Toning your body versus losing body weight- You decide.

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Spring is here in Adelaide and the pressure is on to look good, again! Winter fashion is very forgiving for the less than ideal body type, which is about 95% of the world. By ideal I mean what the fashion industry defines as ideal, super slim or what the fitness industry defines as ideal, super muscled. For the less than super, myself included, spring and summer can dampen that yippee ya yee jingle  you feel like doing when you see the almond blossoms and smell the sweet jasmine scent in the air.

While I am all for a healthy lifestyle I am not buying that perfect body hype. As my hubby very vocally puts it, “A woman’s gotta have curves!” Yes ladies, I am blessed. As I wolf down my quinoa and roasted chicken salad and eye my yoga mat, I strive for a well-balanced outlook on physical beauty. Sparkling eyes, shinny hair, smooth skin, gorgeous smile and an infectious personality represent beauty for me. As opposed to a gaunt frame, hollowed cheeks, spindly arms and skinny legs.

I do yoga to tone myself, as I believe that a toned body is way sexier than a skinny one. You can be a size zero and still have jiggly arms, but a size 12 with a firm body is amazing! You need food to provide you with the nutrition for strong bones, healthy organs, muscles and stamina; you can’t get all of that with just iceberg lettuce. My fitness parameter? If I can run for an hour with my kids in the park before getting tired, I consider myself fit.

A positive body image is so important and not just for physical health. Your outlook on life needs to be positive and healthy, a negative self-image can destroy not just your mojo but also your life. An energetic outlook makes you want to accomplish more, achieve more and in turn makes you feel great, the opposite can lead to depression that can ruin marriages, friendships and even careers.

I consider myself lucky as I grew up with very positive role models and a very healthy affirmation of beautiful. Strong confidant women with fulfilling lives who made an impact on society were the hallmark of an ideal woman. Marie Curie, Bertha Von Suttner, Margaret Thatcher, Indira Ghandi, Martina Navratilova, Mother Teresa and the list goes on.

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Today most young women when asked whom they admire fervidly exclaim, ‘Kim Kardashian.’ While I can appreciate the business ingenuity and drive of Kim Kardashian and hold no grievance against her, a role model?

Perhaps my outlook on life is different because I grew up under the wings of a very intelligent and independent woman, my mother. She was the daughter of a wealthy businessman who was also an aspiring inventor and a village beauty who hailed from a prominent religious family. The untimely death of her father led to their fortunes being stolen by malicious relatives who took advantage of her mother’s illiteracy. She thumb printed away their home, land and business to her husband’s conniving nephew. Scared for life, granny made sure all her children, nine of them would be educated.

My mother grew up with an innate distrust of people and made it her life ambition to learn all that she could, after all knowledge was power. As children she forbade us from watching cartoons or movies, it was just documentaries and books for us. We never had cable and there were no magazine subscriptions, except for the odd National geographic and readers digest.

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For entertainment we would sit together in the living room and hear stories about my parent’s lives, funny anecdotes about our ancestors, family history and family legends. My father had books from his travels and I grew up in the company of Dale Carnegie, Napoleon hill, Edward De Bono, Ben Sweetland, and offcourse encyclopaedias.

Our childhood mentors determine not only our outlook on life but also our perception of self. As I hear the music from my children’s playroom I realise that soon my little girls will need more than fluffy unicorns to help them develop a sense of self. Their positive affirmations will need to come from real heroes, everyday men and women who live fulfilling lives with purpose.

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Body Acceptance struggle, the sad tale of every woman.

Fighting for what you believe in!
Fighting for what you believe in! Stand up for yourself!

 

Women tend to be their worst enemy and what a formidable enemy we make. Nature has made women beautiful and strong, when used for the greater good blessings abound, however just as every coin has two sides, so does the strength of women. As mothers we are nurturing and kind but as adversaries we can rip the very foundation of a fortress.

It is rarely the boyfriend, the husband, the father, the brother, the son or any man who calls you fat and worn down. It’s usually your rival, mother, sister, girlfriend or daughter, not to forget the woman you meet in the mirror and the voice in your head. It’s not the image of the handsome ripped male in the magazine that makes you self-conscious but the gorgeous flawless bronze goddess.

So why are we so brutally critical of ourselves and the ones we love? Why do we expect so much from our children, our husbands, our lives and ourselves? There isn’t a single woman I have come across in my life who doesn’t live with some form of regret and as mothers we drive the longest train of guilt. There isn’t a single woman I know who is truly happy with her body image, whether she is fat, thin, slim, athletic or drop dead gorgeous, it doesn’t matter, she will always find herself too fat, too thin, to lanky, too muscled, right eye bigger than the left or with a big nose!

We are harshest with respect to our body image, we chastise ourselves, shame ourselves and always focus on our failures, never on our strengths or our gifts. We keep asking what’s wrong with us and why we can’t do this or that; we never look at what is so right with us and how we managed to this and that, despite everything.

It is time we stood up for ourselves; it is time to defend and cherish all that is beautiful within. No we won’t get proud and conceited if we appreciate the good, great and wonderful within us. We only get that way of we say that we are the ONLY ones with that trait and everyone else is without or lacking. Universal love and acceptance is the true way forward. Let us dream again and sprout wings to fly to heights far away from regret and guilt. In the immortal words of Sister Corita Kent, “Maybe we are less than our dreams, but that less would make us more than some Gods would dream of ”.