Articles


Why You Should Love Yourself (& Your Body)

Health + Fitness

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Jillian Michaels, Wellness Expert

By Jillian Michaels

“They would like you to write about your own struggles with body image as a child.”  And thus the subject of my blog for this years Women’s Conference was born.  The only thing that struck me as odd was the “as a child” part.  I’m a full grown 36-year-old woman who still occasionally wrestles with body image issues.  Don’t we all, to one degree or another?

The world is subjective and we see it through our mind’s eye.  For that reason, our life’s experiences and memories shape or “warp” our vision. This occurs on multiple levels, ranging from personal to professional, but by far the most insidious and potentially dangerous problems this can cause surround our physicality.  At the least, body image issues erode self-esteem, and at the worst, they can give way to potentially fatal eating disorders. 

The pressure to conform starts practically in utero and comes at us from every direction throughout our lives.  Be it family pressures or societal expectations, the moment we are brought into the world, the programming begins, and the rules are laid down.  “We behave this way, look and appear that way, talk when and as instructed” and so on.

We are by nature social creatures.  We crave conformity and harmony with the population – like it or not.  And who wouldn’t?  No one wants to be ostracized and face the painful punishment of rejection.  For this reason we strive to achieve the idea of perfection that society has impressed upon us.  Looping endlessly in the vicious cycle of hope, self-consciousness and self-loathing.

Who hasn’t looked in the mirror and dissected themselves or engaged in a severe verbal bashing? “My body is so gross.  I hate my fat knees.  I wish I were tall instead of short and dumpy.  My hair is thin and stringy.  My jiggly arm fat makes me sick.”  Blah blah blah. We’ve all been there to one degree or another and felt the sting of this ritual.

So now what?  Where does this leave us and how do we change?  Who is the enlightened soul that has evolved to the point of tossing off all of our cultural suppositions and basically telling the powers that be where to stick it? The answer to that is no one -- or at least I certainly haven’t met her yet.

In fact, quite the opposite ends up happening. What begins as society's imposition ends up our own doing.  Often we collapse under the pressure into submission, falling in line, adopting and propagating these provincial ideas of beauty.

So in actuality, the realization that we have become the problem empowers us to be the solution.  In the immortal words of President Truman, “The buck stops here!”  We must say no to this pernicious dogma and stop taking part in the endless spiral of judgment and loathing that we subject ourselves and other women to. 

We have to create awareness and be conscious of when we engage in this destructive behavior and conversely choose to implement an attitude and actions that are nurturing and life affirming.

When you catch yourself analyzing and criticizing – STOP and immediately pay yourself a compliment.  Celebrate the differences among women and appreciate beauty in all shapes, colors, and sizes.   Do something nice for yourself like getting a manicure pedicure.  Smile at a female co-worker instead of “hating her 'cause she’s beautiful.”  Glance over a list of all your accomplishments and all the things about you that your proud of.  And so on.

While this stuff might sound trite like a cheesy new age platitude, the truth is that it works.  Not overnight.  It takes time, diligence, and desire, but doesn’t everything that’s worth fighting for?  We have a responsibility to ourselves and to our daughters to send a different message, rewrite the rules, and change the game.  It’s up to us to set a new example, lead the way and then support and encourage others to follow suit.

Now, repeat after me “I’m smart, I’m beautiful, I’m funny and doggone it – people like me.” – Stuart Smalley.

Jillian Michaels is a New York Times best-selling author, a trainer and the life coach on the NBC hit series The Biggest Loser, and the star of the NBC show Losing It With Jillian.

Her DVDs, Yoga Meltdown, 30-Day Shred, No More Trouble Zones, and Banish Fat Boost Metabolism, are consistently top sellers on Amazon. In addition, she has two video games — Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2009 and Jillian Michaels' Fitness Ultimatum 2010. Her website is JillianMichaels.com

Jillian Michaels will be speaking at The Women’s Conference 2010. Watch the webcast of her breakout session on Tuesday, October 26 on www.womensconference.org.

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Comments

  • Hi Jillian and every strong, beautiful woman visiting this site.

    Totally agree with your insights and your position both here and in fitness that each of us owns our success. You can't do it for us but you can (and do) show us the way. I am starting to own ending the "Fat Talk" , "Negative Talk" and self-bashing. I was inspired to love myself partly from Operation Beautiful. I post notes for myself and others, keep them as bookmarks and have sent the book to friends.

    With all of us stopping the "Fat Talk" between ourselves and owning our success, we are on our way to regaining our power. (of course a good workout also helps the sef-esteem too! I feel so powerful when I run!)

    Thanks Jillian for being a powerful inspiration and not coddling!

    cheers!

    Posted by peligrosa, 12 October 2010.

  • I understand that as we get older that we need to except our bodies as they are and not how they once use to be. As a mother of 2, I still have a hard time expecting that. My husband says I'm beautiful now as I was back when we got married. I just don't see what he see's. I'm trying to fix what I think needs fixing and that is my weight. I lost 55 lbs 6 years ago..and Ive gained 33 of it back. I'm not pleased with that but I know that at 43 my metabolism isn't what it use to be. I'm trying many different things to take care of this issue. I have to be good to myself in order for me to except everything else. :)

    Posted by MAMAGREEKX2, 12 October 2010.

  • Hi Jillian
    i totally agree women struggle with your weight and appearances thoughout their lives cause i know i sure have from the time that i was 10 my mom used to put me on diets and then because of that i just got sick of diets and gave up and ate everything in sight now im a 40 yr old overweight women and so many self esteem issues especially when it comes to intimate stuff with my husband i question that he loves me and if he does then why. I have done this through any relationship that i have been in. I now go to the wharton clinic here in ontario canada and they have helped but once again got frustrated and left and i was losing the weight but if it dont come off fast enough i just give up. I would love for someone like you or you to kick my ass i know how being overweight is not healthy but have no one in my corner

    Posted by sisterlove28, 12 October 2010.