Submitted by: Joanne Perez, Real Bite Nutrition
If it’s March, then it’s National Nutrition Month! What started as a weeklong event in 1973 to bring attention to the importance of nutrition in the lives of Americans has evolved into a month of promoting not only nutrition, but also all aspects of a healthier lifestyle.
This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is encouraging Americans to “Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle” by focusing on food consumption and choices and incorporating exercise to achieve and maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of chronic disease and enjoy an overall healthy way of life.
So we know that food, exercise and stress play major parts in a healthy lifestyle, but there is another component that is also vital-body acceptance. Without some level of body acceptance, the other 3 components will be affected and not in a good way. If you are constantly comparing yourself to others and/or always thinking, “If I just lost 10 pounds, I’d be happy.” you are going to be stressed out, most likely exercise in ways that you hate and have an unhealthy relationship with food. Body acceptance is one of those concepts that is easier said than done and you don’t have to love your body 100%, you just have to accept what can’t change, try to change what can realistically be changed and change your thinking to focus on qualities other than your body.
What are some ways that you can start learning to accept your body?
- Step Away From The Scale
The number on the scale is just that a number. It doesn’t define your intelligence, compassion, integrity, courageousness, sense of humor, passion, patience, optimism and/or strength. These are the qualities that make you unique and lovable so embrace them.
- Treat Yourself As You Would Treat Others
When people ask me about a certain “diet”, I always ask them “would you want your best friend/daughter/son to be on this “diet?” Guess what the answer is 99% of time-no. So why is depriving your body ok, but not ok for someone else?
- Talk Nicely
This goes hand and hand with treat yourself, as you would treat others. Would you call someone fat/ugly/unworthy to their face? Probably not, but we constantly look in the mirror and tell ourselves that we are ugly or fat or old looking. Look in the mirror and talk nicely, pointing out the positives and more importantly, why they are pluses. Those wrinkles are not a sign of getting old; they are sign of years of smiling and laughing. And that not so taunt stomach is a reminder of the beautiful children you brought into the world or the time you spent having fun with family and friends instead of spending hours upon hours at the gym.
- Ditch The Skinny Jeans
Don’t hold onto clothes that you will never wear again or feel like you have to wear the latest fashion trend. Instead wear clothes that fit YOUR body, are comfortable and make YOU feel pretty. Work with your body, not against it.
- Appreciate Your Body
You might not be the size or weight that you want to be, but your body gravitates to the weight it wants so you can walk, dance, breath, laugh, etc. Focus on what your body can do, not what it looks like.
- Be Critical Of The Media, Not Yourself
Just because something or someone looks a certain way in a magazine, movie, etc., doesn’t mean it’s real (or even realistic). Instead of being critical of yourself, be critical of the images you see that have been photo shopped and/or airbrushed.
- Develop A Healthy Relationship With Food And Exercise
Don’t be obsessed with calories and hours spent at the gym. Learn to relax around food, eat all foods (provided you like them and aren’t allergic), enjoy the act of eating and find ways to move your body that you find fun and realistic for your life. Think of what you could be doing with the time you spend thinking about food and exercise.
- Do As I Say, Not As I Do
Actions speak louder than words, so be the example you want others to follow. Being positive about your body shows confidence and a love for life and isn’t that what you want the young people in your life to aspire for.
It’s time to take a Real Bite out of your negative thinking about your body and enjoy life. As Ferris Bueller said “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”