Food. Exercise. Confidence.

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These are three words that can strike fear into the hearts of many otherwise happy and successful women. We have it drilled into us that we’re supposed to look a certain way; eat this and not that; be popular and always know how to act. It seems that in modern life, we are missing the fundamental understanding that humans are built to be active, to eat, and to look after themselves. Three pretty simple things I know – but then why do so many of us continue to get it so wrong?

The advent of ‘Fit Not Thin’ is still less than two years into its mainstream fame. We only have to look back a decade to the Size Zero trend that swept across the western world: when my anorexic frame was the height of cool and earned me plenty of compliments from people I shouldn’t really have cared less about. We are a nation of extremes, and there has never been a higher percentage of us suffering from eating disorders or obesity; depression or arrogance; laziness or over-exercising. We are digitally savvy and should understand how prevalent airbrushing is, but are we capable of dismissing those images of perfection that bombard us, even when we know they’re not real? What does fit and healthy really look like, and how can we achieve it?

I’ll start with Exercise. Although you’ll see plenty of (largely accurate) stats stating that exercise accounts for only 20% of a body’s aesthetics, it is essential for the health of everything you can’t see: your heart, bones, and of course your brain. Exercise releases endorphins, the happy hormone, so even though most of us hate our training at the time, afterwards you get that feeling of elation that is hard to beat. Exercise remains the most under-prescribed anti-depressant.

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When starting out, it’s crucial you have a plan to follow. That way you’ll have targets to reach and enough guidance so you don’t stray off-track or get overwhelmed by the volume of information out there. We tailor your exercise programme by selecting appropriate Fit Missions workouts from bodyweight only all the way up to strength and power, depending on your goals and lifestyle. You can carry these out on your own at home, in a gym or with a friend or Fit Missions trainer, and you get support as you go along.

Next up: Food. Eating is something none of us can avoid, however hard we try. When starving yourself – or, equally, binge-eating – is your coping mechanism, every day and every social situation becomes a challenge. Like it or not, food has to be a part of your life. Most of us view food with some form of emotion. When we’re sad we gravitate towards ice cream and cookies; to celebrate we go for a slap-up dinner and drink champagne. The vast majority of us have some form of sugar addiction (just look out for the 3pm slump and rush for the office biscuit tin and you’ll see what I mean).

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Finally, we come to looking after ourselves. This is central to and underpins every under-confidence, every eating disorder; every instance of depression in the world. We don’t want to look after ourselves. We feel we don’t deserve it. God forbid we treat our best friend the way we are able to treat our own bodies!

This article has been written by Lucy Denver over at Fit Missions.