Can You Promote Weight Loss and Be Body Positive?

Group of male friends sitting outside and smiling

Some fitness influencers have built platforms on the idea that body positivity is a toxic trend. They've gone so far as to imply that you cannot love yourself if you're overweight. Nor can you be a fitness enthusiast and support overweight people. This has left a lot of doubt and controversy in its midst. So, can you promote weight loss and still be body positive? The answer is yes and here's why. 

What is body positivity? 

Body positivity is the acceptance, respect, and appreciation of all body types. More than that, it is about meeting yourself where you are and finding contentment there. As well as encouraging others to do the same. 

The Controversy around body positivity

The main argument against body positivity is that it promotes an unhealthy way of living. People claim that it is toxic because it encourages self-neglect and stagnancy. They believe that empowering those who are overweight gives them the idea that nothing needs to change and that being fat is okay. 

On the other hand, advocates suggest that encouraging others to feel comfortable in their skin empowers them to make unbiased decisions about their bodies and health.  They believe that uplifting a person gives them the confidence needed to take the next steps on their wellness journey - whatever that looks like for them. In addition, they don't see weight loss as a necessary measure for a happy healthy life. 

With such opposing ideologies, it's no wonder the online fitness community is so heavily divided.

Body Positivity and weight loss

The concept of body positivity and the promotion of weight loss seem to be at odds, but they aren't. It's possible to encourage both practices, but doing so in the right way at the appropriate time is vital. When approaching the subject, it's crucial to understand and acknowledge biological differences, the impact of body positivity, and your place in all of it. 

Understanding individual differences

A foundational concept of the body positivity movement is the principle of individual differences. The principle of individual differences  states that because everyone is genetically unique, each person will experience a different response to stimuli. This means that the diet that worked for you, may not work for someone with PCOS who need different macro proportions to achieve the same effect. 

There are differences in our biology that make some people more responsive to exercise, whereas it requires more effort from others. This is an evidence-backed principle that is heavily ignored by those in opposition. It's important to acknowledge that, because of this principle, our experience with exercise and nutrition is not universal. 

effects of body positivity on the fitness industry

There have been many beneficial changes that have come from the body positivity movement. We've seen a dramatic shift in the focus of fitness. Going to the gym has become less about reaching a lean, toned, tanned standard of beauty. Rather interest in fitness has begun to revolve around body feel and functional improvement.

Additionally, there has been an increase in the representation of all body types. In marketing for activewear and supplements, in gym program development, and in the leadership of fitness. This is highly beneficial as it encourages a sense of confidence and allows people to come as they are without fear of judgment. 

Both of these have positive impacts on facilitating stronger relationships with nutrition and exercise. People are less likely to fall into the calculated and predatory push of fad diets and impossible workout regimens for the sake of cutting weight.  

not your body, Not your business, not your job

At the end of the day, how another person chooses to live their life is no one else's business. We are each the masters of our own decisions. If someone is finding happiness and meaning without prioritizing their appearance then that is their prerogative. It is not anyone's job to comment on their priorities, nor is it anyone's responsibility to educate them about what we think they should be doing with their life and body. Disrespect, hate, and invalidation have no place in the fitness community. 

Conclusion

Being body positive means accepting and respecting yourself and others at all stages of being. This is not isolated from having goals to improve your health and functionality. The two can and do coexist in the fitness space. The key is promoting weight loss as a side effect of exercise and emphasizing the importance of exercise on other components of wellness. 

Author's Note

We here at Self-Himprovement believe in the love, respect, and acceptance of all body types. No one should ever have to feel guilty, ashamed, or embarrassed of the body they live in. However, we believe that exercise is a vital and empowering component of wellness regardless of whether or not weight loss occurs. Our goal is always to support our readers with evidence-based insight and tools for their health and well-being. 

 

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