Why is it the same every year? January comes along, fills us with regret for an over-indulgent December and the self-flagellation begins. We restrict our diet, we remove anything and everything that brings us pleasure and we do it cold turkey style! We then add exercise to the mix - usually intense and extreme - and somehow expect to be motivated and inspired by this. For some unknown reason we think this is a positive way to greet a New Year.
I am a Fitness Trainer and Yoga Teacher and I believe that, for most people, this isn’t the most productive way to begin the year. You can decide for yourself but here’s how I feel after years of body shaming my way through January. First and foremost you are perfectly imperfect as you are and there is no need to change. This is true whether you choose to believe it or not. We live in a society that harps on too much about everything we need to change about ourselves- we need to be skinnier, fitter, happier, more successful and earn more money. Everywhere you look on social media there is pressure to change and be better. Rarely are there messages telling us that we are good enough the way we are.
My favourite quote says it better than I ever could;
“Embrace the glorious mess that you are”.
How true is that? We all have issues and things about ourselves that we would like to improve – that’s ok but I believe that true happiness can only come from a place of self-acceptance and love. Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with setting goals and planning for a healthy year. I encourage this and think it’s a wonderful way to motivate yourself and inspire others around you. What’s really important though is that these goals come from a good place. They come from a place of kindness and compassion – towards yourself. A healthy body can only stem from a healthy mind. True change cannot happen if you don’t support yourself - your body and mind must be on the same team.
Do you think criticising yourself is the way to get you moving and bring health and happiness into your life? Punishing your body is not taking care of it. This year, try to make your resolutions about health, wellbeing and self-care. Focusing on a number on the scales is not health. Depriving yourself is not health. Comparing yourself to others is not health. I know how easy it can be to fall into the comparison trap – social media thrives on this. You might argue that these people inspire you or make you want to achieve goals like theirs. That’s ok – but please be honest with yourself, is this desire to change coming from a place of love for yourself? Do these comparisons really serve you in a positive way? Generally they answer is no. They set you up for failure because whoever you are comparing yourself to is not you. They don’t have your genetics, your life experiences, your gifts. You are not them, they are not you and this is something to be celebrated. We are all unique – embrace your uniqueness. And remember, what you see is very often not reality anyway. We are all “glorious messes” even if it doesn’t always look that way from the outside.
Life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. I know it’s rather cliché but it is true - getting healthier, fitter and achieving your goals must be something you enjoy, if not you will give up. Work with your body, not against it. The results you will achieve will overwhelm you and you will have fun along the way, doing what’s right for YOU!
Treat your body like the powerful, supportive, incredible vehicle that it is. Be kind to it. If your thoughts are steeped in negativity and your internal dialogue is one of self-criticism how do you think your body is going to react to this? Become friends with your body and remember that balance is the key in everything you do;
“Drink wine, but don’t forget your green juice. Eat chocolate when your heart wants is and kale salad when your body needs it. Wear high heels on Saturday and walk barefoot on Sunday. Go shopping at the mall and then sit down and meditate in your bedroom. Live high and love. Move and stay still. Embrace all sides of who you are.” Rachel Brathen
Best Wishes and Happy New Year - Liz x
P.S. You can catch Jo and try her delicious snacks at Fresh Resolutions this Saturday in Dublin Castle. A fun filled day of health talks, fresh food and advice for all. https://freshresolutions.com/