The media, advertising and social networking sites all expose us to images of beautiful-looking people, designer clothes, bloggers’ and stylists’ new creations, make up, instructions on how to look better... It’s easy to take all this for granted, but it plants the seed into all generations that if you don’t look the part, you don’t fit in. So we use beauty products heaving in chemicals, tanning beds, personal training sessions and fad diets.
Beauty and fitness are multi-billion pound industries and it’s no secret that manufacturers, and retailers want you to spend as much money as possible on their products. Their marketing gurus manipulate through the ads with healthy sounding, exciting things to make you look more attractive than ever. Less publicised are the skin-altering ingredients such as hormones, parabens, mineral oils, aluminium and other potentially harmful compounds that can be absorbed into your blood stream.
The real answer
The point which too many people miss is that looking great is a by-product of good health. It can only be achieved by healthy, nutritious, organic, free range, varied diet with all colours of the rainbow and minimum of 2 litres of water. In addition to this many of us are intolerant to certain foods, which can result in unhealthy-looking skin, digestive problems or brain fog, amongst other things. To look and feel our best, these foods are best identified and removed from our diets, and the cleaning and cosmetic products we use should be switched for natural, certified organic alternatives.
Whilst exercise is not a substitute for healthy eating, healthy eating is not a substitute for exercise either; the two are complementary and will give you the best results when used together. 30 minutes’ exercise five times a week is the most effective way to increase your metabolism and burn excess fat, in the process building good muscle tone, preventing colds and flu and reducing the risk of cancers, osteoporosis and other health conditions. It also lowers blood pressure, improves circulation and prevents type II diabetes. However, any exercise is better than nothing and something as simple as walking instead of taking the bus will still help.
A true story
I must reiterate that exercise is not a substitute for healthy eating. I was astonished to hear a story from a friend who also practices Naturopathic (drug-free alternative medicine) nutrition like I do. A client came to see her to help her with digestive problems and stress, and it also did not come as a surprise that she wanted to lose weight, as 65% of UK women tried to lose weight in 2013 just in the UK alone. My friend took the case and prepared a nutritional plan tailored to her needs. After a few weeks the client came back and asked whether she could send her programme on to her personal trainer, which my friend agreed to. The PT came back shortly afterwards and disputed the plan, which the client did not start and instead carried on only with her PT sessions. My friend then asked whether a personal trainer or a nutritionist would be in the best position to give specialised nutritional advice. The client realised she had been misinformed by the PT and after starting her plan, began to feel better and lost weight effectively.
Is fat bad?
As far as losing weight goes, it is a myth that fat-free products will slim you down, in fact completely the opposite. A good balance of fats is necessary to fuel your brain, help cell walls and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins for the body’s further use, so cutting out fat could do more harm than good in the long run. In addition, low fat foods are often processed and high in sugars, which are in fact the major cause of weight gain.
Get the new sexy
So instead of neglecting health and investing in high-maintenance "faking" of its by-products, why not just invest directly in a healthy body and enjoy the benefits for a lifetime? Each of us has only one body and we should take good care of it throughout life, giving it what it needs and deserves. Don’t spare money on food; lower quality foods contain fewer nutrients and more artificial ingredients. People often comment that fresh, organic food is expensive. They are right, high quality foods are more expensive, and when we eat them we greatly increase our chances of a longer, healthier life. How much is that worth to you?
Making it work for you
Here are my easy steps to follow for a healthy body and natural beauty.
Step 1. Identify what you want to improve and seek help (or seek help to identify issue) from a qualified nutritional therapist.
Step 2. Focus on your food as the main fuel for your body for life
Step 3. Exercise as often as possible ideally 5x 30 minutes weekly (walk, power walk, run, swim, dance, jog, do yoga, cycle, ride) as often as possible – if you live a sedentary lifestyle then once a week is not enough.
Step 4. Positive thoughts all the way. The effect of this is not to be underestimated!
Step 5. Be confident. Now it’s time to shine your new-found beautiful health from within.