Here is some breaking news: Research shows that harping on your imperfections is a surprisingly unhealthy habit, one that can actually alter your physical appearance. In fact, a new study found that normal-weight people who viewed themselves as fat were more likely to end up overweight. And the pitfalls go beyond the scale, says Christel Parker, a psychotherapist in New York City. Low self-image can hinder friendships, job prospects, and overall well-being.
Here’s how to start loving all of your body – and looking and feeling better than ever.
Research has linked any type of exercise – cardio, strength training, stretching – to greater body confidence. And it works whether or not your fitness level or weight changes, or whether your sweat sessions are mild or intense. Plus, just talking about a workout can up your self-image, says psychologist Louise Wasylkiw, Ph.D., of Mount Allison University.
The more in touch you are with the way your body works, the less you may dwell on its appearance, says cognitive psychology researcher Vivien Ainley. In one study, women who could more accurately count their heartbeats objectified themselves less. Practices like meditation and yoga can help you tune in to you.
Nix Fat Chat
OMG, you’re so tiny; my thighs are like tree trunks. Most women think such self-deprecation is harmless or even helpful. In reality, it’s anything but. Even being involved in third-party snarking (say, dissing a coworker’s shape) can reinforce a negative view of your own body. “Challenge, then replace, fat talk,” says psychology doctoral candidate Rachel Salk of the University of Wisconsin. Praising someone else’s strength or their healthy habits can make everyone feel more confident.
Speak the (Body) Language
Whenever you hunch your shoulders, cross your arms over your chest, or stare at the floor, you announce your self-consciousness, says body-language pro Lillian Glass, Ph.D. Try a fake-it-till-you-make-it experiment: Walk upright, as if a string is pulling from the top of your head. When you talk to someone, squeeze your butt muscles to straighten your spine, and stand with your feet a foot apart, toes pointing at the person you’re facing. Smile, and don’t be afraid to use your hands when you talk–this kind of openness makes you seem more secure.
FEEL BETTER– BY TONIGHT!
First, do an environment scan for confidence-destroying stuff. As in: old jeans that don’t fit, a laptop perennially set to friends’ too-perfect Facebook posts. If you can’t cut this stuff out entirely, avoid it before a big moment.
If your weight is bothering you, put away the scale for now. The number’s not going to change today, so reminding yourself of it is counterproductive.
Leave positive messages on sticky notes around your apartment or office. (“Yeah, you are amazing!” “You’re going to kick butt!”) Strategically place them so they’re the last things you see before stepping out the door.
Source: Women’s Health Mag