Feel comfortable in your own skin
When you look in the mirror are you happy with the person that looks back at you? A shocking 90% of women are unhappy with their appearance and recent surveys show that men are not far behind. As a result, we have seen a boom in gym membership, plastic surgery, personal trainers and special diet foods. However, if you want to boost confidence in your appearance you need to take a holistic approach.
Embarking on a regime of healthy eating and moderate exercise is a positive step towards taking control of your life and also has knock-on effects in terms of overall mental and physical health. Yet, if you are unhappy with your appearance, it's your mind you need to be addressing as well as your body. Here are some tips to help you develop a healthier body confidence.Exercise as a root to positive self-image
Even if the gym intimidates you and you hate team sports, it's worth considering integrating some kind of exercise into your life. Buy yourself a fitness video, a book or join a local class. As well as being good for your health and an excellent stress-buster, exercise can also boost your mood. Regular exercise can help you feel more in control of your life and help you feel more positive about your body as well.
Focus on your whole self & stop labelling yourself
Many of us believe that we would be happier with ourselves if we would just lose some weight or gain some muscle. Life just isn't that simple. We fall in love with whole people, not just perfect bodies. Focusing on your inner qualities can help you feel more positive about your external appearance. Think about all the qualities, strengths and talents that you like about yourself. Feeling positive about your inner self means that these qualities will shine through and you will be perceived as more confident and more attractive, enhancing your own self-image as a result.
In order to focus on your whole self, spend some time listing all the qualities about yourself that you like and list them. Try to get at least twentyÂ?and then keep adding to them. This exercise can take some time to settle into but persevere, it's a really important way of enabling you to see yourself as a 'whole' person, rather than just focusing on your appearance.
What do you like?
It's likely that you are putting an unhealthy emphasis on the parts of your body that you don't like. Yet other people may not even have noticed them at all. Someone who loves you will not be focusing on the cellulite on your thighs or the hair on your back. Instead of focusing on 'problem' areas such as cellulite put more emphasis on the parts of your appearance that you do like. Write a list of them and remind yourself of them when your body confidence is low. No-one has the perfect body Â? even top models and film stars hate an aspect of their appearance.
Easier said than done, but it's easier to maintain a healthy diet long-term than a fad one. Restricting your food intake can have knock-on effects on your mental as well as physical health. Have you ever noticed that your attitude to food is fine until you start dieting? Quick-fix diets not only endanger your health because you are restricting your food intake, they do nothing for your self-esteem either. Instead of starting yet another diet, why not take some time to learn and adopt principles of healthy eating - focusing on having a varied, healthy diet, with plenty of fruit and vegetables.
Find yourself some positive role models
These days, we often look to celebrities for role models. Yet, they spend an inordinate amount of time and money maintaining their perfectly groomed, taut appearances, something which we ordinary mortals don't have the resources to do. Look around your peers for positive body image role models and instead, learn to be proud of who you are, rather than worry about who you aren't.
Recognise the diversity of human body shape!
Imagine a world populated by Brad Pitts and Kate Mosses. It would be pretty dull really wouldn't it?
Instead, look around you next time you are out and about. Recognise that the world is populated by people of different sizes and shapes. It's also useful to remember that body shapes can go in and out of fashion and that different shapes are perceived as beautiful by different cultures.
Be realistic about change
Finally, be realistic about what you can and can't change about your appearance. How much energy do you spend wishing you were thinner or had more muscles? Imagine what you could do with that energy by focusing it on other areas of your life. Ask yourself what your life will be like if you don't feel more confident with your body and how your life would be different if you did. Next time you look at yourself in the mirror, instead of telling yourself how 'ugly'/'fat'/'weedy' you look, spend time consciously trying to feel positive about the person looking back at you. Changing your body-image does take time, but it is possible and there is no better time to start than now.
About the author:Ruth Rosselson is a life and confidence coach based in Manchester. She works with individuals and groups on a range of topics.
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