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“When I look in the mirror I think, I’m fat.” I fought back tears when I heard this statement from a lady at our Women, Weight, and Health panel. Why? Because of the hurt and struggle I heard in her voice when she made that open, honest declaration in a room filled with other women who she didn’t know. How many women have a displeasing thought at the person they see in the mirror everyday? I know I have days when I struggle to find beauty and my body type is almost always seen as “ideal”. One of our panelists, Phyllis Hodges, made a good point to all of us in the room, “You have to be happy with yourself. You have to be pretty to yourself.” Isn’t that the truth, Phyllis! We all are wonderfully unique. We can’t look at the next person and compare their look as our goal for our looks. Our second panelist, Mary Wells, told us that we are not all meant to be a size 4 simply because all of our bodies are not biologically meant to be a size 4.

Real Images’ goal for this event was for women to be healthy no matter what size you wear. I’ve been skinny my whole life and it’s largely due to genetics. I ensure you it’s not my health practices. I have a higher chance of having heart disease than the plus size woman next to me due to, again, genetics and my poor eating habits. So no matter what size you are, there are keys things we must all do to stay healthy. Our panelists gave us great advice on how weight loss and health goes hand in hand. Here are some of the tips that were shared:

Do Not Skip Breakfast:

Even if it’s a piece of fruit, a slice of toast, or a cup of yogurt we must put something in our bodies before we get going in the morning. Mary’s analogy was when you get ready to take a long road trip you fuel your car before the hit the road, not after you made your destination. Your body is the car and you have to get it ready for the long day ahead.

Lunch Doesn’t Have to Be Traditional:

Again, it can be fruit or a light snack. The tip is to eat smaller portions multiple times a day to boost your metabolism and burn fat.

No Meat Past 7pm:

Even though best practice is to not eat meat after 6pm, Phyllis advises her clients with a busy life that around 7pm will work as well. The body takes a good while to digest meat and if you eat it late at night, it may still be with you the next morning. Maybe that’s why I’m so tired in the mornings.

Sleep Makes a Difference:

When your body has not had adequate rest, you are more likely to crave sugary pick-me-ups to get you through the next day. This is a horrible cycle and habit to continue. Getting to bed at an earlier hour will help your next day be more efficient and may curb unhealthy cravings.

Be Active:

Phyllis got everyone up for a quick physical fitness routine that was easy, yet challenging. Find a series of fun and active routines that work well for you and your family. And stay consistent!

Mary highlighted that, most of all; it’s about the process not perfection. Start small with changing your habit, build, and then perfect as you go. But keep going. Get a buddy who will encourage you along the way. Make a schedule, stick to it and journal your process and progress. The ideal body type is strong, happy, and comfortable. The scale, the media, nor the department stores can define it for YOU. We all have the power to be happy, healthy, and feel beautiful beginning today.

Phyllis Hodges is a Certified Licensed Professional Trainer and owner of Carousel Fit-4-Life located at 513 N. Main Street in North Little Rock.

Mary Wells is a licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and is in private practice. She can be reached at


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