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How to feel confident in your body

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Recently a mom on one of our boards posted:

I feel frustrated by a theme that keeps coming up: Love yourself first and foremost and then love will be drawn into your life. HOW EXACTLY does one, who has highly developed neuropathways of “not good enough” transition to the “I love myself” place? I feel like I’ve tried everything, and it just doesn’t seem to stick. I still look in the mirror and see the cellulite and the “not good enough” features of my body.

Worse, I’m still dealing with the deep childhood imprinting of not being wanted or unconditionally love. I’d like some actual technical advice on this matter! It’s getting old just hearing “love yourself” “have confidence,” etc. without any tangible how-tos that follow.

Such a common challenge and I appreciate how frustrating it is when all you’re offered are vague platitudes about self-love.

No one’s life has ever been turned around by an inspirational Facebook meme!

If you’re struggling with how you feel, here are things you can do to feel sexy and confident:

1. Use positive affirmations for confidence

It is normal for negative thoughts to slip into your head — this is a way to protect yourself from disappointment, hurt and failure. After all, if you already expect yourself to fail, failure is not a painful surprise, right? If you talk yourself out of taking a risk, then you can't face rejection or a setback.

Here are some positive affirmations for confidence from powerful women and men that to borrow as your own:

“One of the ways we can change the way we react to fear is to affirm the way we want to be,” says bestselling author and OWN TV host Iyanla Vanzant. Watch Iyanla's four affirmations:

Marie Forleo: “Clarity comes from action, not thought.”

Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Ava DuVernay: “I'm not going to continue knocking that old door that doesn't open for me. I'm going to create my own door and walk through that.”

Audre Lord: “I am deliberate and afraid of nothing.”

Lisa Nichols: “The truth is that no matter where you started out in life, you have a choice between scarcity and abundance.”

Oprah: “I can become what I choose to be.”

Lao Tzu: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”

Martha Beck: “No matter how difficult and painful it may be, nothing sounds as good to the soul as the truth.”

Maya Angelou: “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”

Muhammad Ali: “‘I am the greatest.' I said that even before I knew I was.”

Sharon Stone: “It's my experience that you really can't lose when you try the truth.”

Coco Chanel: “Success is most often achieved by those who do not know that failure is inevitable.”

Steve Jobs: “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something; your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.”

2. Give yourself a compliment on your appearance.

Every. Single. Day. Every morning when you’re getting ready, note one thing that is awesome about your appearance: Your pretty teeth. Long eyelashes. Shiny hair. Round booty. Lovely toes. Great style. Perfectly arched eyebrows.

3. Give yourself a compliment on YOURSELF every single day.

That you’re a fun mom. You killed the presentation. A good listener. A friendly neighbor. A thoughtful friend. A funny lunch companion. Make a mean roast chicken. Have an eye for color in home decor.

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4. Think of times you adored another person’s body, in all its human splendor, because you adored him.

His flabby tummy. Bald head. Love handles. Limp dick. Pock-marked skin. You and your human body are just as lovable, too.

5. Dress up and look your best every single day.

This should not take you less than 20 minutes, but will include pretty hair, makeup, and clothes you feel great in. If it takes more than 20 minutes, get a new hairstyle and check out some videos on quick makeup.

How to dress sexier and look super-attractive when overweight, from my gorgeous friend Marlena Stell, of Makeup Geek:

6. Get a makeover.

Sure, get your hair, makeup and wardrobe overhauled (if you can afford it), but cleanse your home and closet first! Rid your space of old things that remind you of old ways of thinking.

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7. Fake it till you make it.

Literally, pretend that you feel sexy and confident until you actually do.

Make eye contact with an attractive man, even if inside you are absolutely going to die a thousand painful deaths.

Strut into a meeting in which you are intimidated with your shoulders back and head held high.

Call a meeting with someone who scares the crap out of you.

Ask for the promotion as if you know you’ll get it.

Reach out to a guy on the dating site ignoring any nasty murmurs in your mind that suggest he is out of your league or will reject you.

Just go about your life as if you are the confident, sexy woman you want to be.

8. Note someone in your life who walks about as if they are confident and sexy all the time.

Fact: They are faking it at least some of the time, too.

When I was in college and finding my own sexuality, I read a book in the cafe/bookstore where I worked about ‘How to Make Man Crazy In Bed' or somesuch. In the forward, the author recounted how when her circle of girlfriends went out, one woman always got all the attention from men when.

The other women couldn’t figure it out — after all, their friend was heavy and not particularly pretty. So they asked her secret. “I know I’m not a natural beauty,” the woman said. “But before I walk into a bar or club, I tell myself: ‘You are the hottest woman in there.’ I believe it, and men then do, too.”

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9. Consider therapy.

Serious self-images are usually rooted in old trauma. Never be ashamed to get the help you need.

Therapy can help you get to the root of your lack of confidence — and turn it around. I’m a huge fan of online therapy, which is affordable, anonymous, and convenient since you connect with the counselor via text, phone or video. BetterHelp has an A+ BBB rating. Prices start at $65/week for unlimited messaging and weekly live sessions. Financial assistance available. Read about my experience with BetterHelp.

