Body love is about so much more than being happy with your weight. 

Something is awe-inspiring about a woman who feels beautiful. 

She delights in her curves; she dances like no one is watching; she is sensual, confident, and free. 

My gorgeous friend Sheri is a size-10 in her early 50s, and she has the body confidence of a 22-year old on the cover of a magazine. 

I've known her for what feels like forever. And, she's always been a powerhouse of elegance, glamour, and charisma. 

The last time I saw her, she was holding court at her birthday party and dressed to the nines in a red, clingy sheath dress that perfectly accentuated her lovely body. 

While she has always been curvy, Sheri admits with a charming grin that she's easily 20lbs heavier than she was in her thirties and forties. She'll wink and say, "Is it hormones? I don't know! Anyway, I'm not overweight, Honey. I'm voluptuous."

And, she is! Voluptuous, sensual, sexy, and charming, she is one of the most striking women I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. 

I've always admired her and I used to wonder – how does she do it?

I spent years hating my reflection in the mirror. I'd obsess over my stretch marks and curse my cellulite.

I'd avoid having my photo taken and definitely stayed away from situations that required me to wear anything revealing. 

After years of struggle, I came to realize that fighting my body wasn't changing my body. I was only hurting myself because, as we all know: you hurt the things you hate. 

And that's what I was doing. 

Yoyo diets, binging and purging, and working out to the point of exhaustion – only to then have the pendulum swing in the other direction: Stuffing myself with junk food, barely able to get off the couch, and drinking too much wine. 

Today I love my body and it shows. But it took some time and effort to get here. And, I swore that if I ever figured it out, I'd share it with as many women as I could. 

Here are a few things you can do to get some personal body love. 

Wear what's flattering. 

Be confident in what you wear. You can't be body confident if your clothes don't fit or if they make you feel uncomfortable. 

Let go of anything that doesn't flatter the shape and size of your body type. 

While it may seem counterintuitive, baggy clothes are not the answer. While they may be hiding that "spare tire" around your middle, they may also be making you look bigger and, well ... sloppy. 

Choose clothes that fit you, that accentuate your best features, and flatter your overall appearance. 

Can the comparisons.

For the love of all that is gracious and good, stop comparing yourself to other women! 

When we compare ourselves to others, we focus on all of their beauty, fitness, strength, and charm, and we ignore our own fantastic assets, seeing ourselves as "less than."

No one is less than or more than anyone else. 

Love and appreciate the beautiful things about your own body, face, and style. 

When you love yourself, you'll treat yourself better. That includes how you treat your body, which will inevitably lead to a healthier lifestyle and an elevated self-image. 

Be influenced by positivity.

Fortunately, we are getting into an age where body positivity is hotter than trying to look like a supermodel on the pages of Cosmopolitan magazine. 

Body positivity influencers abound, and you can fill your Instagram feed with positive messages that inspire you and lift you up every single day. Here are just a few you can follow:

Cover model Candice Huffine says, "There is no magic formula or tutorial I can share about how to become confident in your skin, but I have learned from experience it all comes from work. Be kind. Be patient. Be thankful. Be grateful. Set goals. Challenge your limits. Step outside of your comfort zone. Explore what your body is capable of and prepare to be amazed!"

Writer Jessamyn Stanley posits that "Body positivity is the only legitimate antidote to our overwhelming body negative society. A woman should revel in her strength and beauty, a strength which literally gives life to the universe."

Food blogger, Ana Alarcon, struggled with her body image for a long time. Now she shares her body love path through her blog, Ana Goes Fit. She says, "Body positivity means loving the body you are in – the changes, the size, the color – and taking care of it."

Grammy winner Alicia Keys' body-positive message is written all over her face- literally. In 2016, she started a makeup-free movement by going makeup-free for all her appearances. It made a huge splash. If her music doesn't inspire you, her Instagram page will. With captions like this one: "When you look at your reflection what do you see? Do you see society's standards of what you think you should be? Or do you actually see the magnificence of you? Praise your body," you'll be inspired and uplifted every day. 

Ditch the dieting. 

Instead of focusing on weight loss, shift your focus to well-being. 

When you're dieting, you're focusing on weight loss. And, the majority of diets end up in short-term weight loss that is unsustainable. 

When you're focusing on weight loss, you're obsessing over extra pounds, extra inches, calories, steps, carb counting, and a myriad of other things that might lead to a lower number on the scale but will most definitely lead to self-loathing. 

Love your body and initiate lifestyle practices of doing healthy things for you

  • Choosing healthy foods to nourish your body
  • Moving your body to gain strength and agility
  • Avoiding activities, foods, or drinks that hurt your body

Dieting can have physical consequences, such as lowering your base metabolic rate. But far worse are the emotional consequences of guilt, shame, and self-loathing. 

Dieting can induce destructive thoughts like "If I'm thin, I'll be happy" or "If I'm not skinny, then I'm a failure." 

On the other hand, maintaining a healthy lifestyle can not only result in fitness and weight loss, but it can also result in thoughts like, "I'm so proud of myself for taking such good care of my body" or "I feel so good and strong." 

Self-care sews self-love. 

Give a little bit of thought to how you treat the people that you love. Now, imagine if you treated yourself with such kindness and care. 

When you take care of yourself, you show your inner self that you are worthy of love and respect. And, self-love sews self-compassion and self-confidence, thereby elevating your self-image. 

Here are just a few ideas:

  • Drink more water
  • Get more sleep
  • Buy yourself flowers
  • Treat yourself to those gorgeous shoes
  • Go for an evening walk
  • Meditate
  • Take the class
  • Have a spa day
  • Give yourself a day now and then to just be, think, pray, lounge, rest, read, and relax

I'd love to hear some of your ideas about how you show yourself love. Why not share this post and leave a comment to inspire me and others?

We're inundated with images of "perfection" every day through advertising, digital content, and social media. Likewise, many of us grew up with unhealthy messages about what our bodies should look like to be beautiful. 

These ideas are not only impossible to live up to, but they can also do a real number on your self-image. 

Having a healthy body image doesn't mean that you think your body is perfect. It means that you accept and cherish your body like it is beloved – because it is. 

 

 

The Self-Image Manifesto

You’re Invited To Live An Extraordinary Life!

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