Taking back our bodies: 7 tips for feeling comfortable in your skin

I haven’t always felt comfortable with my body. In fact, I absolutely loathed and hated my body for 10 years. I not only envied models in magazines, but anyone who appeared confident. Friends, co-workers, random people on the street, anyone I knew that walked with their head held high and shoulders back. I thought the world of these creatures. I call them creatures because they almost didn’t seem real to me. I didn’t understand how anyone could feel comfortable in their body and I wondered how they did it. 

During these 10 years I was so stuck in an endless cycle of an eating disorder, restricting and binging my food, and it was partially because I hated my body. I thought that if I hated it enough, I would be able to hate it into a thinner body. If I shamed and berated any flaw I had, any ounce of fat on my body, it would cause me to want to starve myself enough so that my flaws would disappear. But the weird thing was, the more I used my eating disorder, the more I hated my body. My plan backfired.

I knew I needed to try something different in order to feel more comfortable in my body. I actively started to take steps to end my self-hatred. At first it was very difficult to do the tips listed below. It felt so foreign to actually be nice to myself. But eventually it started to feel good, even great at times. The tips below are taken from my personal experience that I tried, and that eventually enabled me to feel confident in my body, in my skin, and in myself.

Tip #1- Start Treating Your Body Well

We often try to starve ourselves in an attempt to lose weight as we think we will like our body more at a lower weight, but this usually backfires. Nourish your body with food that feels good to you. Eat enough. Eat until you are full. Don’t overeat, or binge until you are numb. Eat mostly healthy foods but don’t be crazy about it. If you want some chocolate, eat some chocolate. Cause chocolate is good for your soul.

Tip #2- Befriend Your Body

Think of your body as your best friend. How would you talk to your best friend? Often times we are very mean to our bodies, and say things to ourselves that we would never say to a friend. Start to think of your body as your friend. How would you talk to it if you actually liked it?

Tip #3- Think Of Your Body As The Vehicle For Your Life

Our bodies are an amazing vehicle that takes us through this crazy experience we call life. Without your body you could not do anything. Our bodies enable us to work, love, hug our friends, kiss our partners, dance at weddings, solve math problems, laugh at the movies, and run on our favorite trail. Remember this the next time you are berating your body; without it nothing would be possible.

Tip #4- Fake It Till You Make It

Confidence often comes after we change our body language. Social psychologist Amy Cuddy explains how changing our body language can actually affect our hormone levels in our brain to help us feel more confident. Try standing up straighter with your shoulders back and see how your confidence level changes.

Tip #5- Look At Real Women

According to NEDA 98% of American women are not as thin as fashion models. Yet, this is who we compare ourselves to as the “ideal” body. Only 1-2% of women will be able to naturally achieve models level of thinness, everyone else will do it unhealthily. Not to mention all the air brushing that is done with these images. So, you are in fact, comparing yourself to a fake image. In countless studies it has been shown that women feel worse about themselves after looking at fashion magazines. First step, stop buying these magazines! Refuse to compare yourself to this unrealistic image. Look around you. Look at real women that are confident in their bodies.

Tip #6- Wear Clothes That Fit

This seems fairly obvious but I can’t tell you how many clients tell me they still wear old clothes that don’t fit them, in the hopes that they will be a constant reminder to eat less. I used to do this too. But this, like many other things we do usually backfires. When we don’t feel comfortable in our clothes, it is a constant reminder of how we are “failing” and “too big”. How can we possibly feel confident about ourselves when we are constantly pulling or tugging at our clothes all day? Buy clothes that fit well and feel good on your body; it’s amazing the difference this can make.

Tip #7- Exercise To Feel Good

Physical activity can be an amazing force that boosts our endorphins, ignites our lungs, and makes us feel fully alive. However, many people force themselves to exercise past the point where their body feels good. Or they force themselves to do certain exercises because they might burn more calories. Why would we purposely torture ourselves like this? Don’t like running… don’t do it! Move your body in a way that feels good to you. Like dancing? Put on your favorite music and rock on in your living room. Go on a walk with your dog. Focus on how you feel physically and mentally during the activity. If you are counting down the minutes until you’re done, that’s a good sign that you’re not enjoying yourself. Life is too short to do exercise you hate.