10. Just get out there already.

Thinking about dating after divorce and babies can be beyond daunting.

After I stopped nursing (a blissful period during which my round hips narrowed, my small tits swelled, and my acne-prone skin cleared and glowed), it has been all downhill for this bod.

A newly poofy stomach, C-section scar and boobs that would not stop lactating — all while my thighs grew increasingly gooey.

But once out on the dating scene, I got over it quickly.

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That I don’t look like Heidi Klum or Kim Kardashian (that butt, I mean, really) has zero to do with my ability to find really amazing sex (keep reading) and love.

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Your body has absolutely nothing to do with your ability find a man to adore you and enjoy mind-blowing sex.

No matter what said body may look like.

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11. Start self-care Sunday.

While this may not always be the case, Sunday is often a day when people don’t have a lot going on. Even if you choose a different day to dote on yourself, try to make it a weekly habit. Why? It helps you recharge and take on the rest of the week.

People define self-care differently, depending on what they need. In general, self-care is centered around taking a break from the demands of life and focusing on things that make you feel good.

That could mean spending a few hours at a spa, cooking a healthy meal, taking a walk, meditating, listening to a podcast, or even just going to bed on time — find activities that help you look, feel, and live better. 

Setting aside time for weekly care can improve your mental and physical health, productivity and overall well-being. It’s important to find what works best for you.

And even though making time for self care might be difficult at first, it’s a worthwhile pursuit — when you feel whole, you are at your best.

5 tips for Self-Care Sunday to refresh and recharge yourself

12. Make new friends.

Need a new (or bigger) circle? It’s good to surround yourself with people who share common interests, but it’s even better to find people who challenge you to become the best version of yourself.

And it doesn’t mean you have to abandon your current friends. It just means you are willing to be open to new relationships. 

Maybe you want to start jogging, riding a bike, or cooking gourmet meals. You can connect with others who want to do the same.

If you don’t know here to start, here are a few tips:

  • Try a friendship app like Patook or We3
  • Go to networking events
  • Find a club for a new hobby
  • Participate in girl’s night out events
  • Join single mom groups on Facebook
  • Invite a coworker out to lunch

Look for opportunities to be around new people. It’ll give you an opportunity to talk and learn more about people in your community.

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Wealthysinglemommy.com founder Emma Johnson is an award-winning business journalist, activist, author and expert. A former Associated Press reporter and MSN Money columnist, Emma has appeared on CNBC, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, NPR, TIME, The Doctors, Elle, O, The Oprah Magazine. Winner of Parents magazine’s “Best of the Web” and a New York Observer “Most Eligible New Yorker," her #1 bestseller, The Kickass Single Mom (Penguin), was a New York Post Must Read. As an expert on divorce and gender, Emma presented at the United Nations Summit for Gender Equality and multiple state legislature hearings. More about Emma's credentials.

30 Comments

I believed that how you looked or your weight did not matter until during sex my husband commented that we needed to do something about mt stomach. During sex and while I was on top really? Now we do not have sex I miss it but too much has happened that hurt me.

I’ll believe that men don’t care about us having a mum bod when the porn they use doesn’t predominately feature women who look like they have never carried a child let alone done it three or four times
Sure there’s amatier and bbw available but much of that is considered inferior or fetish . Look at the major porn stars and what they have in common , youth , slim , no
Stretch marks etc etc then look at the amount of time and money men invest into the porn industry . Only then will you will understand exactly how much men DO care

P.S. I’m a married mom, but I still love your content! Do you have any resources for newly minted moms who want to reconnect with their sexiness? I’d love to see more of that.

THANK YOU! This is exactly what I needed to read right now. I had a baby fourth months ago, and my appearance has changed a bit. I’m feeling a lot squishier and my hair is coming out in clumps. I needed a reminder that sexiness and chemistry comes from WITHIN. Instead of fretting over my looks, I’m going to work on my confidence and happiness instead. Besides, I’m still a solid 8.5 out of 10. Also, did you know that some women’s vaginas DO DOWN a size or two after labour? Let’s be real: I can have any man I want.

How does one feel sexy if your spouse has chased other women and then has constantly compared your body and performance to his ex wife and ex girlfriends? And then tells you that you’re weird for taking “too long” to have an orgasm? And has replaced you with porn??

You remind yourself that not you, or anybody else, should put up with that. Then you remind him that if HE were a better lover, it wouldn’t take you so long to get off.

Then, you kick his sorry ass to the curb! If he wants the kind of sex all his ex’s have him, he should go be with him.

Get yourself a good vibrator and get back all the orgasms he was too selfish to give you.

Lots of love to you! You are strong, beautiful and so totally worth it!

Weird to say this but my brother gave me some great advice. I used to be super shy and think no one would like me and then my brother told me, you can have almost any guy in any room. I was like, what?! Liar. But he said, no really, guys just want to be wanted. If you want someone, go for them. That advice turned out great for me. Waiting for the guy to make the first move, not so great.

