The #1 body image boosting exercise
When you’re working towards a better body image, it can be tricky to know where to start. With an ever growing volume of information on body image, finding the best approach can feel overwhelming.
In reality, it doesn’t matter what approach you start with. What matters is that you make a start, taking baby steps towards better body image.
To give you a head start, I’ve got a great exercise for you to try. Having worked through body image issues both for myself and with clients, this body image boosting exercise is the one that has stood out the most to me.
It’s an exercise that I’ve mentioned before – mirror work. It’s not immediately appealing to many women, as it involves taking time each day to look at your body in a full length mirror. While the thought of doing this can produce a great deal of anxiety and resistance at first, the results it produces are definitely worthwhile.
Mirror work retrains your brain to think about your body in a healthier and more positive way, rather than constantly focusing on what you perceive to be negatives. Over time, this work will help you to drown out negative body thoughts.
The well-known Coach and author Louise Hay is a great advocate of mirror work for self-esteem, particularly in conjunction with positive affirmations. She recommends that each day you look yourself in the mirror and say, “I love and approve of myself exactly as I am”.
Body image experts consistently advocate mirror work for improving body image including Thomas F Cash (writer of the Body Image Workbook), Dr Eric Stice from Oregan Research Institute and Professor Phillippa Diedrichs at the Centre for Appearance Research in Bristol.
If you’re interested in hearing two body image experts talking about the mirror exercise, this brilliant video by fashion and body image blogger Grace Victory includes interviews with both Professor Diedrichs and Dr Stice.
I’ve used mirror work to create a better relationship with myself and my body. I’ll admit that it does feel awkward when you first try it. BUT, once you’re used to it, it becomes a habit, and one that you’ll want to keep up.
Why not give it a try? It’s not advocated by the experts for nothing….
The Mirror Exercise
- Look at yourself in a full length mirror. If you can, do this naked. If this is too uncomfortable to begin with, do this with minimal clothing. Over time, remove more and more clothing until it feels comfortable to do the exercise without clothes;
- Tell yourself at least 5 (stretch to 10 if possible) things that you like about yourself, including things about your body. These can be about your personality, interests, achievements, skills. When thinking about your body, also consider not only what your body physically looks like, but what it can do e.g. I like my legs because they are strong and sturdy, allowing me to dance and run;
- Write these things down each time, so that you are creating a cumulative list. Look at this list whenever you feel you need a boost. It’s also okay to repeat some of the things on your list (this just reinforces what you like about yourself);
- Repeat this exercise daily – make it part of your routine. If you’ve been criticising your body for years, it can take time to unprogramme this behaviour, so consistent repetition is key.
To help you with the exercise, I’ve created a beautiful printable with the exercise and space to write down all the things that you like about yourself.
I’d love to know how you found this exercise. Please leave me a comment below to let me know 🙂