“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows” – St. Francis of Assisi
Have you ever wondered how to broach the topic of body image, or body positivity? Now, I’m not sure that’s where St. Francis was going with his quote, but it’s how it spoke to me.
Having read so many articles on “teacher self-care”, I’ve been thinking about writing this particular post for months! Also, I’ve been becoming increasingly stressed over my imminent PhD deadline and the little time I have to work on this massive project. Unfortunately, I can literally see the toll it’s taken on my face, as I compare this year’s resident’s ID card photo with last year, or the years before.
Why has it taken me two weeks to even put the words together for a body image post? (If you’ve missed Motivational Mondays the last couple weeks, I am truly sorry!) I’m not going to make excuses and tell you I couldn’t find the time.
Here’s the truth:
Well, dear readers, I’m readily admitting that this topic is a tough one.
If you’ve been a reader for awhile, you may have come across my post on my weight-loss struggle the past few years (despite healthy eating, intense workouts, and having the body I wanted a short 6 years ago). I’ve been through 3 nutritionists, 2 personal trainers, 6 doctors including 3 well-known endocrinologists, and a variety of health books, but can’t lose the fat around my stomach despite gaining muscle and slowly dropping body fat %. As my medical tests come out perfectly (except for the weight, of course), no one seems to be able to solve this mystery.
They even gave it a name, “centric-obesity”, and then said they had no idea why I had it or how to solve it.
Stress could be a factor, but all the medical tests they’ve done for that come out perfectly, too. Now, I completely understand if you don’t believe me. Many people question if I’m sticking to the diets, following the plans, or really giving it my best, but I am.
I won’t bore you with any more of the details of my never giving up in yet another post, but let’s just say that body image and body positivity is far from where I’m at.
5 Ways To Start To Love Your Body
So, I’m definitely not the expert on this one, but here are the strategies I’ve used, and plan to use, to improve my body image perception. As I said at the beginning of the post, this is a daily struggle for me. It’s truly a juxtaposition to my confidence and visualization in other areas of my life.
Here are 5 top tips:
1. Find Confidence In The Parts You Love
First of all, flaunt the parts of your body and personality that you love best. My favourite way to do this is to invest in clothes that fashionistas think look good on me. By the way, this doesn’t have to be expensive! I follow a capsule wardrobe, so I don’t have that many clothes. If you’re in Barcelona, check out Japamala and Friends, an eco-friendly, locally designed clothing store with staff that help you find clothes for your body type.
2. Find An Additional Purpose for Fitness
Actually, this second tip is from my personal trainer. Once I’ve finished off the PhD (that is sucking a chunk of time), I’ll start setting more fitness based goals that are not only based on weight.
For example, I’ve already set goals to try new sports, which I started last summer with surfing. Another example is my determination to I’ll likely start running races like I did several years ago, or get myself back into organized martial arts.
What reason do you have behind your fitness goals?
3. Find Body Image Heroes
Personally, this is the biggest tip for me, along with #5. Just like I find Blogger Heroes, as I like to call them, to help me with my blog goals, I seek out body image heroes. For me, these are people who have overcome a lot greater struggle than I am working on.
Check out the section below for three amazing examples.
4. Book A Wellness Retreat
Okay, I can’t quite vouch for this idea yet. However, it seems that these retreats aim to de-stress us, help us discover meditation, calm and peacefulness. The only meditation I’ve ever tried is through the Headspace app, and I can tell you that I am terrible at it!
So, as I was figuring out what I could possibly to do finish my PhD by the deadline, I decided to decrease my workload (of my 4 other jobs). Also, I booked myself into a wellness retreat for four days at Easter. I chose La Crisalida Retreats in the south of Spain and swallowed the somewhat pricey cost. I’ll definitely write a post upon my return to let you know how it went.
5. Gratitude Journals
I love the idea of using a gratitude journal to write out what you are grateful for, or even writing out “lines” to convince yourself of the fact, as they do in the documentary The Secret. Sometimes I even repeat gratitude sentences about my body image aloud, such as I’m so grateful that I’m healthy…
So, you’re trying to feel grateful and confident for what you have, but not quite sure how? This awesome post has 10 more tips from Goalcast, one of my favourite sites for motivational tips.
3 Body Positivity Heroes
Now, I’m sure you’ve heard me talk about marathon runner, burns survivor and model Turia Pitt, and former model Melyssa Moody. Moody was featured in one of my favourite documentaries to use for English class, Happy).
So I thought I’d shake things up a little and mention a few heroes featured in the news and other media this month. In fact, that was one of the reasons I decided to finally write my body image post. I saw so many positive examples this month that I had to share.
It’s not even just that she has overcome a horrendous situation, but that she is proud of her body, and its scars. In fact, I consider her strength in doing a boudoir photo shoot and sharing it, incredible.
After surviving a horrendous coach crash and burns to 96% of her body, she has an incredible positivity that amazes me. This is a video of her story 3 and a half years after the crash. She is now a makeup model for Avon.
3. Rebecca Henderson
Well, my third example does not have a happy ending. However, as I’ve been following her story, I had to tell you about Rebecca Henderson. She passed away this month, but was so determined to follow her dreams that she attended classes at Oxford University, carrying her new medical heart in a backpack.
Her death was heartbreaking, given her positive attitude towards life. Here is a video of her that was in BBC News:
How To Use These Videos in English Class
So, I know many of you may not be English teachers (or teachers at all). For those of you who are, though, you know that I can’t resist turning these amazing videos into lessons!
Here’s how I’ll be using these videos:
Lesson plans around health topics: I’ve noticed that a lot of English textbooks that I like to use for teens or adults, like Citizen Z or English File, have units on health. These videos make for great additions to these lesson plans, as they don’t seem to cover body image at all.
Lessons about bullying: Bullying is one of the topics I like to create lesson plans around, as I feel it’s an important concept to discuss especially with teens. However, I do want to say that I’ve been to workshops in Canada on “workplace bullying”, so it’s not limited to kids. Body image videos like these can be a great start to discussing differences, diversity, and acceptance.
What is your body positivity story? How do you approach the topics of diversity, body image and acceptance in your classes? I’d love to hear from you below, and read and reply to every (non-spam) comment 🙂
Have a lovely and productive week!
P.S. Photo lovers, the photo for this week’s post image (and poster!) is one I took in Dubrovnik, Croatia about a year and a half ago.
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