Love the Skin You’re In: Be Body Confident this Summer

Its summer (and it really is this year!) so the sun is out, and so are some bits of our bodies that are kept under wraps for most of the year. This should be cause for celebration – a great chance to get a bit of colour and vitamin D – but instead it’s often a time for our body insecurities to go into over-drive. Why? Because we live in a society where we are encouraged not to like ourselves, to want to look different and to pay a lot of money to do so. Our body confidence is being stripped away on a daily basis by unattainable images of body ‘perfection’ but this year team IHS want you to do things differently. We want you to put your beautiful and unique body into your favourite summer outfits and go and enjoy yourself/make memories –remembering that body confidence does not come from your figure, it comes from your mind. Is this self-acceptance hard? Yes. But it can be done and we are here to help with a few tips from 3 entirely differently shaped, perfectly imperfect members of team IHS who have all found different ways to love the skin they’re in.

Suzanne Laurie, IHS Director

For me there are 2 key elements to body confidence:

The first is hugely important. Take a moment to thank your body for what it has done for you and keeps doing for you on a daily basis. Stop berating it, obsessing over it and trying to change it – thank it!! My body survived my 20s (despite my best efforts), carried two beautiful children, has got me to the top of mountains, to different corners of the world and come through scrapes and surgeries. Is it super model svelte? Nowhere near, but its strong and resilient – so thank you body – I owe you one!

The second way to foster a positive self image is to nurture your body. It’s done great things for you so now is the time to give back! Your body wants to move – it’s what its designed to do, so let it! Choose something you love, take it step by step, go forth and get active. This not only makes it feel better physically (less aches, pains, stiffness etc) but it elevates mood/confidence and has the added bonus of toning and tightening! However – the important focus here is function not aesthetics. You are investing in your body’s future because it is worth it. I came to exercise late….and very reluctantly….but since I have established a regular exercise schedule, I am amazed by the transformation in my body. Not so much how it looks (although that is changing daily) but how it moves, what it is capable of, how strong and dynamic it feels.

So when you head to the beach or park next remember why you’re there – to have fun, play with your family or relax. Focus on who you’re with, what you’re doing and the amazing weather not if your bum looks big. Trust us – you look fabulous.

Sheila Downes, Nutritional Therapist, Enrolment Consultant IHS Ireland

Body confidence really starts in the mind. We must think ourselves body beautiful!

Want to know how to quickly get a beach body? Accept your current body and show up at the beach!

Shifting our mindsets and not giving in to negative self-talk is key and takes time and practice but it is well worth it. There are however, plenty of things you can do nutritionally to feel a bit more beach ready! We have given you some tips below on how to ease bloating and water retention and we have given you some ideas and foods to incorporate into your diet for glowing skin.

Easing bloating
Easing bloating begins with overall good digestion and improving eating habits.

  • Eat slowly and mindfully.
  • Give your body time to digest each meal.
  • Start your day with some hot water with a couple of slices of lemon and some grated ginger to kick start your digestion. If first thing in the morning is not doable, do try this 20 minutes before lunch or dinner. Or both!
  • Pay attention to how your body reacts to certain foods such as wheat and dairy. If these foods are problematic for you, notice if these foods feature way too much in your diet as you may need to reduce your intake.
  • Avoid drinking too much water before and after meals as this can dilute digestive juices making food harder to digest.
  • Eat more foods which help stimulate digestion such as: bitter salad leaves like rocket, herbs and spices such as thyme, cumin, ginger, cayenne pepper and black pepper. Try adding 1 tbsp. of raw organic apple cider vinegar to a ½ glass of water and drink before meals to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
  • If you are feeling bloated try chewing on a few fennel seeds or try drinking fennel, mint or peppermint tea to ease symptoms.

Water retention, also known as fluid retention or edema, occurs in the circulatory system or within tissues and cavities which causes swelling in the body, mainly in the hands, feet, ankles and legs. There are several causes for this however if symptoms persist, it is important to have this checked. In most cases, a lot of it is down to a number of diet and lifestyle factors which can be easily remedied.

  • Avoid processed foods as much as possible – mainly because it is better to eat fresh wholefoods for optimum health, but processed foods contain high amounts of salt which can cause water retention.
  • Increase your magnesium intake – this means eating your greens! Leafy green vegetables are high in magnesium which is an important mineral for many reactions in the body but studies have shown that consuming 200mg of magnesium a day can reduce water retention.
  • Eat potassium rich foods such as tomatoes, bananas and avocados. Potassium and sodium work together in the body and getting the balance right is important in avoiding water retention.
  • Drink herbal teas – preferably horsetail, dandelion, fennel and nettle teas

Improving skin appearance.

There is a lot you can do here to get glowing skin asap!

  • Dry brushing – dry brush your skin before you shower. Start with the feet and brush in an upward motion towards your heart. This is excellent for improving circulation and helping to get rid of toxins from the body.
  • Water – Drinking plenty of water will help keep skin hydrated and will also help get rid of toxins from the body. Aim to drink 1.5-2 litres per day at least. Add lemon and lime slices for some vitamin C and to help with digestion.
  • Eat vitamin C rich foods – Vitamin C is vital for good skin health as it is a powerful antioxidant which helps combat the damaging effects of free radicals which can age skin. It also plays an important role in building connective tissue and helps stimulate collagen production which is what gives our skin strength and elasticity.
  • Eat omega 3 rich foods – foods loaded with omega-3 such as salmon, walnuts and flax are great for your skin as they keep the structure of cells intact so that they can retain more moisture and look plumper.
  • Exercise! Building muscle is excellent for improving skin tone. Exercise improves circulation and blood flow making sure nutrients and oxygen are reaching skin cells.

Liz Holland, Nutrition & Lifestyle Coach, Health & Wellness Coach

Cultivating Body Confidence and Self Contentment

The road to self-acceptance is not always an easy one, especially with the rise of social media and celebrity culture, which can leave us pinning our self-worth against the finely curated and photoshopped images – crushing our confidence and mood along the way.

So how do we regain control of how we feel and develop a healthy body confidence? For me, it’s about being kind to yourself through positive thoughts and actions: Focus on your strengths, your abilities and your admirable traits; let go of harsh judgments and comparisons to others.

Being confident doesn’t mean that everything, including your body, is perfect. It simply means that you’ve chosen to accept and embrace life, imperfections and all. I believe Judy Garland said it best; ‘Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else’.

Here are my top tips on how you can cultivate self-confidence and self-acceptance through daily actions:

1) Be compassionate with yourself

No beating yourself up! It’s important to remember that we all stumble from time to time, falling short of our own expectations or accomplishments. Don’t dwell on what you didn’t achieve or hope for, learn what you can from the experience and keep moving forward.

2)Self Recognition

Celebrate and recognise your own successes, even the small ones. When you accomplish something take a moment to appreciate your efforts and give yourself a ‘pat on the back’.

3) Relish in others’ appreciation for you

At times we all need a reminder of how appreciated and loved we are. For this I recommend when you need a boost, re-read a nice text message or a card you received from a loved one – this will boost morale and help put some optimism back into your step. Furthermore, I believe it’s important to surround yourself with positive and encouraging people who remind you just how amazing you are.

4) Delight in life’s little pleasures

Take 10-15 minutes every day to do something that uplifts you, preferably in the morning as it will help to prepare you for the day ahead. For instance, reading an article, listening to your favourite podcast, listening to some music or meditating. Something that’s self indulgent and purely for enjoyment purposes.

5) Take care of your Health
Nourish your body by eating a healthy, well balanced diet and exercising on a regular basis. Taking care of your body will improve your health and mental outlook.