On being perfectly imperfect

It’s 2016. Stop being so hard on yourself and celebrate how beautiful you are. Yes, you!

You just finished a great workout and you’re feeling invincible. The sweat, the endorphins, the stress relief were just what you needed.

And then there it is again. The negative self-talk creeps back in. The doubt and criticism. Maybe it starts after being on social media or when you see a fitness ad, or maybe after flipping through a magazine. All of the sudden you don’t feel as good about yourself.

My arms don’t look like that. I run all the time but I feel like my legs never change. I do yoga but I don’t look like these ladies on Instagram. I need to stop eating this. I need to cleanse for 10 days. I need to work out more. I’m not pretty enough. I look terrible. I am fat.

Now everything that felt good after your workout or when we made healthy food choices disappears and you’re left feeling frustrated and unworthy. Have you been there? I have.

Deep down we know that no two bodies are alike, yet we still compare ourselves to others around us — whether a friend, a stranger on the street or a model in a magazine. And the media isn’t helping. They might change their headlines, but they don’t change their images of women.

Sometimes what we need to see is something like the All Woman Project to remind us that being healthy and happy has nothing to do with the size and shape of our bodies.

The All Woman Project is about realizing that women are more similar than they are different — embracing beauty in our diverse body types and reminding us that no singular size or shape defines health or wellness any more than another.

I also believe it serves as a reminder that even as we work out and eat healthfully, our bodies will never look like anyone else’s no matter how hard we try, and that should never be the aim. In fact, we need to encourage, celebrate and promote our differences.

Believe me, I know it is not easy — I deal with my own body issues. Too often I fail to celebrate the work I have put in or to simply appreciate the body I have and all the things it does for me. It’s time we refocus and celebrate how perfect our so-called “imperfections” are.

Here are a few tips to refocus your positive self-image:

  • Take a break from social media. We have never-ending access to and are bombarded with hundreds of photos each day, and I don’t think we always know how those images can affect us. Unplug, give yourself a break and return to your own reality beyond that smartphone screen.
  • Find things that promote a positive body image. Tune in to people, groups, books, stores and the like that celebrate all body types and don’t encourage fad diets or unrealistic beauty standards. Spend your time on people and things that encourage and appreciate the uniqueness in all of us.
  • Appreciate the work. Too often we strive for a certain size or number on the scale in order to be happy. Delete that mindset. Instead, congratulate yourself for making healthy choices or for meeting your workout goals.
  • Be kind to yourself. Some of the worst things we say are about our own selves. Harmful thoughts, even your own, fester into negativity. Make it a point each day to say two or three positive things about yourself!

Whether you like to stay active and fit or you are an athlete, Norton Women’s Sports Health was developed for women like you. We’re here to help you live a healthy life and provide you with the tools to succeed no matter your fitness goal. If you are struggling with body image, we can connect you to a specialist who can help. Request an appointment online.

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