Sometimes the key to getting what you want is letting go. Personal trainer LIZ COSTIGAN says it’s time to ignore bikini body countdowns, learn the shortcuts to staying fit, and celebrate the body you have.
Breaking news: Nobody is perfect and no body is perfect. If your sole purpose is to achieve body perfection, you’re doomed to fail because it simply does not exist. We are all perfectly imperfect, whether we accept that yet or not. Imagine what would happen if we tried to take a different approach to summer and beyond. What if we vowed to be more positive and realistic about our bodies? Together, let’s make the shift from looking at our body as something we need to change or something that fills us with guilt or disgust, to learning to view it as the extraordinary vehicle that it is. Promise to become best friends with your body, treat it with love and appreciation, and aim to find your best summer self this year.
Focus on your self. It’s time move on from feeling self-conscious to cultivating self-care. Your self is so much more than the skin on your bones or the size of your thighs. Yes, the outwardly appearance of your body is important, but what about all of the other wonderful layers that you and your body have to offer the world? Your body is a miracle, which carries out extraordinary functions that keep you alive, help you thrive, breathe, move and feel. This is something we must celebrate and nurture. We live in a society where we are constantly told we need to change our lives – lose weight, gain muscle, eat healthier, get a better job, earn more money – it’s neverending. Rarely are we told that we are good enough just as we are.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s ok to want to change. It’s ok to want to feel and look good on the beach or anywhere else, but your intentions must come from a place of love and acceptance of yourself. This can be difficult to do, but through practice, it is possible. Without it, true change cannot happen. You must constantly remind yourself that you are enough. Affirmations are a wonderful way to practise creating more acceptance and love. You are sending a clear message to yourself that whatever you are affirming is important to you. Over time, this can become how you truly feel. Here are some examples: My body is able; I am perfectly imperfect; I am heathy, I am thriving, I am alive.
Tell your inner critic where to go. You know who she is – the voice in your head who is constantly pressuring you to be perfect. This inner judge is a bully. Replace that voice of criticism with one of compassion. Let love and inspiration be your guide, rather than judgement and guilt.
When you accept and love yourself, choices that you make will be for your benefit. You won’t be going to the gym to punish yourself for overeating, you will instead move your body because it’s fun. When you deeply care about your wellbeing, you will exercise knowing that it is good for you.
Rather than thinking about food as the enemy or something you have to fear, begin to think about food as something that nourishes and enables you to thrive.
• Incorporate seasonal produce into your diet. Right now, think radishes, peppers, hake, sea trout and basil. Food in season tastes so good, and when you feel satisfied after eating, you are less likely to pick.
• Add healthy options to your diet rather than taking the unhealthy ones out. It’s always so difficult to remove foods; so instead of banning foods, try to make unhealthy dishes healthier – add salad to a pizza and a side of greens to your takeaway. This makes them more nutritious and these extras will fill you up so you won’t eat as much of the less nutritious foods. Every day, try to be mindful of small things that can make a huge difference – drink water, eat more fibre (berries, beans, oats), reduce your salt intake, watch your processed carbs such as white rice, bread, pasta and, of course, sugar, and enjoy those healthy, unprocessed grains like quinoa and brown rice. Keep a list of the things you would like to incorporate into your daily routine and begin introducing them one by one.
• Green foods are great, and there are so many to choose from. They are rich in vitamins and minerals, are super for detoxing, and contain lots of water.
• Keep a food diary to be more mindful of your choices. Taking notes of your dietary intake helps to keep you on track and brings clarity in helping to identify where you might be going wrong – is the evening your time to hang out of the fridge? How can you change this? You will become a more mindful eater, meaning you can begin to nourish yourself in a healthier way. It also shows you how well you are doing and is proof of your progression and achievements.
Find your movement medicine. Exercise makes you feel better physically and mentally, but only if you are enjoying what you are doing. Don’t get me wrong, I love to run, but sometimes it’s tough, sometimes I really don’t like it. That’s different to hating something but doing it just because it gets you fit. This is a waste of precious time. Take time to explore and find something you love – dance, run, cycle, stretch. Do what works for you, and it will work for you. Who said being fit meant you had to be miserable?
Focus on getting strong and feeling healthier rather than losing weight. Your weight fluctuates every single day so measuring this is incredibly inaccurate and really frustrating. Don’t do it to yourself. Ditch the scales and use your strength and health as inspiration. Move every day – even if it’s a brisk walk to the bus stop or around the block – and at least three times a week, get out of your comfort zone. Your body wants to move; it needs to move. It functions better when it moves. This doesn’t mean you have to run a marathon. Just simply move.
The best time to work out? First thing. It’s when your cortisol levels, the hormones responsible for stress, are at their lowest. The less stressed you are, the more weight you will lose, particularly around your stomach area.
Ask yourself why you are exercising. If the answer is simply to get an Insta-body, then maybe you need to re-evaluate the “why”. This is not an empowering reason, and it sends a nasty message to your beautiful self that you are not good enough. Instead, find a more empowering reason – do you want to exercise so that you can run a 5K for charity? Do you want to feel fitter so you can play with your kids? Focus on the empowering “why”.
Liz Costigan’s Urban Wellness Retreat takes place May 14 at The Marker Hotel, positivefitnessproject.com ￼