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The Importance of Body Image…..What are we doing to the next generation? | Lauren Hannon

Kim_Beach_Gym_004For my first blog I should start with a bit of background information on me. I first started weight training when I was 16 years old. I was a petite girl weighing around 47kg throughout most of high school. I joined a gym where my boyfriend at the time trained and I just went along and used the machines under his guidance not really knowing too much. After about four weeks a girl who trained there came to speak to me. She was lean, great definition in her body and looked strong and confident. She told me she saw me when I joined and said she could already see a difference in my back and my posture since I started. I was stoked. I don’t even think I’d noticed anything physical by that stage but I know I was feeling good. And that was the start of my journey into fitness. I certainly wasn’t a gym junkie from the start but the positivity of a stranger telling a 16 year old girl she’s doing and looking good certainly made an impact.

So let’s skim over, almost 20 years from then.  I’ve done all the cardio, pump classes, body building, German volume training, bit of powerlifting, Olympic Lifting, CrossFit you name it, I’ve more than likely tried it. Of course I’ve tried all the diets, low fat, low carb, high protein, high fat, paleo, zone, pre-packaged diet plans etc etc I’ve read all the books and believed all the hypes. I’ve been 67kg at 13% body fat back in my body building days where I ate more food than my “bodybuilding wanna-be boyfriend” 🙂 (I admit I get a bit FOMO (fear of missing out) with food in a relationship lol) and at one stage in my early 20’s I was probably close to 60kg and very wobbly but unsure about stats and body fat as I wouldn’t have wanted to face that truth but I knew I was out of shape, unfit and not happy for a couple of years.

So I’m currently 35. No kids (yet, hopefully, maybe, we will see) but of course I’m surrounded by young mums with beautiful babies and I am an Auntie to a gorgeous 2 year old girl so it’s important to me that we set a good example to our next generation. Strong is the new skinny. How could you not want to endorse that!? I’m not saying everyone should want to look like a female CrossFit athlete but having a healthy body that’s capable of moving and functioning well to a healthy old age should be a priority for everyone. Everyone is different. Body types come in a whole different range of shapes and sizes and we need to accept that we have the bodies we were born into and be realistic about what that body can achieve. I will never be tall, luckily for me it was never something that bothered me when everyone else grew and I stayed at my 12 year old height!

One of my closest friends recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.  She had a brilliant idea to make her a book to give to her when she is older, and they asked people close to them to give a piece of advice that she should have when she is growing up.  What a fantastic idea!  My advice was this:

When someone gives you a compliment, listen to it, take in every word, absorb it and say thank you. Never brush off a compliment, especially by highlighting something you think is a flaw.  If someone has gone to the effort of telling you something good about you, it’s a big deal.

This was important advice to me because throughout my life I have seen the exact opposite happen.  I still see it often.  Why is it so hard to say thank you and be proud of yourself?  I’m surrounded by super fit, strong and beautiful women and it’s sad to say most of them will still be hung up on some body part they don’t like while the rest of the world is looking at them thinking “man look at that rockin’ body!”

Don’t get me wrong, I am human, I am female, I have my moments (usually once a month) where I’m super body conscious and feeling gross.  I think I try to be more aware of not making a huge deal about it.  What about the girl who is busting her ass at the gym, she’s decided she wants to make changes to her body and she’s putting in all the work and she’s making progress and kicking goals.  She’s not where she wants to be yet but she’s not giving up until she gets there.  Then she hears the super fit girl she’s aspiring to be like complaining about being fat…how the hell does that make her feel?

How you feel in your own skin is by far the biggest thing that women can control but seem to have a hard time doing. If you’re not happy, you need to change something. If you don’t wake up feeling good about yourself then that should be enough motivation to get you started.

Remove negative self talk. This is by far the BIGGEST thing I can stress to you. No matter how far you are from where you want to be, you are there. It’s something you need to accept and then make a start. Could’ve, should’ve, would’ve is not your friend. Doing is your friend. No matter how small or slow to start DO IT. START.

I have clients who push themselves in every session, have come so far and look fit and fantastic and will still point out a part of their body they hate and its like that’s all they can see. Would you want your child to do that every time you mentioned something you were proud of? Would you do that to a friend if they said they were happy with their progress?  Would you point out a negative? Most likely not. You shouldn’t do it to yourself either. Talking negatively to yourself will do you no good, ever.
Wouldn’t you want your children to be proud of themselves for their achievements? Then why don’t you celebrate your own? Every little bit you do counts. Recognise that. Own it. Be proud. One little thing today could be double tomorrow and next thing you’ve ticked off a small goal. Then a big one. Then you’re well on your way to where you want to be. Don’t get hung up on the little things that didn’t go to plan. Life is like that, things happen and plans need to be changed. That’s something we all need to deal with. Be prepared for some setbacks but stay on track and allow room for errors or adjustments.

Give your body some love!  Start appreciating and respecting all the amazing things your body can do.  Focus on the positive qualities, skills and talents and less about how you look.  Definitely do not critique other people on their looks, it doesn’t make you feel any better about yourself, in fact it makes you feel worse.  Have you heard the expression when you judge someone you are judging yourself?  Well there is truth in that.  Criticizing someone else about how they look isn’t going to make them feel good and you wouldn’t want it done to you, so just stop.

Be mindful that your social media is full of photo-shopped images or of people who are “photo shoot” ready, they don’t live like that year round.  The media has a subtle way of sneaking in messages about “perfection” to your subconscious and you may not even notice.  If it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself “unfollow”.

Value who you are and not what you look like.  Having a negative body image is time consuming and extremely bad for your health.  The more time you waste obsessing over how you look, the less time you have to enjoy life and just be yourself.

Learn to have healthy appreciation of your achievements.  You can be confident without being arrogant, learn to know the difference. Have pride in who you are and what you’ve learned in your lifetime.  Lets lead by example and teach the little people to love the skin they’re in.

Lauren

PS: Please take the time to follow this fierce and fabulous lady by click here to her new Facebook Page – Lauren Hannon Strength & Conditioning Coach – love your first blog!! Kim x

PPS: You read more about Lauren and the rest of Team Beach (see us below!) by clicking here

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