I write to share my struggles and how I’ve learnt to love my life more than my body. If how you feel about your body defines how you feel about yourself, then I hope my experience can help. We may never have the perfect body (sorry to burst your bubble), but by changing what we focus on, by not restricting what we eat, by becoming healthy and strong and living a fulfilled life, then our body woes disappear and we create greater meaning out of life.
Yes! I have body image hangups too!
So here I am at 49 years of age relearning how to feel great about myself. You see, I’ve spent a lifetime as a world class figure athlete and now well I’m no longer a lean, mean machine. I’m kinda smart, I have a wonderful partner, great kids (well most of the time), my own business and life is good. So seriously what’s the deal with body image hangups!!!
The struggle has been all too real. Goodness at times I have actually wondered if I’d ever be friends with my body again. I have felt as if it has betrayed me. For years I showcased 6 pack abs, rounded shoulders and a perky butt. Now… I have bits that wobble!
Why do we dislike our bodies so much?
It has always made me sad that most of the women I coach dislike their bodies. Why is it the norm to find fault with our miraculous bodies?
I guess I get where it all comes from. We are living in a culture where we are inundated with images of perfect bodies, and I know I sadly lived that ideal. For years I believed that to be happy, to be successful, to be liked I had to constantly have a sculpted body. Which is just so far from the truth!
Our diet culture is destroying our happiness
We have become an era of women so caught up in losing weight that this alone seems to define our existence? Really? Sadly true, and for so many years that was my existence too. But I’ve come out the other side – and we can be happy, healthy, fulfilled, present, and feel good about ourselves too. But by obsessing about our bodies, by restricting what we eat, by overtraining – we will never get there. This is why I’m dedicated to teaching about a more liberated way to eat and think and live.
But, to be honest it’s been a really hard journey for me after retiring from figure competing. It’s been about acceptance, appreciation, balance and finding my value beyond a tight torso, guns and buns. Many times I’ve fallen back either into diet culture or self-criticism – and this has gotten me nowhere. Today I share a greater and it’s a beautiful place.
This is what I want to share.
THE GOAL IS NOT NECESSARILY TO LOVE YOUR BODY – THIS IS WHAT I THOUGHT I HAD TO DO – BUT THE GOAL INSTEAD IS ABOUT LOVING YOUR LIFE –
We will never have perfect bodies so whilst that remains our goal and focus it will always remain unattainable and therefore always set us up for misery. Instead it’s time we accept our bodies in order to free our minds to love our life. We love our body by caring for it and giving it what its needs. But we can be free to love our life when our bodies no longer become our focus.
Ofcourse self-improvement is healthy and noble
Firstly, I want to make it clear … there is nothing wrong with seeking self-improvement, why as a health and body coach I’m dedicated to helping people achieve a better body (along with greater health, a happier life and a more balanced mindset). In fact I believe it is a very noble pursuit. But for success and happiness, we need to change our thinking and during this process focus on our strengths not our weaknesses.
The more we find fault with our bodies the more we believe our own self-depreciation. And nothing good can come from this place.
Dieting, Restriction and Self-condemnation will set you up for miserable existence
I do not think you can truly live freely, happily or healthily if you’re constantly miserable about how you look. This negative thinking contaminates every part of your life, and actually slows down fat loss processes and halts metabolism. It impacts the clothes you wear, your feelings of self-worth and acceptance, your happiness, relationships and even sex life
For all those years, when all I thought about was my physical body, I was not living life. Life was all about dieting, disordered eating, fasting, cutting carbs and over exercising. A whole lot of restriction, deprivation and self-condemnation became my norm. It doesn’t have to be this way.
I feel sad when I look back and think of all those moments I was not fully present as my mind was consumed with what and how much I should be eating. I was so focused on fitting in cardio, counting my calories that I didn’t have room to nurture quality relationships, engage with my creativity, or dive into the conversations, and the experiences of what was in present in front of me.
And the magic rests with what we focus on
I’ve learnt that happiness and joy comes from how I feel about myself as a whole, not just my body. And the magic. When I feel good about myself, my body responds without effort. To be honest I was 100x more miserable, stressed and exhausted when my body was in perfect shape. Did I like how I looked better then – yes sure I did, but in all truthfulness I would not exchange my contented, full, exciting life now with the regimented life that existed around food rules and exercise obsessiveness.
When I spent my time micromanaging my body fat, I had little time to live my life well and little time to let my body do its thing. I now put more time and energy into things that matter the most, things that nurture my soul, things that energise me, things that make me realise my self worth, that the number on the scale has become a less valuable indicator of how I feel about myself. How truly liberating is that.
To be truly free – focus on life and your strengths
But to get here I had to build a life that I valued more than I valued my body alone. To be truly free I’ve had to constantly focus on losing my awareness of my body shape and instead becoming more aware of my health, my energy, my strength my values, my interests, things that make me laugh and feel alive and being present when I’m with those I love. Do I still eat well, exercise and want to look good – ofcourse – but this is no longer my only driver and not the only thing that makes me happy. And as a result I’m less stressed and my metabolism is faster. When we start to eat, exercise and think for energy, health vitality and strength – our bodies start to become our friend again. It’s about focusing on strengths not weaknesses
Pro-Metabolic Nutrition – a game changer
PRO METABOLIC NUTRITION and the way I now eat has been life changing in my journey of self-acceptance. I now eat for energy, to be healthy, to feel great, to be strong, to sleep well, to be nourished. I eat delicious food that increases my metabolism, improves my hormones and creates balance within me. When I was obsessing about my body I restricted what I ate, I constantly felt deprived, unhappy, miserable and like I was missing out. Like really? Who would have thought that if I ate clean, unprocessed, balanced food, I’d feel better about myself and could still maintain my weight!. There is so much freedom when you stop limiting what you can and can’t eat.
If you want to know more about how to eat without restrictions or food rules, nutrition that will increase your metabolism, keep your body in great shape and more importantly keep you energised and balanced, then click the link to read about my Pro-Metabolic Nutrition Meal plan programs.
So my message is this.
Imperfections make us human, yet sadly we fail to accept them. Self-acceptance is the start. The more time we spend focusing on our weaknesses or loathing the body we live in, the less time we will have to focus on creating a life that makes us happy. I have always see a link between negative destructive thinking and a slow metabolism.
Our goal is not to love our body, it is to love our life!
It’s quite simply really, start spending more time focusing on the things that really matter otherwise you risk losing perspective. By obsessing about a perfect body we will never live a fulfilled life. And the most amazing thing of all, when you focus on your health, your strength, balanced nutrition, quality sleep, reducing stress, doing things you love, being truly present in relationships – then the amazing thing is you will actually start to really appreciate how you look as a whole and you will be surprised the wondrous things your body will do.
Id love to hear your thoughts. PM me if you’d like to talk about coaching or nutrition or need a little help to feel better about yourself