Can I love my body and still want to change it?

Being in the healthy living/weight loss social media circle I’m constantly exposed to different thoughts and ideas about body love and acceptance, while on the same page seeing or reading something that makes me feel pressured to look, eat, or think a specific way. On one hand I do love my body where it is now, all 190lbs of it. I love my body for what it can do. I am proud of how far that I’ve come. But having a conversation with a friend we struggled with the idea of balancing loving our bodies but also being ok with the fact that there are some things that we would still like to change about it. Can I love my body and still want to change it?

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There seems to be two extreme camps in this conversation: those who fully committed to the idea of body love and those who are uncomfortable with their body and will do anything to try to change it. I struggle because I am both and neither of these at the same time.

Those who are fully committed to the idea of body love believe that there is no reason to change your body to fit a certain image or standard set by society and media. Often those people rebel and embrace anything and everything that is anti-main stream. Fitness magazines, fitspiration sites and images, weight loss ads and fads are all things that these people hate and are often vocally rebelling against. Which, for the most part, I agree with. Pictures and advertisements are manipulated to help marketers sell more miracle pills. Unrealistic expectations of what we should look like are everywhere. I believe that we do need to love our bodies for what they are, but I also don’t think that wanting to change them is a bad thing. I think it all comes down to the mindset and motivation behind it.

The other side of the spectrum, those who chase down that unrealistic body image, are chasing happiness through trying to change their body. They think they will eventually love their body “IF” or “WHEN” they ________ (lose 5lbs, gain muscle, etc). The problem with that is once they get there they often find something else to nit pick. If it’s not their stomach it’s their legs or their arms… It’s like they are chasing their tail. Trying to shame your body into submitting to society’s standard of how your body should look just isn’t healthy.

So, here I stand divided between the two camps. Proof that I think it is possible to love your body, but still want to change it. I am more proud than I can tell you about the fact that I was able to climb to the top of an 18 foot rope today. I have worked hard for that! My body is amazing to come from where I was when I started trying to get healthy to where it is today, the fittest I have ever been. But I’m always trying to get better. I come from a place of self love, that is why I want to improve.

I want to be better because I love myself enough to know I deserve it. I’m not trying to change myself into something else hoping I’ll finally deserve to love myself. 

I think the biggest thing we need to unite on is that no one should feel guilt or shame over how they look OR how they want to look. As a woman who wants to be strong I often find myself fighting guilt over the fact that I still want to lose fat. That is one of the reasons why I struggled with my decision to have excess skin removal in August. I had to fight the guilt and shame that I felt over wanting to enjoy the hard work I put in. Not from any one person, but from the body acceptance community that preaches love and acceptance no matter what you look like.

So, no matter what you look like or what you want to look like… you can still love yourself on the way there and you don’t have to feel guilty about it.

How do you balance body love and wanting to change your body?

12 thoughts on “Can I love my body and still want to change it?

  1. Loved this post.

    You can absolutely love your body while simultaneously wanting to change it.

    I think about this in terms of my students. I love them more than anything. And while I care for them, love them, cherish them dearly, there are parts of them that need improvement – both academically and behaviorally. If we didn’t want to constantly improve upon our selves, we would remain stagnant and uninspired.
    Divya @ Eat. Teach. Blog. recently posted..Best and Worst of this Makeshift MondayMy Profile

  2. “I want to be better because I love myself enough to know I deserve it. I’m not trying to change myself into something else hoping I’ll finally deserve to love myself.” LOVE THIS!

    This is something I’ve really been thinking about as well, especially after the whole Shape magazine ordeal.

    My thoughts are I do what I do because it improves my quality of life. This is why skin removal surgery is something I’m doing as well. Not because I hate my body, but because I love myself and want to continue to improve things.

    You rock girl.
    Brooke: Not On a Diet recently posted..10 Things To Do In Your Swimsuit This SummerMy Profile

  3. Absolutely agree there is a middle ground!

    I’m always so amazed when you post your pics from last year, or earlier.. I’ve loved watching you on your journey and hitting PRs and major milestones (like rope climbs.. YEAH!!).

    But I feel on the other hand, I don’t put you in that category of women wanting a certain body type or whatever for some arbitrary reason other than cause that’s what the media says she should look like. I can’t explain it, but I think you have every right to totally love what you got and what it can do, but still strive for something that you would feel more comfortable in.

    Keep being awesome, Courtney.:)
    jennifer recently posted..Train Yourself Not to Suck: Surround Yourself with Those Who Don’tMy Profile

  4. Oh man, I relate to this so much. I’ve only recently gained weight that didn’t come off easily, and I’ve been unhappy with my body for months. So I think I’m in both camps, like you! My husband and I started running regularly about a month ago, so that’s helping. Hoping to do a 5k at the end of June!
    Thank you for such an inspiring post 🙂
    Christy@SweetandSavoring recently posted..Duo Bistro: Perfect Brunch in Uptown KingstonMy Profile

  5. I totally agree that you can – and should – love your body while still wanting to improve it. I love my body, but can’t say I love the middle-age spread or the stretch marks given me by my beloved oldest son who was over 10 lbs at birth and did a pretty good number on my skin 32 years ago. I know you feel surgery is the only answer – but before you go there, please consider putting aside your skepticism about wraps and at least try them. I’m back in a bikini this year for the first time in 33 years (It Works Ultimate Body Wraps smoothed those old stretch marks and helped firm up my loose tummy skin). I have family members who have undergone weight loss surgery and the It Works body wraps have helped them immensely with their loose skin. It’s NOT a miracle, it WON’T work over-night, but it WILL work with consistent use and is non-invasive, all-natural and safe. Full disclosure, I am a distributor… but most of us who are distributors signed on because we tried the wrap and were made believers. I wish you the best no matter what you decide, but I truly hope you’ll give the non-invasive way a try first.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Deb! I actually have tried the wraps and while there were noticeable differences with the skin flap I have there is no way it can be fixed by wraps alone. I already have my deposit paid and date scheduled, so I’m all in over here!

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