Feeling a bit bent out of shape about your body? Hey girl, you’re not alone. Whether you’re suffering from PMS bloat, have felt too busy to exercise thanks to a crazy work schedule, or are having trouble sticking with healthy eating habits, many of us resort to self-shaming when we don’t like what we see. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking can bring you down in a big way, causing you to drift further away from your wellness routine. Emily Jackson — marathon runner, mom of four, and the blogger behind The Ivory Lane (and who recently launched a #GRLPWR Running Guide) — believes that fitness can be a foundation for girls and women to stay encouraged, inspired, and motivated. Jackson recently chatted with us about how to nip insecurities in the bud by turning to a mindset of body appreciation. Ready to rock your own world? Read on for her top tips.
1. Focus on progress you’ve already made. Whether you’re working to drop weight in an effort to be healthier or are hoping to increase your strength in fitness classes, Jackson says reminding yourself how far you’ve come is the name of the game. “If you aren’t constantly pushing your mind in small, positive ways, it will crumble on the days that get overwhelmingly stressful,” she explains. “The best way to stay mentally strong is to focus on your successes and not where you’re falling short.” Jackson reminds us that tearing yourself down can result in low energy — the supply you need to achieve your goals! Recognizing your progress will serve as motivation and help you appreciate your body’s amazing capabilities.
2. Learn to love what you see. “Your eyes are a powerful tool; be grateful for them and use them to view yourself and others in a positive way,” Jackson suggests. “We all have something beautiful to offer, so don’t be afraid to shift your focus or take a step back to gain a new perspective on your life or on others.” Having a down day about the skin you’re in? Challenge yourself to choose just one thing you love — be it your strong shoulders, long limbs, comfy curves, thick hair, or clear skin. We bet you’ll wind up noticing a few awesome attributes.
3. Cut out sources of negativity. Your insecurities might come from things people have said about the way you look or what you can do, or even popular opinions you’ve seen in the media and internalized. It can be easy for even the most confident woman to get caught up in airbrushed photos and bold headlines. To appreciate yourself, learn how to tune negativity out. “There will always be people who like you and others who don’t,” Jackson affirms. “Choose to use your ears to hear and listen to the good while blocking out the bad.” Bye, haters.
4. Put positive words into practice. While practicing kindness might seem like a stretch when it comes to finding a newfound appreciation for your body, Jackson says that learning how to treat yourself like you treat others can be a game changer. “Speak up and use your words to help motivate and inspire. Express your feelings with others; words can inspire and words can destroy, so choose yours well.” Put this into practice by talking about your physical insecurities with trusted friends or a coach, then celebrate your healthy accomplishments by talking about the recent race you ran, PR you set, or healthy meal you learned to cook. Repeat daily affirmations to yourself, and believe in the power of your positive words.
5. Cherish your capabilities. You might feel caught up with what your body looks like or what it struggles with, but a simple mental switch can help you realize what it can do. Not sure where to begin? “Allow yourself to be open to all that life has for you: new opportunities, new friends, new places,” Jackson offers. Appreciate that you’re able to soak it all in, and start there. Next, work to flip an “I have to” into “I’m able to.” Dreading the weekend hike you promised you’d take with your S.O.? Be grateful you can do it. Not feeling motivated for your Bikram yoga class tonight? Cherish your capability to get there and make it through. So empowering!
6. Follow your heart. “The cost of not following your heart is spending the rest of your life wishing you had,” Jackson wisely reminds. “So for both the short and long term, make healthy plans and take time for yourself to prioritize them.” Hold on to your plans and stick with your goals to follow your heart — and your healthy, strong body — where it takes you.