We are bombarded by images of supermodels, while TV shows and ads tell us that we should look like this. The painful irony is that the pictures of even the super-models are edited to remove blemishes, cellulite and age lines. Not even the supermodels are perfect enough for the media. Instead of reading beauty articles on how to reach unattainable standards of beauty, let’s look at how the rest of us can be happy with our bodies.

Focus on Long Term Health, Not Beauty

Don’t worry about whether or not you have a bit of a belly after having a baby, lines around your eyes or minor cellulite around the thighs. The more important long term factor is your health. Yo-yo dieting puts you at risk for diabetes, heart disease and congestive heart failure. Focus on heating a healthy diet without trans-fats, little sugar, plenty of fruits and vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. You should aim for an hour and a half of moderate physical activity to promote cardiovascular health. Plan a diet and exercise routine you can follow week after week, year after year. By eating a healthy diet and getting enough activity, you lower your risk of diabetes, heart attack, stroke and dementia. We’re all going to get older. Why not focus on staying out of the nursing home and minimizing the risk of wounds that won’t heal?

Going Deep So the Superficial Doesn’t Matter

When a man looks at the women around him, he’ll appreciate the beauty of a 10 in the room. However, what will attract his attention and keep it is a woman who is paying attention to him. Men enjoy attention, shows of affection, statements of appreciation and small acts of kindness. If you continually give of yourself to your partner, you’ll build emotional depth that transcends the lust a perfect figure can arouse. Both of you will care less what you look like when you care more about each other.

Choose Styles that Flatter You, Instead of the Latest Trend

Wear clothing that accentuates your best features while de-emphasizing your flaws. For example, don’t wear skin tight yoga pants when they show cellulite. Wear looser knee length Capri pants to show off your shapely calves. Don’t wear sleeveless shirts if you aren’t happy with your arms. Switch to blouses that show off your bust or narrow waist. Wear jeans that fit instead of squeezing into skinny jeans.

Watch the Company You Keep

If your partner grades you against an impossible standard, can you reasonably expect him to stay when middle age hits? Do you spend time with people who endlessly swap beauty tips but fail to support each other emotionally? Are you truly friends with people who constantly grade each other’s appearance? If your partner or your friends – those who are supposed to be the closest to you – are forever criticizing your appearance, you should find new people to share your life.

Stop the Bombardment

Cancel the women’s magazines that show impossible standards for beauty. Don’t watch beauty or modeling shows on TV. Find a spa that focuses on overall health or relaxation instead of criticizing little flaws in the hope of selling more beauty products.

Consider the Impact of Bad Habits

Instead of obsessing over how many calories you eat, monitor your alcohol intake so that you do not end up with cirrhosis of the liver. You’ll garner more attention for the jaundice than you will the low BMI at that point. Why worry about the occasional piece of chocolate cake if you smoke cigarettes? If you are concerned about a perfect body now, wait until you see how cigarette smoking ages the face over a decade or two. A perfect figure won’t help you if you have unprotected sex and contract Hepatitis or HIV. Don’t dedicate so much energy to superficial concerns that you neglect bad habits that literally put your health at risk.

Kirk Wilkinson is a speaker, coach and author of The Happiness Factor. Check out his latest article entitled, It’s Not What You Eat, But What’s Eating You!

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