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OK, let’s have a frank discussion. Specifically, I would like to talk with my sisters around the world.

One of the most important things you can ever do as a woman is to heal your body image.

The fitness and nutrition industries are partially based on women’s global dissatisfaction with appearances. Among the women who work with me as clients, I can’t name a single one who is 100 percent satisfied with her looks.

Over the years, I have also seen a steady flow of teenagers and young women who think they are fat and because they think they are fat they are doing something that may actually damage their metabolisms and make them fat in the long run – even if it takes 20 to 30 years to get that way. This would include over exercising, becoming a vegetarian or vegan, skipping meals, joining boot camps, raw food diets, an endless parade of various low calorie diets, fasting, cleansing, and yes, hiring someone like me.

Only if you hire me, I will tell you the truth about what actually works in health and fitness. As any of my clients will tell you, I am nice but blunt.

Over the years, I have developed some opinions about the state of women and their body images.

Women could rule the world if we weren’t so obsessed, distraught and neurotic about the way we look. Think of the amount of time you personally spend in any given day, week or month on this subject, and what you say to yourself every time you pass a mirror and you can begin to reflect on what I am talking about. This doesn’t mean the solution is to start stuffing ourselves or tear up our gym memberships. It means at a certain point – hopefully before all your opportunities pass you by – you will realize that you are good enough to be great at what you do regardless of your dress size, the number on the scale, your jean size, bra size or the number of lines on your face.

 

If you allow anyone else to be in charge of deciding when you are good enough – by any outside measure – you have instantly given your power away and you don’t deserve to be in a position of authority because you have yet to comprehend the true source of where power comes from. It is OK with me if you reread that sentence multiple times. It is important to me that you begin to think deeply about what I am saying.

The root of much depression, anxiety and other mental illness amongst women is not eating enough food to run our brain chemistry. Forget for a moment even getting depressed looking at fashion magazines where all the photos have been digitally altered. As I have said many times, if you take in less than 1,800 calories per day, you immediately deplete your brain chemistry. I wish every psychiatrist began their sessions with women clients by asking what and how often they have been eating.

You are never going to look the way you think you want to look unless and until you get really healthy. If you study body fat, you will discover that people hold body fat in certain places based on specific hormonal imbalances. See our newsletter of July 2005. So no amount of Pilates classes will flatten your abs if you are highly stressed or insulin resistant. Insane efforts to lose weight seemingly instantly make everything worse because these stupid activities deplete your hormones. Your assignment from me – should you choose to accept it – is to focus on becoming as healthy as possible, way down to the cellular level, because in the long run you can only look as good on the outside as you are healthy on the inside. Thinking this way – making choices based on what will actually make you healthier today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life – will change your way of eating, exercising, resting and breathing – quite permanently.

Be very, very careful about the role models and mentors you choose. Sorry to say, but many women in the fitness and nutrition industries are here because they haven’t sorted themselves out. I recently told one top level exercise instructor that nothing would cure her depression until she started eating more than 900 calories a day. Another client who has severe osteoporosis in her early 30s was advised to take a break from teaching for 30 days so she could begin to face her severe exercise bulimia. These two and many others I have advised over the years all look like many others are killing themselves to emulate. Think deeper and find women like me, Nina Lynn and Paula Owens. I invited these amazing women to be part of Total Fitness because they walk their talk. They have a healthy relationship with food and a healthy relationship with exercise and all three of us are very consistent. I wish we weren’t so rare.

The time to start loving your body is now, not when you reach some mythical number/size/shape etc. When you love your body now, in whatever shape it is in, more than likely you are going to start treating it kindly. You are going to find a way to move around that brings you joy. Maybe it’s yoga, qi gong, weight training, tango dancing, bike riding, hiking in the woods. There is something there for you that will raise your personal vibration while enhancing your overall health. You’re going to feed your body right, give it a treat or two in measured doses, reward it, dress it up nicely and have fun playing with it. You can do this now. If you are really smart, you will realize that getting to this space between your ears is going to be what gets you to the outer appearance that you think you want.

Don’t kid yourself by telling yourself that you are so spiritual your body doesn’t matter. This is called denial. It’s also mind-body-soul disconnect, which is a huge source of unhappiness. You radiate whatever level of consciousness you are currently feeling. And your body is the key to all this because you hold your emotions in your body. That is scientifically proven by none other than a great woman scientist, Candace Pert. One of the best things I ever heard her say many years ago was, “If you want to know what’s going on in your subconscious mind, just look down at your body.”

