10 Ways I Practice Body Positivity and Self-love
I’ve spent the last 30 days talking about self-love and body positivity on Instagram (follow me here or search the hashtag #30daysofselflove if you want to see some of those posts) everything from how I spent years of my life hating my body and impact that had, to how much better my life is now that I’ve been able to find some love for myself. I’ve talked about the things people get wrong about body positivity and how to get started on your own body positivity journey.
But all that talking doesn’t really do any good unless you put it into practice. Some days I am better at showing myself love than others, but over the past 3 years, I’ve found several ways that I can practice body positivity and self-love on a daily basis. Things that make me feel good and help remind me why I’m on this journey.
I wear clothes that fit
This may seem like a no brainer, but for years I tried to squeeze myself into clothes that were just one-size too small because I was always going to lose weight, those clothes were always going to fit in just a few weeks, which of course never happened. This might have saved me a few bucks but it also did nothing to help my already low self-confidence, did nothing to make me feel good about my body. Not wearing clothes that fit combined with trying to wear the latest fashion trends, that typically didn’t flatter my body, was a recipe for never liking how I looked.
When I finally let go of the shame I had been carrying around for years about the number on my jeans and started wearing clothes that fit me and flattered my body it made a world of difference. Getting dressed in the morning is no longer a painful process that sometimes ends in tears. I have more than one outfit in my closet that made me feel beautiful and confident. I am able to look in the mirror and not hate everything I saw.
I still have half a closet full of pre-pregnancy clothes that are too small, and I am actively working towards fitting in them again, but in the meantime, I’m not trying to squish my body into them every day. For me, body positivity starts with loving and accepting my body in every stage and that means wearing clothes that make me feel good about myself, even if they are a size bigger than the ones I wore last year.
I do yoga
I have recently discovered how much I love yoga and try to fit it in 4 to 5 times a week, but a year ago you could’ve replaced I do yoga with I lift weights and the message would’ve been the same. I feel better when I move my body. It turns out my body doesn’t like it when I spend all day sitting at my desk at work and then all night sitting on the couch.
Engaging in exercise that I enjoy and makes me feel good is key if I want to feel my best, right now that means doing yoga in my living room after my kids go to bed. Running on a treadmill or doing a million burpees aren’t things that make me want to move my body, and when I try to force myself to do workouts I don’t enjoy I always find excuses not too. Finding ways to workout that I actually want to do is key to getting up off the couch and moving my body, and I don’t know any better to way to celebrate your body and the things it can do than working out.
I unfollow people that make me feel bad about myself
I love social media. I love reading other people’s stories, looking at pretty pictures and finding funny (and inappropriate) memes to make me laugh. But social media doesn’t always make me feel good about myself. Sometimes following certain people pulled me back into a dark space and hindered my journey towards loving myself, so I unfollowed them. I found over the years that following health and fitness accounts didn't motivate me to want to improve my own health and fitness but instead made me feel bad about all the things I wasn't doing, and all the progress I hadn't made.
Social media has the power to connect us to people we would never know otherwise and can be such a positive space, but it can also make us feel inadequate and incapable of self-love if we don’t measure up to someone else. I don’t want to let someone’s perfectly posed Instagram photo make me feel bad about myself, so when I get to that point I just stop following.
I listen to inspiring music
I have a playlist on my phone called, “I Am Beautiful”. It’s full of songs that make me feel like a badass and remind me that I am strong and beautiful. Songs like Confident by Demi Lovato, Worth It by Fifth Harmony, Sexy Lady by Jessie J and Scars to Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara. If you want the whole playlist you can find it on my Spotify channel here. There is enough negativity and judgment in the world, I don’t need it in my music too.
I take a lot of selfies.
When my lipstick is on point or I’m having a good hair day or my outfit looks awesome, I take a selfie. Why? Because there was a time in my life when I hated how I looked every single day and I never took pictures of myself and tried my hardest not to be in pictures, but now I like documenting when I feel good.
