What being body positive means to me

neon lighting

The body positive movement aims to end the negative relationship we have with our appearance and accept ourselves for who we are naturally. It is inclusive of everyone, no matter how you look you deserve to be loved and to love yourself.

Body positivity isn’t just about weight, it’s about feeling good in the body you are in. It’s about focusing on yourself as a whole and challenging society’s perceptions of beauty. You are worth more than how you look.

It’s not apologising for having a double chin in a photo. It’s not worrying about how your cellulite looks in natural light. It’s enjoying what your body can do for you, instead of chastising it for not looking a certain way.

Body positivity and me

Body positivity is a relatively new concept for me, having only learned about it over the last 18 months. After years and years of self-hatred and insecurities, the idea of loving my body unconditionally seems like both a breath of fresh air and a rope to hang myself with.

Many of us have been conditioned from an early age to believe that we need to be smaller, symmetrical, perfect versions of ourselves. If we only squeezed into a smaller size our lives would be better. This is not true, and the only reason we are subjected to this kind of thinking is because companies want to make us spend money on products we don’t need and they need to keep feeding our insecure to get us to splash out. As an intelligent woman, I know this is true, but after 25 years of body shaming myself, it’s difficult to kick the habit.

Being body positive can be more challenging than you might think. As with most things, there is a steep learning curve. I have many days where I stare at my reflection in the mirror and tell myself I am fat, ugly or disgusting. Irrational thoughts consume my mind, ‘What if I gain loads of weight and no one likes me anymore?’, ‘I can’t wear that because my legs are too fat’ ‘My nose is so big and ugly’ etc. The fact that I have these thoughts is evidence enough that I need to embrace body positivity and self-love.

Fitness and body positivity?

Some people reading this might be thinking I’m being hypocritical because this is a fitness blog after all.

I hold my hands up and say in the past I was not being body positive, through a lack of education and knowledge. Once you open your eyes to how much body shaming is around it’s quite shocking. Even this year when I decided to embrace the body positive movement I still had a lot of setbacks. In my Grace Fit Guide posts I get carried away with how my body is responding to the guide looks wise and began to feel very critical of myself once again.

I would love to be in a place where I feel 100% happy with my appearance, not because I have achieved unrealistic beauty standards, but because I love and accept myself the way that I am. My goal is to stand naked in front of a mirror and honestly say that I don’t care how my body looks and that I am just so grateful to have it. You can be body positive and into fitness and health, it’s a celebration of what your body can do after all.

Our society is becoming more image obsessed by the day and humans are already hard wired to respond to images. Self-hatred is accelerating; depression and eating disorders are increasing and it’s only going to get worse unless we teach each other to think differently. Nowadays, people are celebrated purely for their looks, while intelligent, funny, kind, courageous and artistic people are valued less.

Thanks for reading this. If you’re interested in more body positive posts my friend Vicky wrote a really interesting guest post for me which you can find here or you can visit her blog which is body positive.

Guess who loves running again?

Girl running in country side

My passion for running has ignited once again. It must be a combination of the lighter evenings, the slightly warmer temperatures and my resentment of crowded gyms, as people pile in to try and obtain a ‘summer body’ (FYI, your body is always ready for summer!) Despite spending the first four months of the year focusing strength training, recently all I want to do is hit the pavement and run!

There’s a problem, I haven’t been regularly running for at least four months. Unlike strength training, where I can maintain my ability level, I have to go back to square one when it comes to running. Although I know if I work hard enough I will get back to where I was, it will be a challenge.

As excepted, my first run back was really hard! I opted for the treadmill so I could monitor my speed and incline. I warmed up by going on the cross-trainer for 10 minutes, as I find it warms my muscles which makes it easier to run, before hopping onto the treadmill. Instead of flat out running (which I found difficult to do) I tried to run for the length of the song I was listening to and then stopping and walking for 30 seconds – a minute until I felt ready to run again.  This was a pretty good technique and I managed to do 20 minutes on the treadmill.

After the success of the treadmill I decided to test my ability outdoors, mainly because I didn’t have time to go to the gym before work and I wanted to run, so I completed a circuit outside. I find outdoor running a lot harder compared to the treadmill as you need to be in control of pacing yourself and you are subject to a variety of inclines and terrains. I did a short run outside that was around 3 miles and lasted 40 minutes. I did stop a few times and I wasn’t aiming to go fast, hence why my time was a bit slow.

I wanted to push myself on my next run. It was a beautiful day so I headed out and ran five miles. Surprisingly, it was very enjoyable and wasn’t as difficult as I found the previous run. Unfortunately, I got a chest infection later in the week so I decided to have break from running until I was better. Yesterday, I went running with my friend and we did five miles (outdoors) and although it was a challenging run as my chest wasn’t 100% better I enjoyed pushing myself and getting outdoors after work.

This post has been a bit rambly, I just wanted to write about fitness again and this is what I’m focusing on. Over the next eight weeks I will be sticking to the running programme I created for myself which incorporates strength training, plyometric exercises and cross training, as well dynamic as distances to run. I will keep you updated with how I get on!

Here are a few of my older running posts if you want to have a read:

Leeds Half Marathon
Half Marathon checklist
How to prepare for a half 
Salford 10k
Winter run 10k 
Safely tips for running
Sweatshop Running Club