January is coming to a close, and by now we’ve been bombarded by more articles about how to get our ‘best body ever’ than we even know what to do with. We’ve learned enough diet secrets to fill up a diary, enough new moves to audition for Dancing With The Stars, and about enough new miracle products to set up shop. And frankly: we’re exhausted.
What if we told you that the so-called secrets to your best body don’t come in a can, a bottle, a cream or a Crossfit? What if each trick to achieving your most awesome self was simple, accessible, and realistic for the life you’re living at this very moment? What if the decisions you made, the ones that had nothing to do with calories or reps, were the decisions that actually helped you get that figure you covet? What if – just go with us on this one – your best body ever was actually the one you’re in now?
You’ve read about all the new fitness trends and diet tricks. Here are seven other ways to get your best body ever. Turns out, it’s all in your attitude.
Learn what your food tastes like.
Cut back on or eliminate sauces, dressings – don’t worry, you get to add them back in. But not until you learn what food actually tastes like. It’s astonishing that so many people think certain foods are seemingly tasteless: celery, cucumber, jicama, the list goes on. Guess what? The only foods that are truly tasteless are those manufactured in plants by chemicals, not grown amongst plants by farmers. These processed foods are usually either the perfect vehicles for those heavy dips, sauces, and creams that add taste and texture, or are so laden with extra salt and sugar (not to mention preservatives) that they’re practically health bombs waiting to explode. When you start to remove all the fixins and get down to food in its purest form, you’ll realize that everything has a specific taste. Certain sauces, dressings or spices actually enhance or compliment these tastes. Moreover, you’ll learn that fresh, whole foods can sometimes be wonderful just the way they are! Learn what your food tastes like – your body might just breathe a sigh of relief and start to crave the good stuff.
What is just as unhealthy as an unrelenting drive-thru habit? A person who is so consumed with nutritional perfection that it affects every single aspect of her life – personal, professional, spiritual. This is disorder territory, and it’s dangerous. Even if you don’t go down the path of anorexia, orthorexia, exercise compulsion or the like, we tend to freak out if we make a “bad” food choice and use it as a way to berate ourselves. Un-perfecting yourself makes it a whole lot easier to get back on track when you slip up and to avoid binging on what you’ve deemed “bad” when you’re tempted. You are not living in extreme black-and-whites, therefore the bigger picture is clear – and positive. When you’re nice to your body, it relaxes and realizes it doesn’t need to be on the defense, armed for your next attack. And a relaxed body is a happy, healthy body.
Do it for your skin. Or nails. Or hair.
Fun fact: What helps one part of you helps all of you. Skin acting up? It might be time to cut out sugar or soy (our personal skin saboteurs). Turns out, damaged dermis, brittle nails, or less-than-luscious locks are usually the outward, obvious manifestations of an internal imbalance. Maybe you’re not taking in enough calcium, or maybe your excessive tofu habit has gotten your hormones out of whack. Whatever it is, once you make a change, you’re likely to see results relatively quickly. This can be a welcome confidence boost and help you stick with whatever healthy habit you’ve adopted.
Sleep on it.
It’s a common weight loss tip, getting your eight nightly hours. It keeps your metabolism in check, aids digestion, etc. But what’s more important is that eight hours keeps you sane, confident, and ready to conquer the world. When you feel good about the energy you’re putting forth daily, that confidence starts to radiate from the inside out.
Think about your workplace: If you have cool projects to work on, an inspiring culture and the role of your dreams, are you more likely to stick with your job or look elsewhere? No matter how hot the newest craze is, no matter how many friends you have at Body Pump, no matter how many free passes or Groupons you’ve racked up, if you don’t like the type of workout you’re doing, you won’t see lasting results. Why? Two things: stress and investment. Exercise gets your heart rate up, triggers your fight-or-flight reflexes, and is physically stressful enough as is. When you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, your mind actually adds to and sustains the stress by equating it with a chore. With no positivity to combat this pressure, your cortisol levels stay high and your body resists change. Moreover, when you are not invested in what you are doing, it’s a sure-fire recipe for burnout and you’re way less likely to stick with it, much less make it a part of your lifestyle.
The rub down.
So often we don’t bat a lash at being mean to ourselves – not because we’re inadequate, but because we’re removed. Just like we’ve forgotten what food tastes like, we’ve forgotten what our bodies actually feel like. Take the time to practice self-massage (Massagetherapy.com offers some wonderful starting tips), or simply develop a habit of applying lotion or body oil to your skin before bed each night. When we can notice the way our skin feels, relieve a tight muscle, feel the way each part of our body miraculously fits together, we become creatures to admire instead of objects to critique.
When it comes to self-talk, have you ever heard the advice, “If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself”? Turns out, this advice works in the positive direction as well. When we compliment others, whether it be on a new dress or on their killer smile, we are training our brains to speak kindly. And as with anything else, practice makes permanence. When your mind practices the art of reassurance and positive reinforcement, its wires get untangled and positivity starts to become your own vernacular. Your “best body” becomes the one you are in now, because you realize that even on the gloomiest days there is something wonderful about it that keeps you shining. Maybe it’s your strong legs that can take a brisk walk down the block, or your skin that no matter how stressed you get always seems to bounce back to its radiant self after a little extra TLC. Maybe your figure rocks a chambray shirt like none other, maybe your toes peek out of your wedge sandals like little painted flowers budding in the spring. Maybe you’re feeling bloated and lethargic today, but how about that time yesterday you felt like you could conquer the world (and then Mars to boot)? When you’re nice to others, you’re nice to yourself, and you will start making decisions from a place of self love instead of loathing. Now that’s what we call a success.