Do This If You Want More Body Positivity
Body positivity is all about being comfortable with who you are and who you are becoming.
As I’ve been hitting the gym more and more, my overall mindset has been changing little by little. Yes, I am getting stronger physically and have noticed many things about my body.
But there is also a mental side to all of it as well.
The more that I’m working out, the more that I accept my body.
For most of my life, body positivity was something I didn’t practice. In middle school, I had a problem with overeating and gained a lot of weight. By the time I turned 13, my figure in my mind was unattractive even though I’d say I was overweight around the time.
But that was enough for me to berate my own figure time and again. This eventually got me to trigger a depressive episode that I wallowed in for months. There were other contributors to that episode, but even after I overcame that mentally, I still held myself back a bit due to my own weight.
It was a convenient excuse for me to not exercise, to never date, and develop an overall negative attitude inside of myself despite my cheery nature around friends.
My fat has been an overwhelming source of mental strain for me and is one of the many reasons I’ve tried to work on it. Whenever I had the motivation to do it that is.
And it’s only now — after my third serious attempt at losing weight — that I’ve started to understand the best way to develop body positivity.
As obvious as that answer is, there is more to working out than I’ve realized up to this point. Again, this is my third attempt at losing weight.
The first time was in university seven years ago when I went on a Paleo diet. I lost a fair bit of weight and started hitting the gym. I was working out hard with a buddy before I eventually gave up after he stopped showing up.
The second time was through intense circuit training I took a few years ago. Since then I was doing exercise sporadically and this was a way for me to kick my ass into gear and workout. It was a six-week challenge where I was pushed to workout 18 times total over those six weeks. I pledged to drop 20 pounds.
I lost 21 pounds in the end.
But looking back at those experiences, the habits that I built weren’t that of body positivity. Despite clearly positive results, I dwelled on the fact that I didn’t have the figure I wanted.
It’s not like I had unrealistic expectations. I know enough about health and nutrition that I’m not going to shed 50 pounds within six months or something. That’s a terrible way of thinking and is terrible for your body as well. Even dropping 20 pounds in a month and a half is an insane thing to do.
Rather, these two experiences lacked specific aspects of body positivity that I realize are crucial for people.
Workout For Multiple Deep Reasons
One thing I’ve been pushing for years is the importance of having a deep personal reason for doing something. Internal motivation is so important to ourselves. But so is the quality and quantity of it.
Those previous experiences had plenty of personal reasons behind it.
My first serious attempt, I wanted to lose weight to help me get closer to the body that I wanted to have. I played on the fact I’ve been nagging myself about my body for years and I wanted to change that around.
The second attempt was when I was starting to get serious about my writing business. I had to put up $500 — which was a lot of money for me — in order to keep myself motivated. I’d get that money back, provided that I hit my target.
There was that reason while also the years of working on my health. It was also around the time where many of my family members had passed away. Some of the reasons being heart problems. The fact they weren’t in the best of shape didn’t help much either.
Going into those two experiences, I had plenty of personal reasons for going through the programs that were laid out to me. But not many when it came to body positivity.
The Paleo diet I took emphasized the food and exercise above all. I was to be eating a certain way and the exercises I did were every day things. Things like take the stairs rather than the elvator or if you take a transit bus, stand up rather than sit down.
There was an emphasis on lifestyle and living the way you want, but it was very light on the body positivty.
The six week challenge I took gave me tremendous results, but it focused on circuit training. The training is meant to be intense and you spend less time dwelling on whether you are doing things properly and focusing more on doing the best you can.
Work up a sweat, work out some more, take a cold shower, eat to a specific meal plan, rinse and repeat.
It was all systematic and didn’t leave much room for whether you are doing things properly or really take stock of your figure.
I mean sure, you do notice the sensation of feeling lighter, looking thinner, and being able to handle the circuit training a little bit better each time.
But now having worked out seriously for the third time, I can see a big difference between working out with purpose, and personal intention versus doing circuit training with personal intent.
My workouts aren’t focused so much on speed and losing as much weight as I can in a short period of time. They’re about how my body feels, how my body moves, and how far I can push my body.
I know circuit training can provide those same things, but it can be quickly overlooked if you’re not spending time sitting down and looking over the changes that you’ve made. From my experiences, I only started to notice how much easier the circuit training was getting for me by the last week of that challenge.
It’s a stark comparison to working out a few weeks in and noticing a number of issues and then seeing improvements a few more weeks later.
