Developing and maintaining a healthier body image requires self love and self-acceptance. Engaging in body positivity exercises is one way to act from a place of loving compassion rather than self criticism. Having a good relationship with your body starts with seeing it as a friend and ally, to be nurtured and taken care of instead of seeing it as a problem and “the enemy.” Really great relationships are founded on trust, mutual respect, and unconditional positive regard. They’re also based on both relationship partners understanding that the relationship is interdependent – each partner ultimately benefits from the well-being of the other. Both you and your body have a vested interest in taking care of each other.

Think about all the ways that your body fights for and protects you – from its “fight or flight” response to the battles it wages against foreign substances in the body (vomiting, festering out slivers, immune system responses, etc.). Your body also sends you signals when something is wrong and when things are in sync. In return, it’s your responsibility to do everything in your power to take the very best care of your body from supplying appropriate types and amounts of nutritious fuel and physical exercise to talking and thinking about it kindly and lovingly.

Body Positivity Exercise: Body Love Letter

Think about the very best relationship you’ve ever been in. What qualities made that particular relationship so satisfying?

Was it the support you gave each other?
Was it the fact that you accepted each other, flaws and all?
Was it the fact that you took care of each other and were compassionate towards each other?
Was it the foundation of love, trust and mutual respect that permeated all your interactions?
Take time to jot down the qualities you cherish the most about that relationship. Think about how these very same qualities can be applied to your relationship with yourself and your body. Now, choose a body related topic that you typically self-criticize. It could be weight, appearance, health, etc. Write down in detail how this perceived flaw or inadequacy makes you feel. What thoughts, emotions, images, memories or narratives come up for you when you think about it?

Imagine yourself using all the qualities you listed above as you formulate a letter to your body. Envision yourself being your body’s very best friend. Be unconditionally loving, accepting, and supportive. See the “whole” you: your strengths and potential areas for growth, as well as, the negative aspects about you. Accept, forgive, and lovingly embrace your body just the way that it is. Picture your body’s response to such loving care.

Now that you’ve visualized what being your body’s best friend would look like, write a letter to your body from that self-compassionate point of view. Here’s an example of how to get it started:

Dear Body,

I love and accept you just the way that you are. (List the things you love about your body.)

I want to thank you for all the amazing things you do for me each day. (List these out.)

I promise to encourage and support you in the following ways….(be specific)

With Love and Gratitude, (Your name)

As you write your letter, don’t worry about form, structure or grammar. The main thing is to write from a compassionate and loving heart. When you’ve finished, put the letter aside for 15 minutes and then reread it. Let the loving words sink in. Review your Body Love Letter whenever you’re feeling dissatisfied with your body and are tempted to engage in behaviors that will ultimately be harmful to it. Use it to renew your motivation to live a healthier lifestyle that includes a healthy relationship with yourself, your body, exercise, and food.

You’ll find more ways to promote body positivity and a healthier body image in How To “Rock” Your Body Image: Improve Body Image & Self Confidence. If you want to have a better relationship with your body, you have to do it from the inside out. Living a happier life starts with learning to accept and love all aspects of what makes you, you before you can make good decisions on what you’d like to work on and what lifestyle changes you’d like to make.

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Keep in mind that to make healthy changes that last you need to pay attention to all the components of life fitness (mental, emotional, and physical) and how they influence each other. Sometimes we’re our own biggest obstacle to finding happiness and living a “fit” life. If we do not believe that life can be different or that we deserve to be happier and healthier, we will ultimately self-sabotage any efforts we make to change our lifestyle.

Each and everyone of us deserves to be happy and to seek success in whatever way we define it. We often just need to get out of our own way!

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Author's Bio: 

Stephanie Eissinger is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Life Coach, Certified Embody Love Movement Facilitator, and Self Help Book Author who’s dedicated her life to empowering others to overcome life’s obstacles to live happier, healthier lives. Her self help books include: Journey To Self-Empowerment: Increase Self Esteem & Self Confidence; The Stress Management 2.0 Series; The Fitness Goal Triad: How to Successfully Reach Your Fitness Goals; Anorexia Athletica & Hypergymnasia: When Exercise Becomes An Obsession.