I spoke a great deal in part’s one and two about how diets genuinely do little more than see our bank balance go down. For those who want to lose weight though – where does this leave things? If the ‘answer’ is not dieting – then what is? At the end of part two in this series I asked anyone who wanted weight loss solutions to ask themselves a very important question – the question of “Why” they wanted to lose weight. I feel reasonably confident to say that most people want to lose weight because they are either a) unhappy with their body or b) need to lose weight due to health concerns. Many times if b) is the reason why, a) may also play a role in the weight loss desire.
For anyone who is unhappy with their body but genuinely does not need to lose weight because of a health concern, this is actually an issue of self esteem, body image and confidence. If you feel this may be you, I implore you to recognise that very few people are genetically geared towards a thin body type. Beauty, health and vitality come in all shapes and sizes and you do not need to be a certain dress size to experience the positive body image and outward glow and health that comes with that vitality. Please don’t spend your hard earned money or precious thinking space on ways to lose weight when you don’t need to. Instead, read all you can about ways you can develop your body confidence and self esteem. You might like to start with any topic here at Beautiful You related to body image and self esteem or any of the body image blogs linked here as well.
For anyone that falls in the category of needing to lose weight due to health concerns, please ensure firstly that these health concerns are genuine. Do not be scaremongered by BMI testing, businesses that claim to have your best interests at heart, or the message that just because you are not thin, this means you must be unhealthy. Genuine obesity related health concerns can only be diagnosed by a doctor and the wider media and advertising world should play NO role in this potential diagnosis. If you are worried about your health – do seek out a doctor’s advice, but even then I wish to say you need to be wary about any prescribed diet. If it involves any of the factors mentioned in part two of this series – see another doctor, as they are grossly behind the times when it comes to understanding the psychological and physical complexities of weight management.
So…what’s the big health and weight loss secret that doesn’t involve dieting or extreme exercise? I don’t think it’s a secret at all really – just something so often overlooked and not talked about enough. It’s balance. Striving to lead a life that is as balanced as possible in all its aspects – food, exercise, sleep, relationships, self, work, leisure. Note I mention here that this is not just about food and exercise. For far too long now I believe we have been fed the overtly simplistic notion that the ‘answer’ to weight loss is “eat less and exercise more”. Problem is – that just ain’t workin’ for the majority of people – in fact, it’s making things worse, because it does not see them as a whole person, or recognise that our health and well being is so much more than just what we eat or the exercise we do. It has created an obsession with food and exercise for so many people, and the belief that these two things are the key to weight loss dreams.
So…what do I mean by balance and living a balanced life in this context? Put simply, balance is about calmness, equilibrium, gentleness and at all times treating yourself with the utmost love and respect. I believe that if we could all just encourage ourselves to seek and live this balance, that any concerns that may exist about our weight (whether purely psychological or about weight related health concerns) would slowly, but powerfully, correct themselves for a lifetime.
What does this balanced life look like? It involves wherever possible –
– Ensuring you get sound, restful sleep, that sees you awake refreshed and energised. Without this you reduce your ability to think positively about yourself and have the energy required to enjoy life at its fullest.
– Never letting your body be ravenously hungry, often something that occurs when dieting. This is a sign your body is out of balance and could lead to bingeing and feeling desperate for sustenance.
Finding fun physical activities that move your body in a life affirming way. This balance concept does not involve exercising for weight loss, only for health and well being. It certainly would not see you exercising to exhaustion or extreme. It also does not have to involve ‘traditional’ forms of exercise, but instead could be something like dance classes, tai chi, yoga or walking a dog. I truly believe there is at least one, if not more, fun actitivies like this we can all find to be part of our lives. If you haven’t found yours yet, please keep searching.
– Weather permitting, spending at least a small part of your day breathing fresh, outdoor air. This is particularly important if you work in an environment where you are indoors all day.
– Blessing your body and life by eating mindfully. This is the greatest balance related way that can see food be something that is enjoyable and pleasurable in your life. It will involve you learning to listen to and love your body in such a way that you will not abuse it by eating too much or too little, or using food as a way to medicate yourself due to potential feelings of loneliness, loss or depression. If you have not heard of mindful eating before The Centre for Mindful Eating is a great place to learn more.
– Give back to another life force other than people. Nurture, feed and water, a plant, a garden, or a pet. They will bring beauty to your life.
– Develop relationships that allow you to be your one true self and never detract from your self esteem. If you need to balance this part of your life by shedding anyone that dismisses you or puts you down – do not be afraid to do so. You don’t need anyone in your life that does not believe in you.
– Don’t push yourself too hard. Being frantic and frazzled is not balanced and often leads to eating on the run or not eating at all. It also impacts on your sleep, mood and relationships. Understand sometimes that taking things easy and going slow is perfectly ok.
– Indulge yourself with things that make you feel beautiful and special. You might be a manicure or pedicure person, like getting facials, or your hair blow waved. Massages are wonderful too. This is all a part of balanced self care.
Every now and again just do ‘nothing’ and do not feel guilty about it. Have a nap in the afternoon, sit outside in the sun and have a long, cool drink, read a trashy novel, watch your favourite tv show. “Veg out” to balance all those times when you are so busy.
– Revel in the uniqueness of your outward self by never comparing your body to others. Why do so when you are a beatiful entity on your own? Comparisons will lead to unbalanced and negative thoughts about not only yourself, but potentially others as well.
– At all times nurture positive belief, affirmations and self thoughts that place you at the centre of your world and being. By doing this you are not being selfish, but instead are cultivating a belief system within yourself that you deserve to treat your body with the utmost love, respect and attention. This one thing alone, in aiming to lead a more balanced life, could completely change your life for the better.
So…there you have it – my personal and professional belief that balance is the key to weight related concerns. I truly do believe that anyone who tries to incorporate these balance notions in their life will have a more positive and vibrant outlook and enjoy a glow and vitality that will see them be a powerful life force.
It is important to recognise however, the journey to or achievement of this balance will not necessarily see you, or anyone else, become thin. That’s not the idea here. What it will see for yourself is greater self esteem, positive body image, mindful eating and exercise for health and wellbeing, that should lead to your natural body shape. For some, this may mean no weight loss at all, because no weight loss was what your body was naturally asking for. It may have been only something you thought you needed, to be more attractive or confident. Instead of losing something, ie. weight, I hope you instead gain peace of mind and a quiet, balanced confidence in yourself.
For others of you, it may mean a change in body composition because you were out of alignment and balance. As mentioned, this will not necessarily mean you become thin. There are many different natural set weights and body compositions, and remember, healthy bodies come in all different shapes and sizes. If you achieve greater balance in your life as a whole, your body shape will also naturally balance itself to where it is most healthy and vibrant for you. You will not need a bathroom scale to tell you when this has happened or is happening. You will feel it in your heart, soul and mind.
As we come into the New Year, if you set but one resolution for yourself that may be related to your weight, body, diet or weight loss, I hope it will be one that is about balance. I know it is not easy, but finding more balance in your life can be a gentle journey of self discovery that could change you for the better forever.
Whatever 2010 holds for you I hope it is a year where you nurture your inner self, believe in your inherent qualities and live each day with passion, balance and vitality. You so deserve a year that is as wonderful and special as you are.