It seems that everywhere we look, we all get the same message: no matter what we do in life, no matter how smart we are, how talented, how successful, none of it will matter if we are not sexually desirable. Our worth is based on how many men want to sleep with us. This can lead women to giving up on their own interests, desires and needs for the sake of someone else's pleasure. Even articles and advice that appears to be in favour of women are often tinged with subtle subversive messages. Take, for example, all the articles that talk about how a confident woman is a sexy woman. Yes, promoting confidence in women is a really great thing. But calling it a 'turn on' (no matter how true it may be) sends the message that male sexual satisfaction is actually more 'important' than the confidence itself. Don't work on your confidence because it is good for you, work on it because it makes you appealing to others. We may not always be fully aware of these messages but they stick with us anyway and can lead to what one study calls 'self objectification.' In other words, women internalize the way magazines objectify us and that becomes their primary view of themselves. This can lead to hyper critical body monitoring and a host of mental health struggles. These thoughts seep into fitness routines too. Women often undertake workout routines with the goal of making themselves look better for others. Instead of doing a workout that she likes, she does one that she thinks will give her that beach butt she saw in Cosmo. But this isn't sustainable, as we all know, fitness works better when you have a specific and personal goal in mind. It has to be for YOU! The you that exists on the inside, not the one you think exists on the outside. Jessi Kneeland, a certified personal trainer from New York, recommends asking yourself these three questions: What feels good? What feels bad? What do I crave more of? Those answers have to come from you. Kneeland says, "You just have to teach yourself to crave it, by giving yourself something worth craving!" You are the only one who will know what works for you. Our society is geared towards thinking that being healthy is no fun but that really isn't the case. If you find a way to be healthy that best works for you, you will have a blast! Need help figuring out what makes you hum? Here are 4 steps from Kneeland that can have you living a healthy, happy and pleasurable life in no time:
- Write it all down! Keeping a workout or food journal, along with noting how you feel during each new experiment, gives you a concrete way of assessing which ones worked best for you. (For example, I love high-rep, muscle-building programs, but when I go back and browse through my notes, I see lots of “feeling wrecked,” “exhausted,” and “soooo hungry” scribbled around those workouts.) It can be as easy as jotting down “Ran 3 miles. Hated every second of it.” Or “Did hot yoga. Hard, but I loved how I felt after.”
- Start slow and commit fully. Make only one new diet or fitness change at a time, and commit yourself to it for three full weeks, whether it's a new supplement, a new workout program, a new diet rule, etc. If you try to implement all three at once, you’ll never know which variable was making you feel a certain way. If you quit after a week or two, you haven’t really given it a fair chance.
- Be brave. Step outside your comfort zone, keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Try different combinations of exercise and eating, work with different training partners, and read programs and articles written by different coaches. Keep what works for you and ditch the rest!
- Have fun. The journey is the reward. Fall in love with the process of experimenting with different ways to eat and move. After all, finding things that are fun, rewarding, and life-enhancing should feel pretty amazing.