Improve your self-image

Every year I sit on my couch and watch the Victoria Secret Fashion Show. As I watch these beautiful women strut down the runway with flat stomachs and thigh gaps, I think to myself how many kale salads and 5-mile runs do I need to do to look like that.

If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering why I was not blessed with a high metabolism or cheek bones like Kiera Knightly.

The better question is why is the focus in Hollywood, the media and magazines always on the body image of women?

I spoke with Teresa Malcolm, MD, a OBGYN at a Banner Health Center in Surprise, AZ, who shares some tips to help change the way women and young girls feel about their self-image.

“Not everybody is blessed with a seemingly flawless genetic make-up, so comparing ourselves to those who were born with what society says is a ‘perfect’ figure is the wrong way to conceive a good body image,” Malcolm says. “The genes we are born with play a huge role in determining what our body will look like.”

Although it may seem like Jennifer Lopez was put on Earth by a beauty god, Malcolm’s next comment is right on point.

“Many of these celebrities that we compare ourselves to have entire teams of people whose jobs are to make them look perfect, but at the end of the day nobody is perfect.”

We are told early in life that if you want to change your life you must first change your mind.

But where do we start?

In order to achieve your own version of perfection you must start with a healthy and happy mind, as “If you are concerned about your weight, talk to your doctor about what is and is not healthy. The primary goal should be to improve your health and wellness. While having a healthy weight is important to having a good body image, there are many other aspects as well, ” Malcolm suggests.

Both nutrition and exercise are vital to keeping yourself feeling happy as well as accomplishing weight loss goals. You are what you eat, right?

I’ve seen many “proven” celebrity diet schemes. I’m not the only woman who has wondered if a juice cleanse can actually give me the flat stomach I’m looking for.

Malcolm warns us not to be fooled by the plethora of “fad diets” that are being promoted. “In reality, they are the least effective way to lose weight and keep it off. These types of diets typically cut out some sort of nutrients that your body needs, such as carbohydrates, and will end up leaving you dehydrated, exhausted and malnourished.”

Stick to a diet that does not cut anything out completely, but has a healthy balance of everything your body needs.

Abs are made in the kitchen, but endorphins are found in exercise. Exercise should be fun, not a chore. Malcolm suggests that you explore the multitudes of exercises and pencil them into your schedule three to four times a week. Check out 5 steps to get back into exercise for tips to ease your way into exercising.

Remember to keep a positive attitude throughout this process. Results are not immediate and you could find yourself feeling down if you don’t see what you want. Malcolm reminds us to stop and smell the roses, praise yourself for the things that you love—a quirky personality, bold blue eyes or fun fashion sense.

“If you feel as if you are crossing the line from wanting a healthy body image to wanting to lose as much weight as possible and obsessing over your diet and exercise routine, speak to somebody you trust immediately,” says Malcolm.

“These behaviors are often linked to eating disorders, which increase the risk of health problems and can be fatal.”

Developing a healthier and happier relationship with yourself is the best way to cultivate a healthy body image. Comparing yourself to what you see in the media is unrealistic, so put down that runway magazine and grab your tennis shoes for an uplifting class of Zumba.

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