Body Confidence: What Is It and How To Get More…

Over the past 12 years I’ve worked as both a Personal Stylist and a Personal Trainer.  As you can see, there is a thread that runs throughout my life… helping people to feel more confident about how they look.  Body Confidence!

The women who I worked with as a Personal Stylist thought they got in contact with me to LOOK better!  However the most crucial bit of information I always needed in order to have the biggest impact on them was asking ‘how do you want to feel when we’re done?’

The truth is they wanted to FEEL better about themselves!  That was the TRUE goal.  Looking better was simply a tool, or strategy we were using to give them a boost and help them to stop wanting to shrink away and be invisible.

The same goes for women who want to lose weight.  When I’ve asked clients before what their goal is, the most common answer is ‘to lose weight’ or ‘look slimmer’ or to ‘stop Yo Yo dieting’

Don’t expect to be motivated by the thought of ‘losing weight’ for longer than a few weeks or months.  Here’s why….

The truth is, achieving a body you are confident in means different things to different women.  Not everyone wants to be ‘thin’ or ‘ripped’ in order to have body confidence.  For some people, feeling in control of their diet or just working out gives them that feeling.  There are so many skinny people out there who do not have Body Confidence – I can assure you of that, as I’ve worked one to one with many of them.

Body Confidence is a FEELING not a look.

So whilst it’s only realistic in today’s world to work on your looks and want to be attractive, don’t create an identity for yourself that solely relies on you stepping on a set of scales and seeing a certain number.  This is never going to make you happy.

I’m not saying don’t try and look nice – I’m a massive fan of fashion, skin treatments, hair appointments, teeth realignment, and all kinds of stuff that makes you look good!!  However I don’t expect those things to transform my life or my confidence…. I just use them as tools so when I look in the mirror I feel ‘Yeah, I got this today…I don’t mind being visible today’ and then I get to work on the stuff that ACTUALLY,  over time, is transforming my confidence…. the difficult stuff like: –

  • Running a company and often feeling like I don’t know what I’m doing.
  • Facing serious Imposter Syndrome head on in a male-dominated industry where I feel like an alien
  • Raising two young children, one with Autism
  • Standing up for the rights of Autistic children (pretty much every day) and often being judged for it!
  • Putting my own experiences out in to the world with this blog (whilst I worry people will judge me!)
  • Pushing my body to the limits in training sessions
  • Committing to courses and education that I don’t know when I’ll have the time to do
  • Finding my way back to being a whole woman again …. not just a ‘mum’

You will have your own list.

You need to dig deeper in to the reasons WHY you feel that losing weight or inches will help you to feel happier or less sad.

Are you looking for a sense of achievement?  Do you want to be noticed more?  Admired? Or are you sick of being ignored?  Want to step out and be more visible but are ashamed of your appearance as you don’t think matches the ‘real you’?

Do you have a specific occasion in mind that you want to feel your best at?  Why is that occasion so important to you?  Why would losing weight make that occasion a better experience for you?  What would losing weight give to you at that very moment?

One of the biggest obstacles most unhappy people experience is answering the question ‘what do you really want?’

Most people can tell me what they don’t want. That’s easy.  They don’t want what they have right now.  That’s why they’re unhappy!

However defining what they DO want can be surprisingly challenging.

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Why Are You Reading This?

You’re here because you’re maybe dissatisfied or unfulfilled….possibly overwhelmed, depressed or frustrated in your frantic life as a mum, and feel completely lost because you don’t recognise the woman staring back at you in the mirror.  You have no idea how to change it, but desperately want to.  It just feels like a massive mountain to climb right now, and frankly you want a magic pill to change it, because you just don’t have the energy required.

The great thing about being lost is that it gives you life’s greatest opportunity.  To find yourself.  Your true self.

The people who are always ‘fine’ and ‘ok’ and ‘steady’ – the ones who seem to have an easy life – never get this opportunity because nothing drastic enough ever moves them to action.  You are different.

You get to rediscover, redefine, and even reinvent yourself.  Create a new path.

Stuff that Holds You Back

You can’t see HOW you can change your life because you have: –

  • No money
  • No time
  • Too many responsibilities
  • Endless to do list
  • No freedom
  • No support
  • No know-how
  • Fear
  • Lack of motivation or will power.

Essentially you’re feeling pretty drained and defeated….Read more on Drained Mummy, How to Rediscover the Joy in Your Life, or check out if you’re suffering from Mummy Burnout

I hate to break it to you, but these aren’t reasons you can’t change.  They’re reasons to not try because it feels too hard.  The reason I know this is because at some point or another I have used every single one of these excuses myself (and still do until I catch myself!)

