As we get older, our shapes and sizes can change and no matter how long you’re working out or how fit you are, it may be difficult to accept the change or maintain a positive body image. A positive body image can impact your life in many ways, making it more enjoyable, fun, and successful. But when we have a negative outlook on how we see our bodies, it could make life depressing, isolated and unhealthy.
Women are constantly being judged by appearance as there’s still an unrealistic standard of what’s an acceptable body image and at times this transfers to being more critical of ourselves.
How do “we” see ourselves? Do we have a positive body image even when we may have gained a few pounds after childbirth, or haven’t been able to work out for a while because of an injury or after a certain age? Do the commercials about anti-aging and weight loss put pressure on us so that we can never look in the mirror and feel good about the way we look?
Having a positive body image can be a difficult concept to embrace, but it’s important if we want to have confidence and be our best each day! What is a positive body image anyway? While there’s many different answers to that question, and no one is correct, there are some definite ways to influence your own positivity.
Check out the NASM Women's Fitness program for more on body positivity.
Be the best version of yourself
Healthy daily habits build confidence and have a positive effect on our perception of body image. It’s hard to feel good about myself if I’m not trying to take care of myself. But we come in all shapes and sizes and are at different places in life and it’s not a “one size fits all” standard.
Some people consider the way they looked ten years ago to be the best version of themselves. Others may have always wanted to be a little leaner or a little heavier and may perceive those changes to be their best. I have looked at old photos that I didn’t like 10 years ago, but I look at now and think, “I wish I looked like that!” While we can’t go back in time, we can try to imagine what is my best now, at this time.
Break a Sweat
Having a healthy body weight requires planning and is one of the goals of good health. There’s no getting around this. It’s a discipline to exercise at least 30 minutes daily, but it can change your body composition making clothes fit better and creating a stronger body.
What’s more, it’s not the number on the scale that’s most important, but the amount of body fat. A healthy range of body fat for most women is between 14% and 31%. Taking the time and effort to maintain a healthy range is a good motivational tool. There’s a certain amount of social anxiety that’s found with individuals who have a higher bod mass index. There’s also an increased risk of chronic illness and disease with high body fat levels. Lowering this number is a great way to raise self-esteem.
Making exercise a regular habit, whether it’s power walks, high-intensity interval training, weightlifting, or yoga, can help you burn fat and stay motivated.
Good nutrition requires a little planning, but optimal nutrition is important for energy and body maintenance. Diets that exclude macronutrients such as fats, carbohydrates, or protein aren’t the best to follow. Healthy eating should include all the macro and micronutrients and not be a complicated plan to follow.
Consult with a nutritionist if you need help determining food choices and how many calories to include in your diet. This will boost your body image since the food choices we make can make us feel great if they are the right ones.
Having something to work toward is a helpful way to stay on track in your body image journey. Start with SMART goals, which are meaningful goals that are important to you.
• Specific – State specifically what you want to achieve. You may want to wear something that you used to like and now it’s too tight.
• Measurable- How much time are you able to put in 30 minutes; for example, 3 times a week.
• Attainable- Something that is possible and realistic.
• Relevant- Does it make sense for what I’m trying to achieve?
• Timely- Goals should be able to show progress.
Achieving goals inspires confidence, which in turn can help with your overall goal of wanting to feel better about how you look.
Acceptance and Appreciation
When we try to be perfect, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. What’s perfect anyway? We’re all on a different journey and no one but you knows where you are in your life.
I’ve gone through different injuries and have had setbacks from time to time. I may not be doing the same things I was 20 years ago, but it’s only me that I’m competing with. There’s always someone you can compare yourself to and feel less about yourself but choose to see how far you’ve come instead and feel great about yourself.