Learn to love and accept your body
by Audrina Ma on Monday 14 February 2022
5 min read
If someone told you they believe they’re fat, ugly, undeserving of food or even undeserving of love, what would you say to them? An immediate response would be "Don’t say that!". You would console and tell them that they’re beautiful and worthy.
So, why can’t we do this for ourselves?
For years, I thought that in order to be beautiful, worthy, and valued, being skinny was the way to go. This created an intense feeling of anxiety and fear, resulting in aggressive over-training, under-eating, incessant negative self-talk and it completely monopolised my life.
Looking back to that time, even though I had achieved all of the things I initially wanted for my physique, I wasn't completely happy. Realisation had then hit that it was not the reflection in the mirror causing my unhappiness, but rather my negative thoughts consistently clouding any personal achievement I had made for myself.
I finally had enough and willingly gained weight not only to test my physical capabilities, but to face head-on the anxious thoughts. And to be honest, starting that experience was quite painful because my mind responded emotionally and negatively to the unfamiliar aesthetic changes to the body. But that didn't stop be from reverting back.
Be open about your experience
Talking to friends and family about your thoughts and feelings makes all the difference. The simple shift in your mindset, knowing that you are not alone in the experience and receiving a sense of validation, can open you to a whole new perspective in understanding your body and yourself.
Anxious thoughts of; "You’re fat, ugly, worthless" are absolutely not true.
You are capable of eating bread and not cry from guilt doing so. You can learn to balance eating healthy and exercising without feeling like it is a punishment.
Everyone's experience is different
The biggest lesson learned through my self-love journey, was that the way in which people handle their body-image is allowed to be different, whether it be through Body Positivity, Body Neutrality or Body Acceptance.
The terminology around body-image is ever-changing but I found that in recent times, Body Positivity has taken a back seat due to its lack of sensitivity and consideration to people’s current state. Body positivity encourages people to be unconditionally thrilled with their body at all times, even if they genuinely don’t feel that way. I can strongly say that that did not work for me. Feeling bad about my body and then forcing my thoughts to tell myself I love myself when I don’t was incredibly unhelpful.
Instead I practiced the following:
- Body Neutrality: encouraging people to have a neutral relationship with their body by gently separating their body from good or bad emotions. It helps to normalise the body and recognise that the way you look is, and should be, the least valuable thing about you.
- Body Acceptance: recognising that there will be days where you feel sh*t about your body, but knowing that it’s normal and ok! That way you are honouring and validating your feelings, but not letting yourself be consumed by them.
- What works for someone else might not work for you, and that’s absolutely fine!
- Recognise that if you want change, only you can make it happen, even if it might feel uncomfortable. Your mental health is worth it.
- Don’t give up on yourself so easily. Change can't be seen overnight.
- You’re stronger than you think.
Your mental health is your physical health. At Virgin Active, you'll find that this is our top priority, to make you feel good on the inside first. So try one of our many extraordinary classes today and experience if yourself.
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