Can you love your body and want to change it at the same time? Let’s discuss whether self-love and self-improvement when it comes to fitness are mutually exclusive.
This topic is something that has been on my mind for years. I’ve been all across the board. I know how it feels to be unhappy with my body, and willing to go to great lengths to change how it looks. I also know how it feels to be in a good groove and at peace with where I’m at physically and emotionally.
Yet the age-old question remains. Can you love your body and want to change it at the same time?
Before I dive in, I want to be clear that I have no intentions of being preachy or telling you how you should feel about your body. The online wellness space is becoming increasingly difficult to be in, and places that I once drew so much inspiration from have been making me feel really icky. Some of the content out there makes me feel like if I don’t share that opinion or point of view that I’m wrong in some way. I don’t ever want this space to make you feel that way, especially when it comes to tricky body image topics. I always want to be that friend you can chat over these things over green juice with, not an authority on how you should and shouldn’t feel about your body. I want to make that very clear.
Alright, back to the question at hand. Can you love your body and want to change it? Like so many other wellness-centered questions, I think it depends. To differentiate, let’s play a game of red light, green light.
From my experience, wanting to change my body for vanity reasons led me down a slippery slope. When my sole “wellness” focus was wanting to make my thighs thinner and get rid of my cellulite (neither of which ever happened, FYI) I didn’t have a lot of self or body love happening. For me, my actions and motivations were completely driven by making myself fit a beauty standard that was not attainable for my body type, and not necessary for my overall health and well-being.
In situations where that is the case, taking a step back and understanding why those types of changes are what is motivating us could be more beneficial to our health than pursuing whatever the change was in the first place.
On the other hand, depending on the nature of the change you are trying to make, desiring to change your body can actually be an act of self-love. However, I think this is a different type of change that isn’t necessarily weight or vanity-related.
Lower back pain is something I have struggled with for years. I threw my back out when I was 17 years old, and after that my lower back was incredibly weak. Combine my back injury with years of being sedentary thanks to school and corporate America, and you have the recipe for constant lower back pain.
About a year ago, I finally had enough of the pain and started making necessary changes to improve my lower back health. I made lower back strengthening exercises a key priority in my fitness routine, I dedicated more time to improving my hamstring flexibility, and am constantly working on my hip mobility and posture. This has resulted in physical changes in the way my body looks, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to feel strong, move freely, and experience less pain, and I’m happy to say it is paying off.
Do you see the distinction between the types of changes? When I was trying to make a change to my body to fit into an external beauty ideal of having lean legs (which btw, is simply a physical characteristic not a deciding factor of beauty). Pursuing that change didn’t make me feel good, and didn’t have any real payoff because the motivation wasn’t coming from a positive place.
On the other hand, I would argue that the second example supports the fact that you can make positive changes to your body out of self-love. Whether its wanting to be pain-free like my example, wanting more energy, wanting to feel stronger, or any manageable change that can help improve your overall quality of life, those types of changes can be done from a place of self-love.
As a fitness professional and wellness influencer, I want to help women instill those positive, quality-of-life-improving changes because sometimes they are necessary and it can be really challenging to do it all on your own without support. Registration for my next Elevated Movement online fitness coaching program is now open, and it is the perfect way to create positive change. The next round begins May 1, and spots are filling up fast. You can
Registration for my next Elevated Movement online fitness coaching program is now open, and it is the perfect way to create positive change. The next round begins May 1, and spots are filling up fast. You can learn more about the program, contact me with any questions, and even sign up if you’re ready here.
- Can you relate to either of the body-change scenarios above?
- What are your thoughts on wanting to change your body while still maintaining self-love?
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