I came to an important realization this week about this month's theme. I am trying to show you all of the cool ways your body moves and how you can train it effectively, which is great for in the gym, but that's 30 minutes to 1.5hours of your 24 hour day. Feeling confident in the body that you train goes way beyond the work you put in in the gym. So for today's post I want to share with you a few of the ways I have overcome some of my own body confidence issues.
It is really hard to walk through life and not be hard on myself. I hold myself to a high standard and pride myself on taking on challenges. This mindset of striving for more and for better is great in my educational and professional pursuits, but when it comes to my body, it has proven to be quite damaging.
My roommates in college found it funny when we were going out to see me come out in one outfit, and tell me it looked great, but that they wouldn't get attached to it because they knew I would change it before the night started. The truth is, I used to look at myself in outfits that my friends would wear and see how I looked different. My boobs didn't fill out the shirt as well, or my pants didn't sit on my hips as nicely. The truth about my wardrobe change routine was that I was just searching for the outfit that I disliked my body the least in. Yes, this sounds kind of sad, but it is the reality of being really hard on myself and constantly judging how I looked in comparison to my friends.
It wasn't until the end of my final year in college that I looked myself in the mirror and said to myself "this is a women's body - this is my female body - and everyday I do something good for this body that will make me even more beautiful than the day before". I switched my focus from seeing the "ideal" female body, to seeing my body as one of the many versions of a beautiful body. I forced my brain to see my daily actions as what made me strong and beautiful. What I put in my body and how I trained my body was the true reflection of my worth because I was showing my body the care and attention that it deserves.
This took time and practice to make it something that actually stuck in my mind. I still definitely have days where I see the "flaws" and compare them to my friends and family, but I am much better at pushing those thoughts out of my mind.
Positive self-talk is something so simple, and yet so effective when it comes to improving your own body confidence. Little reminders from the only person that matters - yourself - is an excellent way to train the brain to stop looking outside yourself for worth and for beauty. Over time you will look at yourself in the mirror and see how your body reflects all of the wonderful things that you are doing for it. Whether that is good sleep, excellent nutrition, healthy relationships, or a solid workout routine, you want to have your mind in the right place to actually be able to appreciate everything that you do for your body.
Forget about the numbers
I know for some people they find that tracking the fitness metrics is really motivating. That is not the case for me - or at least it wasn't when I was working on a healthier body image. Towards the end of my time in college we were practicing for our practical exams quite a bit. This involved stepping on a scale a couple of times a week, as this is part of most fitness assessments. So a couple of times a week I was getting a reminder of what my weight was. As a woman it is so common for our weight to fluctuate on a day-to-day basis. Put that over a 4 week span and you will definitely see some changes as our bodies move through our menstrual cycle. This was really demotivating and I found myself going from one extreme to the next. I would tell myself to be super strict about my diet, and then i'd step on the scale and my weight would go up, so I would go home and get twizzlers, some puffy cheetos, and some other snack, and eat them all in one sitting.
When I finally got off of the scale, and brought myself back to the basics of good nutrition, and regular exercise, that's when I started to regain a little more control over how I felt in my own skin. Judging my health based on how I felt was liberating, and pairing that with my positive self-talk set me on a path towards healthy weight loss, and improved self-esteem.
I have mentioned this before that I used to think that at my height, I should be at a certain weight. Right now I sit 20lbs heavier than what I thought I "should" be, and I have never felt better in my life. Giving up my own preconceived ideas of what a goal weight should be for myself meant that for the times I did have to stand on the scale, that those 3 numbers no longer controlled how I felt about my general fitness. I always like to give my clients the example of Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Here's a guy who is however tall he is and probably weighs more than 250lbs. Now, you can be 250 lbs of lean, healthy tissue, or you can be 250 lbs of unhealthy, fatty tissue. Both still read 250lbs on the scale. So focus on what the body is made of instead of focusing on what that adds up to on the scale.
Take negativity & judgement out of the equation
My brain works in such a way that I see many things in life as a formula. I just need to put in the right values into the formula, and then I will get a result that is somewhat predictable. I did this for essays in english, and this is when I finally started to do well in english class. I also do this for client programs - lift this much, move this much, eat this way and they will achieve a certain goal. So when it comes to body confidence there were a couple of values that I had decided would give me either positive or negative body confidence.
In order to feel good about my body I needed to eat well, fit my clothes nicely, have a kickass workout, receive at least one compliment, feel like I looked like people I admired on instagram, and not dislike any part of my body that day. This made my body confidence an incredibly fragile thing.
I realized very quickly that I could have all of those except one, and my whole day would be thrown off. I would see someone on instagram post a picture and get way more likes than my last selfie, and that would make me feel shitty. Or I would go out feeling really great, and have no one say anything. This one happened a lot when I would go out with friends and they'd all get attention from boys at the bars but it seemed like no one even noticed me. If I ate one "bad" thing, that would quickly throw off my day, and if I chose the wrong pair of pants that day and they didn't slip on nicely, or my stomach bulged through the elastic waist-band then that was game over.
It wasn't until I really started to practice the positive self-talk that I realized I needed to change the equation entirely. Stop leaving it up to how I interpret how the world sees me, and give myself complete and total control of how I am perceived. So I deleted instagram for a while, made sure I only wore clothes that fit me really well, built a really great workout program, and worked on my relationship with food through intermittent fasting. With all of those aspects taken care of I was able to give myself new variables for the equation and made it very simple:
Positive body confidence = Did I do something good for my body today?
To wrap this all up, I just want each and every one of you to know that I get that it is tough to feel good all the time. You shouldn't expect yourself to feel amazing 100% of the time because we would never be able to appreciate the really great days if we didn't have a couple crummy days mixed in. The world makes it really easy to judge ourselves and compare ourselves to others. Most businesses count on that negative perception of self to make their money! So as best as you can, try a few of the things I talked about in this post. Training the mind takes time, just like training anything else, so be patient and stick with it! Over time you will start to notice that you can be out in the world and focusing on how cool the world we live in is, instead of only seeing the things that make you feel less beautiful than the people around you.
I hope you have enjoyed this post as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you :)
Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's most recent research, her travel adventures, and her personal fitness journey.