After a good gym sesh this morning, I decided to start a fitness account on Instagram, mainly to keep my ramblings about the gym and sweaty selfies separate from my travel/fashion/day to day life account. Whilst typing out a few captions, I realised that I often focus on what I want to change about myself – some for aesthetic reasons, some purely for function. I’m happy with my body as it is, but still strive for change. For example, I want a stronger back because A) I want to be able to do pullups and life heavier, and B) I love the look of toned, muscular backs. My saved page on Instagram is full of girls with these toned, muscular backs, which serve as a reminder to me that by putting the work in it’s 100% possible to achieve that goal. I have no problem with my back currently (apart from the fact that it hurts when I stand still for too long, but that’s irrelevant) but I’d just like to see if I can ‘improve’ it in my eyes.
The thing is though, wanting to change your body seems to go against the grain a little these days. We’re bombarded with advice on how to love your body, the importance of being comfortable in your own skin, and not comparing ourselves to others. We’re told that you should accept yourself exactly as you are, the good and the bad. Don’t get me wrong, I firmly believe this is a good thing. Social media has done enough damage to the self esteem of the population; any work it can do to increase self-confidence and promote healthy messages is a blessing. Being happy with yourself is never, ever a bad thing and neither is encouraging confidence, no matter the shape or size.
However, sometimes I think it’s equally OK to not be keen on parts of yourself. Sometimes.
It’s OK to think ‘I wish my legs/arms/stomach looked like hers‘.
It’s OK to get home from an indulgent holiday and think ‘I’d better clean up my eating and work hard in the gym to shift this‘.
It’s OK, so long as these feelings are channeled into action, not just into berating yourself. Berating yourself gets you nowhere.
This is real life, and it’s not going to be all sunshine, rainbows, ~positivity~, and loving yourself all the time. There’s a huge difference between disliking the parts of yourself that you can’t change, and disliking the aspects that you can. Obviously hating your height or natural frame is pointless, because you’re never going to be able to change it. Yes, this body is the only one you’ll ever have, so there’s no point bemoaning it too much. However, the human body is not fixed – it can change, grow, shrink, gain strength… you get the idea. So wanting to change the… changeable parts? That’s OK, and I think we need to stop suggesting that it’s bad.
Like with everything under the health, fitness, and body image umbrella, moderation is key. Constantly comparing yourself to others – highlighting the things they are and you’re not – is one thing. Admiring the progress and strength of other women – to use as motivation not depracation – is another. I think so, anyway.
I’d really like to hear your thoughts on ‘loving your body’ – do you think it’s possible to want to change and become stronger whilst being happy with your current self?
lily kate x
Images by Charles Wosu Photography