“You’ve always been beautiful. Now you’re just deciding to be healthier, fitter, faster, stronger.”
Choosing to embrace my natural hair, had a ripple effect on me as I entered my 40’s. I am not interested in focusing on turning back the clock and getting caught up in the ‘anti ageing’ movement and possibly compromising my health.
Instead, I am purposely focused on embracing my body as it is and not on what ‘society’ thinks I should look like. That involves embracing what I have naturally and making the best of it through healthy and positive lifestyle choices. In fact, I have my fair share of fine lines, scars, a less than perfect tummy and of course I have grey hair (silver if you please!)…. amongst other aspects that society might consider flaws. Regardless, I press on with the pursuit of self acceptance.
Also, I might add that, refreshing are those in the public eye who have stood their ground against the pressure to look younger, determined to withstand the ‘anti ageing’ movement and accept themselves for where they are in their lives now, whatever that age may be- aka Helen Mirren, Dame Judy Dench amongst others. All of these strong women advocate a healthy lifestyle and demonstrate their natural beauty through poise and positivity.
So, where do we start on our pursuit to embracing our authenticity and natural beauty?
Well… exercise is a very good place to start! Exercise is definitely a crucial implementation needed for anyone looking to enhance and embrace their natural beauty. Having the right mindset is the first place to start if you are not currently exercising regularly. You will benefit when your focus is on getting fitter and stronger and to feel better, rather than focusing on exercise to lose weight and burn calories.
I trained as a Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer and Exercise to Music Teacher some years ago, so I know the benefits of exercise and I have met with the struggle many have to embed exercise into their lifestyles long term.
The good news is that we all know that exercise is good for our health, our bodies and our well being. Exercise clears the mind, builds self esteem, releases ‘feel good’ endorphins and is a good stress reliever… not to mention all the physical benefits of consistent exercise.
It is no lie that approximately 70 percent of us who are members of a gym rarely go after the first few weeks/months of joining. So why is this, at a time when we have so much knowledge about exercise and its positive benefits?
While there are a myriad of reasons why many of us don’t make time for exercise!! I believe that we need to change our mindset about what exercise represents for us in order to stop making excuses that only get in the way of our progress.
The following 10 Steps have helped me to start and adhere to exercising again after a break and I hope it can help you to use as part of your journey to embracing your natural beauty.
1. Love your Body.
Learn to love and appreciate your body as it is now. So many women are critical about their bodies and don’t even realise they are doing it. Become mindul of your self talk and look for what you love and shift your focus from what you don’t.
Appreciate your body and want only the best for it! Once you can wholeheartedly say that you love your body for what it is instead of what you think it should be, and mean it, then you are more likely to want the best for it and start making progress.
2. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
I’m not sure this needs much explanation but with social media at our finger tips, it is so easy to compare ourselves to others… but please don’t.
Small positive steps to personal development and to reach your own potential is all that’s needed- ever!
3. Change your Mindset.
Think about exercise as a gift for your body, instead of thinking of it as something you need to do to lose weight, to look a certain way etc. It’s pressure you don’t need and it won’t serve you at all. Think of exercise as something you are doing because you love yourself and your body and now is the time to do the right thing by it.
My exercise of choice at the moment is either running or walking, but I am soon to try out a new exercise class with a friend and I love pilates and yoga. Find what you enjoy and commit to implementing it into your lifestyle consistently. If you don’t enjoy exercise, consider that once exercise is part of your life and you start feeling better, you are likely to feel differently.
Start small. I started running for only a few minutes and patted myself on the back each time just for doing it. As long as I raised my heart rate and worked up a bit of a sweat, then that was good enough in the early days. I then built on the pace and the time from there.
A friend of mine is doing the couch to 5K with her husband and is enjoying it and they are making great progress. This is an example of a free app but there are many tools available to support you with getting back into exercise.
Plan when you exercise for the up and coming week on a Sunday (or once a week on the day of your choice).
Look at your calendar or diary and find time to exercise and write (type) it in. Make sure you stick to it ‘religiously’. The guidelines by the NHS in the UK to date, is to partake in 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. That is equivalent to a half an hour brisk walk 5 days a week. I think this is more than achievable for most of us and may be either a great starting point or something from which to build on if you haven’t exercised for a long time.
Find a starting point that is best for you and then work towards making progress. I do my exercise at the same time every day because my lifestyle allows for this. You can find time in your schedule to exercise but you need to plan it.
5. Understand that the hardest thing to do, is to actually turn up!
The hardest part to adhering to an exercise routine is actually just showing up and doing it as planned before excuses set in. I personally find the best time to exercise is in the morning. If I leave exercise until later in the day, I have more than enough time to make up excuses not to do it.
