autopilot), honoring your craving without going overboard, and not letting the occasional dessert or rich dinner send you into a shame spiral that you can't climb out of.
  8. Never allow anyone else to disrespect your body. This is a really important one. Never EVER let someone else disrespect your body by criticizing it, hurting it (this can mean many things), or objectifying it. Get negative people like this out of your life or at least tell them that you will not stand to have your body disrespected ever again. You deserve love and respect from yourself, but from other people, too. If someone disrespects your body, stand up for it. Remind yourself that you're great and—most importantly: If someone has a problem with you, it's their problem, not yours.
What are some of the ways that you honor your body each day?

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I will think positive thoughts about myself. Report
Great Article
How much do I love this!!!! You are beautiful!!! Say this today and everyday until you truly DO believe it!! Report
Nice article. Report
I especially like the last one. Use it towards myself. Would I say to others what I say about myself Report
Love this! I wrote my list of 10 positive things about myself that have nothing to do with my body and what a great list! Thanks for the idea! Report
Thank you so much for writing this article- I felt it really spoke to me, and I wrote down the 8 tips to use on a daily basis!! Report
Thanks, I definitely need to post this list where I can see it every day. Report
Great blog; thank you. Excellent points that really hit home. Report
Excellent Blog ~ Thanks I need to read things like this! I have found weight loss is also a "mental" thing - I'm at the stage of obsessing if something happens (has happened) that I have to cut back on exercise - I get full of fear that I'm going to start gaining it back. As I imagine you can guess, it's a very real and overwhelming fear. Report
What an encouraging blog-just what I needed to hear right now! Thanks so much! I will send this to other friends who may miss it, so they can be encouraged too! Report
Great encouraging article. I printed it out to hang at my desk so I can read and use information every day. Thanks Report
Well said! I agree that way too much emphasis is put on how we look, not just about weight, but now there is an obsession with always looking young. It's who we are and what we do that really count. My mantra is "If you don't like how I look, don't look!" Report
Wow!!!! I loved reading this blog. This has encouraged me to start encouraging my sister to start exercising and doing little positive things for herself everyday. I even started to encourage her daughter to spend time doing exercise with her mom. Wow the ENCOURAGING part of me is back. WOOHOO!!!!! Thanks Report
Thanks for this! Report
Great blog! I hope you keep writing on this subject matter. Report
I honour my body by going to bed at the same time each day and trying to get enough sleep. I too enjoy the healthy veggies and avoid the french fries and chips. I try to be aware of how stress creeps in and tortures my mind... and my sleep times. Thanks for the blog! Report
We hear so much these days about having/creating a "perfect body," and all the things that are wrong with the bodies we have, that sometimes we forget we were designed to be more useful than ornamental. The more we honor what our bodies do, the easier it is to do what's best for them. Think about it: how happy would you be taking care of someone you hated 24/7?

I've never heard a eulogy that began, "Let us remember our dear Madeleine, who was always a perfect size 2." Report
Thank you SO MUCH for this blog!!!! I am happy not only because I know taking this advice will help me, but because I know other people who read it will find it helpful too. Report
Thank you for this article. This is just a good timing for me since I'm trying to loose weight so I can wear my old clothes again and watching what I'm eating. I believe that change starts from the inside and it reflects in the outside. Report
2 words for ya coach nicole, "you rock". plain and simple. thanks for a great, GREAT article. Report
Lots of good words here that I can relate to. I haven't mastered all of my issues with eating, but I did well for today. Now I will do it again tomorrow. Thanks. Report
What a good article. It sure did hit home with me. I am a size 3-4 and I have body issues. Sometimes I feel so fat. I agree that no one should say bad things about our bodies. When they do I tell them to get some tissues and deal with their issues as it's my body not theirs. Report
First chris3874, don't get discouraged. Go back check your nutrition , and fitness trackers, see where u might have gone off. Learn from this and use it to get u back on track. As for this article it was very inspirational. I will reflect back to this when I'm not feeling so good about myself. Thank you. Report
This article came right on time. Thank you for sharing. I definately was able to walk away with some tips for myself. Report
Wow, Nicole. Your words and your tone are very strong in this blog. It's easy to tell that this is a subject on which you are very passionate. Great message. Awesome delivery. Report
Fantastic blog on your journey and words of wisdom for each of us. I concur with your advice about dressing NOW to feel good. So important. My word of advice for anyone reading this who is still obese: GET RID OF THOSE SWEAT PANTS (except for wearing to bed.) They do not help your self image at all. Report
Well done article, with a lot of points that I can identify with - thanx, Coach Nicole! Report
thank you for this article. I think now is an especially dangerous time for negative talk -- after most of winter has passed and before spring/summer is approaching.
For anyone who needs it, I found this book REALLY helpful in thinking positively and strongly and allowing you to separate yourself from your eating disorder. It's called Life Without Ed by Jenni Schaefer
Thank you for another great article. Report
Fantastic blog. Report
Thanks, I love this blog! Report
Really makes you think! Report
Thank you! I needed to read this! Report
Well said. Thank you. Report
I honor myself by having daily goals in the areas of nutrition, exercise, water intake, nutrition, & motivation. At the top of my food journal page I list there: for example: 1500 calories, 34 fat grams, 5-6 glasses of water, 30 minutes minimum of cardio, 10-15 minutes of weights or stretching, prayer, meditation, or reading articles about my goals. I don't always meet all the goals, but I don't beat myself up...just start over tomorrow! Report
I think this was an excellent blog. I think a lot of us Sparkers tend to think that you coaches are "perfect"...and we sometimes hold you guys to high (read: impossible) standards. It is nice to know that, although you are living a fit and healthy lifestyle overall, you're still working at it, you have your struggles...and you've overcome so many struggles. Thanks, Coach Nicole!! This was an awesome and inspiring read. Report
This is fabulous. YOU are fabulous. Thank you. We all need these reminders. Report
This blog has so many positive points that I've saved it as a favorite...thanks for sharing. Report
Very wise advice Nicole. You put a lot of thought into this and it is very helpful. It's a healthy and happy lifestyle change, not a competition! Excellent! Report
Bravo! This is the best blog that I have ever read. I like to remind myself that God does not make junk but that the maintenance is up to us. There is beauty in our differences and for very negative, we must find the positive - that's the "spark"! Report
Good blog. #2 & 8 especially for me. Even this site has ads that make it harder to see the honor of our bodies (I, for one, am tired of shots of trunks, showing beautifully defined abs and lovely belly-buttons, but not PEOPLE! talk about turning bodies into things...we are more than the sum of our 'parts'). And, yes, I know SP doesn't control the ads, I'm just remarking that when you focus on a body part rather than a person, you aren't honoring anything. Report
This was a great reminder. Thanks for posting! Report
You are a well spoken young lady and i loved this blog...i cried because that was me to the letter! I had to learn to look in the mirror everyday and say"I love you" to myself! If we thought more lovingly about ourselves instead of self loathing..we wouldnt have weight issues.Thank You!! Report
I work in a store where we sell bathing suits. My suggestion: buy for your size. No one looks at the tag and says you wear a size ..? Even the skinny ones do not look good squeezed into a size or two way to small. Trust me, it makes all the difference. Report
How do I honor my body ? I do my best to eat right. I make sure I get some regular exercise that includes strength training AND I appreciate what my body can do instead of worrying about what it can't do.
Thank you so very much for your powerful words.
xoxo Report
Now here`s something I can really relate to! Report