Category Archives: Love your Body

Tips on how to love your body

Quick 5 top tips on what to do when you feel really unhappy about yourself and your body.

1) Distract yourself; stop obsessing and thinking about it by distracting yourself. Go out and do something, meet up with friends, take a nice walk in nature, get your camera and take some photos.

2) Find out why you feel this way; really think about it. Were things said to you while you were growing up? Who said them? Has something else happened that has upset you?

3) Build your self worth and self confidence; do something nice for someone else, do something out of your comfort zone – what is it you’ve always wanted to do?

4) Remember all positive things that have been said to you; Start writing a list to yourself about your positives, start telling yourself daily, in the mirror, I am worthy of living, I am special

5) Don’t compare your insides with everyone else’s outsides; Everyone puts on mask to the world and hide what is going on inside them. Everyone else feels the same way so stop comparing yourself to others.

Have you got anything to add?

Mirror, mirror on the wall…

So one day you wake up and you don’t recognise the person in the mirror. Every morning and night, you see yourself in the mirror when brushing your teeth, when applying make up, maybe you even have a mirror by the front door for you to double check yourself before you go out.

But one day you really LOOK at the person looking back at you and that image doesn’t match the image in your mind of what you look like. Years of (maybe) smoking, drinking, sunshine, bad eating, [insert your own activity] has finally had an effect on you. You suddenly look OLD.

Are there extra grey hairs that you are certain were not there yesterday? Perhaps there are a lot more wrinkles than you remembered….You look at yourself and your heart drops. It’s finally happened. You ARE old.

One of the participants on our last eCourse had this very same problem. She spent years looking after others as a carer and mother, then one day she looked at herself in the mirror and really saw herself. She didn’t like what she saw.

Her self esteem was based on her looks and with getting older, she suddenly found her self esteem slipping. With low self esteem she found she was loosing her confidence and her happiness.

BUT there is good news! On the course the most powerful exercise for her was when she took her self portrait. It took great courage for her to take photos of herself but once she did the image and answered the questions I had set, she found herself changing. She found she could forgive herself for the feelings she had of not looking after herself and started drinking more water and eating healthier. She found herself changing her hairstyle, realising that people did not ‘throw up’ when they could see her face. (Her words!)

AND best of all, she found herself accepting herself just as she was. She was more confident with this new found acceptance and in turn, people reacted to her better. She now wants to start a business helping older women feel better about themselves.

What an inspiration!!!!

So the next time you see yourself in the mirror and you don’t like what you see, know that there is a way to change your mindset through the power of self compassion <3

Love your body – Step 7; Self portrait

This last exercise is a very simple one; I want you to take a photo of yourself. Simples 🙂

You can direct someone else to take the photo for you but make sure they are only pressing the shutter and not influencing your choices in the process. If you do not like the way you look, please still do this exercise. There comes a time when you put your trust in others and the time has come now. You are in a safe place where your efforts in capturing yourself will be appreciated and treated with respect.

You decide where and when, what you wear, your expression, what you’re looking at and if you are with anyone. This is your chance to spend time thinking and looking at yourself.

You have full control on how you want this self portrait to look but you have to park any emotions for now and you only get one go at taking the photo.

So if you take it and you think; oh I don’t like my hair in it, I look fat etc just sit with it. Accept it as it is. If any emotions come bubbling up or negative thoughts, stop them for the moment. Just see the image you have created as an image.

Let it just BE. Just look at it. Accept it.

You don’t have to love it, or hate it, be proud of it or want to hide it. It is simply a photo of yourself that you have created. Nothing more, nothing less.

Looking at your image, for one moment forget that it is you in the picture. See the person as someone else. Ask these questions out loud and write down the answers. If you find it easier, you can record them and watch your responses which will give you more of an insight to your emotions. Get into the moment and go with the first answers that pop into your head. That’s your subconscious talking to you.

Now think of the answers to these questions:

Who is the person in the image?

What are they doing?

What do they need to say if they could talk?

What is obvious about the picture?

What 3 things do you like about the image?

What 3 things do you NOT like?

Who would say these things? Where did you first hear that voice? Whom did it come from?

