Another day, another restriction imposed.
And for lots of people, this means more nights in, plonked in front of the telly, drinking and eating more than we should.
Our spirits aren’t the only thing that’s low at the moment, our body image is as well.
Which is why I thought it timely to deliver some easy ways to boost your self-confidence.
Those of you who remember a TV show I did called The Sex Inspectors, will also remember my co-presenter Michael Alvear.
He’s the author of Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat: one of the best books I’ve read about how to beat a bad body image.
Some of his thoughts are echoed here and I’d strongly recommend it for anyone struggling with body image.
WHAT NOT TO DO TO FIX A BROKEN BODY IMAGE
GO ON A DIET
Dieting won’t help your body image.
The reason why is that our perception of our body has little to do with what size we actually are. You can be an extra small in everything and still feel fat and unattractive.
Your weight isn’t the problem, it’s your perception of your weight.
I can vouch for that one.
I got the dress for my first wedding made for me by a designer. I wanted it to be completely individual, so you can imagine my fury when I went to his shop for a fitting and saw a dress on a dummy in his window that was exactly the same as mine except two or three sizes smaller.
I went storming in demanding to know why he’d created MY dress for someone else. The poor guy looked astonished.
“But I haven’t,” he said. “That IS your dress. I put it in the window as a surprise so you could admire it when you came in.”
“That is not my dress!” I fumed. “I’m twice the size of that!”
It wasn’t until he took the dummy out of the window and I put on the dress to see it fitted like a glove that I believed him.
In my defence, weddings turn even the calmest person into a frothing mess of paranoia. What I find astonishing now, remembering this and looking back, is that even after seeing ‘evidence’, it still didn’t change my thoughts about my body.
I’d seen a dummy that was exactly my body proportions and thought it was tiny but still didn’t think I was thin.
What an idiot!
The fact that we all overestimate our body size by 25 percent means we all have these moments.
The start of being kinder to ourselves is learning to believe our own eyes. You might hate your body but the reality is it’s likely to be at least a quarter less hateful than you think it is!
THINGS THAT WILL WORK TO BOOST SEXUAL SELF-ESTEEM
So, if changing your body won’t work, what does?
You might be surprised.
THE THREE WINNERS ARE…
Having sex improves body image because enjoyable sexual experiences make us feel better about our bodies. If our partner clearly enjoys making love to it, it can’t be that bad!
It’s a win-win-win scenario: the better you feel about your body, the better sex is. Which makes us want sex more, which in turn helps feed a better body image.
Here’s a lose-lose scenario.
UK research looked at the positions women who had low body confidence chose. The most favoured (40 per cent) was the missionary position. The position that made women least secure about their bodies? Woman on top.
While only 30 per cent of women regularly orgasm through intercourse (without extra clitoral stimulation), a lot of women who do, get there by being on top and in control.
Missionary is one of the least female friendly sex positions because adding extra stimulation isn’t easy and his penis isn’t angled towards the front vaginal wall.
Low body confidence makes women choose a position that’s almost guaranteed not to make them orgasm and ignore the position that’s most likely to.
Being great in bed
Improving your sexual skills will do far more for your self-image than going on a diet or telling yourself you’re beautiful, writes Alvear in his book.
Women who know they are sexually competent rarely experience body consciousness while they’re having sex – even if they do outside of the bedroom.
“Sexual competence gives you bedroom confidence. Bedroom confidence reduces appearance anxiety,” Alvear says.
It might sound like strange advice to tell you to exercise if you want to reconnect to your sexual self but it’s exactly what will help rekindle your desire for sex.
A fit, healthy body means you have good blood flow. And good blood flow always means better sex.
Exercise is good for everyone. Do it. If you hate going to the gym, head outside for a walk. How much did we all love walking outside during lockdown! Get back into the habit.
Or do a class at home. There are some brilliant free online fitness classes for all levels. Walk, go for a bike ride, go swimming, do Pilates, try heavy weights (really good for women), a self-defence class.
Your sex life will thank you.
The healthier you feel and the more energy you have, the better your mood. This has a knock on effect on your relationship and sex life.