Body Image, Self-esteem & Movement

Lifestyle Education Discussion:
“Body Image, Self-esteem & Movement”
First of all, a big thank you to you all who show up to discuss “life” every week. At the end of the day, the weight loss journey isn’t just about how much nutrition knowledge you possess. The classes are fun and effective because of your willingness to share and be a part of this group.

Yesterday, Katy and I led the discussion on Body Image & Self-Esteem and you may be wondering what “Movement” has to do with these topics. Katy started the discussion by explaining the importance of exercise and guided us through some simple functional exercises. Exercise is certainly an essential element of your weight loss plan, but my concern is that too many people try to adopt exercise regimens that are not right for them. You see, exercise should not be a form of punishment; it should be something you do because you love your body and not because you dislike it. Exercise, or “movement”, should begin to become natural–just as it is for young children. They move and flow and possess tremendous strength, and yet they don’t seem to struggle with motivation. Movement is essential for life and it’s from that place that we find an exercise routine that is right for us.

Here’s the challenge: for many of you, movement has become painful, emotionally and physically. I have heard from numerous men and women who said they were not exercising because they were embarrassed, ashamed, lacked confidence or had poor self-esteem. So movement and exercise were no longer natural and comfortable. Yesterday, we explored how a negative self-image affected every aspect of a person’s life. Each one of us is immersed in this culture where thinness is a virtue that few of us possess. Whether spoken or unspoken, we’re told that we are only worthy if we look (fill-in-the-blank-for-your-gender). It’s true, we live in a thin-obsessed culture, but as we discussed (and I’ve said this many times before) thin does not always = healthy. Likewise, large does not always = unhealthy. Ultimately, health comes in many shapes and sizes. There have always been various shapes and sizes of bodies and there always will be. The goal is a healthy body fueled by healthy behaviors and habits.

So if you are suffering from a negative body image and low self-esteem, now is a good time to change that. A negative view of yourself and abilities is developed over time so it would be fair to assume that turning it around will take time and deliberate action. I loved how Alicia shared that she writes herself positive notes every day to encourage herself. She was coming from a place where she used to be very hard on herself and just found that negativity wasn’t working for her. In our culture, there are so many opportunities to absorb these negative influences. Look for ways to find encouragement.

Some final tips to remember:

– Having a positive body image is about how you FEEL about the way you look and it may not match family or cultural ideals of “beauty”
– Having a positive body image is not just about the way you look. It’s really about how you physically feel and what your body can do
– Healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. This is a consistent pattern in nature (no two tree’s are alike!)
– Accept and value your inherited qualities. Do you have strong legs, a distinguished nose, blue eyes.. brown eyes, etc?
– Keep a running list of your positive qualities that have nothing to do with your appearance
– Talk kindly to yourself–always
– Always treat your body with respect and kindness
– Seek professional counseling to help you uncover the roots of dysfunctional thinking. Gretta McCall is a counselor that we trust and recommend, but check with your insurance provider or employee assistance program
– Surround yourself with people who move and love their bodies
– Move more! Find your natural movement flow

There are some great communities locally and you can get plugged in:

Pedal Chic: a cycling shop owned by Robin Bylenga with a focus towards female cycling

Integrative Yoga Therapy: owned by Linda Patterson, curvy yoga instructor

About the Author
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Weight Loss Coach specializing in lifestyle transformation