If you guys would’ve asked me when I was 15 what my body confidence tips were, I would’ve probably stared at you in shock and retreated to my expert level minesweeper game without a word. Needless to say, I think my “awkward phase” was a far more pronounced one, but in a roundabout way it’s actually something I consider to be a serious blessing. Because I didn’t grow up in those formative years feeling particularly pretty or remotely attractive to the opposite sex until I got to around 18 years old, I really threw myself into other things and didn’t really invest much of my identity into being “the pretty one” since my other friends and sisters already covered that title.
Instead, I grew up being a weirdo, much in the same way I still am today—I steadily studied as much rock history as I could (my weirdest and most longterm passion), obsessing over druid history and culture (sadly, this isn’t a joke and I’m 100% still so obsessed with learning more), making dumb jokes to get people to like me and playing field hockey or going for long runs with Bailey, aka one of my best friends all through high school (side note: if you didn’t already know, Bailey was my doggy). I didn’t really obsess that much over my appearance in high school despite really loving fashion, and when I started coming into my own physically in my later teens and early ‘20s, it was definitely more of a sweet bonus rather than an expectation. Also, this “blossoming” (for lack of a better word) clearly coincided with me creating healthier habits (quitting smoking, committing to gym time and workouts, eating well, biking to commute and getting my daily dose of daylight/sunshine, etc), so I really saw that the more I took care of myself, the more I loved the way I looked.
I was also conveniently insulated until my early-to-mid 20s from trash talking about body image because my best friends through my late teens to early ‘20s were all focused on other things, from fitness to music to design. They were also (and still are) just cool, nice girls who didn’t have to bring other girls down, and to this day they’re all up to empowering things (and all of them know who they are so thank you for that!). It wasn’t until I had interactions with other chicks later in uni who had really terrible body confidence or who trashed on other girls that I was like…what?! Is this a thing?
The thing is, while I’ve been oddly lucky in a lot of circumstantial ways, I also think there were maybe a few conscious decisions I made (and still make) to ensure I feel good about me and this body I have, because it’s the only one I have! So I figured long story short, I’d share my top 5 tips because why not? Everyone should feel beautiful, confident and as good about themselves as they possibly can, so while I hope you already feel like you’re ticking off all three of those boxes, in the event you’re having a bad week, month, year or just haven’t developed the practice of self-love now, I hope this helps!
1. Focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like.
We all have these beautifully unique bodies, and by appreciating how much you can lift, how many miles you can run or how you finally mastered those steps in your dance aerobics class, you’re going to love and honour your body in it’s unique-to-you, seriously badass shape instead of trying to fit this “perfect body type” (which honestly doesn’t even exist). Even if you’re new to working out or you get your exercise in different ways, focusing on how your body lets you do everything (from travel to walking around a new city to having a baby to dancing at da cluuuub!) instead of how it’s not living to some dumb societal expectation (whether real or imagined) is key. It’s really pretty remarkable what our bodies allow us to do and how it responds to being taken care of!
2. Don’t weigh yourself.
Yup, I’m gonna say it. Maybe this is a bit controversial to some because it’s such an ingrained, traditional way of tracking your health/fitness, but unless you’re competing and need to fit certain weight divisions or have health-threatening weight to lose and know dropping numbers on the scale will motivate you positively, please don’t weigh yourself. We all have different bone densities, body compositions and so many other variabilities that will result in different numbers. Obsessing over your weight does nothing good for you, not to mention if you’re getting stronger, you might actually feel really discouraged because muscle weighs more than fat and your weight will look like it’s plateaued, even if you’re getting way fitter! Of course, the natural question that follows is how do you track your wellness without the scale. What I do is track how my body feels in certain pieces, from an A-line skirt to a pair of skinny jeans. I don’t obsess if maybe they feel a touch tighter on a day when I’m feeling a bit bloated or had an indulgent couple of weeks, but if they’re feeling really tight then I know I might just want to stay on top of things for a week or two. I also just try to remember that if I feel good in my skin and happy, that’s what’s most important! Our bodies are going to change and you just have to be happy with what you’ve got in this moment (even if you’re working towards goals). I really experienced this last year when my back went out and I just couldn’t work out the same way – I didn’t really feel like myself for a few months there but tried to still feel grateful for what I had in that moment and to focus on how my body was working hard on mending itself (especially with back injuries this is tricky because they stick around for so long/forever, but gotta keep the focus on the positive!).
3. Surround yourself with women (and men) who lift you up.
If you have friends who are constantly bashing on other women’s bodies (even if they’re doing it to celebrities), be a bit wary. If they are suffering from disordered thinking about themselves or self-hate, do what you can to help but also, be wary. This is going to sound brutal, but I’ve had a few friends I’ve had to take a big step back from because of these reasons and while that might seem harsh to some, for me, it was the only option. I only have one life and I’m not going to surround myself with people who hate on other girls, who hate on themselves and who by osmosis, start making me wonder if I should have more issues with my body. Obviously, this is a given with your partner too. I’m really lucky with Matt—he’s only ever made me feel really beautiful and strong, and I love that we met playing soccer and have continued being really active together. He’s always loved that I’m a fit chick and with that, have muscle! Would clearly be a struggle to have a partner who didn’t lift you up or who was pretty vocal about preferring other body types or anything along those lines.
