By Carol Fredrek, Registered Psychologist

1. Attention: listen to your body instead of mistrusting it and your body will tell you what it needs – hunger, pain, pleasure.
2. Appreciation: recognize the value of what your body has to offer you – sexual, athletic, aesthetic. Celebrate all of the amazing things that your body does for you – running, dancing, breathing, laughing, dreaming.
3. Acceptance: accept your imperfections and limitations and you will be freer to take pleasure in the beautiful parts of yourself rather than yearning what you don’t have.
You are probably asking yourself “How do I move through these steps?”. It is important to remind yourself that it has taken years to get to where you are today so it will take time to change those negative tapes that you have learned. This will be a very powerful healing journey for you. Rather than pursuing beauty desperately you will pursue it joyfully.

You will need to work on each level of body image:
 Mirrors make you more conscious, more critical and more conforming. Check your frequency of mirror use by gathering baseline data on how many mirrors you use – at home, at work, in your purse, magnifying mirrors, rear view mirrors. How many times a day do you look in a mirror? How much time do you spend in front of each mirror? Then ask yourself a few questions. What am I looking at? What am I looking for? What am I expecting? You may want to get rid of certain mirrors & shorten the time you spend in front of the mirror. An excellent exercise to do is “The Imaginary Mind Mirror” from Marcia Germaine Hutchinson’s book Transforming Body Image.
 Automatic Irrational Thoughts lead to distorted body image and produce bad feelings. If you change those beliefs you will change how you feel about your body and yourself. There are four cognitive errors that can lead to these bad feelings: exaggerating, personalizing, emotional reasoning, and jumping to conclusions. A psychiatrist by the name of Aaron Beck developed a method of examining your thoughts, identifying the cognitive error, and challenging the defeating beliefs.
 Awareness of one’s felt sense: feeling sensations and responses in your body, knowing how to move your body, where your body is in space, and where your body parts are in relation to one another. Many women are disconnected from their bodies. An excellent exercise to help move toward a greater connection with your body is an exercise from Marcia Germaine Hutchinson’s book Transforming Body Image titled “The Imaginal Body”.
 Rolling Back the Years: what we learn about our bodies and ourselves during childhood, adolescence and young adulthood become engraved into our body images and carried over into our later years. Our families can influence our body image through their own body images. And what we learn from the women in our lives and the men in our lives also influence our body image.

Five Ways to Love Your Body
1. Walk with your head held high, supported by pride & confidence in yourself as a person.
2. Wear comfortable clothes that you like and that feel good to your body.
3. Be your body’s friend and supporter, not its enemy.
4. Every morning when you wake up, thank your body for resting and rejuvenating itself so you can enjoy the day.
5. Put a sign on each of your mirrors saying, “I’m beautiful inside and out.”

Adapted from Transforming Body Image by Marcia Germaine Hutchinson and Body Love by Rita Freedman

Carol Fredrek, MA, R. Psych. is a Registered Psychologist that has worked in the areas of women’s issues, disordered eating and body image for over two decades. If you need support and guidance in changing your body image call Carol Fredrek for a 30 MINUTE FREE PHONE CONSULTATION at (403) 249-9337 or send me an email at cfredrek@healingmatters.ca