If you could go back in time what would you tell your younger (teenage) self about your body and fitness?
Do you ever hear a group of teenage girls talking about pretty much anything and think…Wow, did I ever think like that?
Overhearing the conversations of a younger generation of girls often makes me think of my own teenage years.
Float back in time with me to your days of Guess jeans and Aqua Net.
Whether you were the rockstar of sports, queen of every social circle or preferred to hang alone with a book, you had a teenage body and you had an opinion about it.
So, if you could go back in time and tell yourself something about your body and fitness what would it be?
I have a few ideas for myself…
Oh, teenage me, try and dig up some patience.
You’re going to need it in every aspect of life but especially when it comes to your body.
A woman’s shape changes as often as her moods and sometimes it’s not fun to watch or live out.
College, career, friends, relationships, pregnancy…with every stage of life your body will transform like a ball of fresh playdoh. You’ll be shocked at the shapes your silhouette can (and will) take on.
But hang in there.
Because, remember, you’re the one building this castle and you get to decide how it ends up.
Don’t settle down with a shape that makes you unhappy. Strive for a healthy body, one inch (and one pound) at a time.
And never, ever get cocky when your body is looking good.
Because karma is real, girls.
The second you think your body is amazing–WHAM–just like that you’ll wake up with cellulite dimples and folds of fat squeezing out of your seams one morning when you’d swear you left all your body parts perky the night before.
You’ll never forget every size and shape you go through physically because it changes you psychologically.
Be a good steward of the things you learn and ALWAYS encourage other women who are in a different stage of their life and body shape.
THIGHS AREN’T EVERYTHING
As a teenager every other second (for me) was spent daydreaming about being something I wasn’t (and never could be).
Maybe you wanted bigger boobs or a flatter stomach. But my obsession was laser-focused on my thighs.
I swear I spent HOURS wondering what it would be like to have skinny thighs. #sadtruth
If I could go back in time I’d grab my face with two hands and stare daggers right into my eyes and make myself promise to never, ever waste another spark of neuron juice on the appearance of my thighs.
I’d give myself a giant bear hug and insist that I love my body (every last fold, dimple and curve).
Because afterall—my teenage thighs were actually trim and tone next to the barrels of cellulite with sandals at the ends that I’d be lugging around in a few years when I was pregnant.
So, enjoy those teenage thighs, I’d say.
Focus on health as a complete package (mental and physical) instead of being fixated on a single body part.
Trust me, dear teen, no amount of leg lifts will morph your physique into the likes of Brooke Shields.
STEP AWAY FROM THE FRENCH FRIES—AND THE BEETS
Maybe it was pizza or cheeseburgers for you but for me it was French fries.
I knew they weren’t healthy. But it didn’t matter. I ate them. A lot of them.
I’d definitely tell my teenage self to go easy on the French fries (and coddle those young arteries like a kitten instead of treating them like my first car–oil change?–What’s that?)
And then there were the beets…
I remember my dad’s face when I told him I needed him to buy beets, vanilla ice cream and carrots—a far cry from my usual grocery list of Lucky Charms and microwave chimichangas.
The beets, ice cream and carrots were a trifecta of the items in a ‘Lose 10 lbs. in 3-days’ diet I’d gotten a hold of.
Me (and all my friends) were absolutely convinced it was the magical order in which we ate the foods on the list (there were instructions) that caused the incredible weight loss. (Just in time for the weekend, baby!)
Funny how it never occurred to me that maybe it was the portions of the foods (the 3-day diet allowed for 1-cup of most of the things on the list) that resulted in weight-loss, rather than the foods themselves.
I’m not sure if you could actually lose 10 lbs. on the diet because I never made it past that cup of beets in the first 24 hours.
But I pulled that magic diet out many, many Wednesday afternoons.
There was also the grapefruit diet and the liquid diet…you see the common variable with all of these diets.
A quick fix! Instant gratification, of course!
Listen up, I’d say to teenage me. Life is hard. Life is short. And there’ll be plenty of time to diet later.
For now, just eat smart, for crying out loud. Eat with intention. Don’t shove it in if you don’t need it.
WHEN IT COMES TO EXERCISE—DO WHAT YOU WANT—BUT DO IT
When it comes to exercise (and life) here’s a novel idea…do whatever the hell makes you happy.
Not what makes your best friend, boyfriend or that girl who sits 4 desks in front of you in Honors English with the best damn hair happy, either.
Because guess what? You’re you, and they’re them.
And don’t pretend you don’t know precisely what I mean by that.
Find a way to move your body that makes you happy and do it all the time.
Whether it’s yoga, karate, hiking, canoeing, pogo-stick jumping, square-dancing, whatever–find what works for you and make it a habit.
Because the moral of the story is>>>exercise must be a part of your life.
Not a fad. Not something cool your friends are trying out. It has to be a habit that takes root in your life like making your bed (bad example), brushing your teeth or drinking coffee.
Exercise is a permanent forever kinda thing. So, find something you love to do (that involves moving your body in a good way) and do it all the time, dear teenager.
Because if you wait until a whole bunch of sedentary habits have hijacked your daily schedule it’s SO MUCH HARDER to love on the idea of exercising.
Start looking now, I’d say to teenage me, for an activity that you love.
That choice might (probably will) change over the years but the idea of exercising will take a permanent place in your life, if you start now.
YOUR ASSIGNMENT, DEAR READER
Being 13-18 years old is a complicated time for a million different reasons.
But every single teenager needs to hear this: YOU’RE. SO. BEAUTIFUL.
Find a teenager today.
Take a deep breath and walk right in to their personal space and look them in the eye.
Say this: You look beautiful today
And then dive in and give ‘em a bear hug.
Guess what? You just made their day (maybe even their week).
*I know you’ll be on the receiving end of exasperated eye-rolling and a mumbled sigh of ‘what are you doing?‘ or ‘what’s wrong with you?‘, but just ignore it. You’re doing the right thing, I promise.
So, what about you?
If you could go back in time what would YOU tell teenage you about fitness?
“Life is complicated. Fitness doesn’t have to be.”
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