I’m going to talk about something here that is not often brought up on these types of health and fitness websites, for fear of hypocrisy. But, this is a subject I am passionate about and feel that it is my duty, as a female, to confront.

“New Year, New Me!” is a phrase frequently heard this time of year. The post Christmas ‘urgh’ is ever present – We feel bloated, uncomfortable and heavier after a week of hearty home cooking, biscuit tins, cold nights and duvet days. (I’m not ashamed to admit that I have put on have a stone – and that’s okay!) Social networks have been plagued by lists of New Year’s Resolutions”; the most frequent contender on my girlfriends list’s are “Get in shape”, “Get my eighteen year old body back”, “Summer body” and “Lose weight”. Often included in a photo of a Victoria Secret model on a beach looking AMAZING. It’s great to feel inspired and motivated after the holidays to start / get back into shape, but it will not happen over night, and there is no secret or quick-slim solution to what you want. I think what we really need is to re-think our goals.

The society that we live in has an obsession with the way we look. Go into a newsagents and pick up any magazine – chances are, the front cover will be littered with images of female celebrities with headlines concerned with their appearance; whether it’s “Cheryl’s New Hair!”, “Madonna’s Skin Secret!”, or, perhaps the most concerning, “Actress/singer/model/WAG/Z-Lister has put on/lost weight!”.

Personally, I do not care at all whether a woman that I have never met has increased or decreased her BMI. Nor do I care if she is “spilling” out of her dress/jeans/bikini as these people love to describe it. I do not care if her thighs have grown, shrunk, gained muscle, are cellulite/stretch mark ridden (happens to everyone). The same magazines feature pages upon pages of ‘perfect’ woman, with tiny waists, flawless skin, glossy hair, legs like giraffes and Hollywood smiles. We compare ourselves to these women – it’s a human reaction to do so.

But, these women are not real. Yes, they are probably pretty or even beautiful in real life, but these images have been tweaked to this perfection. When women look at these images, something in their brain says “I need to look like that.” What woman doesn’t want to look and feel her best? But this sort of perfection is impossible to achieve until some science genius invents a real life Photoshop machine. On top of this, when we see a teeny tiny skinny mini, chances are she has worked extremely hard for her body – whether she’s worked out a lot and eaten very well, or she’s been very un healthy with it (please don’t go down that route, it’s definitely not worth it) – or, she was born that way. All women (and men) have different body types. We come in many different shapes and sizes. In most cases, no amount of exercise, dieting or starving will change your genetic make-up. If you are holding onto a little extra padding, of course eating right and exercise will help you lose it. The naturally skinny women are the minority. The average dress size for women in the UK is a 14. Research
has confirmed that it is more difficult for women to shed the pounds than men, because women’s bodies are simply more efficient at storing fat. It’s nature.

But what I’m trying to say is, we women need to change the way we think about our bodies, our weight and this idea of ‘perfection’. We need to set ourselves realistic goals and concentrate less on our weight or size (unless you are unhealthily below or above your BMI) – and focus on our health, shape and happiness.

The best way to get this mindset working, is to establish your body shape – whether you’re petite, an apple or pear shape, an hourglass, curvy, tall, etc etc (The interest will help with this). Now, decide what your goal is – realistically. Forget about the fad diets, they will not work in the long term and are not good for you, mentally or physically. In fact, forget the diet mentality all together. You need to make these changes for life. I’m not saying “never eat chocolate ever again, it’s evil!”, because some ‘bad’ food in moderation will not kill you. The 80/20 rule is what a lot of women live by – 80% of what you eat is healthy and nutritious and 20% is indulgence. This means that you are not deprived of food that you crave, and you are therefore less likely to binge when you tell your mind that it’s not allowed. One piece of chocolate won’t make you put on weight – but the whole box probably will.

Changing your eating habits will make you lose weight, yes. But, this shouldn’t be the priority. What matters most if your health. We need to change the false views that ‘perfection equals happiness’. It’s not real, and you will never find happiness chasing something as real as Santa Claus. It’s health that can equal happiness. I do not exercise to be slim. I exercise because I love being healthy and feeling fit and revitalised. Most women do not love exercise, let’s be honest here. It is tiring, leaves you sweaty and aching, and it’s time consuming. But there are lots of ways to exercise. You don’t need to be in the gym every single day to keep active. Work out what exercise you enjoy and what works best for your body and your daily routine.

But whatever you do, please do not beat yourself up about it. Food is supposed to be enjoyed while giving you energy and keeping you healthy. Do not make food your enemy. Do not make exercise a chore. Do not waste your life stressing about how you look. Do not look in the mirror and hate yourself, because hating yourself will not make you look or feel any better. All women are different, and the most beautiful woman are those that are happy and healthy and confident in their own skin.