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Employee Wellness: Nourish Your Body with Respect 

Friends hiking through the hills of Los Angeles

A study by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that the appearance ideals that we’re exposed to through social media and diet culture lead to body dissatisfaction. Body dissatisfaction is experienced by everyone, regardless of gender. Unfortunately, we are constantly bombarded with the message that we are just not good enough if our bodies don’t fit into an “ideal” shape or size. These appearance ideals have created chaos in our hearts and minds. 


Body respect is a form of self-love that includes first, accepting your body for exactly how it is, and second, respecting it. It means treating your body like something you love instead of something you’re at war with. We’ve been led to believe that the way our body looks is more important than anything else we have to offer. In order to break free from the body shaming diet culture and the social media-induced body dissatisfaction, we have to accept our bodies for exactly how they are and then learn to respect them. 


What if I don’t love my body? 

It’s important to understand that accepting and respecting your body does not mean that you have to love it. Try to focus on body neutrality if loving your body seems too difficult. Body neutrality will allow you to simply exist in your body without any positive or negative thoughts. It can also be helpful to focus on what your body can do for you instead of what your body looks like. Can my body allow me to experience a fun weekend with friends? Can my body take me on an enjoyable walk through nature?  


How do I actually respect my body? 

We must actively choose thoughts and behaviors that show our body we respect it. One way to think about body respect is to think about creating a relationship between you and your body. Try to view your body as one of your closest friends. How would you speak to and treat your closest friend? 


Five ways to treat your body with respect: 

  1. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion. The way we speak to ourselves matters and it’s important to create a positive narrative in our minds. This can mean starting your day with a morning affirmation such as “I deserve to take up space in this world”. It might feel weird at first, and that’s okay! The goal is to start changing the narrative in our minds by recognizing our negative self-talk and changing it to one of kindness and compassion. 


  1. Dress in clothes that fit and feel comfortable. Choose clothes that fit you and make you feel comfortable. This will build your confidence and make you feel better about yourself. It can also be helpful to clean out the clothes that you’re holding onto that no longer fit. Holding onto clothes with the hope that one day they’ll fit again can breed shame and anxiety. 


  1. Eat for your well-being. Eating a well-balanced diet throughout the day that includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber, healthy fats, and protein will help you feel your best. Food is fuel and it’s important to eat enough food to feel strong and satiated. Eating for our well-being also means honoring our mental health by choosing foods that we enjoy.  


  1. Move your body in a way that feels good. Exercise does not have to feel like punishment for it to be beneficial for your body. Maybe you enjoy lifting weights or walking or gardening—they all count as movement. Find some form of movement that you enjoy and do it! Enjoying yourself will help to create sustainable behaviors. 


  1. Clean up your social media. Pay attention to the messages you’re receiving from social media and delete, block, or unfollow any accounts that cause you to doubt your worth or compare your body to others. Rebuild your social media with body-positive influencers that can help you start your journey towards body respect. 


Body respect doesn’t just include your body; it includes all bodies. Be mindful of your thoughts and words about other people’s bodies. Are you promoting acceptance or judgment? Accepting body diversity is the first step towards body respect, and we all deserve respect. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Remember, our bodies are the least interesting things about us! 


Learn more about Wellness Workdays and our wellness program offerings by downloading our brochure


Written by: Kate Miller, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern 





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