17 Healthy Ways to Build Body Confidence

Does this sound familiar?

It’s Saturday morning. You’re at home, un-showered in your pjs, scrolling through Instagram. You laugh at some cute baby pics and a cat video, and then comes what seems like an endless string of photos of people with ultra-toned bodies doing yoga on the beach, posing last night in their new outfit, or modeling while on vacation.

Suddenly, what was a cozy morning has turned into a sinking feeling inside like your body (and life) don’t measure up.

If you’re nodding your head, you’re not alone. Research shows that self-esteem is negatively impacted the longer you spend on social media.

We live in a very body-conscious society. There are comparisons everywhere if we choose to measure ourselves against them.

Issues with body confidence exist far beyond social media. Though these scrolling sessions certainly seem to highlight them.

As someone who’s been on a rollercoaster ride learning to love and accept my body, I can tell you there are healthy ways to go about building more confidence, or there are Band-Aid fixes that make things worse in the long run.

I’ve compiled some of the healthy ways that helped me and my clients build a healthier body image. If you’re looking for more, I teach a 2-month body-love course called Eats & Asana. Our next session is coming up soon, get on the waitlist now.

Healthy Ways to Build Body Confidence – so you can feel good about yourself from the inside out.

  1. Root your confidence in who you are, not how you look. When you recognize that there’s a lot more to love about you than just your body, there won’t be so much pressure to look perfect. You’ll be able to be social and have fun with confidence because you know that having your hair out of place doesn’t make or break who you are or how others see you.
  2. Stop comparing yourself to others. Our bodies aren’t a competition. Even if they were, there’s no way anyone could “win” because we’re all so unique and different. Focus on yourself and what food, exercise and clothes work for you and let everyone else do their own thing. When you do find yourself comparing (we’re human, it happens) use it as an opportunity to be inspired by something you like, rather than feeling jealous and putting yourself or the other person down.
  3. Practice gratitude for your body. This goes deeper than appearance. Our bodies are walking miracles and we rarely stop to recognize that. Create a gratitude practice where you intentionally look for all the awesome things your body allows you to do (play sports, have a baby, help your friends, give hugs, heal, etc.). You’ll feel pretty awesome once you recognize all of the advantages your body affords you, most of which have nothing to do with how it looks.
  4. Meditate to calm your mind and connect with yourself. Strengthening the connection with yourself on the inside to focus less on your appearance. It will also help you build the mental muscles to direct your thoughts where you want them to go.
  5. Move your body in a way that feels good to you. There are so many ways to appreciate what your body can do, rather than how it looks. Find an activity you like (lifting weights, rock climbing, yoga) and focus on developing a skill with your body, instead of on manipulating its appearance through exercise. There’s a lot of freedom here and it will give you many more reasons to build your confidence.
  6. Stand up straight. Posture affects mood and reflects how you think about yourself. Lift your chin up, pull your shoulders back and feel the difference this instantly makes in your self-confidence.
  7. Talk to yourself like you’d talk to your best friend. Speaking to yourself with kindness and compassion is one of the quickest ways to build your confidence. You go from having an internal enemy to an internal ally. The effects of this are powerful.
  8. Make a list of things you love about your body. Start with the ones that come most naturally. Think about everything your body can do (even on the inside). Consider everything your body has helped you do in the past. This list will never be complete, keep adding to it over time.
  9. Spend less time on social media, and more time doing things that make you feel good.
  10. Talk about it/seek help. If you’re feeling consumed by thoughts about your weight, shape and appearance, talking with someone can help take some of the internal pressure off. Start by opening up to a friend or family member. You might eventually need to talk with a coach or counsellor who has the expertise to help you out.
  11. Eat well. Believe it or not the voice of internal criticism has good intentions. It gets louder when you’re not fueling yourself properly to warn you that you’re out of alignment. When you eat good quality, nourishing food that agrees with your body, this voice becomes quiet or it might even go away.
  12. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit and only shop for the size you are now. Using clothes as “motivation” works the opposite way you want it to. If you want to look and feel your best, wear clothes that make you feel confident right now, as you are. Don’t wait for a time in the future, when you can feel good about yourself today.
  13. Spend time with people who are kind to you and to themselves. Role models are everywhere. Find people who speak kindly about themselves. Witness their relationship with themselves and you’ll see that it’s ok to feel good about your body and to treat yourself with respect.
  14. Read books that help you build yourself up. This can be any type of book that makes you feel better than when you picked it up. Part of building confidence in your body is allowing yourself to feel the way you want to feel more often than not. Books are a great way to bring up those positive feelings.
  15. Put away magazines. Unfollow social accounts that make you feel icky. You are the guard at the gates of your mind. Choose wisely what you’ll allow inside.
  16. Avoid TV shows where characters talk down to themselves or diet to change their appearance. You don’t need any more role models on how to have unhealthy body image.
  17. Say nice things about yourself. Words are powerful and your body is always listening. This is one time to take the advice “say something nice or don’t say anything at all.” It will help you build the mental muscle of dismissing negative thoughts and planting positive ones instead.

A note on change

There are plenty of ways to get started building more confidence in your body. One thing to note is that self-improvement and self-love aren’t mutually exclusive. It’s ok to love yourself and to want change for how you look or feel in your body.

