Let’s face it: six-pack abs and Michelle Obama’s arms just might not be in the cards for all of us. But that doesn’t mean we should grow complacent or stop working toward optimal health. Good health is a beautiful thing. Even the fashion industry has caught on, hiring more models who aren’t size 00 in favor of healthy women of all sizes.

Healthy habits

Regardless of what the scale says, women need to be vigilant about their overall health. So, what does that involve? First of all, consider more than weight when focusing on health improvement. Just as one can be thin and unhealthy, one can carry extra weight and be perfectly healthy. Here are some big picture ways to work toward overall wellness:

  • Get regular, professional assessments of blood-work, vital signs and muscle-to-fat ratios.

  • Keep your core muscles strong and lean.

  • Allow for appropriate recovery time after exercising.

  • Strive for mental clarity through such activities as meditation.

  • Establish regular sleep patterns.

  • Manage your stress.

  • Keep your self-talk positive and encouraging.

Body maintenance

Remember that moderation is another key to good health. Even very healthy foods and activities done to excess aren’t healthy. Extremes in weight, high or low, are also harmful. Now down to the nitty-gritty. Here are some tips for body maintenance that everyone of every size should include:

  • Do daily exercise—no excuses! Stretch before you get out of bed; increase your time walking and climbing stairs; do jumping jacks and planks. Get moving!

  • Drink plenty of water. Add fresh fruits and herbs to add nutrition and prevent boredom.

  • Increase the number of meals you eat throughout the day, and eat smaller portions.

  • Eat more vegetables.

  • Eat less white flour, sugar, red meat and dairy.

  • Avoid processed food.

  • Breathe deeply.

  • Sleep seven to eight hours nightly.

If you can embrace yourself and improve your habits each day, you will find that you feel more empowered, clearer, healthier and even younger. And you’ll be able to make the mind-body connection, which leads to true beauty—both inside and out.