Fat, thin or somewhere in between, thank you for my body, I LOVE IT, well I’m trying to do so!
I think about my body a lot, I think about other people’s bodies a lot and no not in some kind of weird way! It’s my job to be thinking about bodies, how they are fed, how they are nourished, how they move, how they think, how they can be the best that they can be.
That’s the thing; we all want our bodies to allegedly be the best that they can be but …. on the whole only if it takes minimal work and … it tends to be more on a superficial level in that we seem to care more about how they look on the outside rather than how they feel on the inside. Ironically if you get your mind and body functioning well on the inside then the looking good on the outside will, in most cases, follow naturally.
I believe that we spend far too long worrying about what our bodies and what we look like, and too little time improving them from the inside out. We think we’re too fat, too thin, we don’t have a flat stomach, our breasts are too small/big, our bottom is too large, our skin is wrinkly, we have bingo wings and many more! I have wasted so much time being sad, being stressed, being unhappy, not enjoying life, all because of what I perceive my body looks like to myself and to others and that I am being judged on it. I have behaved as if that is what the total sum of me is, that my worth as a person is dependent upon what my body looks like and what clothes I can fit into and look good in and what people think of what I look like. I have questioned is this a ‘me’ thing, something personal to me that I have created in my own mind or is it something that is common to others as well and is it something that has been created as a result of external factors.
Being in the Industry I am in there is added pressure to ‘look’ a certain way which just serves to make me feel even more conscious and that I’m being judged purely on external appearance and I think that this applies to many other Fitness Professionals as well.
Images of the so called ‘perfect’ bodies are everywhere, unless you’ve been on a very long extended retreat in some remote part of the World, you definitely would have come across them, in magazines, on television, on social media, on billboards, in books, and the pressure to have a so-called ‘perfect’ body is relentless. Apparently there is something wrong with us, and a sense of shame attached, if we haven’t got the six-pack, perky full breasts, a firm butt, toned arms, smooth skin, minimum body fat, the list is endless and don’t get me started on being expected to be back in size ?? jeans 4 weeks after giving birth! And it’s not just women the pressure is on, more and more men are experiencing it as well and you see this with the increase in fat and weight loss adverts being targeted specifically at men.
It’s easy to say oh ignore the advertising, ignore the images, switch off from it, be yourself, much easier said than done but … it is, and can be, a vital first step in coming away from the pressures, that we allow to be placed on us externally and that we place on ourselves internally. Yes it can initially be an inspiration to get you started but then you’re only looking at something that you want to achieve externally, thinking that once you achieve it then you will be happy, you’ll have optimum health and well-being, and, all will be alright. But what is perfect anyway? Perfect is different for different people, different cultures, different countries – there was a post on social media this week that took a woman in a bikini and the image was adjusted dependent upon different countries’ idea of perfection – it was interesting to see the different ‘looks’ this image attained varying from lean and boyish to very curvaceous – some countries even adjusted the height!
Before and After Pictures
‘Perfect’ body images and before and after pictures are everywhere but these are often after quick fixes not long term changes and they don’t tell the true story behind the change – one of the most inspirational before and afters I have seen was of my friend Mairi Taylor who, this week, shared her before and after pictures over a period of 6 years, yes 6 years! Much more realistic, much more authentic and a much more sustainable journey that she’s been on to find out what does and doesn’t work for her to achieve optimum health and well-being for her as an individual. It will continue to change as she continues through life but she now possesses the skills and the knowledge to enable her to adapt and evolve and to keep well and healthy as she does so, because she has made the effort to find this out. Yes, she has tried the quick fixes, the cleanses, the detoxes, but ultimately what has worked for her has been by not following these, by being a detective as such and finding out what works for her own mind and body. As much as it has been about the nutrition and fitness, it’s also been about the sleep, the relaxing, keeping the brain active, meditating, walking, being in the moment, reading and learning to be true to herself and forging her own path in life.
In her own words ‘The photo on the left is me 6 years ago on a low fat diet, lots of processed healthy foods, calorie counting and lots of back to back cardio classes. Fast forward to April 2016 and I now enjoy lots of healthy fats, very few processed foods (don't get me wrong I enjoy a few now and then), no calorie counting just listening to my body and making sure my HEC is in check and lots of weight training, HITT, yoga, pilates and nature walking!’
Optimum Health and Well-Being
In order to achieve optimum health and well-being (if this is what you want to achieve) then you need to love and nourish your body from the inside out as well as from the outside in. We put so much pressure on achieving something that just isn’t attainable and we are missing one crucial factor, we are not being thankful for what our bodies actually do, and can do for us and how amazing they already are. We criticise our bodies, we hate on our bodies, we abuse our bodies, we do not appreciate or love them, unless of course we’ve lost a ton of weight and can look good in a bikini! Yes this can be perceived as an achievement but … it’s so sad that this is what people want to achieve thinking it will make them feel so much better when, more often than not, it won’t and will only add to the pressure they already feel to be ‘perfect’ body wise.
