Have you ever been to the Calm.Healthy.Sexy website? I’m a regular post subscriber. I love how blogger Gaye Groover Christmus gives authentic, godly, practical insight for wives. So it was an easy decision to me to invite her to contribute to the Feel Beautiful series.
Just as I expected, she came up with great stuff we can start putting into practice right now to own our natural beauty and take charge in feeling more beautiful day by day. Here’s Gaye!
If you’re in the midst of the struggle to feel beautiful, believe me, I’m right there with you. That struggle is a process for me that tends to involve one step forward and two steps back — and I’m guessing it does for you too. So today I want to suggest a strategy that can help you move forward in that process — by putting your body to work for you. This is an approach that has helped me tremendously, and I think it can be a powerful tool for every woman who wants to embrace and accept her beauty.
Before we begin, I encourage you to remember two things. First, beauty is subjective. Yes, a few people are so objectively beautiful that no one thinks otherwise. But they’re the exception. Most people possess the type of beauty that’s more attractive to some people and less attractive to others. You’ve probably had the experience of saying, “She’s so beautiful,” and your husband or a friend saying, “Really? Do you think so?” In most cases, beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. Second, beauty is changeable. The way you look today is not set in stone — you can change it. Not by having plastic surgery or an extreme makeover, but by making the most of your natural beauty, taking charge of your body, and growing in confidence. Because what it really comes down to is this — confidence is attractive, and a woman who is becoming confident in herself, her body, and her appearance is becoming more beautiful every day.
“Putting your body to work” to help you feel more beautiful simply means helping your physical body work for you, rather than against you. So many women set aside focusing on their physical bodies in favor of handling dozens of other tasks that clamor for attention. Over time, this lack of focus results in their bodies working against them — making them less able to embrace their God-given beauty. If you find yourself in that position, here are 5 ways you can turn things around and begin putting your body to work for you:
Exercise regularly. God designed our bodies for movement. We look, feel, and function our best when we get up and move regularly. But modern life conspires to keep us from moving — we often spend hours each day sitting, and very few of our daily activities require physical exertion. So we end up feeling sluggish and flabby — hardly conducive to feeling beautiful! The solution is to exercise regularly. And by “exercise” I don’t mean “go to the gym,” although that’s great if you can do it. I mean make a plan that gets your body up and moving almost every day and stick to that plan. You can take a brisk walk, work out with a video, play soccer with your kids, ride a bike — anything that gets you moving, increases your breathing a bit, and engages your muscles.
Stand up straight. For the next few days, notice how people stand and how they move. (Yes, this is a weird form of people watching!) Pay attention to the messages they send with their bodies. What do you notice? In most cases, I think you’ll find that poor posture makes people look older and less attractive, regardless of their appearance otherwise. Good posture, on the other hand, makes people look younger and more attractive. It certainly makes people look more confident, and confidence is inherently attractive. Now, begin working on your own posture. Practice standing up straight, with your shoulders back and your head up. Become aware of how you position your body when you’re sitting, standing, and walking. If you find yourself slumping, as I often do, take a few seconds to realign your body. Do this a number of times each day, until good posture becomes a habit. (Adding upper body and core exercises to your exercise routine can make it easier.)
Walk with confidence. Now that you’re standing up straight, practice walking and presenting yourself with confidence. Try it around the house first, then give it a go when you’re out and about. This doesn’t have anything to do with arrogance or showing off — it’s about accepting and enjoying the body God has given you and embracing its natural beauty. And, walking and presenting yourself with confidence is very attractive — it affects the way you and other people perceive your appearance.
Smile and look people in the eye. When women don’t feel attractive, they sometimes avoid engaging people in a direct and open manner. (“If I don’t look at them, they won’t look at me.” Been there, done that.) But that behavior tends to reinforce negative feelings, because it negatively affects the way people see us. So train yourself to engage others directly and openly. Smile at people, and look them in the eye. Show them that you value them, but also that you value yourself. Practice doing this as you go about your day, until it feels natural.
Maintain a weight that’s healthy and comfortable for your body. I saved this strategy for last, because it’s the hardest. While the first four strategies can yield positive changes fairly quickly, this one takes some time. But let’s tackle it anyway. And right from the start, let’s be clear — I am not saying that women must be thin in order to be beautiful. Not at all. In fact, the version of “thin” that magazines, movies, and other media promote as the standard of beauty is ridiculous. No normal woman is ever going to be that thin, nor should she be. But the reality is that most people (69%, according to the CDC) weigh a lot more than they should. And for many women, as their weight increases, their perception of their beauty decreases. So if your weight is keeping you from feeling comfortable in your body, it may be time to take charge of it and make some healthy changes. Begin by eating real, nutritious food. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Drink more water. Ditch the fast food, junk food, and soda. Begin exercising regularly. Sleep 7-8 hours a night (yes, sleep affects weight loss!). Do some research and put together a weight loss plan that works for you. Work toward reaching and maintaining a weight that’s comfortable for your body, as a way of putting your body to work for you and preventing it from working against you.
The body God has given you is beautiful and “wonderfully made.” If it’s working against you, take charge and put it to work for you. Because when it’s working for you, it can be the greatest beauty tool ever created.
Gaye Groover Christmus is a wife and mom to two almost-grown sons. In her “day job” she works as a writer and editor in a health field. Her passion, though, is encouraging married women to slow down, live with vitality and energy, and create joy and intimacy in their marriages. She believes that small steps can lead to big changes, and that women armed with knowledge and a plan can transform their hurried, hectic lives. Gaye blogs at CalmHealthySexy. She’d love to send you her ebook, 17 Ways to Live Calmer, Healthier and Sexier – Starting Today — as a gift when you subscribe to the blog.