You Are Beautiful by Farnoosh Brock

by Anne-Sophie

in Blog

When I was 16 years old, I would get every issue of Mademoiselle, my favorite magazine. This was not only because I was crazy about all things French-sounding but also because that was my idea of happiness and beauty. I then entered a period of obsession with food, especially as a result of all the diet-related articles on Mademoiselle. In fact, come to think of it, it was not even so much the articles as it was the pictures that instilled my earliest ideas of self-image. And not a great one, either!

Then it began, my obsessive calorie-counting phase that, on and off, lasted over three years. You might be familiar with the drill. I would count calories of everything before I put it in my mouth; occasionally, hunger would get the best of me so I would count the calories after eating the food. This was not good so I would consume myself with guilt and promise to do better the next day. When I knew that I had gone over my daily limit, I would chew my food and then spit it out and proudly record zero calories. Disgusting. Awful. Shameful. I know, but I might as well tell you the whole truth. Right?

Until I was about 18 or 19 years old, I had an obsession with food simply because I understood neither my body nor my food.

You have to remember that back then, there was no internet, no iPhone, no Google, no Facebook. The world as we know (and love) it did not exist even in our wildest imagination. There was only books and magazines and television, and your exposure was likely to get influenced to some extent with society’s image of what is healthy and good for you, mostly driven by advertising campaigns.

How limited is that? How appropriate is that for countless teenagers, all with different bodies and challenges and each person with a unique genetic and physical and emotional makeup? How difficult is it to create a healthy image when you are trying to find your place in the world by fitting into it and what the world offers in return is far from fitting for you?

The idea that you could be beautiful and not skinny was really not that prevalent. Even if the media never, ever spelled it out, you knew well that beautiful was synonymous with skinny and healthy was neither important nor sexy. This is a scary place to be as a teenager and a young adult. I look back and feel so grateful that I did not develop serious eating disorders and that I was able to find my way to loving my body through understanding it well, and I can only hope that the same is true for you, because the pressures around us are enormous, and it takes a lot of self-confidence and education to take the right steps toward embracing our bodies and ourselves.

Today, I am proud to have a healthy and strong body, and one that I treat as my temple and my greatest treasure but getting here took a long time.

First, I found exercise, thanks to the YMCA, and I fell in love: aerobics and cycling and kickboxing and swimming and the machines in the gym. It was a new world. Exercise opened my eyes to a new way of seeing my body. The stronger I became, the sexier and healthier I felt, and I moved toward a more balanced diet.

Soon after exercising, the obsession with calorie counting started to wane, although there were periods in college when I was working myself to the bone through an engineering program, and I had gained some weight, so I did the only thing I knew to solve my problem: calorie-counting. It failed miserably so then I started running and while I studied and worked way too hard, I knew by this point that exercise was my salvation. The calorie-counting phase was finally over.

Years later, I stumbled into a yoga class and surprisingly, hated it the first time. It was boring, dull, and foreign to me and my body. It was not until returning a second and third time that I started to explore this amazing, most rewarding journey into self-discovery.

Through yoga, I developed a relationship, a friendship, and a close partnership with my body. We became the best of friends, and a beautiful union formed. My biggest lesson is to listen to my body. What your body needs is love and understanding and when you really get this, you stop treating it with guilt and shame. You start to walk a little taller, sit up a little straighter, and smile a little wider, because you know, you just know, that you are beautiful.

And that, my dear friends, is true for every single one of you. You are beautiful just as you are!

As a thank you, I’d like to offer a single FREE copy of my video collection called The 10 Minute Daily Invigorator. This is a program designed to help you get invigorated by natural breathing and body movements, and I want to share my passion of taking care of our bodies, our temples, as well as our minds. Since we are all very busy people, I designed this program so that you can enjoy it for 10 minutes a day and feel fabulous for the rest of the day.

You can find the 10 Minute Daily Invigorator here:

http://www.prolificliving.com/10minutes

I also encourage you to join the list and watch the Day 1 video completely free!

Note from Anne-Sophie:
In order to receive your copy of The 10 Minute Daily Invigorator, we’d like to ask you to share a thoughtful comment or an inspirational story with us! We will then draw a name and the one who was picked will be the winner of this awesome Video series!

About the Author: Farnoosh Brock left her corporate career to write, to speak, and to pursue the world of entrepreneurship. She writes about living on your own terms, taking care of your body and mind, and cultivating smart habits at Prolific Living. She invites you to join her LinkedIn Group to engage in conversations about smart habits for mind, body and heart.

