When someone tells you to be “body positive” what comes up for you?
Do you feel relieved knowing that you can love your body at any size?
Or do you feel shame because you want different results with your body than you have now?
In this episode, I’m clearing up for you what body positivity really entails.
And what steps to take to begin loving your body unconditionally over time.
Hello, my friend. Welcome back to the podcast this week. I’m excited to spend this quality time with you today. I’m currently sitting here bundled up in blankets while sipping on my hot lemon tea. I’ve had a little bit of a cold this week. And a hint of a sore throat. So I apologize if my voice is a little scratchy. But there was no way I wasn’t going to get this episode out for you today. Because I’m going to be talking about something a little different. And I’m super excited about it. Today, we’re talking about the concept of body positivity. And in case you weren’t already aware, body positivity is a social movement that has the assertion that everyone deserves to have a positive body image, regardless of size, weight, appearance – all of it. And I couldn’t agree more. There’s no question this should be the case. There is nothing I love more than a beautiful woman, regardless of size or shape, celebrating her gorgeous natural body. It’s amazing. However, with that being said, there are many different interpretations on what body positivity really means. Or how we should think about body positivity in a productive way that serves us. And I’ll explain what I mean by this more in a second.
But first I want to give a very brief disclaimer here. Because the concept of body positivity tends to be very emotionally charged in the industry. People have a lot of different opinions about it. And I want to briefly mention that the purpose of this episode, and me talking about this, isn’t to paint myself as all-knowing. Where what I say is just right and all other leaders and experts in the health industry are wrong. I believe as a coach that many different truths exist to bring someone towards their healthiest and happiest selves. Meaning that there are practitioners and coaches who have different truths, interpretations, and methods than me, who are probably capable of getting their people results, right? There’s more than one way to skin a cat. That is an awful phrase, but you get the idea. I understand that my way is not the only way. But, I know there are so many of you listening who will find this perspective so incredibly valuable. Because your experiences and perspectives about your body and health journey align with mine. And if this is the case, that means you’re in the right place here with me on this podcast. But with that being said, I just wanted to give that little disclaimer. This is my truth and perspective that I’m just going to share for you guys here.
And here’s why I’m giving that disclaimer. Are we ready? It’s because the body positivity movement, depending on how it’s presented to you, can prevent you from making progress in your health journey. Okay? Just stay with me here. I promise it will make sense. It can prevent you from making progress because the beliefs you will have created about body positivity will prevent you from getting the results you want with food and body. And here’s how this happens. This is what I see constantly with my clients and it’s similar to what I experienced as well. My clients will consume content and images with the hashtag #bodypositivity where they see women being happy in the skin they are in. Which is amazing. There’s absolutely nothing negative about this. We love to see it. This is what the movement is all about. But then, what happens is my clients will get confused. Because they will also have consumed body positivity content that states that in order to love your body, you shouldn’t want to change anything about it. It’s very anti-weight loss, anti-healthy eating, or anti-change. And for the record, this isn’t the body positivity movement that is like this. I consider this a misinterpretation of the body positivity movement. Where it’s taken to the extreme. Where people think that to be body positive means you should be anti-weight loss or anti-wanting to change your body in a healthier manner. It essentially makes people feel shame if they want to change their body and lose weight. That something must be wrong with them morally. Like, “What the hell is wrong with you wanting to lose weight? You don’t love your body enough? How dare you?”. And it’s really interesting. Because how the body positivity movement started was in direct response to diet culture. And diet culture was rooted in beliefs that fat was the enemy, right? That we all just needed to lose fat as quickly as possible. That having fat was something to be ashamed about. Which left so many of us with these conditioned toxic beliefs about fat being bad. And then, the body positivity movement was created. Which is great. But then some people started misinterpreting this movement to be the opposite extreme. Where now, we’re being conditioned to believe that weight loss is bad. So, it’s the other end of the scale. And it’s no surprise to me that this has happened. Because with diet culture, people were already conditioned to engage in black and white thinking with health. Where one way is right and another is totally wrong. And that manner of thinking just traveled to the opposite extreme. Where people who once thought that fat was wrong, now believe that weight loss is wrong.
And what I want you to know with all of this, is that there is no extreme right or wrong. Your health journey is never black and white. We are all complex, unique individuals and this manner of thinking won’t ever serve you. Being anti-weight loss is just as limiting to you as being anti-fat. Right? Both ends of this spectrum will not serve you. It will keep you stuck. Because thinking in this way adds all the drama to it. It makes how you approach your health journey morally right or wrong. Which feels heavy. In my practice, and here on this podcast, we’re not focused on the drama, ever. We’re not focused on the black and white thinking and what’s quote unquote morally correct. We’re just focused on the facts. And the facts are that you have a human body that is highly individual to you. And fat, weight loss, the results you want, are all neutral. They’re not good or bad. What makes something good or bad is the thoughts you have about it. And the two extremes, where you’re either hating fat or your hating weight loss, are representative of a lot of messy thoughts that just aren’t useful. They feel useful because it will feel like you’re fighting for a cause. But this isn’t what’s happening. These are just limiting belief systems and you’ll just be adding a lot of noise and to the neutral concepts of food and body.
So, I’m hoping this makes sense. There is nothing negative about the body positivity movement. It only becomes negative when it’s misinterpreted as being anti-weight loss or anti-change. And here is the absolute truth. You can love your body and want to change it. One million percent. In fact, loving your body is a prerequisite to changing it in a healthy and natural way. And this is a beautiful thing.
