This is a guest post by Amie Tollefsrud. Read About the Author below to learn more about her work.
That’s right. You don’t need to love your body.
There tends to be a misconception in the post-fitspiration world of body positivity that the opposite of body-hatred is body-love.
In my opinion, this is wrong – and I’ll tell you why.
Our goal in practicing self-love should not be expecting to wake up every day and love every inch of our body, cellulite and all. If you do, that’s great- just make sure your self-esteem isn’t riding on the fact that you DON’T have cellulite.
Like every season of life, our bodies are constantly changing, and the fact that you don’t have cellulite (right now) could also change.
I believe that feeling polarized about the appearance of our bodies, or putting too much emphasis on our physicality, whether positive or negative, is STILL NOT IDEAL.
If our self-esteem is riding on the way we look, what happens when we get pregnant? Or age? Or lose muscle tone?
The opposite of body-hatred is not body-love, it is body-neutrality.
What is body-neutrality?
I am pretty open with the fact that I still have days where I struggle with negative body image. However, a majority of the time I look in the mirror, I don’t think twice about my thighs touching.
I don’t praise myself for my genetically toned belly, because someday it might not be.
I don’t monitor my shoulder progress post-shower, or think about ways to increase my waist-to-hip ratio, because I have shit to do.
I don’t think about other women’s bodies, or compare them to my own. And I definitely don’t waste my breath talking about them.
If we can begin to free up the mental space we use thinking negative OR positive thoughts about our bodies, we can make room for the things that are concrete – and can’t be shaken by a change in the number on the scale.
These are things like:
- Building an empire
- Changing the world!!!
If I had productively channeled all of the time and energy I spent thinking about food and body image (positive AND negative) I could have solved the Steven Avery murder mystery. Seriously.
All I can do from this point forward is make sure I never waste another second of brain power over something as fleeting as body size.
This is not to say that having a negative body image or food obsessions are invalid feelings – they 100% are. We instead need to change our actions as a result of these feelings. Having a bad body image day need not result in the start of a new diet plan, despite what the media may tell us. Often times our negative body image is a projection of the difficult emotions we are having trouble processing, such as shame, guilt, or not feeling good enough.
These days, when I notice my gaze fixating for too long on my lack-of-a-thigh-gap, I look inward. This is no longer a reason to search for the magical macronutrient breakdown that will solve all my problems; but an indication of the feelings I am having a hard time processing.
Physical change is concrete; we know if we diet, restrict calories, and work out harder, the weight will come off. Confidence and self worth on the other hand, are much harder to measure and impossible to fake.
So, the next time you are tempted to start a new diet in order to “love your body”, here are the things you can do instead:
1. Clean up your social
Delete social media accounts that make you feel like shit. This can be anyone or anything that makes you feel not good enough, or leaves you comparing yourself to the person behind the filter.
2. Pursue your passions
What do you LOVE to do? It doesn’t matter if it’s cooking or knitting or playing with your cat. If you love it, start making time for it.
3. Find your ‘flow’
What is the one thing that you become completely immersed in and lose track of time while doing? Do that.
4. Avoid toxic people
Maybe these are friends or even family members. If they make you feel badly about yourself or your appearance for any reason, avoid them like the plague.
This one will take a bit of time and planning, but I truly think that travel is one of the best ways to stop thinking about food and body image. Travel forces you to be in unfamiliar situations, out of control, and (ideally) so interested in the changes around you that negative thoughts take a back seat.
You don’t need to love your body.
Love what your body allows you to do. Love the way your body allows you to feel. Love what your body is capable of. But don’t ever become so married to the way that it looks that your self-worth is riding on it. This will undoubtedly lead you down the rabbit hole of never feeling good enough, no matter what set of macros you follow.
About the Author of You Don’t Need to Love Your Body
Amie Tollefsrud is a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, podcaster, and blogger at rebellenutrition.com who believes in rejecting the status quo in order to lead the most fulfilling life possible. She works 1-on-1 with clients to get to the root of their health problems by challenging longstanding beliefs about food, nutrition, and cultural ideals. She views the body holistically and addresses the physical, mental and emotional aspects of health in order to reach true health and healing. She recently sold everything she owned to move to Maui where she spends her days surfing, building her online nutrition business, and eating acai bowls. Find out more by visiting her blog, Instagram, or Facebook page.