Health

Thursday 28 August 2014

Above all else, resolve to love your body

Actors Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess attend the premiere of "One Day". (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
Actors Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess attend the premiere of "One Day". (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)

January is my favourite month of the year. It's a time when you can make changes in your life without anyone looking at you a little bit funny.

Although, for most people, their new year's resolutions are probably already starting to hit the dirt. This column isn't going to be about how to change your diet or your fitness regime, there's plenty of places to get that type of information within these pages and elsewhere at this time of year.

Having lost a significant amount of weight and experienced a complete turnaround in my outlook on life in the past three years, my advice for a new year's resolution is so simple it should nearly not have to be said at all. Develop a good relationship with your body.

Everybody spends time focusing on the aspects of their body and life that aren't quite right. I think each of us should make ourselves more aware of the things that are fantastic about us.

I like to spend a few minutes every morning surfing through happy, uplifting and motivational videos on sites like upworthy.com. Every now and again I find something there that really makes me think about things.

The premise of one such video was where women were introduced to a complete stranger. A FBI forensic artist then sketched the face of each woman -- using a self description and the view of the stranger. Without fail the sketch based on the strangers description made the subject look years younger, skinnier and prettier.

The language used by the women to describe themselves was mainly negative, while the stranger's comments were much more positive.

One woman was virtually in tears with the comparison of her own view of "closed-off, fatter, sadder" to the stranger's view of "open, friendly and happy".

Without planning it, this is exactly the change I made three years ago. Weighing almost 20 stone, depressed and bitterly unhappy with everything in my life, I took on my own body which, up to then, had been the most prominent love/hate relationship in my life. In the course of my three-year journey I have made it a priority to find the positive in every situation.

The 2010 Galaxy Book of the Year was One Day by David Nicholls which became a top Hollywood movie starring Anne Hathaway. It tells the story of two characters, Dexter and Emma. Their intertwined lives are chronicled on July 15 every year for two decades.

During a discussion between the two lead characters, Dexter says: "You're gorgeous, you old hag, and if I could give you just one gift ever for the rest of your life it would be this: confidence. It would be the gift of confidence. Either that or a scented candle."

While he pokes fun at the situation by referring to a scented candle as an alternative option, he's really trying to convey the message that confidence or self-belief in every aspect of your life is vital to achieving success.

In the same way as every relationship takes work to allow it to grow and develop, you need to work at growing to love yourself and developing a sense of self-confidence. One simple way of doing this would be to find one new thing you like about yourself every time you look in the mirror. Within a few weeks you will find that you can only see the good things.

So, if your new year's resolutions have already bit the dust, my advice, in this my first column of a life-changing year for me personally, is to resolve to develop a good relationship with your body, it will be the best relationship you'll ever have.

Breifne will take part in the World Cycle Race in March, in which he hopes to break the current record for cycling around the planet

Irish Independent

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