Let’s face it, we all have our insecurities, and no matter what size, shape, color or age, it’s become an all-too-common pastime to self criticize and scrutinize our outward appearances.

80614095Blame it on whatever you will — the media, pop culture, that mean girl in high school or even our mothers — we’re all guilty, at least one time or another, of unleashing that inner critic and harshly judging our body image.

After the birth of my second child, I struggled to lose all the baby weight. It came to a head this summer when my weight hit an all-time high. I had never felt so badly about myself.  I was completely helpless as to what to really do. I knew that eating right and exercising could make a difference, but I was in such a negative mind space that I couldn’t find the drive or initiative to take control of my situation. I was isolated and was my own worst enemy.

Then one day it happened. I hit my breaking point. I just wasn’t healthy anymore and didn’t feel good. Constantly being sad about how I looked wasn’t healthy for myself, and it certainly wasn’t healthy for my family. I realized what type of example I was setting for my children and knew it wasn’t what I wanted to be teaching them. Enough was enough and I was ready to make the change right away.

Understanding that we’re all our own worst critics can only take us so far. It’s time to take back control and start redefining our health.  Being healthy is about feeling good — not constantly thinking about how many calories you’re consuming or stressing about looking a certain way. Once I was able to make that mental shift, I was able to start making even more changes. I became mindful about what I was eating, I took time for myself to actually work out and I was able to get myself to where I was comfortable in my own skin.

I know this type of situation is more widespread than we care to admit. If you or anyone you know has been sucked into developing a negative body image, hopefully there’s something in here that can help. Below are my top five tips on how to reverse the negative thoughts and embrace our body image. Now is the time to start feeling and being healthy again.

  • Stop eating your feelings. It’s so easy to turn to that bag of chips or candy bar after a stressful day. And once in awhile, it’s even OK to indulge, but make sure you’re aware of what you’re doing and your trigger points. Start storing healthy snacks in your purse or at your desk for when those desperate cravings hit. Bonus tip: I’ve also found that brushing my teeth will help stop me from getting too carried away with snacking and think twice before over eating.
  • Treat yourself to a new outfit. Everyone feels good in something new, right? Only this time, don’t play it safe with the neutrals. It’s OK to look at that black shirt but remember you already have 20 others and this time you can dare to be more bold and go with some color. Definitely pick something that you feel 100 percent comfortable and confident in, but also challenge yourself to go for something a little bolder and brighter. It’s a step in the right direction for refreshing and updating your look.
  • Move your body. We all know that exercise is important. But realistically, it’s just not that easy for everyone to find the time and work out a good sweat. Instead of making exercise an additional stress; figure out a way to work it into your existing schedule. Take the stairs instead of an elevator, park farther away at the grocery store, dance around the house with your kids while picking up. Just find ways to keep moving that body and you’ll start to feel better.
  • Surround yourself with positive people. There’s a reason we have cheerleaders. They motivate and help make players feel good about themselves and their decisions. Identify who your cheerleaders are and stick with them. Positive people go a long way toward helping you improve your self image. If you are constantly surrounding yourself with friends who only talk about dieting and what foods they should or shouldn’t eat, it’s time to re-evaluate where you spend your time.
  • Embrace your uniqueness. Put away the magazines, turn off the TV and get reacquainted with yourself. We are all different so stop making unrealistic comparisons. Start focusing on what you like about yourself and make the time to celebrate it. When you find yourself in doubt and falling into old unhealthy patters, these lessons in life from Dr. Seuss are a great reminder for what truly matters:

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I also encourage the sharing of ideas and tips. As always, be sure to comment and let me, and other readers, know what you think or have done to help view yourself more positively.

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