Statistics don’t lie. About 45% of men and more than 50% of women struggle with body image problems in most researches around the world.
Body image is unfortunately not something a lot of people talk about, but it’s SO important for our mental health and the quality of our lives.
Having body confidence means feeling comfortable in your own skin and not comparing yourself to others. It doesn’t mean you have to lose 10 kilos or fit into those jeans sitting in the back of your closet.
When you feel comfortable and confident, EVERYTHING in your life gets better. If we truly want to make each day on this earth great, it all starts with the relationship we have with ourselves.
What is BODY CONFIDENCE?
Body confidence is accepting – and celebrating! – your own body as it is at this very moment. And it’s also celebrating the same thing in others.
No body shaming. No pressure to fit into a cookie-cutter image.
It means appreciating and loving yourself for being uniquely YOU, as you are right now in this moment!
It starts at a very young age and applies to both men and women.
Did you know that six out of 10 girls in New Zealand withdraw from activities because of poor body confidence? And that nearly 28% of male college students who participated in a study about body image were at risk of developing an eating disorder?
For women, it can mean you might feel like you’re not thin enough (or you’re too thin), your butt is too small (or too big), your arms are not toned (or too toned), or it could even be that your hair is too curly – or too straight (or there might not be enough of it!).
For men, it can be tied into the size of their muscles, the state of their abs, their height, skin, or hair loss.
What is NOT body confidence?
A negative body image can cause such an amount of negative energy and unnecessary pressure and stress that it can easily turn into lack of confidence, anxiety in social contest and even into depression or eating disorders.
Our world is flooded with messages in the media and in our society about how we should look, act, dress, think and believe.
Without alternative role models that challenge the media stereotype, we are often left with just the media’s messages of how we should look and be. The ironic thing is, even the people pictured in those “ideal” photos don’t look that way in everyday life!
How to boost your body confidence from today
What if, for right now, you started appreciating your body for its amazing, one-of-a-kind uniqueness? For all the incredible things it can do?
These are 4 steps you can take today to start feeling more confident about yourself almost immediately!
1. Keep Words Positive
This very first step is to watch the words you use to talk about yourself and others. Are you always very critical and focused on the negative and things you don’t like?
- Then you need to redirect your energy to notice your positive traits. Your inner voice should be encouraging and respectful of yourself and others.
- Show respect for people of different shapes, sizes, abilities, and appearance. You don’t know their journey, so be respectful and don’t judge.
- Love yourself and others for what you all are. Write down at least 10 of your positive traits and do the same for your best friend or relative or partner. Read them aloud to them.
- Don’t criticize yourself in front of others. This can lead the way to more criticism from others as they will think it’s ok to be critical of you, too.
2. Less Social Media, More Positive Role Models
Remind yourself of why you use Social Media every time you find yourself scrolling the Gram uncontrollably. They are there to help us stay connected, not to detract value to our life.
- Start by unfollowing those feeds which make you feel you don’t measure up and leave a mark on your self-confidence and mental health.
- Select carefully few positive role models who inspire and empower you to be yourself and love what your body can do. Lately some CrossFit athletes have started to post pictures of themselves before and after competitions to show their followers what their real self look like on normal days. It’s not only sculpted bodies and lean abs at all times.
- Think critically of the media. Don’t buy into every ad campaign that is designed to make you feel bad about how you look so that you go buy their product.
- Limit your social interactions to stay connected with people that you admire and love and that love you in return for what you are. Negativity does only bring more negativity around!
3. Focus on What Your Body CAN Do
How many times you’ve heard “I need to get fit first, before going to the gym?”
Deep down we all know the opposite is true. Nobody will wake up one day magically feeling “fit enough” to step into the gym. Have faith in what your body can do and:
- Don’t end up relying on external validation such as the scale, the mirror, and other people to tell you how you feel about yourself and what your body can or cannot do.
- Start taking pride in all of the amazing things your body CAN do – and start loving it for its hard work to support you in your daily life (from simple functions like breathing to complicated movements like a workout at the gym)
- Exercise has huge benefits not only for your body, but for your mind and mood too. Lower levels of stress, increased energy levels and social interaction during physical activity will boost your confidence in your body image and in yourself.
4. Set Healthy Goals
If your health and fitness goals feel like a punishment or if you set unrealistic goals which entangle you in strict rules, it’s time to create better goals which empower you and add value to your life.
- Set goals not rules. Make sure your goals are healthy and about more than just weight or physical appearance. For example, when it comes to workouts, what if instead of trying to fit into a certain size pants, you went after a fun or performance-based goal, like training for a 10K, hitting a squat PR, or joining a football training camp?
- Focus on feeling better rather than looking better. True health and fitness is about what’s on the inside and appreciating what our bodies can DO rather than what they look like. And this means prioritising our nutrition, physical exercise and mental health. If a diet or a strenuous training regimen doesn’t make us feel energised and better, that might not be a healthy approach to our life. Focus on how you FEEL (energised, athletic, vibrant) rather than how you look!
- Ask for help. Whether to a friend, your partner or your coach. Don’t be afraid to open up about your goals to other people. They might have been there before you or they might give you another perspective about yourself and your body.
The CONFIDENT you
Next time you’re hitting the beach or taking off your shirt at the gym, remember to be the real YOU. The real authentic, genuine and unapologetic YOU. The CONFIDENT you.
When you feel confident, you become to feel empowered to step outside your comfort zone and more full and meaningful possibilities start to open up for you.
Remember, love your body and it will love you in return.