Let’s say you have health goals—to eat more mindfully or master a strict pull-up, for example—but you’ve mostly made peace with your body. The thing is, it seems like no one else has. Your workout buddy keeps saying she feels gross, your trainer is always bringing up six-pack abs, and your coworkers can’t stop talking about the keto diet. The following steps can help you maintain that healthy mindset you’ve worked so hard to achieve.
1. Use humor. “It’s not your job to educate people about body positivity,” says Jes Baker, a body image and mental health coach. And if you’re chatting with strangers or acquaintances, you may not feel comfortable delving too deep. A totally doable way to deal with negative body talk: Keep it light. “I used to work as a professional baker, and when customers would say, “‘Oh, I can’t believe I’m buying this croissant,’ I’d respond with, ‘Croissants are very good for the soul.’ It’s a way to reframe the conversation,” says Baker.
2. Put your money where your values are. If dieting stresses you out, avoid restaurants that advertise low-cal and “guilt-free” food. If a salesperson in a boutique makes you feel uncomfortable, stop shopping there. If a trainer body-shames you, feel free to speak up or walk out on a session or group-fitness class. “You’re paying, and you totally have the right to say, ‘I’m not comfortable with weight-loss talk. It does negative things for myself and my self-esteem, and it would be great if you could cut it out,’” says Baker.
3. Set boundaries. On the one hand, you want to support your friend when she’s feeling down. On the other, you want to honor your own needs. It may not always seem possible, but you can do both. “Try saying something like, ‘I know this is important to you, but it’s really triggering for me, so while I support you, I don’t think I can be your go-to person,’” suggests Baker. “It’s okay to redirect someone when he or she is causing you to spiral.”
4. Curate your feed. Of course, you can’t really control what’s on TV or in magazines. But you can adjust the settings on your social media dial. “One of the most life-changing but really easy things you can do is to consciously curate what you see on social media,” says Baker. That means unfollowing people who make you feel bad about yourself—and populating your feed with more positive influences. To diversify what you see when you scroll, check out Baker’s list of 135 Instagram accounts to follow.
5. Be kind to yourself. If something you hear or see makes your inner monologue take a dark turn, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, show yourself some compassion, the way you would your friend. “The goal is not 100 percent—it’s to have more good days than bad,” says Baker. “Self-acceptance is a hard journey. You need to recognize what you’re up against and applaud yourself for trying.”
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.