"My mission is to empower people of all ages, races, and body sizes to embrace the body they have been given and learn to love themselves so they can live their dreams."
-Sarah Maria

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"Working with Sarah Maria has helped me to see that I am inherently loveable, beautiful, and valuable, no matter what. She has given me tools and techniques to break free from self-hatred and put love in its place. I am incredibly grateful for her and her incredible program. I recommend this book for anyone who wants to love her body and lover her life."

-Gabrielle Forleo, age twenty-six

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"Sarah Maria's teachings are an amazing gift. It's an outstanding program that has changed my life! I highly recommend Sarah Maria's program to anyone who wants to experience living their most successful, beautiful life."

-Mary Schmidt, age forty-five

 

"Sarah Maria has shared many tools with me. But much more important to me, and what has been most meaningful, has been her quality of compassion. It is a gift and is like a gentle, deep awakening. Sarah Maria is a remarkable individual who works with the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual person. I cannot thank her in a way that seems adequate"

-Leigh Ann Jones, age fifty-four

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Body Image & You

Subtleties of Body Loathing: 5 signs that you need to make peace with your body

So you are not anorexic, and you are not bulimic, and you don't binge eat most of the time, but do you love your body? According to the latest statistics, the answer is probably "no". And if you don't love your body, you may be stifling your creativity, draining your energy, and limiting your potential. You may be flirting subtly and not so subtly with body loathing, and if left unchecked, it can turn into a mountain of dissatisfaction.

The Statistics:
Most people do not have acute eating disorders, but 80-90% of adult women dislike their bodies. 15% of women say they would sacrifice more than five years of their lives to be thinner, while 24% say they would sacrifice up to three years of their life. These numbers are equally disconcerting for teen girls. 81% of 10-year-olds are afraid of being fat, and the number one wish of girls 11-17 years old is to lose weight.

The fact is that if you are not proactive in affirming your natural beauty and self-worth, chances are that you are reacting to a society that constantly says you are not good enough or at least that you should be better than you are. In a society that constantly promotes weight loss, wrinkle-free, and youthful beauty, it can be a Herculean task to feel good about yourself as you are. If you do not feel great about your own body, chances are your daughter will face a similar struggle. Fortunately, there are things you can do to improve your own body-acceptance as well as empower your children to fully accept themselves.

Signs that you may be suffering:
There are a number of signs that you may be suffering from body loathing. If you engage in the following activities, you may not be fully in love with your fabulous body.

Do you:

  • Avoid looking in mirrors?
  • When you look in the mirror, obsess about a particular body part or perceived flaw?
  • Dread trying on clothes?
  • Become depressed after trying on clothes?
  • Experience anxiety about your jeans feeling tight?
  • Avoid bathing suits or shorts because of body dissatisfaction?
  • Worry regularly about gaining weight?
  • Feel uncomfortable being naked and feel like you need to ?hide??
  • Become self-conscious when your lover caresses certain parts of your body?
  • Suck in your stomach when you see your reflection in a window?
  • Beat yourself up if you eat too much at one meal?

Many of these behaviors are considered "normal" for women in today's culture. You may have these experiences multiple times every day. What you may not realize is the negative effect that this is having on your well-being.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence explaining how our thoughts and emotions influence our physiology. When we think negative thoughts or experience negative emotions, there is a direct impact on our psychophysiology. This is especially true when the negative thoughts and emotions are directed toward ourselves. Whenever we think negative thoughts about ourselves, we are affirming the notion that we are not good enough as we are. The more we believe we are not good enough, the worse we feel. The worse we feel, the less energy we have and the less effective we can be in every area of our lives. Our vibrancy, enthusiasm, and creativity, slowly get siphoned away. Instead being engaged in the world to make a difference, our talents become co-opted by negative body thoughts. Conversely, when we feel great about ourselves, we can accomplish the miraculous and live extraordinary lives. When we love and accept ourselves fully, we become capable of feats we never even believed were possible. The better we feel about our bodies, the more we are willing to love and accept ourselves fully, the greater our ability to create and live the life of our dreams.

Tips for overcoming body loathing and unleashing the power of your potential:

  • Cultivate gratitude: Every day, come up with a list of 5 things that you are grateful for about yourself. Gratitude is a potent force that can transform your negative outlook into a positive one.
  • Be conscious about your thoughts: when you catch yourself thinking a negative body thought, choose not to listen to it.
  • Re-populate your thinking: when you get rid of a negative body thought, come up with something positive to say to yourself instead
  • Focus on noticing the beauty in everyone you see. As you break free from the hypnosis of social conditioning you will find beauty in yourself and everyone around you.
  • Learn to meditate: meditation will help you break free from habitual thought patterns and programmed responses

Again, be proactive in affirming yourself. Don't let society determine your self-worth. Instead, set a new standard for beauty.

For Parents:
If you are a parent, your subtle body loathing can undermine your child?s ability to develop a healthy body image. Fortunately there are a number of things that you can do to help your child develop a healthy body image:

  • Become an example: When you improve your own body image and eliminate negative body-talk, this will dramatically help your child.
  • Discuss the concept of beauty with your child - teach them to recognize beauty in people of all different shapes, sizes, ages, and ethnicities
  • Encourage healthy lifestyle choices, but avoid suggesting that your child should look a specific way or be a certain weight or size
  • If your child is exposed to beauty magazines and television shows, make sure you talk about body image. Let them know that the images in magazines aren't real; they have been touched-up and air-brushed.
  • Let your child know that you love her exactly how she is, no matter what
  • Teach your child to be grateful for exactly who she is. If you are religious, you can teach her the following prayer: ?Thank you God for making me just the way I am.? If you are not religious, you can simply teach her to repeat this phrase to herself, acknowledging all the great characteristics she has, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

For more information on body image, eating disorders, and personal empowerment please visit Sarah Maria's web site at www.breakfreebeauty.com.

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