Body Image and Avoiding the Comparison Trap

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With the New Year upon us, many people are resolving to be healthier and lose weight.  As Jackie talked about in her resolution post, many times these goals are unfortunately driven by unrealistic body image goals.

“Body image is the way you see yourself and imagine how you look. Having a positive body image means that, most of the time, you see yourself accurately, you feel comfortable in your body, and you feel good about the way you look.”– Planned Parenthood.com

087d7f86cab9c439a051afd253aab3daBody image is highly influenced by family, friends, social pressure and the media. An estimated 91% of women are unhappy with their bodies and resort to dieting to achieve their ideal body shape.  Body insecurity is not just a problem for girls and women, a 2014 study found that 18% of boys are highly concerned about weight and physique also.

As much as I may present myself as a confident person inspiring others to fight poor body image, I myself have struggled too.  I was overweight as a child and have never had a flat stomach or been my “ideal body weight”.  I fortunately have always had good role models, a strong sense of self and focused on being healthy, not just thin. I still fall into “comparison traps” though.

I am almost certain that EVERYONE can relate with comparing themselves to others.  Whether it is body image related or professionally, academically or ability related, everyone at some point falls victim to the comparison trap.

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I’ll admit this post was sparked by me recent struggle with both body image and comparing myself to others. I’m currently 15 weeks pregnant (and super excited about it :)), but surprisingly it has brought up some struggles.  First, as a dietitian I’ve always felt pressure to be an ideal body weight so I’ve been self conscious about my weight.  I’m currently in that awkward phase of pregnancy where the weight gain is starting, but I don’t necessarily “look pregnant” so this has made that pressure worse.  None of my clothes fit, and as anyone knows, that does nothing for your confidence.  Second, I’ve taken to social media looking at friends when they were documenting their pregnancy and searching #15weekspregnant on Instagram, which has lead me into the comparison trap. I see how others look at the same stage and compare myself.  This is NOT healthy and I’ve realized this and placed some limits on social media now.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” – Steve Furtick

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During times like this is it really important to take a step back and think about reality and what really matters.  No matter what the case is you have to remember EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT!  Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they’re healthy or happy. They may be tortured with an eating disorder or obsessive exercise habits that keep them looking that way.

For me, I’ve had to remind myself that is doesn’t matter how awkward I feel right now, but that I am making a little human being inside me and doing as much as I can to maintain a healthy pregnancy.  I focus on positives like how lucky I am to have conceived easily and not had any complications.

If you are struggling with body image and comparison try following these 10 tips:

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Life is way too short to spend another day at war with yourself.

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