Negative body image is pervasive in our society, affecting women young and old. Elizabeth Saviteer, an advanced student in the Master of Science in Nutrition and Clinical Health Psychology (MSNCHP) program at Bastyr University, and Christy Hofsess, PhD, clinical training director of the MSNCHP program at the University's teaching clinic, Bastyr Center for Natural Health, discuss common obstacles to healthy body image and strategies to overcome them.
Obstacles to Healthy Body Image
- Working from the outside-in. When dealing with issues of body image, one of the biggest obstacles people face is the idea that changing their appearance will make them feel more confident, happy and loved.
- Playing the comparison game. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to other people and computer–generated images in the media.
- Indulging the inner critic. We all have an inner critic that tells us we’re not good enough in some way.
- Putting it off. Consider the examples of women waiting to get married until they’ve lost weight or people who won’t go to the beach until they fit into that bathing suit. This kind of disengagement from life creates a vicious cycle that can be hard to break.
- Participating in “fat-talk.” We’ve all heard it, and most of us have participated in bemoaning the size of our hips or trading diet tips. Sadly, fat–talk has become a socially sanctioned way for people to connect and share something in common – dislike of their bodies.
Health at Every Size
Real improvements to body image are made from the inside–out. Counselors at Bastyr Center work with patients in highly personalized sessions focused on collaboration and setting realistic goals. Treatment is solution–based and typically lasts 10 to 11 weeks. Exercises may include:
- Identifying and overcoming negative self-talk.
- Connecting with a strong social support group.
- Recognizing positive personal traits aside from appearance.
- Addressing underlying mental health issues, emotional concerns or stress, which may manifest as poor body image.
- Engaging in life in meaningful ways.
- Media education and talking back to media images.
- Making overall lifestyle improvements.
- Bolstering self-image and self-worth.
Bastyr Center is particularly well-equipped to deal with body image issues since patients may also be referred to other supportive services including acupuncture for stress reduction, nutrition counseling for diet assistance and naturopathic medicine for chronic health issues.
To start on the path to loving your body, call (206) 834-4100 today or submit our quick contact form to make an appointment with a Bastyr Center counseling team.