How a Positive Self Image Affects Your Health

by Sarah Li Cain

Being healthy doesn’t mean that you simply need to lose weight. If skinny girls heard this (including myself), we’d all run to the closest fast food chain and stuff ourselves silly, every single day.

How we feel about our bodies is just as important as what is going on in them. You ever see that girl rock that little black dress like no other, or that seemingly ordinary guy who seems to make everyone laugh at his jokes?

Yup, you guessed it. They have a positive self image of themselves.

By this point you’re probably thinking, just how does a positive self image help with being healthy? Gosh, what do you think I’m writing this blog post for?

What is Body Image?

Simply put, your body image is basically how you feel about your body.  That being said, everyone has a body part they don’t like (I personally hate my nose). But we’re talking about how you feel about your body overall.

If you have a positive body image, it just means you feel good about your body and are generally happy with the way it looks. It also means that you are realistic about what size your body is, and know that you are not defined by how your body looks.

As a result, people like this don’t really freak out (okay, not always) about what they eat, counting calories, or their weight.

Someone with a negative body image feels the opposite. He or she will compare their bodies constantly to others. As a result they tend to feel anxious, shameful, or even self-conscious about their bodies. Also these types of people tend to have a distorted view of their size and shape.

How Does It Have to Do With Health?

In a nutshell, your body image totally affects your self-esteem. The more negative you feel about your body, the lower self-esteem you have. Low self-esteem can have a big impact in a person’s life, including relationships they have with others.

A poor body image naturally leads to emotional distress (hello, do you think that constantly comparing yourself to others  will make you happy?). This in turn can increase unhealthy behaviors like overeating and alcohol and drug abuse. Because they don’t feel that they are worth much, a person with low self esteem won’t exercise regularly and might have poor grooming habits. Some people even go as far as being socially awkward and have a hard time keeping relationships.

Having low self esteem is also linked to obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Because they are more prone to stress, these types of people might get sick more often, since they might suffer from a lowered immune response.

How Do I Know if I Think My Body Sucks?

You have to get real honest. Remember, the first step to fixing any potential problem is to admit it. So take a good look at yourself in the mirror. As yourself these questions:

  • Do I like what I see?
  • Are there many things I want to change about my body?

If you find yourself criticizing your body more than you’re complimenting it, you’ve got a poor self image.

Yikes! What Can I Do?

Don’t fret my friend. The first step to getting to a healthier self image is to boost your self-esteem.

Here are some simple ways:

  • Tell yourself that your body is not a measure of self-worth.

  • Write a list about what you like about yourself. Include your accomplishments and talents. Add to this list daily.

  • Focus your energy on people that make you happy, like your family and friends. Feed off their positivity.

  • If you catch yourself criticizing any part of your life, stop and change it to something more positive, like “I may be a bit overweight, but I have ran 10km this week, so I will soon see the pounds melt away.”

  • Remind yourself that nobody’s perfect, including you.

  • Do something creative. Always wanted to learn to play the accordion? Now’s the time.

  • Thank your body for its basic (yet incredibly complex) functions. For example, thank your heart for pumping blood, or for your eyes so you can blogs like this.

  • Educate yourself on what a healthy diet means.

  • Buy a new outfit. It doesn’t have to be sexy, but it should be something that makes you feel good.

The key is to do some of these on a daily basis, or as much as you can. I promise that once you implement some of these steps, you’ll notice that you might stand a little taller and smile a lot more.

Go out and celebrate the awesomeness that is you.

Get Free Weekly Updates

At Healthy Enough, we're on a mission to help you become as fit and healthy as possible while still enjoying all of the things you love (and avoiding all of the things you hate). Sign up for free updates and find out how to:

  • lose weight without making major sacrifices to your diet,
  • enjoy exercise and get fitter at the same time, and
  • cook delicious and nutritious meals

Just enter your email address below and hit "Get Updates":

You’ll get just one email from me per week, I will never send you spam and you can unsubscribe at any time.