 

 

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Farnoosh November 16, 2011 at 9:48 am

Delighted to write for your website and contribute to the beautiful efforts you have going on here, Anne-Sophie, in a tiny way. Thank you for asking me and for publishing my story. I can’t wait to meet you in Sydney :)!

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Monseigneur Andreas Chevalier Reinhardt November 16, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Fantastic site Anne-Sophie. Fantastic article Farnoosh.

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Farnoosh November 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Thank you so much, et merci deux mill fois, Andreas. :)!

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Farnoosh November 16, 2011 at 7:37 pm

Pardon…. ca doit etre: Mille :)!

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anneso87 November 17, 2011 at 10:39 am

Tu parles français? J’adore France et la langue française.

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:46 pm

Juste un petit peu, ma belle!
Farnoosh recently posted..Unforgettable Stories: “The Help” by Kathryn StockettMy Profile

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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 10:44 am

un petit peu est mieux que rien.
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Valerie Traeder November 16, 2011 at 5:27 pm

I really appreciated your words and thoughts and I am grateful that you share this with us. I hope that many young girls and women read it and afterwards tell themselves: I am beautiful! This would such a big and important step for many many women! I am happy for you that you found a way to love yourself by doing Yoga. I really hope that everybody will find a way to be in balance and peace with its body. Thank you!

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Farnoosh November 16, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Hello dear Valerie, thank you so so much! I hope so too. How can we share it with more of those girls? Tell me and I’ll do it. And I hope that you adore and take care of your body too.

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anneso87 November 17, 2011 at 10:41 am

Great question, Farnoosh. We should venture out and seek places where we can find and reach even more girls.

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anneso87 November 16, 2011 at 6:04 pm

You said it beautifully, Valerie. We should treat our bodies as temples instead of hating it and working AGAINST it, as we so very often do.

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Luise McCaffrey November 16, 2011 at 6:10 pm

This is a wonderful article and it really captures what a lot of women go through. I am also an older generation, and we did not have all of the wonderful resources as we have today. Nevertheless its important to open up and to talk about whats real. Supporting media and resources that keep it real. Amplifying that women are more than their looks, and especially more that their image. Girls need to be empowered by what they do and not solemnly how they look.
I read this today on another blog which is great insight how to talk or approach someone with an eating disorder or how to talk in general being nice..!
Constructive Comments
I may be able to list for you the “wrong” things to say, but I’m afraid I can’t tell you what’s right. I don’t know you or your loved one. Each person has a unique situation; each conversation is a unique interaction. I can give you a few helpful tips for framing your responses:

Empathize (This doesn’t mean telling the person that you know how they feel, because you don’t, and that’s obvious to both of you.)
Focus on Feelings rather than facts. Try to validate the person’s experience, and take the emphasis off of attempting to grasp some objective “reality.”
Listen – This person is telling you something intimate about themselves, and even if they do not conciously know what it is, there is a reason why. Rather than giving the impression of being burdened, appreciate the trust s/he has placed in you by confiding. It is a compliment.

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Farnoosh November 16, 2011 at 7:42 pm

Luise, wow, I am so impressed by all the information here and I LEARNED so much from reading this and agree with all of it. I practice a lot of this in my approach and conversations with my clients and it is true all you say: about not pretending to know but empathizing it, and all else you shared here with us. Thank you SO MUCH!!!

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anneso87 November 17, 2011 at 9:52 am

Thank you, Luise, for sharing these words of wisdom.

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Luise McCaffrey November 16, 2011 at 10:34 pm

You are welcome. Thank you for shedding light into this subject of body awareness. I was both anorexic and suffered with bulimia for many years. I still have a food addiction that’s triggered by certain events in my life. Its a way of coping. When I do, I am totally aware of it and I admit it even feels strange, that I would not put my fork down. But nevertheless thriving for being excellent, not perfection is my quest. Only God is perfect in his omnipotence.
Don’t misunderstand me by thinking that I encouraged to settle for laziness and mediocrity. Quite contrarily I am thriving for excellence. But if possible we need to be free ourselves and commit to achieve more balance in our life between work and play, accomplishments and relationships. Yoga and prayers along with being still, bring us closer to God, and in God we can rest.Thank you again for your wonderful insight and deep thoughts. I loved reading it and it inspired me to write.

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anneso87 November 17, 2011 at 9:58 am

Luise, this is so true. I always try to be and do my best, bu there are moments when I just have to cut myself some slack. I have come to accept that I have moments of weakness and you know what? Since I learned to forgive myself, those moments have gotten less and less frequent. It is hard not to beat yourself up too often, but when we love ourselves, we can learn it.

