Is losing weight in a body positive way actually possible?
I try to promote body confidence and body positivity. Because I know from my own experience how mentally and physically damaging it can be to become obsessed with size, shape, and weight. But most people coming into fitness come into it with a weight or size or shape goal in mind.
I end up in this weird place – in part because of my own personal ongoing struggles – where I try to encourage people on their own fitness journeys and towards their own goals (whatever they may be) while encouraging them to love and appreciate their bodies too.
And sometimes I end up in a conflict between weight loss and body positivity. So here’s my take on it. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, and there are tons of grey areas as well. But this is kind of where I get to in terms of balancing 2 things which, on paper at least, shouldn’t be compatible.
Love Your Body First
Regardless of your goal – whether it be weight loss, weight gain, or anything else – it is a million times harder to achieve when it comes from a negative mental place or a place of hatred.
You have 1 body. You will only ever have 1 body. It is capable of incredible things. It has probably already done some incredible things. It deserves love, care, and respect.
So whatever your goal, it needs to be something you’re doing because you appreciate your body and are doing it out of care for it. There’s not much out there which is more toxic than acting out of shame, guilt, or self loathing.
Health And Weight Aren’t The Same Thing
Yes, excess weight can impact your overall health negatively.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t be actively working towards a health goal. Being a different weight or size or shape than where you feel like you want to be isn’t a barrier to you working on your health.
Focus on exercise and activity levels, restful sleep, stress management, hydration, and nourishing your body.
Regardless of where you are on a weight or health journey (if you’re even on one!), your body will always be grateful for and appreciate any act or habit that helps support it.
I’m not a doctor so I won’t go in-depth on links between major illnesses and weight. But there is of course research out there which does link lower body fat levels to lower risk of chronic or major illness or disease.
Again though, just because you feel like you’re not where you want to be with your body, it’s not a barrier to doing something for your own health as an act of self care.
This is probably where I really end up muddying the waters.
Specifically with fitness and most fitness goals, being at a lighter weight (or lower body fat percentage) tend to help.
If you want to run faster or further, it is usually easier when you have less load to carry. Plus it puts less impact on your joints.
Want to get strong at pull ups and push ups? Again – if you have a lighter load to move, it can be easier to build those movements.
Even more holistic classes like yoga, getting into and holding a warrior post will be less challenging if your muscles have less weight to support.
There are some exceptions to this. Lifting weights and building strength can be easier when you are carrying more weight as your body can act as a better counter-balance. And with swimming of course, a slightly higher level of body fat helps with buoyancy meaning it takes slightly less effort to stay afloat.
But generally, being more agile, being able to move quicker, placing less force on your joints, and allowing your body to exert itself more efficiently do come from weight loss.
Back To The Original Point – Losing Weight In A Body Positive Way
Let’s circle back to the original question I asked.
Is it possible to lose weight in a body positive way?
In my view, yes and no.
I think trying to lose weight or lose inches for the sake of losing it or because you feel like you “should” then no. That’s very definitely not body confidence and not the right attitude. You’re allowing some external factors to dictate how you should look and feel.
In these cases it’s important to backtrack and look at what’s really important.
Weight loss can still happen while focused on body positivity though. But it would usually be as a side effect of another health or fitness goal.
If for example you were told by a doctor that you need to lower your blood pressure, you will start having more fruit and vegetables and exercising a bit more. Even though you’re not directly focusing on weight, you’ll probably be taking in fewer, and burning more, calories. So it’s quite likely you will lose some weight without it being something you’re focused on.
Similarly, if you have a fitness goal of a 5k or 10k run time, you will be training with that specific goal in mind and will start to focus closely on giving yourself the right fuel. More exercise and maybe slightly improved nutrition will have the same impact.
You may also decide you want to carry less weight to help your speed. That’s very much a grey area because it is a direct focus on weight loss, but with a very specific end goal in mind rather than just for the sake of losing weight.
So That’s My Take On Losing Weight In A Body Positive Way
Yes it very definitely can be done.
But no, it can’t really be reconciled with body confidence when you’re trying to lose weight purely because you feel like you should or like you’re supposed to be a lighter weight.
Whatever you do though, and whatever your health or fitness goal, always act from a place of self-appreciation.
You will only ever have 1 body – give it the love, care and respect it deserves.