Walking down the streets of Melbourne, Australia as a student years ago, I would pass by posters and billboards featuring tall, leggy models looking perfect and amazing. Oh how I wanted to be one of them.
As the years went by, I scrambled to get the latest makeup, creams and clothes that promised to change my looks and my life. But somehow, they always left me feeling empty and looking like … the same old me.
After I became a magazine editor myself, I saw all of the retouching, resizing and recoloring that went into making people look perfect just to sell dreams. That’s when I decided to reclaim my peace of mind (and confidence) by making my own rules for my body and mind. Here they are:
1. What you think of yourself is all that matters.
As humans, all of us crave approval and validation. But there’s a big difference between using this information as feedback to grow as a person, and becoming a follower of others' whims.
After years and years of trying to feed my soul with material objects and external approval, I’ve come to realize that only my thoughts matter.
2. It's my body, so I make the rules.
Some people say that carbs are bad for you. But I happen to love a freshly-baked loaf of sourdough, served generously with salted butter. I also happen to know which kinds of carbs wreak havoc on my gut and contribute to unnecessary inflammation in my body, so I don’t eat them every day.
I don’t believe in living my life on a heavily-restricted diet, but I’ve also learned what a healthy lifestyle looks like for me — and that is my top nutrition principle.
3. There’s no such thing as perfection.
Unless I’m nipped, tucked, lasered and beautified by an army of stylists and makeup artists, then Photoshopped, I’m never going to look magazine-level perfect. Ever.
Cellulite, stretch marks, calluses, wrinkles, uneven tan lines, scars and freckles — who cares if I have them? To me, these are proof of the life I’ve lived, lows I’ve been through, and the strength it’s taken for me to bring myself to higher ground.
4. I’m stronger than I think.
Just when I’m crumbling into a million pieces and don’t think I’ll be able to survive another heartbreak, I do.
Just when I doubt that I’ll be able to do another rep or take another step, I manage to squeeze in another 10. I never thought I’d be able to lose my excess weight, but here I am: 22 pounds lighter and helping others to reach their weight-loss goals as a food coach. The root of all my perceived weaknesses has often been self-doubt.
If you’re struggling with building strength inside and out, know this: You’re always stronger than you think you are.
5. There’s always a way up and out.
I’ve felt trapped, stuck, hopeless and deeply depressed on separate occasions, and even all at once.
What got me through these tough times? I always gave myself time to acknowledge these emotions and the thoughts that were bringing them about. I also realized that these thoughts were probably not true.
I read voraciously about the stories of others who’ve been dealt cards that made mine look like a walk in the park. If they could find a way out, so can I.