How To Love Your Body (Even When You Hate It)

how to love your body when you hate it
Photo by Billie on Unsplash

Have you ever struggled with how to love your body when you just hate it, and can’t seem to stop?

Maybe every day is a battle with food and your appearance. Or maybe you have the occasional bad day where you don’t like what you see in the mirror reflecting back at you.

Either way, being at war with your body is not healthy. Somehow, we’ve ended up as a society obsessed with the shape and weight of our bodies. And women are the most effected.

The road to learning to fully love and accept your body is a long one. Trust me, I know, and there are no short-cuts. But there are some small, powerful steps you can take each day to improving your relationship with your body.

Here’s how to learn to love your body (even when you sometimes hate it)

1. Acknowledge that you don’t have the positive relationship with your body you want (yet)

It’s okay that you’re struggling to love your body right now. Plenty of us are.

You know why?

Because we live in a society that constantly teaches us to hate our bodies. And if you manage to grow up unscathed, you’re one of the few, not the many.

But what’s important is you’re aware of your current relationship with your body, and you’re acknowledging that you want to make some changes. Because this is the first step to change.

So be accepting of your negative relationship with your body. And acknowledge that you want to create a positive, healthy one. Tell yourself this, and mean it.

2. Think about why you want to look different

So many people skip over this question, because it doesn’t even cross their mind. So there’s no better time than now to think about why you want to look different.

Why do you want your body to be a different shape or size?

More times than not, your reasons are deeply rooted in external love and acceptance. You believe that a more “attractive” body (whatever that means) will get other people to like you, or respect you, or value you.

But this is the biggest body myth out there. Changing the way you look does not equal happiness. Sure, it might be a factor in helping you feel good about yourself, but it’s definitely not the sole answer.

You only have to look at people who have had cosmetic surgery, or naturally thin models, who are still battling with addictions and eating disorders.

For you to really learn to love your body, you have to let go of the belief that your dream body will fix all your problems. Because if you don’t address why you don’t feel good about yourself today, you’ll carry those feelings with you until you confront them, and deal with them.

As cliched as it sounds, true love and happiness comes from the inside.

3. Stop judging other people’s bodies

Do you spend your day walking around or scrolling on your phone and criticising the way other people look?

When we do this, we reinforce the idea that our bodies equate to our worth and value as human beings. And they don’t.

On top of that, you keep yourself trapped in a negative, low-vibration state. And this will effect your own mood and mental health, which you’ll then bring with you into everything you do the rest of the day.

Deep down, I know that you know you deserve to be loved and accepted for who you are right now. Everyone deserves that. So release your judgement, because it’s not serving you, or anybody else.

4. Step fully into your body, and get to know it more

Your body is like an old friend. You’ve known her since birth, and it’s vital you spend enough quality time being fully present with her—otherwise your relationship will weaken and suffer.

And there are so many ways to step fully into your body, and get to know her more.

Meditation is a beautiful way to practice being present and aware, and to ground yourself. Sometimes instead of doing a breathing meditation, I’ll do a body scan. Closing my eyes, I’ll begin with my feet, and slowly work my way up my entire body. I’ll spend time focusing on each part, and noticing the sensations or feelings that arise. Not judging them, just bringing awareness to them.

Another wonderful way to get to know your body on a more intimate level is to tune in to your menstrual cycle. Start tracking it, along with the differences in how you feel in your body at different phases of your cycle. And if you bleed, you might want to explore using a menstrual cup. This will help you get more intimate with your blood, your vagina, and your cervix.

5. Stop focusing on your weight, start focusing on love & compassion

Somehow, we’ve become a culture obsessed with weight. We demonise our bodies, while simultaneously worshipping them above everything else. And we use food as a form of self-punishment.

We eat to numb ourselves, to comfort, to celebrate, to forget, to energise, and to pick ourselves up when we’re feeling low.

And we find ourselves in toxic habits that we’re unaware of, or unable to break free from. We’re so detached from our bodies, that we don’t hear them speaking to us; telling us what they want and need. And even when we do, we don’t trust them.

But we can’t stop punishing ourselves until we stop believing we deserve to be punished. And to do that, you have to stop scrutinising what you’re eating, what the scale says, and the number in the back of your jeans.

