Body Image: Why a Positive Outlook is Essential (And How to Improve Yours)

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May 21, 2014 by Lauren Grider

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Like many women, I’ve had a life-long struggle with body image. As recently as this past year, I have made the critical mistake of focusing too much on improving my appearance and not enough on improving my health. Don’t get me wrong- sometimes those goals, thinness and health, can be achieved with the same path. Sometimes. However, I fear this is not the case for many, many women.

Since body image is a big problem for me, I actively attempt to read everything I can about the subject. I never imagined how many women- strong, successful, beautiful women- struggle to feel worthy because of a number on a scale, a fold of skin. The more I read, the more I realize how harmful it is to base your sense of self worth on someone else’s idea of what you should be.

I’ve spent the past few months collecting all of my favorite body image resources. I believe these are essential reading for every woman. I actually have these saved in a folder on my iPad, and when I’m feeling insecure I read them all.

My favorite place to start is this open apology from a weight loss consultant to all of her clients. Why? The letter reminds me that we can take this weight loss thing too far, especially if we make the mistake of regarding the scale as the sole measure of progress. It reminds me that if we blindly follow a cookie cutter nutritional plan designed by a corporation, rather than educating ourselves and building a healthful diet based on how we feel, we risk our health, happiness and success. It reminds me that focusing too much on a number on the scale leads to the slippery slope of disordered eating.

The next thing everyone needs to see is Howard Schatz’ photographs of professional female athletes.

Howard Schatz' Photographs of Professional Athletes, Originally Published in His Book Athlete in 2002

Howard Schatz’ Photographs of Professional Athletes, Originally Published in His Book Athlete in 2002

Howard Schatz' Photographs of Professional Athletes, Originally Published in His Book Athlete in 2002

Howard Schatz’ Photographs of Professional Athletes, Originally Published in His Book Athlete in 2002

Here we have a group of elite athletes who come in all shapes in sizes. Short and tall, every imaginable weight on the scale. Each and every one is different.

Even very fit women struggle with body image. Molly Galbraith, a professional trainer and proponent of heavy lifting for women, talks about her struggle with body image while working in the fitness industry.

She writes, “I want to help women give themselves grace and compassion when it comes to their bodies…”

Rachel Priest is a yogi who has dealt with negative comments about her weight from students.

This is the message today: we need to start a revolution of self acceptance and love for who we truly are—and for once, not care what anyone else has to think or say.

For once, just say, “F*** it, I’m gonna do me! Be me and love me, for myself and no one else!”

I relate to these women because I’ve been there. I’ve been on the receiving end of doubts from Zumba students because of my weight. That’s the teacher?! I thought this was a high impact cardio class. I’ve seen potential students see me waiting in the hall, judge me, and walk away without ever even giving my class a try. Though my regular students are wonderful and have been very supportive, the haters are hard to tune out.

Finally, there is a fantastic body image resource: mybodygallery.com, a site dedicated to educating the world about what real women look like. You can browse by height, size, weight, and shape.

Since this is so important to me, I have decided to do something that I’ve been too nervous to do previously. I’m going to start posting real progress photos, and here is the first set:

May 21, 2014

Weight lost to date: 94 lbs.

Weight on scale: 232 lbs.

Size: 16

progressphotomay2014 progressphotomay2014-2 progressphotomay2014-3

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One thought on “Body Image: Why a Positive Outlook is Essential (And How to Improve Yours)

  1. danilatham says:

    Yes! This is an amazing post! Your outlook is in the right place and your determination and confidence are the highest I have ever seen! Keep doing amazing work! Look how GREAT you look!

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