My relationship with my body has always been complicated. Growing up, my mom and siblings ridiculed me for my size. I remember several occasions where I was called fat or made fun of for being “bigger”. Over the years, I’ve looked at pictures of myself from middle and high school and realized just how small I was, but I internalized their harsh words and always believed I was huge. I carried my hatred for my body into my adult years. 2016 was the first time I realized I was gaining weight. I remember stepping on the scale at work and seeing the number 185 pop up. I couldn’t believe I was almost 200 pounds. After that, I continued to gain weight, and how I felt about my body worsened.
For years, I thought my weight gain was due to my psychiatric medication. I’ve been on medication for my mental health since I was 11 or 12 and one of the main side effects of most psychiatric meds is weight gain. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2021 that me continuing to gain weight, no matter what I did made sense. It felt like the pounds were just packing on.
In 2019, I started a meal plan and began losing weight; however, after going through a traumatic breakup at the beginning of 2020, I gained the weight back, plus more. Between 2020 and 2021, I gained over 60 pounds. I reached my heaviest weight in June of 2021.
Being diagnosed with PCOS in September of 2021 was like a wake-up call. I had started and stopped my weight loss journey many times by this point. Not only did I hate the way my body looked, but I was also unhealthy. I knew I needed to make a change.
Deciding to start a weight loss journey isn’t easy. In a previous blog post, I mentioned that this journey is a mental one just as much as a physical one. I’ve been learning how to love and accept my body as it is while making healthy changes. I’m shedding pounds weekly, and I love watching my body transform.
I’m not where I want to be as far as my goal weight is concerned, but I have made significant progress. I still struggle with negative self-talk, but whenever I’m speaking negatively about myself, I try to replace the criticism with something positive. It’s a process; it takes time to unlearn what has been fed to me over the years regarding my body.
Learning to love and accept your body can be challenging. If you’re like me, you may constantly compare yourself to others. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to make changes as long as it’s done healthily and for the right reasons.
Here are a few tips if you’re struggling with self-esteem issues or have trouble embracing and loving what you see when you look in the mirror.
8 Ways to Love and Nourish Your Body 1. Mirror Work
Mirror work is one of my favorite ways to shower myself with love. It can be an uncomfortable process, but it is deeply healing.
To begin, look at yourself in the mirror. Stare into your eyes and notice what comes up for you. How do you feel? It’s normal to feel uneasy or awkward at first but hold your gaze.
Mirror work exposes the relationship you have with yourself.
When I’m doing mirror work, I like to recite affirmations. Sometimes, I’ll stand naked in the mirror and speak to my body lovingly. During this time, I embrace whatever emotions arise. When I first started practicing, I would get very emotional and could hardly even look at myself. Something else I’ve been doing since I was a teenager is writing down affirmations on sticky notes and putting them up around my home or on my mirror. This can be helpful for any negative inner dialogue you’re struggling with.
Stay committed to the process even if it’s hard for you starting out.
2. Mindful Movement
Mindful movement is a great way to listen to your body. It involves creating awareness of your body as you engage in physical activity.
When you move your body, it’s important to check in with how you’re feeling.
If you feel disconnected from your body, mindful movement may be beneficial. It will help you focus on the present moment while allowing you to connect with your body.
Some forms of mindful movement include:
Stretching, yoga, or Pilates
I enjoy dancing as a form of mindful movement. I love feeling my body sway from side to side without worrying about being judged. I feel so much freedom when I dance. When I’m alone, I let loose.
3. Do Something That Makes Your Body Feel Good Every Day
When learning to love your body, get in the habit of tending to its wants and needs. This could look like spending extra time moisturizing yourself after you take a shower or massaging your hands and feet. While doing this, you can repeat a loving mantra to yourself.
Taking time every day to do something that makes you feel good will gradually improve your relationship with your body.
Committing to showering your body with love will also evoke positive feelings.
Masturbation is one of my favorite ways to tune into my body while also pleasuring myself.
When we’re out of touch with our bodies, exploring masturbation can make us feel uneasy. We may struggle with self-intimacy or feel shame and guilt around masturbation. If you’re uncomfortable with the idea of masturbating, know that you are worthy and deserving of sexual pleasure.
Masturbation can be healthy and offers numerous benefits.
I prefer to use toys, but using your hands is also ok. I like to call this time with myself a self-love session. Sometimes I’ll light a candle and turn on my red fairy lights to “set the mood”.
What’s most important is doing what feels good to you.
5. Get Dressed Up
You don’t have to wait for a special occasion to get dressed up. I regularly do my makeup and hair and put on my favorite dress or lingerie set.
Even if you’re insecure about your body, being intentional about the clothes you wear and your overall look can make you feel amazing.
When you treat your body like it’s worthy, you reprogram your mind to send positive and loving messages to yourself.
6. Take Pictures
Taking pictures is another way to connect with your body. These can be any type of picture you’re comfortable with. The goal is to truly be able to see your body.
It’s ok if it’s difficult to look at yourself. I still struggle with how my body looks in photos sometimes.
Taking pictures is also an excellent way to track your progress if you’re on a weight loss journey.
7. Eat Healthy Foods
There’s nothing wrong with indulging in your favorite foods. I enjoy vegan tacos regularly; however, I also consume fruits and veggies daily. I believe it’s all about finding balance. Loving your body means nourishing it with foods that are good for you.
8. Accept Yourself
Accepting yourself as you are isn’t easy. Instead of focusing on what you may lack, embrace your body for what it is and all that it does for you.
To learn to accept yourself, start challenging any negative thoughts that arise by replacing them with positive ones. For example, I struggle with how my arms look, but instead of saying, “I hate my arms.” I can replace that negative thought by stating everything my arms allow me to do.
It’s also important to know that you can learn to accept your body while working to change it.
Shower Your Body With Love
The journey of loving and accepting your body can be challenging. We are constantly bombarded with images and videos of what our bodies “should” look like, and when we look in the mirror and see something different, self-criticism starts.
Remember that everyone’s body is different.
If you don’t love your body, start by learning to like it. I had to learn to appreciate the parts of my body I once hated. I knew I wanted to lose weight, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t learn to accept how my body currently looked. I work daily to embrace myself and pour love into myself.
Practicing self-love regularly will increase your self-esteem and help you realize how worthy you are.
If you follow these tips regularly, you will see your relationship with your body transform.