As a woman who stayed waaay too ,long in an emotional and physicaly abusive marriage, I had to override “his” voice with my own opinions/voice……either that, or wither into nothingness. Once I became my own cheerleader, I also became my own best sex partner. The kind of sex I loved and craved as a horny teenager but now with bigger boobs and an appreciation for how well my body lubricates….lol. As an adult coming into her own, not only did I benefit from REALLY GREAT ORGASMS, I also really enjoyed exploring my own body (rather than always exploring someone else’s.) And yes, as me and my sexuality got “happier” I became more attractive to men. I now have terrific sex with different types of men. I don’t feel like I’m compromising or “putting out”. I have a mutually exclusive great time with men that respect me and my needs…..just as I respect myself and my needs as well as the men.

How did you convince yourself you’re worth it?? Read my post on the thread of this article for my story.

Awesome ! such a wonderful points you are shared , any one instance confidante on her self , such a nicely explained “SO, IF YOU’RE STRUGGLING WITH FEELING HOT AND SEXY, 9 THINGS YOU WILL DO TO FEEL CONFIDENT”. appreciate you miss EMMA JOHNSON , keep doing , All The Best.

Exercise. Get into the gym and lift the heaviest weights you can. Muscle burns more calories at a resting weight than fat does. As we age, we need to work harder to be beautiful and have a good body. I am 56 and 5’6″ and lift heavier weights than most women at my gym. I have a bikini photo posted in online dating… in one week, two thirty-somethings asked me to marry them in their first message! (yeah, I know, I know, but I get compliments like this all the time, and it makes me feel great!) Now, if I ate fast food and didn’t stop by the gym on my way home, I would not be getting these compliments and would not feel as good about myself.

I love numbers 5 & 7. For me I have found it really does all start in the head, the thoughts/beliefs must come before the feelings. It is probably different for each person but for me the feelings come after I have re-routed my thoughts and acted on their lead, even if it’s blind trust. It blows my mind how people respond to this.. Powerful stuff.

Excellent question posed by your reader and fantastic list to get her started.

As a recovering self-loathing addict I can certainly speak to her questions as well. Emma, you’re right! You’ve got to speak to yourself, think to yourself, feel about yourself good things every single day. It doesn’t happen overnight either. It’s taken me years of practice and some days I still struggle. Clearly, no savant here.

I agree with your other readers that exercise and self care can be crucial to FEELING the way you want to feel. Yes, I said FEELING, not thinking, which is where the problem starts and ends. @daniellelaporte is a great source for teaching you to start with “How do you want to feel?” and then figuring out the steps that will help you achieve that. Any doing first starts with feeling and a particular intention. Do you want to lose 15lbs or feel better in your clothes?!

Ultimately, I agree with @GrittyBittySheWolf too. The true source of self love is deep within us. The outside doesn’t ultimately affect that. This internal self love is also cultivated through daily practice. It’s like a garden—you can’t water and seed it once a month or it will wither up and die. Sound familiar? The daily practice soon become habitual and as familiar and easy as brushing your teeth. The results are profound! There’s a wonderful book by Tal Ben Shahar called, “Happier” and it completely changed my perspective on my quest for self love.

One other quick note: one thing I do to stop that inner mean girl loop running inside your head…talk to myself as I would speak to my children. I have two daughters and I am constantly filling them up with compliments, inspiration and love for themselves and their gifts. Do I point out their cellulite and acne and mis-shapen nose? NO! I encourage them to see all that’s beautiful about them inside and out.

To self love! It is attainable.
xo

I don’t think this works if you want to CHANGE your physical appearance. If your happy with yourself, you won’t change. This article is for people who are not interested in changing their weight or health. If we really want change, we must admit the bad stuff. Self-nagging DOES work. There is something to be said about admitting somethings wrong to spark a new you. It’s a downward spiral to lie to yourself that you’re fat when you are especially when it slowly escalates to dangerous levels. The ones who lie to themselves one day look in the mirror and say: “My God! How did I get this big!” And no one who really cares about themselves, wants that.

I disagree. Sometimes you are struggling. Already fighting inner demons as well as outer one’s. But sometimes you spend so much time fighting the demons and taking care bof every one else and their.needs. add in an accident or illness and bsm.

Emma,
All great points! I’d like to add few things that I tell my clients:
1. There’s no such thing as perfect. Perfect is subjective and an ever-moving target that only serves to demoralize. Focus instead on your life goals and how your visual message says who you are and where you’re going. Your “story” is what attracts what/who you want in your life.
2. Studies show that women respond more deeply and enduringly to negative feedback than men. Once we are conscious of this, we can learn to let go of it. It’s one of those times where “think like a man” comes in handy.
3. Strong is the new sexy! Eat healthier foods, take supplements, and exercise to strengthen your body. Meditate or pray to strengthen your spirit. Read books or take classes to strengthen your mind. By attending to all three areas of our being, perceived flaws diminish and true beauty shines through.

Yes to all, especially exercise! Get the blood pumping, get those endorphins flowing. Working out is good for the mind, as well as the body. Find something you enjoy, whether it be lifting, Zumba, or even pole-dancing. You can make it as fun as you want. Enjoy the “me” time it gives you to just focus on you, and start toning your body in the process.

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