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:
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.