I’m all about embracing your body and enjoying yourself, but I am also aware of the constant pressure to have ‘the perfect body’, or the idea of it, that is projected at us through the media and social networking sites. Given that we are now in the midst of summer – that time of year when people want to lose a few pounds and get in shape for their holidays – I want to talk a bit about body image.

The whole body image debate is a tough one because, on one hand you have people telling you to embrace your body no matter what size you are, that there’s more to life than what you look like, so eat the cake and enjoy it basically; whilst on the other, you have the pressure of being surrounded by fitness models, trainers, ambassadors etc., on social media and all over the internet, who promote their idea of an ‘ideal’ body with their ‘strong not skinny’ image. But which do you choose, which do you follow?!

Well, neither.

Everyone is different. Different sizes, different backgrounds, different goals, different lifestyles.

It’s hard for people to truly embrace their bodies when all we know is how to judge them. We compare our bodies to what we are told is the ‘perfect body’ by the media and society, when in fact there is no such thing as the ‘perfect body’. The sooner you learn to accept that your body isn’t perfect, nor is anyone else’s, the happier you will be.

You can be grateful for what your body is and what it can do, instead of criticising it for what it is not.

To embrace your body, you must learn to change your body image, which is how YOU perceive your body, and how you think other people perceive your body. Self-esteem and self-confidence are key here, and it won’t happen overnight, but only you can change how you feel about your body. To put things into perspective, look at your close friends and family. Are they all models? Probably not. Do they have flaws? Probably. Yet, they are still beautiful to you, right? There you go.

“Acceptance of one’s self is the first step to real beauty”

Embracing your body, to me, is more about accepting the things you cannot change. Growing up with 3rd degree burns scars, that I don’t even remember getting, meant I was constantly worrying about what people would think of my scars rather than what people would think of my body weight. Whilst friends of mine were worried about losing a few pounds of their already perfect (in my eyes) body shape, I was focusing on finding clothes that would cover my legs so that people wouldn’t notice my huge scar.

What I am getting at is that if you are someone who gets annoyed with your love handles or chunky thighs, then maybe just take a second to realise that you are healthy and your body is amazing, no matter what size; and if you want to change your body, know that you have the power to do that too! There are plenty of people who have issues with parts of their bodies that they cannot change, weight is just a small piece of the puzzle, yet seems to get all of the attention.

I have learnt that things like scars, stretch marks and birthmarks are all things you can’t possibly change, but they are the things that can put you down mentally, make you feel self-conscious or inferior. These are the things you have to overcome in order to fully ‘embrace your body’.

However there are also things that you can change about your body and maybe want to change. That is not necessarily you conforming to society and the pressure to have the perfect body. It is just you giving yourself some goals to keep exercising and eating well, whilst keeping it fun and rewarding.

You should never feel guilty for wanting to better yourself in all aspects of life, including your body.

Wanting to change your eating habits, cut down on alcohol, or start a new form of training is a huge step for some people and one I love seeing them take. You will always get people who are not supportive and say you’re obsessed, different, and maybe even stupid, for spending so much time in the gym, training or for bringing your packed lunches places, or for going on a night out sober. These people just haven’t taken that step yet, and maybe they don’t want to.

Being healthy doesn’t mean that you don’t have rolls when you sit down, that you never eat a McDonalds ever again, that you never miss a single workout and never get drunk! Being healthy is knowing you make conscious efforts the majority of the time to get stronger, be fitter, eat good food that fuels your body, and don’t find it all one big chore. That’s the physical part.

Mental health is an even bigger part of body image and how we as individuals see ourselves. You have to learn to genuinely love your body, in all its glory!

This is the hardest part, your mentality towards yourself. But once you learn to change it, you’ll feel a confidence you never knew you could have! In reality it comes down to your health, not just your body image. You will suffer less with disease, aches and pains, and illnesses of all kinds by doing the above. I think we lose sight of that sometimes…This is something I hope some of you can relate to. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for wanting to look better or do better in all aspects of life.

So get working towards that weight loss goal, if that’s what your goal is, but also know deep down that the whole process is improving your health, both mentally & physically!

Check out my blog at www.caloriesandcarbs.net for more articles like this, as well as my Instagram and Facebook pages @caloriesandcarbs where you can find daily health and fitness tips.