So, we know that spot training isn't possible. But we can't help but think of those "trouble spots" on our bodies when working toward our fitness goals... but Women's Health has an awesome reason to stop thinking of it like that.
Every time you talk smack about your body it goes into the classic fight or flight response, says Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating and host of the Psychology of Eating podcast. “Your heart rate goes up, your digestive system shuts down, and your levels of cortisol (that pesky stress hormone) and insulin spike,” he says. This signals your body to store fat and not build muscle — which is probably the complete opposite of what you want. Research in The Journal of Endocrinology even shows that psychological stress increases the risk of insulin resistance.
That might be one reason why recent research published in the International Journal of Obesity shows that women who think they're overweight — regardless of whether they are or not — are more likely to gain weight in the future.
“Every day [people criticize] their bodies and say all of these unkind words to themselves," says David. When your goal is happiness and your journey is filled with self-hate, you're never going to get there.”
So how do you pump the breaks on the shaming and love your body into weight loss? Here, David shares four mind hacks.
1. Breathe deep. Whenever you look in the mirror and see yourself scrunching your nose in judgment, close your eyes and take five to 10 long, slow, deep breaths. At times like this, stopping to say “I love my body” may feel like a flat-out lie, but belly breaths activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system to bring on feelings of calm, says David. “Once your body starts to calm down, your mind will calm down as well.” Even if the trick only slashes what would have been five minutes of hating down to two or three, that’s a huge win — and it will eventually help you get that number down to zero.
>> Read more: Have You Heard of the 4-7-8 Breathing Trick?
2. Get physical. A great way to connect with and improve your relationship with your body is to make sure that you're physically nourished. But exactly what that involves is different for every woman. David recommends taking an inventory of some of your favorite sensations and activities that make you feel good in your skin — literally. It could be intimacy with your partner, exercise, a bubble bath, or even an hour-long massage. Whatever it is, taking the time to notice how your body feels during your activity of choice will help you associate your body with good vibes. Treat yourself, girl.