5 STEPS TO OVERCOMING NEGATIVE BODY IMAGE

Listen, negative body image or body dysmorphia disorder is major issue. It’s very real. But a lot of it is in our control. We just need to understand HOW to take control of our minds and put an end to what I like to call self-sabotage.

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I suffer from body dysmorphia disorder.

Or at least, I used to.

I’d look in the mirror and see a 300 pound girl who looks like she needs to starve herself. I’m just keeping it real. I VERY often ask my boyfriend, my mom or my friends “do I look fat?” It’s unhealthy.

People are so quick to blame negative body image on the media. Because models are stick thin, or because the actresses on the covers of magazines are photoshopped. Or because people can literally edit their Instagram photos to make themselves look perfect.

Yeah, that can mess with your mind, but I think it’s time we stop blaming the media and take FULL responsibility, you know?

My negative body image probably started when I was in elementary school. I was a little larger than my friends, but I was alway called “fat.” I was labeled. I didn’t know any different!

So, I assumed I was “fat.” I wanted to look like the other girls because maybe I’d be liked more. Maybe I’d be more popular. Maybe I’d be more successful in life.

My freshman year in high school, someone told me that I “grossed them out.” That they didn’t like “my nose, my teeth or my face.” First of all, who says that to someone?

Well, like every other normal human, I took that to heart. I starved myself the summer of my freshmen year in high school. I lost over 20 pounds. I went back to school as a different person. I dyed my hair blonde ( I’m naturally a brunette ), I changed my style, I got a nose job, I was in better shape, I got my braces taken off. You know, the whole deal.

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Guys in my school looked at me differently. I started getting invited to go out to parties. People wanted to be my friend. I was getting compliments.

You know what that did to me?

Not what it would do to a normal person. It drove me crazy. In a negative way. It felt GREAT to receive those compliments after years of being bullied, but what made me upset was that I was still the same girl.

I was still Sydney. The quirky, funny ( I think ), quiet and passionate Sydney that I had always been. But, people were so focused on my appearance ( which looking back wasn’t so bad ), that they never took the time to get to know me!

No matter what obstacle you go through in life, you need to get to the root of the issue before you can find a solution.

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The root of my problem was that:

I couldn’t accept those compliments because I wasn’t truly accepted if that makes sense? I didn’t accept myself either.

I still felt just as insecure and I STILL had negative body image issues.

Do you ever feel that negative body image doesn’t always have to do with the way you see yourself? I mean, sometimes I feel that when something negative happens to me in life, I take it out on myself! ( or others around me ).

I’ll start thinking negatively about myself. Negative self-talk. Then, I start comparing myself to others. Then, I feel worse.

Have you ever experienced that vicious cycle?

Well, I want to help you change that because I have been able to overcome some major obstacles & I think with a little empowerment we all can.

STEP NO. ONE

TAKE RESPONSIBILITY

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It’s not the media. It’s not the people around you. It’s not that bikini that you’ve been dying to wear. It’s you.

It’s your mindset.

It’s powerful to realize that you are ALLOWING yourself to feel this way.

No one else BUT you.

And the best part is that it doesn’t have to be this way! You have control over your life, your future and how you look at yourself. It’s a difficult adjustment, but with a little self-care, positive self-talk and actions that help build up your confidence, you’ll be headed in the right direction.

STEP NO. TWO

GET TO THE ROOT OF THE ISSUE

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Everyone has a different reason for having to deal with negative body image. Maybe it’s because they were told they were fat like me, or maybe they gained a few pounds and feel bad about themselves, or maybe there’s something deeper going on. Something that you don’t necessarily realize.

Talking to a professional therapist, journaling and taking time for yourself can help you to find that underlying issue.

Once you discover what it is, you can address it.

I was constantly told I was fat. Does that mean I’m fat? No.

If someone gained a few pounds over the last few months and they feel bad about themselves, instead of focusing on all the weight gained, focus on WHY the weight was gained and how to lose it.

Make sense?

Not all body image issues have to do with being over weight. Negative body image can have to do with being underweight. Negative body image can have a lot to do with a traumatic experience. I am simply sharing mine and encourage you to discover yours!

STEP NO. THREE

CUT OUT TOXICITY

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I talk about this one A LOT. When we are in toxic situations or surrounded by toxic people, it is literally obvious that we are going to feel worse about ourselves.

Make a change! Put yourself in new situations and get inspired.

My mom and I were just talking about this. I have a friend who is super into a healthy lifestyle and fitness. She was actually on the SHE DID IT Podcast!

Whenever I visit her, I leave feeling so inspired. She has all of these little heathy living tips, she takes care of herself, she’s disciplined, and more importantly, we have a great time together. So much fun. And my mom just had a similar situation with her friends.

Can you imagine the weight that will be lifted off of your shoulders when you start shifting around your inner circle?

Whether that adjustment has to do with the people or a person in your life, a job or family member. Find a way to remove the situation and start doing things for you!

When you put yourself in situations that make YOU happy, the right people and the right opportunities will come along.

STEP FOUR

CREATE A PLAN

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Talking doesn’t get the job done.

Action gets the job done. Sometimes writing out a plan can help you to progress and move forward.

I used to do a lot of negative self-talk, which lead to even worse negative body image issues. So, I put a plan in place.

I got a journal to write in every morning and night to balance my mind.

Journaling allows me to get my thoughts out - negative and positive. It allows me to check in with myself to see how I’m feeling. It allows me to work through any struggles that I have.

The best part is that when I’m done, I feel empowered. I feel like the resource of writing actually helped me resolve an issue.

I have a “go-to” document for when I am having a bad day. Essentially, it’s a letter that I wrote to me, from me when I was having a good day!

This letter basically tells me to snap out of it, feel my feelings, and move on! It also has a bunch of positive affirmations, quotes that I love, ideas of things to do to get me out of it such as motivational videos, and I even tell myself to call my mom or a friend! I prepare AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE if ya can’t tell.

I have a lifestyle health plan so that I feel good.

LISTEN TO THIS:

My lifestyle health plan just includes different foods that I know boost my mood. It also has workouts that get me in a positive state of mind. Natural remedies such as the best aromatherapy concoctions. The lifestyle health plan is not black and white. It is not set in stone. It is there to give me options.

  • I EVEN have a plan for when I’m traveling to make sure I stay level headed.

The idea is to have resources available to help you work through negative body image and negative self-talk. It’s like a little emergency kit if you know what I mean? These are just little tools that are my go-to in moments when I feel myself going back into that negative space.

It’s called… preparation.

STEP FIVE

LOVE YOUR BODY

Ugh. I know. This is said ALL THE TIME and the truth is that we don’t always love our bodies at all times. BUT, by taking responsibility, finding the root of the problem, cutting out toxicity and creating a plan that works for YOU, you will begin to love yourself.

Filling your life with more self-love and things that you enjoy will boost your confidence.

Understanding where these issues stem from will help you to move forward.

The only way to feel good about yourself is to understand yourself and take care of yourself.

Got it?

Now, let the media do it’s thing. Let those models go on with their life. Let people edit their photos. If someone is calling you fat, ignore them, and don’t ever forget that we are in full control of our lives.

Do not ever let anyone dictate your future.

…and coming from someone who was bullied ( that was the root of my negative body image ), stand up for yourself. Say something. If are afraid to, just understand that everything in life is temporary. Be true to yourself and good things are coming for you ONLY if you allow it and work for it. I’ve got your back!

XO,

Sydney

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Sydney Nanberg