Blood, Sweat and Tofu: The power of reflection

Georgia Brown - Blood, Sweat and Tofu (Tom Bateman/AQ)

If you’ve been reading my column, you’ve picked up a few tips that will help you eat healthier and shed a few pounds. But I couldn’t possibly write a healthy living column if I didn’t outline the importance of mental health, more specifically, body image.

If you’re trying to lose weight or if you ever look in the mirror, chances are you already have an idea of what your body looks like or how you want your body to look. And that’s great. I’m all about self-awareness. However, this self-awareness can turn ugly if you only see yourself in a negative light.

Healthy living is not only what you eat and how many times you workout, it’s also about how you feel physically and especially mentally. Why would you bust your butt in the gym if every time you looked in the mirror you projected images of hate and self-loathing onto your body? That hate will mess with your self-esteem, which can lead to some nasty repercussions.

If you continue to see your body in a negative way, you might try something drastic to alter it, like a crash diet or extreme exercise. And none of those things add up to a healthy lifestyle.

If you’re struggling with your body image, try a few exercises every day that will help alter your way of thinking. Before or after a shower, take a good hard look at your body. If the little voice in your head starts to say nasty things like, “Oh, your thighs are too fat,” shut it up by thinking about how strong your legs are for carrying you.

Switch your negative thoughts to positive ones. Try doing this for every body part you hate. Personally, I’m not a fan of how big my hips are but, instead of focusing on their size, I focus on how easy it’ll be to pop out some babies later in life. With a positive image now replacing my negative thoughts, I’m changing my self-esteem to love the body I was given – and I’m pretty sure that shows.

Another trick is to pamper yourself. One night, give your feet a really good massage. While you’re kneading your arches, think of all the places you’ve traveled thanks to your feet. Or go for a well-deserved massage. I doubt you’ll hate your body after a relaxing 45 minute, deep tissue rub down. Buy some new jewelry, indulge in a fruity shower gel or borrow an item of clothing from a friend you’ve been dying to wear. It doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you feel comfortable and happy doing so.

I heard a great quote the other day that went something like this: “If you talked to your friends the way you talk to your body, you’d have no friends left.” This quote says everything I’ve been trying to get across. Think of your best friend. Do you really notice when he or she puts on five pounds? I doubt it. And chances are they don’t see when you gain a little weight either.

Your friends see you in a positive light and true friends always try to find the best in you. So like them, you should value your mind and body as high as they do. True friends don’t care if you haven’t reached your goal weight; if they really love you they want you to be happy. Shouldn’t you want that for yourself too?

So here’s my plea to you: If you value the way you look, value the way you think. If you think you look beautiful, others will begin to think it as well.

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