A Bad Body Image will sabotage your weight loss efforts and leave you feeling terrible!

What is a unhealthy or bad body image?

Unhealthy or bad body image is believing your body isn't good enough. Thinking that you look too fat. Feeling like you're not pretty enough or muscular enough. Believing that your looks determine your value as a person.

What causes a bad body image and how to change that?

A Bad body image is very common with people who have engaged in dieting. 

In fact usually somewhere around the time the first diet is started you start thinking negative thoughts about your body and take on dieting to try to fix the body.

Then as time goes on bad body thoughts usually make you eat when you are not hungry! Crazy but true!

Research shows  98% of dieters don't keep the weight off and become yo-yo dieters, gaining more weight within 2-5 years after the diet.

This is when the bad body image thoughts kick in big time and the mental torture gets fixed in place. This must be undone before you can be successful at weight loss, have better self esteem and just feel better when you look in the mirror!

Research has found that higher body dissatisfaction is associated with a poorer quality of life, psychological distress and the risk of unhealthy eating behaviors and eating disorders.

Research has also found that people who are more accepting of their bodies are more likely to keep weight off.

What causes  a bad body image ?

 Research suggests that body image can be influenced by:

  • our relationships with our family and friends
  • how our family and peers feel and speak about bodies and appearance
  • exposure to images of idealized or unrealistic bodies through media or social media
  • pressure to look a certain way or to match an ‘ideal’ body type
  • emotional distress
  • low self-esteem
  • unhealthy dieting habits
  • anxiety
  • depression
  • development of eating disorders (anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, muscle dysmorphic disorder, body dysmorphic disorder)
  • Increase in drug use (i.e. steroids and diet pills)
  • social withdrawal or isolation
  • taking risks with sexual health
  • self-harming behaviors
  • ceasing healthy behaviors and activities that require one to expose their body (i.e. going to the doctor, going swimming, exercising, engaging in healthy emotional or intimate relationships)

What are the effects of Bad Body Image?

The effects of a bad body image of women and men can be profound. 

For the majority of the population, what happens as a result of bad body image are the following:

  • a preoccupation with food and diet- MISERY!
  • weight cycling
  • low self-esteem
  • low self-confidence
  • isolation
  • shame
  • and never feeling that one’s body is adequate

In addition to leading to the development of eating disorders, a poor body image can contribute to:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • problems in relationships
  • the development of substance abuse issues and many health problems from that.

A bad body image usually involves Fat Thoughts that need to be translated. 

So what are fat thoughts and why do they happen? Check out the page Fat Thoughts (or email me for the handy summary PDF  The Anatomy of a Fat Thought to understand better and learn to turn them around)

So what is a healthy body image?

A healthy body image is the opposite of a bad body image, it  means you feel comfortable in your body and you feel good about the way you look and are more accepting of your shape and size.

This includes what you think and feel about your appearance and how you judge your own self-worth, it is not based on your shape, size or weight.

12 Steps to change a bad Body Image

The more you practice these new thoughts, the better you will feel about who you are and be free of the the torture of a bad body image.

  1. Appreciate all that your body can do. Your body is fighting hard every day to keep you healthy and feeling well. Celebrate all of the amazing things your body does for you—running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming, resting etc.
  2. Keep a  list of things you like about yourself—things that aren’t related to how much you weigh or what you look like. Read your list often, you have worked hard to develop some of these things in yourself. Write what others have said about your strengths. Add to it as you become aware of more things to like about yourself.
  3. Remind yourself that “true beauty” is not simply skin-deep. When you feel good about yourself and who you are, you carry yourself with a sense of confidence, self-acceptance, and openness that makes you beautiful. Beauty can be emanated by your state of mind, not a state of your body.It is that energy that people pick up on when you walk into room.
  4. Look at yourself as a whole person. When you see yourself in a mirror or in your mind, choose not to focus on specific body parts you don't like. See yourself as you want others to see you — as a whole person. Speak kindly to the  parts you don't like, don't attack yourself. Instead of saying " I am fat and ugly" ....say " Parts of my body are round and soft" or something that is kinder and more accepting.  What you resist .... persists!
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. It is easier to feel good about yourself and your body when you are around others who are supportive and who recognize the importance of liking yourself just as you naturally are.
  6. Shut down those ego deceiver voices in your head that tell you your body is not “right” or that you are a “bad” person. You can overpower those negative thoughts with positive ones because the negative thoughts are just plain mean, you would not say those things to people you care about in the world.
  7. The next time you start to tear yourself down, build yourself back up with a few quick affirmations that work for you. Guided imagery and affirmations in those programs are great for this.
  8. Wear clothes that are comfortable and that make you feel good about your body. Work with your body, not against it. Wearing tight cloths as a punishment will not make you lose weight or eat less, they just make you uncomfortable. Sizes DON'T matter, it depends on the manufacturer, you could wear 3 different sizes  on the same day!
  9. If the clothes don't flatter your body the problem is with the clothes not your body! If you have cloths in your closet or drawers that don't fit you the problem is they "talk to you".  They say "oh you are too fat to wear me"  or "you better get on a  diet so you can wear me again". Get rid of them or least get them out of sight, put them in storage where you can't see them.  Your closet should only have clothes that fit and flatter your body today.
  10. Become a critical viewer of social and media messages that promote small body sizes. Pay attention to images, slogans, or attitudes that make you feel bad about yourself or your body. Get rid of them and don't look at magazines or social media that promote artificially small body sizes. Protest these messages: write a letter to the advertiser or talk back to the image or message. Keep images of more round average healthy bodies around as a reminder of what is real (and strong and healthy).
  11. Do something nice for yourself — something that lets your body know you appreciate it. Take a bubble bath, get a massage, make time for a nap, or find a peaceful place outside to relax.
  12. Use the time and energy that you might have spent worrying about food, calories, and your weight to do something to help others. Sometimes reaching out to other people can help you feel better about yourself and can make a positive change in our world. Altruism is good for the soul, it always feels better than being in a "pity party" or being solely focused on yourself or what you don't like about yourself.

Also be sure the read the section on self talk it can be very helpful in understand how to change negative self talk in general.

Here us a great article:  A Bad Body Image Day: 10 Ways To Turn Those Thoughts Around

This is a great book with the science to back it up proving we can be healthy at every size: Healthy at Every Size

You Can do this, and you will feel better!