While recovering from an eating disorder, self-image is typically one of the most challenging obstacles to overcome. Eating disorders often develop through a consistent negative self-body image. After a prolonged reinforcement of those thoughts, it can be difficult to look at yourself positively and find things about your body that you love.

The Importance of a Positive Body Image

Gaining a positive body image can drastically help you through your recovery from an eating disorder. A positive body image can lead to higher self-esteem as well as a healthier physical body. Since body dysmorphia alters your perception of how you view yourself, it can lead to engagement in a variety of unhealthy habits that lead to physical health problems. The goal of recovery from an eating disorder is to establish healthy routines for your body and mind. This is achieved by maintaining a positive body image. 

Changing the way you see yourself is easier said than done. However, there are many practices you can take part in to help you through this process of self-love.

Appreciate What You Have

Take a look in the mirror and write down five things you love about yourself. This might be challenging or intimidating at first but think about the positive characteristics you see. Continue to do this every day when you wake up and encourage yourself to find physical features that you love about yourself. This reinforces the thought process of self-love. When you are feeling down, read over your previous lists and remember that you saw each of those beauties within yourself.

Next, look at the physical capabilities of your body. Enjoy the things you can accomplish and appreciate your body for its efforts and energy. Restrict yourself from focusing on what you are not able to achieve. Also, take the time to appreciate your non-physical attributes. True self-love and acceptance require you to accept your appearance and the person you are as a whole.

Don’t Focus on the Numbers

While healing from an eating disorder, people often focus on the specific numbers related to their health or body. However, looking at the scale and pinpointing each pound you lose or gain feeds into the cycle of self-judgment. It is normal for your body to regularly fluctuate between five and ten pounds. Beating yourself up over a few pounds is useless, and it can do more harm than good. 

Moreover, gaining weight does not mean you are unhealthy. Many people have a specific weight range they want to obtain. For those with an eating disorder, that weight range is typically unrealistic. Allowing yourself to step away from the scale and focus on how your body feels will lead you toward a truly healthy body. Gaining weight from working out and building muscle is normal as muscle weighs more than fat. Contrary to common belief, your body can look better and be healthier while weighing more.

Maintain Physical Health

To gain a positive body image, you need to get to a healthy starting point. The National Institute of Mental Health recommends the following steps to engage in the path of recovery:

  • Restore adequate nutrition levels
  • Obtain a healthy weight
  • Reduce excessive levels of exercise
  • Stop binging, purging, or engaging in restrictive eating habits

Completing each of these steps sets you up for success in obtaining a healthy body. Once you are within the criteria of being healthy, you can view your progress as a success and allow your health to fulfill your mind.

Engage With Others in Healthy Ways

While you are in recovery, remember to engage in relationships that provide you with structural support. Peers that make comments that feed into your negative body image are unhealthy to engage with. Find peers that encourage your recovery process and help you obtain a healthy lifestyle. 

As you work to ensure your relationships are positively influencing you, avoid comparing yourself to others. It is easy to look at a beautiful individual and focus on all the qualities they have that you are lacking. There is nothing bad about recognizing these qualities, but avoid comparing them to yourself. Instead, appreciate your own good qualities.

Ultimately, the most significant thing you can do when working toward a positive self-image is to not entertain negative thoughts about yourself. When you notice that you are starting to think poorly of yourself, find something to distract your mind and disengage from that thought pattern. Obtaining a positive body image takes practice and some readjustment of thoughts, but never forget your progress along the way. 

While going through the recovery process of healing from an eating disorder, obtaining a positive body image is critical. A negative body image can be a challenging obstacle to overcome after constant reinforcement of negative self-thoughts; however, many strategies can help you develop this sense of self-love and appreciation. Learning to accept and embrace what you have is a crucial factor. Focus your thoughts on your positive attributes and allow yourself to feel proud of who you are. Getting rid of the obsession with numbers on the scale can help you achieve your fitness goals without focusing on every pound. Surround yourself with people who encourage your body positivity and support your recovery. Only allow your mind to focus on the positive attributes you bring into this world. For more information on developing a positive body image through recovery from an eating disorder, call Dream Recovery at (949) 732-1960 today.

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