I know what it feels like to be a size 6 and I know what it feels like to be a size 16. It doesn't matter what size you are, it is almost as if some of us have been hardwired to find fault with our bodies.
Over the years, I have fought with my body, starved it, overfed it, overexercised it, and underexercised it. It has taken me years to actually wave the white flag and surrender to my naturally curvaceous shape. It has been one heck of a journey to achieve balance and accept that I am naturally a more curvaceous woman.
I think perhaps I may have been born into the wrong era. I would have been totally "en vogue" during the Renaissance period. During this time, voluptuous bodies were considered absolutely beautiful. Looking maternal, fertile, and nurturing was really favored; I would have fit in perfectly.
At each stage, though, my self-esteem has stayed firmly intact, and that is one thing that has been unshakable regardless of my size or shape. My size has never defined me. The number on the scales has never reflected my personality or my integrity, as it cannot measure my worth as a person. Is it thin thighs and flat stomachs that change the world? Absolutely not! It is women who are proud, passionate, confident, and self-assured that really make a difference.
We have an intense exercise track near our home. Every day people run, walk, and climb this track to improve their fitness and health. One particular morning when I was driving to the clinic to consult on wellness and weight loss, I was sitting in my car at an intersection waiting for the traffic lights to change. I watched the endless stream of men and women race toward the track to tackle the climb.
I noticed one woman on this day among the hundreds of people exercising as her energy and confidence really caught my attention. This woman was about to walk the track. She was dressed in shorts and a white T-shirt and looked quite tan, curvaceous, and full-figured. What stood out about her was that she just radiated good health.
She looked fit and totally healthy; she was bounding with energy and was extremely proud of her body. I have to say, as I waited for those lights to change, I couldn't stop staring at her. Even from a distance, her energy affected me.
Her confidence from afar changed the way I consulted, and it also changed the way I looked at my own body. To date, many of my clients would set a goal to lose a kilo a week. Sometimes they would aim really high and try to lose 2 kilos in a week. When weigh-in day came, if they had lost half a kilo they would instantly drop their bundle.
The disappointment of not smashing their goal outshone the fact that they had just made a massive improvement to their health with all the positive changes they had made. The devastation of not cracking that number on the scale was enough to send them spiraling out of control and to quit the whole healthy eating program.
From that day forward, when I consulted with clients, instead of setting weight-loss goals, we set positive-change goals. We removed the scale to see how successful we could be if we shifted our focus. Instead of measuring our success with how many kilos we had lost, we measured our success with recording the number of positive changes we had made.
From walking an extra 10 minutes every day to eating more greens, from skipping all alcohol to stretching and meditating daily, from drinking more water to enrolling in a Pilates class. These became life-changing achievements; we shifted our focus from losing weight to gaining good health.
The commitment to change had to be for life, so we signed contracts of commitment to forever quit dieting and instead embrace healthy eating and healthy living as a lifestyle. Week by week, I saw these massive changes in my clients. At each consultation, when we removed the scale and shared these enormous daily positive actions and life-changing commitments, suddenly goals toward getting healthy were being smashed out of the park.
We applauded one another when we walked an extra kilometer daily. High-fives were given when we went from consuming one glass of water a day to eight a day consistently. Suddenly everyone seemed to walk taller. Energy levels changed when we quit that fight with the scale and made peace with our bodies.
Instead of feeling deprived by dieting, everyone felt uplifted and rejuvenated from all the incredible healthy choices being made and healthy activities being undertaken. It was life-changing and liberating. No one felt restricted; they instead felt empowered by their choices.
Instead of criticizing our shapes and our waistlines and focusing on our weaknesses, we embraced them and found ways to support and nourish our individual needs. Instead of fighting with our bodies, we acknowledged that each curve, each wrinkle, each scar made up the story of who we were as individuals.
We realized that thrashing about trying to attain something that wasn't achievable for our shapes or our individual make-up was not going to move us forward. Instead, every time we made better choices, we empowered ourselves and jumped ahead.
Day by day, week by week, everyone was rewarded with good health. Naturally, those who needed to lose weight did so at their own pace. Blood pressure dropped, cholesterol was reduced, and clients got fitter and shed kilos without even thinking about it. Most importantly, we acknowledged that one size does not fit everyone, especially when it comes to diet and exercise.
Each and everyone involved in my clinic got completely in touch with their own body. They embraced their curves and their individual shapes and worked on nurturing and loving themselves with positive change that filled them up and didn't strip them bare.
At every session, each client committed to working with their body and not against their body. The following positive affirmation became our mantra:
"I love and accept every curve, every fold, and every part of my body."
Making peace with our body ultimately lies in realizing that it is not our body that needs to change; it is actually our mindset and choices that need to change. If we stop the judgments and the criticism and actually embrace a new perspective that empowers us to feel beautiful, healthy, and confident, when we give ourselves permission to be ourselves completely and nourish our body with healthy food, exercise, and self-love, we release our mind, body, and spirit from struggling.
Love yourself enough to make peace with your body no matter what shape you are. Accept that the only way to stop the struggle is to really appreciate all your curves, all your folds, and all your individual, beautiful imperfections. Embrace and love your body. It's the most amazing thing you will own.