Note: This is a guest post by Anna Luiza Rech (@AnnaLuizaRTW). Anna Luiza is a doctor who gave up a conventional career path in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to travel the world, to write on and to promote health and mindfulness, and to help people keep doing such practices, especially while on the road. Check out her website Liveplenty.
When you look in the mirror, are you happy with what you see?
Just last week someone asked me that exact question. I replied, “Yes, I am!” He seemed a bit surprised and said, “You’re very lucky! I’m not.”
His reply got me thinking. This same person had stated that I’m no Miss World just the week before as he was wondering about my self confidence.
Don’t get me wrong: When I look in the mirror, I can definitely see that I am NOT the image of perfection and I don’t even get anywhere close to Miss World as far as looks go. I know where all of my imperfections are and what I would want to have instead if I had a choice.
But it doesn’t really bother me. I feel good, I know the effort it took me to get to this point (I used to be 30Lb heavier years ago), I’m healthy and I know my body responds to exercise. The more I look after my body, the better and better it’s likely to get., which means it tends to get better and better the more I look after it. Is there really something I should envy in others?
When I was 18, I used to weigh 30 Lb more. When I carry a backpack with that much weight these days, I realize how much 30 Lb actually is and how much my body must have suffered from carrying that much more of me.
At that time, I was not very confident in myself. I hadn’t quite figured out what to do with my life, had just dropped out of an Architecture course at university after only 6 months and really felt somewhat lost.
I used to eat a lot of sweets and junk food.
I remember what my mindset towards food was like. I used to think, “It’s not fair! I try and try and I still don’t loose any weight, I’m not eating that much!”
Now when I look back I can see what a distorted view I had back then! I was blaming my body for the extra weight instead of realizing that it was all a consequence of my own attitude towards it.
This is an important, or rather, an essential concept before we even start to think about fitness. You are not in a fight against your body when you work towards a healthier life style. Your body is all you have, to keep yourself alive in this world! If it’s not perfect as far as looks go, it doesn’t really matter, it’s your main instrument in life for getting anything you want (money will do you absolutely no good if your body is not healthy).
So, learn to love yourself!
I only managed to get fitter when I understood that there’s absolutely no point to “going on a diet”. That’s right! When someone says, like I used to do, “I’m going on a diet; it starts on Monday”, what they don’t realize is that they imply a sense of a temporary effort towards a result. So, once that result is achieved, you go back to your “normal” life style habits.
But it doesn’t work!
Change has to come from accepting that it is a lifetime commitment. It’s something you carry with yourself for your whole life! You commit to living a healthy lifestyle and then start to realize that the good things that help your body stay in shape are also generally the things that will keep it healthy. Such commitment and realization will increase your sense of self control. Yes, it would be pleasurable to eat that huge cake, and yes it’s alright to binge a little once in while, but you don’t need that everyday!
To love is to care; the more you care and look after your body the more you’ll love it and be proud of it. Learn to live with your flaws and most of all learn to see the good qualities in yourself. Not everybody has to look the same! People are beautiful in their uniqueness and the visual assets are surely not the most important part of anyone, right?
For me, what I think worked best towards accepting my flaws was to face the fact that some things will never change: my hair will always be wild, my hips will always be big, I won’t grow taller nor will I have more prominent cheek bones. Instead of being bothered by this and keep battling against it, I can actually make fun of myself nowadays! These are things that make me unique and, especially, my hair is actually a funny characteristic of mine. I now admit to people: I live my life and my hair lives its own and we try to get along as best we can!
A good way to increase your awareness of your good qualities is dancing and doing physical activities like yoga and pilates. These activities tend to make you pay more attention to your body and its reactions.
Meditation on breathing and other practices that increase mindfulness are also very helpful. They will keep you connected with yourself.
More often than not your own body can tell you what is good for you and what isn’t. Think about how you feel when you do these practices or eat different kinds of foods.
Pay attention to compliments and keep positive remarks in mind (not just about physical qualities but remarks on your good taste, good choices, determination, bravery, etc). Throw away the mean ones; mean people have no trustworthy opinions to share.
Go look in the mirror and forget the bits you don’t like. What is there that is yours only? What looks good? May be it’s your hair color, your teeth, your smile, the color or shape of your eyes, your curves, or your skin.
Focus and work on your good features and they’ll work much better towards improving the parts you don’t like as well.
Trust me, if you are capable of seeing this beauty in yourself, everyone else will see it too!
Do you have a story to share like Anna’s? What do you like about your body? How do you feel about your body, and more importantly – how do you feel your body? Share your thoughts and comments below. If you enjoyed the post, share it and talk about it with your friends, and make sure to visit Anna’s site Liveplenty!