Sunday, March 8, 2009

Self-esteem, Body Image & Weight Issues

In honor of Women’s History Month, let’s change our personal histories by releasing all issues of body image and poor self-esteem. The awesome side effect of this change is weight loss and thin thinking.

Most women are self critical of their bodies and unfortunately critical of other women’s bodies as well. Studies and surveys are not necessary to prove this to be true. Just think about what you said to yourself as you looked in the mirror this morning. Did you say, ‘you beautiful thing,’ or ‘my face looks fat’? Self criticism leads to poor self-esteem and negative body image that creates weight issues like eating disorders or perpetual yo-yo dieting. If you are unhappy with your body, you may decide to take a drastic dieting measure to lose weight as fast as you can to feel better quickly. The drastic measure is typically not a good plan and you will probably self criticize more harshly when it fails. You may respond to this by eating everything thing in site since you ‘blew the diet’ and the yo-yo cycle starts over.

The ramifications of this negative behavior reach far beyond our bathroom mirrors. It is affecting future women. Studies have shown that young girls start dieting as early as the fourth grade. These girls are listening to the statements women of influence make about their bodies. Does your daughter hear your self criticisms? Does your niece hear you tell yourself that you are going to diet because you look fat? As women, we are helping to perpetuate this issue. This self critical behavior is a choice that we can control. We can make a different choice and change the future for our selves, our daughters, granddaughters and nieces.

Media also plays a part in our self assessment as well as our daughters’ and nieces’ self assessments. We can control the effects of media by not purchasing the magazines or watching the television shows that negatively affect our body image and self esteem. Media needs our support to thrive. If fast food restaurants are now offering sliced apples as an alternative to fries in response to America’s weight issues, I believe that we can affect positive changes in the media for the same reason.

Here are three simple ways to effect change and release weight issues.

1. Love your body as-is. Love your best qualities as well as your perceived flaws. Verbalize this love for your body in place of verbalizing the self criticisms. Feel the love for yourself as you look in the mirror. Practice this exercise daily until it feels normal. It will begin to feel comfortable with practice. Positive feelings create positive choices to support your best body.

2. Compliment daily. Eliminate all self critical thoughts and statements as you recognize them in daily life. Do this for yourself and other women. Compliment yourself multiple times daily on your look and positive actions. Boost other women by complimenting them also. Give compliments to your female friends as well as women you do not know. This creates a new habit of women supporting women feeling good about themselves.

3. Avoid media that portrays women as unrealistically thin. Change the television station. Do not buy the magazines or the movie tickets. Support media and programming that portrays realistic looking women as smart and competent. Media will adjust their focus to capture our dollars.

Improving your self-esteem and body image perception will naturally lead to weight loss. When we feel good, we make better choices about food and exercise. When we feel bad, good choices are replaced with comfort foods, inactivity and more self criticisms. Teach other women to implement these simple strategies into their life. Women are hardwired to help and support others. Use this information to help and support your sisters, mothers, grandmothers, and girlfriends.

Boost your self-esteem and reduce your waistline!

Happy Women’s History Month,

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