I walk the line. On one side is the Fat Acceptance Movement and the idea that self acceptance is paramount. On the other side the fitness community and the idea that self improvement is the goal. From my perspective the line is not what divides but rather where the two overlap. The overlap is the magic for me. To me it is where the power of possibility and contentment thrive. Beyond the overlap in either direct seems off balance and stunted in terms of ultimate happiness and achievement of what we want most.
Self Acceptance without Self Improvement Self-Acceptance of our bodies is accepting what they look like in each moment. It’s feeling free from mental anguish day in and day out. Acceptance is realizing that our body is not comparable to someone else’s, that genetically we are different. However acceptance is not complacency. Without a drive to be better, without care of our body - something of the upmost importance is lost. Without self-improvement there is a cap that is put on happiness and contentment. If we are complacent with behaviors that are incongruent with nourishing our bodies or if we are disconnected from our bodies all together- we can’t truly be at peace with ourselves, and isn’t that what self acceptance is all about?
Self-Improvement without Self Acceptance
We can get fit without self acceptance. Some easier than others, but it happens all the time. By force of will we can train and alter our diets- ravenously checking off goals. We can be driven by our ideals and by comparison to others- and it can work, but only to a point. Without self-acceptance, we are always “not good enough.” Always pushing, always fighting- never allowing ourselves to be satisfied. We cannont even celebrate our accomplishments before we are on to the next thing. Without self- acceptance there is a boundary set on contentment and interestingly enough the line may be drawn on our physical improvement as well. Any athlete knows, in order to be our best we must seek out our weakness and embrace it. We must accept that it exists, so that we can begin, slowly and without ego the process of getting better at what is worst. When we are unable to accept we either avoid or quit--- either way we miss the mark on what we want-getting better.
My whole life’s purpose is planted in the overlap. What I strive to do is help women to experience freedom & joy. Freedom and joy can’t happen with out both acceptance and love of our bodies. Acceptance is being okay with what is so that we can be free from mental torment of self and feeling as if we are never quite good enough. Loving our body means taking care of it, giving it what it wants and needs, honoring it as an integral part of ourselves.
I am not in the business of self- acceptance. I am not in the business of self-improvement. I am in the business of both.