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As women, we are often told to love our bodies.

Indeed, it’s become something of a mantra. While we all know we should love our bodies, actually doing so is easier said than done. Like many women, I am my own worst critic. Even though I consider myself to have a healthy, realistic body image, I am not prone from picking myself apart. (For example, just the other day I was standing before the mirror and wondering what on earth I was thinking when I decided to wear a pair of cropped leggings that showed off my “fat” calves.)

While the tips below cannot guarantee permanent silence of that inner critic, they can nonetheless help us put us on the right path of self-love. Here are 4 that I have found to be especially helpful.

1.  Stop comparing yourself to others including your friends.
No one has a perfect body. Most of us are aware that nearly every glossy photo that we see of celebrities has been heavily Photoshopped or had some sort of alteration. However, the people I have tended to compare myself to the most have been women I have actually known. Personally, I think this is even worse for our self-esteem. The fact is, every body is different. Wishing for something we don’t have and never will have is an exercise in futility.

2. Focus on what your body can do rather than what it cannot.
Every body-even those that are physically disabled are capable of something. If you are blessed with good health, then you already have more than many people in the world. We don’t have to be world-class athletes to be in awe of our bodies. Just think of all your body does for you every day, and you’ll be in awe as well.

3. Think of your body as an individual.
Most of us would never tell a friend or loved one that they are worthless, not good enough, etc. but have no problems saying that about our bodies. Why is that? Self-loathing has a terrible effect on our self-image. No one I know actively choses to feel miserable. Think of this the next time that inner critic comes up.

Body love is challenge for many of us, but there are real, practical ways to achieve it. Try these tips for yourself. At the very least, you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain.

Article Written by Kimberly Lo, a writer a yoga instructor at Common ground healing arts and a proud mom.  Kimberly also writes for Elephant Journal frequently.

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