I can’t remember now where I read it but there was talk about babies and how fascinated they are with finding out about their bodies, not just with what they look like but with what they can do. Their sense of amazement at something as simple as their toes wriggling is wonderful to see, my grandson has recently started walking and the utter joy he is experiencing from doing so is heart-warming to see, he doesn’t care what people think he looks like, he doesn’t care that he sometimes falls over when doing so, he just gets up and carries on walking.
The human body and mind are amazing and we seem, as adults, to lose the appreciation of this and become complacent. We feel that we can abuse our minds and bodies in many different ways and then still expect them to behave as we’d like them too; we curse our body when it doesn’t recover quickly from binge eating, binge drinking, binge exercising and so on. We expect it to be okay on a few hours’ sleep, dehydration, lack of proper nourishment and the popping of pills, whether medicinal or not and then, if it isn’t okay, we continue with the abuse by having caffeine to keep us awake, taking tablets to help us sleep, to not be so stressed, to recover from illnesses, many of which have been caused by not treating it right in the first place!
Deciding to love my body
I personally think the first step to achieving optimum health and well-being is by first loving your body for what and where it is now, no matter how far from where you are you want to be. Be thankful that it has given you what it has and that it is has got you this far and, that is going to take you further, especially if you give it a lot of love, care and attention. I don’t want to be influenced by what other people think of my body or what they think it should look/be like.
I have decided to love my body, to give thanks for it every day for how amazing it actually is and I am making a commitment to treat it as such, I have been asking myself why on earth I would want to treat something that is so special in any other way. Over the years I have not been thankful for my body as I have, in many ways, abused it through excessive alcohol consumption, through smoking, through lack of sleep and proper care, through consumption of food and other types of drinks with no real nutritional value, through putting what I now know are toxic skincare products on it, through taking medications for illnesses when other changes would have been more beneficial, through heaping tons of stress and worry on it, and … through assuming it will always recover from any abuse I throw at it.
My body has, thankfully, so far put up with this abuse, it has fortunately been there for me through good and bad, it has seen me through my many years of life, it has carried and given birth to my two wonderful daughters, it has fought back from illness, it has helped me to pick myself up at times when I was at my lowest and close to thinking all hope had gone and from thinking that I couldn’t recover from the many different paths my mind had taken me down.
It has, though, also let me know when I have not been good to it, I’ve had far too many hangovers than I care to remember, I’ve had recurrent bad throats and flu type illnesses I feel as a result of on and off smoking for 20 years plus the unnecessary stress and worrying I put it through, I’ve gained fat, weight and inches on and off through the years, my mind has not always lived up to its full potential, my emotions have been all over the place – all of these being signs that my body has not always been happy with how I’ve been treating it.
Being good to my Body
I want to stop wasting energy on ‘worrying’ about what my body looks like, I want to enjoy life and not be so hard on myself, I don’t want to look in the mirror and see my perceived flaws, I want to be able to look at my body and think of the amazing things it has done for me and, hopefully, will continue to do so. I’ve made the decision to not seek out ‘diet’ books anymore, no more quick detoxes or quick fixes anymore. I am more interested in finding out what can nourish my mind and body best for optimum health and well-being which will, if required, lead to fat loss and inch loss – whilst I understand that some people relish these, in the long term they are a recipe for disaster and for continual weight and fat re-gain. I believe that if I am giving my body what it needs and requires then it will maintain a steady weight, it will keep enough fat in it for the functions for which fat is needed and it will lose the rest as it will let me know I have more than I need through bio feedback mechanisms and I will, I hope, by getting to know my body better, also just be able to know by how I feel and how I am functioning.
Perfect to me is basically achieving optimum health and well-being for you personally where you can meet everyday challenges with minimal stress, you can function as a happy and well-balanced person, your mind and body have minimal illness and, if they do suffer from this, they have the ability to manage and hopefully eradicate it.
I am in it for the long haul, I am prepared to make long term changes, many of which I have already started. I will adapt as my mind and body continue through their life journey, I know it’s not easy, at times it will, and has already been, bloody tough, but I want to love my body and I want it to be the best that it can be so I can have a long, healthy life where I can keep up with my great grandchildren, having been blessed with a grandson at my tender age already, I’m thinking I may well get to have great-grandchildren as well!!
Something to take away
So, hopefully you can take something from this blog with you and here are a few, quick steps to get you on the right track.
1:Start by thinking of all the good things your body does for you, make a list to remind you.
2:Be thankful for your body – it is the only one you have so appreciate it and look after it.
3:Find out what is good for your mind and body and do more whilst doing less of those things that are not so good!
4:Relax, rejuvenate, rest – your body needs time to just ‘be’ as much as it needs time to be ‘doing’ – have an equal time of both.
5:Nurture and nourish both your mind and body – read, take walks, spend time doing things that you enjoy. Ensure what you put into and onto your body is helping and enhancing it to grow, develop, rest and recover.
6:Seek out books, journals, blogs, podcasts and such like that help you to grow, develop and evolve.
7:Seek out people from whom you can learn and that you can also share with, people with positive energy that build you up, support, advice and guide and that are a source of inspiration.
8:Do something different every day that challenges you and/or makes you feel good about you.
Be prepared to be ‘in it’ for the long haul,
life is a journey not a destination.
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