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Exercise // Thinker: Improved Physical Health is Body Positive

It is a social risk to discuss body positivity, whether or not one agrees fully, partially or not at all with any of the narratives around it.

Here I go.

No human being should be treated in a substantially negative way based on appearance. Without getting into particulars, I believe that the majority of decent people could agree on that.

The discussion of objective health determinants and their relationships to physical conditioning, obesity and overall "body habitus", so to speak, are another matter entirely.

The majority of the narrative around weight loss does not serve this discussion well at all.

On the surface, the narrative focuses on people wanting to look better and feeling excessive societal pressure to do so. Disordered eating and eating disorders (they are different), surgeries of various natures and drug usage are often leveraged as quick cuts to this end before looking at nutrition, exercise and overall healthier ways of living.

I believe that a shift towards health is a key to a more positive narrative in the zeitgeist around weight loss and body positivity.

When I meet a client who wants to "lose weight" and we get down to the real meat behind their goals, a few things frequently come up:

  • losing excess body fat;

  • building more healthy muscle;

  • increasing cardiovascular fitness;

  • "looking hot" or feeling good about your physical appearance; and,

  • having improved quality of life.

We are no longer talking about weight loss here in any substantive way. These are simply ways of increasing health, quality of life and the prospects for a more enjoyable, brighter future. The appearance of weight loss is side effect of these improved health markers.

I believe that the shift here starts at the individual level: changing your focus to what other people expect from you to what you want for yourself. The narrative, so to speak, no longer matters at that point. What matters is the next steps towards your better (yes, better - healthier, more able, stronger, more likely to live a longer, higher quality of life) physical self.

It is not an easy transition. It is, however, the one that quiets all of that other noise.

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