Can You Be Body-Positive While Changing Your Body?

Guest post from Sasha Fardell

Today I’ve got for you all a super interesting topic, and a point of contention for many in the body-positivity movement. This comes from Sasha Fardell, a coach who helps free women from a life of emotional eating and body hatred. You can learn more about her and her services here!

And you can check out my guest blog post on her site, in which we deep dive into 5 minutes of “delayed bingeing,” here!

Now, without further ado, I’ll give the floor to Sasha. Read on to get her take on whether changing your body is anti-body positivity.

Can You Be Body-Positive While Changing Your Body?

There’s a lot of noise around body-positivity at the moment and it has become a confusing topic for many of us, especially considering that massive diet brands like Weight Watchers are appropriating the terminology. It has become a big movement across social media. But what does being body-positive really mean for you?

A few years ago when I was deep in diet obsession and exercise addiction, I would have called myself body-positive. I loved seeing my body get smaller, seeing the definition of my abs, watching my body lean out, and seeing new veins on my arms as more and more fat melted away. As I strove to get ever fitter and leaner, I felt more and more positive about my body. 

But I think we can all agree that the elation that comes with losing weight is not the type of deep everlasting internal peace and happiness we are looking for. We know that body-positivity means more than this. This is where the phrase can become confusing. Because body-positivity actually has nothing to do with what our bodies look like. Body-positivity is about being able to feel happy and confident in whatever body we are in.

It’s not about feeling positive with regards to how our body is looking that day.

Feeling body-positive cannot by definition be dependent on how your body is feeling or looking.

Your intention, not your body

Body-positivity is a mindset. It is a knowledge and deep belief in the sanctity of the body you are in. It is a belief that your body is your home. Body-positivity lives in every action you take that nourishes and cares for your body. It lives in the moments you decide to rest when you’re tired, that you say thank you to your body for carrying you around all day, and when you savor that delicious meal with a friend you haven’t seen in months.

Body-positivity is not about your body; it’s about your intention. The intention to love and nurture the skin that you are in and be grateful and accepting of all it does for you and all it allows you to experience each day of your life.

This way of looking at it leaves space for your body to change. If your body-positivity relies on your body looking a certain way or being a certain weight, then guess what? You will often be disappointed. Bodies change. All. The. Time. Everyday there are imperceptible changes happening in your body. Part of appreciating your body is appreciating that it will change. 

An example of body-positive body change

More than that, you can effect change in your body while fully maintaining a body-positive mindset. Because loving your body has nothing to do with what it looks like. This sounds paradoxical, so let me explain with an example.

Let’s say you live a sedentary lifestyle and you don’t do much exercise, but overall you feel pretty healthy. One of your dreams is to climb a mountain one day. This is something you have always dreamt about, standing atop a snow-topped mountain, looking out over surrounding peaks, taking in the natural beauty of this earth. In order to do this, however, you are going to have to train. You will have to start walking more, incorporating hill-walking into your life, and maybe even start climbing. These are all things that may cause your body to change. You may grow bigger muscles in your legs; your lungs will get more powerful; perhaps even your skin will improve as more oxygen is flowing in your blood. There are a multitude of changes that could take place. Feeling body-positive, however, is knowing that the reason you want to climb this mountain has nothing to do with any potential changes to your body and being able to accept them for what they are: natural fluctuations of a healthy body responding to a changed demand on it.

Feeling happy in your body in this example comes from the gratitude that you are working towards your dream of climbing that mountain. It is not about seeing your body change and clinging on to this. The changes in your body actually reflect body-positivity. They reflect the actions being taken to build a meaningful life for yourself, to build a life where you follow your dreams, where things feel possible in the body you have.

In every moment we have a chance to change our mindset towards ourselves and our bodies. We have the opportunity, whatever we look like that day or however we are feeling, to say “thank you” for having this experience to live in this body and move through this world.

Guest bio

Sasha Fardell is a coach who helps women free themselves from emotional eating and the diet paradigm. Having made this transformation in herself, going from diet and exercise compulsion to a place of Food Freedom, she is passionate about helping you achieve this same end result. You can learn more about her, her services, and her site here.