I just finished pedaling myself into sweaty, red-faced exhaustion – the latest addition to the routine in my battle to get my pre-baby body back. As a person who rarely does anything half way, I start each class with enthusiasm and find myself pushing each pedal hard around as I imagine my abs taking some sort of form under my loose fitting shirt. Aside from killing myself in the gym, I run a business, am a single mom and while trying to make sure I eat something other than my son’s leftovers, I have the added the frustration of poor body image. Something which is only amplified by watching the couple dozen or so perfectly fit, trim women spinning seemingly effortlessly.
It is hard not to contemplate this whole body image thing when you have what appears like perfection in front of you. Although I have been athletic and fit a good portion of my life, I seem to have spent a good portion of it coveting that perfectly toned body that I see everywhere in front of me. I have been there at various points in my life as well, but I have always tended toward a balance and life enjoyment with great food and a lot of wine versus sacrificing everything for physical perfection. That said, I sure would love to have a nice tight toned set of abs…but then again…
Many of the women at my gym don’t work. Most have a lot of money and nannies. They are thin, beautiful, well-dressed, but after spending five years working out alongside them, I can honestly say that it is extremely rare for one of these women whose body I covet crack a smile or say anything of any real importance. Most of them seem unhappy, insecure and lacking in purpose. Now, it is not fair to make any sort of generalization that people with perfect figures are lacking in other areas – but one thing is clear: there is no such thing as perfection.
Life is all about choices. Some of us choose to focus on our careers working crazy hours, living out of suitcases and in pursuit of the next big deal or promotion. The sacrifice is usually our health, our relationships and our time. Others try to be the perfect wife or mother, dedicating every ounce of energy to volunteering at the school, baking cupcakes, taxing kids around to practices and playdates. And some spend their time investing in their appearance and health, taking care to eat the right foods, dress well, and be perfectly groomed. Unfortunately, perfection in all of these areas is not possible. There are simply not enough hours in the day to be a career woman, perfect wife and/or mother, or supermodel (unless you have a personal chef, a stylist, a trainer, a nanny or two and a very large bank account – and even then something is getting sacrificed). So instead of beating yourself up over not being perfect, try these little exercises to remind you of how amazing you already are:
List five accomplishments you are really proud of.
- Use three words to describe how you see yourself.
- Use three words to describe how you think others see you.
- If you could change anything about yourself or your life right now, what would it be?
- Look ahead five years – who do you want to be?
- Create five short term goals that will help you get there.
The key to happiness is self-acceptance. The pathway to getting there begins with acknowledging the good and the bad, and setting some simple goals to get you closer to where you want to be. Appreciate who you are today, and strive for balance – not perfection. Allow yourself to be perfectly imperfect and you have already made the first step to finding happiness.
Submitted by Jennifer Koster start-up strategist turned entrepreneur, writer and single mama. Jennifer is a partner in Scala Construction Inc (www.grupposcala.com), a high end residential construction company catering to celebrities and entertainment executives, founder of idealight Inc. (www.idealight.net) a management consultancy working with start-up companies on strategy, fundraising and international expansion, and a partner in Type A Group (www.LiveTypeA.com), a company that provides leadership tools for individuals to achieve abundance in work, love and life. She is currently writing a book called “The Truth About Baggage” – an exploration into the various kinds of baggage we pick up through life, how it manifests itself and prevents us from getting what you want, and how to get rid of it so you can.