Comparison is the thief of joy and the stretcher of truth. Comparison says “I am ill-equipped for the task at hand.”
In the last 6 months, did you ever look in the mirror and say “I’m too fat, or I’m too skinny, I wish I was taller, or I wish I had a bigger butt?” These are all examples of self-talk surrounding body image. Webster’s defines body image as a subjective picture of one’s own physical appearance established both by self-observation and by noting reactions of others.
In other words, body image is how we see ourselves and how we think others see us.
In the world of social media, we are influenced daily of what’s considered attractive, and how we should look and dress.
As a woman, we are shown images of what’s considered a “perfect” or “tolerable” size from the width of our hips to the plumpness of our breasts to the flatness of our tummies. We are shown living mannequins who seem born perfect when the unknown truth is they have their plastic surgeon on speed dial.
Positive body image is something many people have difficulty dealing with on a regular basis. There are four focal points when discussing body image including perceptual, cognitive, behavioral, and affective.
Perceptual refers to how you see yourself. Whether it’s accurate or not, when you look in the mirror, what do you see looking back at you?
Cognitive refers to the way you think about yourself. "I think I’ll be more attractive with a smaller nose or if I built more muscle."
Behavioral refers to actions people engage in because of body image. If I think I am fat then I begin to obsessively exercise or develop an eating disorder.
Affective refers to the way you feel about your body. How satisfying or dissatisfying your experiences related to appearance and weight has on your feelings.
Even though changing appearances and self-image can be difficult, it requires consistency while focusing on positive perspectives of change. Some steps to change body image include:
Set realistic goals. For example, losing 10 pounds in a week is unhealthy, unmanageable, and potentially dangerous.
Focus on your positive qualities, skills, and talents. You are amazing, tell yourself everyday.
Avoid negative self-talk. Replace the negative thoughts with uplifting and empowering thoughts.
Avoid comparisons. We all have differences which makes us unique and special. Embrace each unique characteristic. They are not flaws.
Be conscious about the influence of social media. Many images use filters and are unrealistic. If you find that negative thoughts increase after scrolling on your IG page, discover encouraging and empowering influencers who support positive growth and self-acceptance instead of negative comparisons.
Focus on what your body can do and has done. It can do some very amazing things.
If changing your appearance is a new year resolution; remember to make SMART goals and use consistency, intention, focus and patience to follow through on that goal.
Losing weight is a common New Year's Resolution but building muscle is healthier, safer for the body and helps replace negative perspectives about weight. You don’t need a diet. You need a healthy lifestyle change. Healthy tips for building muscle needs to focus on the following:
Be specific on what you want to achieve.
Make it measurable. Do you want to lift a specific weight or lose specific number of inches? You’ll lose inches faster than pounds.
Make it attainable which is accomplished within a certain time frame.
Relevant goals should align with values and long-term purposes.
Time specific goals need to have an end date to prioritize tasks.
Think 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight (example, if you weigh 120 pounds, attempt to eat about 120 grams of protein during the day). This may be very difficult to achieve but attempt to start with consuming half your body weight in grams of protein.
If you increase your food intake, you must increase your physical activity
Reduce carbs after a workout. Carbs reduce protein breakdown, so enjoy a peanut butter sandwich or have a protein drink.
Start lifting weights. Running on a treadmill won’t build the muscle you're looking for.
Use exercises that challenge multiple joints and muscles at the same time. (Example: deadlifts focus on hamstrings, glutes, and back.
Mind-muscle connection; control each motion, no jerking .
Allow your body to rest, alternate muscle groups. (Example: Mondays can focus on quads and calves; Tuesday can focus on back and shoulders.)
You are beautiful no matter what flaws you think you have.
Your Physical Therapist,
This information is generalized and intended for educational purposes only. Due to potential individual contraindications, please see your primary care provider before implementing any strategies in these posts