Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but too often, when the beholder is YOU, what you see is dangerously out of touch with the reality of your physical self.
You may not see your beauty at all, and instead focus on imagined extra pounds or endless flaws. That can erode your self-esteem and your health by making you opt for extreme behaviors such as over exercising or super-restricting your nutrition.
Recently, researchers from Boston University School of Medicine reported in JAMA Facial Plastic Surgery that cosmetic surgeons are getting an alarming number of patients who want to be "remade" to look better in selfies or to resemble the doctored images of themselves they can create using filters on social media platforms such as Snapchat. This is a modern twist on body dysmorphic disorder, defined as an obsessive focusing on perceived flaws. It's afflicting a growing number of people, especially adolescents and young adults.
At the other end of the spectrum, there's a disconnect, too. You may not see it if you or your child is overweight or obese. In a study in the journal Childhood Obesity, 75 percent of parents of obese preschool-age sons and 70 percent of parents of obese preschool-age daughters described their children as "about the right weight." And in a study out of the U.K. (it's the same here), only 10 percent of obese adults described themselves as having a weight problem. That means you're overlooking opportunities to improve your child's health and your own, increasing the risk for everything from social difficulties and mental health problems to premature heart disease, various cancers, diabetes and dementia.
Harnessing Your Power of Self-Esteem
Whether you're obsessed with your flaws or oblivious to your health challenges, you want to remake your POV about your appearance so you can be your healthiest self - with a much younger RealAge!
Your first step? Stop scrutinizing yourself. No more selfies. No more likes or dislikes of pics on social media. Put down your phone. Let defensiveness go. How? Meditate. Practice for 15 minutes at least once daily. Your goal is to make it automatic that you use meditative de-stressing when needed. Then you'll be able to take charge of your moods.
Step Two: Say hello to your body. It's time to get acquainted with what your body can do for you - no more punishing it with extremes of either sedentary behavior or relentless working out. Start a walking routine (it can be very meditative).
Feel your legs as they take steps; enjoy the sense of muscles working, appreciate the sweat trickling down from your hair across your face. Badges of honor. You got this! It's working! Your body knows.
Then, start a stretching routine. The Monday Campaigns Chair Yoga program can help. Get acquainted with where you feel tightness - and slowly direct your thoughts to that area, saying silently to your body, "Relax, flow out, let go." You will realize that you can make yourself feel better. Your body is not your enemy; it's a tool you can use to build a better quality of life.
Next, go for strength-building. Want to see evidence of just how you can reshape your body? A six-week plan, with two to three 30-minute sessions weekly with stretchy bands or 2-pound hand weights will produce visible results in the tone and mass of your muscles in your arms, upper chest and torso.
But remember everybody and every body has beauty - as it is, and as it may become. The true beauty is your power to improve your health. (For some substantial help, check out Dr. Mike's book, "This Is Your Do-Over: The 7 Secrets to Losing Weight, Living Longer, and Getting a Second Chance at the Life You Want.")
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