Love yourself unconditionally in the present.
Good health isn’t about fitting into a physical stereotype. Pop singer Kesha’s shocking confession about her battle with eating disorders in the current issue of Rolling Stone magazine got me thinking: Why are women doing this to themselves? As if it’s not enough that there is a war on women’s bodies in ads and fashion magazines that we analyse our bodies, go on starvation diets, binge and purge… and it’s not just women. Guys succumb to this psychological demon too.
I met an incredibly gorgeous, creative and spunky German girl on a recent holiday. She had that inner glow of someone who is beautiful in her mind and outer self. She is training to become a yoga teacher and holistic health practitioner. She ate right (lots of fresh fruits and salads) and sipped on coconut water everyday.
This girl was heavily into gym-based training before this and showed me pictures of enviable abs from that phase. I would never have guessed that someone so incredibly happy and carefree had suffered from anorexia. She confessed that she went a little extreme in order to fit in, and was reduced to skin and bones until she had to seek professional help.
Kesha’s account is as harrowing. It reads like a descent into paranoia.
“I really just thought I wasn’t supposed to eat food. And then if I ever did, I felt very ashamed, and I would make myself throw up because I’d think, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe I actually did that horrible thing. I’m so ashamed of myself because I don’t deserve to eat food,’ ” she admitted. Over time, she said, “I was slowly, slowly starving myself.”
It didn’t help that those around her were championing her weight loss.
“The worse I got and the sicker I got, the better a lot of people around me were saying that I looked. They would just be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, keep doing whatever you’re doing! You look so beautiful, so stunning.”
Even the mighty have fallen.
In this age of body shaming, there is more need than ever to accept and love your body with all its bulges and imperfections, assets and highlights. It’s not fashionable to be uncomfortable. If those high heels are digging into your sole, switch to wedges. If that lycra dress is making your skin itchy, put something in cotton on.
Talk to yourself
Change your self-talk about appearance from blame to gratitude, from shame to humility. Most women wouldn’t criticise their worst enemy the way they berate themselves. Notice the words about your appearance that go through your head as the day passes. Are they largely negative? Before going to bed, take a sheet of paper and make a list of all the things you like about yourself. For instance: ‘I like my teeth and smile’ and ‘I love the fact that I am flexible enough to touch my toes.’ Read these points every morning when you wake up and keep adding new self-compliments to the list.
Don’t compare bodies
Promise yourself today that you won’t participate in discussions where people’s bodies are discussed in an off-handed manner or in a way that puts you down. This applies to talk about dieting as well. When you compliment someone, appreciate that person’s qualities rather than comparing yourself to her. Comparing your outer self to a celebrity hot bod is asking for trouble. They have a host of trainers, coaches and experts for help in maintaining the way they look, and even then they have bad days and suffer from eating disorders.
Nourish your self
The intention that you put into an activity makes all the difference. Rather than going on a crash diet, or working out with the sole intention of fat-burning, nourish your body with whole fruits and vegetables, do relaxing yoga and hit the gym to make your body stronger and more flexible.
If you think the goal of fitness is to look “perfect”, you are so wrong! Fitness influencer Molly’s Instagram post busts this skewed mindset. Read the words till the end.
[ MORE THAN THE EYE CAN SEE ] Why should you exercise and eat healthy? I bet what IMMEDIATELY pops into your mind is: lose weight, look a certain way, fit into a certain size, meet the “beauty standards” of society, get abs, get a butt, get _________. Well I got news for ya’ll, fitness IS NOT LINEAR. You may achieve a goal but then guess what it is VERY NORMAL to have life happen and digress a bit or change your approach and in turn have a fluctuation in your appearance, weight, and size. BUT guess what life is not about getting to the finish line, actually IT IS NOT A RACE it is you’re quality of life. There is NO ENDPOINT to living a healthy LIFESTYLE. And by fixating on the ever changing societal values that dictate your perception of self worth it will leave you grasping at air. SO WHAT SHOULD MOTIVATE YOU!? The value of regular exercise goes FAR BEYOND aesthetics, frankly when you’re doing it right the aesthetics are a BYPRODUCT NOT the principle of what gauges your success. AND aesthetics can be deceiving because people with bomb-diggity aesthetics may actually be DAMAGING their bodies on a cellular level. IT IS ALL ABOUT BALANCE. Overtraining, under nourishing, and not adequately recovering can do more harm than good to our bodies by causes chronic systemic inflammation which triggers elevated levels of cortisol (the nasty stress hormone) and detrimentally impact your immune system, metabolism, and potentially can INCREASE the storage of visceral adipose (fat) tissue NOT on the outside but around your organs. Plus overtraining can actually result in LOSS of strength and lean muscle mass. BUT choosing a sedentary lifestyle can have long term detrimental consequences as well… it increase your risk of a multitude of chronic disease, elevated blood pressure, insulin resistance, fatigue, depression, low energy, decreased bone density, and many other concerns. SO WHAT IS THE ANSWER?! Every-BODY responds differently to training approaches but a good place to start is to work to incorporate 150 MINS of intentional movement (aka exercise) PER WEEK. It does NOT require a gym membership, this includes ANY form of physical activity [taking the stairs, housework,
Build a relationship with your body
Pamper it. Get a massage, paint your nails or soak up in the tub with bath salts. Understand what makes you tick and what puts you off to truly be comfortable in your skin.
Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and accept your body for all that it is capable of doing. At the risk of pontificating, your body is your temple and it’s a privilege to take care of it.
What lifestyle changes are YOU making for a positive body image? Share your experience and perhaps it might help others who are struggling with body confidence.