In a yo-yo dieter's world of low carbs one week and brown rice the next, Kelly Bliss's mantra is a welcome relief: make peace with yourself, not war. If you're one of the millions who's been bouncing from diet to diet . . . STOP.
"You can't have good self care if you hate yourself," says Bliss, a psychotherapist and lifestyle coach. Bliss does occasionally recommend traditional dieting to a subsection of her clients. "Extraordinarily lean and scrawny men who are tired of having negative reactions from women, I recommend that three times a year for six weeks they restrict their food intake," says Bliss. "The only persistent, documented outcome of regular dieting is regular weight gain."
Her clients, who range from underweight to overweight, are counselled to take care of themselves, to eat well and to exercise regularly. And mostly importantly, to appreciate themselves, regardless of size. Dieting is replaced by a regimen of living well and eating well, with a focus on savouring life and all it has to offer.
For Bliss the yardstick of measuring success is not a bathroom scale. "Did you eat your fruits and veggies today? Did you exercise today? Did you stretch today? Did you do something that makes you feel good about your body? If you do those things every single day, you will find yourself at your body's ideal natural weight."
For most, the ideal natural weight is not the look or shape of a Hollywood super model. For those of us who don't fit that image, the fashion industry needs to keep pace. That's happening, according to Genny Iannucci of Laura Canada Inc., whose spectrum of stores has long included Laura, Laura Petit and Laura Plus.
"Whether you wear a petit garment or a plus-sized garment, our job is to bring you the best possible fashion we can bring to you," says Iannucci. "We're going to bring you the same style at Laura Plus, but it's going to be in a size that fits."
The recent Campaign for Real Beauty, an initiative introduced by Dove, underlines the need for real beauty to be re-defined in our culture. One cornerpost of the Campaign for Real Beauty is to foster stronger self-esteem among girls, who often are at the mercy of unrealistic and narrow images of beauty. The Dove mandate includes financial support to the National Eating Disorder Information Centre (NEDIC), where an online program was recently launched, designed to improve self-esteem in young girls and women. Using stories, illustrations, journals and quizzes, the site unravels complicated issues of self-esteem and body image in an interactive way.