How do you see yourself?

You are what you think!​

Do you see yourself in a positive or negative way?Body image and self-esteem start in the mind, not in the mirror.
​Firstly, before we discuss how body image affects our mental health, we should define what body image is. Body image is the sum of how a person feels, thinks, behaves and views their body. They can change the way you understand your value and worth. Healthy body image and self-esteem are a big part of well-being.

When you know yourself you are empowered.

When you accept yourself you are invicible!

I had this visual belief

I have done alot of work over the last 5 years on my Self Esteem and my Body Image and shared my Journey via my Blog. It’s personal however I hope that in sharing my own journey it may help others with theirs.

I have moved through the stages of. 

  1. I needed to learn to like myself {click here for the Blog link to: Me, Myself and I}
  2. Learning to Like & Love myself and the health implications around NOT liking yourself {Click here for the Blog link to: Body Image}.
  3. To accepting my parts I can’t change. {Click here for the Blog link to: At peace with my parts}. 

It takes time and practice to genuinely enhance self-esteem and I knew I had more work to do. 
I realised the importance of #3 after writing the Blog {How to cope with Stressors}and that Neuroplasticity would/could play a major role. The good old saying what fires together wires together comes up yet again!!

So I decided to have another Photo Shoot, the aim was to show the rolls and rolls of spare skin that I had (past tense) seen with my own eyes. Due to my large amount of weight-loss I have needed to have excess skin removed for Medical Reasons {Blog My Interview on the Good Morning Show} I COULD have another 2 operations which would be cosmetic surgery not for medical reasons however I think my body has been through enough. That means I need to accept and be happy with my spare skin. 

Jump forward to this photo shoot with Sarah, truth be told it was taken November 2020 and when she took the first picture in a pose that is below of me leaning back hold my boob.. I expected to see, what I see when I am on the floor after a hard workout.. you see I had thought I SEEN all of this spare skin. Sarah, Ummm I don’t think you will be happy as she takes a few shots, she shows me and I am like NO don’t do anything with the lightening… she takes some more and no … there are no rolls and rolls of spare skin. There is only a little spare skin.​ 

EVENTUALLY we put my body in a hunched up seated position and pulled the skin you see here below out and to the side to make the point I was trying to make and then I pulled the skin together to show what could be taken for cosmetic reasons… afterwards when I looked at the photos I was amazed that how the lens seen me was NOT how I had seen myself. 

I do need to say that this was how I HAD seen myself, seeing these photos has change my visual perception. I have done this in every stage of my Weightloss Journey and I encourage my Clients who have a lot of weight to lose to really look and start to like and love their current body so as to not be stuck with old or incorrect throughts.
However it also needs to be noted that there is also Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD).

​How does body image affect mental health & why is it a big deal?

Having body image concerns is a relatively common experience and is not a mental health problem in and of itself; however, it can be a risk factor for mental health problems. Research has found that higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders.
Higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviours and eating disorders.

  • It can isolate you.
  • It can cause you emotional distress that could lead to anger, self loathing, worry, fear, sadness and eventually lead to more serious Mental Health issues. 
  • It can effect relationships.
  • It can lead to harmful behaviours. 

Conversely, body satisfaction and appreciation has been linked to better overall wellbeing and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours. Though feeling unsatisfied with our bodies and appearance is often more common among young women, body image concerns are relevant from childhood through to later life and affect both women and men.

Body satisfaction and appreciation has been linked to better overall wellbeing and fewer unhealthy dieting behaviours.
You have to spend the rest of  your life in your body so LOVE yourself first. 

  • It can positivley effect your Physical & Mental Health.
  • It can positivley effect your relationships. 

It’s been shown over and over again that just thinking about something can cause your brain to release neurotransmitters, chemical messengers that allow it to communicate with parts of itself and your nervous system. Neurotransmitters control virtually all of your body’s functions, from hormones to digestion to feeling happy, sad, or stressed.

The majority of people I work with really don’t like there body… some hate ‘it’ and I totally  get it I was there myself.

If you want to make change I can tell you from personal experience and also experience with my clients that you can’t heal a body you hate.

The majority of people I work with, it comes down to Cognition. They don’t like themselves, they don’t trust that their body will loose weight and they hate that.

Imagine though… if you like and love the body you are in whilst working on yourself in a healthy and positive mindset. After all you are in your body for LIFE. 

