Are you serious about losing those kilos that you’ve been wanting to shed for some time now? Well, experts continue to suggest that shedding the negative or harmful attitude you have towards our own body image first is the key to accelerating our weight loss or other fitness goals.
Research, studies and experts across the wellness space have always spoken about the need to avoid associating our own image with the ‘ideal’ body image we see in magazines, media and other public forums.
We no longer view our body as an instrument for good health, instead an ornament to obsess over.
“There’s a big gap between what we’re shown as being ideal and what to aspire to and where we actually are as a population,” said Pamela Keel, Professor at Florida State University in the US.
“That leaves people feeling bad about themselves, and, unfortunately, feeling bad about your body does not actually motivate a person to pursue healthy behaviour,” she added in a statement released by the university.
We fail to realise that our bodies are whole and complete in the state we were born in; it doesn’t need to reflect someone else’s.
A research team recently tested a programme that can help people accept the body that they were born with, to reduce the risk of eating disorders and poor body image.
One exercise called mirror-exposure may initially feel uncomfortable, but it directs a person to stand in front of a full-length mirror in little or no clothing and identify specific body traits that are good.
This could mean appreciating certain parts of your body in assisting in your daily function.
“You would say, ‘I really appreciate the way my legs take me wherever I need to go,'” Keel said.
“‘Every day without fail, they get me out of bed, to the car, up the stairs and into the office. I don’t have to worry about walking.’ It can be that kind of functional appreciation of what your body does for you,” Keel added.
Or it could mean appreciating a part of a person’s body like skin, the shape of the neck or the shoulders.
Another exercise encourages people struggling with body acceptance to think about specific activities they avoid, such as not going swimming in the summer or not wearing shorts when it’s hot, and then choosing to go out and do them.
The researchers found that the strategies work, and the benefits often go beyond improved body image.
“It turns out that discarding those unattainable body ideals also improves your mood, self-esteem, reduces disordered eating behaviours and may reduce the risk of self-injurious behaviour,” Keel said.
“All sorts of things get better as a result of feeling better about your body,” she pointed out.