_ When it comes to feeling confident with your appearance, I've found the most important factor isn't how you look, but how you feel. With the media distorting everything and giving people unrealistic expectations for how they should look, eating right and staying active can often seem hopeless. I've linked the photo on the left to a website that shows some pictures of celebrities before and after photoshop just to illustrate my point a little and give you a mini confidence booster. Living a healthier lifestyle will make you feel better overall which in turn will make you happier with how you look.
If nothing else in this blog post sticks with you, remember this: you don't have to be "skinny" to be beautiful. There's a huge difference between being skinny and being a healthy weight. For a good idea of what a healthy weight range is for your age, gender, and height, check out this "ideal weight calculator". After entering in your information, this calculator provides you with the average weight people think they should be as well as a realistic healthy weight range. Please keep in mind that the lowest recommended number should not necessarily be your weight goal.
Now that we've talked about finding a healthy weight for you, I want to talk about why you shouldn't obsess about it. If you're overweight, don't focus on losing weight, focus on getting healthier because as your health improves, you'll lose the extra weight. The only thing weighing yourself constantly can do is discourage you. Your weight fluctuates by several pounds throughout the course of a day so if you are going to weigh yourself, try to stick to the same time once a day for a more accurate reading.
Another very important thing to keep in mind is muscle weighs more than fat. Don't get discouraged if you seem to be working really hard, but your weight is increasing; you're probably losing fat and building muscle. Many women are afraid of adding on too much muscle, because they don't want to look bulky. The reality is, women can only build so much muscle. After a certain point, your strength will continue to improve but your muscles won't look any bigger, and in order to look "toned" you need to build some muscles.
So how can you achieve a healthier lifestyle? I've got a few tips to help you get on the right track and stay positive. When it comes to eating healthier foods, stay away from "diets". I say this because nobody is perfect and chances are, you will stray from your plan from time to time. Instead of giving yourself strict rules that are so difficult to follow you're more likely to break them than follow them, create guidelines and goals that are easier to stick to. For example, instead of vowing to never eat sweets ever again, try to limit yourself to one treat a week. Another option is trying to find ways to make certain foods healthier like baking cookies with whole wheat flour instead of the more heavily processed enriched white flour. Simple switches like that can allow you to continue eating what you love while slowly making the transistion to a healthier lifestyle.
Going along with the "anti-diet" approach, remember that you don't have to change everything at once. Giving yourself little victories every day will keep you optimistic whereas little "failures" will discourage you, making the whole process more difficult. For example, choosing a side salad instead of french fries would be a little victory if you're trying to transition into healthy eating. If your diet plan involves having so many servings of fruit a day, and you don't quite make it, you're likely to get discouraged and maybe even quit altogether. Don't set yourself up for failure! If you want to eat more fruit, start slowly by making sure you have at least one serving every day. Once you get into this habit, increase this to two servings every day until you've reached your goal amount of servings. Once you're used to eating more fruit, you can add another goal such as drinking more water or eating more fiber. I think you'll find these mini-goals are easier to stick to and end up being more rewarding because you can actually acheieve them.
When it comes to staying more active, find something you love to do, and if you're unsure of what you like, try several things until you find what's right for you. Don't feel like you have to do something you hate! If you don't like running, don't force yourself to jog on a treadmill for 30 minutes to get in shape. There are many ways to stay active so there's bound to be something you like.
I could go on and on about all the different little changes you can make to improve your health, but the bottom line is you have to find what's right for you. When you feel healthier, you're going to become more confident and stop focusing on the little things you don't like about yourself. When I say I'm out of shape, people tell me how skinny I am, but being skinny doesn't mean being happy and healthy. When I eat crappy foods and sit around watching TV all day, I don't feel good, in fact I used to have stomach aches and headaches all the time. Now that I've committed to trying to eat better and work out more, I feel better and I don't care about the extra bits of fat I have here or there. I feel like I have more energy and I don't feel like I need to sleep in anymore. It's a viscious cycle: the healthier I get, the better I feel which makes me want to excercise and eat right more which makes me feel even better, etc.
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