Knowing Your Purpose Will Provide the ‘How’

In a way, adversity makes the success that much sweeter.  Nobody would see a movie about a rich, thin, toned, powerful woman with time on her side, and access to the world’s greatest experts achieve her goal.  It would be boring.

However, we all love a movie about someone who achieves their dreams DESPITE everything they had to face.  Now that’s inspirational.

The key to success and happiness is having a purpose or goal.  The reason that you can’t see past your ‘excuses’ or fears, is because you haven’t found a strong enough motivation TO see past them.  You don’t have a good enough goal.  Something that excites you.

When you know what you really want, and when you have very clear direction and purpose and REASON behind it, you WILL find a way.  Just trust in the process

Turning your life around, getting un-lost and feeling happier again is really quite simple.  You just have to take consistent action towards the thing you want.

Notice how I didn’t say it would be easy though.  You will have to push through some barriers if you want to stop saying you’re ‘fine’, being ‘ok’ and living a mediocre life.

The bottom line is let’s either get on with it, or give up and live a mediocre or worse, a miserable life.

It will be a fight.  It will take everything you’ve got.  But it will be worth it.

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Fears In Disguise

I know you may be skint, you won’t have any time to yourself, you always have a kid stuck to your side, you have nobody to support you, you have no idea what you are doing and you are scared shit-less of what the future holds.

But what you absolutely do have is the power to change your life.

The things that are holding you back may present challenges, BUT they don’t make achieving what you want impossible.  They do not make it impossible to try a new or different approach.

People have overcome the same challenges before you, and will do after you.  It’s triumph in the face of adversity.  And the brilliant thing about this is, that it means so much more to you when you overcome these challenges.  You feel stronger because of it.

Use Your Unhappiness

So right now you know you’re unhappy.

This could be the key to unlocking your potential because it’s probably quite easy for you to tell me exactly what you DON’T WANT.

EXERCISE 1.

The F*ck It! List

So start what I like to call, your ‘F*ck It! List’ – kind of like an anti-bucket list.

Essentially it’s all the stuff you want to NOT be, do and have in your life any more.

What do you never want to have to do again?

Mine went something like this: –

  1. I don’t want to be a SAHM 24-7. I just can’t deal with the intensity, the boredom and lack of stimulation.
  2. Wake up feeling like crap and not wanting to face the day
  3. Be a mean mum. I want my kids to remember me as fun and care-free, not stressed and resentful.
  4. Be around people who don’t want to achieve anything with their life. I want to be inspired and I want to be around people who ‘get me’
  5. I don’t want to work for someone else. I want to have freedom to spend time with my kids but I still want to contribute to something I’m passionate about outside of my family life.
  6. Spend time commuting each day
  7. Endless meaningless chores / cleaning
  8. Make decisions based on what people think of me (rather than what I want)
  9. Abuse my body by eating rubbish and never working out
  10. Live in fear
  11. Be bored
  12. Live a monotonous life
  13. Have no structure / aim / purpose to my day
  14. Have to go to endless playgroups / playdates which I find torturous

Get my drift???  Notice how often saying what you don’t want, then leads you on to the exciting stuff – what you DO want.

Right now just forget all the reasons you can’t have the stuff you want.  Pretend you have a magic wand….  Just work out what you don’t want.

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How to Work Out What You Really Want.

Take a leaf out of your kid’s book!

Kids never have a problem knowing what they want do they??  “I want chocolate for breakfast!” “I want your iphone to play on” I want I want I want.

When is it that we grow up and find it impossible to answer the simple question ‘What do you want?’

Taking Steps to Getting Un-Lost

Here’s what you need to do – channel your inner-toddler!

For toddlers things are simple.  They want this, and they do not want that.  Usually NOW!!  And they get really quite passionate about it don’t they?!

Well, that’s how we’re going to approach discovering what it is that you want from your life.  So get your best stroppy toddler head on and work through this exercise with me.

***Hopefully by now you should have done your ‘F*ck It! List’ – do that first before attempting this as it will make it far easier.***

What You DO Want

Knowing what you DO want is vital for motivation that lasts.

Speak to anyone who has mastered any field, whether it be losing weight, winning a race, mastering a musical instrument or moving house – they always had a vision of what they wanted to achieve.

The vision of what you want provides you with the ‘pull power’ to go through all the crap you need to do in order to get there.

Take moving house for example.  STRESSFUL.  So much to do, finding an estate agent, the tidying, the viewings, the search for the right house, the negotiations, the deal-making, the solicitors….You have to REALLY want to move to motivate yourself to go through this.  You really want to move because a) you want a different house / location that better meets your needs or b) because you really hate living where you live now.