My mentor in healing, Sue Maes, says that the root of many women’s body obsession starts in their late teens and continues into their early 20s when the competition for mates is most fierce. Sue believes it’s an evolutionary biological phase we all go through. But developmentally, she says, many women never get out of this stage and at age 65 are still miserable and trying to compete with each other based on their looks. Ask yourself whether you still need to compete on your looks. Or do you need to compete at all? Why not just find your own style and adore expressing your uniqueness?

Your body believes every word you say. This is a crucial fact. If you say or even think to yourself, “I am fat, I can’t lose weight,” or “I hate my giggly thighs,” guess what results you are going to experience? Failing to deal successfully with your emotions about your body will result in failure in even the most carefully planned exercise or nutrition plan. I have women clients who tell me, “I have read every weight loss book on your shelf,” but the body they are wearing clearly shows there is a difference between knowing about a subject and actually mastering it. If you have trouble saying to yourself, “I am beautiful now,” then begin with gratitude. “I am grateful for my body, I am grateful for every organ in my body, I am grateful for the gift of movement.” If you rebel against this very thought, I recommend you visit the Special Olympics.

I believe that this issue – learning to love our bodies unconditionally – may be the most challenging issue many women ever face. There are so many layers to this, and it can get right down to whether or not we are willing to accept the challenge of being fully alive on this planet. I have had many passionate discussions on this subject recently. The last such one, with three other women, ended in one saying. “But you don’t understand. I just don’t like it when my arm flab jiggles.” Yes, I do understand. But the self-hatred that you radiate out is only hurting you. Dear reader, where ever you are in this spectrum – I am ashamed of my body/I am locked in fear of my body/I hate my body/I accept my body/I am willing to deal with this issues/I understand my body/I love my body – I urge you to find a way to move to the next level.

Here are a few affirmations you can begin to use that may help:

I LOVE MY BODY NOW.

 

AM GOOD ENOUGH.

 

I AM EQUAL TO THE POWER SO I AM EQUAL TO THE TASK.

 

I AM RADIANTLY HEALTHY.

 

Total Fitness Supports The Atlanta Pet Rescue

 

Total Fitness is a proud supporter of the Atlanta Pet Rescue Center, www.atlantapetrescue.org.

 

As layoffs and foreclosures have increased, shelters in Georgia and around the country are reporting a sharp increase in the number of abandoned pets. The situation is particularly acute in the state of Georgia, which ranked sixth in the nation in foreclosures in the month of May, according to The New York Times.

 

According to Betsey Blimline, director of marketing and development, “Atlanta Pet Rescue has experienced a dramatic increase in the number of surrender requests via phone and email. We are lucky to have enough volunteers that so far we have been able to handle the increase in demand, but our shelter is limited in space. Therefore we have to turn away about 50% more pets than we did before the economic downturn.”

 

Here are five ways you can help:

 

Volunteer. Our very own James Williams volunteers at the Atlanta Pet Rescue every week. Betsey says, “James Williams has been such an amazing asset to our organization. As a relative newcomer (a lot of our volunteers have been with us for 6-8 years!) he has really made an impact. James is a computer whiz and has tackled the technical projects that no one else was able to do, one in particular that has really made a difference in our workload. Not only did he agree to help us with this project, he has actually improved the process! If we could only have about a dozen James’… we would be unstoppable! James is a sharp cookie, and a sweet, kind soul. We just love him!”

 

Join our yoga class. For the month of August, 100 percent of the proceeds from our yoga class will be donated to the APRC. Yoga class will resume on August 12.

 

Purchase a handmade gemstone necklace. I will be selling jewelry to raise money for the APRC and donating 50 percent of the proceeds to support abandoned pets. Please email me at Catherine Carrigan to let me know if there is a specific color or healing gemstone you are interested in and I will make something for you personally.

 

Adopt a pet. Recently, we adopted Belle, a five and a half year old cocker spaniel who was abandoned when her former owner entered a nursing home. Originally, we were Belle’s guardian angels, but she is so cute we decided to make room for her. To find out more about how you can adopt a new member of your spiritual family, please visit: http://www.atlantapetrescue.org/www_ver2/howadopt.htm.

 

Make a donation. You can help feed and provide medical care for a homeless pet at the shelter by contacting Betsey at fundraiser@atlantapetrescue.org. Discover how good you can feel by becoming a sponsor or the guardian angel for an animal who needs special care. Total Fitness is the guardian angel for Ginger, a cute redhead who you can visit at this link: http://www.atlantapetrescue.org/www_ver2/donations.htm.

And we are helping to raise the money to save Jolie’s eye – you can see her photo at this link: http://www.atlantapetrescue.org/www_ver2/pet_pages/toy/toy.htm.