How to love your body? I bet we would all like to know that.
Some people say they have the answer to it — which is doing their XWZ weight loss program…
I'm going to share with you something that pissed me off yesterday.
There was a personal trainer on Instagram who posted about her recent muscle building and strength gaining program. At first, she said that this program doesn’t focus on weight loss but strengthening the body, which I thought was awesome.
What a great approach, I thought.
Until I kept reading. What followed in the next paragraph was this:
With this program, you will build muscle, lose weight, and finally start loving your body in only 8 weeks!
Ok, apparently I got excited little too soon. Maybe it wasn't the best program in the world after all.
By adding … and finally start loving your body! means that you can only love your body and find positive body image if and when it has put on muscle and lost weight.
The problem is that this makes body love conditional which it should not be. There shouldn’t be any if’s and when’s involved, we should have respect and love for our bodies whether or not it loses weight.
What Is this Magical Body Love? How To Actually Love Your Body?
Sometimes I’m not 100% sure about the definition of body love. I think it can be a little different for everyone, but here is how I see it:
It's having a caring, loving and respectful relationship with my body that doesn’t have if’s and when’s.
From that perspective, I do love my body more now than I did when it was super lean, believe it or not. I also have more positive body image now than I did then.
The body respect and love comes from what it’s been through and how much it has forgiven me (overtraining, calorie restriction, binge eating cycle, no period) and how it keeps serving me every day. I don't think every day how much I love my body. I'm just living with it, being grateful for it, and I'm not putting any conditions to my relationships with it.
While the term body love can have a little bit different meaning to different people, I do know what body love doesn't mean: being insanely excited and happy about every single part of our bodies every minute. It doesn’t mean thinking about all the cool and beautiful things about it 24/7, and it doesn't mean that we always have super positive body image days.
Do You Really Love Your Body More When You’re Leaner?
Surprisingly, what a lot of women realize once they achieve their weight loss goal, is that they don’t love their bodies more, although they thought they would or although they were promised that they would.
What may happen is that as a result of weight loss, they may start liking their physical appearance more than they did before when they were bigger. Of course it happens. I was the same way — I admit that just from the physical perspective, I liked my body better when I was much leaner than I like it now when I'm bigger.
I don’t love the cellulite on my stomach every minute of the day. I'm not happy about the lost muscle mass. But I don't think about these things all the time either, and I don't hate these things. Probably the most accurate way to put it is to say that I’m quite neutral about it most days and I don't think about my body obsessively.
But did I love, respect and appreciate my body more when I was leaner?
I didn't hate my body when I was leaner, but I also didn’t love it. I was still crazy insecure and I wasn't grateful for everything my body did.
I was always afraid to see new photos of me because…
What if they turned out ugly? What if my stomach looks too big? Is this shirt too tight around my belly? I think I’ve put on weight and it probably shows!
I remember critisizing so many pictures of myself because my body was never good looking enough! I was wishing things were different. Hoping my body would tone up up and gain some more muscle definition. And hoping that maybe I will one day see my abs….
I didn't have the respect and love for my body that I have today. I wasn't appreciative for its ability to do super hard workouts and lose fat. I never really thought about it, I thought it was a machine which should be able to work even harder and get even leaner. I didn't have a very positive body image.
That’s why I can't agree with what this program promised — lose weight, put on muscle and finally start loving your body!
Why I Love My Body More Now than I Did Before
I have been through a crazy hormonal ride. The burnout that I experienced was no joke. Running hours on end, every day, and only allowing myself about 1500 calories was rough on my body. Yet, I was able to recover from it and get back my period, sleep and health in general.
I don’t blame myself anymore for doing all that. Because accepting my past mistakes is part of self acceptance too. Years ago, I didn’t know any better, I just wanted to be leaner and thought being leaner would make me more confident and more respected person. Why I wanted it — well, I needed others to validate me because I had no tools to validate myself.
But seeing that my body was able to come out of the crazy exhaustion and overtraining is really amazing. I used to take my body for granted but not anymore. I respect and love my body more than before, because I'm grateful for it.
How To Really Love Your Body and Create Positive Body Image
My body kept doing the best it could throughout the 10 years when I was overtraining, functioning on the insufficient calories that I gave it. My body still keeps serving me every day. How can I hate it or dislike it?
Now it’s working on a new, different level. I have my period. I am more rested, although I’m still occasionally struggling with sleep. I feel my hunger. I haven’t had as clear hunger and fullness signals as I have now, in a very long time.
Even if you haven't been through a crazy health problem like I did, you can still learn to love your body more.
Think what your body allows you to do every day.
You can walk, work out, play with your kids, shop, laugh, eat food. Your body carries you to places you want to go. It allows you to travel and take your favorite yoga class and lie down at the beach. If you're healthy, you can get pregnant. You can have a family. When you get cold, it will help you through it if you give it enough rest.
How can you not respect it? The love and respect are all already inside of you. You don't need a 8-week butt building program to start loving your body. Yes, this program will help you to build your glute muscles, but it won't build your body love.
Stop making your body love conditional by saying Only when I have this much muscle, I respect and love my body, or Only if I lose this amount of fat, I will like my body and be proud of it.
Body love cannot be conditional. Yes, a workout program that helps you build muscle can change your physicque. But if you aren't grateful for your body and can't see the true value of it — which is much more than being able to lose weight — then you won't start loving your body more than you did before.
What do you think? What has helped you to build body acceptance, respect and love?
Do you have hypothalamic amenorrhea? Work with me 1:1 to get it back!