Tips for Maintaining a Healthy Body Image
Maintaining a healthy body image is a challenge. We are constantly surrounded by images of celebrities who look like they have "perfect" bodies or bombarded by ads telling us how to lose weight or have shiny hair and clean skin.
Changing the way you view your body doesn't happen overnight; it takes time, patience, and a positive mindset to learn how to see yourself in a healthier way.
- Proper Nutrition
- Getting Knowledge About Self-Image
- Steps to a Positive Body Image
- A Personal Opinion
Confidence is a very important part of maintaining a healthy body image. Respect yourself, no matter what body type you are. The media may portray a "perfect figure" that is unachievable for many people.
When you're looking in the mirror, focus on your good features, give yourself some compliments. If you respect yourself and your body, you are less likely to engage in unhealthy activities.
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Exercise is another important tool in maintaining a healthy body image. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day reduces stress, lowers your body fat, improves your sleep, and boosts your self-confidence and self-esteem.
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Getting Knowledge About Self-Image
- Skipping meals or eating tiny portions
- Developing rules about food or creating rituals about eating
- Losing weight rapidly
- Wearing extremely over-sized clothing
- Eating secretly, or hiding food
- Picking at food, or pretending to eat in public
- Continually talking about being fat
- Spending time in the bathroom after meals
- Using diet pills, illegal drugs, or alcohol
- Coming up with excuses not to eat
- Excessively or compulsively exercising
- Becoming withdrawn and socially isolated
- Binge Eating
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Steps to a Positive Body Image
The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) has some great tips to help maintain a healthy body image. Remember that learning how to think about your body differently can take time and requires changing some behaviors.
Maybe spending so much time looking at magazines of thin celebrities or spending time with friends who are constantly talking about their bodies and how they lose weight isn't really helping you think of your own body positively.
Instead of surrounding yourself with images and talk of negative body image, use that time to try a new exercise class or cook a healthy meal with a friend. By spending more time doing the healthy, fun activities you love and less time obsessing over your body, you are well on your way to having a healthier body image!
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A Personal Opinion
Section Written By: Pallavi Battar
There are many issues facing the teens and preteens of our generation. This is the "technology age," so the media has a great deal of power and influence in the lives of teens and preteens.
The media portrays beauty in a very stereotypical manner, with the average boy or girl being unhealthily skinny, blond-haired, blue-eyed, tall, and with unblemished fair skin. This image places a lot of pressure on teens who are constantly battling with their bodies to attain this perfect and ideal body image.
Many of these battles result in starving, over-exercising, and drug use. Although these methods may have some of the desired effect on the body in the short term, they will often come with negative side effects.
Starving and over-exercising will halt growth, and result in bone deficiencies and other difficulties later in life. Teens often use drugs to control their weight. Drug use, however, will have an even greater negative effect on the vital organs in the body than starving or over-exercising. Over time, drugs will cause damage to the vital organs such as the heart, brain, and lungs.
Teens often feel that going to extremes to have the perfect ideal body will provide them with greater and faster results. However, the best way to become slim, fit, and still stay healthy is to get regular checkups, follow physician's directions, exercise daily, eat the proper foods, and get plenty of rest at the end of each day.
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high school writer
high school writer (September 2012)
public health education intern, July 2013
Reviewed By: Nancy Brown, Ph.D.
Last Reviewed: October 2013
Below are links PAMF accessed when researching this topic. PAMF does not sponsor or endorse any of these sites, nor does PAMF guarantee the accuracy of the information contained on them.
A Guy's Guide to Body Image, From Nemours: Teens Health.
How to Dress your Body Shape, Guide to Fashion, Style, and Beauty Blog.
Body Image and Self-Esteem, From Nemours: Teens Health.
Sexual Health & Body Image, PBS.org.
10 Steps to a Positive Body Image, National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).
- How I Look Journal, by Molly and Nan Dellheim.
- Healthy Body Image: Teaching Kids to eat and Love their Bodies Too!, by Kathy Kater.