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Valentine’s Day is coming up next week, and it’s a great time to reflect upon something that we don’t think about nearly as often as we should. This year, in honor of the holiday that’s all about LOVE, it seems appropriate to focus inward on what we love about ourselves.
Most of us women tend to spend a lot of time hating aspects of ourselves, and particularly our bodies. This self-criticism leads us to take some fairly drastic measures in an effort to change ourselves: restrictive diets, overtraining at the gym, weight loss pills and even plastic surgery.
In extreme cases, this hatred of our own bodies can lead to eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder and anxiety disorders. In less severe cases, disliking our bodies can cause emotional stress, problems in our relationships, and depression. It’s important to remember that these forms of stress can actually PREVENT us from losing weight and changing our bodies in a healthy way, because the increase in cortisol caused by this stress emotional stress makes us gain and retain weight.
We must remind ourselves that we can’t truly love another (nor will others see our true beauty) unless we love ourselves first! So, this Valentine’s Day, let’s do a little exercise to help us discover and remember just how incredible our bodies really are. Take a piece of paper and write each of these 8 questions on it with enough space for your answers. One by one, answer these questions thoughtfully:
1) What unhealthy things have you done in an effort to change your body?
Most women have at one point or another taken some unhealthy measures to lose weight or change other elements of their physical appearance. Write a list of things you’ve tried and answer these questions: Did they work in the long term? Did they make you feel good?
2) What are your 3 worst vices?
These might all be foods or they might be other habits such as smoking, caffeine or alcohol and drugs. Answer these questions for each vice: How long do the good feelings last each time I partake in this behavior? What are the long-term negative effects of partaking in this behavior?
These can be ‘physical’ such as eating habits, exercise routine or sleeping habits, OR they can be emotional habits like positive self-talk, talking with a counselor, meditation or prayer. Answer these questions for each healthy habit: How long do the good feelings last each time I partake in this behavior? What are the long-term positive effects of partaking in this behavior?
4) Which of your body parts are your favorites?
No matter how out of shape or overweight we may be, each of us has a few of our own body parts that we love. Perhaps you have beautiful hands, sparking eyes or healthy skin, or maybe you have a nice round bum or pretty breasts. Write down all of the parts of your body that you like and the reasons why you like each one. Choose at least 3 but the more the better!
5) Which are the strongest muscles in your body?
Each human body has its strong points and its weak points. And even if we’re not in great shape right now, we know which of our muscles are strongest and healthiest. Perhaps you have strong thighs or a strong lower back. Or maybe you have well-formed biceps and shoulders. Try to write down the 3 specific muscles in your body that are strongest.
6) What aspects of your health are the strongest?
Do you have perfect eyesight or excellent hearing? Does everyone else seem to get colds while you remain immune? Can you out-hike or out-walk your peers? Are you free from the headaches, backaches or toothaches that seem to plague others? Try to write down 3 specific aspects of your health that are the strongest, but the more the better!
Ever climbed a mountain, gone parachuting, finished a really long hike or overcome a fear? Maybe you’ve been able to get in better physical shape than you thought possible? Or perhaps you were able to quit a bad habit, score a job that seemed unattainable or meet a long-term goal? Write down at least 3 feats that you’ve accomplished during your life. Don’t forget – it was your amazing body that allowed you to do this!
8) What healthy goals do you currently have that you plan to achieve using healthy means?
Setting healthy goals and writing down the HEALTHY ways that you plan to achieve them is the best way to keep your mind and soul on track to accomplishing them. First write down 3 current healthy goals. Then for each goal, write down specifics on how you plan to achieve the goal.
Hopefully after answering these questions for yourself, you have a greater appreciation and respect for your amazing body and what it’s capable of. We must remember that our body is the home for our soul, so it’s all the more important to love that home and keep it clean and healthy!
At Athlean-XX for Women, we believe it’s important that women focus on health and strength in both body and mind, rather than on clothing size, ‘skinniness’ or weight. Appreciating our bodies, focusing on the positive and setting healthy goals will not only change your outlook, but will allow you to create a true lifestyle makeover.
Healthy habits, nutritious food and fitness should fit naturally into our lives, and flexibility is the key to a long lasting healthy lifestyle. We built our Athlean-XX for Women fitness and nutrition program around the concept of flexibility. Our Nutrition Plan does include a set 90 day meal plan for those who want it, but you also have the alternative of eating based on a set of flexible guidelines instead. We recommend women eat small well-rounded meals 5 – 6 times per day to stay full and energized, help boost metabolism and get adequate nutrition for exercise. Our Athlean-XX for Women Fitness Plan is flexible too – these challenging but effective 30 minute workouts can be done at home with our DVDs or at the gym with our Girl on the Go Workout Cards. If you’re looking for a healthy lifelong nutrition and fitness solution, we encourage you to give Athlean-XX for Women a try!
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