Today we’re going to talk about a little bit of a heavy topic, and that is body image.

Studies show that for women, body image is the number one shame trigger. Interesting enough, for men, the number one shame trigger is feeling like they aren’t enough, like they’re not providing enough for their families, or that they’re not good enough. But back to the topic at hand, which is women and body image. It’s something that I want to talk about, because every single person, no matter who you are, struggles with some form of body image. I’ve talked to women who feel like they’re too skinny and other women who aren’t skinny enough. Or women who don’t like their nose, or who don’t like their short legs, or who don’t like their their arms. I mean, everybody has something that we struggle with, right?

The best advice I can give is, to let you know that loving yourself, no matter what stage you’re at, is one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned, at least in my journey and what I’ve seen with other clients that I’ve worked with, as well.

Here’s the thing. It’s a really dangerous slippery slope to say, “Well, I’ll like how I look in the mirror when I lose 20 pounds, right, because then you’re putting value on that 20 pounds, and you’re not loving yourself until you get to a certain weight. I can tell you, I can promise you just from experience with the women that I’ve worked with, that if losing the 20 pounds is your ultimate goal in loving yourself, I promise, once you get to that weight, you’re still going to find a flaw within yourself, right? The goal is that you have to really love yourself fully and completely, and then set those goals separately, but don’t make loving yourself conditional upon how much you weigh or don’t weigh, or how much weight you lose or can’t lose.

That can be hard, you know? I remember I didn’t use to always have a lot of confidence when I was younger and I remember somebody telling me one time, “Just love yourself or just be confident.” I remember thinking, “How do I just love myself when I don’t?” Or, “How can I just be confident when I’m not confident?” The truth is that a lot of times you just have to almost fake it until you really believe it. You just have to tell yourself every single day how you want to feel. Eventually what will happen is the words that you speak to yourself will start to become your reality.

What I encourage you guys to do is really pay attention and be aware of the verbiage and the language that you use when you speak to yourself or that you think to yourself.

For example, I had a really bad habit of, when I would look in the mirror and I would bend over, let’s say I’m getting out of the shower, I’d get a glimpse in the mirror and I would see, I have a lot of stretched skin. Both of my kids were two pound babies. TEN pounds? So my stomach was really, really big. Although I’ve been able to get back into shape, I still have a lot of wrinkly, soft, stretched skin on my stomach. For a long time, I would look in the mirror and just think, “Oh, that’s so gross,” and turn away, or, “Oh, I don’t want to see that,” and turn away. Or, I would sit and play with it, and be like, “Man, I wish I just had my pre-baby body back.”

I just eventually realized that using those words and that language, it never served me at all. It really served no purpose in making me feel better about myself, so I forced myself, every time I looked in the mirror. At first it was gradual. At first it wasn’t really positive language. It was just acceptance language, so I’d look in the mirror and I’d say, “Well, it is what it is,” or I’d look in the mirror and I’d say, “That’s just a natural part of the aging process.” Or I’d look in the mirror and I’d say, “You know, I have two beautiful children, because of that stretched skin.” Eventually I got to the point where I could say, “Well, yeah, I have a little bit of stretched skin. Eh, that’s okay. But I have awesome arms,” or, “I have a beautiful smile,” or, “You know, I curled my hair really good today, right?”

Eventually I was able to shift into body positive language and it was amazing what happened just by shifting the way that I spoke to myself. That stretched skin or whatever the issue is for you, no longer was as big of an issue. I mean, I’d be lying if I had days where I still wished it wasn’t there, but I would say 95% of the time, the majority of the time I just, because I switched the way that I spoke to myself, I convinced myself through years, and years and years of changing my language, that it’s just something I’ve accepted. It is what it is, and I can … Instead, I’ll focus on things like, I don’t have the ability to change my stretched skin, but I can focus on the things that I do have the ability to change, which is getting healthier, which is, loving myself at any stage I’m at, and taking care of my body physically, and mentally and emotionally.

I hope that’s helpful for you guys. I really, really want to challenge you to change the language you use when you talk to yourself, because it matters and you matter. I love you guys. If you have any specific questions, please leave them in the comments below.

Your friend,

Natalie