If you think the latest crash diet, a personal trainer to whip you into shape or the odd nip and tuck will help you become or stay gorgeous, you’re on a one way train to divorcing-your-body-hell. Perhaps you sometimes wonder how models, actresses and celebrities get incredibly good-looking and healthy and think easy fixes are the answer after yet another pic of someone slinking out of a PT session diet coke in one, low fat fries (I’m sure they must exists?) in other hand..? But just have a look at some of them ten, twenty years down the track and you’ll quickly realise that good genes, nice clothes and a good plastic surgeon aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Hot today, hideous tomorrow often applies to today’s sexiest but unhealthiest women in the media.
How do I know? Well, I started modeling when I was 16 and have been to that place myself. As an uber tall, skinny teen with flawless skin and a metabolism that could burn through several cows in a day, I had no idea what I was doing. I actually went through a phase of treating my body like a vehicle to achieve what I wanted. I took our Western attitude of quick fixes. Results. External beauty. Not eating, extremely rigorous exercise to drop weight, having my eyebrows plucked to within an inch of their lives by make-up artists, hair blow-dried and tonged to death, masks on face that left it drier than my 80-year-old grandma’s… I was the picture of a young (and silly) high fashion model. I bought into the hype and believed looking good was all on the outside, rather than something that comes from within. I neglected my inner wellbeing.
It took me years to realise that beauty, health and fitness are truly just expressions of a state of being well on the inside. Lifelong beauty is a practice and habit as much as yoga, flossing your teeth or… smiling all day long. So when people ask me how I get and stay fit, strong and happy, my best advice is to start small. Forget about the dress you want to fit, the occasion you want to look good for. Ask yourself: What is it I could do right now to be happy and be well?
It may sound like a weird question but it’s actually what can help you become aware of what your body needs to be well. Personal trainers, nutritionists, diets – all of that can be great to achieve those outside results but if the inside doesn’t get love, no beauty will shine from within.
I love giving my clients the gift of yoga and Pilates. Both are great tools to help you become body aware and really sink into your body. Bringing your mind and body in the same place with exercise can help you listen to your inner voice more, create a sense of being “in” and “well” in your body. And that’s a great place to start your journey to inner and outer wellbeing.
Of course, you can reach that state in various ways. I like walks to immerse myself in nature, runs to feel my blood pumping, swims to cleanse and so forth… Start anywhere – even just the odd twenty minutes three times a week. The less forceful your attitude towards yourself and the more compassionate, the more you’ll enjoy the activity and will want to go again. There’s only one “rule”: just be! Be in the present moment. Be in your body. Be in nature. Be here. Now. Don’t let your mind take you on a rollercoaster ride away from your body and be”ing”.
Some people actually really like scheduling “me” time into their diary. What a great way to first make that commitment to your time to be present! Make sure you keep your date with the now. Or you could make walk dates with your friends to get you started. External motivators are very powerful if you lack motivation. But watch what you do when you meet with your friends. Talk about something uplifting, inspiring, beautiful. Easier said than done sometimes. Remember the rule: be. Encourage your friends to notice your surroundings Share this moment with someone close to you in a joyful way. Even walks in the rain are beautiful if you take in the smell of the fresh air, the calming sound of the rain and the cleansing benefits of water washing everything away… And if you start your journey with friends, you’ll hopefully enjoy yourself so much during your being exercise that you won’t need external motivators any more.
The first three to four times of any new exercise regime or new habit/ practice are normally the hardest. So commit to making them fun, reminding yourself exactly why you’d like to feel better, fitter, healthier… Then just do it. Simple as that. It’ll be a breeze. I promise you, by the 5th or 6th session, you’ll be laughing. Keep cues around the house, in your phone and car that remind you to smile, move and look after yourself in a nurturing way and it’ll get much easier. Once you’ve mastered the first few weeks okay, you may have created a new habit to being well.
Watch out for negativity though. Do yourself a massive favour and NEVER beat yourself up for missing an exercise in wellbeing session. So what? You missed the session? And? Beating yourself up or worrying about it is what will really hurt you and potentially trigger a downward spiral. The same goes for changes in your diet or lifestyle… So what you had icky food. Big deal. You’ve been eating healthily for days/ weeks or are at least making some changes! Be patient and compassionate with yourself. The rewards will be manifold.
From personal experience, I know exactly how easy downward spiralling can be. When I was younger, my attitude was very unkind to myself, I kept getting sick and pushing myself too hard. And even in the last few years, already working in wellbeing, teaching people to look after their bodies and starting to read up and learn to look after mine in a better way, I still managed to fall off the bandwagon A LOT of times. So what did I do every time that happened? I got back on. And again. And again. Practice!
With that practice you may experience first more of a connection with your body. Perhaps you start noticing small things around you and being grateful for the moments you experience – or people in your life. From that place, only good things can come. It’s the perfect place to start making some bigger changes in your life from. This is where you can find the energy to change your attitude towards your body. If you are present, it becomes so much easier for your body to find a happy weight, supple- and lightness. It’s different from forcing it into a mold that you’d like to fit. Now is when you can truly start exercising for wellbeing, eating for wellbeing and nurturing your whole being.
For the record, I still fall off the bandwagon and make less than optimal choices at times. But I no longer sweat them at all. I just choose differently next time. I’ve been practising yoga and Pilates for quite a while and I finally feel like I’m one in mind, body and soul. I no longer exercise to achieve anything. I do it for the pure joy of it. (At least most of the time.) It’s awesome. The advice I can give you on how to be well, happy, healthy and utterly glowing, is very simple:
- yoga (or Pilates if you prefer – to come INTO your body and start listening to it)
- meditation (anything counts! running, relaxation, swimming, walking – anything that works to quieten your mind)
- water (be around or in it to wash off the day, purify and cleanse – shower, ocean, sitting by sea, sailing)
- nature (connect with the outdoors and space around you whenever and wherever you can – sit and watch people, trees… smell freshly cut grass, flowers… listen to birds, tress..)
- connection (with others – not just family and friends but even strangers – in a compassionate and meaningful way)
I hope you enjoyed my post. I promise you, wellbeing is really is as simple as that. Small steps. Regularity. Practice. Allow your heart to open and come into your body to find it there – waiting for you.