Before I dive into talking about body confidence, can we talk about these cute beach items?! I am in love with one shoulder one-piece suit. Raising Wild has the cutest one-pieces right now, and I love that one-pieces are in style this year. I’m also still swooning over this donut beach blanket and two toned hat. This was seriously the perfect beach set up for our trip to Newport Beach this month.
IMPROVING BODY CONFIDENCE
I had such an outpouring of sweet comments on my Instagram post yesterday when I opened up about my low body image in college and how I’ve worked hard to change it. A lot of girls admitted this is something they struggle with and asked what I did to improve my body confidence, so I decided to alter my blog post today and start a series of articles about what helped me learn to love myself.
A little background
As a kid I was confident, happy and outgoing. My family always told me how pretty I was and supported me. However, when I went into high school, I started getting really depressed and started comparing myself to other girls. I didn’t really date and I grew up in a school that didn’t have a lot of ethnic diversity (in other words, most girls were taller, fairer, had lighter hair and slender figures). Celebrities at the time also fit that same description; so this is who I compared myself to, and of course I never measured up. My bad self-esteem continued into college, and eventually took a nose dive after a really tough break up my freshman year. I literally hated myself and my body. I let depression overcome me, and I had made a mental habit of putting myself down. When I started physically hurting myself in an attempt to get mental relief, I finally realized the severity of my habits. I knew I had to make a choice, I could continue in a state of helplessness, or I could become proactive. The realization that I could truly be in control was so powerful, that I was able to start thinking of ways to make changes. It took months and years of self-evaluation, problem solving and sheer determination to start transforming my way of thinking from a passive to proactive state. I began daily exercises that included looking in the mirror and forcing myself to find something I liked and pushing a mental mute button when I started to compare myself to others. I began listening to more uplifting music, volunteering as an elementary school tutor and spending more time outdoors. I avoided idleness and picked up photography, guitar, singing and baking. I started engaging in life again. It took daily willpower to keep from entertaining the depressive and obsessive thoughts, but finally my efforts instilled in me a sense of confidence and self-worth that I had never had before.
That being said, there were quite a few things I did, and still do, to boost my body confidence.
1ST RULE IN BODY CONFIDENCE: CONFIDENCE IS MENTAL, NOT PHYSICAL
The first post in this series is about using numbers on the scale and clothing sizes to define ourselves, because it is absolutely crucial to separate our love for ourselves from our physical appearance. It’s really impossible to truly love yourself unless you can make this separation. Stop worrying about numbers on the scale or sizes; just worry about how you feel in your clothes and your physical health.
CLOTHING SIZES: Some people say go by how your clothes fit vs the scale. I say, don’t go by your clothes either! So you don’t fit into those jeans that you wore pre-baby, does it matter? Does it mean you don’t look good because those jeans are still tight? No! Our bodies go through changes, so be patient and rock what you have right now. Buy and wear clothing that makes you look and feel good regardless of the size, you don’t have to wait until you fit into something to feel beautiful.
I’m not saying throw fitness and healthy eating out the window. I’m saying love your body in ALL of its phases vs waiting to love it until it is perfect. Size and body shape DOES NOT determine confidence. I know a lot of girls who are tiny and still really struggle with body confidence. The smallest I have been is 106 lbs; I remember going into a clothing store and needing an XS dress because the S was too big. Girls–this is one of the times my confidence was the LOWEST! So STOP thinking you will be confident when you hit a certain body weight or when you can afford plastic surgery to gain curves in the right places. You can still work toward goals and changes, but remember confidence is mental, not physical.
Another reason I hate when people say “judge yourself by how your clothes fit” is because then we start internalizing/overanalyzing the sizes on the labels of the clothing we wear. I can wear a size S in one top and a size L in another, I can even be a size 10 at one store and a size 4 at another. The description on labels aren’t meant to define the person in them. Think about it…if the labels on clothing are meant to define the person wearing them then tumble dry would be quite the process when we get out of the shower! Sound ridiculous? Good, so is thinking the size definition applies to us as well as the clothing.
Here’s a personal example. The photo on the left was when I was tan and a size 4. The photo on the right was taken last week. I am currently a size 8 or 10, not super tan and have cellulite. I HONESTLY LOVE MYSELF MORE NOW than I did then. Yes, I am still working on getting back in shape and losing the rest of my baby weight. Yes, I see the cellulite and muscles that need toning, but that has nothing to do with my confidence and body image. Loving myself is separate, and I do, I love myself and think I’m beautiful. I have actually lost 40+ lbs since having my baby, and even at 40lbs heavier than I am on the right, I loved myself and my body. So again, stop thinking that you will finally have confidence when you look a certain way. When you truly love someone else, their different physical phases don’t determine how much or how little you love them. This is also true for yourself! If you want to feel confident, love yourself and finally feel at peace about your body, then you need to separate your self-confidence from your physical appearance.
NUMBERS ON THE SCALE: I know you’ve heard it a thousand times, but…STOP WEIGHING YOURSELF EVERYDAY! I’m sure you’ve heard not to worry about the number because muscle weighs more than fat. However, the reason why I only weigh myself occasionally is because when I look at the numbers, it makes me think about my body and about food. I either feel like I’m doing good and can indulge (a lot); or I obsess over the lack of weight loss and start hating on my body. Neither consequence has a good outcome for me. I only weigh myself about once every 4-6 weeks now just to be aware for health purposes. I honestly lose weight more quickly when I’m not checking all the time.
I’m not sure how many of you will read this all of the way through, but I hope that any tidbits you caught from it are helpful! If you have any tips that have helped you, send me an email. I’d love to include some of your ideas in my next blog post.