Low self-esteem is a problem that affects many women and men, too. Sometimes it is surprising to find that people whom you might have considered confident and self- assured, actually suffer from some self-esteem issues. The problem with low self-esteem is that it can impact and compromise your quality of life, affecting everything from personal relationships to work performance.
Many times a person’s body image impacts their self-esteem. Even people who otherwise feel happy and confident with who they are, cringe when they see a photo of themselves or catch a glimpse in a full length mirror. Since our mind does not have eyes to see, it is easy to “forget” about our weight until we see the proof of a paunchy belly or an expanding waistline.
Physical activity is one of the best ways to improve a woman’s self-esteem. Self-esteem — the opinion we have of our own worth — is crucial to a healthy lifestyle. A positive self-image helps us to exhibit greater social effectiveness and to accept others as they are. The key to self-esteem is developing self-acceptance and feelings of competence. Physical activity is instrumental in developing both.
To develop Self-Acceptance:
• Learn to accept your body and love it just the way it is.
• Don’t compare yourself to others, instead focus on one physical activity that you want to do better.
• Write down one thing that you are great at and carry it around in your pocket or purse, and read it often. Rotate it with your other affirmations.
To develop Feelings of Competence:
• Set a simple, achievable goal for a physical activity, like learning to play tennis, or walking two miles instead of one.
• Determine how you will find time to accomplish your goal, set short-term and long-term goals.
• Have a back-up plan if you can’t get out and walk or bike ride. Have indoor exercises that you can fall back on in case something happens.
• Enjoy the feelings of competence and confidence that you get from goal setting and achievement.
Does your weight affect your self-esteem? Are you conscious of your weight at all times or only when you see yourself compared to others, like in a photo or in a room full of slimmer bodies? How do you feel when you step on the scale? Do you hesitate hopping on that tattletale of a scale, even when you are the only one in the room? If you answered yes, then ask yourself what is the effect that your weight plays on your self worth?
Do you feel somehow less of a person because of your weight? Do you lack the confidence needed to walk into a crowded room or hallway because of your size? This feeling of being too big can affect many people of different sizes, even those people who are slightly overweight.
If your weight is affecting your self-esteem, can you identify your feelings? Why do you think being overweight is reason for a drop in your self-acceptance? Perhaps guilt is the culprit. You feel guilty that you have not mastered eating correctly for your body type. There, it’s out of the bag—the only reason your self-esteem is affected by your weight is because you feel guilty about how your weight is portrayed on your body and what others think of you because of your weight.
Now, once the latter thought has taken hold, you become paralyzed at the thought of physical activity in front of others for fear that everyone will be looking at your fat. You become obsessed with the fat that others will see and try to hide out, not taking part in activities and hiding your body under a layer of clothes that represent a walking tent.
Healthy self-esteem means you have a positive view of your self-image and you project an atmosphere of confidence wherever you go. Regardless of your size, you love your body and if you decide to lose weight it is more about safeguarding your health and wearing cute clothes than it is about comparing yourself to others. People with healthy self-esteem aren’t dependent on others for acceptance, they are happy and contented with who they are.
However, even happy, contented people, with no self-esteem issues, find that participating in physical activity boosts their confidence to a whole new level. Exercise is an empowering force that anyone can take advantage of. Physical challenges like sports and exercise help us in our day-to-day confrontations.
Physical activities, especially sports, require quick thinking and fluid movements—both attributes of regular exercise. This is just another way that the mind and body align and unite.
There are so many advantages to regular exercise, from weight loss to improved self-esteem, to quicker thinking, to reducing stress, to conquering guilt…exercise is the top choice for bringing about positive change in your life.
Because self-image plays such an important role in self-esteem, your weight can affect the way that you perceive yourself. One way to help you identify and crush these false images is to begin a fitness journal at the same time that you start your exercise program.
Believe me when I tell you, the fitness journal will be your key to success. The journal acts as a liaison between your body and your mind. You record your goals from your mind and compare them to the achievements of your body. By writing everything down and accepting accountability for what you eat and drink and how much activity that you do, you send a message to the brain to evaluate and deliver.
Your mind, so attuned to the written word, will work hard guiding you towards your goals. That’s why it is important to be as detailed in your journal as possible. Write down how you feel each day, too. If you are tired, upset or depressed, write it in your journal and be truthful about everything you eat. You can compare your feelings with your eating habits each day—determine if you consume more when you are having a bad day or a good day. Do you eat when you are happy, excited or frightened? Do any of these feelings cause you to snack all day?
The journal will help to keep your self-esteem intact. If your confidence is shaky, or your exercise program has hit a plateau, the fitness journal will be your written proof of all you have accomplished and will provide clues to kick start your program back into gear.
We would love to hear about your journaling ideas. Please leave a comment below:
~ Karen Ficarelli
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