What would happen if you made a shift, and started focusing all that energy on directing love and compassion towards yourself?

This is the key to breaking the vicious cycle, and freeing yourself from your weight. And when you do that, you will naturally start making healthier, more supportive choices.

6. Cleanse your social media of anyone who makes you feel inadequate as you are

I’m taking about all the “fitspo” and “thinspo.” All those glamorous celebrities you follow, who have personal trainers and chefs and make-up artists at their fingertips. Anyone and everyone who shares images and content that makes you feel like you’re not enough.

This is something I learned the hard way. I used to spend quite a bit of time on Instagram when I first started my business. And I was following a lot of women who were successful entrepreneurs, running their own businesses. But over time, I noticed that being exposed to their highlight reel was making me feel shitty about myself and what I was doing.

Because there was always someone better. Always someone more successful than I was. It made me forget about all the great things I was doing, and reminded me of all that I wasn’t doing.

How sad is that?

And it’s the same when it comes to weight and body image. Being regularly exposed to unrealistic body types, and heavily edited images, will contribute to you having lower confidence and body image.

The crazy thing is, you are completely in control of the images and messages you choose to take in. You can unfollow those accounts, delete the apps, spend less time on your phone, and boycott those TV shows.

So I encourage you to make healthier, empowering choices that lift you up.

7. Ditch the calorie counting and fad diets

If calorie counting worked, do you think businesses like Slimming World and Weight Watchers would be growing in numbers at the pace they are?

Of course not. Businesses like that continue to boom because what they’re teaching does not work.

They don’t address the root problem of why you have an unhealthy relationship with food in the first place. And they don’t focus on or promote a healthy one. They encourage you to go from one extreme to the other, while still viewing certain foods as good or bad.

There is no good or bad. Health is about eating a balanced diet, and understanding the nutritional value of what you’re putting into your body.

If you’re looking to eat healthier, the best approach is to focus on eating as much raw and unprocessed food as you can. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, unprocessed grains and carbohydrates, and lean and unprocessed proteins. But don’t tell yourself you can’t enjoy things like pizza and ice cream now and then, when you crave them.

Calorie counting reinforces the idea that food is an enemy that needs to be watched at all times—and it’s not. Food is a beautiful gift from Mother Earth, just like your body.

8. Move your body in ways that feel fun

I think the main reason why so many of us avoid exercising is because we think it can’t be fun. We’ve tricked ourselves into believing it has to be hard, and painful, and a chore; but it doesn’t.

In fact, it should be fun; and if it’s not, then you’re not approaching it the right way.

Moving your body in a way that feels good to you, will be different for every body. Because we’re all wired a little differently. So if you’re someone who loathes going to the gym (like me), then please, don’t go to the gym!

You might start practising yoga at home, or going swimming. Maybe you start running outdoors, or you go to a belly dancing class.

If you’re not sure what you love doing yet, then start exploring some different activities today. Keep going until you stumble on something you love, then keep doing more of it.

9. Practice one act of self-care every day

When I say self-care, that doesn’t mean it will always look like giving yourself a facial, getting a massage, or running a bath.

Sometimes self-care will be waking up thirty minutes earlier so you can prepare and enjoy a delicious, healthy breakfast for yourself. Sometimes it’ll be pushing yourself to hold that plank position on your yoga mat for just two more breaths, even when your mind is telling you to give up. And sometimes it’ll be skipping drinks with your friends to work on that book you’re writing.

You see, self-care isn’t solely about doing things that feel good and nourishing in the moment. Self-care is also about doing things you might not want to do, but you know your future self will thank you for.

If you know that you struggle to love your body, then focus your acts of self-care on your body. And commit to doing at least one loving thing for your body each day.

10. Masturbate

Caressing and playing with your most intimate, sensitive parts, is a wonderful way to reconnect with your body, and associate it with pleasure.

You’ll get to know your body on a deeper level, understand that you are worthy of pleasure, and feel good. Plus, orgasms fill you with intoxicating (but healthy and totally natural) chemicals that leave you on a high. And you’ll have your body to thank for that.

