A Body Acceptance Survival Kit

Title: A Body Acceptance Survival Kit

Author: Juliana Elg

Tags: hcatwestchester, selflove, mentalhealth, bodyimage, bodypositivity

As someone who struggled with disordered eating and unhealthy relationships with food, I have had a tough journey to self acceptance. It took me six years to finally love and accept my body unconditionally, and break my bad habits. Today I’m grateful for the body I have, but back then I only loved my body conditionally, I only appreciated it when I perceived it as being “good enough”. I measured its worth purely on aesthetics and neglected its needs as punishment when I felt I wasn’t beautiful enough. My adolescent years went on an endless cycle of starving myself to look a certain way, achieving the “look” I wanted, realizing the unhealthy habits I formed and taking on a guilty conscience, taking care of myself and gaining the weight back, and finally hating how I looked and as a result and went back to starving myself and start the whole cycle over. I went on like this for years until this past summer when I finally took a hard look at myself in the mirror and asked “Why am I so obsessed with my body anyway? Why do I only love myself when I’m thin, even if my thinness is only a physical representation of how poorly I treat myself?”. It took a lot of convincing myself of things I didn’t completely believe to be true, but eventually I learned to love my body unconditionally, and here’s how I did it. 

 

  1. Delete/Remove Absolutely Anyone Who Triggers You Into Going Back to Unhealthy Habits

Woman staring at phone at night Photo by mikoto.raw from Pexels  

This for me meant unfollowing a lot of models on Instagram. Maybe for you this means spending less time with a friend who makes critical comments about your body, or setting healthy boundaries with a parent who tries to control your diet. The key here is reducing exposure to anyone or anything that makes you think negatively about your body. I stopped watching “What I Eat in a Day” videos on YouTube, I avoided people who regularly made comments about my body, and I made sure that I only encountered body positive content on my social media platforms. Sit down and think about the kind of things that could be unpleasant for you to encounter in terms of your self love journey, and do your best to limit your exposure to them from now on. 

  1. Change Your Inner Dialogue 

woman looking at her reflection in mirror Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

This is easier said than done, but if you can change your mental script from pointing out your perceived flaws into giving credit to your body and the things it does for you, you will feel a lot better. I noticed that whenever I try to correct my negative self talk by saying something I like about my body, it felt very unauthentic. For example if I looked in the mirror and didn’t like how my stomach looked, I would try to counter it by forcing myself to find another physical attribute that I liked. Trying to counter negative thoughts about your appearance by forced positive thoughts about your appearance can be tricky. Instead, try to say something positive about your body that doesn’t involve looks at all. Next time you catch yourself saying negative things about your body, say three positive things your body does for you, for example you could say “I love my legs because they help me walk anywhere” or “I love my stomach because it stores my food and allows me to have energy” or “I love my hands because they allow me to create beautiful things”. 

  1. Eat and Exercise Mindfully 

Person Wearing Brown Bubble Jacket Photo by Burst from Pexels

Eating is not shameful and exercise is not punishment for eating. When you have disordered eating habits it’s very easy to fall into this sort of pattern of punishing your body for, well, being a body. When you eat, try to remind yourself that you are nourishing yourself and performing an act of self care. When you exercise, make sure you do it out of a place of love and tenderness, not a place of frustration and self-hatred. Exercising is a way of showing your body that you love it and want to take care of it, don’t confuse it by being harsh to it in the process. 

    Practicing these methods was really hard for me at first. But as time progressed I noticed I was more patient with myself and ultimately more accepting. Appreciating and accepting my body became a tiny bit easier each day and looking back I’m very proud of myself for taking initiative and healing myself from my own destruction.