We think about body image affirmations a little differently here at Lindywell. I use them often while guiding our workouts. Members will hear me say: “Meet your body where it’s at,” or “Take a moment to thank your body for all it’s done for you today.” I say this to remind them that, not only are our bodies incredible, but that these workouts are about so much more than how our bodies look.
At Lindywell we believe in the power of a grace-over-guilt mindset. This can relate to letting go of perfectionism and allowing room for mistakes, but it can also relate to how we view our bodies – choosing self-compassion over judgment, guilt, and shame.
We believe that strength and mobility are important, but so is the way we talk to ourselves and view ourselves. At Lindywell, we encourage our community to appreciate their body on a much deeper level – a level that goes far beyond outward appearance.
I want you to slow down, regulate your nervous system, and find some joy and calm in your day too. I want you to see how showing up for yourself for even 10 minutes isn’t just about your fitness, but about releasing stress and anxiety too.
Research shows when you infuse these kinds of body image affirmations into your movement, you impact both your mental and physical wellness. So, let’s dive into the research and then talk about how to seamlessly incorporate this practice into your workout routine.
Why Combine Exercise with Body Image Affirmations
The prevalence of body image dissatisfaction has become a global health concern. You may have noticed this anecdotally, in your Instagram feed, for example—but it’s also being noticed and studied through global reports.
The internalized pressure that stems from a mainstream society that favors smaller bodies can cause anxiety related to weight, shape, size, age, muscle tone, and other external features. Over time, these body image anxieties can escalate into eating disorders or compulsive exercising—but even if it doesn’t, we’re still left in a place of constant dissatisfaction with our bodies.
One way to combat this is to speak more love, grace, and self-compassion over our bodies as we mindfully move them. Rather than using exercise as a tool to control the areas we feel critical or insecure about, body image affirmations remind us to celebrate the joy of movement, while listening to what our bodies actually need in the moment. I know this might seem “woo-woo,” but there’s scientific evidence to back it up.
If you believe you’re suffering from an eating disorder, we encourage you to seek support through organizations like ANAD or ProjectHEAL, where you’ll find educational resources and a 24/7 crisis helpline.
The Mental Health Connection
A recent study in the Behavioral Sciences Journal found that women who intentionally practiced self-compassion for three weeks reported an increase in overall body acceptance, confidence, and empowerment. This created an awareness of their capacity to reframe negative beliefs or behaviors around their appearance. The research also showed that this self-compassion results in less shame, depression, anxiety, body comparison, and critical inner dialogue. I know we can all use less of that.
According to another study, positive body image attitudes, practices, and beliefs will lead to appreciation for how the body functions, instead of just focusing on how it looks. It can also lead to higher self-esteem and more satisfaction in life.
All of this is incredible to me—our brains have so much power! (Learn more about that in Principles of Neuroplasticity 101: How to Change Your Health Habits.)
The Physical Health Connection
Nurturing a positive body image can increase feelings of physical competence too. In other words, when you’re comfortable and secure in your body, you feel more confident in your own athletic or fitness abilities. This, in turn, reinforces the desire to be active, which correlates with improved muscular strength, endurance, and cardiorespiratory function. All of this impacts so much of your physical health!
Body image affirmations could even help to bolster exercise adherence, according to this recent report. That’s because this practice teaches you to notice when body ruminations or anxieties surface, so you can redirect those thoughts toward healthier exercise motivations that have nothing to do with appearance (ex. being active with your kids or fur babies).
When movement is about more than how your body looks, you’re more deeply connected to your “why,” which is a much more powerful motivator than image.
How to Infuse Body Image Affirmations into Your Workout
I am suggesting bringing these powerful body image affirmations into your movement routine to help you tap into the innate mind-body connection we all have. In doing so, you may find it’s easier to choose a pace that feels good for you or allow yourself to use more modifications. In other words, you’re more likely to honor what your own unique, miraculous body is capable of today—which is different from tomorrow or yesterday!
Instead of pushing or forcing, which makes you feel shame or frustration, you can simply allow yourself to move in whatever way feels good. That is what leads to the long-term commitment to movement you’ve been seeking. (It’s also not about having more motivation; check out my blog post on motivation vs. consistency to find out why!)
Create Your Body Image Affirmation
There are seemingly unlimited versions of different body image affirmations you can choose from or create. If you do a workout with us at Lindywell, you may even pick up on a few from me! The key is to focus on affirmations that feel true and accessible to you. Check out this blog post on self-love mantras from our Head of Breathwork and Somatic Programs to find out how to create the perfect affirmation (which is similar to a mantra) for yourself.
To help you get a jump-start, here are some affirmations that you can use as-is or customize to make it feel more like your own:
- I meet my body wherever it’s at in this present moment.
- I tune into what my body is telling me, then respond to its needs.
- I grant my body permission to claim as much space as it wants.
- I trust my body to choose the right pace and rhythm.
- I honor my body’s strength, resilience, abilities, and limitations.
- I know that nothing about my body must change to be worthy.
- I can accept my body at its current shape, size, and weight, even if I want to change it.
- I offer my body unconditional respect, love, and compassion.
- I feel rooted, safe, and competent within my body.
- I am grateful to my body for keeping me active and alive.
Weave Affirmations Into Your Workout
There is no one perfect way to use body image affirmations during your workout—it’s all about what feels good to you! I can, however, recommend a few simple steps if you’re looking for some guidance:
Step 1: Choose an affirmation that helps you connect to your focus or intention for that day or workout.
Step 2: Before starting your workout, sit or stand with your hands on your heart. Take three deep breaths in and out, and as you do, repeat the affirmation to yourself.
Step 3: Repeat this affirmation throughout the workout. As you start to feel frustrated or notice a negative thought pop into your head is a great time to come back to it.
Step 4: Finish the workout the same way you started. Take three deep breaths in and out with your hands on your heart, repeating the affirmation as you do.
Start your free trial of Lindywell and try it for yourself. Just choose your affirmation, pick from one of our 300+ workouts, follow these steps, and see how good you feel when you finish!
It’s Time for Body Image Affirmations
Body image affirmations can be a simple (yet powerful) way to connect with your body, and all it can do, during a workout. As with anything, this takes practice and time. Give yourself grace as you try on different affirmations. Some days, it might stick and feel great—others, it may be hard to hold onto it and believe it, and that’s normal.
Through it all, remember: you’re surrounded in nearly every area of life by a narrative that tells you your body size matters. Those beliefs won’t go away overnight, but you can slowly work toward shifting them for yourself with each affirmation you choose.