I have a confession to make. I have a belly.
Thanks to middle age, a plentiful food supply, and genetic predisposition, I’ve got a belly.
Another confession? It’s not my favorite feature (shocking, right?). but one of my goals is to make peace with my body, and I’m going to jump right in and start with my belly. So here we go: It’s ok to have a belly. Or hips. Or arm wobbles. So how can we make peace with the perfect imperfections of our aging bodies?
1. Be Realistic. Here’s another confession. I am not 18 years old. Therefore, it would be totally unrealistic to compare myself to the smooth skinned, flat-bellied 18 year olds I see all around me (I live in a college town). It’s not realistic for you either, friend. Appreciating the fact that you’ve been on this earth for more years, have experienced more adventures (and more of the sun’s rays), and are metabolically at a different place in life will go a long way to giving you some peace about your body.
2. Celebrate You. So, I said be realistic. I didn’t say be discouraging! Just because your body has lived a few more years doesn’t mean you’re not still rockin’ it in so many ways! Find things about yourself to celebrate—strong legs, fabulous smile, beautiful eyes, perky butt, talented hands—and own your awesomeness! Spend those two minutes while you’re brushing your teeth each morning to go over a list of your best features and mean it. No negative self-talk for two whole minutes. Try it!
3. Find the Balance. Personally, I think it’s really tricky to find the right balance between accepting my body for what it is, and giving up (i.e., not trying to stay healthy, not caring about my appearance). Part of the reason it’s tricky is that the balancing point is different for each of us. I, for example, feel really empowered when I occasionally leave the house in no makeup and a ponytail, because I feel like I’m owning my natural beauty. That might make you feel sloppy and unkempt, though. So find your balance, enjoy your beauty, and let yourself shine.
4. Stay Away from Negativity. I know that it’s unrealistic to isolate yourself from all negative people. But we all know that friend who is so obsessed with her body, her looks, her image, and that energy can be really contagious. If you know who she or he is in your life, try to keep aware of how you feel in his or her presence. Don’t let that negativity wash onto you. Maybe you could try sharing back some of your self-love, and see if you can be the influencer!
5. Take Your Body Out for a Spin. Staying active has soooo many benefits, and one of them is that it will improve your self-image. Even if you don’t lose any weight, and don’t see any noticeable difference in your muscle tone, finding and doing an activity you enjoy will go a long way towards making you feel better about yourself. My happy place is Jazzercise, but you do the thing that feeds your soul.
PostScript: There's no way we're ready to deal with our body image in 5 easy steps, so look for additional posts on "Making Peace with your Body" in future months.
Becky Eason, PhD, is an Associate Certified Coach and Certified Leadership Coach. She would love to come with you on your journey for wellness and a happy heart. Learn more on her website: wequestforwellness.com