If I had a penny for every time someone came to me requesting the trimming down or tightening up of a very specific area on their body, I’d have an awful lot of pennies. As much as I like to help people feel better in any way I can, I am not that kind of trainer.
Before I get into why that is, please know I do not in any way shape or form claim to be above this way of thinking. I spent years ruminating about not having a thigh gap before thigh gaps were even a thing (damn you narrow hips, closely set femurs, and unrealistic beauty standards…). Like most people, accepting my body is a practice. Perhaps, like discussed in Monday’s post, I am now able to see things from a wider perspective most of the time.
There are so many reasons to move your body, but for most people spot training isn’t worth putting on that list. While sculpting the body like Michelangelo creating David may appeal to some, meticulous aestheticly focused conditioning rarely has the intended effect.
Far be it from me to take away the joy that figure competitors glean as they chisel their way to the “perfect” body, but let me offer this….is it possible to expand our definition of perfect? Is it possible to appreciate other’s bodies for what they are and simultaneously choose to love our own?
Like I mentioned before, this body positive thing has been (and continues to be) WORK for me, but the changes I’ve seen in myself as well as clients of mine who have opened to this mentality have been remarkable.
The nature of the body is that it changes. Many of us made the promise to love a life partner in sickness and in health, can we promise ourselves the same? Is it possible to embrace the bodies we have and still maintain our ambition to evolve, whatever that may look like?
Letting go of long held fitness ideals and opening to the unknown can be terrifying. Here are a few things that might be helpful in easing the anxiety:
-Focus on What Your Body Can Do: Remember being a kid running around outside playing, totally lost in the moment and giving no thought to what you looked like? Do that. Approach movement with equal elements of curiosity and playfulness. Sure, part of the fun of having a body is making amusing shapes with it, but make sure to spend equal amounts of time performing movement away from mirrors.
-Recognize Body Diversity: If you were an alien coming to earth and the only images of people you knew were from magazine ads, wouldn’t you be a little surprised once your spaceship landed? Images depicted in the media represent a very small segment of the population (groundbreaking news, I know….). Even those of us who easily see beauty in other people’s bodies can have a harder time seeing beauty in our own. Detaching from media images of what your body “should” look like and paying more attention to moving your body with kindness makes the whole experience infinitely more nourishing.
-Bring On the Challenge, Lose the Judgment: Piggybacking off of the first bullet point, it can be much easier to bring playfulness to areas where we excel and not so easy when we are challenged. Just like in other areas in life, different types of movement come more easily to different people. Dare to explore those areas that challenge you with an open mind. Just because your body doesn’t perform as you think it should doesn’t mean there is something wrong with it. In fact, presenting the body with new challenges is one of the best ways to keep the body (and mind!) vibrant.
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