Last week I wrote my thoughts on the WW weekly topic relating to Body Image. A tough topic. Not one most want to talk about. And it doesn’t matter our age, our weight, or our gender. Many have negative thoughts about our bodies or parts of our bodies. And those thoughts are so ingrained in our psyches, influenced by people in our lives or the many media forms, print and online.
I spent a lot of time this past week thinking about the body image topic and working on shifting my thoughts about my own body. I even went to a second workshop.
That second workshop made me think. The coach asked questions of us that were meant to get us thinking.
And I asked those questions of myself too.
How do those negative thoughts/beliefs/words impact our day? What would change if we said/thought/believed something positive? What impact would focusing on just the positive have on our journey, our day?
And why is it so important to shift from negative to positive?
How does one shift a mindset or shift the negative beliefs to positive ones?
THAT is the question. THAT is the difficulty. If it was easy to change our beliefs, our thoughts, our immediate reactions, then we would never have a negative thought. But it is NOT easy!
Yet, it is so important. Changing those negatives changes how we see ourselves and how we treat ourselves. Getting rid of negative thoughts and changing them to positive thoughts changes our relationship with us and changes our relationship with the world around us including our relationship with food. Yes, shifting a negative mindset will change everything!
Think about it for a minute— if you started your day looking in the mirror and only seeing what you perceived as “wrong” with you, only saying negative things (“my hair is so frizzy and I hate that” or “ugh! How disgusting!” “I will never be pretty” “even sucking in my stomach doesn’t work” “my legs are to big so I cannot wear those shorts” or a host of other negative things!), how would those negative words impact your day? How would you feel by starting your day that way? What would your choices look like? Would you choose the delicious healthy breakfast or go for the doughnuts? Would you skip your workout? Would you want to do anything to take care of you? I wouldn’t…..
Starting my day in a negative frame of mind, would set the tone for the entire day. And it would not be a positive tone at all. My choices reflect my thoughts. They always have. They always will.
But if you started your day looking in the mirror and seeing something beautiful, something positive, saying something that made you smile (“my eyes are shining today” “Hello beautiful” “Those stretchmarks, well they are proof of the miracle of life, those babies!” “Boy are my arms strong” “Look at those strong legs that carry me everywhere I need to go” “Today I woke up and that is worth celebrating” or a myriad of other upbeat and positive things) how would those positives impact your mindset, your choices, your day? Would you want that healthy meal? Would you want to go for that walk with your friend or get in the pool for some activity? Would you want to do things that take care of you? I would……
So, with all of these questions and thoughts going through my head this past week after attending the second workshop, I set out to find a way to shift my mindset and my thoughts.
How? How do you stop negatives that have been with you for a lifetime? How do you get rid of the voice in your head from long ago, telling you how ugly you are… telling you all that is wrong with you? How do you let go of the images that are EVERYWHERE in our society that show us what a “perfect” body looks like (and an unrealistic body since most of those images are highly photoshopped/edited)? I can tell you it is NOT easy. It is hard! But NOT IMPOSSIBLE!
It starts with recognition. It starts with HEARING your words and knowing they are not helping. Only then can you begin to change those thoughts and shift your mindset. Then it takes INTENTIONALLY saying something positive. INTENTIONALLY focusing on the positive. Every. Single. Day. Making it a habit. And that takes time, sometimes a lot of time. And it requires COMMITMENT. When we first say that positive thing in place of the negative, well we may not believe it….not that first time, maybe not the second time, maybe not until he 100th time. Commitment to intentionally focusing on the positive means we keep doing it even when we don’t quite believe it, because eventually we will believe it. Eventually we will automatically go to that positive place. And that is when we know that we have shifted our mindset, we have made a habit change.
To that end, I decided to do something I had started a while ago, but to take it up a notch. I had gotten in the habit of writing positive affirmations on the mirror above my bathroom sink, using dry erase markers. Those positive affirmations made me smile. So, if they worked on my mind in a positive way, then maybe writing positive thoughts about the parts of my body I didn’t like would help too. But the mirror above my sink wasn’t the best place to write those, because, it wasn’t across from the shower… I could avoid that mirror until I was clothed (I know TMI).
But…. The mirror on the backside of the barn-door that covered the entry to my bathroom, THAT mirror I couldn’t avoid. That mirror was the one that I hated. That mirror was where I needed to write my positive thoughts. And I did just that this week. “Hello Beautiful” at the top. Positives about my arms. Positives about my abs/stomach. Positives about me. Yes, my arms are strong and can hug my loved ones. Yes, my stretchmarks prove the miracle of life, that I had two beautiful boys. Yes, I am strong.
Seeing those words every morning and every night is changing something in my mind. Changing my attitude. Changing my view of the world around me and my view of me. Those words start my day on the right note, a positive note. And that positive start helps me to deal with stresses differently. And the little things don’t seem to bother me as much as they had before. My whole outlook is a little brighter and more positive (and I tend to be a pretty positive person anyway, except when it comes to critiques about myself). And those positives at night, well it just ends the day in a brighter way for me.
Shifting negative body image thoughts to positive ones, does not mean we are choosing to stay where we are at in this moment. I still want to lose more weight. That is a goal of mine. I want to be healthier, stronger and live longer. So, changing to a positive body image does not mean I am giving up on my goals and accepting this is where I am supposed to be. No. It is about being happy and finding the positives now, where I am at now and still working toward my goals. Happy people make healthier choices. And I said above that my choices reflect my thoughts. By being positive, thinking positive, loving me where I am at right now, I am helping myself to move forward toward my goals. Because, when I am in a positive mindset, I make better choices when it comes to food, activity and taking care of me. That is why this topic is so important right now. Loving our bodies in every stage, finding something positive about us and our bodies, actually helps us get to our goals. What do you think? Do your choices reflect your thoughts, too?
With all of that in mind, how can you start to change your views about you? How can you start to change your thoughts and make them more positive? What would that do for your day? How would that impact your choices? What one thing can you do today that will help you to take a step forward in changing your negative thoughts to positive?
You can do it! I can do it! We just have to take that first step….