Updated: Jun 19, 2021
I think we can all agree that loving your body is the best option across the board? Better self esteem, worthiness, belief in yourself, a kind of confidence. It's a tough but worthy challenge to examine the way we talk to ourselves, and how we are influenced by the media we ingest. Noticing when you are "shoulding" yourself into oblivion, or ignoring what your body is telling you in favor for something "trendy'. But I also want to propose the idea that 'body positivity' has an equally sinister side.
Do you know the difference between what's good for you, and what you are told is good for you? How in tune are you with your body's wants and needs? How much time have you spent actually loving your body like a friend, instead of railroading it with what is 'in' at that moment? Sometimes it's body positivity, and sometimes it's mainstream fitness culture. Two extremes of the same thread. It's hard to 'love your body' when you don't feel good, or trust your body; or more so, when your body doesn't trust you.
I've been on both ends of the 'health spectrum'. So "fit" I received a lot of praise for my body, but I was also constantly injuring myself, anxiety ridden, dealing with indigestion, not sleeping well, and worried about enjoying food. I 'loved' my body so long as it did the things I wanted it to do; if it failed shame wasn't far behind. I've also been on the "fuck it" end of the spectrum. Where I didn't do anything that didn't feel 'good' or 'easy' in the moment; these things included smoking cigarettes, eating cake for breakfast, having take out every night, drinking alcohol most nights, no mindful moving or breathing, toxic social media habits, no risk taking, and binging some seriously awesome Netflix. My heart palpitations, liver pain and still poor sleep made it clear that this didn't really nail it either.
My body wanted neither of those extremes. There was a middle in there somewhere, where my body wasn't scared of being fatigued all the time, or failing, and I could eat cake for breakfast and enjoy the occasional Netflix binge.
Balance is hard.
It requires constant checking in, and reevaluation of what you are doing and if it lines up with what you want for present/future you; and does it help maintain or foster peace within you? It requires that you truly listen to yourself, which means you might have to face some things that have been hiding deep down in the tissues of our bodies. (Our soft tissue holding trauma is a whoooole other blog post coming your way). There is no magic diet or dogma, no one answer for every body, because everybody is different. So your needs will be unique and beautiful, compared to your sisters, or aunts, or best girlfriends needs.
I'll be the first and loudest to say that fitness has far less to do with the size and shape of your body than the industry would like you to believe. And while shame makes money, it certainly doesn't create healthier bodies. But normalizing habits that hurt us, living off of substance they disguise as 'food', that breaks us down inside instead of providing, addiction, having no energy to live the life you want, still feeling like shit in the name of "body positivity", is not a better existence.
I want a new standard for fitness. I want how well your organs function to be the poster girl of fitness. A giant inflammation free bowel wearing tiara on the cover of Shape magazine.
Being able to poop regularly without pain or debilitating gas, rather than a six pack, being your crowning glory. Your heart being healthy, circulation pumping with ease and your lymph draining normally. Sleep coming easily to you and moving without pain, or just moving with some ease and confidence in the ways that you can, because you can, and because it brings you joy.
Yes, PLEASE love your body! Stop shaming yourself because there is nothing "wrong" with you or the way you were made. But also, love your body enough to hear it speaking to you when it needs your allyship and support. Find the balance of eating the things that taste delicious because life is wonderful, and offers amazing experiences through our taste buds; but also knowing how/when to nourish it with the food and movement it needs and the self love it truly deserves. Not the masking kind where you cover up your wounds with 'body positivity' and ignore the rest.
The kind where it is truly seen, loved and cared for.
Set goals and accomplish them not because you don't deserve love or food if you don't. But rather because, accomplishing goals you set out to do, builds confidence, and trust in yourself, that you keep promises you make to yourself, and that you can do anything you set your mind to.
Your body is truly amazing; it's the one relationship you are guaranteed to have your whole life. Do the hard work, like you would in any other relationship you want to nurture, and listen attentively; figure out what it truly wants and needs, on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Try different things, see how your body responds, succeed or fail, and then try again.
Be brave, and truly love your body, positively.