What do you see when you look in the mirror? 

February 1, 2018

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, Katie Bulmer-Cooke reflects on why it’s important to ‘love yourself’ and not become disillusioned by unrealistic body goals

In keeping with the most commercialised day in February – good old Valentine’s Day – I’m theming my column this month around love and, in particular, self-love.

In a world of Instagram, airbrushing and unrealistic body goals, it’s all too easy to be unnecessarily hard on ourselves about how we look and while it’s very important to exercise and move our bodies, it’s vital that we learn to love them rather than loathe them.

Many people aspire to be like others rather than opting to be the best version of themselves. They need to take the time to step back, look in the mirror and say, ‘you know what, I’m alright’.

Many are never content with achieving their goals but it’s important to take a moment to pause, appreciate your own hard work and applaud your achievements. For example, you set out to reach 20.3 per cent body fat or to fit into your size 12 jeans, but when you get there, it’s not good enough, and the cycle of criticising yourself and always wanting more begins all over again.

So how do we break that cycle? Here are my top tips:

Unfollow anyone on your social media feed that makes you feel negative about your own body. It’s time to say goodbye to the over-

edited gym selfies, the contorted poses and those who only post photographs of their super-healthy meals and never the Malteser Bunny they had while they were watching Coronation Street.

Stop speaking about yourself negatively because you will begin to believe the words you say and they will stick in your head like glue. I was brought up to believe that if you don’t have anything nice to say to other people, then say nothing at all. The same is true about how we speak about ourselves. If you continually tell yourself you’re fat or your thighs are too big, this will become your truth and the reality is, you are beautiful. So what if your thighs rub a little at the top? Most people’s do; it doesn’t mean you have to change it.

Start paying yourself some compliments. Rather than always focusing on the things you want to change or dislike about your body, look at the things you do like. Take a few minutes every day to stand in front of the mirror, pick out something you like about yourself and either out-loud or in your own head, pay yourself a compliment and repeat it several times.

Forget ‘smashing’ or ‘beasting’ your body in the gym. The truth is that exercise should never be a punishment. It should be a positive experience and you should select the form of exercise that your body needs or can cope with at any given time. Yes, there will be days when you can really challenge yourself and push hard, but equally there will be days when your body needs disciplines such as yoga and Pilates.

Be sure to listen to your body, respect it and, above all, love it!