Like many of us, my struggle with body confidence started in the early teenage years when our bodies naturally change and emotions are high. I made it worse by dropping out of all sports activities after moving house and ended up putting on some weight, then hating myself for it.
I remember asking my mum how she felt about her body. She said ‘Darling when you get to my age you don’t tend to worry about your figure so much’. Problem was, I didn’t want to wait years to feel content with my body, I wanted a quick fix. I thought contentment would be found if my body looked like ones I admired in magazines, they all looked so happy and glamorous, so that’s what I set out to achieve. I didn’t think my health would be put under strain, in fact I didn’t think about my health at all. The way my body looked was my only concern.
I tried all sorts to regain my childlike lean figure, for a while just living on just one chicken salad sandwich per day, exercising loads and a few pieces of chocolate to keep me sane. Within weeks I was already seeing results on the scales so I kept going but boy was it tiring! I felt moody, hungry, lethargic and unable to concentrate on anything. I decided to learn more about food and how it affects the body so I could use it to my advantage.
Ten years later I was armed with information about nutrition and how it affected us. I had made my body very toned through hours of exercise and had even done some modelling work which boosted my confidence, yet I still hadn’t found the contentment I was after. There was always something that needed work. Losing weight didn’t make me as happy as I’d thought it would and I had become obsessed with checking my weight on the scales to see if it had changed. One thing was missing, the thing I should have started with in the first place (if I only I could tell my younger self), that thing is mind set.
It wasn’t until I fell pregnant that my mind set began to change. I didn’t find contentment just by being pregnant, but it was a bit of a life-nudge to start thinking and doing things differently. I started to look at my body as a home for someone else so I had to keep it in good condition. It gave me a reason to focus on health not looks. This required adopting some brand new habits one at a time, ditching old ones and practicing control over my thoughts. Anytime a negative thought came in, I would quickly and consciously choose to replace with the thought of me having a healthy baby. It helped me to remember what my priorities and motivation was and keep a healthy state of mind too. Sometimes it takes a big event in our lives to make us realise what is really important. What use would it be to have a supermodel body if it is too weak or ill to live a happy healthy life? Some people wait until they become physically ill before they focus on making healthier changes. Please don’t let this be you. If I had been giving my energy to health all along I would have had a great figure, plenty of energy, better wellbeing and I certainly would have found contentment a lot quicker.
Whether you have weight you want to lose, or you are at your ideal weight now but still don’t feel good, there are simple steps you can take to start feeling good and finding genuine contentment. For instance, instead of aiming to lose weight or to be a certain size, aiming for optimum health is a great start, because it will bring you the perfect balance of body fat for your figure, it will strengthen you on the inside and outside and it will make you feel better than ever. No diet will ever bring the same physical or mental satisfaction, especially not for long. The only lasting changes are the ones that are beneficial to your happiness and health.
Apart from having health as the main goal, here are my top five tips to help you start loving your body more, starting from now.
- Ditch the scales – Most of the time they just give us a result we don’t want to see. It’s also not an accurate reflection of health. A good old fashioned tape measure is a much more effective way to measure progress. The result is tailored to each part of your body and will mean you won’t be trying to force your entire body down to a certain weight
- Start practicing good posture. Hold the stomach in, chin up and shoulders back. It gives you an instant boost and can make you appear more confident, slimmer and even more feminine in mere seconds. Practice in the mirror so you can see the difference it makes.
- Make a list of 3 things you love your body for, such as creating your children, or even the fact that you are able to eat these delicious foods. Your eyesight, hearing, or sense of smell so you can appreciate the mouth-watering aromas of delicious food and fragrances and feel genuinely grateful for your three things everyday.
- Instead of repetitively thinking the same bad thoughts like “ah my stomach is so flabby” or “I wish my thighs were thinner”, find a new habitual thought to replace it with so you can move negative ones on straight away. You will find they come back less and less as your new habitual thoughts take their place.
- Start a journal – In the Size HH book we encourage women to talk positively about their bodies to their friends instead of tearing ourselves down, but sometimes it is good to vent! Friends are great for empathising and giving compliments but it only draws your attention back to your bad bits and possibly your friends too. A journal is a great place to release some bad thoughts, leaving your mind free for more positive ones. You could start by writing how you feel about your body and get it off your chest, then you could write about what you will do to start feeling better. I’m hoping after reading this article you will be writing about your plans to become Size Happy & Healthy!
You can read my full story, plus other inspirational stories from real women and heaps more feel-good tips in the book, available now on all major online retailers and online at www.sizehh.com.
Is it time to find your Size HH?