Three ways to get happier in your body
by Lyssa Myska Allen
Like I noted a few weeks ago about my uncanny ability to remember what I was wearing to almost any event, I’ve also noticed time and time again that when I feel most comfortable in my body—when I think it looks good, when I like what I’m wearing—is when I’m most happy. I can think back on moments, usually tied to outfits, and remember how great I felt. Or I can think back to time periods, usually tied to lifestyle changes, when I felt like my body looked better (when I first graduated college and lived on my own, when I first started CrossFitting, when I broke up with a boyfriend).
So many people talk about feeling comfortable and confident in your body, but how do you get there? I’ve done well with what I’ve got, but I think I can attribute much of it to my athletic/outdoorsy upbring, for which I thank my parents immensely. Working out, doing yoga, being active is ingrained in my psyche. It’s simply what you do. Here are my top three rules for feeling great about your body:
1. Get Active
People have admired my “dedication” to working out, but to me it’s not dedication—it’s survival insurance. Insurance that I won’t feel grumpy, down, and moody because I don’t feel good about my body. Physical activity for me is not about helping my body look better (though it does), but about being more in touch with my body’s power. Which in turn makes me realize my own power, physically, mentally, emotionally, and ultimately makes me happier.
2. Eat to Nourish Your Body
It’s a similar story with food. If I really pay attention to what my body asks for instead of what my mind thinks it wants as a treat, reward, or soothie, I’m much more energetic, light, and lively. If I give in to the sugar monsters and bread bombs, I end up feeling literally heavy, weighed down, and tired. Sometimes I can even say to myself, I know you want pizza, but your body wants salad. And I eat a salad.
3. Get Naked
Being naked is important. Half naked, full naked, however much naked you can handle. Bikram Yoga is excellent for this, when you wear the skimpy little outfits that are so popular. Then not only are you seeing your body naked, but so are 30 strangers who really, really don’t care, as they’re just trying to survive in the hot room. Seeing your naked body all the time makes you much more comfortable in it.
I’ve often been frustrated by the ways women attempt to teach other women about body images—”strong is the new skinny” is an example of an attempt to empower women that in reality is just another prescription for how women should look (if not skinny, then strong). True body confidence isn’t about how you look but how you FEEL.
I always wondered how to “get body confidence” … how to FEEL great about my body while being realistic about acknowledging that it could LOOK different if I did things differently. In the end, I think you have to feel great about your body even if you want it to (and in order to get it to) look different, or else you’re just trapped in the same cycle of trying to fill the prescription instead of empowering yourself.
Image by Ryan Mustard