Now, there’s another part of the body positivity movement that tends to go wrong for many. And I need to bring it up here because it’s a real problem. I very often see people, and my clients when they start working with me, interpret body positivity as needing to think positive thoughts about their body. Like, right away. And what this usually looks like is they will start repeating positive affirmations. Or they’ll write positive thoughts about their bodies on a sticky note and put it on the mirror. Or they’ll create some type of vision board. Or they’ll set a reminder every morning at 7AM telling them they’re beautiful. Now, in case it wasn’t obvious, this is everything I used to do. I did all of this and more. So, trust me, I’m not above it. I have been there. But doing all of this does nothing for you. And I know that’s super blatant. But it’s true. Forcing positive thoughts about your body will not work. And you will know this if you’ve tried. Because it’s not possible. It’s not the way our brains work. The thoughts about your body now, whether they’re positive or negative, are there because of years of conditioning. They are solidified belief systems you have that mean nothing personal about your body. Your body is always neutral. The thoughts you think about your body are what cause you to interpret your body as negative or positive. That’s it. But your body is neutral. And the reality is that your current conditioning and thoughts about your body now are like highways. They are solidified neural pathways in your brain that you’ve spent your entire life creating. And repeating positive thoughts doesn’t work. Because we’re dealing with solid highways of beliefs that you have about your body. And I know this sounds like kind of a bummer. It doesn’t sound like the best news. But it is. It’s great news because it means that the reason you’ve been suffering and struggling to love your body isn’t because you’re not good enough. Or because you’re incapable of loving your body. It’s because you’re not taking into account how your brain actually works. And the power that your mind has in terms of what you believe about your body every day. The fact that you don’t love your body right now isn’t personal. It has nothing to do with your weight, size, heigh, body type – none of that. It just has to do with your conditioned thoughts. And from here, what you’ll need to do, and what I have my clients do, is practice creating new beliefs about their bodies over time. So, instead of trying to create new thought highways right away by repeating affirmations, instead you’re going to start off by creating a little dirt road. And then you’ll practice building on that dirt road over time.
And here’s how you start doing this. I’m going to walk you through this process. I want you to think about the thoughts you have about your body. You have the thoughts you believe now. This is where you’re at. And then you have the thoughts you want to believe about your body. Which may be way over there. And those loving thoughts about your body waaaay over there will feel impossible to your current brain. For instance, if you’re thinking right now, “I hate my thighs” there’s no way in hell that your brain will immediately be able to think, “I love my thighs”, right? Because your brain doesn’t believe this yet. It feels inauthentic and just wrong. Because years of conditioning have taught your brain to believe “I hate my thighs”. So, how do you begin moving your thoughts from where you are to where you want to go. You practice creating new thoughts that you can believe right now. And these are called bridge thoughts. Because they bridge the gap between the thoughts you have right now and the thoughts you want to believe in the future. Now, let me explain. I’ll use the same example where you’re currently thinking “I hate my thighs” and you want to believe “I love my thighs”. A bridge thought that you can believe right now might be “I have thighs”, right? Just “I have thighs”. And I know this sounds a little silly, but here’s why this works. Right now, it will feel impossible for your brain to switch from a negative to a positive thought. But, your brain can much more easily switch from a negative to a neutral thought. And there is so much more power in doing this, than trying to force a positive thought into your brain. Because here’s the thing. You will not be able to change the results with your body and eat healthier from the thought “I hate my body”. It just won’t happen. Because there will be so much suffering there. Self-sabotage will inevitably happen with this belief system. But, if you’re able to switch from “I hate my body” to the neutral thought of “I have a body”, then you will be in a place to create change for yourself. And then as you go along your health journey, you will find more evidence for believing “I love my body”. And you will get to a place where you’re able to authentically believe positive thoughts about your body. So, I really, really hope this makes sense. Don’t spend your time and energy trying to force positive thoughts about your body because sources online are telling you that you should. This will only cause you to suffer when you don’t believe those thoughts. Instead, spend your time alleviating that suffering by switching to a neutral thought. Never underestimate the power of this. It will serve you so well.
And I also want to mention that most people think that to change their beliefs to “I love my body” that they should work out, lose weight, and meet society’s standards of beauty. So, most people think that changing the circumstances and that taking action will change their belief over time. And that when they have new results with their bodies that they will then have permission to love it. But this doesn’t work. Because remember, your thoughts about your body aren’t because of the body you have. It’s because of conditioning and the thoughts you’re thinking. If you lose the weight through willpower and you’re left with the same brain, you will sabotage your results and end up right back where you started. Because you can’t make life-long healthy changes with your body with those negative thoughts. In other words, you can’t hate your body into change. Loving yourself is a non-negotiable, prerequisite to change. This is just the truth.
And what’s crazy is so many people, including my past self, want to lose weight so they can love their bodies. And love themselves. But what if that was an option for you, right now? What if you could love yourself without having to change anything at all? And what if loving yourself was the first step to losing weight? Or getting healthier? Or changing any result in your life?
If you could learn to love yourself and your body right now, what would be different for you? How would you show up? How would you choose to feed your body everyday? Examine all of the ways your life would look different.
This is the magic of doing this work. And even though it’s not quite as sexy as a quick-fix weight loss method, or repeating positive affirmations everyday, this is what works.
And I’m never here to tell you what sounds pretty. Or what will sound comfortable to you, right? I’d be wasting your time. That’s not why I’m here. I’m here to tell you what works. Not just based on my expertise, but based on what I’ve been through. And what I’ve experienced in my own health journey. So, just trust me on this. You can’t hate your body into change. It’s entirely necessary that you love your body into change. And you can love your body and want to change it at the same time.
Alright, you guys. I know this was a little bit of a different episode. Thank you for hanging in there with me. I hope this gave you a new perspective and was very valuable to you. I love you. And I’ll talk to you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.