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The Five Commandments to Building a Healthy Body Image

June 16, 2014

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Summer is upon us, and it’s time to shed the cozy layers of winter outerwear and enjoy warmer weather. For many people, baring more skin also exposes their deep-seated insecurities about their bodies. Don’t like the way your legs look in a pair of shorts? Wish your arms were more toned? Dread your family beach trip because you know it means wearing a bathing suit? It’s all too easy to beat yourself up over your physical appearance and let it overshadow the fun and festivities of summer.

This year, take action to beat those negative niggles and learn how to have a healthy body image all summer long. Here are five positive body image commandments to boost your self-esteem and foster self-love:

1. Thou shalt cultivate positive thoughts.

If you’re consumed by feelings of worthlessness, rewire your brain. Tap into a bank of positivity and try to find at least five positive thoughts for every negative thought that creeps into your mind. If you’re feeling bad about one part of your body, acknowledge features you like about yourself—your hair, your lips, even your eyebrows. Or better yet, take the focus off your physical appearance entirely and concentrate on the qualities of your personality you know are beautiful. By forcing yourself to alter your focus, you’ll be able to banish your “fat thoughts” into oblivion.

2. Thou shalt filter out body-bashing friends.

The company you keep can have a huge impact on how you feel about your body. Spend time with friends who have a healthy approach to eating and exercise rather than people who are obsessed with counting calories and the number on the scale. Not only will these friends encourage you to focus on positive thoughts, but they’re also generally more fun to hang out with!

3. Thou shalt accept compliments.

If someone pays you a compliment, allow yourself to hear it and show gratitude. A simple “thank you” will prevent you from blurting out any self-deprecating comments or insults that automatically pop into your head. Remind yourself of the compliment throughout the day and give yourself permission to believe it and feel good about it.

4. Thou shalt deal with underlying issues.

It’s common to use your body hang-ups as a means of distracting yourself from life’s other problems. Maybe you’re unhappy in a relationship or hate your job; it’s easy to avoid these trickier issues and instead assume your life will improve if you have a flatter stomach or more toned thighs. When you feel bad about your body, take a look at your life and confront any problems head-on. As your happiness increases, watch as your self-esteem miraculously improves over time, too.

5. Thou shalt find an enjoyable form of exercise.

Research shows that engaging in any kind of physical activity can boost your body confidence, even if you don’t lose weight. Find a form of exercise you love! Whether you choose to work up a sweat in the dance studio, relax in a yoga class, or take a jog in the park, working out will increase your serotonin levels, helping you to boot negative thoughts out of your brain.

How do you chase away negative thoughts about your body? Share in the comments below!