Why Body Acceptance Is Essential For Health

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Here's the thing with body confidence: you don't have to 'love' your body, at least not at the beginning of your recovery journey. But you do need to reach a point of accepting your body, in order to finally make peace with food and free yourself from dieting and worrying about weight. 

What is 'body acceptance'?

Body acceptance is having an objective view of your body, and being OK with it. Accepting it for what it is, in that moment, and accepting that our bodies change throughout our lives. It's recognizing that our appearance has literally no bearing on ourselves, as people. Because we're exactly that - people - we're not emotionless bodies walking around for ornamental purposes. Every single one of us is valuable - our weight and appearance doesn't alter that.  

We can take body acceptance one step further, and embrace the parts of our bodies that we do like, and emphasise these. We can also show appreciation for our bodies and all they do for us, via self-care.

Why is body acceptance important for health?

Until you reach a stage where you're no longer trying to alter your appearance, it's incredibly hard, if not impossible, to truly focus on improving your health.  Without body acceptance, food choices are made based on potential weight loss/weight gain, rather than your body's physical needs, and exercise choices are made based on the potential to alter body shape, and burn calories, instead of solely for the joy of it and the physical and psychological benefits.  

Any feelings of desperation to change your body, are likely to increase the temptation to resort to drastic measures to control weight, such as diets, surgery, pills, self-induced vomiting, laxative abuse etc. and poor body image can be a precursor for eating disorders. Body shaming can also leave people feeling excluded from 'healthy' activities, like going swimming, group exercise classes or running in the park, as well as negatively impact on their mental wellbeing and other areas of their life - from how they play with their kids on holiday to whether they have the confidence to speak in public and deliver a pitch at work.  

Weight loss will NOT make you accept your body

A common misconception people have is that when they've reached their goal weight, they'll suddenly love their bodies. More often than not, this is not the case. Sure, when you first lose weight or even hit goal weight, the compliments will roll in (because society places a high value on slimness, remember). This will put you on cloud 9 and make you feel great. Temporarily.  But eventually the compliments stop, and the external validation you got for yourself fades away, leaving you to rely on self-validation. But you didn't have self-validation or self-acceptance in the first place, remember? that's one of the reasons you wanted to change your body. 

What usually happens in this situation, is you start looking for other ways to improve your body - to get more external validation (compliments) from others. You say things like "now I've lost all my weight, I'm going to focus on toning my arms or shaping my bum, or getting abs." This is still focusing on appearance, rather than health, or exercise for the sake of exercise itself. and ultimately body acceptance still hasn't been achieved if you're still focusing on altering its appearance. 

So, our goal before focusing on our health is to become our own source of validation and acceptance. Which is exactly what I cover in the video below. Be sure to jot down the action points I give you - I've created a free workbook for you to do this.