What or who is missing from the picture?

If you were to going to give this picture to anyone, who would it be and why?

Who would you NOT give it to and why?

When making this image, did you have someone in mind?

Did your answers surprise you? Is there anything new you have learnt about yourself?

 

 

Love your body – Step 6; Beauty in your eyes

The media and the rest of the outside world are so good at telling us what to think and how to be but it is time we stood up and made our own definitions.

This is a chance for you to define what beauty means to you, not what others have told you but what you believe it means. It can be people, places, things, anything that you see beauty in.

This is another collage exercise. I want you to take photos, or find images of what you define as beauty. You can look at magazines but if you have any negative feelings or if you don’t feel good enough looking at an image, then don’t use it.

Use only images that make you feel good and show real beauty.

This is one photographer’s project on beauty http://www.chookooloonks.com/new-faces

If you can, try to take photos of beauty around you and if looking through online or magazine images, try to look at different cultures from around the world.

Are images of beauty from the villages in South America the same as the British? Or Zulu? Be as open minded as possible and discover beauty from the world, not just the country or culture you are from.

How about beauty from a different time? The 60s? 1800s?

You do not even have to stick to one species – how about beauty in the animal kingdom? Plant world? Landscapes?

Beauty is beauty, where ever it is found. You just need to open your eyes and look J

Once you do this collage answer the following questions:

What title would you give this collage?

Do you fit in this collage of what beauty is?

Was there anything that surprised you about your collection of Beauty?

Have your ideas of what beauty is changed?

 

Love your body – Step 5; Your place in the world

I believe we are born as a blank canvas and with every experience we go through, every memory we make, something is drawn or written onto our canvas. In time we get an overall image of who we are and what our life is.

I know I am not in the only one who thinks this way but sometimes we seem to go around and around on the same spot on the canvas. Like those spirographs we used to play with as kids. When it would get stuck, you just ended up drawing a circle over a circle instead of making a pretty pattern.

I feel our body image issues is similar to a broken spirograph, we are going around in circles focusing on one thing, negative things, not realizing the bigger picture around us. We may think of the bigger picture but I’m guessing your body image issues take up most of your headspace, right?

So put together a collage of YOU. You in the moment, right now. What you are about, what you love, your favourite places, people you love. You can take lots of new photos, use magazine cut outs, hand draw things, write things.

Again, this is about you so you have full creative control over what you do and how you do it. Remember to include images of you (use only the ones you feel positive about or take more photos of you)

After doing your collage look at it and realise that you are where you are in life because of you, because of the way you are and the person you are.

Here are some questions to answer:

What jumps out at you about the collage? (What are the main themes?)

Are you happy with it? Is there anything missing?

Did it come out how you thought it would? Or were there some surprises in there?

What portion of the You collage is affected by your body image?

Does your body image take up as much of the collage as it does in your mind?

What 3 things would you change in the collage? Are they body image changes?

Would you still have the people you love, the favourite things or be YOU if your body image was different?

Has this answer surprised you?

Extra if you want to:

Now this is completely optional, but you can expand on this exercise. Add another piece of paper before your collage which will be another collage but this time you are looking at your past.

What is important to you from your past? You can include images of how you looked, when you were happiest, things that have helped shape who you are, where you were born, your children being born, people who have passed away – anything you feel that encapsulates your past.

Now looking at the Collage Past,

What jumps out at you about the collage?

Are you happy with it?

Is there anything missing?

Did it come out how you thought it would? Or were there some surprises in there?

What portion of the past collage is affected by your body image?

What 3 things would you like back from the past? Are they body image related?

Now compare the Past and the Present You collages;

Are there any obvious changes?

Are you happier with the Present You collage compared with the Past or would you change anything?

What title would you give the Past collage?

Who is missing from the Past that you haven’t in the Present?

I believe the past is in the past and it is not healthy to dwell on it but rather look back and learn from it. Sometimes looking back can help you see if you are on the right path in life and if you are doing what you thought you would do.

Ongoing project (if you want!)

