One of the core beliefs behind my Body Positive Athletes movement is that within each of us is the potential to be our own greatest Body Positive Advocate. Each of us has the potential to contribute to the greater message that as a society, we are finished with comparing ourselves to others and ready to celebrate our own physical individuality. That ‘we’, as individuals, are enough.
Can you imagine the day that mass media can no longer arouse a sense of inferiority in us because we have stopped comparing ourselves and our lives to those of celebrities? Or the day that a weight loss company can no longer exploit the ‘I don’t like myself, so why would anyone else like me’ sales approach, because we have made the decision that we love ourselves enough to nurture ourselves through movement and good, balanced nutrition? What about the day that a gym promoting an image of an obese person standing on the scales looking despondent gets no increase in membership because larger people have decided to actively pursue the sport they loved as a child or have always wanted to try?
Whilst it is always crucial to have leaders and/or speakers representing a movement, I believe the true power of any change comes with numbers – so the true power of the Body Positive Athlete movement lies with you. I believe that real change lies with you starting to live your daily life as a physically empowered individual – and its easier than you think.
1. Change your fitness language.
If you undertake some form of physical activity that has a direction and a purpose, then guess what – in my eyes, you’re ‘training’. I find ‘training’ to be a very constructive and positive term because it creates an sense of significance to what you are doing. In turn you not only start to have more respect for the efforts you are putting in, but you tend to command more respect for your efforts from others.
2. Stop ‘cheapening’ your athletic experience.
I remember the days I used to say that I’d been for a ‘run-slash-walk’ because I knew people wouldn’t believe that I had just been for a ‘run.’ Cheapening our athletic experiences and playing down the significance of what we are doing is something so inherently ingrained in many of us that this one is very hard to break out of. The simplest thing I can suggest is to stop yourself every time you use the word ‘just’ when discussing your sessions. No more ‘I’m just going for a swim’ – if you’re off to do a technique session then thats exactly how you describe it. If you’re going for a run, you’re not ‘just’ going for a run – a run is a run.
3. Don’t allow others to play down the power of what you are doing.
If I had a dollar for every time someone called my three years of solid training a ‘fad’ I’d be paying someone to type this for me. Change is hard for people to adapt to, especially when it is someone making bold, positive changes to their health and lifestyle, and seeing results for it. Don’t let it get to you. Make the decision as to whether you let it ‘fuel the fire’ for your next session, or simply let it pass because it is not worthy of any energy.
4. Thank your body.
Your body is an amazing machine and there is no other body like it on this Earth. Take the time to thank it for what is achieving for you. Appreciate it for its strengths and only look to its weaknesses in the context of how you may target your next block of training.
5. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others.
Like our bodies, our athletic journeys are completely unique to us and must be embraced as such. Focus on your own efforts and your own journey and soon you will have an immense appreciation for what an amazing, and deeply personal ‘ride’ you are on. Once your experience becomes your own then you tend to nurture yourself through it better and become more resilient to the ‘noise’ of comparison.
6. Don’t fear the aesthetics of effort.
True physical exertion is not meant to look like a picture in a fitness magazine. Maximal effort has an amazing, almost primal strength to it, and once you have experienced it there is this great sense of achievement and empowerment to be enjoyed. You can’t, however, get to that effort-point whilst worrying about whether your shirt is riding up or if your bottom is wobbling too much, so forget about what you look like doing it, push through and enjoy the moment. A fearless approach to your training can also have an amazing impact on others, so don’t ever disregard the notion that what you are doing is not inspiring someone else to let loose and push without a fear of judgement.
7. Stand tall.
Pull those shoulders back, hold your head high, and embrace that growing sense of personal power you have. Remind yourself of this daily: It is OK to be powerful. It is OK to be strong. It is OK to look the World dead in the eyes. It is OK to be aggressive in your training and chosen sport. You are worth the effort and you are worthy of the success.
We all have an inner warrior that lies within us – it is not a question of if the World is ready for it to be unleashed, it is a question of deciding when YOU are ready for it to be unleashed.
Welcome to the movement, its awesome to have you along for the ride.