In 2016, the "love your body" movement took off. The premise, as I am sure you're aware, is to love your body right now.
The message is that whether you're the fittest woman on the the planet or if you have 200 pounds to lose, love your body. No matter what our size is, there is something beautiful in the reflection it gives. Loving our bodies is about loving ourselves, unconditionally, inside and out. Forget about why your pants are tight or how if you tilt your head down, a double chin forms. We are more than the "imperfections" we see. We are amazing creatures that are strong and capable.
Yes, all of us! And our bodies do not define us. It's a powerful message, right? One that I love and respect.
But I also kind of hate it. A lot.
Hear me out on this one, before I receive hate mail from beautiful women all over the world. The true meaning of the movement is awesome, and when taken as it's meant to be, it's the perfect motivator to better yourself.
However, we're human, and oftentimes, we interpret the meaning how we want to, whether it's out of laziness or "settling." That's the part of the "love your body" movement I'm not happy with.
Settling for the Current
Not everyone applies the meaning of the "love your body" movement this way, of course. But I have witnessed it firsthand as a gym owner, a fitness advocate, and someone that just reads sh*t (blog comments are oh-so-fun sometimes).
It seriously needs to be addressed. Like now.
The problem is that some women are taking the meaning literally. Love your body how it is right now and accept it.
This saddens my heart.
Inner dialogue turns to this: "Fifty pounds overweight? Well, I'll just love myself 50 pounds overweight and settle. I'll accept that this is my body, and though it's not healthy, it's perfect as is because it's mine. And my body is perfect. This is they way I'm 'supposed' to be."
Um, that's not quite what the love your body movement is about.
And can I quickly address this "supposed to be" argument? I've heard it time and time and time again. Who made the rules and pointed at each person, announcing, "This is the way you're supposed to be! Get over it and accept it!" No one! You are in charge of that decision. It's not about settling. It's not about letting go. It's not about being satisfied with where you are. A life without progress is extremely boring. It pretty much equates to sitting on the couch all day binge-watching Netflix and eating a bag of chips.
So what is this movement really about?
- It's about loving yourself enough to want to be better.
- It's about accepting where you are today, but not where you can be tomorrow.
- It's about self-love as opposed to obsessing over the girl next to you on the treadmill. You know the one. She's thin, doesn't have a single cellulite dimple, and is toned from squatting maybe 15-pound dumbbells. Trust me: She's also comparing herself to you and picking out the things she wishes she had.
- It's about creating your own individual journey with self-motivation, goals, and reasons.
Accepting Your Body Today But Not Tomorrow
I heard a metaphor a few weeks ago in the book Practicing Mind that I cannot get out of my head. It's like a Taylor Swift song, except instead of yelling, "Get out of my head," I'm praying that it stays there. I've shared it with boot campers, friends, in emails, even in a previous post, but today I want to elaborate on it a bit more.
Your body is like a flower.
At what stage is a flower perfect? Ever stopped to think about it?
When it's a seed, it's perfect at being a seed. It doesn't sit under a layer of moist dirt, doubting its abilities to sprout. It doesn't say, "How the hell am I going to get out of this mess? I'm so small, and the dirt is so heavy." No, it just does its perfect little thing to become a perfect little sprout. Then it grows taller and stronger and becomes a perfect bud.
From there, that bud turns into a beautiful flower that is, in fact, perfect. Once the flower blooms and spreads its pollen, it's perfect at becoming more dirt for the next little seed.
Every stage of the flower is perfect... and you are too.
If you're out of shape right now, you're perfect at being out of shape. That feeling of being out of shape helps you push to be in better shape. It's where you need to be right now to have the drive to be better!
As you get in better shape, you begin to see just what your body is capable of. You experience the exercise momentum and find that you can set even bigger goals. That's the place you're supposed to be at that moment.
If you eat crap all the time, that's okay for today. The feelings of low energy and sugar headaches encourage you to tweak your diet for tomorrow. Knowing what it feels like to live on a poor diet makes you appreciate a clean one 100 times more.
If I Accepted My Body
If I accepted my body for the way it is, I would just sit back and do the same workout every single day. Why improve when I could put minimal work into maintaining what I have now?
If I accepted my body for the way it is, I would have no goals. I wouldn't have signed up the Tactical Strength Challenge (holy smokes, did I really sign up for this?). I wouldn't have signed up for two 50Ks, and I sure as heck wouldn't have pushed myself as hard as I did yesterday with the soreness I am feeling today. And I sure as hell wouldn't be able to encourage other women to strive to be a better version of themselves. I wouldn't be able to do my job. Live out my passions. Live my fitness.
That's boring and sh*tty.
I will never accept myself now as how I'll be forever. I appreciate who I am but know that tomorrow is a new me and a new opportunity to be better.
How to Love Your Body
Let's end on this: You can love your body by treating it the best you can. You only get one, so make it last.
Love your body so much that you take it for workouts.
Love your body so much that you fill it with foods that enrich it and make it feel better.
Love your body so much that you don't settle for where you are right now.
Love your body so much that you show it respect, rest, and care.
Why is it that we wouldn't think twice about our caring for our dogs? We walk them, give them special foods, and yank away food they get ahold of that we think is bad for them. Yet when it comes to our own bodies, we have such a hard time treating it with love and care.
That brings me to the final thought and magical word: care.
Loving your body means you care for it. Think about it.
Note: This post contains my personal progress pictures. This is not to discourage others or to compare one body to another, but to share my experiences, thoughts, and personal progress. I thought this post would be more "real" with pictures I keep of my own personal journey. I hope you agree.
This article originally appeared on Lifting Revolution and was republished with the author's permission. Taylor Ryan is a blogger and personal trainer who runs a boot camp business in Charleston, South Carolina. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.