By Priya Shah
I recently purchased a bathing suit off of Amazon for a spa day I planned with my girlfriends. The bottom is high-waisted, the top is a ruffled flounce top. Buying a two-piece suit is kind of a big deal for me. Not because of how far I’ve come physically, but how far I’ve come mentally. I don’t take what people say about me or my body to heart anymore — positive or negative. Because I know that the only validation I’ll ever need comes from within.
But soon after, I learned that one of my friends didn’t want to join us. Her response via the messenger chat was this: “I’m going to pass on the spa. I’m not comfortable showing off my bod. Lol.”
Even after we asked her to reconsider, she still refused. We respected her decision. Everyone is on their own journey and at different levels of body acceptance. And it didn’t matter how many times we told our friend that she was beautiful and literally no one cared what she looked like in a bathing suit, if she didn’t believe it herself, then there was no point.
I get it though. We’re always surrounded by advertisements and media with phrases like “12-Week Bikini Body Challenge!” and “How to Get Your Summer Body!”.
But remember this: your thoughts and the way you speak to and about yourself will create your reality. For me, clicking that buy button on Amazon the other day was a celebration. I’m not perfect but I’ve learned how to love myself regardless. If you’re struggling to love your body, here is my fire formula for loving yourself, fully and completely.
change your language
Body acceptance and love starts from the inside — how you talk to and about yourself is SO important. Pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day. Do you find yourself thinking, “Ugh, I hate the way I look,” OR are you thinking, “I am freaking amazing, no matter what?” When a negative thought pops into your head, replace it with a compliment. I started doing this many years ago, and it took some time but my thoughts are completely different now. It takes practice and time. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
I'm a big fan of positive affirmations, and they help me rewrite my story. Your affirmations can be as simple as, “I love my body” or “I feel strong and confident in my body.” Repeat them as often as you can, and write them on post-its and put them around your house. The more you say them, the more you’ll believe them. I love using the app ThinkUp, where I can record my affirmations in my voice and listen back to them throughout the day.
exercise because you love yourself
There’s a misconception floating around that you don’t have to exercise if you love your body, and that the purpose of exercising is to *change* your body in some way.
Stop right there. You can love yourself exactly the way you are but still want to improve. For example, I want to strengthen my core and my arms. While I work towards these goals, I still love and appreciate my body exactly the way it is right now.
Work out because you love yourself. Not because you hate yourself. And a regular, healthy exercise routine gives us SO much more than just physical benefits. It’s even good for your mental health. You don’t need to do some crazy bootcamp. But how about going for a walk or taking a yoga class? You don’t even need to leave the house. Try this at home free yoga workout with POPSUGAR fitness. It may take some time to figure out a routine that *you* love, but keep trying new things. And remember to celebrate the non-scale wins!
don’t beat yourself up over what you eat
I looove food, and I don’t count calories or guilt myself after eating. Over the last few years, I find myself eating whatever I want. I don’t deprive myself of anything. Some people feel bad after eating the third slice of pizza. I can actually (most of the time and if I’m super hungry) eat a whole pizza by myself, and it can be amazing! I’m not saying eat a whole pizza and neglect your health! All I’m saying is enjoy your food. Life is too short to not eat the cheesecake.
Still, if I’m eating too much junk, I’ll start to notice a difference in my energy and feel sluggish. This is not a reason to start calling myself names or to go on an unsustainable diet. I’ll just make adjustments accordingly. I’ll add more veggies into my meals and choose healthier options at restaurants. I also love researching healthy options on YouTube. But I NEVER beat myself up over what I eat or don’t eat.
take & post pictures
This step is optional, but I highly recommend it because it’s a major confidence boost! We’re so caught up in the *after* photos but neglect to appreciate the *before*. Why does the before version of you (which could likely be right now) get less love? I love taking pictures of myself, especially when I’m in the right mindset. However, way back in the day, I wouldn’t post pictures that made me look a certain way, and I’d overthink about how I looked in every picture. Then I realized it didn’t matter and the only approval I needed was from myself.
Take pictures of yourself, regardless of your size, and post them proudly on your social media accounts. Post them for *you*, regardless of how many likes you get or don’t get. Bonus points if you hire a professional photographer for a self-love photoshoot!
Body acceptance and love starts from the inside. It sounds cliché, but once you put it into practice and really start believing it, your whole world is going to change. Let’s start now: Tell me something you *love* about your body in the comments.
Priya is a Chicago-based freelance copywriter and serial blogger armed with a journalism degree and a strong background in providing clients with value, creativity, and a killer voice. She’s also a world-traveler, has lived abroad, and loves exploring other cultures.