Mind Over Body. A Healthy Body Image Matters.

Posted by Shama Jawaid Apr 1, 2019
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” – Bernard M Baruch
Hi I'm Shama and I had tummy issues. 

Not the digestive kind… but the kind where you have to conceal it with long tops, flatten it with Spanx or pretend you have pregnant for the last ten years. There I said it. Out loud. I have been working out my whole life but there are only two times in my life where I can confidently say that I loved my body: age twenty-three, just after marriage, and when I was thirty-three, where I dedicated six days a week to working out. From thereon, my weight, body shape and fitness level were on a downward trajectory due to children, life stress, and the onslaught of peri-menopausal symptoms. 

I know there are women out there who claim to ‘having it all,’ who some of us would dub as SUPERWOMEN. A great career, seemingly perfect family and of course, a healthy, rockin’ bod. They commit to triathlons on the weekends, breast-feed in between courses, finish first in the race and come home to produce a gourmet dinner on the table; all while handing a ten-page report on Monday morning at the office. That has never been the case for me. If I want to be great at everything, something inevitably falls by the wayside.

Why can’t I be like these superwomen?

Well, guess what? When you dig deeper, layer after layer, and the center of the smelly onion is revealed, no woman truly has it all. In a world where perfection is revered, there are increasing levels of pressure and stress related to this ideology of having it all. And in the end, obtaining so-called perfection has left women tired, overwhelmed and anxiety-ridden, resulting in a multitude of health issues. There are many women out there who want others to think they got their sh*t together, but believe me, after watching them walk into my therapist’s office, it’s all an illusion.

During the last two years, I read a slew of books, religiously attended webinars and listened to a whack of podcasts to understand how successful women have it all. The main message? You can’t. Many personal development coaches talked about looking at your body completely naked in the mirror and accepting your reflection. I used to cringe every time I got out of the shower and looked at my tummy that bore the scars and stretchmarks of three children, including a set of twins. The excess skin formed an unsightly pouch that I still tuck into my pants and skirts every day. When I obsessed about my imperfect body, I realized I was focusing on the negative, rather than accepting the good.

When it comes to our body image and fitness, it all begins with having the right mindset. What I gleaned out of every guru were two main ideologies—gratitude and self-care. I discovered, all my life, even when I was at my fittest, my body image was formulated from my own reaction to others, best said by motivational speaker and blogger, Rachel Hollis: “Someone else’s opinion of you is none of your business. Let me say that again for the people in the cheap seats.” 
My twin daughters used to comment how their grandmother’s tummy was much smoother and younger looking than mine. “This,” I said pointing to my sagging stomach, “…is a constant reminder of giving birth to you!” which left them hurt, as I blamed them for ruining my once perfect body. I viewed what others thought of me through a lens of negativity and gave others control and judgement over my own body! So how did I change this? By changing my mindset. Mind over body. #lifetips

Gratitude. Those familiar excuses (I work too much so I am too tired to workout, stress makes me overeat, there is not enough time for fitness) were dropped, and I accepted the body God created and adopted a mindset of gratitude. I turned the negative ‘what if’ statements (what if I could never have kids? What if I can’t afford a gym? What if I had a crippling disease that affected my health?) to gratitude. My tummy issues diminished as I took stock of what I already had in life—an income, education and relatively good health. I won’t lie; I did contemplate a tummy tuck for many years. Now I look in the mirror, grab my belly, and thank God for my health. 

Self-care. Here is how I look at my body and keeping it fit: think of your God-given body as a test. Will you nurture it with healthy food and fuel it with exercise … or continue your indulgent overeating while binge-watching Netflix? I was running for everyone else – the job, the spouse, the family, and trying to look after every other person in my life. Everyone accept me. When I hit a wall and experienced complete and utter burnout, it affected me in the worse way, which then snowballed into affecting my career, family and health. The path to healing began with healing my mind through gratitude and then evolved into self-care. Be kind to yourself. Be vulnerable. Be patient. Calm your mind (meditation), feed your soul (do the things you love) and honour your body. 

Prove to God you are invested in looking after His creation – not taking it for granted. Fitness became a part of my routine, like brushing my teeth. There is no shame in wanting a body like JLo’s or Kim Kardashian. Love your curves. Beyonce loves her jelly! It is a source of motivation. But in the end, be yourself and make a pact that you will take care of your body the best you can. I break into a sweat for thirty minutes every day and eat a healthier, controlled diet, both of which helped me monumentally reduce stress-induced chronic migraines. 

Moderation is key.

The foundation you stand on, the one that keeps your head above water during life’s obstacles, begins with your mind, followed by your body and soul – in a collective manner. I am sure you have heard cliché before, ‘mind over matter.’ When you change your mind to acceptance and gratitude, and make a concerted effort to care for yourself first, everything else will fall into place. I promise. Pinky swear. 

A strong mind produces a strong body, allowing you to live your most authentic life yet. 
Here are my social media links:
Instagram: @shajaw

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