|I often think back when I was in high school and college and participating in ballet and competitive aerobics. The pressure of staying thin was nerve-wracking and distressing. When I performed, I always knew eyes were not only on your skill, but also on your physique. I pushed it to the limit back then- over-exercising, lifting heavy weights, fad diets, or just not eating at all. And, the more weight I dropped, I never seemed to be satisfied.
This poor self image changed when I finished getting my Masters. At 22, I realized that I would never be 5’9” and have the legs of a Rockette. I accepted what God gave me- a short, muscular physique. From that point on, I truly appreciated myself, and began working in a different direction. I modified my goals; instead of trying to be a supermodel, I just worked on feeling good. I did moderate cardio exercise 5 times per week for 30 minutes1 hour, versus 2 hours on a Stairmaster. Instead of getting in a rut of lifting heavy weights daily, I lifted weights twice per week at challenging, but comfortable resistances. I added physical activities I truly enjoyed doing: yoga, Pilates, tennis, walking. I did these activities because I wanted to, because they felt good.
On days I did not feel well, I either skipped the workout, or just didn’t do as much. I finally listened to my body, instead of Cosmopolitan magazine.
My eating habits changed. I ate 3 healthy meals and snacks. I would allow some fat into my diet, instead of scrutinizing the nutritional content of everything that was placed on my plate. I even have occasional sweets without guilt.
I noticed if clothes were fitting tighter, instead of weighing myself 5 times a day. A tight pair of jeans was my notification to decrease the sweets.
The outcome of this paradigm shift... I feel better than I ever have. I weigh the same as I did in high school, but actually look leaner. I feel energetic because I eat good foods on a regular basis, and perform moderate exercise consisting of activities I truly enjoy doing. Even though it can be disconcerting to see overly thin women plastered everywhere in the media, I’ve learned to ignore them. And, I now look in the mirror and am pleased with who I am.
Dyan Quesada, MPT, ATC