Now if you are really into it and to help with goal setting you could do a Future collage. This could include any dreams you have, things you want to achieve, places you want go to, things you want to do. This collage can be a reminder of where you are going and that this moment in time is only temporary.

Remembering that can help come to terms with the present if there is a situation you are unhappy with; YOU have control on your life and only you can change it through the choices you make and the actions you take. You will not be in the Present collage forever and one day you will be in the Future collage. What that looks like is up to you 🙂

Is there anything missing from the Future collage you want to add to? (This can be an ongoing work in progress)

Does it matter what size you are? Does it matter how your body looks in the Future collage?

Do you think you will lose loved ones in the Present collage because of your body so they do not appear in the Future collage?

Did the Future collage surprise you? Are you on the right path to achieve your goals? What do you need to change to be on the right path?

Is there anything new you have learnt about yourself?

What proportion of the Past, Present and Future focus on your body? What proportion focus on loved ones? Things you have done or want to do?

Would love to hear your answers and thoughts on this exercise.

 

 

Love your body – Step 4; Self represented

Don’t you find that since you were born, you have slowly accumulated more and more masks to wear? Or hats?

When I’m at work; I am work me, at home; I am home me, around the kids; I am mum, with my husband; I am the wife and friend and so it goes on. There comes a time though that you’ve been so busy putting on different masks and being different people, you simply forget who you are when you are not wearing masks.

Who are you? Who am I? I fear this will be a question I will be asking myself for as long as I breathe. Maybe in some ways we are not meant to know because it is forever changing helping us to always progress? I honestly don’t know but I think that is a nice way of looking at it.

I do know that for a long time I wore a mask to the world showing them how happy I was when underneath I was dying and was simply a hollow shell of myself. I lost myself trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. So when I decided enough was enough, I did a therapeutic photography project, Unmasked, (click to see the blog).

I allowed myself to take off my ‘happy’ mask and find out who I could be when not hiding. It was so liberating and allowed me to move on in my life.

Now it’s your turn to look inward, and find who you are without all your masks and find out about your inner self.

Think of your inner self or your true self and your outer self or the you for show to the world.

Now you can find some images to represent the inner/outer you or you can take photographs that represent you.

Using representation in this way often helps you be more honest and hear your soul or inner self talking to you. Like with all the other exercises, it is the process of going through it that gives you the answers, there is no right and wrong.

One example could be that your inner self is more like a rabbit, timid and scared but your outer self is a lion that growls and snaps if anyone gets close.

That was just an example but you can use anything to represent you; a tree, a piece of furniture, a plant, a type of pottery. Anything at all, as long as you can see yourself in the item.

“I wanted to talk about how ugly and unattractive I felt. I was growing older…the person I was on the outside was a completely different person to the real me inside. I felt ashamed, so when I was asked to find an image that represented the subject we wanted to talk about I chose the oldest, most deformed tree in the park.
As I was photographing this tree, I was struck by the strength of the trunk. I wanted to photograph the roots to show how stuck and tied down I felt, but as I moved in I also noticed that there was growth on some of the branches at the bottom. It might be old but still capable of producing new shoots. As I photographed the roots I was reminded of veins pumping lifeblood into the vast tree, seeking out hidden resources.
It reminded me of ME. Keeping everyone fed and watered, stretched so far I thought I would break. Yet I was struck that it was this same stretching out that gave this vast tree stability  For the first time in a long while, I felt quite at peace.
I returned to the group with my photographs and began to tell everyone about my discovery. I was very moved when someone asked if I felt that the image I had chosen primarily because of its age was really about strength  I keep the image and I look at this when I have the odd twinge in my back or my rheumatism plays up.
It makes me feel incredibly proud.”
Example in Exploring the Self through Photography by Claire Craig

Now answer these questions:

How did you feel expressing the inner you?

Did anything surprise you?

Are the inner and outer you so very different or actually quite similar?

Are you happy with having a hidden side to you?

Who would you give the images to? And Why?

Who would you NOT give the images to and why?

What would happen if the inner you was on the outside? Name 3 good things and 3 bad things.

Did you find beauty in either the inner or outer you? Or both?

Have your ideas of what beauty are changed?

