Exclusive Alicia Keys Blog: "We Have to Strive to Be Strong Inside and Out"

The iVillage Guest Editor writes exclusively about her realization that "I'm not meant to look like anyone else but me" -- and why she focuses her energy on working hard on her mind, body and soul

After I had my son, I could not believe how hard it was to get myself back to the gym, but I knew that in order to be the mother I wanted to be, it was important I take care of myself too. Sometimes going to the gym at the end of the day can feel like the last thing you want to do on top of all your other commitments. Or at the beginning of the day when all you wish you could do is sleep an extra hour (I know that's how I feel most mornings).

But I believe that in order to be successful in work and in life, we have to strive to be strong on the inside and out. I try my best to make working out just as much a priority as I do my craft. And I truly believe in taking "Me time" to strengthen my mind, body and soul.

As women, there is a tremendous amount of pressure to look a certain way or fit into a certain size. But what’s worse than the burden of this pressure is the fact that for the majority of us women, it’s almost always an unrealistic goal to reach. And if we do, it doesn’t always mean we’re healthy or in shape… it means we’re neglecting our bodies in spite of putting in time at the gym. Crazy to think about, huh?

What I have learned as I’ve grown into myself is that I’m not meant to look like anyone else but me. We are all different -- I am I and you are you. And as long as we are both taking care of our bodies the right way, we should never compare ourselves to any page in a magazine or any size on a hanger.

As a mother, an artist, and a woman, I have found great happiness when I let go of thinking I needed to fit into a mold. But I’ve learned that in order to be healthy both mentally and physically, I had to push myself a little and break a sweat here and there. Nothing great comes without hard work! By filling our bodies with positive energy, positive thoughts exude in all facets of life… and especially those things we stress about most, like our relationships and our work. I believe in order to reach our full potential, we've got to work hard on our mind, body and soul at all times.

I recently teamed up with Reebok for an amazing campaign about being inspired in life, being proud to be yourself, and being in control of everything that comes your way. And the message was so cool because it’s exactly what I've been learning in my life and how every girl or woman deserves to feel. We all have an opportunity to be extraordinary! In fact, we already are. And we all have an opportunity to get everything we want out of life... to feel like we’re getting out what we’re putting in. It’s all about allowing yourself to walk it, talk it and live it.

Give it your all and the confidence that comes from having inner and outer strength is something no doctor can fix with a prescription. It’s something you have to go for in life and it might not always feel easy, but once you choose to live this way there’s no turning back.

Shine bright, ladies! Let's shine together :-).

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