Body positivity, is it a bandaid or a solution?
Disclaimer, I only speak for myself in this article.
When I decided to tell myself the truth without excuses or judgement, I realised that no matter how many times I would affirm that I love myself the way I am, and call myself "body positive" - I felt jealous of the slim, fit girls who looked so comfortable in their bodies and their clothes. I hated the way I looked in photos, and used to delete them often. I would only post photos taken from flattering angles, and would either hide my body in high wasted jeans or squeeze myself into dresses and hope to pull them off because I desperately wanted to express my style through my clothing choices, regardless of whether or not it really suited my shape. I wasn't truly happy about the way I looked or the way I felt in my body. It affected my desire to experience nature, sport, adventure, I avoided pretty much any activity that could burn calories, because I was too embarrassed to be seen as struggling. I was afraid to be the slowest on the hiking trail, so avoided hiking all together. I hate to think how many incredible views and adventures I have deprived myself of over the years.
It felt like I was moving through the world with an open wound I hoped people wouldn't notice or comment on, and when people did comment on my size it was like having acid poured on that wound. I felt so triggered, so offended, and so hurt. I would defend myself, until the day came when I realise that I was actually fighting to keep my problems rather than fighting to change them. My problem was that I was approaching 30, and I was fat. Straight up, I was fat. When I say that, I'm in no way attacking bodies which are larger than mine was, I'm merely describing the way I felt and the way I thought I looked. And one day, an intimate partner asked me directly, "Lizzie, why don't you go to the gym?" - I WAS MORTIFIED! I was so triggered, so hurt, and just wanted the earth to swallow me up in that moment. That was my awakening. There was no hiding in that moment. I had been awakened to the reality.
Did I want or deserve to be carrying the burden of such a huge insecurity? No.
Did I want things to be different? Yes.
Was I willing to do the work? Not yet.
Because of the story I had always been told, and had adopted as a belief. That I would always be a bit overweight, that I would never be athletic, and I would have a lifelong battle with food. That was my narrative. Now can you imagine mustering a glimmer of motivation to begin a "lifelong battle"? Hell no. Me neither. So I never even tried. I chose to settle for the discomfort of being overweight rather than overcome the discomfort of stepping onto that battlefield. It was easier to call myself "body positive" and try to embrace my rolls, flab, and wobbly bits. Not to mention the effort it took me to move my body up a hill! The easiest thing I could do was to call myself "body positive", it was like a shield and an excuse for me to stay the same. The same old comfortable discomfort.
One day, I suspended my disbelief in my ability to change my body, and made a decision. I was going to go to the gym four times per week, without fail, no excuses.
We've all heard the quote "you are always only one decision away from a completely different life" haven't we? Well I'd like to complete that saying... we are always one decision away from a completely different life, if we make a decision and stick to it!
And I did.
Over the next few months, weight just seemed to evaporate from my body. I felt lighter, more confident, more beautiful, more adventurous, more ALIVE! I felt so proud of the results I was achieving and what my body was capable of. The body I was told would always be overweight was getting slimmer and more shapely by the day. The body I was told would never be sexy or be my best asset was now being referred to as "amazing". The body I was told would never be athletic was doing 100 reps of 50kg squats, in unbroken sets of 25 reps (I had no idea what I was doing, but I was doing the work). It took a while for my mind to catch up, it took another confrontation with reality.
I joined Snap Fitness in Warkworth, where I met Nic. I felt totally embraced by her motherly care and interest in her members, and inspired by her strength, so I booked my first ever PT session with her. She showed me what my body had become capable of by testing my strength, I could deadlift over 100 kilos, I could squat 90, and she said the words I had longed to hear all my life. She said, "you're incredibly physically competent, you can do ANYTHING you set your mind to! So what's the goal?". Suddenly, I was living in a new reality, where my body could do incredible things. Where my body was my best teammate, and I hers, where finally we were in unison working together towards radical self improvement. This was the most "body positive" I had ever felt before. It didn't matter what size I was or how my body looked, it was all about how I felt. I no longer felt like I was body positive despite my body, I felt like I was body positive because of my body!
This was a feeling I had never experienced before, and never knew would be available to me. This experience showed me first hand, that the stories I had been told about my body all my life were not true, and I had allowed them to create an artificial limitation on my fitness and body confidence.
I had allowed these stories to become my reality, rather than choosing to create it myself. For 28 years this had been a glass ceiling over my physical potential, and that day, I smashed it.
This might sound like a story about weightloss and fitness, and it is, but beyond that, it's a story about what we give power to - and the true cost of living our lives under the weight of artificial limitations. For me, the biggest thing I wished I could change, the thing I hated the most, the thing I never thought I would be able to transform, was my body. But what is that one big thing for you?
What do you most wish you could transform?
Believe it or not, YOU HAVE ALL THE POWER TO CHANGE IT. Suspend your disbelief for a moment. Imagine if the great minds of inventors had not been challenged beyond what once appeared impossible?
When you see a plane fly, or you scroll through your phone, do you know exactly HOW that technology came to be? Do you fully understand and comprehend exactly how it works? Or do you just accept that it does? If you can accept something so miraculous to be possible, you can see and feel it in the reality of your human experience, in a world where these wonders can be created in the human mind and by the human hand, what makes you think that your human mind and human body can't create the change you desire?
Spoiler alert, IT CAN!
Your excuses are your brain's way of keeping you safe from the feeling of failure, acknowledge and appreciate that, and take your first action step anyway. This is the beginning of you changing your behaviour, to create the change you wish to see in your world, and showing your brain that it IS possible. That YOU get to rewrite your story, and you can become the version of you that you always dreamed of becoming.
Suspend your disbelief, and START.