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Ester Marsh column: Love your body

I hope that after you read this column, you will realize that beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. Health needs to be the No. 1 priority. If you don’t love your body, who will?

I was very fortunate that I grew up in a country and family with a “what you see is what you get” attitude. All the beaches were topless and many of them were nude beaches. Nothing left to the imagination. However, I also grew up knowing that no one is “perfect.” Makes it easier to accept your own body for what God and your family genetics gave you.

I have to say it was challenging growing up as a very muscular girl. None of the clothes would fit me because my shoulders were too wide or my quads were too muscular. By the time a pair of jeans would fit me in the legs, it was twice too big in the waist. Fortunately, fashion has accommodated different shapes and sizes over the years.

Unfortunately in America, body images are still based on the “perfect” model/magazine bodies. But please know and believe that beauty truly comes in all shapes and sizes. Your main priority should be health. Not just your physical health but also your mental and spiritual health. I always say “who decides what is beautiful and what is not?”

Famous artist Peter Paul Ruben’s paintings in the 17th century showed women who would be considered overweight in today’s standards to be the epitome of beauty! Even in the late 1800s and early 1900s, voluptuous women were considered very beautiful. And I agree, they weren’t only beautiful they typically were healthier and were able to survive childbirth better.

So do we need to change back to the Golden Ages? Not really. Currently, 68 percent of Americans are overweight or obese and unfortunately mostly unhealthy. You want to focus on your health and feeling better. When people start on their healthy lifestyle journey, too many people put goals way too high or just plain unreachable.

Be true to yourself. If you are 5 feet tall and have wide hips, a short waist and narrow shoulders, you are not going to get taller or longer waisted. However, with a weight building program you can make your shoulders more muscular which would make them appear wider. I always ask the people I work with or talk to how long it took them to get like they are. Typically they will answer “forever” or 10 or more years. My answer for that is, “Then give it some time to get back in shape.”

I have seen amazing transformations in a year’s time with many people. One of our Hurley Warrior Track parents has hit her 100-pound mark a while back. As she would tell you, it’s not easy and it is a lot of work but I have seen an amazing transformation not only in her appearance, but her mobility and stamina and most importantly her confidence! And now, as she will tell you, it’s harder to keep it off. But as I have mentioned before, you and you alone can make the changes needed. It doesn’t just happen — you need to take charge and put in the effort. Set reasonable goals and look at your body type. Put health first and truly see the beauty within you. How can others see the beauty if you don’t see it yourself? Love your body, and guess what? You are worth it!

Ester Marsh is health & fitness director at the JF Hurley YMCA

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