The other day I was talking to one of my clients about how I like to do a lot of shoulder exercises because I feel like my deltoids are on the small side. Immediately, she reassured me that I look great. I responded that I am happy with how I am right now but that I still have goals. I have a spot I want to work on but that doesn’t mean I dislike or hate the body I have right now. It’s possible to love your body but still have goals to change it. But, all too often women don’t see things that way.
I Hate My Body
On the one hand, we have the media bombarding us with images of the perfect female body. These sometimes very unrealistic images can result in feelings of inadequacy and lack of self-confidence. Eventually, those feelings get deeper and darker and turn into something much worse: self-hated. How we talk about ourself changes. Women look in the mirror and say “I hate my love handles”. We stop seeing our good qualities both external and internal and instead start seeing ourselves as bad. We feel guilty and shameful when we don’t workout or eat “right.”
I Love My Body
On the other hand, there is the self-acceptance movement. The philosophy behind this movement is very well intentioned: love yourself just as you are. That’s awesome and I agree. We should celebrate women of all different shapes and sizes. No woman should hate themselves for how they look or ever feel less than. These are wonderful ideals. But, is it possible to love your body while still having goals to change it?
I love my body. I had a baby almost 2 years ago now and yet I feel fit and have a great amount of energy. But, I am thinner than I was a few years ago pre-baby. I had more muscle back then and sometimes I long to get back to where I was. I definitely have goals of lifting weights regularly and working on building strength. But, are these goals somehow at odds with loving the body that I have now? I don’t think so.
Love Your Body But It’s OK to Have Goals
Most women have something that they want to change about their body. I am no different. But instead of saying “I hate my thighs, I need to lose weight” can we change this language to “I am happy, but I want to lose a few pounds”? No judgment. No negativity. Just a statement. A goal. Is it bad to want to lose 10 pounds? Does that mean I can’t also love my body with those 10 pounds?
Without having a healthy balance the self-acceptance movement is in danger of shifting into a fat-acceptance movement. Or a skinny acceptance movement. Actually, can we just scrap the whole “acceptance” part? Acceptance to me means sitting back and doing nothing. Having no goals, no desires, no passion. Acceptance is saying “might as well not even try”…”this is how I am, why try to change” …”who cares?” Well, I think that’s BS. We don’t have to accept anything.
I don’t care where you are at in your health/fitness journey as long as you are on the journey looking forward. There will be ups and downs for sure. Believe me it’s not straight up. The only thing you have to accept is that right now this is where you are, at this exact moment. You get to decide where you go from here. Do you want to gain weight? Let’s go lift some weights. Do you want to lose fat? Cool, do it in a healthy way. Whatever your goals may be doesn’t mean you can’t love yourself along the way.
Love Yourself Enough to Change
In fact, sometimes loving yourself means loving your body enough to want to change it. Having a high body fat percentage regardless of if you are overweight or not is associated with an increased risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. If you fall into this category and your body fat is higher than it should be, having a goal to lose fat is great! It doesn’t mean you are a bad person or that you should love yourself any less because you have a little excess fat. But you have two choices. You can accept the way you are stay at your same weight, maybe even gain because, why change? You love yourself the way you are. Or, you can say, you know what I love myself enough that I want to do better and be healthier.
Your Body, Your Choices
Even if your goals aren’t about health that doesn’t mean they aren’t also valid. My desire to have bigger deltoids is pretty much a purely aesthetic goal. Sure, strong shoulders are functional too, but the fact of the matter is that I want bigger shoulders. It’s my body and I get to decide what I want to do with it. I believe that should be the way we support ALL women. It’s your body, do what you want with it.