Having deep and many personal reasons can help you realize that as it pushes you to go to the gym, push harder and really notice the progress you’ve made.
It Teaches You To Normalize Your Current Body
I work with a personal trainer since it pushes me for many reasons (health and financial reasons) and one thing that I’ve noticed is that I’m more comfortable talking about my figure.
One of the reasons I indulged in body negativity was that I was so self-conscious about my figure. I hated the fact I was fat and that I was too lazy to do anything.
That visious cycle kept me paralyzed for a long time and it only started to break down after I worked on it. Starting with a Paleo diet and then years later taking that six week challenge.
Those experiences didn’t teach me to normalize my own body. I dwelled on the fact that I am fat and that I wanted a change. There was a deep hatred for who I was right now and a desire to change.
I figured that was enough, but I’m clearly mistaken as I relapsed in those two instances.
In this third attempt, I haven’t felt a tinge of pain when I call myself fat or obese. Instead, I’ve dwelled on looking at my figure and noticing the small changes. From flexibility all the way down to the muscles that have been developing and that my trainer has noticed.
I’ve gotten to the point where I can poke fun at myself and laugh off the fact I’m overweight. I’m still not happy with my figure, don’t get me wrong.
I will continue to push myself and workout harder than ever.
But the fact I can reasonably talk about this and with other people and not feel awkward about the whole thing is critical.
In order to address a problem in the first place, one must accept that it is. When it comes to body positivity, I feel it’s more like accepting your situation that you are not in the body that you want to be, but that there is nothing that can stop you from getting to where you want to go.
Working out — especially with many deep personal intentions — can help you get to that point.
It Makes You Feel Good About Yourself
No doubt exercise activates certain centres of our brain that make us feel satisfied and happy with ourselves. However, I feel that you can get more into it than that.
Going back to my circuit training, I felt pretty happy. But going to an actual gym like I do now has a whole other joy and happiness to it.
A lot of it is likely built up from the other two points I made. I’ve noticed the small changes in my life from the exercises to my own figure. These feed into my happiness — especially now that I’ve come to terms with what my body is like — as these focus more on multiple things I can relate to.
The circuit training was good, but there was no real-world application beyond the shift in my figure. It could also be overshadowed by other things. In my case it could’ve been the fact I put a lot of my money towards this.
In this attempt, the exercises focus on a number of things that are applicable to my life.
I workout my back to improve my posture when sitting down and standing up.
The workouts on my legs have helped me to be a better cyclist and this could also lead me to being a stronger runner. This is important as I’d like to someday run a marathon.
And the workouts on my arms and chest give me the upper body strength that I’ve been wanting for a long time. I notice this the most since I occasionally lift and pull heavy objects.In the gym it’s weights, but outside it’s vaccum cleaners, garbage bags and jar lids.
They’re not that heavy or streneous, however I’ve remarked how much easier it is to do those things. Normally I’d break a sweat biking to the gym or carrying some garbage bags 20 to 30 feet away. These days, I don’t run into that issue unless the trip there is a scorcher.
These are all small insignificant things, but it also shows you that you are progressing. And progress — no matter how much of it — is vital to have in life.
You need those small victories as proof that what you are doing is working and making your life better. It also makes you egotistical which — in small dosages — can be good.
And what is body positivity but a little ego inflation with a dash of narcissism in there anyway.
Beyond that, there is nothing more thrilling than increasing the difficulty of a workout and pulling it off proper. For me, it’s allowed me to think how powerful I am.
Even though in reality, there are people there that are way stronger than me in every manner. Still, being able to do lunges holding 30 pound dumbbells in each hand feels great when you started with 15 pounds kettlebells. Or doing 85 pound rows when starting at 60 pounds.
Focus On The Workouts Entirely
Body positivity is mindset. If you want to be making a change to that mindset, you’ll need to do something to alter it. I find working out to be that gateway, but there has to be a way you go about it.
- You need to have many deep personal reasons. Not just for your own health but how you want to be viewing your body and changing that.
- You’ll need to come to terms with your body being the way that it is. At the same time, recognize that your body is like clay, you can reshape it with what you’ve got.
- Finally, you’ll need to trust in the process and take the small victories. If you’re working out with intention, you’ll focus on the muscles that you use every day. If you can see a marketed change in your activities over the course of the day, you’re adding more reasons to workout and further appreciate the body you’re sculpting. This final step feeds into a constant circle of body positivity and appreciation for yourself.
Life is way too short to be living in a mental war over your own figure. Break out of that and redefine what body positivity means to you by working out.