These techniques changed our lives

March 24,2020

There’s one single sentence that’s had the biggest effect on my body confidence:

“I am my body’s best friend.”

A few years ago, I had been thinking critical thoughts about my body, when all of a sudden, that thought randomly popped into my head. 

And it stopped me in my tracks.

It dawned on me that my body didn’t have any way of defending herself from the cruel thoughts I had been thinking about her. 

She was under attack, but she couldn’t do anything to stand up for herself. And she didn’t have a protector. No one had her back. 

And then it hit me:

I was supposed to be that person. 

I was supposed to protect, nurture, and take care of my body.

No one else was going to do that for me. 

I was the only one.

Up until that point, I’d heard people talk about having a relationship with your body and being kind to it. 

But I’d never phrased it in that exact way before – I am my body’s best friend. 

Now, I use that one sentence all the time.

I say it when I catch myself being critical of my body. I repeat it to myself before I do something kind for my body. I talk to my body, and tell her that I’m her best friend and I’ve got her back!

I hope thinking about yourself as your body’s best friend is as powerful for you as it has been for me, but I also know that body confidence is deeply personal, and what works for one person won’t necessarily work for another. 

So today, Xander, Jenny, Indira and I are all sharing our favorite tools for developing body confidence!

Vanessa’s Favorite Body Confidence Tools

#1 – Be your body’s best friend

If your body truly was your best friend, how might you take care of him/her/them? What would you say to your body? How would you treat it? What would your day-to-day interactions be like?

If this feels tricky, think about your real-life best friend, and how you treat them! What do you do to be a good friend? And how can you turn all of those qualities around to use with yourself?

This can be especially important right now if you find yourself isolated from friends and family due to COVID-19, because you’re not alone – you’ve got a best friend with you at all times!

#2 – Do new things with your body

You know how you always hear the advice to “spice things up” in the bedroom with a long-term partner?

The same sort of advice applies to your body!

When you challenge your body to do something new, something outside of your comfort zone, you get to see your body in a new light. You get to appreciate what it’s capable of.

Lately, I’ve been experimenting with intuitive eating. I try to pay really close attention to what my body actually wants to eat, and what it feels like to listen to those signals. I’ve never done anything like this before, and it has stirred up so much fascination about my own body!

#3 – Be grateful for your body

Our bodies are truly incredible. They do so many things without any conscious effort from us.

Breathing is a perfect example. How freaking cool is it that our bodies can just breathe, without us having to make any effort?

Every day, I thank my body for what it does for me. I thank it for carrying me through my day, enjoying the foods I feed it, and bringing me pleasure. 

Xander’s Favorite Body Confidence Tools

I finally developed a relationship with my body (and confidence in it) via surfing!

I started surfing as a young teen, but gave it up when I went to University because I was a good 2-3 hour drive from the beach.

After school, I started a stressful consulting career, and told myself there’d never be time to go to the beach anyway.

Once I finally got out of the corporate grind and moved to LA, I started playing around with the idea of starting to surf again. I gave it a shot once or twice while on vacation, and had a seriously rude awakening around how out of shape I was – I could barely paddle out, let alone catch a wave!

Up to that point, I had a pretty disconnected relationship with my body. I was an insanely picky eater growing up, and severely (verging on unhealthy) underweight. I just couldn’t put on a pound if my life depended on it. Through a combination of my mom’s constant worrying about my weight and forcing me to see a personal trainer, I developed a sense of powerlessness over my ability to change my body, and an absolute hatred of the gym.

Fortunately I have a good friend who lives a block away from me who kept encouraging me to just come surfing with him. So last summer I took the plunge and bought a board, figuring I might be able to surf once every week or two – if my body would allow it.

After having a few grueling but energizing surf sessions, I wrote a goal down in my journal: “work out 2x/week, surf 1x/week (stretch goal 2x/week)”. 

I’ve never been one for journaling or writing down goals, but something about putting that pen to paper made it feel so much more real for me. It was something I had committed to so I had to follow through.

Each time I surfed after that, I felt a little stronger, and more in touch with my body. 

Pretty soon I had a huge mindset shift – it wasn’t about whether my body would allow me to surf once or twice a week, it was about me loving my body and giving it the strength to surf everyday. 

As I started developing that nurturing relationship with my body, I realized I could even start challenging it to go beyond my comfort limits, and it would answer the call every time

Now I go surfing at least 3 times a week (often more). I’ve worked with a trainer who has helped me adjust my form, posture, and strengthen certain muscles that have unleashed my ability to surf whenever I want. I don’t have 6-pack abs, but I know that I’m capable of achieving anything I want in the water, and that gives me so much confidence and appreciation for my body!

Jenny’s Favorite Body Confidence Tools

One of my favorite practices for improving body confidence is yoga. So much so, that I recently completed my 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training.

I think when people imagine themselves trying yoga, they assume they need to be long, lean, and able to do full backbends or the splits. They may feel so put-off or intimidated by this idea, that they don’t ever try!

It can be intimidating walking into your first class of anything new, but the reality is that yoga is the PERFECT environment to try something you’ve never done before! 

Yoga is all about meeting yourself exactly as you are. In each pose, one should strive for both sukha and sthira, or steadiness and ease in a pose. 

If your breathing becomes too fast or constricted, if you are forcing your body into a position it doesn’t like, or if you are pushing, pushing, pushing from a place of ego, you are NOT practicing yoga!

Some days, you may feel limber and strong. 

Some days, the same poses that you normally practice will feel out of your grasp. 

All of this is normal and celebrated in yoga. 

If you simply don’t feel like doing a certain pose, you don’t have to! Every pose and every class is merely an invitation. You get to take what you want, and leave what you don’t.

This flexibility in attitude completely changed the way I viewed my body and gave it grace. 

After so many years of forcing myself to do forms of exercise I didn’t really enjoy (usually for the sake of a “better body”), being able to decide how I wanted to move was incredibly freeing. 

I’ve built such an appreciation for my body’s abilities, but also for the beauty in taking it easy when I want to.

Indira’s Favorite Body Confidence Tools

I feel confident in my own skin when I’m running. Running makes me feel incredibly strong and beautiful.

Maybe it’s the runner’s high I experience but when I step into my identity as a runner I feel unstoppable and full of joy and very few things (besides a badass haircut) make me feel more confident!

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HI THERE!

I'm Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist and writer specializing in helping you have more fun in the bedroom.

I have bachelor’s degrees in human sexuality and sociology from Brown University, and a master’s degree in counseling psychology from the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a licensed psychotherapist. I’ve been working in the sex therapy field since 2002 and have been featured by The New York Times, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, and many more.

If you’re interested in improving your sex life, you can work with me via my online courses or personal coaching sessions. I look forward to supporting you in creating the sex life you’ve always wanted!