You can also add to this exercise and take/find an image that represents your Ideal self.

What do you really want to look like? to be like?

What would you change about you? (Remember, it is what YOU want to change about you, not what you think others want changed in you.)

How would you go about making those changes?

What would make you happier?

What would make you love your body more?

 

 

Love your body – Step 3; Change body perception

Since we are little, we have seen ourselves in mirrors or in photos that someone else has taken of us.

How do you see your body? Take some time now to make a note of anything that comes to mind.

This exercise will gently help you start taking photos of yourself, in a fun way and will help you to see yourself differently.

Do you remember those crazy mirrors at the sea side arcades? The ones where you either look really tall or squished?

The images that you see in those mirrors are funny because they do not match up to the image in your mind about how you look. They are funny because your body is so distorted, in some mirrors, distorted to beyond recognition.

So, this exercise is about changing your perception about your body. Take lots of photos of yourself in reflections. The more distorted the better. I want you to see yourself as you never have!

This is a fun way to start learning how to take photos of yourself and to have a laugh at the images you create.

Taking photos of yourself is not a scary thing to do, seeing yourself is not scary and you do not look horrid, ugly – or any other negative thoughts that are popping into your head. (And are you batting them away with 3 positives?)

After you have a collection of photos, consider these questions:

Did you enjoy the process?

Did any of the images surprise you? What was the surprise?

Did any of the images upset you and why?

What emotions has it brought to the surface?

Which one is your favourite and why?

Is there a theme in your photos?

Did you find yourself concentrating on a particular area of your body?

Will you share your images? If so, who will you share them with?

What title would you give to your collection?

Make notes on anything else you notice.

 

 

Step 2 – Love your body; Detox your mind

I am sure you have heard of a body detox? Well, we are going to look at detoxing our minds.

I believe one of the main reasons we as women are in such a state about our bodies is because we are mean. Now, be honest with yourself, think about all your female relationships, or think about when you watch TV or flick through a magazine. What goes through your mind? What do you say when you have all your girlfriends together? When you talk about other women?

“Wow, she’s put on weight!”

“She’s so skinny, that bitch!”

“She really shouldn’t be wearing ‘skinny’ jeans”

Can you add some more? Be honest, what have you thought in the past week? Month?

Now turn it around and think about what has been said to you. Take a few minutes here to jot down some hang ups you have in your life because someone has made a comment about it?

“You know you’d look so much prettier if you did your eyebrows this way” or

“Your bum looks so big in that”

Ok, maybe those are lame examples but have a think and write down some examples of your own. Now have a think who said them to you. Where are they in their lives? Do you want their lives? To be like them? Have they actually got any expertise in the area? Do they have your best interest in mind? Does their opinion really matter that much?

What have you come up with?

The point is, there are people out there who are so quick to put you down to keep you from becoming confident.

By mindlessly bitching with your friends, or at the TV, you are training  your mind that it is ok to talk like that. It is ok to pick out imperfections. It’s ok because that means that person is not perfect so you can feel ok about yourself.

It’s ok to put others down so you feel ok.

Is it really ok?

We now come to the real reason why we need to retrain our minds. By talking this way about others, and training our minds that it is ok, it begs the question:

What exactly are we saying to ourselves?

You know, that voice in your head that says things. I’ll bet you that voice isn’t very nice to you, is it? You know it’s your voice and  you don’t like it but you let it say these things AND YOU BELIEVE IT!

Here are some examples of what other women have said from a survey I sent out:

“I am not good enough to be part of anything and can’t do anything.”


“I am just existing and smile through the pain, living in my own personal hell.”


“If anyone else treated me I do to myself, I would take them to court for abuse and yet I feel I deserve to do this to myself.”


“I have let myself go and am not good enough to be part of society. I don’t fit in, I don’t belong.”

Write down all the things you can think of that the voice has said to you. Has the voice been kind to you? Do you like it? Can you image living life without this negativity within you? What would that be like?

Be mindful of the voice and what negative things it is saying to you. For a day or so, just notice and make notes if you need to. Notice what you say to yourself, what your friends say to you, to each other, what is said on TV, in the magazine. Just notice how much negativity is out there.

