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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Body Image: What’s It Really All About?

Body image. It’s an issue most women struggle with at some point in our lives—I know I certainly have, and still do. During my 20’s everything was perky and tight. I ate whatever I wanted and I still looked pretty good. When I entered my 30’s I began to notice subtle changes. Things weren’t as they had been a decade before, but, it was still all good! When I slid into my 40’s reality started kicking in, my metabolism slowed down, and I found myself wondering what had happened to my body. Even shopping, one of my favorite pastimes, became challenging. *Cautionary Note*: There is nothing more sobering than taking your clothes off in a department store dressing room and looking at your half-naked self under the glare of those ultra bright lights. As we age, we gain things we didn’t have before, and lose things we wish we could hold on to.

I don’t know a woman alive who thinks, “My body is great just the way it is!” I’m sure such women exist, and that they are actually inhabiting this planet (well-adjusted aliens living among us, disguised as humans)…just kidding…a little! If I conducted a poll and asked the average woman to name one thing she’d like to change about her body, I guarantee she could come up with at least three different things off the top of her head. Some want thinner thighs, smaller waistlines, slimmer hips, and firmer everything! And on the flip side, some long for larger thighs, rounder behinds…and yes, firmer everything! Whether we’re big or small we fantasize about having the perfect bikini body. But let’s face it, even the svelte swim suit models gracing the fashion magazines are airbrushed to death, so what’s it really all about?...I believe it all starts with good self-esteem combined with good health and fitness habits.

Our society has become obsessed with beauty over substance. We live in an age of mid-drift bearing, booty-shakin’, breast implant having, show-what-you-got, in-your-face boldness. The unrealistic standards of beauty and body size thrust in front of us by way of magazines and music videos can make the average woman feel inadequate…and I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been guilty of succumbing to the hype.

I’ve often bemoaned and criticized my wide hips, thick thighs, and big legs. But slowly, and I mean very slowly, I’m learning to appreciate my curvy, grown woman shape. The other day I stood in front of the mirror, naked as the day I came into this world, and studied my body closely. Every inch of it. I closed my eyes, then opened them again. I spoke affirming words to the woman staring back at me. I embraced my soft, smooth, cocoa-colored skin that protects my body, and I thanked my big legs for allowing me to walk everywhere I need to go. I’m truly thankful for both. And even though I didn’t get around to praising my wide hips or thick thighs, I know I’ll get there soon, and when I do I will appreciate them, regardless of their size. This whole thing is a process—and it’s called acceptance. Loving who you are is a necessary exercise. Both the mind and body must be treated with reverence and care.

It’s important to be healthy, no matter your body size. There are thin women who are grossly out of shape and haven’t an ounce of cardio endurance, while there are overweight women who are fit and can run circles around their thinner counterparts. As I’ve gotten older, I realize how much more important it is to feel good than to look good (but for the record, I do want to look good, too!). I’ve also learned that educating yourself about proper diet and exercise, and incorporating both into your daily lifestyle is essential at any age. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking plenty of water, and moving your body in some sort of aerobic activity for at least 30 minutes a day can make all the difference in the world. When we do good things for our bodies we get great result. And when we love what’s on the inside, that’s an unbeatable feeling!

So tell me, how do you feel about your body and what issues are you struggling with, if any? What are some of the things you’re doing to stay fit and healthy? Let me know and share some of the health and nutrition tips that have worked for you?

