There are a myriad articles and magazine features that bombard women with images of what is supposed to be the physical feminine ideal. But for most women, these are not looked at with much pleasure. Indeed, they make most women feel feel inadequate on some conscious or subconscious level. There is a great pressure to look a certain way and to conform to an ideal. So many women cope by simply switching off; refusing to face the reality of where they are at physically and health wise. After all, they will never have a body as good as the girls in the magazines so why try? But this is not the best way of coping. You need to empower yourself by facing where you are now healthwise and then you can make positive changes for the better.
There is a reason why magazines with pictures of beautiful, slender women sell, and music videos are filled with the bodies of the young, athletic and attractive. Sex sells. Those women who feel they can never hope to measure up this media construction might be forgiven for not even trying and living inactive, unhealthy lifestyle with bad diets instead. While there might be an argument for including more realistic images of women in the media, there are many ways in which individual women can face up to who they are and more importantly accept who they are too.
- Face facts: How much do you weigh? What’s your fitness level? What’s your body mass index (BMI)? How far can you run or cycle? When’s the last time you did any cardiovascular exercise? Where are you carrying any excess weight or where are untoned, sagging muscles visible? Which areas of your body do you want to work on? Try standing in front of a mirror naked and being honest about where you’re at. A quality fitness assessment from an expert helps too. Move forward from reality and with a realistic view of where you are now.
- Don’t lie to yourself: Have you ever met someone who professes never to eat anything fattening only to see them digging into a calorie-rich dessert an hour later? Have you ever met someone who says they have an active life and yet spends night after night sat in front of the TV? Lying to others is one thing, but lying to yourself is pointless. Being able to see how you are living your life without any judgement but with an accurate eye, allows you to make real changes that mean something.
- Look for healthy inspiration: Ditch the magazines filled with celebrity bodies and the fashion mags full of thin supermodels. Seek out stories of women who have achieved a great deal without their looks being relevant. What about women in sport too, who have really followed their dreams and used their bodies in a positive way to demonstrate their strength and physical prowess. What you read and surround yourself with is a reflection and an influence on how you feel.
- Fitness isn’t a career move: In your bid to change your life try and keep competition to a minimum and don’t treat your fitness in the same way as you might your career, unless of course you are keeping fit through competitive sports. Putting yourself under duress to achieve can be just as damaging as feeling bad about not looking how you feel you should. Accept who you are and take light steps forward – always move in a positive direction.
- Allow yourself to evolve: Who are you? How have you changed? What ruts have you got into? What changes do you need and want to make? Sometimes transformations in lifestyle, such as losing weight or becoming fitter, don’t just come from working out but changing other aspects of yourself too. Look at your wardrobe, your hair and your lifestyle. What have you outgrown? What’s outmoded and weighing you down?
- Don’t compare: Facing up to who you are is a personal journey. It’s not about making comparisons. Women look to their peers for guidance, which is natural enough, but take a leaf out of men’s books. They are often so driven, self-absorbed and focused on their own path that they are not weakened by insecurities about how they fit in with other men. Embrace your masculine side as well as your femininity as both are strong elements.
If you want to face who you are in a positive, supportive way and make changes that feel good, then join a fitness community that is female-friendly and start by being open to accepting who you are and believing in the power of transformation.