You can’t really control what other people say or do but like I said in the intro, this is your life and you are in control, and you choose what you do and where you go next.

You CAN start changing your mindset.

Every time you hear yourself being negative, say THREE nice things to counter act it.

So if you see a large woman wearing a pair of skinny jeans a few sizes too small, and you’re thinking “She should not be wearing those!”, bat that thought away with “Her hair is a beautiful colour, her eyes are full of so much happiness, she has put that outfit together so well”

Try and think of three positives to every negative and you will soon find your mind is being retrained. Maybe you will even stop thinking of negatives all together? Maybe you will start seeing beauty in all these women around you where before you only saw flaws?

Now, can you image doing that to the voice in your head? For every negative thought you have to say to yourself, can you say three nice things?

3 positives – 1 negative = 1 happier woman!

I would strongly suggest you write down the positives, or if you wish, take a photos of the positives (don’t worry if you’re not ready yet, there’s plenty of time for that).  Collect these positives and look at them often, you will start seeing yourself in a new light and you will start believing how wonderful you are, and how beautiful you are and most importantly, how worthy you are.

Remember, you need to go through the process to see the results.

You can also try a Love ritual which will help you feel better about yourself.

Stand yourself in front of the mirror and say,

“I love you, you are beautiful, you have every right to have a place on this earth and you are worthy of everything.”

Do it as often as you can but promise yourself you will do it at least twice a day. Maybe when you’re brushing your teeth? That’s twice a day 🙂 Change what you say to yourself by all means, as often as you like, to suit what you need at the time, but make sure it is positive.

Step 1 – Love your body; Illusions

The first step is to show you what really goes on in the media and how much work goes into processing images after they are taken.

When women are photographed, hardly anyone seems happy with their appearance with the main focus how they look; their nose is to big or there are too many chins or laughter lines. With SO much worry about their own appearance, they have missed seeing the loving connections between their families right in front of their eyes.

Enough really is enough.

Below is a video I think sums up the problem quite perfectly. Have a look by either clicking on the image or the link below

Dove evolution – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U

What did you think?

It would be helpful to write down some of your thoughts. Were you shocked? Surprised?

If you notice, first she has a full make over with hair and makeup professionally done. Then she has photographs taken with proper lighting and a professional camera with a proper professional lens. This makes a huge difference to what a photo looks like. I personally thinks she looked great just like that.

BUT then there is so much Photoshop done to her face and that just makes my heart sink! If someone that beautiful needs to have that much work done on her, what hope is there for mere mortals such as us to look great?

That is the point!

Modern day photography, with the help of editing software, changes images so far from the original that it is unrealistic. Some photographers out there seem to pride themselves on doing so much work on images to help women look ‘better’ (getting rid of bingo wings, flabby tummies etc).

Do you agree with this?

It would be interesting to note down a few reactions to this right now; if you were to have a photo shoot would you want the photographer to get rid of all the bits about you that you didn’t like? What would you get rid of? What don’t you like about yourself?

This term is called the ‘Photoshop diet’ or ‘Photoshop cream’; how to look good without even trying.

So the next time you see images on a billboard or are flicking through a magazine, look at it with this new found knowledge.

I’m sure you knew to some extent how much post editing has been done but now I hope you can see the extent to which it can be done and realise that these unrealistic views of beauty are just that;

Unrealistic and unachievable.

So your first exercise is to have a look at these images and make a note (either mentally or write it down) every time you see something too perfect.

Have a look at this talk from a model who talks honestly about her experiences by either clicking the image below or the following link:

http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_russell_looks_aren_t_everything_believe_me_i_m_a_model.html

I love this talk because it is from someone who has been there and literally walked the walk. Watching this also makes me think about what sort of messages are we sending to the next generation? Would you want your fourteen year old daughter to look so sexual? At what age do you think young girls feel the pressure to be ‘beautiful’?

It is my dream that, as women, we are comfortable in our skins and we are beautiful from within, not just have a surface beauty as fragile as egg shell, giving no joy or depth to our lives. Wouldn’t that be a magical gift to pass on to the next generation? Self worth, self confidence and an ability to love themselves?

