Everywhere we look, we are bombarded with images of the ideal woman or man. Media attempts to define how we should look. Society translates those messages, forcing us to accept their definition. Although portrayals of the perfect male are made, women are usually the target behind these brainwashing techniques. The media can ultimately have an effect on women’s self-esteem. The pressures of how society thinks we should look can cause cracks and dents into our health.
Women are force fed images enhanced by Photoshop and often are encouraged to enhance their own appearances with a heavy emphasis on cosmetic surgery. Girls often starve themselves or pick of other unhealthy habits as a result from this.
“Stop trying to compare yourself to someone who has 16 hours a day to focus on their appearance and has the advantage of airbrushing,” exclaimed Stephanie Saunders. Women need find their own identity and be the strongest they can be, in the healthiest fashion. “Be the best you can be. Be strong, and fit, and smart and full of confidence. There is nothing sexier, inspiring, and more attractive than a woman who feels good in her own skin,” she stated.
Saunders, who has trained, taught, and managed at some of the most well-known and respected health clubs in the fitness industry continued,“The thing many people forget is that models, dancers, and actors make their living off of their appearances. It is their job. Yes, there are genetic wonders out there that can eat whatever they want and still be a size zero. But for most of us, even those under media scrutiny, we have to watch it. For many women in the entertainment industry, being rail thin is a very difficult, and sometimes life threatening.”
Is there a platform physically fit women can stand on to empower other women? Saunders, who holds various national fitness certifications including the National Academy of Sports Medicine, the National College of Exercise Professionals and is Yogilates and Pure Barre certified, thinks so. If we are unhappy with our bodies and feel like they need a healthy change, than women should be encouraged to make those changes the healthy way through good ole fashion diet and exercise.
Our society seems to glorify rail thin models and now a recent trend of the return of those hourglass, curvy women area also glorified. But everybody has a unique body. Obtaining the “perfect body” should not be en vogue. Instead one should work to best version of oneself.
“First you need to decide what your best is. Don’t base it on models or actresses or even what you looked like at 18,” stated Saunders. “Then, figure out what you are willing to do to get there. Come up with a plan, and decide what you are willing to sacrifice.”
She stressed that if one can’t make the commitment to working out six days a week, than seeing the results will take longer. Same thing goes for our food and drink consumption. If one can’t give up the three margaritas (that have 700 calories per fish bowl) on Saturday nights, then yes, results will take even longer. “It doesn’t always have to be all or nothing, but it is up to you to decide what you want to accomplish, and in what time,” Saunders stated.
And what might be the best part of practicing a healthy and fit lifestyle is that each person has control over how fit they are. “How thin you are has much to do with genetics, but how fit you are is truly up to you. This isn’t something that is handed to you like a raging metabolism, or a trust fund, you have to work for it.
The ideal workout for a woman, Saunders advises, should be a workout they love. The optimal workout would be one that includes resistance training, cardiovascular conditioning, flexibility and stabilization training. She stressed however, that even the most well designed program in the world will fail if it is not one you are fond of. “Find something that is fun and constantly challenging.”
Saunders is currently a fitness expert at Beachbody, the makers of popular workout videos and health products such as P90X, Insanity workout, and Ultimate Reset. She knows all about how it feels to work hard for achieving goals, especially in terms of health and fitness.
“And here is the thing about having to work for something, besides you appreciating the results more, you are able to impact the lives of others much more dramatically. No one wants to listen to the ‘my dad had lots of money and bought the company for me and that is why I am successful’ story. However, the ‘I lost fifteen pounds of body fat, gained six pounds of lean muscle, and have a six pack is pretty intriguing.’”
Women often start working out with cardio. Saunders believes that is great, but it might not necessarily be the most effective choice for body composition changes. “A workout that also includes some resistance training, even with just body weight exercises, can really make a huge difference.”
And if you reach a fitness plateau, than try something else. “We all get bored at some point of our workouts. Even if it is something you love, mixing it up with other activities will give it new life. This also helps with adaptation. If you do the same workout week after week, month after month, your body will stop changing. Give it a new stimulus, and watch out,” she advised.
Keeping a healthy lifestyle is not only good for our bodies, but it good our self-esteem. When one feels good about themselves their confidence becomes as defined as their muscles. Having a positive attitude and loving oneself makes a person beautiful on the inside and out.
“Make it easy on yourself to workout hard,” stated Saunders.