I encourage you to make it like a ritual for yourself. Have a bath, light some candles, slip into something that makes you feel sexy, and just have fun exploring your body.

11. Be grateful for all your body does for you every day

We waste so much time thinking about all the things we don’t like about our bodies.

What would happen if we shifted our mindset, and focused on all we do like? Everything our body does for us each day. Everything we’re grateful for.

Not only does that put you in a more positive state, but it will help you see your body in a different light.

So think about what you’re thankful for.

The way your legs allow you to walk from one place to the next, and the way your eyes let you soak up the beauty of nature that surrounds you. The way your arms allow you to cradle your newborn baby to your chest. And the way your lips are able to kiss the people you love.

Think about all the strength, and beauty, and grace that flows through your body, every day. And be thankful. Be grateful.

12. Dress your body with love

Clear out your closet of anything that doesn’t fit, and anything you’ve been using to cover your body up. And don’t buy things that you’re hoping to fit into someday. That will only reinforce the idea that your body is not okay the way it is right now.

Instead, think of your body like a masterpiece, and dress it accordingly. If your budget allows it, then treat yourself to some new (fitting) clothes that make you and your body feel incredible. Prints, vibrant colours, and striking accessories—whatever you like.

Stop waiting until you’re a different size to dress the way you want to. Dress your body with love today. Because this is how to love your body, even when you hate it.

13. Repeat empowering affirmations to yourself in front of a mirror

The things we think and tell ourselves become our truth, and eventually the reality we create for ourselves. So if you tell yourself you’re fat or ugly or worthless, you’ll believe it. Similarly, if you tell yourself you’re a fucking bad-ass Queen, you’ll start to believe it.

I first learned about the powerful effects of mirror work from Louise Hay. All you need is a full length mirror. Position it slightly leaning against a wall if possible, because this creates the most flattering angle.

Each morning, step in front of your mirror—naked. Drink in your body, and find something kind to say about it. You might want to focus on something you genuinely like, or instead focus on those parts you find more difficult to love.

Create an empowering affirmation, and repeat it out loud to yourself.

At the same time, if you’re struggling to feel the love, don’t force it or don’t beat yourself up. Love might be too out of reach right now, and that’s okay. Maybe you can find one or two things you like though? Your eyes or your hair or your fingers.

Begin there.

14. Surround yourself with supportive people

If you spend the majority of your time with people who don’t love their bodies, and are always criticising or judging themselves or others, then you’ll take on that energy as your own.

The people we surround ourselves with influence us more than we realise. That’s why it’s crucial you surround yourself with positive, empowering people. People who love and accept themselves as they are, and love and accept you as you are.

Whether it’s family, friends, neighbours, or even co-workers. Be mindful of the people you’re spending time with. Don’t be afraid to let go of relationships that are no longer serving the person you’re becoming.

15. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Trying to figure out how to love your body when you hate it, all on your own, can be tough. Even when the rational part of you knows why you should love your body, it can take more than that to fully get yourself there.

That’s where investing in a coach or therapist could be transformational for you. There are people who are trained specifically in health and food and nutrition; with scientific and natural approaches to choose from, depending on what you gravitate towards.

They’ll be able to guide and support you on this journey, in a way that our friends and family often can’t.

And remember, reaching out for help doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, or that you’ve failed. It takes courage and self-awareness to admit you can’t do this alone, and to ask for help. There’s absolutely no shame in that.

16. Remember, you can choose love over hate at any time

You have the power to direct love over hate towards your body at any time.

“I hate my body,” can become, “I am creating a loving relationship with my body.”

“My body is too fat,” might become, “My body is exactly the way it needs to be right now, and I am evolving.”

“I can’t eat that,” can become, “I choose foods that nourish my body, and fuel me with energy to carry me through my day.”

“I don’t feel attractive,” can be replaced with, “I am on a journey to learn to love and appreciate my beauty, inside and out.”

You have the power. You’ve always had the power. So take it back today.

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Praise for Bloom

I read Bloom in one night. I started feeling hopeless and pushed down. Shani picked me up, dusted me off, and guided me to self-love in a few short hours with only print. Truly inspiring - Rebecca Barnoff

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