It’s important to make changes in healthy way, from a place of healthy motivation. Check in with yourself and your desire to make changes. If you can do things (like exercise, eat healthy meals, etc.) from a place of self-love, then go for it and your confidence and trust in yourself will grow. If you’re motivated because you don’t like the way you are right now, that’s a good indicator to use these body-confidence tips before trying to make changes.

How to Build Your Self-Confidence

If you’ve been around for a few decades you probably know that confidence is something that comes easier for some than it does for others. The tricky thing though, is that you can’t always tell who it comes naturally for.

We live in a culture that prides itself on knowing the answers, being productive, and forging ahead even in uncertain times. That leaves little room for second-guessing, being indecisive, or wondering if someone else would be better suited to your leadership position. And yet, these are the feelings that come up naturally for many of us.

I recently read a revealing profile in the New Yorker in which Sheryl Sandberg admits she’s felt like a fraud all her life.

Sheryl is a two-time NY Times Best-Selling author with the role as COO of Facebook on her resume, and 270K Twitter followers. If she’s not confident in herself what does that say about the rest of us?

Where does confidence come from?

I suppose what that says about those of us who haven’t worked in leadership at a Fortune 500 company, is that we have more in common with the perceived elite than we think.

Whether that’s refreshing is up to you.

Personally, I find myself wondering if she feels that way because she’s a woman? There’s something to be said for coming up in a patriarchal culture that plants nearly invisible seeds of doubt in women’s minds through the media, political and corporate structures (more on that another day). Regardless of gender, if our roles, accolades and success don’t make us confident in ourselves, what does?

Could it be that confidence is a ruse? As in, it starts out as a mindset you create for yourself and then you live into it until it feels real? The affirmations and positive self-talk of the personal development world would like to have us think that.

While it’s true that mindset is a powerful way to impact the nervous system (which governs our experience of reality), it seems there’s more to the story. There’s a transparency to genuine confidence which makes it harder to feign and easier to learn.

After all, if you’re reading this you probably want to feel confident, not just outwardly look it to others.

The bottom line is that self-confidence comes from the inside. It’s partly based on your mindset but there’s another important piece: connecting with and trusting yourself.

Confidence can be learned

The good news in all of this is that confidence isn’t something you’re born with (or without). It’s not something that’s bestowed upon you. You have control over your level of confidence and it starts with connecting to yourself.

The more years I spend coaching and doing my own personal development, the more I can see that many desired states all lead back to the same practices. It shouldn’t come as a surprise then, that slowing down, making time for reflection, mindfulness practices, yoga, and meditation are a few central practices that can help you create a deeper connection with yourself and thus improve your confidence.

Cultivating a strong relationship with yourself does a few things that will get you ahead: first, it allows you to discern your inner voice from outside influences. Second, it enables you to take an honest look at your behaviours, your thoughts and fears and your motivations so you can critically assess your strengths and weaknesses. Lastly, it creates a foundation for self-trust so you’re more likely to act according to your intuition and know (trust) in your ability to make decisions, follow through and be resourceful when facing a challenge.

Without building this inner muscle (of listening to and trusting yourself) you’re much more likely to be wrapped up in what other people think or approve of, instead of trusting yourself. If you’ve ever tried to make an important decision by trying to appease multiple viewpoints, you know it’s extremely difficult to do.

Confidence Spoilers

There are plenty of things that get in the way of experiencing confidence. Here’s a good list to look through to pinpoint some of the things that might be holding you back:

  • Seeking approval from others
  • Trying to please others
  • Placing too much importance on things that don’t matter in the given situation
  • Personal insecurities (appearance, weight, clothes, etc.)
  • Giving too much credit to others’ voices
  • Not reflecting on past wins to reference your strengths
  • Not asking for help (thinking you should be able to do it alone)
  • Not recognizing your strength, talents, and abilities
  • Fears that aren’t based in reality

How to build your confidence:

Ready to have a boost in self-assurance? Here are actions you can take to build your confidence:

  1. Check your negative thoughts. Instead of letting negativity carry you away, return to the facts by asking yourself “is this true?”
  2. Have a trusted advisor you can talk things out with when you need to be reminded of your abilities.
  3. Set yourself up for success by preparing as much as possible. This will ease your nerves in the moment.
  4. Visualize your success. Rehearse the outcome you want in your mind until you can see yourself behaving the way you want to in the given situation.
  5. Reflect on times you’ve succeeded in the past. This gets your mind used to thinking of you as someone who succeeds.
  6. Use confident body language. Amy Cuddy has a great Ted Talk on this.
  7. Use meditation and mindful movement on a regular basis to connect to your body and strengthen your relationship with yourself.
  8. Make a point to learn from your mistakes. This will take some self-compassion, but you’re more likely to trust yourself if you feel like you’re improving as you move forward.
  9. Embrace optimism. Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you’re right. Remember, confidence has a lot to do with your mindset.
  10. Celebrate your successes. Big or small, take time to personally acknowledge your wins to reinforce the behaviour you want to see in yourself.
  11. Get to know your values. The more you understand yourself and what’s important to you, the easier it will be to make decisions with confidence.