Have you heard of “body neutrality” before?
Body neutrality is about practically accepting your body and appreciating what it can do for you rather than focusing on what it looks like.
This is a bit of a different concept from “body positivity”. Body positivity might encourage thoughts along the lines of “I love my body” or “all bodies are beautiful” or “My body is attractive even if it’s different from conventional beauty standards” , whereas body neutrality doesn’t really focus on how our bodies look, and instead encourages thoughts like, “I’m happy my body was able to take me on that really difficult hiking trail” or “my body lets me play with my dog and carry my groceries.”
Body positivity can be really awesome, and while all bodies DO deserve to feel beautiful and celebrated, sometimes that can feel like a difficult goal to attain for some folks… If you’ve been really focused on your “flaws” for many years, it might feel like a stretch to suddenly decide that you LOVE those perceived flaws and think they’re beautiful and you want to show them off. In those cases, body neutrality can be much more achievable than positivity — maybe you don’t feel you’re ready to LOVE everything about your body, but can you feel neutral toward it instead of embarrassed or resentful?
This approach allows us to feel content with ourselves through all the changes in circumstances, health, and routines that we go through in life. Taking care of yourself, challenging yourself, nourishing yourself, and enjoying your life doesn’t need to be linked with your appearance at all.
We believe body neutrality is the most helpful and sustainable way to approach fitness. In our classes, we enjoy supporting and educating people by talking about the practical benefits of the exercises and movement skills that we teach, and how they will see results showing up in their lives when they do their day to day work or favourite recreational activities. We celebrate our skills, strengths, and what we can accomplish on our good days, while also being able to slow down and nurture ourselves on days we need it.
We go out of our way to minimize cues about changing how our bodies look or comments about “summer bodies” or losing weight. We also don’t assume that the reason why someone is exercising is to make their bodies smaller or more “conventionally attractive”. Those things are simply not a priority in our classes… We care about how people feel and if they’re reaching their strength and movement goals and priorities.
Do you feel like you could benefit from a more body-neutral mindset? Be patient with yourself! Changing your mindset is something that takes a lot of time, continued effort, self-correction, and self-guidance. If you find yourself having a negative thought about your body, could you replace it with something a more practical and encouraging perspective? For example, if you find yourself thinking “I’ve been working out for months now and stomach still has rolls!” you could counteract that by thinking, “I’ve been working out for months now, and I’m so proud of my commitment to myself and I’m feeling much stronger.”
Having a body-neutral perspective can be an ongoing journey, and we are happy to support you in feeling your best! We hope our classes are a positive space for you to nature a kind relationship with your body!