Five things I did to love my body
Just over 10 years ago, I hit rock bottom. Fresh out of a failed relationship, I had little self-esteem and I certainly didn’t love my body.
I realised that if I wanted my life to be happier and more fulfilling, I had to pull myself out of the depths that I’d fallen into.
I’m not going to tell you it was easy. I had good days and days where it felt like I was right back at square one again.
But, I kept going, believing that it was possible to love my body and myself.
During that time (and it was a gradual process over 2 years), a few key things helped me begin to love my body, and they are still an integral part of my life today:
#1 I focused on my life not my looks
I decided that I needed to create a life that I loved. I wanted to throw myself into work and projects that would give my life meaning and purpose. I applied for a new role at the company I was working for and signed up for a voluntary project overseas (a lion breeding project in Zimbabwe, Africa).
Focusing on what I wanted to experience in my life not only gave me a great sense of fulfillment, it distracted me from the negative thoughts I was having about myself and my looks.
Doing work that I loved and that I was good at built up my confidence and self-worth. Previous worries about my looks and other perceived inadequacies became less significant.
#2 I got into regular exercise
Let me be clear, I didn’t want exercise to be about how my body looked. I wanted it to be about what my body could do, and what I could achieve by building up my strength and stamina.
I signed up for the 3 Peaks Challenge and embarked on a training programme. Being able to complete this rather grueling challenge was one of my proudest moments. It spurred me on to do other events including a 5, 8 and 10 kilometre run.
I was amazed at what my body could do. Not only that, but the training made me feel great too (it’s no secret that exercise is great for mood and general well-being).
Training regularly and completing these challenges gave me a new found appreciation for the function of my body as opposed to what it looked like.
#3 I learned about the power of the mind
Searching for ways to feel better about myself, I read a LOT of personal development books. From my reading, it soon became clear that your mind has the greatest influence over how you feel about yourself.
I learned that rather than being a victim of my negative thinking, I had the power to decide how I felt, which was hugely liberating. I began to unpick all the unhelpful and limited thinking I had about myself like:
“I’m not good enough”
“I’m not attractive enough”
“Men don’t like me”
I challenged these thoughts, and dug deep to find out where they had come from. I looked for evidence for and against each one and created new more empowering beliefs that reflected what people who loved me would say about me, like:
“I‘m a kind and empathetic person”
“I’m a beautiful person”
“I have a lot to offer a partner”
I committed to repeating these new beliefs over and over, until they became second nature.
#4 I had fun with clothes
My body worries meant that I wasn’t very confident choosing and wearing clothes.
My ex-partner had been very critical of my clothing choices, and so I mainly wore what he thought I looked good in, rather than what I preferred.
I started to experiment with clothes. I bought things I wouldn’t have previously worn (and I especially enjoyed picking things out my ex would never have approved of!). Slowly, I developed my own sense of style. I didn’t worry about what anyone else thought. I just picked out things that I liked.
As I began to enjoy wearing my clothes, I also started to appreciate the body wearing the clothes.
#5 I chose to love myself first
I chose to make self-love and respect my #1 priority. I realised that I couldn’t achieve anything that I really wanted in life without a healthy love and respect for myself.
I did things to show myself love and respect. I took time out to rest, to pamper myself, to do activities that I enjoyed, and I set clear boundaries around my relationships.
I acted like I cared for myself, even when I wasn’t sure that I did. But it worked. My physical and mental health improved (including how I felt about my body). And, when I was ready to start dating again, I began attracting men who treated me well.
Loving and respecting yourself is directly related to how you feel about your body – when you love and approve of yourself, you are more likely to feel the same about the skin you’re in.
I believe that all of the things I did are possible for anyone. That’s not to say that you have to do any or all of the things I did. How you decide to approach a new relationship with your body is as unique as you are. The first step is decide that you want to love your body, then believe that it is possible. Begin doing whatever feels right for you. You don’t have to do lots of things at once, just pick one thing and make a start. You can do it!