Embrace Your Body: Overcoming Barriers to Self-Acceptance

What does “healthy” really mean?

I recently attended an “Accepting Our Bodies” workshop offered at the Counseling Center. Honestly, I thought I had learned everything about body image and self-acceptance in middle school, but I was mistaken. Our bodies are constantly changing and so does the way we view ourselves. I did not realized the emphasis we put on body image or how much it affects our lives.

Until recently, I had no idea what “healthy” really meant… now I do. To me, “healthy” is caring for, accepting and celebrating your body. You don’t have to be a health superstar to be “healthy.” It’s attainable to everyone. Notice how you\ view your body, think positively and love everything your body allows you to do. Life beyond “fat talk,” negative judgments, disordered eating patterns and eating disorders is possible, enjoyable and healthy.


5 Barriers to Self-Acceptance and Quotes to Overcome Them:

1) Letting our actions and thoughts be influenced by body image.

A negative body image often promotes feelings of anxiety and isolation, which can stop you from living your life to the fullest. Have you denied yourself food, clothing or activities until your body changes? Worrying and waiting will only avert happiness and decrease motivation.

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life, which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours. – Henry David Thoreau

Don’t limit yourself because of how you feel about your body.  Stop dreaming about the things you want to do, and start experiencing them! Changes in your body and attitude will come naturally.

2) Looking towards the media for body inspiration.

Research shows that looking at digitally altered images leaves people feeling worse about themselves. “Fitspo” and “Thinspo” blogs and pictures portray unattainable and unrealistic goals. Remember, media images are extremely digitally altered, and the models and celebrities wish they looked like their pictures too!

There is no cosmetic for beauty like happiness. – Maria Mitchell

Watch the video below, and stop viewing the unrealistic and unattainable for inspiration.

3) Engaging in competition and “fat-talk” with our family and friends.

Unfortunately when it comes to body image, friends and family can be as toxic as the media. Increased comfort can lead to “fat-talk”, which brings down your mood and the moods of those around you. Additionally, every body is unique, and comparison is an unsatisfying motivator. It adds pressure to your relationships and can cause resentment and anxiety.

A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier – Tom Stoppard

Avoid engaging in unnecessary competition or “fat-talk.” Lean on your loved ones for support and encourage positive motivation.

4) Dwelling on the negative instead of appreciating the good.

Research suggests that we are wired to view the negative, and we tend to over exaggerate what we see as “bad” instead of highlighting the things we love. Remember how beautiful you look when you laugh or smile and how accomplished you feel after you exercise. Where would you be without your body?

There are flowers everywhere, for those who bother to look. – Henri Matisse

Stop the negativity.  Accept your strong and stunning body. It allows you to be yourself and do wonderful things.

5) Only judging your reflection.

The person you criticize in the mirror is not the person everyone else sees. When you interact with people your appearance is animated. You smile, your eyes light up, and your personality exuberates. These are the things that others notice and love about you.

People often say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing you are the beholder – Salma Hayek

Watch the video below and remember you’re more than the person you see in the mirror. What other people see, you should see too.

Next week is National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW).  The Counseling Center and Wellness USF have put together a list of fun, informational, and engaging events about self-acceptance, exercise, nutrition, and body image.  Celebrate your body and check out the list of events here.

CHALLENGE: What does “healthy” mean to you? People often have a misconception of what healthy really is. Show us what “healthy” is by sending your pictures to ahfiedler@usf.edu to be used in a future @wellnessusf campaign.


Contribution by Shannon Gordon

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