Have you ever dreaded going to the gym because of how your body looks? I have, and let me tell you: body insecurity can be debilitating. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Read on to learn why we struggle with body image and how you can overcome it.
Women and Body Insecurity
As women, we have been conditioned to dislike our bodies. Most of us grew up with unhealthy role models on television and in magazines; photoshopped bodies that were impossible to mimic. Society places a huge emphasis on the way women look, from our hair to our makeup to, yes, our bodies.
The years of chasing what the world told us was “perfection” has left many of us emotionally damaged. It’s understandable, then, that many of us are unhappy with what we see in the mirror, no matter how many people tell us otherwise.
For those of us with body insecurity, going to the gym can trigger a host of unwanted feelings. There are mirrors everywhere, tons of people we perceive to be fitter, thinner, or hotter than we are.
But here is what you need to remember: you’re at the gym because you want to get stronger and be healthier. You’re there because you can appreciate the body you’re in, and you want to treat it right.
Everyone at the gym has insecurities. Everyone. So, when you feel that wave of self-doubt and start in on the negative self-talk, step back for a moment and remember how incredibly strong you are. Strong, even if you are just starting out.
Appreciating the Jiggly Bits
I struggle with body insecurity because of what I call my “jiggly bits.” I’ve had two children, and I’ve lost a lot of weight. Consequently, my body is not as taut as I’d like it to be...humorously (and sadly) so at times.
But I’ve come to love my jiggly bits because they are reminders of what my incredible body can do. Those stretch marks? They are there because I brought life into the world. My loose skin? It’s there because I made a decision to get healthy, I lost weight, and I became a better, more energetic version of myself. The scars I have are reminders of the challenges I’ve overcome. And the wrinkles that seemingly increase with each passing day are reminders that I’ve been given the gift of time – time with my spouse, children, friends, and family.
Those “imperfections” that I focus on aren’t imperfections at all. They are evidence of a life well-lived and experiences that have formed me into the woman I am today.
Embracing my body and learning to appreciate the skin I’m in didn’t happen overnight. Like most of you, I struggle with self-image daily. But one thing I find incredibly helpful is to practice positive self-talk.
I start by imagining what I would say to a 13-year-old me, when I was impressionable and really struggling with self-image. What would that young girl need to hear that might make her love her body a little more?
Additionally, when those voices of self-doubt start-up in my head – when I criticize my body or start to compare myself to someone else – I think about my children. I imagine myself saying those things to them.
How hurtful and horrible it would be for my children to hear those awful messages, right? If I wouldn’t dare say those things to my kids, why on earth am I okay saying them to myself?
If we want to be more comfortable in our own bodies – if we want to go to the gym with our heads held high – we have to start by loving and appreciating ourselves.
Positive self-talk is the first step. Start with daily positive affirmations. Stand in front of the mirror and say them to yourself, out loud. Positive affirmations might be phrases like:
- I am strong.
- I am worthy.
- I am capable.
- My body deserves love.
- I am complete and whole, just the way I am.
- My body can do incredible things.
It might feel strange to say these positive affirmations. And some days, you might not even believe them. But the more you say them out loud, the more realistic and believable these affirmations become. Self-love and body positivity don’t happen overnight. It’s a lifelong journey – one you can start today!
Be proud of who you are. All women deserve to be healthy and strong!