"You could be so pretty if only you lost weight," says your ex.
The jeans you've loved wearing for the last 10 years won't go past your hips.
"You eat such healthy food. Why are you so fat?" asks your tactless colleague.
There are so many reasons to feel bad about your body. But it doesn't mean that they're true. Or that you have to believe them.
Surface solutions like shopping for a new dress or shade of lipstick can help you feel better for a little while, but they don't get you to unwrap the real issues that are gnawing at you from the inside out.
So how do you start giving your body confidence the boost you wish it could have every single day?
Here are three unexpected ways to start:
1. Rewrite your negative self-talk
Do you ever say things like "I'm so fat and disgusting" or "Way to go, stupid" to yourself when you mess up?
I know I have. I've gotten emails from readers who do it too.
This kind of self talk may seem harmless, but researchers have shown talking this way to yourself repeatedly can really bring you down emotionally and physically. In contrast, people who think focus on thoughts that strengthen themselves do, in fact, end up stronger.
Case in point: A study from researchers at Ohio University found that volunteers who did nothing but think about and visualize strength training developed strength gains of between 13 percent and 53 percent, all without having to touch any fitness equipment.
More and more studies are proving that you have the power to shape not just your behavioral tendencies, but your intelligence by re-training your brain with new thoughts and habits.
Words that bring you down will do just that if you use them continually by reinforcing negativity and destructive habits.
What you can do: Acknowledge that one unhealthy meal or a missed workout isn't a catastrophic failure, and that falling off the wagon is part of the process of building healthier habits. Then, gradually start re-phrasing your negative dialogues into nurturing ones.
For example, instead of saying "I feel like a loser" when you give in to that box of donuts, say "I didn't make the best choice for lunch, but I can make a healthier decision for dinner. I've got this."
And you do have this.
2. Break down your invisible scripts
Two of the best ways to feel great about your body: Exercising and eating the right foods, yet most of us struggle with getting started and making these habits stick.
One culprit could be the invisible, internal dialogues that make us feel inadequate, ashamed and unworthy of the success we're after -- it could be that you've been overweight all your life and can't see yourself being any other way, so you don't even try.
Or, it could be that you're afraid of looking like a health freak in front of your friends and family when you start changing your habits, so you don't.
Maybe believing in yourself is new to you. So you let yourself stay stuck.
Here's the thing: If you don't let these scripts go, you're not allowing yourself to fully embrace the steps that will lift you up and help you feel good in your own skin.
The first thing you can do to break through these walls is to be aware of them and realize that they're not necessarily true -- that they're holding you back from achieving your goals.
Your next step? Chip away at each wall one block at a time.
3. Focus on strengthening your superpowers
When I first started working out, I sucked at it. I couldn't go for a minute without feeling like my lungs were going to explode.
But there was this other thing that I was really good at that I knew would help me reach my long-term weight loss goal: cooking. So instead of beating myself up about being a weak exerciser, I kept improving my repertoire of healthy meals in the kitchen.
The result: waistline-friendly meals that I looked forward to having every single day.
Now shift the focus to your powers. Is there skill, interest, talent or perhaps knowledge you possess that you can turn into a superpower? Is it your ability to put together amazing outfits that make other people's jaws drop? Or could it be the 200-pound deadlift personal record that you reached last week?
The key here to shift your focus away from your perceived weaknesses to the things that make you feel good about yourself and can become part of your larger, purpose-driven strategy, whether it's to become your fittest self, reach your goal weight or just feel amazing in your own skin.
What's your body confidence-growing superpower going to be?
You don't have to resort to crash or restrictive diets to lose weight. In fact, you shouldn't. I show you how to drop those jean sizes in a healthy, sustainable and stress-free way with my free, Lose 4 Pounds in 4 Weeks Without Going On A Diet email course.
Photo credit: Barn Images