A woman holds up her hand and makes the 'peace sign' with her fingers.
Part of being happy is making peace with your body. Then focus on how body and spirit can be healthier and stronger together. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

Make this your healthiest year yet. How? By offering up a little r-e-s-p-e-c-t to your glorious self.

The first step you can take today to developing a healthier you is to let go of all the pressure to look a certain way.

Again, we repeat: Let it go.

It is one thing to want to be healthy and have a healthy weight, but quite another when we are constantly focused on what we do not like about ourselves.

Are you in an unhappy relationship with your body? Are you trying to follow an extreme diet plan without focusing on overall health and wellness? If this is the case, it may be time to re-evaluate your motives.

Finding the “why” behind what you are doing is an important goal to work toward. Ask yourself, “will meeting this weight goal accomplish what I am seeking?”

Start treating yourself with respect and loving—yes, loving—your body. Being unhappy about it will not change anything and you will lose time enjoying life.

Try these 7 steps to begin respecting your body:

  • Keep expectations realistic. Trying to fit into size 2 pants may not be possible for most people with their frame and build. You would never try to fit a size 10 foot into a size 6 shoe. Do not put unrealistic goals on yourself and accept those things that cannot be changed.
  • Meet your body’s basic needs. You can still take care of yourself while trying to reach a healthy weight and enjoy life along the way. It needs to be fed healthy foods, treated with dignity, dressed comfortably, touched affectionately, given enough rest and moved comfortably.
  • Buy clothes that fit you now, not waiting for your “goal weight.” Wearing tight or shabby clothes will only exacerbate your awareness of your unhappiness with your weight. Find clothes that fit you, feel good, and speak to your style.
  • Stop weighing yourself. The scale is a false indicator of success or failure. At least avoid the daily bathroom weigh-ins. No one wants a scale to tell them if a day will be good or bad.
  • Quit comparing yourself to others. Everyone comes from a different place with their health and weight and comparing your weight to others will only lead to false self-confidence or self-hatred.
  • Speak kindly to yourself. Would you have any friends if you talked to them the way you do to your body? For most, the answer would be no. Start finding things you like about your body and focus on that. Do you have arms that get your daily activities done? Then start with thankfulness for that.
  • Make time for you. Give yourself permission to go out and treat yourself with non-food rewards. Concerts, massages, movies or shopping. The options are endless. Enjoy yourself!