When you look into a mirror, what do you see?
Do you love your body? Do you feel comfortable in your own skin?
Think about this, what makes you beautiful? And what makes you feel inadequate?
Is your body healthy? How about your mind?
The media talks about celebrities endlessly. They feed you all the gossips around their private lives, accompanied by photoshopped images. Hey look, she put on a stone after her divorce, she really has let herself go! And snide comments like… How the hell did she lose the baby weight in less than a month?
Then the porn industry constantly sexualises women and their bodies. They showcase unrealistic images of how ideal bodies means having big boobs and a tiny waist. Your skin should be flawless, silky smooth. Free of stretch marks. Not a single scar in sight.
In addition to all the twisted information, the diet and fitness industries encourage you to join the exclusive how-to-get-a-six-pack club and try their latest protein shakes. They tell you to slim down, eat clean and train hard every day. Losing weight is good. Abs are absolutely essential.
Inevitably, our minds are a bit wrapped and our ideas towards “healthy living” can sometimes be obscured – does it means having our 5-a-day? What does it really mean?
What do these industries have in common? They thrive on insecurities and comparisons. Together they make an absurd amount of money by telling people they’re not good enough.
So what could we do to feel better? How do we make peace with our bodies?
1. ACCEPT your flaws
You have a few rolls on your tummy when you sit down. So what? You have stretch marks and cellulite? So? How does that contribute to your personality? Look, it does not matter what your body looks like, and if you feel people are staring when you are walking down the street, well they can mind their own business. People who genuinely care about you cannot care less how much you weigh, or if you have a gap between your thighs.
More often than not, you are the one who is constantly criticising your body; you are the one who is standing in front of the mirror pointing out all the flaws. Yet you are the only person who can change how you perceive your own body.
2. LISTEN to your body
Yes, this does mean nourishing your body (and your mind). It is about giving yourself enough energy to participate in life and do more of what makes you happy. It is about enabling your brain to function well so you can think and concentrate. It is about giving your body enough fuel to get you from A to B, to run around, and to laugh until your stomach hurts.
This, however, does not mean you should stick to a particular diet, avoid certain food groups, or restrict to a certain number of calories. In other words, INTUITIVE EATING. Ideally we’d all be intuitive eaters – grabbing food whenever you feel hungry, and stopping when you are satisfied. You’d able to choose what you truly enjoy, and eat until you get enough of it, not simply stopping because you think you should.
3. Be HAPPY with what you have
You want to wear a crop top but you don’t have a flat stomach? Just put it on wear it like you mean business. You want to wear shorts but you feel your thighs are too chunky? Sod that and put them shorts on! Well, wear whatever you want and be proud of every inch of your body. You want to flaunt your curves? DO IT.
You don’t have to go on diets to get your “perfect body”. You don’t need to go to the gym every day to be “bikini-ready”. Your body is perfect enough as it is. Put on some bikinis and there you go.
Being content is knowing you are good enough. Bodies are not supposed to be “perfect”. Losing 5 pounds will not make you perfect. Wearing size 0 jeans does not make you a better person.
Beauty is not one-size-fits all. You are petite? You are beautiful. You are a size XXS? You are beautiful. You are a size 16? You are beautiful.
4. Be TRUTHFUL to yourself
“If you want to get in shape, just go to the gym and start eating healthily!”
Ew, no. There is nothing wrong with making an effort to live “a healthy lifestyle”, but ask yourself, what does “having abs” or “eating clean” mean to you? Have you gone for runs at 6 in the morning because you are addicted to the “high” afterwards? Have you skipped meals so you could fit into a figure-hugging dress?
It is a trap.
Be honest with yourself, and rethink what “being healthy” really is. Health is not a number, food alone does not lead to health conditions and diseases, and working out is not an instant answer to health either. Abusing your relationship with food, distrusting your hunger and mistreating your body are known causes of many physical (and mental) illnesses.
If moving your body around feels good to you, by all means go ahead; but if you ever feel exercising is something you HAVE TO do, drop it. The same goes with food. If you avoid sugar because it is “bad” and choose to have a salad because it is “good”, or if you feel you are obliged to stick to certain rules, then this, too, sounds fishy and probably is not a good idea.
5. Be GENTLE and KIND
Running around like a headless chicken is unlikely to get you anywhere. You cannot expect things to change overnight and that is fact. It is not about getting things right the first time around. It is not about seeing results. Be patient with yourself but NEVER ever lose hope – when you learn to believe in yourself, you will see a way out and get there eventually.
Ironically, sometimes SLOWING DOWN is what actually helps. Take a longer route, appreciate the scenery while on the way and work towards your goals. Allow yourself to take a step back and rest if needed.
It is about time you free yourself from self hatred. Don’t get mad at yourself if things are not going the way you want. Acknowledge your mistakes but forgive yourself.
Now, look into the mirror once more, and say “I like what I see, I am beautiful and I love my body.”