By Sara Binder
Approximate Reading Time: 10-12 minutes
No matter what your weight or body fat percentage, you are a human who deserves respect and love - ultimately from yourself.
Your relationship with you is the most important relationship in your life. A practice of self-love and gratitude for your body, including its ‘flaws’ will help you radiate the positivity necessary to feel happier, healthier, and to help you positively influence those around you.
In a perfect world, we all exercise regularly and eat healthy because we love ourselves and our bodies, and so we can do all the things we love without being restricted by pain or disease. We’re grateful every day for what our bodies can do and the billion things happening inside that keep us alive!
Unfortunately, we lose sight of how amazing our bodies are as social media bombards us with seemingly flawless models and celebrities. This tends to be, unfortunately, how we set our aesthetic standards. Many of these fitness idols or celebrities are paid to dedicate their time and energy to look this way; perhaps they’re not balancing school, a full-time job or family on top of it.
As we know, these filtered and photoshopped images do not set realistic or sustainable standards for the general population. Suffering by comparison to others and the pressure we put on ourselves is not a practice of self-love nor is it an act of compassion. We wouldn't do that to our best friend, so why do it to ourselves?
It is also important to remember how much genetics shape our body composition. You can only do so much to change your body. Accept it as yours and love it no matter what. If you want to set body composition goals, compare and compete with yourself to your former self, not some perfect celebrity with the illusion of perfect abs and flawless skin. Fulfillment cannot be found in striving to be like someone else. Just be you and love being you.
Consider your health and general well-being over your physical image. According to studies, between 18.5 - 25 % body fat for a woman is considered healthy. Women with less than 18.5% body fat are actually putting their health at risk. We need fat cells to support regular hormones which is why when we have lower body fat we lose our periods, get depressed and develop many other hormone-related issues. Try not to get caught up in numbers and scales. Instead, measure your health based on how you feel. Everyone has a unique optimal weight they will function best in.
Chances are you’re already super awesome. Don't strive to be perfect or uber thin - strive to feel awesome and healthy. Resist the urge to compare yourself to others and live a healthy lifestyle just because you love your body the way it is.
Create a practice of self-love; the more compassion you have for yourself the more compassion you will have for others.
A FEW WAYS TO PRACTICE SELF-LOVE
Daily Positive Affirmations – A few examples from Louise Hay;
“I love myself just the way I am.”
“I am at home in my body. All is well.”
“Wellness is the natural state of my body.”
6 TIPS FOR DAILY POSITIVE SELF TALK
1. Eliminate negative self-thoughts. When you catch yourself saying ‘I can’t’ challenge that belief with “why can’t I?’ For example: ‘I can’t walk for an hour straight.’ ‘Why can’t I walk for an hour throughout the day?’ Alternatively, try to say DELETE! DELETE! DELETE! after a negative thought, either internally or out loud.
2. Stay in the present. Try not to get caught up in the shoulda/coulda/woulda cycle. Instead focus on what you can do right now. Right now, you can change the way you think; go for a walk; drink a glass of water, assume a healthy posture; choose a healthy treat.
3. Figure out your fears. Are your worst-case scenarios really as bad as you think? Fear often holds us back from success. Fear of change especially can also hold us back from true happiness and security. Letting go of fear can help you move forward and understand aspects of yourself that you didn’t know were there.
4. Be the hero of your own movie. Imagine yourself as if you’ve already achieved your dreams and goals. No limits!
5. Focus on enjoyable moments. It’s very easy to spin out of bad thoughts. When you catch this happening, make a list of things you are grateful for whether on paper or in your mind. Being grateful for your breath is a nice place to start. I like to do this daily in a journal upon awakening.
6. Tell your body what you love about it. It need not focus on aesthetics. “I love that I can walk or run! I love how everybody loves my hugs! I have an awesome smile! I love that I’m getting stronger every week!” Congratulate yourself on accomplishments big and small! Congratulate yourself on failures too, they are our greatest lessons.
