Does Striving To Lean Out and Be More Fit Make Me A Body Acceptance Hypocrite?

So, here we go again! Due to a comment I read the other day on someone’s Instagram post, I am once again feeling like I have to speak out about something I see happening in many of the fitness, autoimmune, and/or health-related pages on social media. It has to do with body acceptance, self acceptance, self love, or whatever phrase of the week these people have chosen to mutate into something judgmental and downright ugly.

Does Striving To Lean Out And Be More Fit Make Me A Body Acceptance Hypocrite? by Tara Perillo
Is this no longer an acceptable image of body acceptance?

This is what I observed. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I came upon a post by Steph of Stupid Easy Paleo. She is someone I deeply admire and respect in not just the paleo community, but also in the fitness community. She has just debuted a new training video, teaching us how to lean out. You can access the video here. I knew I was excited about this because leaning out is exactly what I’m working on right now. I decided to look through the comments to see how other people were feeling about it. That’s when I noticed that one person had written that they were “unfollowing” and used the hashtag “bodypositive”. After doing a double-take, I could feel the anger rising up inside of me. I calmed myself down, and started thinking about things a bit. Why would anyone consider striving to get a leaner and more fit body a negative thing? Why would that same person think that another person was not body positive, just because they wanted to reach higher levels of health and fitness? And, what gave them the right to judge an entire group of fit (or trying to be fit) people by publicly calling them out as not being “body positive”? Now, I could go into some theories on why a person would make a public statement like that; but, I’m not even going to waste my or your time with that. I’m going to speak for myself, and anyone else who would like to chime in can do so in the comments. Let’s start with some facts! Leaning out is a widely used term in the fitness community, representing the process of burning body fat to maximize the look and performance of the muscles that you have spent time building. It usually follows the building phase. Some people will do the building and leaning phases at the same time. It’s your choice. There really is a science to it that involves diet and exercise. If done correctly, it can give you a more defined, muscular physique. This is the phase I am currently on in my fitness journey. Do I hate myself or my body because I didn’t want to keep the saggy butt, growing midsection, and chunky thighs I had developed because of a course of prednisone and two years of fighting to heal my autoimmune disease? Uh….NO! I love myself and my body for getting me through the fight of my life! The very fact that I’m working so hard to rebuild my strength and my body to a stronger and more fit version of itself is a testament to how much I respect and love it. It’s all about being BODY POSITIVE! Who ever said that the only way to practice body acceptance or body positive was to accept the status quo? Why have these terms been hijacked to include only those who don’t strive to try to change their bodies? Since when is judging others for not doing things exactly as you do or believing exactly as you do, accepted in any community, online or otherwise? To the person that wrote that comment, don’t you ever judge me, or any other group, simply for doing what we feel is right to express our own personal body positivity, acceptance and love. You could have chosen to unfollow, without your public decree of judgement and negativity. I think your personal practice of body acceptance has led to a lack in acceptance of others who express themselves differently. No one ever builds themselves up by tearing down someone else.

Does Striving To Lean Out and Be More Fit Make Me A Body Acceptance Hypocrite? by Tara Perillo
Getting stronger every day!

It’s so important for you all to know, just because you want to lose a few pounds, or you want to get rid of that hanging booty, it doesn’t mean you hate yourself or your body. It just means you want to make a change. Positive body acceptance role models come in all shapes and sizes. One of my absolute favorite fitness role models is Stacy Toth of Paleo Parents. She just posted before and after photos of herself, commenting on how proud she was to have created a full, awesome booty. In her before photo.….flat butt. In her after photo….big ‘ol boo-tay! If she had just accepted her butt the way it was, she would have never have the results she has today. Would anyone ever accuse Stacy of not being body positive? NEVER! She’s one of the most positive body image people I’ve ever met. Don’t ever let someone judge you for the decisions you make for your health and fitness goals. I know there are some things that cannot be changed. Those are things we should accept. I’ll give you an example: I have scars from previous surgeries that cut across where my six pack abs are going to be. I can’t change that. So, I’ve learned to accept them. Am I ever going to LOVE them? No, probably not. But, I do kind of think they make me look a little bad ass. That’s acceptance! Plus, I have other annoyances with my body that absolutely refuse to change. Doesn’t make me hate myself. It is totally possible to be unhappy about a body part and still be body positive! I do advocate body acceptance. And, I advocate striving to be the leanest, most fit person you want to be. Am I a hypocrite? Nope! I want you to do what is going to be the healthiest decision for you. If you choose to lean out, I want you to be able to do it, without someone looking down their nose at you, and accusing you of not being body positive. If you choose to accept yourself the way you are, I want to urge you to not judge others for taking a different path. We should all be encouraging each other to be our bests, whatever that might be. As always, I wish you good health……..and, good food!

Tara Perillo

Welcome all. I am Tara Perillo, herbalist, homeopath, yoga and fitness instructor, and healthy foodie . After successfully reaching remission of my lupus symptoms, through changes in my diet, exercise, and lifestyle, I wrote the ebook, Sickness To Fitness Quick Start Guide. I am also honored to have my paleo and AIP recipes featured in Paleo Magazine, Paleo Living Magazine, Shape Magazine Online, 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts, The Paleo AIP Instant Pot Cookbook, and blogs by The Paleo Mom, Kris Kresser, Whole New Mom and many others. My focus is to help others become stronger in every facet of their lives. Join me to become stronger in health, mind, body, and spirit, together!

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6 Replies to “Does Striving To Lean Out and Be More Fit Make Me A Body Acceptance Hypocrite?”

  1. I so agree Tara. Some people seem to think loving and accepting your body as it is means never wanting to change or set fitness goals.

    Being body positive means accepting that every body is a good body and what people choose to do with their body is really not for anyone else to judge, let alone assume they know better.

    Great post!


    1. Thanks Kerry! You totally get it! I love that you wrote, “let alone assume they know better”. I think when some people set out to help others, they lose sight of the individuality of the healing process. Not one idea or mindset is going to fit into every person’s journey. I love that you understand that.


  2. Love this Tara, Thanks for talking about it! my next phase in healing will be dealing with this! Thanks for brining it up. Now as of Monday back to woking on getting more fit

    1. Thanks Amanda! So excited to hear about your next phase! It’s definitely not an easy thing to do; but, it has been so worth it for me. Lots of luck and you know if you need anything, you can always ask me.


  3. Hi Tara,
    I’ve been away so I just saw this post. Like you, I’ve been in the fight of my life several times, and because I loved and respected my body by taking care of it with diet andwith fitness goals, my body got me through everything. To coin a phrase from the Army “Be all that you can be?. During some of my darkest hours I always kept in the forefront of my mind that “a quitter never wins, and a winner never quits”. I choose to be a winner and stick with winners.

    I didn’t get to read the post you were talking about and I’m glad I didn’t. What I am grateful for is your direction to the free videos and to Steph’s website.

    Let’s all be the reason someone smiles today.


    1. Hi Cookie, I hope you had some fun while you were away! It’s so funny because I repeat the same phrases you do to keep me going. My grandfather was a strict military man; so, that’s where I got my fight from. Like you, I believe in showing respect and love for my body by working so hard for it. I’m so glad you’ve been getting so much from Steph’s videos and site. She just rolled out a training program, too. I don’t know if it’s something you’re interested in; but, all the information is on her site. Just thought you might want to know.

      Keep up the good fight!

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