Recently, I’ve had several conversations about motivation and intention—why some women aim to look a certain way, get really lean, strong or, some would say, “look like men”; post fitness progress pictures on Instagram; or pursue physical activity to an extent some would consider a little too much. Why yoga? Why crossfit? Why running? Why this or that?
While this is my fourth major move as an ‘expat,’ I have to admit there are some things that may seem basic to others, but that I’m still learning with each new move. I’ve gotten much better at negotiating, getting what I deserve (and want), and making sure I’m valued for what I’m worth. Having said that, maybe it’s social conditioning or it could be biological… but I’m well aware that I, like many women, still have the tendency of being ‘too nice’ or not being aggressive enough in communicating my demands and making sure they are met. Here are a few things I’ve learned in a career of 15 years (so far):
“We’d like to make you an offer,” the e-mail began. I gasped, whispered yes!, briefly soaked in the feeling of sweet victory, and breathlessly shared the good news with a few people. Then, a few minutes later, it turned to disbelief with a tinge of doubt. Wait, what? They chose me? I wonder why… Note to self: STOP right there. I should’ve Googled it much sooner. Type > > I m p o s t o r S y n d r o m e, and within seconds, I would’ve realised that I wasn’t alone—that feeling like a fraud was more common than I thought. It wasn’t until I came across Natalie Portman’s Harvard Commencement 2015 speech that it dawned on me: it’s NOT just me. Natalie Portman experiences it. Even Natalie Portman. The Natalie Portman. I felt a huge sense of relief. I was then able to detach myself from the “feeling” and look at it objectively. I read article after article and found out that it’s more common among women, and it’s common …
When it comes to women and relationships, there’s nothing more frustrating than to see intelligent, strong, successful, self-sufficient, well-travelled, beautiful women succumb to desperation. Desperation because of a man. Desperate for the love of a man. In extreme cases, it doesn’t even matter which man. Just any man will do.
In articles that explore the ‘secret’ to a lasting relationship, I’ve come across kindness, tolerance, acceptance, companionship, respect, and many other wonderful traits couples who’ve been together for a long time have.
But there’s something I haven’t come across yet, and personally, it’s something that has worked for me for the past 15 years. I also see this in Michelle and Barack Obama’s relationship.
It’s the most unromantic-sounding trait, but from a purely rational perspective, it’s almost a no-brainer to understand why this is a powerful glue that can hold a couple together and keep them happy together.
There’s a lot of passionate debate online over what body positivity means, but I’d like to focus on one part of the discussion: your view of your body. There will always be judgment coming from all directions, but that’s just noise. The most important ‘judgment’ is the one you make on yourself. In fact, it’s not judgment you need, but acceptance.
Having said that…
Yes, you have to love and accept your body just the way it is. BUT loving your body entails taking care of it by keeping it healthy and active.
Dieting in the form of restricting food intake or over-exercising has been part of the lives of many people, especially women, since adolescence. After decades of trying, I wondered if achieving that svelte, toned physique was even possible. But now almost two years into my own fitness journey, I’ve found that what seems counterintuitive to what we’ve programmed ourselves to think all these years is what actually works.