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{Note from Jessica: Today’s post is shared by my good friend, Lauren, author of Lauren Fowler. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) and yoga teacher who promotes a non-diet approach to nutrition and health. She wants everyone to connect to their bodies intuitive wisdom rather than following diets. She encourages the tools of intuitive eating and health at every size. Stop by LaurenFlower.co to read more about nutrition, intuitive eating, heart-based health, and yoga.}

I used  to read women’s health and fitness magazines and convinced myself that if only I could follow the (extremely low-calorie) meal plans and fitness plans in them that I would finally get the body and life I wanted.

It wasn’t until years later I had the realization that the articles each month were nearly exactly the same, with a different variation on the meal plan and a different body part to tone or slim in the workouts. By that point, I had decided that my body deserved to be fully nourished with enough energy and nutrient-rich foods. I was working towards intuitive eating, but the body image ‘stuff’ was still there.

Body image is a huge struggle for most women in our society because we practically grow up hearing messages to be smaller (in size and voice), along with seeing images of thin women who appear to be happy with amazing lives. We see our friends, moms, or other influences in our lives dieting and trying to lose weight, so we learn that weight loss can be a hobby and a way to bond with other women.

The great news is when you become aware of your body image struggles and influences for you, it’s possible to start working on building a better body image. Most women struggle with body image at some point in their lives, and this includes women of all shapes and sizes.

Here are four actionable and mindset-focused ways to build a better image about your body. Like anything, these are practices, so start to incorporate them into your daily life to actually work on your body image.


Appreciate Your Body

Your body isn’t only your physical appearance. It’s your home. Each second, your lungs are breathing in air, your heart is beating, and your senses are engaged. You’re present and alive in the world.

While this is one of the most obvious facts, it’s often under-appreciated. We easily forget how much our body is doing to take care of us and remembering this can help you want to take care of your body.

Appreciating your body can be simply saying ‘thank you’ to your body, or taking daily steps towards self-care like making sure to get enough sleep, eating nourishing foods, or moving your body.

Recognize the Beauty of Body Diversity

While all bodies are beautiful, the images we see in the media are not realistic for women compared to the huge variety of body shapes and sizes in the world. We aren’t all meant to be thin or the same shape or size. While a thin body may be natural and healthy for some women (studies estimate only 3% of women are naturally ‘model-thin’), that’s not the only ‘acceptable’ body size.

Start to look around you at the women in your life to see and appreciate body diversity. Even if you can’t appreciate your own body yet, recognizing that body diversity exists – and is wonderful – is a powerful step towards a better body image.

Think Body Neutrality and Acceptance Before Body Love

You don’t have to wake up tomorrow and proclaim that you “love your body.” If you’ve spent years or your entire life in a state of war with your body, then it’s unrealistic to start to love your body immediately.

Instead, the first step may be moving towards accepting that you have a body first. When you can be body neutral, you can enter a state of observation with your body. You can start to observe the cues from your body like, “I’m hungry” or “I like how I feel when I dance” or “I’m tired” without judgment. While in the past, you may have judged or ignored your body’s cues and made decisions based on what you “should” or “shouldn’t” eat or how you “should” exercise, now you can just observe what your body is feeling.

Connect to Your Body

Connecting to your body is one of the most powerful practices towards building a better body image. A lot of people are disconnected from their bodies and live in their heads instead of their bodies.

One way to connect to your body is with movement that you enjoy. Instead of going out for a run or a Crossfit class that you don’t enjoy, start asking yourself how you feel when you move. Start to explore what movement you enjoy the most, and do that. When you enjoy the movement, you can be present in your body instead of fighting it.

Another way to connect to your body is with a breath practice. Lay down on a yoga mat or in your bed, and place your hands on your belly. Start to take deep breaths into your belly, and physically feel your belly move up and down. Notice how it feels in your body to expand and take deep breaths. Spending 5-10 minutes doing this practice a few times a week (or daily!) can be extraordinarily powerful to start to connect to and appreciate your body.

When you can become aware of your body image, then you can begin to work on it. Take small steps and start today by making one or more of these practices a daily habit. That’s what will bring actual change to your body image!

If you’re interested in more ideas for building a body image with worksheets, exercises, and personal stories, check out my ebook – Hips, Hunger, and the Pursuit of Healing – where you’ll learn lessons on intuitive eating and body image.

Hips Hunger & the Pursuit of Healing

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