11/02/2016 06:20 GMT | Updated 10/02/2017 05:12 GMT

Valentines 14 Day Challenge: Declare a Truce on Self-Sabotage

In the spirit of Valentines, why don't we start being kinder to ourselves?

How much do you love your body? According to a survey of 5,000 British women by a British magazine, only 3% of women in the UK are happy with their bodies. This implies that a staggering 97% of us feel unhappy or indifferent about our bodies.

We often become our own worst enemies by sabotaging our very best efforts to eat healthily and feel better about ourselves. This little voice inside our heads has a lot to answer for. This inner-critic can broadcast all kinds of messages, and they are often mostly negative.

Perhaps yours says: "It has been such a tough day, of course you deserve double chocolate ice cream with a biscuit on top."

Or maybe it is more critical: "You always fail at healthy plans, why is this any different?"

The inner-critic can escalate a small slip-up such as eating one chocolate biscuit to be a justification for wolfing the entire packet, or delaying the healthy eating plan "until next Monday". The worst part of hearing this voice is that we generally believe every word it tells us.

Here is a my suggestion for 14 day challenge to tame the inner-critic, and to appreciate and even love our bodies a little more:

Day one to two

Start by taking a couple of days to listen to the messages your inner-critic is feeding you. What is the language? Is it critical and judgmental? You could write some of the criticisms down and rate them 1-10 on how much you believe them to be true.

I'm guessing that you are going to be surprised that most of the judgments are only 3-4's out of 10. It can be confronting to hear these messages. However, tuning in and listening is the first step to changing the language of how we speak to ourselves. It is much easier to ignore that inner-critic when we understand that it is not speaking the truth.

Days three to 14

Continue to be aware of the saboteur voice and do at least three of the following every day:

  • Cook a healthy meal and savour every mouthful. Notice how well you digest the food and feel better for eating it.
  • Make one healthy upgrade every day. If you would normally reach for chocolate, have a few nuts instead. Swap biscuits with fruit. Halve the sugar in your tea.
  • Start drowning out the inner-critic with positive affirmations. If "I love myself" is too difficult, it could be as simple as "I'm okay as I am". Stick a post-it note on your bathroom mirror and repeat every time you brush your teeth.
  • Have a non-food-related treat. It could be going for walk, or reading a great book, having a massage or a facial, getting your hair cut. It is time just for you.
  • Smile at yourself in the mirror.
  • Stop torturing yourself with the bathroom scales every day! Put them away or limit to once a week.

I'd love to hear how you get on with the challenge in the comments section below.