Do you have a Healthy or an unhealthy body Image?

Healthy body image is about feeling comfortable in your own skin

  • Feeling happy most of the time with the way you look.
  • Feeling good about yourself.
  • Valuing yourself by who you are, not by what you look like.

Unhealthy or negative body image is believing your body isn’t good enough

  • Thinking that you look too fat.
  • Feeling like you’re not pretty enough or muscular enough.
  • Believing that your looks determine your value as a person.
  • Fixating on trying to change your body shape.

What can I do about feeling negative about my body?

Work through it.

  • Challenge and reframe negative Body Images.
  • Treat yourself with kindness. 
  • Seek out supportive relationships, this includes your friends and also your family members. 

Do you want to make lifestyle changes?

Making lifestyle changes via healthy eating, moving, walking, yoga or joinging a gym are all great ways you can do that. Not only does it raise your endorphins, help you sleep better and also assists your overall health and wellness. If you find the right thing for you hopefully you will also be surrounded like life minded people. People that are moving in a positive direction to ADD to their overall wellness. 

Question what you see in the media

In the media today, you might find an image of ‘attractiveness’ which doesn’t sit right with you. It might not reflect how you or your friends actually look, it might put too much pressure on you to change your size or shape, or it might even be ‘airbrushed’ digitally, meaning that it is impossible to achieve anyway! Instead

  • Look for similarities in body shape that you share with family members.
  • Focus on your positive qualities, skills and talents.
  • Appreciate all the physical things your body can do!

Create helpful media habits. Subtle media messages about body ‘perfection’ have a sneaky way of working into your mind. Try to:

  • Choose media that don’t make you feel crap about yourself.
  • Avoid accounts, channels, sites and shows that make you feel the need to change your appearance.
  • Ignore media that suggest the ‘ideal body’ exists. It doesn’t!

Helpful ideas and tips

  • Understanding and challenging society’s manufactured and constantly changing ideals of beauty. 
  • Appreciate all that your body can do. Every day your body carries you closer to your dreams. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, etc.
  • Limit your exposure to highly stylised and flawless images of fitness, beauty and appearance: These can increase feelings of body inadequacy and dissatisfaction.
  • Diversify what you see: You can control and curate what appears in your social media feeds. Follow people and pages that make you feel good about yourself and your body. Practice critical thinking of media and social media messages. Remember, what you see might not even be real. Images are often digitally enhanced with editing and filters, which can trigger body insecurities. This is used by advertisers to sell us stuff.
  • Keep a top-ten list of things you like about yourselfthings that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  • Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts. See yourself as you want others to see you — as a whole person. Your qualities, talents, strengths and attributes (and yes, you have lots of these) make you who you are. Celebrate and nurture the things that make you, you.
  • Create strong and affirming positive statements: These can be powerful weapons to combat unhelpful body comparisons. Some you might like to try include, “I am enough”, “My body is great”, “I am more than my body”, “I am worthy as I am” and “I don’t need to change a thing about myself”.
  • Focus on your body function: You’re more than your shape or form.
  • Practice body gratitude: What you’re grateful for that your body can do.
  • Combat unhelpful and toxic negative body and appearance talk: Toxic body/diet/appearance talk and dialogue destroy body confidence. Shut it down by using strong words or statements; “Stop”, “That’s enough” or even “Can we talk about something else?
  • Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  • Reduce unhelpful and unnecessary body comparisons: It’s unfair and unhelpful to body compare.
  • Move and nourish your body in ways that make you feel good: Move and eat for health gains, enjoyment and to improve mental health (instead of for weight or muscularity change).
  • Nurture your whole self: Practice body kindness, mindfulness, and self-care. What works for you?
  • Be realistic: No one feels great about their body all of the time. Poor body image moments happen; it’s only important we don’t respond to negative feelings with unhelpful behaviours.
  • Allow time to heal: Learning to respect, appreciate, like and love your body for what it is and also what it sin’t, how it looks, what it can and cannot do all takes time. Do your best to be kind to your body in its moment of discomfort and dissatisfaction. ​

Further Resources

As I have worked through my Body Image issues over time I feel confident in where I am at and I also work with my clients to ensure they too have a healthy perception of their own Body. 

However if you need further assistance in regards to this topic as it is a very deep topic BUTTERFLY​ is an amazing organisation with Health Care Professionals and Resources to assist you so check them out.

​I encourage you to do the work to like and love yourself…

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