Let’s face it, as a modern man body confidence is one of those issues that you feel like you have to lock away in the recesses of your brain, telling yourself that if you don’t talk about it it’ll go away.
Yet every day the internal battle rages on as you continue to pretend everything is ok. You hit the gym, train hard, eat well and continue to strive for so called physical perfection. The whole time clinging to the idea that body confidence is a not an issue for you.
Mistakenly you think this tactic works because outwardly you’re no different from the next guy, but here’s the problem. The next guy feels the same way you do, he also feels the pressure to adhere to the extreme image of male beauty sold as the norm in mainstream media.
The truth is he too struggles with body confidence, dislikes what he sees in the mirror and wears clothes that disguise his physique.
How do I know this?
I’m one of those guys too and for as long as I can remember I’ve had some level of dissatisfaction with how I look. For the most part I’ve carried this burden alone, unable and unwilling to speak to anyone about it.
In my misguided efforts to deal with this issue I tried to hide my feelings, thinking if I ignored them they would go away.
I was wrong.
In fact, it wasn’t until I began to recognise and accept my feelings that I began to change my perception of myself and improved my body confidence drastically. In this post, I will show you the 5 tactics that have had the biggest effect on building up my body confidence.
One - Break away from anyone who reinforces your negative feelings
I know this sounds harsh and immensely difficult and I’m not here to disprove that but stop and think about it for a second and you’ll see it makes a lot of sense.
If there are people in your life who reinforce the negative feelings you have about yourself, they need to go. Even if they aren’t making things worse, they sure as hell aren’t making things better and you don’t need these people in your life.
They’re toxic and will keep you firmly trapped in your negative mindset. If every time you’re feeling down someone is giving you a reason to stay that way instead of dragging you out if it, then it’s time to cut the cord.
You’ll recognise these people, they’re the ones belittling your attempts to make positive change in your life and attempting to stunt your personal growth and lead you astray.
If someone cannot be happy and supportive of your efforts to better yourself then you must seriously evaluate their role in your life. Ultimately, you’re the sum of the people you spend the most time with, so take the time to surround yourself with positivity and seek out those who can provide you with the guidance and support you need.
Seek out those who will understand you and create a network of people who are in a similar position, as even if they are on a different journey they will be the ones who pick you up when you fall and guide you to greater places.
I know this is easier said than done and in some situations, it may not be possible to remove yourself entirely. In circumstances like these you want of focus on limiting your time with anyone who reinforces your negative feelings and actively seek out those who will support and understand you.
Two - Positive self-talk
True body confidence comes from within, it comes from having a positive perception of yourself and not from what others think of you. Think back to the last time someone complimented you, sure it felt good but did you actually believe it or did you think to yourself that it wasn’t actually true?
I’m willing to bet it was the latter because the truth is people can say whatever they want to you but unless you believe it yourself it simply doesn’t matter. Body confidence must start with you and big a part of this is learning to accept yourself.
I know positive self-talk may sound a bit ‘alternative’ for those of you not used to it but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Besides you probably already do this more than you realise, particularly in the negative. Whenever, you put yourself down or think how your body could be better this is self-talk, it’s can be constructive but is often critical and negative.
To promote positive self-talk the first thing you need to do is get into the habit of taking 5-10 mins every day and writing down the things you like about yourself. Through this process, you will learn how to recognise the great things about yourself and realise you have the power to change the things you don’t.
It can be so easy to get caught up in the negative and only focus on the things you want to change that you forget to recognise the positive.
Positive self-talk is about being proud of yourself and the progress you’ve made. It’s about taking the time to recognise the things you’ve achieved and congratulating yourself instead of glazing right over it in search of the negative. It’s about being grateful for who you are and being excited for what the future holds.
Instead of looking in the mirror and pointing out your flaws, find something you like about yourself and say something nice to yourself.
Feed yourself positivity and realise that it’s ok to want to change but you must start by learning to accept yourself as you are currently.
Three - Fake it until you make it
Have you ever noticed how when you’re feeling down you put off doing things or do them half-heartedly, which makes you feel worse and usually ends up with you doing nothing at all?
Time slips by, gym sessions get missed, takeaways get order and any semblance of a routine disappears. You know you should be productive but just can’t bring yourself to do anything.
It sucks and you know it’ll only be a matter of time before it happens again.
What if you could switch out this negativity with positivity?
If there’s something to learn from these patterns of negativity it’s this, you can do the same with positivity. You see, in the same way feeling down can cause you to do nothing, feeling positive can make you energised and productive.
