The Pursuit of ‘Happiness’: Chasing the “Perfect” Body

I am very much into the whole idea of Active Living, healthy eating and just leading a clean, full and happy life. And as I had said in a post before, it takes a certain degree of obsession (and I speak for myself here) to keep motivated and determined to continue living this way until it’s basically second nature. Until you don’t even have to make a conscious effort to remember to exercise, or to grill your meat rather than fry it and so on.

I am also crazy about exercise…about moving and keeping active. For me, sitting still for a period of time makes me feel like I’m wasting time. Unless of course I am watching one of my favourite TV programmes, I cannot just be still watching TV for hours on end. I have to move, play a sport, go to the gym, read a book…something to keep my body and/or my mind active. Yes, as you can see, a little bit of obsession plays a role. But it’s a healthy obsession…an obsession that fuels motivation.

And then you get that type of obsession where somebody is striving for a specific goal. But that goal is rooted in achieving a certain image portrayed by society as sexy, beautiful and what a girl and/or guy should look like. There is a certain perception of what the ‘perfect’ body should be.  And some of these perceptions are down right scary. People are doing some crazy things like crash diets and all kinds of “miracle” cures that will give you instant desired weight loss results in a short space of time. Someone somewhere claims they have found the magic silver bullet. And hey, some of these work. For a while…in the short term. But as we all should know, in the long run, these solutions aren’t sustainable and cause more damage to your body.

So, going back to the “perfect” body. I am a follower of BodyRock.tv (heard of them? Go and check out their site. And try out some of the exercises if you dare!!). I follow their blog (The Daily Hiit Blog) and came across this similar discussion. This relentless desire to attain the “perfect” body.

What does it mean to be skinny?

What does it mean to be skinny? Picture courtesy of The Daily Hiit Blog

These are the five traits identified by Rachael Wright as the ultimate physical characteristics many want to attain as they continue to chase the “perfect” body. Perhaps you have heard of a few of them…the thigh gap seems to be the most popular these days.

Collar Bones: Is this really necessary for a perfect body? Apparently so. Protruding collar bones have somehow made it onto the ‘must-have’ list for a “perfect” body. Really?! Can anyone say “anorexia”?

Big Boobs: This is an old age must-have. I guess it’s a personal decision when it comes to implants and the like. But being confident, comfortable and okay in your own skin, small or big boobs…you still rock!

Flat Stomach: Another that has long been an absolute must-have. I’ve actually given up on doing crunch after crunch and have found that you get better results by learning to engage your abs in every single type of exercise you do. From arm exercises, to legs and cardio. Strengthen your core…focus on whole body exercises. Aim to lose belly fat.

Hip Bones: Yes. Like the collar bones, your hip bones are considered sexy if we can see them spiking out. Again, Can anyone say “anorexia”?

Thigh Gap:  According to research that Wright conducted, it all has to do with the pelvic structure. “A loose pelvis is what creates the thigh gap. If you have a tight one, not so much.” So stop trying. Just focus on health and being fit.

How can perfection equate to protruding bones and gaps in your body?

Sometimes you can be really amazed at some of the things that people will do.

Well…until the next post; keep healthy. Stay fit. Take care! 🙂

 

Because It’s Summer, Now You’re Hitting The Gym…

Hi there!

Another gloomy and overcast day in Johannesburg and still no sight of rain. It’s been threatening to pour by the bucket load for days now and yet zilch…well at least where I am.

Nonetheless, that has never stopped me from keeping fit and active. Just yesterday, at half-past nine in the morning, I was already out the door and on the road for my morning run – in the cruel cold wind that kept nipping at my finger tips and my nose, I still was out there. And every time, when my run or workout is over, I never have a shred of regret as to why I had woken up so early, out in the cold, and decided to go running.

Throughout the entire autumn/winter months, I was out there…running, working out, woke early to go to gym. And of course there were some who just looked at me like I was some kind of foreign species that did not understand autumn/winter meant snuggle in, eat comfort food and just do nothing. That it was much too cold to do anything. I did it anyway. And now that spring is here (well…despite the gloomy weather) and summer is just around the corner, they are now all jumping about, scurrying to the gym, trying to get back into the rhythm of a ‘healthy’ diet and exercise routine and stressing about the winter weight, the imminent December holidays and trying to get into shape so they can at least look good at the beach.

Pshshst! Look, the way I see it, Active Living and living a healthy lifestyle can’t be done in seasons or at certain points of the year. It’s something you do every day. It’s about consistency, dedication, determination and motivation. And above all, it certainly is not just about looking your best for summer or for a special occasion (a wedding, a big birthday celebration etc.). It’s about feeling your best all the time. You do this on a daily basis, you won’t ever have to worry about that upcoming high school reunion because feeling good, looking good, living healthy, feeling confident in your own skin and feeling confident about your body is something you work on every day. It’s like second nature to you. It’s not something you stress about because it is already an integrated part of your life. It’s how you live.

That for me is the goal. I want to do things the healthy way. That is where dedication plays a role. The healthy way may take some time…sometimes the results your are looking for take a very long time to show up. This is where determination plays a role. But you keep at it anyway (this is where consistency plays its role) because you got your eye on the prize…on the end goal that is worth every effort and every drop of sweat you produce – this is where motivation takes its place. If you can keep that cycle going in every aspect of Active and Healthy living (exercise, eating, nurturing etc.), you are well on your way.

