01. Stop dieting
Ninety-five percent of all dieters regain the weight they lost—usually within the first one to five years after dieting. Following heavily restricting eating plans can also deprive the body of essential nutrients. Apart from affecting mood and performance, being undernourished can be a primary catalyst for eating disorder genes to kick in. It’s why 20 to 25 percent of dieters slide into full-blown eating disorders. Dieting has also been linked with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, depression, heart disease and cancer—some of the same health ailments linked with obesity. Ultimately, it’s healthier to be slightly overweight than it is to yo-yo diet, so forget the weight-loss plans the same way you forgot the scale.
02. Treat your body well
Fashions come and go. Your body doesn’t. It’s with you for the long haul, and you only get one. Take care of it the way you’d take care of a really expensive paintbrush or an adopted animal. The body and mind are connected, so if you treat your physical self well, your mental self will probably feel equally good.
03. Redirect the time wasted on the weight obsession
Not all weight obsessions are created equal, but the fact remains, any time spent obsessing over weight is time that could have been spent differently. This isn’t to say everyone’s ultimate goal should be “productivity;” this is to say that, as time wasters go, weight obsession is a pretty destructive one. Often, weight preoccupation is used to mask real concerns (e.g. performance anxiety, interpersonal anxiety, etc.), but instead of dealing with the underlying concern, weight obsession gets fed like a fussy infant. Weight obsessions can keep us from going after what we really want, so instead of resenting your body, pursue your true desires. They’re probably more interesting than a butt to bounce quarters off of.
04. Take care of yourself emotionally
Sometimes taking care of your physical self isn’t enough to right your emotional self. Since weight preoccupation is such a mask for emotional problems, addressing the underlying emotional concern can alleviate a lot of that troubled body relationship. This is twice as true if your bad body relationship stems from a physical trauma like sexual assault that can leave deep psychological scars. You deserve to feel good about yourself, inside and out.
05. Surround yourself with positive people—especially body positive people
If you’re around negative people, negativity will become your norm. This is especially true when it comes to body negativity. If you’re around people that regularly bemoan their size, the behavior gets normalized, so start normalizing self love instead.
06. Limit your media exposure
There’s no causal relationship between media exposure and eating disorders, but there is resounding evidence that more media exposure means greater body dissatisfaction. Is this anything new? Thin movie stars, “fat-blasting” headlines, “belly-busting” ads on every other webpage: we are inundated with messages telling us to revere thin. Usually, the idea of thin is just a marketing tool; it makes us feel either seduced or dissatisfied, so we invest in whatever they’re selling us (movies, magazines, acai berry pills!). Couldn’t we spend our time and money better? Invest in yourself by investing less in the media.
07. Focus on the non-physical things you appreciate about yourself
Take it from someone who knows: it’s difficult to reconcile a bad body relationship, but if you take inventory of all your rad non-physical qualities, suddenly what you perceive as a less-than-rad physical self won’t seem like such a big deal.
08. Don’t qualify your foods
Like most things in life, foods run a spectrum with the majority of foods falling somewhere in the middle. Everything’s fine in moderation, so instead of mentally labeling foods “good” or “bad” or judging your day’s intake as “good” or “bad,” think of all that in between. Then, shut up and eat it. Because food tastes good and it’s good for you.