Imagine you had a magic button to make you feel this way.
Feels powerful, doesn’t it? Think about all the things you could get done, how this would make you feel and what it would do for your confidence. No more missed gym sessions, abandoned morning routines or binge eating sessions. Everything stays on track.
So how do you do this?
Simple, fake it until you make it. If you feel negative, do or think something positive.
If you feel like you can’t do something, tell yourself you can. Tell yourself over and over and something magical will happen, you’ll start to believe it, then you’ll do it.
You’ll start to believe you can do the things you once told yourself you couldn’t, not only this but you’ll find it was never as bad as you thought it would be. Then something even better will happen, you’ll begin to accomplish the goals you set for yourself and you’ll transition from faking it to making it. You’ll have proved to yourself you can accomplish more than you imagined and naturally your confidence will go through the roof at this point.
Next time you’re feeling stuck in a rut and that you can’t do something, try faking it until you make it. You’ll be surprised at just how powerful this technique can be.
Four - Address the biggest issue
It’s no secret that seeing results can make the biggest difference to your perception of yourself and in turn your body confidence. There is something very rewarding about visual and tangible feedback, it lets you know what you’re doing is working and working well, it gives you positive reinforcement and helps with adherence to your goal.
That’s why tactic number four is to address your biggest issue, the one thing that will have the biggest impact on your body confidence; it might be losing weight, building muscle, gaining strength, working on flexibility or fixing your posture. Whatever it is, decide on one thing, create a plan and get going.
A moderate amount of weight loss can make you look and feel completely different so if excess weight is your biggest issue go for that first. Apply a calorie deficit and focus on reducing your body fat at the fastest and safest recommended rate. Seeing first-hand what is possible will spur on you to bigger and bolder goals.
Equally, if you are already lean but do not have much muscle mass then even building a small amount of muscle in the right places can drastically change your physique. Adding even a small amount of muscle to your shoulders and back can give the impression of a smaller waist and provide the sought after v-taper look.
By tackling your number one priority first you will benefit from the boost in body confidence and can then use this momentum to set in place a long-term plan and build on this initial success.
Five - Take control of your diet
Diet is arguably the biggest contributing factor in changing how you look and in turn how you look plays has a huge role in your perception of yourself and your body confidence.
So why, knowing this are you happy to giving up your control over your appearance in favour of instant gratification and short-lived pleasure? How often have you eaten something when you know you shouldn’t or even worse, when you weren’t even hungry? You want something; therefore, you have it even when you know it will give way to guilt and regret.
Most of the time even when you’re aware of the consequences you choose to break your diet and go over your calories thinking you are in control when in fact by doing so you have relinquished control.
It’s time for a wake up call.
If you want to be body confident, you must regain control. Saying no can be a powerful feeling and in truth is never as difficult as your brain is telling you it is, particularly if you have the bigger picture in mind.
When in doubt over a decision ask yourself what you want more; the extra calories than will move you from a deficit to a surplus and push your goal further out of reach or to stay on track and reach your goal?
When you make this decision in support of the goals that you set for yourself you’ll realised you’re not actually sacrificing anything but instead gaining something as you learn more about yourself and your limits.
If you find on a regular basis you are compelled to binge or eating beyond your calories, then you are most likely imposing too much restriction on your diet. You shouldn’t need to limit yourself to reach your goals. Sure you need to stick to your calorie goal and hit your macronutrients but excluding food items or groups is setting you up to fail and increasing the chances you’ll make impulsive decisions and overeat.
Take the time to educate yourself, create a nutrition plan that you can stick to and realise you don’t need to eat until you’re stuffed and uncomfortable. You can structure your meals in a way that works with your lifestyle and not against it.
Once you’ve mastered this and are in control of your diet you’ll find it infinitely easier to control your weight and how you look which will improve your body confidence.
For the modern man body image and body confidence is often thought of as a non-issue reserved for the realms of women’s health, and because of this many men continue to struggle in silence, from fear of being considered weak or feminine for speaking up about how they feel.
It is clear for all to see that there is often a stigma attached to expressing feelings, particularly in regards to how men look and feel but the truth is you can no longer afford to ignore how you feel.
It’s my hope that through these 5 tactics that you’ll be encouraged to explore how feel and acknowledge your perception of yourself. Through this process, you will begin to address your body confidence issues, ultimately creating a happier and more confident you.
Do you also feel body confidence is a underrepresented issue for men?
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