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anneso87 November 17, 2011 at 9:59 am

Oh, I wanted to add that I do enjoy Yoga very much and I so want to start meditating, but I am still a bit scared of what might happen, if I let my thoughts drift. May I should just find out?

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Luis, you have such an insight into yourself and your own struggle and exactly what you need to do to overcome it. That is SO powerful. I am very excited for the new journey and I am so happy you enjoyed this post. Thanks to Anne-Sophie who invited me and gave me a space to share my story. Good luck on your beautiful journey!
Farnoosh recently posted..Unforgettable Stories: “The Help” by Kathryn StockettMy Profile

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Monseigneur Andreas Chevalier Reinhardt November 17, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Je vous remercie Farnoosh. Je suis vraiment impatient de vous rencontrer.

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Farnoosh November 17, 2011 at 2:25 pm

Et la meme ici, Andreas, merci, merci! Ca sera chouette de vous rencontrer a Sydney. Je vous souhaite un tres bon voyage et a toute a l’heure.

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April November 18, 2011 at 6:46 pm

A very good article.
I used to get accused of being anorexic when I was young. People watched very closely what I ate and had to agree with me that I was not… but they did not know that I was working out obsessively, excessively 2-3 hours a day until I would fall down in exhaustion.

Luckily when I married life became too busy to continue this destructive behavior… but I never replaced it with something positive. Today I am on the average to heavy side (I weight 180 pounds) and I often fall into the trap of feeling unlovable. I know that this stems from unhealthy self-image rather than the actual size of my body. I am trying to concentrate more on eating healthy foods, not over-indulging, and increasing my daily activity, rather than on measurable body results.
I could really identify with what you said and also feel encouraged that it’s possible to resolve these not-good-enough feelings that have plagued me all my life.

Thank you!

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anneso87 November 19, 2011 at 7:17 am

April, what you describe about your childhood feels very much like the beginning of my eating disorder. I am very happy that you could stop this destructive pattern though. I know you, April, and I know that you are a beautiful, brilliant person. We have to lift each other up and help each other figure out how we can start loving our bodies. After all, we will always only have this one body in our life, right?

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:52 pm

Hi dear April, I hear you, what a tough place to be, but at least you are aware of it and that is the first step toward healing. Have you looked into any type of yoga or body movements or breathing techniques that can help you get closer to your body? For me, yoga really helped me fall in love with my own body and all its issues and imperfections. I hope that you seek and find only great feelings and believe that yes, it is possible to feel great about your body, no matter what your size may be. It is all self-image, as you correctly said. We are here to cheer you on!
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Samuel November 19, 2011 at 7:20 am

Farnoosh, I liked this article a lot. It gave some great insight into what women struggle with when it comes to their body. I have never had problems with my weight or even body image issues. But then again, I am a guy. So, maybe we just see the world differently. I would like to encourage all of you ladies to stop criticizing yourself. Don’t look on the outside too much or you will lose who you are inside.

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:53 pm

Hi Samuel, so nice to see a guy showing up, I love it! Some guys do struggle with self-image too, and it’s more common in some cultures than others. Very very nice of you to stop by to encourage us. You are very cute and very sweet, thank you :)!
Farnoosh recently posted..Unforgettable Stories: “The Help” by Kathryn StockettMy Profile

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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 12:19 pm

wise words, my friend.
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Jennifer November 19, 2011 at 7:52 am

I used to do the same and still often fall back in the routine of obsessively counting calories. I have always been very insecure about my own body and have always struggled with the fact that I don’t look like a supermodel. These insecurities have even led to break-ups. You give me hope, Farnoosh, that I will be able to change.

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:54 pm

Oh my gosh, Jennifer, counting calories is the worst. And it achieves nothing. Just be aware of what you are putting in your body. I hope you find more love and understanding for your body, I know you can, I really believe in you and in every one else. As long as there is a will, there is …. a way :)!
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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 10:48 am

As I am beginning to learn lot live a healthy life (as opposed to starving myself), I still cach myself counting calories. I guess it is an old habit and those are hard to break. But I believe that one day I will be completely free. I will always want to live healthy, but I don`t want to miss out on the joy of eating either. I think it is the balance that we need to figure out.
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Mara November 19, 2011 at 8:12 am

Farnoosh, you talked about the fact that in today’s world, it’s very hard to like yourself even if you’re not skinny. I really think the media needs to change. But the question is: will it ever? Can WE do something to prevent the media from trying to put us women in a box?

