A friend text me recently and asked for a blog on how to get rid of her muffin top.
How great would it be if you could spot target fat?! I personally think my friend has a great figure, so does my mum. Not that that matters, but that’s a 2 person poll and a 100% “great bod” rating, plus mums always know best.
So this is a post dedicated to my friend, and everyone else who has a certain part of their body they would like to change, including me.
It won’t be about the latest quick fix diet to lose weight fast, or a special “muffin top blaster” you attach to your stomach that blasts the fat out via high pressure vibration energy, is available through danoz direct for the special price of $19.99 per month, endorsed by Chuck Norris and comes with a free set of steak knives if you call today.
It will be about body acceptance, cliche, yet very important. How can we all feel a little more comfortable in our own skin and embrace the good bits?
This brings me to a recent experience at “Spa World” in Osaka, Japan. Public bathing is a traditional part of the Japanese culture, and hot springs are termed an “onsen”. Spa World is kind of like a traditional onsen on steroids. It’s 6 storeys high and described as one of the largest hot spring complexes in the world, featuring themed rooms modelled after spas around the world, a hotel, a restaurant and cafe section and a water theme park on the roof. It has a separate level for males and females (one is european themed, the other asian, and it swaps every month).
The catch is that you’re naked – like the whole time. I was quite reluctant to visit Spa World, and had to be coaxed into it by my friend. After all, it’s one of the top attractions in Osaka, according to Trip Advisor.
We spent 5 hours at the place, and we saw a LOT of Japan that day….
Once you strip down in the very comfortable and inviting locker rooms at Spa World, you are given what’s called a “modesty towel”. It’s extremely modest. It’s the size of a face washer.
We slipped in to the spa area hesitantly, clinging to our modesty towels with trepidation and trying unsuccessfully to cover both bits at once. By the end of the day we were strutting round confidently, face washer slung over our shoulder, high-fiving other women for their nakedness. Well not quite, but we were definitely much more comfortable in our spa world skin.
What struck me about the whole experience is how truly unique we all are in our body shape and how real and beautiful we all are. I felt like I was in a very supportive and accepting environment, and not at all intimidating. These women were real, this was a place of social connectedness and acceptance, and there was no air brushing or photo shop here. I have never seen so many naked women in real life in the one place and it was so completely natural.
To be totally honest, at the start of the day, I was not only nervous to be naked in front of strangers, but more so in front of my friend. I’m not usually naked around my friends! It’s normally something I leave for the privacy of my own home. It’s really not common to get naked in front of your girl pals in Australia. Guys nude up all the time around each other in sporting change rooms. Girls, not so much.
And maybe that is part of the issue. Former “Neighbours” actress Caitlin Stasey seems to be using a similar line of thinking to contribute to the solution. If you haven’t heard, Caitlin recently went completely naked in front of the camera to contribute to her new website, herself.com. MamaMia posted a great article in defence of Caitlin, and said the aim of her website is to examine the female experience and celebrate women of all shapes, backgrounds and gender identities.
Now I’m not about to upload my naked form to the internet, nor am I encouraging everyone to fly to Japan just to nude up at Spa World, but I do like the idea of increased acceptance of the naked body in all shapes and sizes, male and female, unedited!
So what do others say about feeling better about your body? The Butterfly Foundation (the Australian peak association for Eating Disorders) , have a few great tips, including:
- Focus on the parts of yourself you like. Everyone likes some parts of their appearance. Try to focus on what you like and enhance it with clothes and accessories that bring out your personal style and confidence.
- Love your body for what it can do, not how it looks
- Treat your body well, eat nutritious foods, exercise moderately and avoid restrictive diets.
- Be kind to yourself… AND your friends. You probably treat your friends well so what would it be like if you treated yourself with the same respect?
Speaking of being kind to yourself, Associate Professor Dr Kristine Neff is a great campaigner for self-compassion. She believes we should all stop chasing self-esteem and start developing self-compassion in order to truly feel good about ourselves. She describes self-compassion as firstly, acknowledging and accepting when you are not feeling so great about yourself, and offering yourself the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend. Being less critical and judgemental.
Dr Neff says that perhaps most importantly, self-compassion means that you accept your humanness, like you would for a friend.
Nobody’s perfect, so why should you be?
And finally, a social movement that I am absolutely loving at the moment, “The Moderation Movement”, is all about bringing balance back into vogue. It was developed by Dietitian Zoe Nicholson and fitness expert Jodie Arnot. Promoting small, sustainable lifestyle changes and discouraging strict eating patterns or unsustainable health behaviours is something dietitians promote every day, it’s just not as appealing in the media as a “Muffin Top Blaster”. It is, however, more effective and long-lasting. I encourage you to check out their Facebook page and join the movement!
So there you have it, the final word on said “muffin top”. Treat your body well, nourish it properly, move more and be proud of all the things your body can do. Balance is key. Get a little naked a little more often in the company of friends or strangers. Love your body, and your friends’.
And tell them that.