Image is Everything
Image is everything. Correction: self-image is everything. We watch television and look at magazines comparing ourselves to others, wondering how we somehow genetically don’t have that flawless skin or slender hips. We scoff and think to ourselves “well, if I had a trainer, dietician and stylist I would look like that too”. We look in the mirror and wonder if our pores are too big, is our hair thinning, skin sagging and how did those stretch marks get there.
Self-image is the picture we mentally paint of ourselves. Our self-esteem is how we critique that painting. Way too many woman (and men) have trouble seeing their real beauty because of the illusions we see or created. We are often are our worst critiques of the paintings we created in our head.
There is a reason I am bringing this up. I am not trying to lose weight. I am trying to become healthy. Part of my journey in being healthy is going to result in losing the weight. Being healthy is going to allow me to be more comfortable, improve my physical life, allowing me to do things I previously struggled with. For most people, me including at times, it is about a numbers game. It is also sometimes about wanting to look like someone else, not healthier versions of ourselves.
I don’t always like putting numbers out there. Though I have and probably will in the future. I do slightly cringe when I do it though. The pounds I have lost or the pounds I want to lose is not an easy subject. I even cringe at putting “losing weight” or anything in that arena in posts I do. The reason I cringe is those numbers representing the pounds we have lost or want to lose often haunt us. We look at scales and they don’t move how we want. It doesn’t matter if we feel better, our clothes are looser or can take a flight of stairs quicker. We are hooked on those numbers and somehow those illusions of how we should look kick in.
An unhealthy self-image does not discriminate. It doesn’t matter what gender, age, weight, height, race or background you are. It festers in you and can lead to poor decision making, desperation and depression. We take diet pills, eliminate food groups, and look for quick fixes that ultimately fail, leading to an even unhealthier self-image. I was on that Ferris wheel for a good while. I had trouble accepting realistic goals and remembering that body image is just one part of me. I have many other attributes that make up who I am as person. It is just hard, because people see us, before “know” us.
Part of my own healthy journey was discovering a positive way to make healthy modifications in my life, that didn’t quite frankly…. make me feel like shit. I have discussed in a previous blog post that one of the biggest surprises for me about Beachbody was discovering what a supportive community it was. It does celebrate people transforming themselves by losing weight, but it doesn’t beat down your throat that it is the most important factor. In fact, what I have heard the most was “It is not about being skinny, it is about being healthy & strong”. Losing weight and being thinner is a wonderful result of being healthy for a lot of people. Also, being thin doesn’t mean being healthy either. This is why my goal is to be healthy. NOT THIN. This is also why I choose Beachbody. Their programs have been around for over 17 years and are based on good nutrition and fitness. It is the lasting lifestyle change that fosters and supports a healthier self-mage.
Part of becoming healthy is accepting a healthy self-mage. Let’s strip ourselves of what we think we need to be and accept the goal of a healthier version of who we are. We need to remember that our body image is just a portion of the whole painting. Once we can accept that, we will also accept what a masterpiece each of us are.
For more information about having a healthier body image check out these tips below from The Body Project, a book by Joan Brumberg, Ph.D.
Becoming our body’s best friend
• Be aware that your body is the instrument of your life and more than just decoration. Write a list of the amazing things your body does and allows you to do; think about this more than how it looks.
• Think of who positively influences you and whether the way they look decides their core value to you as a friend, coworker, boss or leader.
• Look around and recognize that people naturally come in different shapes and sizes. Hold your head up, walk proudly and cherish your uniqueness.
• Do not let your weight or body shape influence whether or not you participate in sports or other activities.
• Buy clothes and styles that make you feel comfortable and confident.
• Always count your blessings and never count blemishes and other natural imperfections.
• Consider all you can do with your time and energy instead of worrying about or trying to perfect your body image. Then do those things!
• Remember these ‘free body makeover’ facts….your skin replaces itself every month, your stomach lining replaces itself every five days, your liver replenishes every six weeks, and your skeleton does it every three months.
• Each night remember to appreciate your body and what it did for you that day.
• Discover an exercise you enjoy and make it a habit. Do not just exercise to lose weight.
• Remember a time in your life when you felt confident about your body – or simply didn’t think about it! Choose to feel that way again now.
• Identify five positive characteristics of yourself — and don’t include any that focus on your looks.
• Make a sign and put it on your mirror telling yourself you are a beautiful person both inside and outside to help build your self-esteem.
• Do not starve or stuff yourself. Eat when you feel hungry and stop when you are full.