We’re only days into January but odds are your social media feeds are already flooded with messages about changing your body this year. Of course, making healthy shifts is a good thing, but what if instead of resolving to follow a rigid diet or fitness routine, you planned to make 2020 the year you fall in love with your body?
Whether or not you tend to set New Year’s resolutions, aiming for more body positivity is a no- or low-cost investment that pays dividends in health and happiness. Below, our experts share four ways to love your body this year:
1. TWEAK YOUR OBJECTIVES
If your goals include changing your clothing size or the number on the scale, it’s time to tweak them. Try shifting towards resolutions that focus on your health and overall well being. That might be replacing processed foods with more fresh ones, challenging yourself to complete a 5K run in the summer, or putting your cookbook collection to good use twice a week, when you would normally order takeout. Click here to download our recipe booklet.
If you have friends or colleagues who love to talk about weight loss or gain, feel free to let them know that you’re trying to stay in a diet-free zone this year. Moreover, studies show that weight changes as a result of strict dieting almost never last anyway!
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2. PURGE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEEDS
You know the tidying up practice that promotes letting go of clothing and other items that no longer “spark joy”? Try applying the same rule to the people and brands that you follow on social media. Take a look at each feed and be honest about how reading those posts makes you feel. Sure, there is lots of great knowledge to be shared and motivation to be found online, but the social media world is also a hotbed for glamorized realities, airbrushing and the commodification of inadequacy.
New research from the Department of Psychology at York University in Toronto found that social media engagement with attractive peers increases negative body image, and the Canadian Mental Health Association also confirms that there are increasing concerns about the links to social media use and mental health and addictions-related issues. The verdict? It’s best to curate your accounts carefully.
3. LOVE WHAT YOU EAT
A healthy diet includes a wide variety of whole foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, but forcing yourself to drink a kale smoothie or eat chia seed pudding if you don’t enjoy them is counterproductive. Studies show that negative emotions and stress associated with eating can slow down digestion and even interfere with nutrient absorption. What’s more, it becomes easier to overeat when you’re not satisfied with what you’re eating because your body can misinterpret lack of enjoyment for hunger.
Make a list of nutritious foods that you really enjoy so that you can refer to it when you’re stumped at mealtime, and try to practice mindful or intuitive eating; by listening to your body, you’ll likely find that it tells you what it’s in need of.
Still, navigating the grocery store — and even your own fridge — can fell daunting. Book a consultation with an experienced registered dietitian who can help you take the guesswork out of delicious healthy eating.
4. DISCOVER (OR REDISCOVER) THE JOY IN MOVEMENT
Just like eating foods you dislike, resolving to follow a fitness plan you don’t enjoy will not yield lasting results. For disease prevention and optimal health, adults ages 18 and older should engage in 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity each week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more, according to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines. But those minutes don’t need to be accumulated on a treadmill! Whether it’s brisk walking with your dog, a dance class, playing in a sports league or running around in the park with your kids — the best exercise is the kind that you love to do.
By viewing fitness as stewardship — the job taking care of something (in this case, your body) — our perspective of fitness becomes more loving and positive. “If stewardship and body love are your primary motivations for fitness, you’re less likely to do unhealthy things to your body in order to achieve your goals,” according to Women’s Running Magazine.
Remember that part of loving your body is practicing patience and forgiveness too. You will have days where your diet isn’t optimal, and when you really just want to lay on the couch — and that’s OK. If you can achieve a baseline of eating a well balanced diet and being active most days, you will be setting yourself up for a lifetime of good health, both mentally and physically.
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