It’s Healthy Weight Week this week, and we’re taking this as our cue to accentuate the positive about our bodies.
Obsessing about our weight is a modern-day affliction. Women especially are fighting a constant battle to get to the ‘perfect’ body, through various diet and exercise plans. If we’re honest, a lot of us come to yoga as just another way to lose weight. However, once we commit to yoga, it becomes clear that body weight is far less important than flexibility, strength and feeling comfortable in our bodies.
So, in honour of Healthy Weight Week let’s do a positive check-in with ourselves, because it’s time to stop criticising and start celebrating! Here are six ways to enjoy being happy and healthy…
1. Balance Your Energies
In this age of information-overload, we are relentlessly bombarded with often-conflicting messages about how to live a balanced life. Do we need to drink green juice to be healthy? Do we need to exercise three, four, five times a week? It’s time to simplify matters and take them into our own hands.
We are all essentially balls of energy, powered by the sun. The sun’s energy powers photosynthesis, which helps plants grow, which then feeds animals and ourselves. We eat and breathe to power our biomechanics and we work our muscles to increase our strength. In science-speak:
“What makes life possible is the transformation of the potential chemical energy of fuel molecules through a series of reactions within a cell, enabled by oxygen, into other forms of chemical energy, motion energy, kinetic energy, and thermal energy.”
The (very simplified) equation is energy in = energy out = balanced body
Of course, we’re not going to get the balance right 100% of the time since, being human, we’re programmed to treat ourselves and sometimes we really do deserve it. But as long as you stick to the equation of energy in = energy out then, being an intelligent being, you’ll get to the right energy level to make you shine.
2. Enjoy Food
In our capitalist society, we have grown accustomed to thinking with our consumer heads. We tend to lump food in with our other purchases of handbags, furniture or yoga blocks. We forget that there is a fundamental difference between food and our other purchases — we need food to survive! So what’s not to love about food? We need to stop being negative about food and our relationship to it.
To start with we need to optimise our bodies to eat well. We can do this in three ways:
- Only eat when you’re hungry — If we’re not hungry our digestive systems will be inefficient, leading to partially digested food, increased body fat and an uncomfortable you.
- Be present while we eat — Practise mindful eating. Instead of always doing something else when eating, experiment with consciously savouring each mouthful.
Eat food that both you and your body enjoys — choose wisely what fuel you put into your body. For some people this means cutting down on sugary treats, for others this means having a fresh juice every day. If you’re honest with yourself you know what food your body struggles with, so allow your body to enjoy eating as much as you do.
3. Enjoy Movement
The best starting point to ‘doing more exercise’ – which sounds like a punishment – is to think, what movement does my body enjoy? When do I feel happy in this wonderful body I’m lucky enough to have? Work that out, then do more of the particular movement that works for you.
We, of course, suggest (re-)committing to your yoga practice. There are so many different types out there – gentle, vigorous, acrobatic, precise. Just because one type of yoga makes your next-door neighbour feel a million dollars, doesn’t mean it will do the same for you. Try them all, see what fits, and then do more.
The other way to enjoy movement is to know your limits. As long as we remind ourselves that exercise is something to push our bodies, while still maintaining the love of exercise, we’ll keep our minds happy too.
4. Choose Confidence
I can guarantee that there isn’t a single human being in the history of mankind that has felt 100% confident in themselves all the time. Not even Jennifer Lawrence. So what are we aiming for then? We’re aiming to choose confidence.
Think of an outfit that makes or made you feel powerful. Now imagine you’ve got it on and you are absolutely rocking it. Then imagine you’ve switched the radio on and it’s blasting out the song that immediately makes you stand tall and sing along really loudly. The sun is shining, you’ve put some shades on and you now feel as tall as the Shard. Nothing’s going to stop you!
You can choose that confidence whenever you like, it’s all yours.
5. Get To Know Your Body
The key to health is appreciating the bodies that we have. In order to appreciate them, we need to get to know them first. Geeta Iyengar has a whole chapter in her book Yoga, A Gem for Women called “Know Your Body,” which describes in detail how the various systems work in harmony. She advises yoga practitioners to fully inhabit their bodies so that they know the difference between when their body feels healthy and when it is out of balance and feels unhealthy.
This goes for our weight too. BMI can be a useful guide to working out what our healthy weight is, but it was actually a tool invented by life insurance companies in order to penalise those applying for life insurance. BMI isn’t really accurate, because there are so many factors involved in what an individual’s healthy weight is. The best way to ascertain your ideal weight is to get to know your body. If you often feel tired or bloated, you may well be overweight, but it’s different for all of us.
6. Choose Happy
We can get to the ‘perfect’ weight, we can do all the right exercise, eat the best food you can with 100% mindfulness, but we can still be unhappy. Happiness isn’t a place that’s reached once we’ve ticked off all our boxes. It’s something that we can decide to feel right now. In order to be happy we need to feel content and find pleasure.
So think of one thing in your life that makes you feel content, whether it’s your children (when they’re asleep), holding your partner’s hand, feeling warm… anything. Then think about something that gives you pleasure, whether it’s naughty or wholesome.
See Also: How to Get The Perfect Yoga Body
It’s easy to fall into the trap of negative thinking, but positive thinking is just as easy to fall into. You just have to be a Pollyanna and look for the things that make you glad in any given situation.