Taking a picture may seem like a weird way to show myself love, but having the confidence to show up in my own photos even if no one but me is going to see them reminds me of how far I’ve come. These seemingly insignificant photos on my phone are little reminders that I am beautiful, that I can be happy with myself and that I am enough right now without changing anything.
I give myself grace when things don’t go as planned
I probably have a conversation with myself at least once a day that goes something like this, “Paige, it’s fine. It’s not the end of the world because you ate pizza for dinner.” Or this morning when I remembered that I didn’t work out at all last week I had to remind myself that I was sick and my body needed rest and sleep way more than it needed yoga.
I am a master at criticizing myself, at taking a whole bunch of things that are no big deal and turning them into something worthy of ruining my whole day. Saying nice things to myself and not immediately jumping to telling myself how big of a failure I am has taken a lot of time and effort. I have to constantly stop myself in the middle of negative thoughts and remind myself that I’m just human, that I’m not perfect and I’m a complete failure at life just because I ordered pizza. This is not to say I don’t hold myself accountable to goals I want to meet and actions I need to take to get there, but giving myself a little grace makes those times when things inevitably don’t go as planned.
I spend time with people who accept me just the way I am
Nine out of 10 of the things on this list can be done solo, but sometimes I just need to spend time with people who love and accept me just the way I am. There are few things that are better than spending time with friends that are in the same stage as life as you are, that understand the struggles you are going through and can make you feel better about your life just by admitting theirs isn’t perfect either, or laughing until your stomach hurts with old friends about things no one else understands, or holding hands with your husband while you watch reruns on TV.
Being with good friends and family fills my cup up in a way I can’t do alone. There is something about being with people who have been by your side through the good times and the bad that makes all your shortcomings seem less glaring. No one is more critical of myself than I am, but being with people who love me gives me the strength to embrace the real me and continue on this body positivity journey.
I channel my inner Beyonce
Do you think Beyonce stands in front of her mirror and critiques everything about herself? Do you think she let's the thoughts of other people have an impact on her life? Hell no! Beyonce did not get to where she is today by giving a crap what other people think.
Wondering and worrying about what other people think used to hold me back so much, and sometimes still does, but being able to truly accept myself and my body started with letting go of trying to make myself fit someone else’s mold. It is pretty much impossible for me to practice self-love if I am constantly comparing myself to someone else. So when I’m feeling stuck worrying about other people’s opinions, I turn on my “I Am Beautiful” playlist and rock my confidence like I’m Beyonce.
I list all the things I’ve accomplished that have nothing to do with my body.
The list may only be in my head, but when I’m feeling bad about myself or when I get sucked into the comparison game and every person in the world is skinnier and prettier than me I remember all the things I’ve done that have nothing to do with my body because there is so much more to me than just my body.
When we meet someone new and they ask about us we don't start listing off our measurements, pant size or weight. A: Because no one cares. B: Because there are WAAAYYYY more interesting things about us than the way we look. But yet we spend so much time and effort on trying to make our bodies look a certain way and hating ourselves until we do. I have spent so much time thinking about my body and how to make it look a certain way it's almost embarrassing.
My body is never going to be the focus of my career, and unless you really enjoy stories about scars it is never going to be the most interesting thing about me and that is what I want to focus on, on building skills and strengths and spend more time thinking about things that have nothing to do with my body.
I choose self-love.
Body positivity is as simple as making the choice to love yourself every single day. It's as simple as choosing to appreciate your body instead of shaming it. It's as simple as believing your body is good and worthy, and treating it that way. It is as simple as asking yourself how you can show your body and yourself love today. But just because it's simple doesn't mean it is easy.
For me choosing to show myself love and offer myself grace is not the easiest choice. Somedays the easy choice would be letting the negative voices, the doubts, and the fears win. Practicing body positivity and self-love is not as simple as flipping the switch and never having to deal with negative thoughts ever again. I have to make a choice to actively work on loving and accepting myself every single day, it’s not always easy but it is always worth it.