Body Image, Self Love & Accepting our Ego

There has been a lot of discussion about self-love, body image, bikini and post baby bodies of late. This has prompted me to share some of my personal journey following the birth of my first baby boy just over four months ago.

Healthy comes in so many shapes and sizes - The perfect body means different things to each of us. One side to the 'body image' debate that is obvious is those that feel women who workout daily, have a goal to regain strength and fitness following a baby or aiming to feel more confident in a bikini aka have a 'bikini body'. All of these have been portrayed in the media lately as somewhat unhealthy, obsessed and setting an unrealistic example for others.

Personally I believe there is nothing wrong with having goals and wanting to keep healthy, active, strong or in shape. This becomes a problem in my eyes when it is not done in a balanced way and becomes obsessive, because to most people there is more to life than working out. For some women, achieving a physique worthy of entering a fitness competition may be fairly achievable, to others they may struggle to achieve any balance in their life as they work towards this. Regardless of whether you look like a fitness competitor, are excessively overweight or somewhere in between, if there is no balance in your life you most probably will not be happy.

Yes, there is pressure on females and their body shape - Regardless of if you have had a baby or not, and whether this pressure is real or perceived, it is there. For me personally being a health and fitness professional, I definitely felt pressure to look a certain way pre, during and post pregnancy. You feel that you need to (and want to) be a positive role model to those around you. This pressure though mainly came from myself and no one else.

There is WAY too much body and exercise shaming these days - There really is no one way to be fit and healthy. Whether you love cross fit, running, team sports, Zumba, the gym, walking the dog – whatever it is you do to keep active, make sure you do it in a way that you enjoy. That's the only way it's going to be sustainable. Learning the right 'life-long' health and fitness principles you can apply to your own lifestyle and what suits is the most important. That's not a fad diet, that's a lifestyle change.

Let's focus on what the body can achieve and how it performs, rather than how it looks. If it's appealing to your eye that's just a bonus – beauty is in the eye of the beholder after all.

Yes, we need to be happy with the skin we are in but we don't necessarily need to accept that we cant, or that it is bad to change anything about ourselves. Not happy with your relationship, job, hair colour etc? The beauty is that we can actually take control and change or influence these things. Not happy with your fitness level or strength? Why just accept that you are unfit when you can actually change this (only if you want to though of course). You can even do the same for your dietary habits! No one is forcing you to eat a salad, but no one is forcing you to eat a big mac either; the choice is yours. My point? Don't settle, but don't obsess either.

It is time we started spending more time uplifting and supporting one another on our own personal journeys to a healthier, fitter and happier life, however we choose to do it and regardless of our body shape and size. We also need to be more accepting of ourselves and comfortable with our bodies. Post birth this was something that I did struggle with. I really had to reset my expectations, ego, embrace my new body and respect what it had been through. I have accepted that my body will never be the same again but this is not a bad thing – I also know that it doesn't mean that it will never be fit, strong or sexy again.

Self-love is something that constantly needs to be worked on - it doesn't come easy. We have to keep persisting with positive affirmations and begin to see our bodies for what they can do for us rather than how they look. The relationship we have with ourselves sets the tone for every other relationship we hold, therefore it is so important to get this relationship right.

What is a balanced lifestyle to one will mean something else to another. We all have bikini bodies (to achieve this all we have to do is simply put on a pair of bathers!), we just need to rock them with more confidence and a little less shaming.

Brooke x