Since January we’ve been bombarded with ads urging us to slim down and “get your body in shape by summer.” While some women manage to meet their weight loss goals in time to feel confident in their swimsuit, the majority of us do not. We can often disguise unwanted pounds under heavy layers during winter; yet, our summer wardrobes are rather unforgiving. We turned to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a New York City=based neuropsychologist and Teaching Faculty Member at the prestigious Columbia University Teacher’s College, to give us some tips on how to boost body image despite the number on the scale.
RECOGNIZE (AND STOP) THE “FAT TALK” “Women are notorious for commiserating when it comes to body image,” says Dr. Hafeez. “If a woman says, ‘I’m so fat,’ the other woman might feel like she has to say ‘no, I’m the fat one.’ ‘Have you seen my thighs?’”
Then there’s this back and forth over whose body is worse to elevate the other person. “Even women who don’t feel negatively about their bodies will engage in this behavior and eventually, it can make them feel worse,” says Dr. Hafeez. Dr. Hafeez suggests taking the lead in offering compliments to friends and steering the conversation away from negative self-talk which serves no one.
DO NOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO THE “INSTA THIN” Comparing your “booty” or thighs to the countless fitness influencers on Instagram will do nothing to bolster your self-image. Instead, follow and like beautiful photos of healthy foods, plated and perfect. “You want to encourage well-being not get yourself down by comparing yourself to women who work out with trainers, are significantly younger and whose livelihood it is to be a swimsuit model. Comparison leads to discouragement,” warns Hafeez.
FOCUS ON IMPROVEMENT When it comes to your body, focusing on what you think is a problem area is just going to make you feel worse. Once you’ve acknowledged what you want to work on, focus on ways to improve and celebrate what you’ve accomplished so far. “If you haven’t reached your fitness goal understand it is a work in progress. Stick with it. Working out will also raise your endorphins which help to induce feelings of pleasure and reduce anxiety naturally,” says Dr. Hafeez. Read more of this story »