The notion of body confidence and self-love spark slightly paradoxical feelings for me – both of which I feel quite strongly about!
On the one side I actually get very irritated when I see people talking about “loving your body whatever your size” when the person is clearly at a very unhealthy weight. As a health professional this just doesn’t sit right with me. I don’t believe you can say you love yourself and your body when you are at a dangerously high body weight because you are quite literally harming yourself. If you really do love your body and yourself you should be looking after your body with healthy food and regular exercise, and maintaining a healthy weight. Yes we are all different shapes and sizes naturally, and I absolutely believe we should embrace that, but not use it as an excuse to hide an unhealthy lifestyle.
HOWEVER there is a flip side! Something I also struggle with is the clear obsession to look “perfect”. I also believe strongly that we shouldn’t obsess over that seemingly “perfect” image on social media that has likely been filtered and staged. The pressure put on us today to have a wash board stomach is something that is affecting our happiness and is ruling our minds – which is also not healthy. I want the children of the future to not only have a healthy body but a healthy mind too and the social pressure of having a specific body shape is not good for mental wellbeing.
Body confidence is something I struggle with too. Not only do I feel pressure from the media to look a certain way, but I also feel immense pressure that people judge me even more so because I am a nutritionist … but I am human at the end of the day and get all the same temptations as everyone else, so at times struggle to reach the “perfect” body shape I desire … or maybe think I should have!
If you are like me and get a bit too caught up in looking a certain way, when actually you know you are healthy, here’s what I think we should focus on …
1. Prioritise health
At the end of the day our focus should be on health, not what we look like. As I eluded to earlier to be truly kind to our bodies and “love ourselves” we should look after our bodies by feeding them with nutritious food, and being regularly active! Of course we will indulge from time to time, and that’s important for happiness too (“feeding the soul” as they say!) … but by focusing on health (not being “skinny”) for the majority, you will start to feel great, which will help your happiness, confidence and anxiety too! Win win!!
2. Love your body for what it does
I have always wanted skinny arms !! From when I was a teenager I always felt like the “bigger” one because I swam from a very young age and I’ve always had a “strong” look … but I think it’s time for me to embrace my arms and look at them in a different light. They have enabled me to swim competitively over the years … and now they can even do strict pullups (a few anyway!!). Our bodies are truly incredible. I really am so thankful for my health … and I am proud of the amazing things my body can do from a fitness perspective … I can honestly say I wouldn’t swap my fitness achievements for skinny arms!! So have a look at all the wonderful things your body enables you to do – whether it be going for a walk with your dog, doing a park run, having a baby, or even just being able to run around after your kids or grandkids! Look after it and thank it for what it does, and maybe try and push it from time to time to see what amazing things you can achieve!
3. You are so much more than what you look like
Let’s put things into perspective here. People love you for who you are not what you look like. It sounds a bit cliché I know. But when you are worrying about “looking a bit bloated” in that dress … have a word with yourself and focus on all the positives you have in your life. For me I like to think how lucky I am to be alive & healthy, have a wonderful and supportive husband & family (who are all also healthy) and lots of lovely friends who make me laugh! Focussing on things like this is important to bring you back down to earth and make you realise what is really important!!
Basically, long story short, it comes back to having a good balance! To be truly happy we need to take action and look after ourselves, but to have a healthy mind too we shouldn’t obsess over “perfection” and let what we look like define us.
I hope this has made you think a bit differently about your body and your health … if you have any comments or experiences you’d like to share please do so on here or on my Facebook post!