CULTIVATING A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE - VICTORIA MYERS

Beautiful Inside and Out...Strong...Knowledgeable...Passionate...and INSPIRING, I am so excited to introduce y'all to Victoria Myers!!! Another woman in my TRIBE, who I respect and admire for her fearlessness of being unapologetically herself!!! She helps educate others - To eat intuitively...To live authentically...To practice self-care...and most importantly to LOVE YOURSELF!!! We need more women like Victoria and I hope you will continue to read what she has to say about cultivating a healthy body image in today's society. ENJOY!!!

CULTIVATING A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE

Well, hello! I'm so thankful for this opportunity to talk about some of my favorite topics, the body positive movement and how to cultivate a healthy body image. 

The body positive movement is growing right now and is currently a buzzword for sure in the health and wellness space. Of course, its something that I want every person to experience, because it feels AMAZING to have love and compassion for your body. Every single person deserves that! But I think a good place to start this conversation is actually talking about who the movement is for.

To put it simply, the body positive movement is meant primarily for the marginalized bodies of today's world. While we are all affected by diet culture, and I think each of us can attest to feeling the weight of diet culture on our shoulders and the need to shrink our bodies, many of us still are not as stigmatized as those in larger bodies, disabled bodies, older bodies and the like. 

The body positive movement is for all of us, but primarily for understanding that we need representation and respect of every body type out there.

Personally, I have always felt the need to shrink my body and to be smaller. For many reasons...because I am a woman, because I am a dietitian, because I am a blogger...the list could go on. I felt like I always had to look and be "perfect" for what I had to say to have validity. The pursuit to have the perfect body led me down a deep hole of restricting and binge eating, orthorexia, over-exercising, constant anxiety and contributing to major health issues I experienced.

CULTIVATING A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE

But even as terrible as all the repercussions of the pursuit of the perfect body was, I am so incredibly thankful for each of these learning opportunities. To teach me to love my body as it is, right here, right now. To say screw it to diet culture and give up the dieting and disordered eating for intuitive eating. To learn over time to love my body. I feel that if all of us can begin to love our bodies and heal our relationship with food, we can also continue to propel the body positive movement forward and ensuring that ALL of us experience it. 

So...how do we begin to cultivate a healthy body image, love our bodies and join the body positive movement?

1. Develop boundaries - Develop boundaries for the kinds of conversations you have about body image to co-workers, friends, and family. Develop boundaries as well for the information you consume, on social media, magazines, TV, etc. Unfollow people who make you feel unworthy or less than in your own body, or who promote poor body image in others. Develop boundaries for the length of time you spend on social media and consuming content in order to avoid the comparison trap. I personally find having my morning and nighttime without any outside influences (like Instagram) allows me to consume the content more mindfully, choosing to be inspired by it instead of comparing myself to others. I also find it very helpful to follow bodies of all shapes and sizes, people outside of the health and wellness space, people of different races, genders, ages, etc to ensure I am getting a good representation of what true health looks like.

2. See your body as something more than its appearance- Understanding that our bodies do amazing things, that have nothing to do with our bodies appearances is vital to cultivating positive body image. This is where I began my journey, by choosing daily to STOP thinking of my body's appearance and instead focusing on the amazing things it did for me. I walked today, I am so thankful for legs that move. I helped a client today, I am thankful for my compassion to help others. Focusing on aspects outside of what we look like (both physical and mental abilities our bodies provide us) and having gratitude for each of those abilities goes such a long way in this journey.

3. Start with being neutral towards your body - Look, I get it, in the beginning, if someone would have said to me you will one day love your body fat, I would have looked at them like they were crazy! After steps one and two, I believe this next step is crucial. Just be NEUTRAL towards your body. This is a great leap from hating your body and is progress towards loving it. Every time you think to yourself something negative about your body, stop yourself and turn it into a neutral comment. So instead of saying, "Ugh my thighs are SO big, I hate them so much", instead say "I have thighs that touch". Period. Understanding that this doesn't have to be a negative thing (because let's remember the only reason we think this is a bad thing is because society says so), it is just stating a neutral comment and then moving forward with life.

4. Developing love towards your body - Again, this didn't come first for me nor was the easiest part of this. This work is HARD. But it so uplifting, empowering and so damn worth it. Overtime of developing steps one through three as part of how I viewed my body, I was then slowly able to change the internal comments to positive ones. I began to love my thick thighs. The cellulite covering all my legs and stomach. The body fat I hated for so long, I truly began to see as beauty in my eyes. Because I realized that I, and only I, get to choose how I see beauty. I had spent my entire life being influenced by others views of how I should look, I never stopped to ask myself- but what do I value? What do I truly believe in? Shifting my perspective and seeing my body, and ALL bodies as beautiful has truly been life changing.

5. Use your voice to advocate for change - This last step is a must! Once we cultivate positive body image, self-love and join the body positive movement, I believe it is our duty to use our voices to stand up for the changes we need to see in our society. So many of us have been affected by diet culture, and every single person out there deserves a life free from the restrictions it has placed on us. My favorite way to advocate for change is actually quite simple...Be a role model. When you hear others hating on their bodies, talking about how they need to change their bodies, or the new diet they are starting on, simply do not encourage it by not adding to the negative talk. You may feel comfortable talking to the person about your own struggle with body image and how you got to a place of love, but not everyone can be ready for that message. If they are, great! If not, no worries! Just keep the conversation light and find a way to transition the conversation to something else. By simply not contributing to the diet and negative body image talk we can begin to shift the way each of us views ourselves, and then truly begin to change the world.

CULTIVATING A HEALTHY BODY IMAGE

I truly hope this post today helps you to cultivate positive body image, and I'd love to hear from you on your progress towards body positivity! Keep me updated by tagging me at @victoriamyers_.