It’s no news that the beginning is most probably the hardest part. Where do you find that motivation to keep going? In my own personal experience, starting small and slow is key. If you wan to change something that will affect the rest of your life (and we talking BIG changes here), you are going to have to wean yourself off your bad habits while learning to adopt new healthier habits to replace the old ones. For example, one of the first things I did to help me get into the groove of a healthy and balanced diet was to change the way I prepared my food. I still ate the same foods I had always eaten, I just cooked them differently. I cut out all frying and instead I chose to grill my foods. I went from frying my eggs to either boiling or poaching them. I eliminated salt and instead chose to use herbs and spices such as turmeric. I cut down on sugar dramatically. I now get most of my sugar from the fruits I eat. I now take no sugar I my tea.

These changes happened over a period of time and I soon began to make bigger changes – absolutely no white bread or refined carbs alike. I prefer not to eat anything fried although there are much healthier options (coconut oil for example) that you may choose to utilise. I am always looking at food labels, particularly for sugars, fats and carbohydrate information. I have also familiarised myself with the different names that are used for certain foods – for example, sugars take on names such as glucose, fructose and galactose (simple sugars); sucrose, maltose and lactose (compound sugars) – with all the hidden sugars in products sold these days, I felt it important to know these kind of things.

These are changes that I know I will be able to sustain for a very long time. Most probably for the rest of my life as long as God and my health allow. Changes that have now become such a part of what I do every day, they don’t even feel like I’m doing anything different. And it’s because I do them every day that they have become my way of life. It’s always difficult when you start something, you get it off the ground and somewhere along the line you quit for whatever reason. And then you find that, again for whatever reason, you need to get back on track and pick up where you had left off when you had quit. It’s hard. And then you quit again because now it’s winter and the weather just doesn’t permit for that kind of lifestyle. Come mid-August, you realise spring is nearly here…and you want to pick up on the exercise and healthy eating again because soon it’ll be beach weather. It’s like yo-yo dieting but with exercise. How demotivating is that…!

It would drive me crazy. Maybe it takes a certain type of person to be able to pursue this lifestyle? I don’t think so. I have seen so many people who have successfully been able to lead a healthy and active lifestyle…and seeing where they had started, their journey and how much they have achieved, it makes me believe that anyone who is truly consistent, dedicated, determined and motivated can achieve this goal and any of the goals they have set for themselves. It takes a certain amount of obsession. And I have people thinking I am crazy. I don’t care. I am happy and I am fit and I am healthy and I love it.

Well…now that the rant is over :-)…very much enjoyed writing this post.

Until the next post…take care 🙂

July Favourite: Lorna Jane – More – Road To Active Living

Hey there!!

WOW it feels like forever since I last posted something on the blog. I miss you all so very much. But after more than a week off (and being so busy), I am back! Happy Monday 🙂

Today’s post will be a mixture of a Health and a Monthly Favourites post (since I wasn’t able to do a July Favourites last month).

As you all know, I am such a health freak. I just love to be healthy, to eat clean and live an active life. And a brand that inspires, lives and promotes these same ideals is the Lorna Jane brand. Lorna Jane is a leading retailer of women’s active wear and are fierce advocates of an active lifestyle. I came across their brand about fifteen to eighteen months ago through a friend who had purchased a few of their active wear and just raved about how amazing they were. So I did some research myself and just fell in love with the entire brand.

The brand was founded by Lorna Jane Clarkson (Chief Creative Officer) in Brisbane, Australia in 1993 when they opened their first store. The brand is all about active living, fitness and fashion – designing for women by women. Lorna Jane is a brand that looks to inspire health and get women motivated and is centred around “a three pillared philosophy“: MOVE NOURISH BELIEVE.

I was so fortunate to be able to get my little hands on a signed copy of Lorna’s book More. Thanks to the amazing people from Lorna Jane South Africa.

Lorna Jane Clarkson's MORE

Lorna Jane Clarkson’s MORE

Signed copy

Signed copy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyday I am inspired by people who live an active and healthy lifestyle. I am inspired by those who commit to making this a part of their lives. Moreover, I am greatly inspired by people who understand that this kind of lifestyle is not about fads or just about dieting and exercise . This is a lifetime commitment. It’s a promise you make to yourself, your body and your soul to keep yourself as healthy as you can. To take care of yourself. It’s about sustainability. Something you can do every day for the rest of your life.

LJ 4It may seem like a load of work to do and a bit of a drag to make sure you eat a balanced and healthy meal three times a day every day with equally healthy snacks in between. To make sure you get in your fruits and veggies; to make sure you relax and stress less; to make sure you are of sound mind; to make sure you have energy and live with vitality in order to fully appreciate and enjoy your life. It takes commitment, dedication and daily practice. And believe me when I say it takes discipline – self-discipline.

Be smart and stick to your dreams and your goals. It will be worth it. I believe this with all my heart. Don’t give up and don’t be side-tracked by people who are off track. Keep focused.

“The more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle.”

I hope you have been inspired as mush as the Lorna Jane brand has inspired me. Until the next post…take care! 🙂