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:55 pm

Hi dear Mara, forget media. Let’s change our own mindset first. I am sure there can be ways to change the messages coming out of media but let’s change ourselves first. Let’s be the change we want the world to see. Did Gandhi not teach us that? Thanks for your message!
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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 10:50 am

I think it will be hard to change the media`s coverage of women (although never impossible), Mara. I agree with you, Farnoosh. We need to take it in our own hands and change the world. I know we can.
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Sutton November 19, 2011 at 8:23 am

I live in LA and, as we all know,people here define themselves and OTHERS by their looks, weight and age. It is extremely hard not to fall into this trap. Thanks for this post  It gave me some much needed perspective.

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm

Oh LA is the worst. And the large Iranian population there (my heritage!) is also obsessed with looks and looks and more looks! I wish you lots of strength and self-confidence and self-esteem, Sutton, and thanks for this lovely note!
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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 10:55 am

Sutton, I totally feel for you. Living in Zürich is similar. People here are so wealthy that all they care about is their appearance. However, when I start comparing myself to those women, I often think of how valuable A PERSON I am and that helps me a lot. I even talk to myself and tell myself all the positive things about me that have nothing to do with how I look.
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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 12:12 pm

Farnoosh, that is quite interesting. I had no idea about the large Iranian population in LA. I might be ignorant but I was under the impression that the Middle Eastern cultures were less prone to look on the ouside. However, it might be the influence of the west.
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Anna Porter November 19, 2011 at 10:10 am

“you are beautiful” is a message we all have hear more often. Do you know the website and book called Operation Beautiful. If not, you really should check it out.

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Anne-Sophie November 20, 2011 at 7:19 am

Anna, I have heard of Operation Beautiful, I have even contributed my own picture and when I was in LA, I wrote positive messages in the sand and left pos-it notes in many places. It was a blast. :)

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 7:56 pm

I don’t know it – but I will check it out, thank you dear Anna!
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Krissi November 19, 2011 at 11:33 am

When I was 18 years old, I had plastic surgery. I was quite heavy at the time and wanted nothing but to be skinny. So, I had liposuction done. I am not proud of it and my body image issues weren’t resolved after the surgery. I am still struggling with even thinking of the fact that I could be considered beautiful. But I am trying to be a bit less harsh on myself. I agree with you, Sutton. I wish media wouldn’t make it so hard.

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

Hi dear Krissi, I am so sorry to hear this. Don’t think it, darling. Feel it! Feel beautiful. It is from the inside and don’t let your mind engage so much in the whole conversation. Forget the media. Just focus on yourself and start with love, Krissi.
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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 12:23 pm

I wish I could reach out to you and give you a big hug, Krissi. Don`t look at the media so much. There is photshop, retouchign, tricks and lies. Look at the beauty that I know you have and start loving yourself for the amazing girl you are.
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Leo November 19, 2011 at 6:25 pm

hmmm, I think this post just provided the last push to make me check out Yoga. Thanks, Farnoosh!

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Anne-Sophie November 20, 2011 at 7:16 am

Leo, you really should! I have fallen in LOVE with yoga. In fact, I will attend a workshop all day today. Go ahead and start. :)

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 8:52 pm

IN LOVE with Yoga. Enough said :)!
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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 8:31 am

Hmmm, wish there was a “like” or “+1” button for this comment, Farnoosh. :)
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Maddy November 20, 2011 at 8:32 am

Beautiful post, Farnoosh.

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 8:53 pm

Maddy, beautiful yourself. Thank you.

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Samantha Friedman November 21, 2011 at 7:11 am

I am still trying to figure out my body, but I am starting to appreciate it for what it is. My body isn’t perfect, but whose is? Just like most of you, I’ve always been very critical of myself, but I’m trying to really change that. What a waste of time it is, don’t you think?

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Farnoosh November 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

Samantha (great name by the way), there is no such thing as perfect. Just your version of beautiful. Enjoy what you are given and take care of it greatly.
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Anne-Sophie November 24, 2011 at 12:18 pm

Samantha, maybe the imperfection of our bodies is excaly what is so perfect about them? Don`t our imperfections make us so unique? If we were all the same, where`d the fun be?
Anne-Sophie recently posted..Following your heart DESPITE your family?My Profile

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Odis Balderston June 17, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Hi! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and tell you I genuinely enjoy reading your blog posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same topics? Appreciate it!

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Anne-Sophie June 20, 2012 at 1:14 pm

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