4. Reframe your “flaws,” especially ones that were pointed out to you.
I remember getting casually called thunder thighs like quite a few times throughout high school. Even when you’re pretty okay with yourself (or alternatively, if you were deep in your awkward phase and sadly expected statements like that like I was!), name calling in particular sticks with you because especially in those formative years, you don’t really have the wherewithal to know that some people are just pricks, and other people’s opinions tend to carry a lot more weight. Fortunately, when I was in my late teens and ditched my ciggies and began really running a ton, I remember making the conscious decision to appreciate how strong my legs were after every run. This is gonna sound super corny, but I would stretch after my runs or workouts and think about how lucky I was to have my strong, muscular legs to get me up and down a whole mountain in less than an hour or to power through my squat set. I feel like because I nipped this potential “flaw” in the bud pretty early on and reframed it as a positive thing, I did and still do really love how strong my legs are. Having trouble loving one of your body parts? Focus on what it does for you—if you’re not a fan of your arms, think about how much they can lift or how it pulls you through the water when you’re swimming. If you’re trying to tone up your core, remember how it kept you stable all through spin class the other day or track the progress you make in your core work. Do whatever you can to be at peace with it, and if there are goals you have specific to body parts/areas, don’t make it about dropping x inches or anything along those lines—instead focus on hitting a rep, distance or weight goal, or even how it gets you through everyday life! Trust me, if you get seriously injured, even being able to walk properly is pretty big! When my back was out and I was on the ground for nearly a month, I had a whole new appreciation for what my body and all its parts do every day, and it was kind of a nice reminder in a roundabout way to not take what I have for granted, from my strong legs that helped me get back up eventually to the core I work on like crazy to work around some of the skeletal misalignments I have as much as possible.
5. Dress for your body.
While my other tips are more fitness, mental or wellness oriented, this one’s really key because it will totally change your relationship with your overall body image. I talked a lot about the struggles I’ve had with styling around my 30F chest earlier this week so I can totally relate to feeling like you have an obstacle in achieving your personal style, especially because most of the pieces that make me feel most like myself are more delicate/flowy and light on the structured quality, which is what usually suits hourglass figures more. But by knowing a few tips and tricks that will make your body look its best for its particular figure, you can really learn to love your body all the more! Finding a couple similarly shaped ladies for inspo helps a ton—I always look to other bloggers or celebs who have similarly hourglass but athletic body types and take note of looks I love (Scar-Jo, a classic)! It’s also so key to invest in workout wear you love, because there’s no better way to love how you look than to have killer activewear while doing something that really honours your body! I’m obsessed with Michi, a Canadian-made activewear label that has beyond stylish pieces I want to wear in and out of the gym. These leggings and this top are all I feel like wearing these days—the paneling is beyond flattering and while I don’t usually do high-waisted leggings for whatever reason, I love that it gives me the option to go for just a sports bra during a particularly sweaty session without feeling like I’m putting on a show for the whole gym. Invest in great activewear like this that’s seriously high-quality and you’ll get incredible cost per wear, not to mention it will encourage you to get your workout in! And for me, being active just makes me feel like myself, gives me that dopamine hit every time and translates into a strong body that feels true to me.
Wow that was a long post! I’m turning 30 in a couple weeks though and was just looking back on my 20s earlier this week and thinking about what a solid decade it’s been. I feel so lucky for the partner, family and friends I have over this past decade, the decisions I made for myself and the experiences I’ve had. I feel like I’m entering 30 so excited for another decade of health, fitness, wellness and all the other things I love in life (lots of travel, this work I love so much, new beginnings with Matty and so much more!). So in a way, this is my roundup of body confidence tips but also kind of a nice reminder to myself as I enter a new decade of what I learned and what helped me in the last decade, so feels like a well-timed post given that the big 3-0 is coming up so soon!
If you guys have any special stories or tips about feeling like your most empowered self, please share in the comments below, both for myself and for other readers! You guys always have the most incredible insight and I always love hearing it! Finally, as I mentioned a ton above, a lot of what’s helped me in loving myself is committing to my fitness, so if you need any inspo definitely check out my fitness and health categories! A reminder that this is my personal journey so while I’ve always been really sporty and am drawn more to weightlifting, running, boxing, etc, I do think finding a way to move and express your body in one form or another is so key so please don’t take my fitness reco’s as me making suggestions in a global sense! Just what’s worked for me, my fitness personality and my body type the best!
Photos by Ainsley Rose Photography