Updated: Oct 25, 2020
I remember the first time I used the hashtag #bodypositive on my IG post. I was doing keto while simultaneously learning how to love and accept my body. I know that sounds crazy because when I look back on it now I see just how crazy that is! How can I be on a diet and love my body? You see that’s where all of this gets kind of confusing. The body positive movement started with women in the plus size community. Being body positive to them meant that you no longer needed to diet and that you should love your body as it is without having to change it. This all sounded amazing to me. I had been on a diet for nearly 10 years and I was sick and tired of my constant weight fluctuations. I was never truly happy with my body. I would lose 10lbs and people would comment on how great I looked and that only drove me deeper into my disorder. The constant pressure to look and be a certain size was tiring and depressing.
I was really beginning to understand the movement and for the first time in my life I was actually starting to love my body. I actually skipped over the acceptance part and began to truly love everything about my body and all that it had done for me. I couldn’t help but talk to everyone about this new way of living that I had discovered. I went from talking about diets and nutrition to telling everyone they should stop dieting and just love themselves as they are. I really do believe that diets are bad. They are set up for the person to fail, because if a diet worked there would only be one diet instead of hundreds! The real issue with diets is that they work as long as you keep doing them. Diets tend to be very restrictive which ultimately leads to bingeing on the foods you have removed from your diet. Now that I quit dieting I have seen this first hand. I have no more binge behaviours! I have been freed from the dreaded binge-restrict cycle.
I have been on my body positive journey for almost 2 years and through that time there have been many changes to the community. Most recently many people in the plus size community have come out to say that people in normal sized bodies can’t be body positive. They have also said that the movement has been hijacked by thin women. I have a few choice words to say but I’ll keep that for another day and just say this. I am so thankful for the women that were brave enough to start this movement and lead the way for other women and men to start loving themselves as they are. This movement has shown women of all sizes and shapes that they are beautiful just as they are. I have confidence where I once had none. I go out in public without fear of judgement. This is all because of the women that stood up to society's standards of beauty and said “Screw You! I am beautiful just as I am.” The women who started #BOPO have carved out a path for the rest of us to gain confidence and clarity in who we are and our value as a person just as we are.
If you are someone who struggles or has struggled with an eating disorder you might find that the gym can be triggering. I found myself going to the gym and having a really hard time removing the idea of weight loss or having feelings of needing to change my body. When I was a personal trainer I had clients that would tell me they were nervous because they thought people would stare at them and I always told them “The people in the gym are there to change just like you are.” I can’t believe I actually said that! A few weeks ago I was at the gym and in mid set on the lat pulldown machine when I had my AHA moment. I asked myself why am I doing lat pulldowns when I don’t want to make my back wider? Why am I doing this when I don’t need my back to be stronger? I couldn’t come up with a good answer so I got up, went to the locker room, grabbed my keys and walked to my car. It was an amazing moment of clarity, something had finally clicked inside.
There’s still one thing I haven’t mentioned about the body positive movement that some people in the community like to shame others for and that’s taking care of your body. If you mention health or wanting to move your body for health you will have a slew of body positive police knocking in your Dm’s. For some reason the word healthy has become taboo in this community. Loving your body is about taking care of your body in every aspect. You don’t have to diet to take care of your body and you don’t have to give up your pizza or cake to be healthy. I spent 6-7 days a week in the gym for 10 years! Can you imagine what it’s like giving up something that has been a huge part of your life for a decade? It’s scary! I felt lost and confused about who I was and I had no idea how to take care of my physical health if I wasn’t going to the gym. It has been a complete fresh start and I'm getting to explore all kinds of activities that get my body moving and the endorphins flowing.
Body positive in definition to me is loving me so much I will do anything to take care of me. That means I love my body unconditionally. It means I feed my body good foods that give me energy all day and bring joy into my life. It means that I don’t talk down to my body in any way. It also means that I move my body to take care of my physical health because let’s be real about something. We are getting older each day we wake up. Getting older brings on its own unique challenges. You’ve seen those older folks who are hitting the tennis courts or out dancing with their spouses and then you’ve seen older folks who couldn’t be older than 70 that are using canes or walkers. I can’t help but wonder if they led an active life or if their walker was a direct reflection of their lack of exercise in their younger years. I want to age with health and my physical body intact. I don’t care if I ever lose another pound or if I gain a pound! I want strong bones, good lungs, a healthy heart and a healthy mind. All of this comes with taking care of our bodies while we are young and maintaining a physical life as we get older.
When I stopped focusing on weight loss and started focusing on what felt good to me life began to drastically change. I do exercise when I want to and when it feels good. This evening I went for a walk and it was amazing. Here in Charleston, SC the weather is just beginning to change and all the fall feelings are creeping in. It’s finally hoodie weather! My favorite time of the year. The route I took brought me out of my neighborhood and into the adjacent one where the houses have manicured lawns and children are out front playing on skateboards and skates. I had been out for about 40min and dusk was creeping in fast and I wanted to get home before it was dark, so I began to jog. I jogged about 100 yards and my lungs were screaming! I hadn’t ran in years and this is coming from someone who used to train for marathons. I walked for about a minute and then I began to jog again. I went a little further this time but still I had to stop and walk to catch my breath. Just this little bit of running had my quads screaming and the old feeling of runners high began to creep in. I remembered just how much I loved running, so I picked up the pace and used the run walk method all the way home. I rounded the last corner and I could see my house in the distance. I got a surge of energy and kept my pace all the way to the front door. Don’t worry my pace was pretty slow, but damn did it feel good.
Not once during my walk/run did I think of weight loss or how this is going to tone my thighs. I went for my walk because my body and mind was craving the movement and boy do I feel good right now. I am body positive because I love the body God gave me. Our bodies are like cars. If we don’t get our oil changed the car runs poorly. If we let our car run out of fuel it wont crank. The same principals go for our bodies. What we eat correlates with how we perform and when we eat good food we have long lasting energy. Regardless of what your friends might say moving your body gives you more energy in the long run.
There is an amazing yoga YouTuber named Adriene and her saying is “Find what feels good.” I love everything about this and it’s absolutely true. Find what feels good for you and keep doing it. https://youtu.be/vTMdISoaKT4 This link is for one of her videos which she so aptly named - Yoga for Courage. This practice I would say is beginner friendly and I did it myself just 2 days ago and I absolutely loved it. If you have never done yoga I recommend Adriene’s channel and if you love yoga I still recommend her!
Everyone belongs in the body positive community. Everyone deserves to love their body at any size, shape, color or anything else! Who you are is unique to you and your body is beautiful exactly how it is. There is no need to go on a diet and there is no need to do strenuous exercise, unless that's what you like! Losing weight has never made me happy. Working on why I thought being smaller would make me happy led to great change. Continuing to challenge those negative thoughts will get you one step further to true happiness and if you need help with challenging those thoughts I have just the blog post for you. https://www.journeytocourage.com/post/want-to-stop-the-thought-monster
Dare to dream big and SHINE BRIGHT!