I was recently contacted by Jane Howdle, a writer for Women’s Fitness magazine, who asked me for my thoughts on improving body confidence for an article she was writing. Here’s what I sent to her:
- Look at yourself properly in the mirror every day. Try not to zone in on the areas you dislike – instead, start by looking at a part of your body you’re happy with (or at least, not as unhappy with as the others!) Look at yourself as though you are looking at a loved one and get comfortable with the image you see reflected back at you. Don’t forget to smile at yourself! Do this every day, building up the time you spend in front of the mirror to a few minutes at a time. Some people find this difficult to start with, but perseverance over a week or two can reap big rewards in your confidence levels.
- Start to appreciate your body for all the amazing things it does for you and not just for its appearance. Whether it’s healing a wound, running a 10k or breastfeeding a baby, the human body is a miraculous piece of equipment that it’s all too easy to take for granted. Write a love letter to your body or, if you’re feeling more creative, write your thanks directly onto the body parts in question – sounds crazy but it’s fun and powerful (not to mention quite artistic!)
- It’s very easy to spend most of the time disguising parts of the body you’re not happy with. Instead, switch your attention to the parts of your body you’d like to accentuate instead. You can focus your workout on these parts or invest in some jewellery or clothing that draw attention to the areas you want people to look at first. Like your arms? Keep them toned with a few weight exercises and go for sleeveless dresses and tops. Shapely ankles? Choose calf-length skirts or trousers and strappy shoes. By creating drama around the parts you do like, you won’t need to spend time or angst worrying about the bits you don’t – no one will be looking at them!
- Try some positive affirmations. These are short, positive statements in the present tense that you say out loud to yourself several times a day. It’s best to have two or three, and say them 3-4 times a day. You can choose something you like about your body (for example ‘I love my soft skin’), and/or a more general, positive message (for example ‘I feel good about my body just the way it is’ or ‘I am beautiful’). Don’t worry if you don’t believe these messages completely at first – you’ve been feeding yourself a punishing diet of self-criticism for so long that they might take a while to feel comfortable, but they will. If they are really hard to say, you can start by acknowledging your journey to confidence (for example ‘I am feeling better and better about myself every day’)
And here’s the finished article, as featured in Women’s Fitness, May 2013 issue: