We sat down with the surfing champ Bethany Hamilton at the Sofitel Los Angeles Hotel in Beverly Hills for breakfast to talk body image and the media’s impact on it all.
She’s a professional surfer. She gives back through charities such as Friends of Bethany. She survived a traumatic shark attack, leaving her without her left arm. Bethany Hamilton represents strength, perseverance and faith. She didn’t let the attack hinder her athleticism at all, and she is inspiring girls everywhere to live a healthy life both by example and through her new book, Body and Soul: A Girl’s Guide to a Fit, Fun and Fabulous Life.
Not only does her pro athlete status make her an excellent source of why eating right is important, but Bethany was also able to work one-on-one with a health practitioner to further her knowledge on the subject.
Body image and the media
With television, movies and magazines being so prevalent these days, it is hard not to compare yourself to other women. Although she admits feeling discouraged by this at times, Bethany stressed the importance of striving for the best, healthiest you, which isn’t necessarily the stick-thin models on the covers of the latest magazines.
“They don’t have to be the girl on the next cover of a magazine. Take ownership of your health, and learn what is good for you and what’s not,” says Bethany. Remembering to strive for what will make you the healthiest version of yourself, not the models we often compare ourselves to, will help girls grow into happy, healthy women.
The star surfer talked about her personal struggles with the media. To overcome this, she surrounded herself with positive, encouraging people. “Sometimes you just get too critical, and it’s important to find the simple things that make you feel beautiful.” For Bethany, these things include surfing, eating healthy and her supportive husband.
She also states that helping others really helps yourself too. By being that positive, encouraging person in someone else’s life, you’ll inevitably feel better about yourself.
Superwomen need sleep, too
Now more than ever, women are keeping jam-packed schedules that force them to make sacrifices sometimes. To Bethany, sleep is one thing that should never be kicked to the curb. “Sleep can’t be replaced. Get at least six hours, although I prefer eight or nine.”
Although many people drink coffee to keep them going all day long, remember that it is a diuretic. “Drinking water is essential. Coffee dehydrates you, so you can’t become reliant on it.” Bethany admits that she is guilty of the occasional cup of coffee, but she compensates by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
Can we have a “come to Jesus” about coffee? >>
Bethany’s secrets to exercise
“I love encouraging girls to find a workout partner, or work out with your best friend.” Teamwork is everything; if someone you trust is there to push you, you’re way more likely to follow through with regular exercise. It is also important to avoid burn out by exercising in a variety of ways. Getting up at the same time every morning and going on the same run can get real old, real fast. She recommends making exercise fun and diverse by incorporating a dance class or a weekly hike.
Want to learn more about how to live a healthy lifestyle from the legend herself? Kick back with a glass of water and some vegetables and check out her new book.
More on Bethany Hamilton and energy
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