Stay on track with a positive mindset
We’re constantly surrounded by images of sculpted bodies and flawless faces. That can sometimes make it difficult to be happy with the way we look.
“We have been very [negatively] affected by the idealization of bodies," says Vivian Diller, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and author of Face It: What Women Really Feel as Their Looks Change. If you really want to lose weight, it helps to first try to shed a negative body image. Focus on the positive, more productive end: Improving your body because you deserve to, not because you “hate" what you see.
The next time you’re starting to obsess about your appearance, try these strategies from Diller.
Look in the mirror
When you look in the mirror, you may not always love what you see. You may zero in on every fine line, every perceived flaw. Turn that habit around with this simple exercise: The next time you’re alone, study your face in a mirror. Instead of wanting to look away or find flaws, focus on highlighting the good—your enviable baby blues, your kind smile. See your reflection, your face, as a collection of all the experiences you’ve had in your life, both positive and negative, and embrace them as what molds who you are. “You may look in the mirror and think, I have wrinkles, but nice eyes!" Diller says.
Treat your body well
When you’ve got weight loss on your mind, it can be tough to keep a positive body image. In fact, it can seem like an opposing mindset. “I don’t think they’re opposites. We actually have to get them more in sync," Diller says. While it may be a difficult shift, one step that can help is eating healthy foods that make your body feel good. There are inexpensive superfoods that taste great and are full of nutrients. Stock up your pantry with good-for-you basics that make cooking at home easier. Learn how to snack smarter. “A diet that works for the long term has to include a combination of changing behaviors and changing your attitude toward your body," she says.
Speak nicely to yourself
Think about how you would talk to your best friend or your daughter, Diller says. Would you use words like “fat," “ugly," or “wrinkly" to describe someone close to you? Probably not. When your internal voice becomes negative, pay attention and slip yourself some compliments.
Adjust your attitude
In addition to reinforcing a positive relationship with your body, changing your attitude has professional perks, too. Studies show that attractive people have advantages in their social and professional lives, but it’s their attitudes that defines their perceived attractiveness. “If you present your body in a positive way, you’ll be more successful professionally and personally," Diller says. “Beauty is what you’re born with; attractiveness is what you do with it."