Continuing with The Art of Sensual Living: My Lifestyle Secrets, I’m diving into Secret #3: Self-Image Fitness. Whew!!! This one is what my friend and colleague, Janet Hilts, calls a “BHI” (Big Hairy Issue!). Our self-image is so wrapped up in our childhood experiences, parental messaging, peer messaging, advertising, societal definitions of beauty, and more. If you’re like me, you’re really good at remembering, in detail, every not-so-complimentary comment someone made about your appearance; you’re equally poor at remembering ANY compliments you receive. So, in short, our self-image fitness is something that follows us from birth until death, and we have to learn how to exercise it regularly to keep our confidence high.

To review, here are my lifestyle secrets that I introduced last month, The Art Of Sensual Living After 60: #1 Healthy Eating & #2 Body Movement.

The Art of Sensual Living: 7 Lifestyle Secrets

1 – Healthy Eating

2 – Body Movement

3 – Self-Image Fitness

4 – Gardening & Outdoor Activities

5 – Inner State of Mind

6 -The Arts (Anything That Expands Your Consciousness)

7 – Life Balance

Secret #3: Create A More Fit Self-Image

Are you ready to embrace a new, more positive attitude about yourself? What I mean by that is aren’t you tired of feeling badly about the way you look? Isn’t it time to stop beating yourself up for every extra pound, wrinkle, or bad hair day? I understand how you feel! I used to belittle my self-image, too. I was in my twenties, which were technically the BEST, physically fit years of my life! What a waste of time and energy. Little did I know that my life would get better and I would learn to love every single body flaw and recognize and celebrate all my assets. Yin and yang. Life as reality. No one is born with a perfect body. I’m especially referring to the airbrushed, sucked in, tucked, squeezed, pinched, and digitally altered teenage women/girls portrayed in fashion magazines.

Real women have assets and flaws, but they know how to accentuate the positive and camouflage the less-positive (I don’t like to refer to our flaws as negative), so all you see is a vibrant, “walk-into-a-room-and-own-it” confident woman. Do you recognize YOUR assets? So many women still have great legs into their 50s and beyond, but they hide their legs in baggy pants. Why not show off those jams in a skirt, dress, or skinny jeans? Or, how about your shoulders? Have you tried on a cold-shoulder top yet?

There is a lot of talk about getting physically fit by exercising, eating healthy, and protecting our skin from too much sun. I would like to broaden the conversation to include exercising the way you think about your body and your appearance and building up your CONFIDENCE MUSCLES.  When you have a strong, confident self-image you can withstand anything that comes your way. You can resist the negative self-talk, fight off inner self-doubt, and ignore the “nay-sayers” in your life who tell you you’re not good enough, thin enough, or smart enough, to follow your dreams. With well-developed confidence muscles you’ll be strong enough to listen to your own inner voice (your intuition) rather than to what others say.We all know women who always look “put-together.” You may think it takes a huge effort on her part to choose just the right clothing and accessories every day.

As an image consultant I will let you in on a big secret: it’s easy to look “put-together” when your closet is filled with all the right colors and styles that capitalize on your best assets. Learning your colors and most flattering fashion styles for your body shape is one of the most important ways you can stay “fit” as you build up your SELF-IMAGE FITNESS.For anyone who is struggling with weight issues after menopause, it is important to feel supported and loved by others, but even more important to support and love yourself. It’s not easy to take the bull by the horns and commit to a healthier lifestyle, saying goodbye to all the comfort that food delivers. I know how difficult it is to break old habits, walk away from old friends, and start down a mysterious, new path. But here’s the thing: when you feel your body getting stronger and fitter, and you find yourself with more fashion choices, your CONFIDENCE MUSCLES will pull you along and support you in a way you never imagined!

3 Ideas to Develop and Flex Your Confidence Muscles and Develop a Fit Self-Image:

Self-Image Fitness Tip #1: Do Something For Yourself Every Day

True self love is making a promise to take twenty minutes every day to do something that makes you happy, just for you. It can be sitting down to read your favorite book or magazine, walking around the neighborhood and smelling the flowers, going to the gym, painting or creating something, or taking a steamy bath with a few drops of lavender oil. As women, this can feel very selfish and foreign, but I’m telling you it’s the magic sauce to happiness and joy.

Self-Image Fitness Tip #2: Create A Style Vision For Yourself

You can’t get there if you don’t have a vision for where you’re going. Dreaming, planning, visualizing what you want to look like and feel like is an element of self-image fitness. I can’t stress enough the importance of visualizing your personal style so that you can create the wardrobe of your dreams. One way to visualize your look is to create a Stylebook that represents who you are inside and out, in every aspect of your life, such as work, play, social events, volunteer work, and hobbies. Start by looking through Pinterest boards, or cutting out pictures from fashion magazines. Think about what you would like to say with your appearance — your signature style. For instance, above is a page from a Style Inspiration Stylebook that I create for clients. In this example, I put together an outfit Jessica can wear to gallery openings with her husband. Now, Jessica has a vision of how fantastic and put-together she can look! You can create your own style book, or contact me, and I’ll be happy to do it for you.

Self-Image Fitness Tip #3: Stop Comparing Yourself To Others

Stop comparing yourself to others. If there is anything that helped me feel more positive about starting my own image consulting business eight years ago it was to stop comparing myself to all the other image stylists. Sure, some stylists are more well known, prettier, richer, and more successful than me. But, THEY’RE NOT ME! They don’t have my quirky sense of humor that makes grown women crack up with laughter during a Closet Cleanout. Other stylists don’t see the world the way I do because my experience is what makes me unique. My point is that you are special and no one else on this earth is like you. You have an obligation to nurture yourself and love yourself because no one can know you as intimately as you know yourself. It is absolutely imperative that you enjoy your special gifts and share them with the world!

What self-image fitness tips do you exercise on a daily basis?

What are you going to start doing tomorrow to exercise your confidence muscles and grow your self-image confidence?