QnA: Is it possible to love your body, and also want to change it?

Hell yes!

In fact change that is meaningful and kind can only happen under the right conditions and love is at the top of that list.

Change ain’t bad. Change is gonna happen anyways. We age, we grow, we shrink, we adapt – whether this is conscious, or planned, or not.

I’m supposing you are asking this from a weight-loss perspective.  Or a getting fit and strong perspective.

But there’s nothing wrong with this in my mind.

Perhaps, like me, you look at social media accounts that are all about body positivity and fat acceptance. This sometimes seems to suggest that it’s wrong, or not BoPo, to want to change your body.

It is amazing to accept ourselves at every size – but to have to then stay stuck in that box and not allowing change doesn’t seem natural or right.

And there is nothing, and I mean NOTHING wrong with wanting to be thinner, smaller, slimmer, fitter, stronger.

But it all depends on the motivation behind it.

I’ve learned a LOT from body positive accounts. And it has broadened my view on acceptance of bodies. I have been conditioned to see beauty as very one dimensional. Growing up in the 90’s with the super models of the time, it seemed like that was it – that was what was beautiful. End of story. But I LOVE seeing women grab some flesh and go “This is beautiful too!”

But sometimes we need to step away from the idea of beautiful completely. At the end of the day – it shouldn’t even matter! Should we call little girls pretty? I don’t think we should. Why does it matter if you’re pretty or beautiful? We put way too much emphasis on this. When people say “Everyone’s beautiful!” I want to scream “It shouldn’t matter!”

So what is this motivation behind changing your body? Because there are lots of traps on this path and you need to watch out for them. You can be slimmer and fitter for a number of reasons, and it’s wise to have more health based ones than looks based ones. And if those looks based reaons are for yourself, that’s fine. But really watch out for ones that are more about external validation. You don’t need to fit into anyone else’s expectations.

Last year I changed my eating quite a bit and I also joined a CrossFit class for the first time.

One part of that was that I did want to tone up. This isn’t wrong! The thing was, I didn’t hate what I saw in the mirror in the first place. So that’s always a good start! I’ve got cellulite and wobbles and wrinkles and wibbly bits. And I’m glad I can no say “so what!?” Sometimes it bothers me – but that’s normal. I’m a human woman in this world and I do look at my body in ways that are too external. But I’ve learned lots of other ways to be in my body now. And I have really come to accept myself; body, mind and spirit. Sometimes I even kiss myself in a fit of self-appreciation. I really do. I mean, I’ve got hands! I’m so lucky. I kiss them with glee and am so grateful for my fingers and what my hands can do. It’s amazing we don’t weep each morning that we have woken up and have a body to explore this world with.

So when I changed my eating and joined the gym, feeling toned was one part in lots of other reasons.

  • I wanted to get rid of brain fog
  • I wanted to challenge myself to do something I was scared of (Crossfit!)
  • I wanted to do more pull-ups
  • I wanted to feel strong and fit
  • I liked it when my bum looked peachy in my trousers
  • I didn’t want my tummy to get too big because it doesn’t fit in my clothes that I have spent money on and curated a wardrobe that I like! And I know it increases my risk of Diabetes which I’m very scared of as I had a pancreatic issue as a kid and I do not want diabetes!
  • I had been having anxiety for the last two years, and I learned that balanced blood sugar and exercise can help a lot.
  • I wanted to get off the carby addiction feeling I can get sometimes. Because I know that once I limit bread etc, I don’t bloat and I don’t even want them so much anymore. That feeling sits well with me.

So why want to feel toned? Isn’t that ‘wrong’? Shouldn’t I just be happy with what I have?

Here’s the thing – I’m not wanting biceps and a peach butt because I HATE the butt and arms I have already. I really don’t! But I like that feeling of being toned (what that means for me). I guess it’s hard to distinguish whether this is conditioned over years, or not. But I know that it can be tough to lose weight, and I personally feel better at the weight I am.

But the thing to really do, constantly, is practice self-acceptance.

In my mind, self-acceptance wins over self-love. I actually don’t love myself sometimes. I can be a moody cow, and say mean things. But I need to accept myself always, and that’s where the work is. Acceptance always! What does this look like in practice? It means never, EVER, saying horrible or mean things to yourself. It’s about being able to be grateful for something, even if you don’t feel particularly lucky right at that minute. That takes grit. Develop it.

Question yourself relentlessly. Why are you changing!? What do you want to change for? Are you doing this for anyone else? Your body is yours, so you get to be completely selfish about it.

If you feel a bit uncomfortable with some of this and not sure what to do, I would look at every reason you have and make sure none of them are about looks. I have come to a place where I’m okay with that now. But when I first wanted to change my eating years ago, it took a lot of practice for me to do it just for me.

It took time to do it for health and wellness and feeling bright rather than dull on the inside.

If you’re doing it for a change that no one else will ever know about, you’re probably off to a good start. No one can see your blood sugar, or your top button of your jeans, or the feeling you get after a jog. That’s all for you! Enjoy it.

Change is a part of the world we live in. If you change out of pure excitement and love, then what’s wrong with that?

I hope this has helped you. Please get back in touch if there’s something I missed out on, or didn’t quite hit on the head for you.

Many thanks!