Five Hacks to Promote Body Confidence

 With the media's portrayal of often unrealistic ideals of beauty, it's no surprise most people struggle to feel good in their own skin. Read on to learn five easy hacks to promote body confidence. 

Although I work with men and women of all ages, since starting my private practice, I've been working with more young females than ever before. With that change, I've become acutely aware of the epidemic of body insecurity among young women.

It's easy to see where it comes from. Turn on the TV or flip open a magazine and you're immediately bombarded with photoshopped images of overtly sexualized women who basically all look exactly the same. Although diversity is starting to be celebrated, there's still a long way to go.

The media's typically unrealistic portrayal of what women should look like is enough to make even the most secure women feel a twinge of jealousy. With the messages we receive on a daily basis, most women have to do some serious mental work to feel confident in their own skin. Listed below are five hacks to promote body confidence, because you, my friend, are perfect just the way you are!

Express gratitude for your body

Instead of focusing on perceived imperfections, focus on what your body can do, and feel grateful for it. Those "fat" thighs power your morning jog through the park or a strenuous hike, allowing you to relish the beauty of nature. They give you the strength to pick up your child or your dog or your cat or just a heavy box. They release tension, energizing your body as you stretch in bed each morning. If all else fails, you actually have thighs!! That's more than some people can say. What would life be like without those "fat" thighs? While you're at it, consider the miracle that is the rest of your body. You have arms to embrace the ones you love, hands that allow for creative expression, like painting or music or cooking. Your feet that can enjoy the sensation of walking barefoot in the grass or in your favorite, broken-in TOMS. Not to quote John Mayer, but your body IS a wonderland. When you stop to think of what your body does for you, gratitude is the only appropriate response.

Move your body

There's no better way to foster gratitude for your body than by pushing it to see what it can really accomplish. Plus, exercise give you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don't stress about their midsection (or shoot their husbands). They just don't. Run, jog, hike, walk, dance, barre, stretch, lift, play soccer, rockclimb, jazzercise...just move your body! The only thing not to do - exercise with the intent to burn calories. Studies show if you exercise with the goal of burning fat, you'll end up eating more later on. Not only that, but you'll be much more likely to stick to your exercise if you actually enjoy what you're doing. You'll benefit more from a less strenuous activity you actually love than by forcing yourself through a vigorous exercise you hate.

Toss the scale

So many women base their self worth on an arbitrary number on the scale. Many times their self confidence hinges on just a few pounds. If you're trying to lose a more significant amount of weight, a scale can be a valuable tool (if it's used correctly). If you're already in a healthy weight range, toss it. Using your weight as a benchmark for success is like trying to hit a moving target. So many factors influence the number on the scale, including your hydration status, time of the day, your ratio of fat to lean body mass, what floor of the house you keep your scale on and whether or not you've gone to the bathroom. The scale isn't giving you any information you don't already know. If you've really overdone it and have started to gain weight, you know it without stepping on a scale - your clothes feel uncomfortable, you feel generally crappy. Get back to your usual healthy habits based on that information, not your weight! If you're trying to lose a more significant amount of weight, don't get on the scale more than once a week. You'll drive yourself nuts trying to decipher all the usual day to day fluctuations.

What is there to love about you?

There's a lot to love about the uniquely perfect individual that is you, but when you're staring at a perceived imperfection in the mirror, it can be hard to remember what those things are. Write them down so you always have something there to remind you. Maybe there are other parts of your body that you love, like your toned arms or bright green eyes? Write that down. However, the bulk of your list should be more than your physical attributes. Write down aspects of your personality that you love. Write down your skills. List your accomplishments, both big and small. Keep that list with you and break it out whenever you need a confidence boost. Even better, write it on post it notes and stick them all around your full length mirror - then you'll truly see yourself.

Get pissed

When you see headlines about a model dropping all her baby weight in six weeks or a bikinied actress endorsing a diet pill, get pissed. Redirect the anger you feel towards your perceived imperfections towards the unrealistic images of perfection and the predatory diet industry. Remember, they are the problem, not your thighs. When you direct your anger towards the people who deserve it, you'll find yourself being kinder and more compassionate to yourself.
What do you do to boost your body image on a low confidence day?