FRIDAY FIVE: 5 things women need to STOP doing to their bodies
A FEW weeks into the New Year and I don’t know about you, but if I see another weight loss piece in the media or hear from another friend, about her new fad diet, I am going to scream.
I’m all for self improvement but this obsession with bodies and diets, which is particularly evident at this time of year, is quite frankly driving me nuts.
Why? Because most of it comes from a place of hatred, of loathing and insecurity and the ridiculous quest for body perfection. And in my book, it is nowhere near enough about love or confidence.
Here are five things that I believe women need to stop doing to their bodies. I’m talking less hate and a hell of a lot more love. Who’s with me?…
Punishing them with diets
I’m going to say something controversial thing now so brace yourselves. Ready? Ok, here we go. Diets do NOT work.
You might think they do and in the short term you might indeed be right but I promise you this, once you’ve stopped the diet and go back to your old ways and your old eating habits, that weight you lost will go back on.
Many moons ago, I once did the ‘Special K diet’ where you replace two of your daily meals with a bowl of their cereal for 14 days ( nice marketing Kelloggs!) For two weeks I was miserable, ravenous and sick of the sight of cereal. I did lose weight that is true, but I was so hungry I’d have eaten my own arm right off given half the chance.
And guess what? Once I got back to my normal eating ways, like an ol’ friend I didn’t want to see again but couldn’t quite escape, all those little pounds went right back on.
It is my belief (and that of many others) that diets punish our bodies. That they are not kind towards our womanly figures. Why? Because they tell us that we’re not good enough, they make us feel bad, they make us feel guilty and they make us very, very hungry.
Diets appeal to our lazy, hopeful selves. To the gremlin in us that tells us that we will only be good enough when we’ve lost half our body weight. They are not miracle workers, but you are, if you chose to be.
The clever people know that the only way to lose weight properly is by changing your eating habits long term which means less crap and more of the healthy stuff.
Better food choices AND regular exercise is the only way to lose the pounds, keep them off and feel better about yourself. And if you don’t believe me, listen to my good friend Helen.
So folks, if you wanna eat cake, eat cake. Just don’t eat it for every meal. Or if you do, make sure you go for a nice long jog occasionally to balance things out.
Berating them for not being good enough
Ladies, can we please for the love of god, stop berating our bodies for not living up to ridiculous notions of perfection?
I know it’s hard. I know that we are forever and a day bombarded with images of beauty that are breathtaking but yet at the same time crushing. I know that we are expected to (and told) that we should look a certain way and that we feel we have failed if we don’t. I know that it’s hard to sometimes like what we see in the mirror. I get it. I really do.
But how is all this self loathing helping?
Seriously now, all this criticism and stupid comparison malarky has to stop. Because if not, I tell you now, we’ll all be doomed and on a one way ticket to unhappiness-ville.
Rain check time ladies, your body IS good enough.
Those models that see you see in glossy magazines are rare creatures of this world. Many of them haven’t even reached adulthood yet (you just can’t compare a 14 year old’s figure with that of a woman in her thirties who has born 3 kids!) and those that have, yes they are beautiful and slender, but trust me, they are gene freaks.
I once went to a very posh soiree in Germany where I was in the same room as Nadja Auermann. Nadja if you don’t know, is one of the most famous models of the 90s. She is also in the Guinness Book of Records for having the longest legs in the world. She was – as you’d expect – an absolute goddess, but being near her was like having a giraffe in the room. It was lovely and she was totally mesmerising, but it felt like she was from a different species.
It’s time to stop comparing ourselves to unrealistic images and start believing that our bodies are just fine.
Far from perfect perhaps, but rather bloody lovely all the same.
Ignoring their beauty
I received an email this morning (the timing really couldn’t have been more perfect) which said this: ” If you want a lover to enjoy looking at you, you need to enjoy looking at yourself. Look at your body in the mirror, lovingly.”
It never fails to amaze me how differently men see our bodies. Where we see lumps and bumps, they see beautiful curves. Where we see imperfections, they see glory. Where we see bits we’d rather hide, they see bits they’d just like to get stuck into. (Oo-er!) You get my drift.
We are so busy criticising our bodies, that we somehow fail to appreciate our beauty. We’re so busy looking for faults that we fail to notice our own wonder and I don’t know about you, but all this makes me feel really, really sad. I mean come on, when is the last time, you looked at your body lovingly?
Ladies, glorious ladies, it’s time to stop berating (see above) and start appreciating our beauty. To get rid of our ever critical eyes and start looking at our bodies through the eyes of an appreciative and (quite possibly) horny man instead.
As Elizabeth Gilbert said so perfectly in Eat, Pray, Love:
“Let me ask you something, in all the years that you have undressed in front of a gentleman, has he ever asked you to leave? Has he ever walked out and left? No? It’s because he doesn’t care! He’s in a room with a naked girl, he just won the lottery!”
Dammmnnn Elizabeth, I couldn’t say it better myself.
Underestimating their magnificence
Us women. We bear children. We give life. We have breasts that can feed our babies. We run. We walk. We dance. We make love. We climb. We hop. We skip. We jump. We lift. We carry.
Every day, our hearts beat blood around our bodies, our lungs take in oxygen, our brains fire into action and we move.
Never underestimate the magnificence of your body and what it enables you to do. We all take our bodies for granted at times but when bad luck or bad health strikes, it is only then that we start to realise just how much we need them.
Never underestimate what you can do with your body either. If you want to get stronger, you can. If you want to run a marathon, you can. If you want to climb Mount Everest, with a lot of training, you probably can.
When I was in labour, I was in total and utter awe of my body and had no choice but to totally succumb to what was happening. Fighting contractions and trying to stop the pain was no good. I just had to go with the flow, work with it and embrace what was happening as much as I could.
When my daughter Elsie was finally born, my husband looked at me, kissed me on the head and told me that I had been ‘magnificent’.
And THAT my friends, is how incredible our bodies are.
Thinking our minds, souls and bodies are somehow separate
You can tell a lot about someone’s state of mind by the way they treat their bodies. By what food they put into their mouths, by how much alcohol they drink and even how they move from one position into another.
Likewise, you can tell a lot about a person’s soul by how they hold themselves, the facial expressions they pull and the energy that they radiate.
Our entire being may seem to be made up of component parts but this does not mean that they are separate from each other. Which is why, to function healthily, indeed to function happily, we have to look after all three.
Mental health is just (if not more) as important as physical health and a loving soul is much more important to have than a killer bikini body. But yet you won’t ever be truly happy and content if you’re punishing or hurting your body either.
When I was pregnant I was the happiest and healthiest I have ever been and looking back now it doesn’t take a genius to work out why. I wasn’t drinking, my diet was incredible, I was sleeping well, I minimised my work load, I was ecstatic about being pregnant, I was having regular massages, enjoyed plenty of relaxing baths and basically did everything I could to get my mind, soul and body prepared for being a mum.
When our minds, bodies and soul are in harmony with each other, amazing things happen. But when one is fighting another, all hell can break loose.
Want to know how to create more harmony? Easy. Just start thinking about, treating yourself to and showing yourself much more love. From that the rest will take care of itself.
Less hate. More love. It’s as simple as that.
Have a wonderful weekend all!