10Apr

Last week, during a fitness photoshoot, I intimated to my photographer and my assistant that I was the “heaviest” I’d ever been outside of my pregnancy. I put heaviest in quotations because I don’t actually weigh myself, and I think it’s just a placeholder for a variety of descriptions identifying an increase in body fat.

Of course I qualified this statement with the fact that I was 100% okay with being my “heaviest” and that I didn’t try to diet or prep for the shoot in any way. I love my body at all of it’s various stages and am accepting of the fact that it’s a living organism that is always in flux.

I didn’t feel any less qualified to be doing a fitness shoot, or any less beautiful and powerful in my skin than I did when I was super lean and 12% body fat.

I posed in a sports bra and shorts, just as I would have if I’d been leaner, because I am committed to transparency, authenticity, and showing up powerfully in my skin—just as I am.

I know that I’m more than a collection of body parts, and I’ve aimed with great zeal to help other women acknowledge the same. I never let the shape or size of my body keep me from living my life and doing my thing; I will wear a thong bikini and do a photoshoot whether I am 20 pounds up or down, and I’ll do so with the utmost confidence and worthiness.

But, after I intimated this to my photoshoot companions, I offered an interesting addendum.

“I think I might want to change it up and focus on losing some body fat, and that’s okay too. I’m not adverse to the idea of leaning out a little.”

You might be thinking, “But Neg, you’re all about body positivity and acceptance!”

And it’s true, I am. In fact, the main crux of my work in the world is helping women come into their power and away from their obsession with their bodies. I don’t believe in dedicating all of our resources (time, money, and energy) to the pursuit of leanness, and I am completely against the idea of obsessive restriction and orthorexic tendencies.

But that doesn’t mean I’m against change; that doesn’t mean we can’t love our bodies and also focus on changing them, should we desire.

There’s a common misconception within the topic of body positivity that I’ve been working to dispel. If you’ve ever struggled with how you feel about your body, or you’ve dedicated a myriad resources to changing it, no doubt you’ve also wrestled with these misconceptions.

You see, many would have you believe that love and acceptance of your body equates to a lack of care for your health—”laziness” as many of the internet bullies have put it, is oft considered the driving force behind body acceptance.

Body positivity haters believe that the only way to change your body is to hate it, as though an impetus for improvement has to be rooted in a well of shame and disgust.

On the other end of the spectrum, hardcore body positivity activists may tout the idea that any form of body change is in direct opposition to acceptance. We can get so caught up in the idea of acceptance that we convince ourselves that any sort of modification to our appearance is unacceptable—that loving and accepting our bodies means that we cannot place any emphasis on aesthetics.

We’re left feeling like we can’t be “body positive” and simultaneous want to change our bodies, or that the only way to impact change is to hate ourselves through the process.

The truth is, they’re both wrong.

The thing about your body is that, well, it’s yours. Only you get to decide what’s right for your body, and any changes you make to it are totally dependent upon that.

Unfortunately, we’re inundated with so much noise when it comes to who we’re supposed to be and how we’re supposed to show up, that we lose our ability to access our own intuition and desires. We’re constantly being pulled between these two extremes on the body acceptance spectrum, and it’s actually keeping us from showing up in our power.

What matters most isn’t whether or not you want to change your body, it’s why. This is why being body positive is a crucial aspect of wholehearted living—it roots us in worthiness, and allows us to make decisions for ourselves based on that worthiness. It empowers us to know the “why” behind our choices, and keeps us from doing things that aren’t serving us.

Making changes to your body can be both fun and challenging, provided that change doesn’t stem from a notion of unworthiness. 

When we embark upon a journey of change—whether it’s losing body fat, building muscle, dying our hair, getting a tattoo, or waxing our bikini line—the most important question to ask is why. If we think that this change will make us more worthy of love, success, connection, or belonging, chances are we’ve got some things to unpack.

In that unpacking we may find there are deeper issues that won’t be solved by changing our aesthetics—this is hard and hearty work, and it’s what helps us reclaim our worthiness and power.

But if we decide to make changes, simply because we’re interested in a different aesthetic or perhaps due to matters of health, this is totally okay. If we wholly accept that making these changes won’t make us any more worthy, because our worthiness cannot be quantified or qualified, then we can actually enjoy the process of body transformation.

The challenge involved in changing your body can build character and invite more abundance into your life, but not if it’d done from a place of unworthiness. Thusly, when people ask me if it’s okay to love and accept their body, but also want to change it, I stress the former.

Love and acceptance are a wonderful foundation from which to invite change, and I truly believe that this approach is more sustainable and realistic than changing from a place of self loathing and perceived unworthiness.

So, if you’re into the idea of body change because, not because you think you’re unworthy, but because you want to see what might happen if you shift your focus to body transformation, I’m into that too. I want you to feel free to make decisions for yourself based on your own wants and needs—not based on any one else’s opinions of who you should and shouldn’t be.

Can you love yourself and still want to change your body? Abso-fucking-lutely.

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  • Sasha Singh

    I love this post! this mentality is perfect and i love how you write about more than just fitness. Its all about your mentality truly and shaping it. I am trying to start a blog focusing on things like this too. i want to empower everyone from adults to the millennial generation to be the best version of themselves. Check it out: fityouright.com

  • Great post – love it.Thank you for sharing and making us all feel so validated!

  • Kathie Arias

    This is such a wonderful post. Women need to understand that while they are working towards a physical goal, it is absolutely OK to love your body as it is! There is nothing that should stop us from appreciating and being happy with what we have while at the same time striving for something better. As you mentioned in your post, it all comes down to the “why.” As long as we are changing for the right reasons, loving your body as it is should not be an issue. Thank you for a great read. :)

  • Rebecca Kelso

    I totally feel you on this.

    The funny thing is, I have always run on the slender boob-less side of the spectrum, so when I see your body I think it’s absolutely feminine and gorgeous. I know the point of this post wasn’t to fish for compliments…but I did it anyway!

    Seriously though, your words inspire me, especially when you say that it’s ok to change. Often times I feel like a bad person for wanting to “improve” my body – meaning make it perform in a way that makes me feel better. Yeah, if I’m honest a big motivating factor is looking good…but feeling strong and healthy is still top priority! I’m going to start asking myself “why” more often after reading this. Thanks!

    -Rebecca
    http://www.thehealingcoaches.com

  • Leeloo BadAs

    Thank you for these words, I needed to read them as I often get caught up between wanting to change and feeling guilty of wanting to change because this seems like I don’t like my body, that I’m doing it out of self-loath. The thing is, I decided to change (losing body fat, gaining muscle, building healthy eating habits…) the day I decided to love myself and take care of myself. To me, both are deeply linked. And the fact that someone else finally states what I’ve been feeling for months is a great relief. So again, thank you !