Do: Appreciate Your Amazing Body and Read The Body Book By Cameron Diaz

I've read many health books, diet books, self help books. I've followed, intermittently, the teachings of said books. Fat fads I call them now. Over the past year I discovered what whole foods really means. Over and above the delicious and expensive chain of shops, there is a deeper meaning. A whole food is a food that is entirely made up of FOOD. It doesn't have chemicals, E numbers, additives, colour dyes or preservatives. It is 100% food. Isn't it totally obscene that we eat food that isn't entirely made of food? For someone that lived their life eating whatever she wanted but cutting calorie corners with low fat versions, this really shook all my understandings of the right food choices. 
The Body Book by Cameron Diaz and Sandra Barks
A book that explains the exceptional benefits of eating whole and real foods is Cameron Diaz and Sandra Barks' book The Body Book. It's more than that though. Cameron cleverly breaks it up into three sections, diet, fitness and mind. By diet I mean literally what you eat; there are no instructions to eat this on day 1 and by day 10 you can eat this. Her book is not a manual of how to lose weight or replicate her toned and athletic body. This here is closer to a biology text book with a healthy splash of "Come on, sister! We are all fabulous!". Cameron truly celebrates the amazing body that we each have the fortune of owning. When you take the time to sit back and think about what our bodies endure, what they achieve, how they carry us through triumphs and commiserations it really is astounding and therefore it seems fitting that we treat them with the gratitude and respect they most definitely deserve. My body carries me all around London on the buses, tubes and pavements. It carries my overnight bag, my laptop and my coins on average across 5 miles of pavement pounding a day. My sister's body has nursed and grown the 4 beautiful children that I get the honour of being Auntie to, not least of all, her body carried 2 of those 4 beautiful babies at once! My mum's body has been the shoulder to cry on for me and my brother for over twenty three years, before which it traveled the world, carried her from Australia to England to call a new place home. All of these activities, whether they are our daily actions or enormous mile stone occasions that change our lives, couldn't have been achieved without the very bodies we are each sat in reading this article. I did know this already, to a degree.
My sister the day before she had twins!
My mum / My shoulder to cry on
When I was a shop assistant I was helping a lovely woman find a dress for a special occasion. We got one she loved that fit wonderfully, but the neckline exposed a scar from her breast cancer surgery. So she didn't buy it. She didn't want to show her scar because she said it was unsightly. This broke me. I told her that those scars are the reason she's standing in the fitting room with me, that she might not be here without them and that she should show them off with pride, boast of them even, they are her badges of survival. She told me I was sweet but didn't believe me, she didn't get the dress that she so loved. Now I only knew this woman for a moment and am not for one second trying to suggest I know what it's like to have been through such a difficult time and am not by any means judging her. But I wish I could shake her and explain that no one would ever see her scars and think "Oh, I wish she had covered them". Hopefully seeing them would make a person want to high-five that lady for getting through all of that horridness and coming out the other side! High-five to your amazing body that got you through that!
A point raised in this book that I hadn't really thought of before is that this body that enables me to type out this article, is, in fact, the only body I will ever have. It might appear entirely obvious but I hadn't thought of that before. This is the only body that I will ever have and, more over, no one else will ever get to have this body. This body is unique to me. The way my nails grow, mine are the only ones that do it that exact way. The scars on my knees from netball are in a shape that only I have. I could go on. The meaning of this realisation is that it is totally futile to aim or to strive to replicate somebody else's body. My best friend is the same hight as me exactly but has legs that are 2 inches longer than mine. I will never have as long legs as she does. So what would be the point in striving to have the same body as hers? She tells me how great my long torso looks in a bikini and I tell her how phenomenal her long legs look in a skirt. But let's tell ourselves, as well as each other! 
The long-legged best friend with her long-torso buddy!
So how do we say thank you to our bodies for all that they allow us to accomplish? We give them the right food, whole foods. We enjoy them and embrace them instead of insulting them. We take them out for a spin, a walk, a climb, a run, a swim. And in return we get the memories of playing rounders in the garden and laughing ourselves silly with our siblings. I have memories of throwing my niece and nephew around on the trampoline and practicing catch with them because I had the energy to do so (I'm constantly shocked that my 4 year old niece puts my fitness and stamina to the test!). And most importantly of all, we get a healthy and happy mind. 
Pushing around not 1 but 4 nieces and nephews (spot the twins lying down!).
I used this analogy on my almost twenty-one year old brother a couple of days ago but he didn't really appreciate it. I hope he will one day! Many years ago my Dad put petrol in my mum's diesel convertible. When he suddenly stopped the car and told me he'd filled it up with petrol, I said "Yeah Dad, that's why we went to the petrol station, duh!", but the look of fright on his face said I'd misunderstood. Anyway it took hours and hours for the RAC to come out and suck out a full tank of the petrol unfit for the car. They had to rinse its system and ensure there was no permanent damage. Had we driven it much further there was the potential of seriously ruining the car. Well, I think of my body as the engine of my Mum's gorgeous car. I think of whole foods that not only fill up my tummy but fill up my whole body with the nutrients that allow me to physically do as I please, as diesel. I think of all of those nasty chemicals that provide empty calories and worse, eventually serious health complications (yes, really), as the petrol. If you continuously run your body on the fuel that it wasn't intended to run on, somethings going to go wrong. 
Working out with my mum
Your happiness, your intellect, your creativity, so many things are controlled by your brain. What you feed yourself controls the level of performance your brain is capable of. You are more likely to be happy and therefore be able to view your body in the positive manner that I discussed above if you feed your brain with the nutrients it so badly needs. As a teenager I had the misfortune of suffering from chronic depression. I had no idea at the time the severe damage I was causing myself through malnutrition. With all of the knowledge that I have today I now know that I will never have to use anti-depressants again because I can use preventative measures such as a healthy diet and lots of exercise! Even if you simply feel stressed out, it can be cured by upping your water intake, your nutrition intake, going for a jog and getting a sufficient amount of sleep. After doing all of those things you're likely to be more efficient anyway and thus complete better the task that was stressing you out in the first place!
All of these points are discussed in an insightful, not patronising and intelligent way throughout the book. It was a pleasure to re-read the biology I had learned at school but with the fascination of an interested adult rather than an uncooperative teen. It was a delight to realise that all the fun I have playing with my sister's children would be impossible if I wasn't looking after my body in the right way. And it was exciting to think of the endless possibilities of enjoyment there are to be had with these wonderful and totally unique bodies we have each been graced with. 
Whether you already know all of the above or are having trouble appreciating your amazing body, please read The Body Book. It will alter your perspective and make you want to give yourself a much deserved hug at the end of it. 
Making new memories
Visit www.ourbodybook.com to continue the conversation about everything discussed in the book itself as well as recipes and ideas for fun activities. Also follow the instagram account at www.instagram.com/thebodybook 










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