Even if you really hate living where you are now, the risk feels too big to move – too overwhelming to get through – if you don’t know where the move will take you.  However the minute you get clear on where you want to be instead i.e. find a house you like, then it becomes far easier to do the graft needed.

The Never Ending Yo Yo Diet

Liken this to losing weight.

You want to lose weight because you hate the body you’re in.  You decide to lose weight.  You lose 1 lb.  There you’ve lost weight.  Feel better?  No.

Or you lose 14lb on a 30 day detox – great!  It feels so good losing that weight.  You deserve a treat.  You’ll pick up a takeaway tonight to celebrate because you ‘deserve’ it.  You’re no longer on a diet so you can cut yourself some slack.  A week later, you’re back to where you started because the push factor of not wanting to be in this body was removed the second you lost the weight….and so was your motivation to continue.

THIS IS WHY SO MANY WOMEN STRUGGLE WITH YO-YO DIETING!

If you don’t know ultimately what losing weight (and keeping it off) will mean in your life, the results won’t last.  You have to work out what you want from life, and how losing weight will enhance that life.

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EXERCISE 2.

What you DO want is usually just the opposite of what you definitely don’t want. It can be easier to describe what you don’t want, when you’re feeling low.  Hence why we do the F*ck It list first!

I’ll give you an insight in to my F*ck It! List, from when I wasn’t coping very well in my new role as ‘mum’ to give you an example.

  1. I don’t want to be a SAHM 24-7.  I just can’t deal with the intensity, the boredom and lack of stimulation.  I want to feel like I am contributing to something outside of my home, as well as within it.
  2. Wake up feeling like crap and not wanting to face the day.  I want to wake up feeling giddy, full of energy, happy and excited. 
  3. Be a mean mum.  I want my kids to remember me as fun, happy, inspirational and care-free, not stressed and resentful.
  4. Be around people who don’t want to achieve anything with their life.  I want to be inspired and I want to be around people who ‘get me’
  5. I don’t want to work for someone else.  I want to have freedom to spend time with my kids whenever I want.
  6. Spend time commuting each day.  Want a more productive use of my time.
  7. Endless chores / cleaning. Want a more productive use of my time.
  8. Make decisions based on what people think of me.  I want to follow my passions, instincts and interests.
  9. Abuse my body by eating rubbish and never working out, then hide it with ill-fitting, ugly clothes to make myself invisible.  I want to be fit, healthy and toned, and proud of my appearance.  I want to be seen, heard and inspire others.
  10. Live in fear.  Live with passion.
  11. Be bored.  Be excited.
  12. Live a monotonous life.   Go on adventures, travel the world and live a conversation-worthy, intriguing, and purposeful life.
  13. Have no structure / aim / purpose to my day.  Know exactly what I’m setting out to achieve most days.
  14. Have to go to playgroups which I find torturous.  Spend intimate, meaningful and fun times with my family and all of those I love, creating memories we’ll all treasure.

You see when you write it all out like this, you realise that most things are within your control.  Sometimes there are things that are not – usually to do with other people and their behaviour.  However you still can choose not to be around them as much or even at all.

Illness and death are of course another thing that can make us depressed, sad and lost and are not within our control.  However we all have to face these challenges in our lives at some point, so try to create daily focus on the things you CAN change.

Dig Deeper – The Details

If you’re struggling to find the answer for what you DO want, ask some clarifying questions.  Dig a little deeper.

For instance, if you’ve put ‘I don’t want to be around the kids all day, every day’ ask yourself some further questions such as:-

  • How often would be enough time away from them to feel sane again?
  • Would I like this time to be with other people or by myself?
  • What would I like to do with this time?
  • What would I like to do with the time I DO spend with the kids? How could that be more enjoyable for us all?

Keep asking yourself these questions until you get clarity on what you DO want your life to look like right now.

Clarify – The Why

Truth is, it’s really hard to take stock and work out what you actually do want, in detail.

Yes we all want a body like Gigi Hadid, legs like Kendall Jenner, the influence of Oprah Winfrey and a private jet to take us to our private resort in Bora Bora.  However those things seem pretty unlikely at the moment – especially if you’re a full time mum.

We often can’t see how it would be possible to even wash our hair every day, let alone accomplish anything really meaningful right?!

Well in order to get to the HOW, we must first deal with the WHY.

If the WHY (your reason / motivation) for your WHAT (you want) isn’t strong enough, you won’t find the HOW.  Let alone take action on it.

The WHY is your true motivator so it’s really important to find out what’s driving you to want what you want.

Help to clarify in even more detail what you want by asking the following questions to learn a little more about what is motivating to you.

