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.
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.
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!