Building a Better Body Image With a Daily Dose of Inspiration

Building a Better Body Image with a Daily Dose of Inspiration

I’ve decided to create an inspiration board to fuel, motivate and enliven my writing. When I’m having a tough time finding ideas or it’s been a rough day, I can turn to my inspiration board for comfort, a creativity boost, and essentially a visual reminder of what’s important. Many professionals use inspiration boards regularly, including interior decorators, fashion designers, and wedding planners. Even moms can use inspiration boards to get daily inspiration. So I was thinking why not do the same to improve your body image. Call it your very own body image inspiration board, which will help inspire, empower and boost your image.

Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.

Editor: Nadeem Noor

For many of us, our size and self-worth are intertwined. Or our size may affect our daily life. We may count calories, diet, engage in fat talk, and just have crappy days in general. We may stop taking care of ourselves because we think that we don’t deserve it. An inspiration board can serve as your reminder of what’s important in your life; it can be your cheerleader. It can be there to remind you that you deserve to take good care of yourself.

Here are some suggestions for what to put on your board:

1. Inspiring quotes. Do you have a few favorite quotes? Put them on your board. If you’re a religious person, you may consider including a passage from your holy book. You can also search through your favorite books or on the Internet. I’m a big fan of Twitter (follow me at Weightlessblog). One of the great things about Twitter is its continuous inspiration. Many people post inspiring and thought-provoking quotes and tweets. A good quote can really challenge your thinking, put things into perspective and even motivate change. Below, I’ve rounded up just a few of the countless inspiring  tweets I read every day:

There is inside of you all the strength, courage and love you need to be happy and fulfilled. – JulesyParker

Food-Sanity Tip: Sometimes the food your MIND craves isn’t the food your BODY wants. Check in w/ ur belly, gut, & mouth; what do THEY need? – HlthyGrl

Food-Sanity Tip: Eating a little bit of what you love can go a much longer way than eating a lot of something you think is just okay.- HlthyGrl

Body-Sanity Tip: How much free space would you have if you stopped being negative and/or obsessing about your body for a day? – HlthyGrl

Perspective: Some of those people you look up to or are jealous of could actually be more screwed up than you. They just hide it better. – skinnyjeans

Weight mgmt is more complex than knowing what to eat and how much to exercise. The failure of most diets proves it. – EatWhatYouLove (Michelle May, M.D., has tons of inspiring tweets on her page. I really would love to just paste her entire page here.)

Most diet “experts” tell you to do things they don’t—or couldn’t—do themselves. – EatWhatYouLove

Dieting is to overeating what caffeine is to chronic insomnia. – EatWhatYouLove

And a few wonderful quotes by the greats:

If I’m going to sing like someone else, then I don’t need to sing at all. – Bille Holiday

Never bend your head. Hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye. – Helen  Keller

Of all the liars in the world, sometimes the worst are your own fears. – Rudyard Kipling

For more inspirational quotes, see here.

2Positive Thoughts. Last week we talked about how to change your negative self-talk. A great thing to put on your inspiration board is whatever encouraging thought or thoughts you’ve chosen to replace the negativity. You might write on your board “I am beautiful just as I am”; “I’m a good person, wife, mom, and friend”; “I have a huge heart, and I love that about myself.”

3. What You Can Do. Think about all the amazing things that your body does for you day in and day out. And write a few lines about it. “My body is powerful; it lets me run, hike, walk, hug my loved ones, pick up my kids, listen to music, cook a delicious meal, smile and laugh.” Find the beauty in all the things you can do because of your body.

4. Photos. Find photos that inspire you to have a healthier body image. Maybe these are photos of you and your family and friends. Maybe these are your graduation photos or photos of when you were a child having a great, stress-free time. Maybe these are photos of you in a marathon, giving a presentation at a conference, cooking for the holidays, or planting flowers. Or photos of you and your significant other, of you and your own kids. Find images that illustrate and inspire your passion, goals, and accomplishments.

Basically, put up any photos that make you happy, that make you think of the bigger picture. For instance, one of the reasons you might be working on your body image is because you’d like to model a positive one for your kids. With their photos on your board, you have some great visual inspiration. Your own childhood photo can show you that you can be happy without worrying about your weight. You once felt free, and you can get to that place again.

5. Accolades / Anything Positive. Therese Borchard, who writes one of my favorite blogs, Beyond Blue, keeps a self-esteem file with anything she’s ever received that was positive. Do the same with your inspiration board. Gather up all the good stuff you’ve ever gotten – birthday cards, notes, kind emails, compliments, medals – and tack your favorites on your inspiration board (put the leftovers into your own self-esteem file).

For instance, I’ve received some wonderful emails and comments on Weightless (which I appreciate so much!). When I’m having a terrible day, what an inspiring thing to see to remind myself that I may be helping, even one person.

Here’s how to get started, according to Therese:

E-mail or call four of your closest friends. Say this: “As you may or may not be aware of, I need some affirmations. Lots of them. Because there is a voice inside of me that is constantly telling me that I am a worthless piece of animal waste. I’d like to believe otherwise. That’s where your job comes in. Could you PLEASE list ten positive qualities about me? Why are you my friend? (If you are extremely wealthy or famous, skip that one) Why do you return my calls? (If they don’t, skip that one) What would you say at my funeral (but reassure them that you have no plans of dying right now)? You see, I am starting a self-esteem file, and I’d love for your positive words to be among the first (of the millions of letters that will follow). If you have any. Which I’m sure you must. Right? THANKS SO MUCH.”

6. Hobbies. Do you love to run, sew, read, draw, dance, go to the theater, garden or volunteer? What drives you? What are you passionate about? Think about incorporating your hobbies into your board. This is another great way to put life into perspective and focus on what you love.

7. Your Life Mission Statement. Without meaning and purpose in our lives, we’re more likely to have a poor body image.  A few months back, we talked about creating a life mission statement (inspired by Therese’s blog), one sentence that answers “do what; to whom; and in what ways?” Include that statement, big and bold, on your board.

8. Happiness. What makes you smile? What sorts of images and items make you happy? Maybe visualizing yourself at the beach is your sanctuary, something that signifies your peaceful place. Then find a beautiful beach scene. Do the same with the mountains or a snowy landscape, if that symbolizes a stress-free zone. You might also include something a loved one gave you that has a lot of meaning for you (if it’s a piece of jewelry, for instance, just put up a photo of it). Basically, think about what makes you smile and tack it on. Flickr has some nice visual inspiration.

Be sure to display your board in plain sight. You could even make a mini version for work. And, if you have kids, get them involved, as well. They can create feel-good inspiration boards for themselves, too. Basically, the key is to have fun with this and gather up anything that inspires and empowers you. Put on some music and get your creative juices flowing.

What will you put on your inspiration board?

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