1. Think of what your body can do, not what it looks like.
You can walk and run and bike and lift and grow little people inside of you! How amazing! Instead of criticizing what your body looks like all the time, show it a little love by appreciating what it does for you every day. Set goals to do something (like run a marathon), not be something (like a certain pants size or weight), and you’ll be more likely to accomplish those goals and feel good about yourself.
2. Redefine “health.”
You eat a balanced diet, you fit activity into your daily routine, and you enjoy yourself when you’re out with friends rather than fret over how many calories you’re consuming. Isn’t that healthier than being at a certain weight or size? Health is about feeling great, and if you’re killing yourself trying to be “healthy,” something’s wrong with your approach.
3. Throw away your ideas of “normal.”
Serena Williams and Arnold Schwarzenegger (whose BMIs are 32 and 33, respectively) are both considered “obese” according to the accepted healthy range of 18.5-24.9. But neither one is anywhere near fat. Remember that everyone is built differently, with different heights, bone densities, and amounts of muscle (which weighs more than fat) on their bodies. Just because your friend is a size 4 to 6 doesn’t mean that’s the right place for you to be.
4. Don’t look at clothing sizes while shopping.
According to a New York Times article , clothing sizes vary so much from store to store that one retailer’s 12 is another’s 8. So why bother paying attention? It just makes you feel bad about yourself when the size you think you should be doesn’t fit. Try not to look at the size and when you get home, cut out the label so the “size 8 pants” just become the “pants that fit me really well.”
5. Stay off the scale.
Daily fluctuations in water weight can tip the scale up to five pounds in either direction, so if you step on the scale every day, you might be tempted to micromanage yourself. If you need to monitor your weight to stay on track or maintain, set aside a weekly or bi-weekly time to step on the scale. And don’t weigh yourself the week before your period, because you’ll most likely put on two to five pounds of water weight then. If you think you can do without the scale altogether, toss it and just go by how your clothes fit and how you feel.
6. Dress comfortably.
Tight and too-revealing clothes make you gratingly aware of your body all day, stripping away your confidence (which is sexier than anything you could wear). If you have to go up a size to feel good in your clothes, do so rather than try to squeeze yourself into the size you think you should wear.
7. Move mirrors out of plain sight.
Recently one beauty blogger decided to swear off mirrors for an entire year. Her ambitious goal was all centered on her desire to live “from the inside out, instead of the outside in.” While you might not want to avoid mirrors altogether, there’s something to be said for resisting every opportunity to look in one, especially if doing so encourages a negative internal monologue: Do I look fat? How big is that pimple? I hate my nose. Try limiting the number of mirrors in your home to only the essentials—perhaps a full-length one and a makeup mirror.
8. Keep positive people around you.
You shouldn’t rely entirely upon others to supply you with self-worth, but let me tell you that when my fiancé tells me I’m beautiful, it goes a long way toward making me see it myself. When an ex-boyfriend would tell me I was fat and had gross skin, I saw that, too. (You can guess why one of these men is an ex and the other my future husband.) Keep people around you who build you up instead of tearing you down and your self image will improve greatly.
9. Dump dieting friends.
Okay, it’s a little harsh to say that you should stop being friends with someone just because they’re trying to lose weight, but if someone’s constantly talking about her diet and how many calories they eat every day, it gets in your head. If your friends’ talk about dieting is making you feel self-conscious about relaxing yours from time to time, try to move on to a different subject and, if that doesn’t work, hang out with the friends who are more focused on having a good time and enjoying each other’s company.
10. Plan to eat regular meals and snacks throughout the day.
Not only is eating frequent meals good for your metabolism, it prevents you from getting too hungry, which can cause overeating and inevitable guilty feelings. Planning your meals can help make you feel in control, and self-discipline is a huge part of self-worth.