It’s pretty safe to assume that 2016 wasn’t exactly anyone’s finest hour. It was a tough year full of political disappointments, celebrity dramas, and devastating deaths. 2017 is a new chapter, though, and there’s plenty of time for us to rewrite the story. As the whole world makes their own New Year’s resolutions during the holiday season, you might notice that almost all of them are outwardly focused. People want to lose weight, go to the gym more, or start a new kind of diet. What if you made the choice to love your body more than ever in the upcoming year, though? Without trying to change what you look like?
HelloGiggles spoke with Annie Robinson, M.S., wellness coach and co-founder of Pause Breathe and Connect, who says it’s much healthier to put aside the promises that are meant to transform our physique, and instead focus on making ourselves feel more alive and healthy. In other words, let’s learn how to embrace and appreciate our body, rather than judge it. “Central to overcoming distorted perceptions of your body and self is to cultivate self-compassion and self-confidence,” Robinson says. Gaining self-esteem doesn’t come from losing weight or eating less cake. It all starts by feeling more comfortable with the exact person you looked at in the mirror this morning.
Here are seven little ways you can love your body more in 2017.
1 Recite a positive affirmation to yourself every day.
You have all the reasons in the world to love who you are and be grateful for the body you’ve got here and now. Nobody can fulfill the job of being your biggest fan like you can. Let 2017 be the year when you form a daily habit that’s easy to maintain, yet packs a big punch of positivity — give yourself a daily affirmation.
Pick an affirmation or a quote that inspires you and makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. “Perhaps write it on a card and hang it on your fridge, or place it next to your bed,” Robinson recommends. Every time you pass by this nugget of encouragement, you’ll feel a rush of optimism that will carry you through tough parts of your day. If this sounds too cheesy for you from the bat, don’t worry. That’s normal. But give it a shot anyway. You might be surprised at how good it feels to say nice things to yourself.
2 Don’t get caught up in detoxes or diets (unless that is something you WANT to do).
When the New Year comes knocking on our doors, we’re bombarded with dieting methods that will help us lose weight, because apparently we overate during the holidays (hogwash, in our opinion). Losing weight is the number one New Year’s resolution in America, so a there will likely be a lot of people around you who will become focused on shedding pounds.
Robinson tells HelloGiggles that shifting the focus from your diet to how you feel internally will serve you so much better in the upcoming year. “It’s not actually about what you eat or how often you go to the gym—it’s about your relationship with yourself,” she says. So instead of worrying about eating less bread or less chocolate, just focus on how you can have some fun and feel more fulfilled.
3 Follow people on Instagram whose bodies resemble yours.
Every body is different, but we’re rarely shown any diversity on the cover of magazines and on TV. The women we see are overwhelmingly thin, tall, white, and big-breasted. If you don’t have the same figure (let’s face it, most of us don’t), looking constantly at all these women’s posts on social media will likely cause our self-esteem to plummet.
One small change you can make in your social media life is to switch up which profiles you spend the most time looking at. Choose to follow the people who look more like you and you feel better represent you. You’ll be less inclined to judge or compare yourself to others.
4 Do a form of exercise that you actually enjoy.
The benefits of exercising reach far and wide, and it does so much more for your body than just helping you stay toned and fit. Working out sharpens your memory, helps you sleep better at night, and, best of all, improve your moods and boost your self-confidence. If you’re not a gym kinda gal, don’t go lift weights. If you’re not a yoga kinda gal, don’t go to all those vinyasa flow classes your friends love. Find something you enjoy, so it’s not a chore to get your heart rate up. Rather, it’s something you love doing that feels like an escape from every day life.
Robinson also urges us to move away from the “get fitter” push that often gets passed around during this time of year. It implies that “you are falling short right now,” she says. Instead of convincing yourself that your fitness level isn’t good enough, just find a way to move your body that brings you joy.
5 Stop complaining about certain parts of your body, even if you’re joking around.
It’s like that scene in Mean Girls when the four Plastics stand in front of the mirror and criticize themselves: “I’ve got man shoulders;” “My nail beds suck;” “My hairline is so weird.” We’ve all done it before with our friends, and we’ve all got parts of our body that we’re insecure about. Let 2017 be the year that we stop putting ourselves down, though, and get rid of the negative dialogue in our heads. The kinder we are to ourselves, the happier our body will be.
6Try not to count calories or try to give up a certain food group.
Because of the overload of diet-based New Year’s resolutions, Robinson says it’s easy for people to “engage in disordered behaviors with food.” We get obsessed with following a specific diet, and then we punish ourselves for eating too much chocolate or failing to eat enough vegetables. All that wasted energy could be better spent actually enjoying our food, rather than using it as a tool to alter our bodies.
7Be mindful of your social media use.
“Social media is a mixed bag,” Robinson tells HelloGiggles. “On the one hand, it can be triggering and brew competition and comparison. On the other, it can create really empowering and supportive communities that uplift and encourage people to progress on their healing journey.” Moving in the New Year, it’s important to recognize who you surround yourself with online, and whether they’re lifting you up or dragging you down.
Do a Facebook and Instagram cleanse before the start of January, and get rid of all the people whose values you don’t align with. What we fill our heads with has an immense impact on how we feel about ourselves. Also, consider how much time you spend on social media. Maybe it’s time to reevaluate how quickly you pick up your phone in the morning, or how late into the night you’re scrolling through people’s newsfeed. Your time is precious. Make sure you’re spending it in a way that makes you feel happy, happy, happy.