At a young age, girls are bombarded with societal pressure and expectations to look a certain way. Girls are told that their bodies don’t live up to the standard of long legs, toned abs, and cellulite-free booties that they see in magazines, on television, and all over the internet. As we grow up, this feeling of inferiority stays with us. The more we try to pursue unrealistic expectations, the more anxious we feel and the more we try to lose weight and get fit. This pursuit of “fitness” adds to the stresses in our life instead of alleviating them. Working out should be for you and should be about the desire to live a healthy lifestyle. Here are the top three ways to empower and free yourself from society’s idealistic and unrealistic body image pressures:
1. Love Yourself as You Are Now
While your goal may be to lose a few pounds, it’s important to be able to love yourself and your body as you are now. Even if you’re not living up to society’s ideal body, your body is not wrong. In fact, your body is beautiful and perfect just as it is! Stressing about how you look and constantly putting yourself down will not lead to healthy and sustainable weight loss or happiness. So, step 1: love yourself now. If you need help with this, tell yourself one thing you like about your body every single day. Be grateful for the fact that you have legs that allow you to walk and run. You have arms that can hug loved ones and eyes that can see the beauty of everything around you. Damn, girl! What an awesome body you have – it does so much for you. Research shows that stress can prevent us from losing weight and may even contribute to weight gain. Even when we’re doing our best to eat well and exercise regularly, excessive stress can counteract all of our best efforts. This is why it’s so important to focus on wellness alongside fitness. Worrying about your appearance and constantly comparing yourself to others can seriously impact your confidence as well as your fitness. To reduce stress, practice relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. If you’re new to meditation, check out apps like Head Space and Insight Timer. These practices will help keep your mind healthy and balanced. When your mental health is good, you’ll feel better and your fitness efforts will pay off way more.
2. Focus on What Your Body Can Do
It’s been said that comparison is the thief of joy. Instead of comparing yourself to others in the gym or fitness class, notice how absolutely awesome it is that you can ride that spin bike or lift those weights. Shift the focus from what your body is not and cannot do, to what your body is and can do. This will make you feel more empowered and happy, and will keep you going back for more.
3. Make Your Work Outs Fun
Working out shouldn’t feel like a chore that you have to do to reach that ideal body. Instead, find a workout that you love doing. If you’re not sure what that is, try a bunch of new things! Most fitness studios offer newcomer deals – take advantage of these and try as many as you can. From barre fitness to aerial yoga to boxing to spin – you’ll never know what you’re going to love until you try it. For extra added fun, bring a friend along and make it a weekly date!
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