  • What gets me excited?
  • When was the last time I felt in ‘the zone’?  What was I doing?
  • What topics can I talk about for hours?
  • What do I like reading about, watching on TV or researching?
  • What topics get me fired up and passionate?
  • What do I enjoy doing when I get the chance?
  • What do I miss doing?
  • What are my strengths?
  • Where do I add value to others through my strengths?
  • What have I been doing when I felt really great about myself? (if you can work out why an activity / event / task made you feel great, even better as you’ve then discovered what motivates and drives you and that’s really powerful!)
  • What would I regret not doing on my deathbed? (morbid I know, but I find that the answers to this question in particular end up being the ones that get people really excited about the possibilities for their life!)

Once you’ve worked all this out, you might realise that actually it isn’t your body that’s the issue at all!!!  You’d feel better if you just got to dress a little smarter every day rather than spend your life in jeans.

Or you might decide that actually if you achieved this life, you’d be happy in the body you’re in.

Alternatively you might decide that the woman who is going to live this life (you) looks different – a new hairstyle, different wardrobe, slimmer etc.  You can imagine this woman (you) living this life in a body that is full of energy and vitality, so exercise and nutrition are a must because they’re part of the person you want to become.

All of a sudden you have your motivation.  Lasting motivation.  You know the woman you want to be, and you’re going to start living that life right now.

Prioritise

If you’re anything like me, you may discover you actually want a lot of things!  That’s amazing – you now how lots of things to inspire you!

However it may feel overwhelming that your life is so far removed from this vision right now.

It’s therefore important to prioritise your top 3 goals at this point, so pick the top 3 things that would make the biggest difference to your life at this point.  What are the top 3 things that would you make you happier, the quickest or the most?

If you can‘t you must, and if you must you can.’ – Anthony Robbins

The Tricky Bit – The HOW

Now you can have a look at some options on HOW to achieve this.  Try to think of at least 3 options on what you could do to achieve each thing you want.

Get wild and just brainstorm until you can’t think of 1 more way to achieve it.

Example: I want 1 day a week for myself

  • Call a couple of nurseries to ask some questions and see if they have places. Find out prices.
  • Offer to swap babysitting services with a friend
  • Have a conversation with a family member or friend to see if they would be open to babysitting.
  • Chat with your partner to see if they would be willing to give you a day to yourself at the weekend
  • Perhaps look at how you could incorporate more of what you love when the kids go to bed (if you’re not too exhausted!)
  • Talk to other mums about how their kids get on in nursery

Now, you’re first reaction will be to think of all the reasons why these options can’t happen e.g. the no money, no support, endless to do list etc.

However try right now to focus ONLY ON SOLUTIONS.  Put all of your concerns to one side until you’ve played out all the options, had the conversations, made the calls and done some research.

Combine Where Possible

For example you may have down that you want:

  1. a) time alone each day – ideally 1 hr
  2. b) to lose 10lb in 3 months before my holiday
  3. c) to learn Spanish to speak on holiday

Try to think of ways to maximise your output and make the most of your time (as we know, you get very little of it when you have kids!)

For example, you may come up with the idea that for 1 hour each day, you could go for a walk / bike ride / run and whilst doing this listen to an audiobook that teaches Spanish.  This means that you’re working on all 3 goals in 1 hour each day!  It’s not always possible but where possible, combine as much as possible to maximise your results.

Take Action!

I mean like right now.  Just on one point.   Put this book down and DO SOMETHING towards one of your goals.

Have that conversation with your mum about babysitting now.  Call a nursery.  Check out night courses at your local college right now and make an enquiry. Download an audiobook that teaches Spanish.  Buy a new pair of trainers!  It can be anything as long as it’s an action that is one step closer to what you want.

People who achieve their goals and live happier lives are ‘doers’.  They work out what they can do and then they systematically work through that list until they make progress.  Then they write a new list, and start again.

It’s vital after doing these exercises that you take at least one action right away. 

If you start to justify why you shouldn’t take action right now realise one thing…

There will never be a time where you feel like doing the things are difficult.  Never.  The people who succeed do what needs to be done when they DON’T feel like it.  Read more about this on my blog about Procrastination and Why Waiting Until Monday never works

This is the point when you are (hopefully) going to be the most motivated and excited about the life you can have.  If you take action now you’ll create momentum.  If you leave it until tomorrow, I guarantee, life will get in the way and this time next week absolutely nothing will have changed.

Isn’t it exciting to think that just one action today could mean next week you could be seeing progress?  Wouldn’t you at least like to try?

So, I repeat. Go ahead NOW, and TAKE ACTION.

 

 

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