I have become a ‘morning person’ after reading Hal Elrod’s ‘The Miracle Morning’, which I highly recommend you read. It has changed my life in such a short time that I tell everyone who is open to self improvement about it, in the hope that it might change their life for the better too!!
Turning up for your planned exercise sessions, whether it be yoga in your living room, going out for a brisk walk, jogging around your local park or attending an aerobics class, it really doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do it. You turn up as planned and do your workout, increase your heart rate and work up a bit of a sweat.
You can build on the basics once exercise is embedded in your weekly routine. If you haven’t been consistently exercising, then the absolute p is not what you do or for how long…but that you actually do it consistently.
Once you are confident that exercise is embedded in your routine, you can then build on your actual fitness progress. Don’t forget you might suffer with soreness in the first few weeks or month of exercise, but stick with it and your body will adjust and you will start to feel better.
Below is a brief run down of my weekly exercise regime.
Monday (7.30 am)– 5 minutes of yoga or stretching and 20 minute light run which includes a warm up and cool down.
Tuesday (7.30 am)- 5 minute stretch, 15 minute walk and 20 minute light jog.
Wednesday (7.30am)- 5 minutes of stretching and 30 minutes brisk walk.
Thursday(7.30 am)- 5 minutes of yoga and 20 minutes light jog.
Friday (7.30am)- 5 minutes stretch and 30 minute brisk walk.
If I miss any of these days, then I will replace that exercise on the weekend.
As you can see, it doesn’t have to be anything spectacular. I don’t, at the time of writing, go to the gym or do any classes and neither do you have to….Find what fits in best into your life and then make sure you stick to it. If at all possible, exercise at the beginning of your day, even if you have to get up earlier.
6. Stay Positive.
No negative self talk ever, but, especially when you exercise!!! It is body training and mind training! Being positive will benefit your physical workout and help you get the most out of your session. Listen to positive uplifting music or a self help book, anything that make you feel inspired. If you are not listening to anything then keep your self talk encouraging, like you would inspire and encourage a loved one!
7. Have a Supplement after you Exercise.
This is new for me but it has made such a difference. I no longer feel like I have to go to bed after going for my run. I use Arbonne Phytosport Prepare and Endure. I absolutely love this stuff. It gives me so much energy for the rest of the day and I feel wonderful. I won’t go anywhere without it! It is a food supplement that has Thiamine to support normal heart functioning. Riboflavin and Vitamin E to protect cells during exercise. Riboflavin, folate, and vitamins B6 an B12 and Vitamin C to help reduce fatigue and to support the immune system. A wonderful investment to support your training and your natural beauty!
8. Never Calorie Count or Use Calorie Burning Apps while Exercising.
Calorie counting or calorie burning apps, whether on your phone, your watch or whichever, are just plain demotivating and are inaccurate in my opinion. No calories are created equal and your body will love you when you feed it nourishing, wholesome foods and when you pair that with regular exercise, you will be unstoppable!!
9. Don’t let Alcohol get in the way of your Progress.
This needs explaining…… so here is a scenario. You’ve had a busy day, you’ve just sat down to watch your favourite program. You reach for a bottle of wine and pour yourself a glass. The wine starts going ‘down’ really well, and the next thing you know, you have drunk 3+ glasses and now you feel tired, so you go to bed.
You wake up the next morning and you feel sluggish because you have had too much to drink the night before, so you decide that actually…you will leave exercise today and then promptly reach for the paracetamol. Sound familiar?
Don’t let drinking get in the way of your progress. Although, I used to relate to the above scenario, now I keep my alcoholic intake to an absolute minimum and I try to drive when I go out so I am not tempted to drink. I am making good progress with my Miracle Morning (see above for the recommended reading) and I won’t let my social actions affect my progress, as hard as it was in the beginning.
If the above scenario is something you can relate to….think again as to how much you are consuming and make the right choice. Too much alcohol does not serve you in any way. In my opinion, the odd glass of wine here and there is absolutely fine, especially a nice glass of red wine at the end of a long day or when you go out, but then leave it at that! Don’t let your antics from one day effect you negatively the following day.
10. Exercise for a Natural Healthy Glow.
The benefits of exercise are well known. On your journey to embracing your natural beauty, it is an added bonus that being fit and healthy will shine out of your face and give you a natural glow that you can’t replicate with make up. You will be happier, more relaxed, stronger and better able to cope with life when things get rough, which they undoubtedly will do for us all from time to time.
My genuine hope for you is that you find the fastest possible way to get exercise into your lifestyle and stay there for good. It must be a priority in order to purposely move towards the best ‘you’ possible.
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Please note: This article has been put together using tools that have come from my own personal experience both as a Personal Trainer and in my personal life and should in no way replace the advise of a doctor. Please consult your doctor before you start any exercise program.