October 21, 2021

I hate my body: What to Do If You Feel This Way

“I hate my body.”

“My arms are so big.”

“I hate my thighs.”

“I wish my stomach was flatter.”

“I can’t wear that because of my body shape.”

How we talk to ourselves is crucial. If you are having these types of thoughts often, you know how draining it can be. It affects your emotions, your behavior, and your quality of life.

If you have ever had these or similar thoughts, read on to learn some ways to turn that dialog around and start improving your relationship with your body. 

 

Bad Body Image Days

Being a human is wonderful, but also hard. Body image issues don’t just appear out of nowhere. It is not your fault. We are bombarded by unrealistic beauty standards constantly. It is understandable to have some bad body image days, and it’s safe to say most people experience this. At times, it feels harder to accept your body. Then you might pass through that tougher time and return to having more good body image days. 

For some people though, the bad body image days stretch for a long time, and they deepen in intensity. Working with a mental health professional and/or dietitian who specializes in things like Health at Every Size and the food-body relationship is key here. You deserve to feel better and you deserve support.

 

How to Move Away from Hating Your Body

1. Practice body acceptance. 

 

It can be a big leap to go from hating your body to loving your body. Accepting your body however, may feel easier over time. Try looking at yourself in the mirror and saying things like:

  • “I accept my body for what it is today.”
  • “I am more than my body” 
  • “My body deserves respect”

I said practice for a reason. It is truly a practice. Something to return to over and over again. 

2. Comparison is the thief of joy.

If you find yourself scrolling through social media and comparing your body to others, or maybe comparing your body to the bodies of your friends and family, that can be a slippery slope. Try to call this out in your mind when it happens. Bring awareness to the thoughts of comparison. Once you have brought awareness to it, this is a good time to practice body acceptance. And unsubscribe, unfollow from any accounts that are stealing your joy.

3. Thank your body for everything it does for you.

Practice gratitude for having a body that can breathe for you and keep your heart beating. Thank your body for having the strength to pick up your child or carry in groceries from the car. Show gratitude for the ability to go for a quick walk or do some stretches. Our bodies are absolutely amazing, and finding moments to cultivate gratitude for this can be a helpful habit. 

4. Practice letting thoughts pass.

All too often, it can be easy to accept our thoughts as truth. However, we do not have to act on or believe every thought we have. An analogy that has resonated with many of my clients is to view your thoughts as clouds passing by. Instead of judging them or latching on to them, try to sit back and simply notice them, then let them pass on by. This is easier said than done, but it is something we can get better at with practice. 

5. Do a closet clean-out.

Most of us can relate…you have an old pair of jeans you are keeping in the hopes that you fit in them again one day. Maybe it’s a too-tight sweater that you can’t bear to part with. But think about the thoughts that run through your mind every time you see that item in your closet. If it leads you into a negative spiral about how you should be smaller, you can’t believe you gained xyz weight. Well, that’s not exactly a pleasant experience. Don’t let your closet bully you. Save your precious closet space for clothes that make you feel GOOD.

6. Consider that you don’t have perfect perception of your body.

Our perception is just that. Perception. Ever heard of body dysmorphia? To varying degrees, some people struggle with having an accurate perception of their body. This can be especially true if you struggle with disordered eating, an eating disorder, or have years to decades of dieting under your belt.

7. Consider throwing out your scale.

If you are a little obsessed with the scale, it might be time to consider saying goodbye. If weighing yourself leads to negative thoughts, what might it be like to not live with that? Weighing yourself does not make you healthy. Practicing self-care, nourishing yourself, and moving your body in ways that feel good make you healthy.

8. Communicate your needs.

Is there someone in your life who drops comments about your weight or your body? It may be necessary to set some boundaries. Communicate to that person that you would like them to stop. People may not realize how they are coming across, and sometimes we have to be direct in asking for what we need. Your mental health depends on it.

9. Do something kind for your body.

Take a nice long bath or shower. Wear your softest shirt. Lather on your favorite lotion. Do a facemask and light a candle. If it’s available to you, consider a massage. Take a walk and focus on your breathing. Love on a furry animal and notice the feel of the soft fur. Find ways to show your body that you care for it. Do it with intention. You are sending the message to yourself that you are worthy of care and respect. 

10. Compliment yourself for a non-body related thing.

You are MORE than your body. You have so much to offer to the world. Compliment yourself on something unrelated to your body. For example:

  • “I helped a coworker out today.”
  • “I made a delicious meal for my family.”
  • “I struck up a conversation with a stranger and made both of our days brighter.”

 

You may have noticed one word popped up often in this post. Practice. Moving away from “I hate my body” to “I accept my body” or “I am at peace with my body” takes consistent practice. Body acceptance and body love are truly a practice, something we have to work on and nurture. 

If you’ve been having thoughts of body hate or bad body image days recently, I hope this post gives you some ideas of ways to move away from those thoughts and start cultivating a better relationship with your body. 

 

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DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website is for educational purposes only and should NOT be used as individual medical or nutritional advice. 

infographic with 10 tips for moving away from body hate

 

Photo by DANNY G on Unsplash

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About the Author: Kelly Wagner, MS, RD, LDN

I'm a Registered Dietitian (RD) based in Chicago, IL. I have worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings, including dialysis, ICU, as well as one-on-one nutrition counseling and groups.
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