Love your body – in 7 steps

“I personally feel a lot of our body issues are projections of things going on in our minds. Because maybe we cannot understand or accept them, we project them onto our physical being to gain some control.

There is no magic cure on how to love your body but what I am offering you here, with these 7 steps, is the chance to change your mindset, to see things in a different light and to explore yourself and hear what the real YOU wants.

I know it’s not easy when life gets in the way or you find that you haven’t got the time, or sometimes you simply haven’t got the emotional energy to do any more.

But what is the alternative?

To continue to feel rotten when you can’t find anything to wear? Not looking people in the eye when you walk past them worrying that they’ll notice that one thing you are really worried about? Or maybe you don’t even go out anymore because the effort to cover up all those things that are wrong with you is just too much? Or you simply cry yourself to sleep every night because you just hate your body? Maybe you feel you don’t actually deserve to love your body or you don’t feel you deserve to love yourself?

This is your life and if you need permission to allow yourself to do this, then I give it to you. There comes a time when enough is enough, to stop the emotional roller coaster you are on and take a break. So make some regular time for yourself and tackle these 7 steps to finding your body confidence.

You have been given one life and you are in control of it. You and only you can decide which direction to take, even if that means a whole new path in life. You know what? You are worth it and you deserve it 😀

It is scary trying to do new things, but I promise you these exercises are not scary and are so simple to follow. You just have to allow yourself the time and space to go through the process, hear your inner voice and be honest with your answers. You will be able to learn so much about yourself, things you have forgotten and things you haven’t realised yet.

This is a safe, secure space where no one will judge you and you can finally be the YOU that you want to be.

Doesn’t that sound good? Are you ready for the first step?

First step will be published tomorrow 🙂

Love Your Body

downloadFirst few paragraphs of my 7 steps to Start Loving Your Body, free for you!

“I personally feel a lot of our body issues are projections of things going on in our minds. Because maybe we cannot understand or accept them, we project them onto our physical being to gain some control.

There is no magic cure on how to love your body but what I am offering you here, with these 7 steps, is the chance to change your mindset, to see things in a different light and to explore yourself and hear what the real YOU wants.

I know it’s not easy when life gets in the way or you find that you haven’t got the time, or sometimes you simply haven’t got the emotional energy to do any more.

But what is the alternative?

To continue to feel rotten when you can’t find anything to wear? Not looking people in the eye when you walk past them worrying that they’ll notice that one thing you are really worried about? Or maybe you don’t even go out anymore because the effort to cover up all those things that are wrong with you is just too much? Or you simply cry yourself to sleep every night because you just hate your body? Maybe you feel you don’t actually deserve to love your body or you don’t feel you deserve to love yourself?

This is your life and if you need permission to allow yourself to do this, then I give it to you. There comes a time when enough is enough, to stop the emotional roller coaster you are on and take a break. So make some regular time for yourself and tackle these 7 steps to finding your body confidence.

You have been given one life and you are in control of it. You and only you can decide which direction to take, even if that means a whole new path in life. You know what? You are worth it and you deserve it 😀

It is scary trying to do new things, but I promise you these exercises are not scary and are so simple to follow. You just have to allow yourself the time and space to go through the process, hear your inner voice and be honest with your answers. You will be able to learn so much about yourself, things you have forgotten and things you haven’t realised yet.

This is a safe, secure space where no one will judge you and you can finally be the YOU that you want to be.

Doesn’t that sound good? Are you ready for the first step?

Take my hand and let us begin…

First step, download your 7 steps to Start Loving Your Body copy and let me know how you get on!

Reality of the media

I know many of you hate the Dove ads but this video is one of my favorites.

It shows how images are altered for the advertising industry, so remember, question the images you see around you; are they REAL representations of people or have the people been ‘improved’ for a ‘standard’ of beauty.
PS. You are amazing just as you are – NO photoshop needed here!!! <3
Would love to hear your emotional reactions to this video, please post comments below or send me a message x
http://www.dove.com/uk/stories/campaigns/evolution.html