EVIDENCE-INFORMED WEIGHT LOSS CONSIDERATIONS
If you are a healthy eater and daily mover that’s awesome, and you are doing awesome! Regardless of your weight, implementing and sustaining healthy habits into your life is important.
If you decide to lose excess weight it can reduce the risks for many chronic and degenerative diseases, and can impact our health in many positive ways.
Losing weight can be a huge challenge. It requires you to be consistent and dedicated but the process is simple if you can stick to the following:
Caloric Deficit - No matter what your diet, consume fewer calories than you burn in a day.
That being said, when calories are restricted they should be sourced from nutrient dense, real, whole foods that fill our micro and macronutrient needs. Sure, you may lose weight eating 500 calories of boiled potatoes a day or some sort of other fad diet but it’ll cause vitamin deficiencies, lead to binge eating and additional issues that simply are not sustainable. Sustainability is key if you want to keep the weight off and live a healthier lifestyle.
Exercise - Moving your body is essential, you can’t expect your body to change if it’s stagnant or sedentary. High-Intensity Interval Training and strength training may be the top best exercises to lose weight.
HIIT involves a shorter workout with bursts of high-intensity movements followed by a low intensity or rest period for intervals or circuits. Strength Training is beneficial for fat loss because building lean muscle mass requires more calories. Both methods help you to reach a state of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) that causes you to burn more calories for the following 24 hours. Burning more calories may cause you to eat more but you’ll still be in a caloric deficit.
These may be more efficient weight loss activities but finding something you enjoy is key. If you enjoy the work it’s not just a weight loss program but a fun, challenging, and sustainable part of your lifestyle.
Active living - In addition to intentional exercise, move actively throughout your day, especially if you have a sedentary job. Take the stairs, choose the farthest parking stall, walk more –with a dog or a friend; stretch, find any active hobbies you enjoy!
Sleep and Recovery - The significance of proper recovery is huge! During the rest between workouts, our muscles are repairing and rebuilding, not during the work sets. Cheating yourself of proper nutrition and rest between workouts may push your goals further away. If you work too hard or skip on sleep and recovery, results are harder to achieve.
Reducing Stress - No matter how much kale you eat or how many squats you do, stress will negatively impact your health immensely! Not getting enough sleep or recovery time raises cortisol (our stress hormone) levels which can cause the body to hold fat in adipose tissue (around the abdominal area) Stress impacts our bodies via disease, inflammation, depression, and indirectly cause weight gain and make it more challenging to lose.
It impedes muscle recovery and repair, steals sleep and affects blood sugar levels which causes cravings and fat to store in undesirable areas.
Whatever you do, find a way to reduce stress in your life! Daily meditation and journaling a gratitude list are great de-stressing practices.
Find your way, everyone is different. You may find walking, breathing, positive affirmations, writing, singing, spending time alone in nature, spending time with friends, quitting that second job, practicing yoga, reading a good book to be most beneficial to you. Whatever helps you reduce stress, do it! It’s worth it!
Always More Water - Dehydration is often confused with hunger which may lead to consuming unnecessary, additional calories. We are made up of mostly water. It’s as important as sleep, nourishing food and moving. Water is necessary for efficient digestion of the food we eat and the elimination of waste. Always drink more water, especially if you are trying to lose weight or exercise regularly because it is needed to flush out waste and rehydrate all the fluids lost in sweat!
Patience and a Positive Mindset - Just as it takes time to put on pounds, it takes time to lose them. Focusing on end results can lead to feelings of frustration and often results in giving up when things get tough. If we lower our expectations and appreciate our journey, success comes more easily. A rate of one-two pounds per week is the maximum weight to lose safely. Generally losing weight at a slower rate is shown to be much more sustainable. Be proud of the efforts you make to live a healthier lifestyle, be grateful for your current body and every single workout you have!
If you need guidance with exercise or nutrition, contact us. We are passionate about helping you achieve a sustainable, healthy, and active lifestyle within a supportive and diverse community!