8 comments:

  1. I know my body is not perfect, but I don't like the way the world seems to focus so much on looking like a model. Also, husbands (or whoever) may think they are helping you out when they make comments about your weight thinking it will spark you to do something about it. No, that makes things worse. Believe me, I have had enough of those comments directed toward me. It makes you feel terrible about yourself. Okay, think about your best friends. Do they have a perfect body--probably not, but would it really make a difference in how much you like that person? You have to look at a person's inside. It's terrible to judge people based on their body. Anyway, I have recently been trying to eat better and lose some weight so I am healthier. I have cut down my portions. I have been trying to exercise every day. I have gone to Weight Watchers, and I am a lifetime member. I have gained weight since my second daughter though and have to get back down. I am not going to beat myself up about it though. I am just taking it one day at a time. I have really tried to cut down on my snacking. I have a big sweet tooth! I actually went to my doctor and asked about Adipex, a prescription weight loss pill. It suppresses your appetite and boosts metabolism. I felt this would be good for me. It would help me to eat less and eventually my body will get used to the smaller portions. Since I went to my doctor 2 weeks ago, I have lost around 6 pounds. I in no way am thinking this is a miracle cure. It really is helping me to control my portions. Yes, I still get hungry. In fact, my stomach feels pretty empty by the time I go to bed, but that's okay. I have been eating until I am comfortable, not until I am so stuffed I can't stand it. I am trying to drink water too; although I really don't like it! I love my Diet Pepsi! I think the biggest think is portion control and just taking things one day at a time! The parts of my body I like the least are my stomach (2 babies will do that to a woman--especially when the second one is 9 lb 14 oz!), my butt, and my thighs.

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  2. Help, my body has been stolen by Serena Williams! LOL.
    I am attempting to lose approx. 25 lbs. I have upped my walking to try and get over 10,000 steps a day. I attempt to get up early and workout to my exercise videos at least four days a week. My eating is an issue, since I have a desk job, unfortunately, I tend to graze all day. Really trying to get that under control. Oh yeah, and to add to the fun and games; I had started menopause. Which is making the whole weight loss thing all that much harder. But I will continue to make this lifestyle change.

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  3. Exercising is an empowering and healthy way to combat poor body image. By exercising your body naturally increases endorphins which can create positive "happy feelings" and by exercising you can change your body in the ways you would like to see if differently. Join the upcoming Fashion Fit Camp and Get Fit for Summer. Check out the invitation:
    http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=pm9tx6aab&oeidk=a07e3qssw369c658659

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  4. @Cheryl, thanks for your insightful comments! You are taking active measures to reach your goal and I know you'll achieve it!! Way to go!

    @DeWayne, Now see, I thought it was just me...Serena stole my body, too! Seriously, you're doing great! Sounds like you're on target to reach your goal. Keep up the good work!

    @Lotus Fitness, Ewunike Akpan (owner of Lotus Fitness), you are an amazing trainer. Hope to join the Fashion Fit Camp in May!

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  5. Nice post, Trice. The body does begin to change in your 40s. Just wait until you hit the 50s. LOL! Exercise and diet become more and more important as we age. But don't obsess about looking like a cover girl model. Even the women on the covers don't look that good. Lots of makeup and touch ups!

    One consolation: I believe that emotionally we get BETTER as we age. We become wiser, bolder, smarter, and more confident.

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  6. Connie, thanks for your comments! You're so right, we do get better emotionally as we age. That is the reason I can stand in front of the mirror and see the complete me. I couldn't do that twenty years ago. We're like wine...getting better with age!

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  7. @Cheryl... I agree with you saying when people make comments thinking they are helping.. umm No! - The one line I hate hearing is.. "You don't need to eat that... - #FAIL!!..

    I know my problem.. well one of them is PATIENCE - If I don't see the weight dropping fast enough - I get discouraged.. I don't like water but the trick that works for me is to drink my water with a straw.. I love Diet Pepsi - I can cut down on it - but it's like CRACK... it keeps calling me..

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  8. Hi Orsayor! Yes, Cheryl is right, those kinds of comments can be more harmful than helpful. I'm from the South, and people down there will tell you anything without a second thought.

    Patience is the key, just as Cheryl, DeWayne, and Ewunike (Lotus Fitness) are practicing with their healthy eating and exercise. It's all a process. And as Connie said, we get better with age...and that's a great way to look at it!

    Oh, and yes, water is your friend!! Thanks so much for adding to the discussion, Orsayor!!

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