When you embark on your fitness journey, no matter what the goal specifics may be, optimal health is always the underlying theme. And as you work towards better health, the focus is typically directed towards improving physical activity and nutrition habits. However, as the fitness industry continues to ebb and flow with trends and focuses, the body positivity movement is emerging as a hot topic of discussion.
The body positivity movement addresses the importance of your mental state during your fitness journey. The goal of the movement is for inclusivity of all body shapes and sizes and setting new standards for identifying health.
In this article, you will gain more insight into body positivity and learn strategies to make your fitness journey a more positive experience.
What is Body Positivity?
To understand body positivity, it is important to examine how it came to be. Every individual has a psychological representation of their body, also known as their body image, which includes their thoughts about their body shape, size, and emotions attached to their perception. For decades, the fitness industry promoted body ideals, and anyone with a body image outside of these ideals could develop a sense of inferiority.
In response to these body ideals, body positivity has emerged as a rapidly growing movement on social media platforms. The body positivity movement aims to challenge society to focus on an individual’s overall state of health, not their body. It encourages an acceptance of health represented in all body types, no matter the size or shape.
Alongside this movement is the Healthy at Every Size (HAES) movement, which focuses on other health indicators besides weight. It instead encourages the focus on developing healthier habits that will lead to improved health.
The three main components of HAES is:
- Intuitive eating
- Encouraging body acceptance
- Promoting physical activity for movement and health rather than structured exercise
Overall, these two movements bring to light more realistic and encouraging ways for you to recognize and seek better health. They create room for acceptance of your body and health at every stage of your fitness journey.
How to Set SMART Goals
A critical part of improving your health includes creating goals to give you direction.
When it comes to the body positivity movement, maintaining a positive mental state and experience during your fitness journey requires different progress tracking methods. By implementing specific methods to create intentional goals, you can cultivate a more positive experience during check-ins. One method to accomplish this is by defining an overall objective and creating SMART goals.
According to the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
Furthermore, as Healthy at Every Size encourages, your goals should be centered on creating healthier habits. Two types of goals that can establish those habits to reach your end goal are process and performance goals.
Process goals identify the processes you want to engage in to work towards reaching your overall goal. For example, an overall goal may be to complete a one-mile run. One process you may take is to run half a mile twice a week for two weeks before incrementally increasing the run distance to work up to the one-mile goal.
Performance goals are the specified end products of performance usually expressed in terms of personal achievement. An example of this is completing your personal best running time for your mile run.
Process and performance goals are great for maintaining body positivity because they allow for milestone achievements that are controllable. Moreover, as the habits to meet goals are consistently met, it becomes more appropriate to seek check-ins for body composition. They become an objective guide to review and use alongside body composition results to reveal the impact of your efforts towards better health.
Body Composition is Your Friend
The days of measuring your health solely by weight are gone! Measuring body composition is the best way to check in and gain a better understanding of the progress you’ve made.
Body composition analysis provides measurements of body components like body fat, muscle mass, and body water. This analysis gives a more complete and personalized report on health and how diet and exercise affect the body. With in-depth body composition data, you get more direction on whether to continue with your efforts or make adjustments to put you back on track for your goals.
For example, let’s say you are currently 120 pounds with 22% body fat and have a goal of dropping five pounds. And after a month of implementing better habits, you are excited to check in and step on a scale. You are anticipating a change in weight because you feel more energized and your clothes fit better. However, when you step on the scale, the number does not change. You may instantly feel discouraged and convinced that your efforts were a waste of time.
However, had you taken a body composition test, you would have discovered that you actually gained muscle mass, which is why your weight did not change. And the reason your clothes feel better is that you dropped two percent in body fat.
This example illustrates how in-depth results from measuring your body composition allow for a more positive experience. You can have a more objective picture of your progress. You can also embrace your body for its healthy changes on multiple levels because you understand all the differing factors.
Consistent Habits are the Key to Change
An overarching theme to maintain body positivity during your fitness journey is to create intentional habits that move you in the direction of a lifestyle change.
A great way to check for consistency with your habits is to self-monitor. By recording your nutrition habits and physical activity, you now have an additional aid when reviewing your body composition results.
As mentioned earlier, they give insight into the effectiveness of habits or the adjustments needed to continue progress. For example, you may recognize that particular context cues like having your workout equipment laid out and ready for use or eating at certain times can help you maintain a healthier lifestyle. You no longer have to rely on a scale weight to determine what habits are best for your goals.
Positive Mindset During Progress Check-ins
The best part about the body positivity movement is that it seeks to make your health and functionality the top priority. Optimal health comes in many shapes and sizes and is not determined by the weight on the scale. Always look at the entire picture!
As major brands on social media and other media platforms continually promote ideal body images, it’s critical to use our accounts and interactions to share our personal experiences. It is empowering to see others on their journey of learning to love and accept their bodies. The days of perfect body images are behind us. It is about celebrating authenticity and the ongoing journey to the best version of you coming to the forefront.
Authenticity helps create a common ground for individuals and their experiences on their health and wellness journey. It is personal storytelling that brings us together to empower ourselves and others. You should embrace your journey and know that your personal goals are valid, acceptable, and achievable.
It’s Okay to Pivot Your Goals
Goals are meant to change over time, often due to a shift in personal interest or career demands. Because of these ever-changing factors, we will personally experience multiple versions of healthy.
Reaching different goals require an adjustment period to determine and get acclimated to what will work. Therefore, when we share our stories about our fitness journey, including the highs and the lows, we create a place of encouragement for others to forgo fad diets and quick fixes. It’s about creating a lifestyle change through healthy, sustainable habits and sound check-ins.
Reverse engineer your goals by determining your long-term objective, then break it down into smaller benchmarkers to meet, and then determine how you can reach those goals week by week. Make your goals digestible and realistic to the needs and demands of your weekly routine.
When you break down your goals week by week, you give yourself the space to incorporate habits into your routine without overwhelming yourself. Remove the added level of stress by trying to make a lot of changes. It’s a lifestyle change that will be ongoing, so there is no rush, just the need for intention.
When you knock out small goals like a champion, you may find along the way that the healthiest version of you was the only one that mattered the entire time. Remember—be your own standard.
Maricris Lapaix is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer with a diverse background as a corporate worker, athlete, and model. Combining her worlds of fitness and entertainment with her social media presence has created numerous opportunities for her as a fitness entrepreneur. She has collaborated with brands like NASM, Re-Spin by Halle Berry, Adidas, Reebok, Nike, and Oxygen, and Beachbody.