Judi experienced low body confidence throughout her childhood and as an adult. After overcoming her body image struggles, she set up Heart Your Body with the mission to help other women feel good about their bodies.
Twelve years ago, I hit rock bottom. Fresh out of a failed relationship, I had little self-esteem and I certainly didn’t love my body.
I realised that if I wanted my life to be happier and more fulfilling, I had to pull myself out of the depths that I’d fallen into.
I had good days and days where it felt like I was right back at square one again.
But, I kept going, believing that it was possible to love my body and myself.
During that time (and it was a very gradual process), a few key things helped me begin to love my body, and they are still an integral part of my life today:
#1 I focused on my life not my looks
I decided that I needed to create a life that I loved. I threw myself into work and projects that would give my life meaning and purpose. I applied for a new job and signed up for a voluntary project overseas (a lion breeding project in Africa).
Focusing on what I wanted in my life not only gave me a great sense of fulfilment, it distracted me from the negative thoughts I was having about myself and my looks.
Doing work that I loved built up my confidence and self-worth. Worries about my looks and other perceived inadequacies became less significant.
#2 I got into regular exercise
I didn’t want exercise to be about how my body looked. I wanted it to be about what my body could do, and what I could achieve by building up my strength and stamina.
I signed up for the 3 Peaks Challenge and embarked on a training programme. Being able to complete this rather gruelling challenge was one of my proudest moments. It spurred me on to do other events including a five, eight and 10 kilometre runs.
Training regularly gave me a new found appreciation for the function of my body as opposed to what it looked like.
#3 I learned about the power of the mind
Searching for ways to feel better about myself, I read a LOT of personal development books. From my reading, it soon became clear that your mind has the greatest influence over how you feel about yourself.
I learned that rather than being a victim of my negative thinking, I had the power to decide how I felt. I began to unpick all the unhelpful and limited thinking I had about myself like:
“I’m not good enough”
“I’m not attractive enough”
“Men don’t like me”
I challenged these thoughts, and dug deep to find out where they had come from. I looked for evidence for and against each one and created new more empowering beliefs that reflected what people who loved me would say about me, like:
“I‘m a kind and empathetic person”
“I have a lot to offer a partner”
I committed to repeating these new beliefs over and over, until they became second nature.
#4 I had fun with clothes
My body worries meant that I wasn’t very confident choosing and wearing clothes.
My ex-partner was very critical of my clothing choices, and so I mainly wore what he thought I looked good in, rather than what I liked.
I started to experiment with clothes. I bought things I wouldn’t have previously worn and I especially enjoyed picking things out my ex would never have approved of! Slowly, I developed my own sense of style.
As I began to enjoy wearing my clothes, I also started to appreciate the body wearing the clothes.
#5 I chose to love myself first
I chose to make self-love and respect my #1 priority. I realised that I couldn’t achieve anything that I really wanted in life without a healthy love for myself.
I did things to show myself love and respect. I took time out to rest, to do activities that I enjoyed, and I set clear boundaries around my relationships.
I acted like I cared for myself, even when I wasn’t sure that I did. But it worked. My physical and mental health improved, including how I felt about my body.
I believe that all of the things I did are possible for anyone. That’s not to say that you have to do any or all of the things I did. How you decide to approach a new relationship with your body is as unique as you are. The first step is to decide that you want to love your body, then believe that it is possible. Begin doing whatever feels right for you. You don’t have to do lots of things at once, just pick one thing and make a start. You can do it!
Judi is a body confidence coach for women and an advocate for positive body image. She helps women learn to love and accept their bodies so that they can live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Find out more about her work on body confidence at www.heartyourbody.co.uk.