Ideal means two things: healthy, fit

Just like snowflakes, no two bodies are alike. Yet, women, so often insecure about their body image, can set themselves up for eating disorders, yo-yo dieting and even depression when trying to achieve sometimes genetically unrealistic body types or weight.

When it comes to fitness, ideal is not determined by weight alone. The goal is to be healthy and fit. The factors involved are in determining weight are many. Specifically, genetics and body type are variables that cannot be changed. Factors that can be influenced and modified are caloric intake, physical activity, stress and sleep.

Research from the University of Florida done by Heather Hausenblas, an exercise psychologist, indicated that exercise can indeed improve body image regardless of a person’s current level of fitness. The results of her study are published in the September issue of the Journal of Health Psychology.

If you want to feel instantly better about yourself and your body – exercise. Exercise builds physical strength and mental confidence. Here are some tips to help you feel better about your body:

The next time you think, “Do I look fat in this,” stand tall, tuck in your navel and you will instantly be taller (and yes, appear thinner).

Yoga helps relieve tension, makes you body aware and helps your body work properly for you.

Pilates is a mind-body exercise that integrates breathing with movement, again increasing awareness and respect for your strengths (both mental and physical).

Respect that you are an individual and do not compare to anyone else, not even a younger you.

Throw away the scale. You can tell by how your clothes fit or how you generally feel. A number on a scale is not necessary and can be detrimental.

Wear clothes that fit. It is more flattering to wear your true size rather than trying to fit in something smaller and uncomfortable.

Make wise food choices. Eating well will reward you with a healthy body and mind. Your energy level will increase and yes, weight may drop.

Join a gym or hire a personal trainer. Get yourself on the right track to be the best you.

Move to feel energized. Sitting all day is not good for your health and makes you feel tired and lethargic.

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