Fitness Motivation: Be Strong. Be Beautiful. Be You.
We have been misled by the overabundance of toned physiques we see in the media on a daily basis. It’s time to reassess our idea of what “beautiful” is.
We are constantly exposed to images of toned physiques, which isn’t always a negative thing, but they can often be used in a misleading way. I believe that there is a positive way to look at images of fit and healthy people. In the same way that seeing fast food ads makes you start craving unhealthy food, seeing healthy body imagery can serve as a motivating force to get you off the couch and moving. In my experience, this initial, externally-focused motivation of wanting a perfect body, such as those we see in magazines or online, is often quickly replaced by a true understanding of how living a healthy, active lifestyle can make you feel and look better.
Quite often people feel guilty for being motivated by vanity, but it doesn’t matter what your source of motivation is. Whether you’re motivated by the health benefits of living a healthy lifestyle, the idea of achieving your idea of perfect physique, or by the really cute active wear that comes with living an active lifestyle, it’s okay! You don’t need to feel guilt about your reasons for wanting to improve. So long as you are making positive steps toward getting fit and healthy, it’s a positive thing. Whatever your overall body goal is, just remember that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes and true beauty is what happens on the inside of your body. Maintaining an overall body composition that is within a healthy range and feeling good is what I believe is most important. Of course, matching your workout shoes to your outfit is a great perk, too.
As women, we should embrace our friends who are sharing their fitness progress, feel happy for the fitness models on the cover of magazines and be inspired by the women who like to wear fabulous outfits to the gym. Always remember that your positive progress and enthusiasm can serve as inspiration for others. We all have certain areas of the body that frustrate us and you should not feel guilty if your motivation for fitness and healthy eating comes from trying to correct your trouble areas. In fact, this is often a passing phase and eventually the amazing feeling that a healthy lifestyle evokes will allow you to forget about that specific area altogether.
Here are some tips to help you with stubborn female trouble spots while keeping your overall health as your priority:
Refine your overall approach: Work toward achieving an improved overall fitness level and incorporate your body-specific or target goals into that plan. Working on your trouble spots a few times a week will help you to feel a sense of control.
Boost your cardio to burn fat: Cardiovascular exercises, such as running, cycling, biking and swimming, burn calories and often even stored body fat. If you are trying to burn some fat off your hips and booty, making sure that you engage in cardio is essential. Remember that you can’t decide where your body will burn fat from – there is no such thing as spot reduction. However, adding 30-45 minutes of cardio, three days a week, will help you to burn fat. To make your cardio lower body specific, try running, climbing hills or give spinning a try.
Build up your muscles: If you want to improve the muscle tone in your lower body, you must do lower body exercises as part of your routine. My favorites for toning hips and booty are squats, lunges, step-ups and leg lifts. Even if your aim is to slim down, building muscle is a perfect choice. Start out by performing the exercises, using your body weight, then progress to adding resistance with dumbbells or a bar. Three days a week for 30 minutes is a great start.
Make small dietary changes: Having good nutrition is one of the most important factors of improving your body. If you want to increase your muscle mass, you must be consuming adequate protein. If you increase the amount of exercise that you do, you must ensure that you are staying well-hydrated and consuming good carbohydrates. My tip is to write down your daily consumption in food diary so that you can see what you are putting into your body. Make small changes to cut out any junk foods and replace them with healthier options. If you focus on snack time to start with, you may be surprised how many hidden calories you are consuming. A reduction of just a few hundred calories a day can make a big impact on your body composition over time.
Even before you begin to see results, you’ll find that simply taking small steps to improve your body will help you to boost your overall confidence and self-image. Always remember, ridding yourself of any guilty feelings you have about your health and fitness journey is critical.
Written by Samantha Clayton. AFAA, ISSA – Senior Director, Worldwide Fitness Education at Herbalife.