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Habits versus Goals: Critical for Body Positivity

All of my life I have been a goal setter. I am going to read 50 books this year. I am going to run a 5K. I am going to launch a new product in the business. I am going to have a great marriage. I am going to start exercising regularly. I am going to . . . I learned much later in life that there is a much, much better way to achieve amazing results than setting goals. It is setting habits.

As an example, let’s look at Matt Emmons, a US Olympic biathlon coach. That’s the sport where you ski, then stop and shoot targets. Instead of Matt pushing his athletes to hit the target, Matt takes a process (habit) approach. In the beginning, he doesn’t care how often the athlete hits the target. He trains to habits, not results. If the habits are there, the results are as well. 

Instead of training to goals (target score) he has them focus on the mini habits. 

  • He has them focus just on planting their feet. 
  • Then he has them focus just on their breath as they shoot. 
  • Then he has them focus just on holding the gun against their body. 

He breaks down the skills that will lead to the goal and focuses on mastering each of these mini-habits every day. Then achieving success overall is just about the day-to-day of mastering each mini habit. 

You are doing the same thing. If your overall goal is to get to a healthy, sustainable weight, stop focusing on a goal weight. Focus instead on mastering each of your mini habits.

Body PositivityDiet Mentality vs Body Positivity

Inevitably, it seems like our brains want to go back to old ingrained beliefs that your weight is what is important. Usually around the three month mark in the Eat Well program people start to get really impatient with the habits and want to turn their attention back to goals. Goals as in–how much weight have I lost? How much weight will I lose? Why isn’t the weight coming off more quickly? Should I go on a diet again and lose the weight? 

If you find yourself falling into dieting mindset, the first thing to do is to be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that your brain is checking into dieting mindset, and remind yourself that the dieting mindset of self-loathing, body shame, and constant obsession over your weight wasn’t fun. It leads to not only unhealthy mental health, but ironically, leads to carrying more weight on your body as well. 

Becoming versus Trying

Read these two sentences and notice how different they feel. 

  • “I’m sorry, I can’t have a cookie. I am trying to lose weight.” 
  • “No thank you. I don’t feel like a cookie.”

The first example is the language of a dieter. It includes temporary restrictions, muscling through decisions, and body goals. 

The second example is someone who has BECOME. These are your body positive models. Their language reflects a long-term change in themselves. They aren’t TRYING to do anything. They are announcing what they actually want. They are someone who in the moment doesn’t feel like they want to eat a cookie. Or maybe they are someone who in the moment wants a cookie. There is no huge internal struggle, no resistance, and no discipline for self-control. 

As you put habits into place and start developing body positivity you will notice that your self-image changes as well. You are no longer someone who is trying to get healthy. You are someone who makes healthy eating choices. You are no longer someone who is trying to lose weight. You are someone who is living a healthy lifestyle. 

Our #BodyGoals Culture

It is so easy to see with horror the mistakes and decisions that generations before us have made. Think back to the 1800’s when holding people as slaves was considered acceptable. Think of the 1950’s, when segregation was accepted as a good practice. Think of the 1970’s when women weren’t allowed to run in marathons. These are just a few highlights of  things that are so obviously wrong to us now, but thought of as commonplace in the past. It leads us to ask the question, “What horrors are we currently living in that we can’t yet see?” This is why the body positivity movement is commonly linked to body positive feminism. The movement is all about how to stop hating your body as a woman (or a man) and treating yourself and others better, no matter what body size. 

I want to propose that body standards for women (as well as men in many cases) are a horror that we are just beginning to see. Consider that mannequins for all (non-plus) clothing in all stores across the country have been a size 0 up until 2015. The first curvy Sports Illustrated swimsuit model was in 2016. Celebrities are daring to show their stretch marks on social media for the first time in 2020. 

Why do I consider this a horror? 

Only presenting human bodies in one standard (very small) size is a horror because the average women’s body size in the US is currently 16-18, and almost everyone over the age of 30 has cellulite and stretch marks.  Despite this, all we see is women’s bodies that are size 0 and perfectly smooth. We have grown up in a culture of shame, where we are taught we aren’t beautiful unless we are a size 2 and starving. We only recently have started to see body positivity blog posts, fat positive blogs, and body acceptance tips in the last few years.

Let’s change this culture, shall we? Let’s start by not only getting healthy, but loving ourselves and showing ourselves as we are right now, no matter where we are in our journey. 

fat positive blogsBody Positivity

There is an online trend now on social media in videos to show your body as it is–fat on your stomach after a baby (and not after a baby), loose skin after weight loss (and not after weight loss), cellulite and extra padding. Every time a woman leads out with honesty about what real bodies look like, we shift the culture away from extreme dieting and body shame and towards more healthy body expectations and acceptance. 

I will never forget the impact of seeing a woman who made national news because she showed a picture of her before and after, but it was reversed. The before picture was her starving herself to be thinner than her healthy weight to compete in a fitness competition. The after picture was her living a more balanced life, and she had gained some weight and had a tummy. The fact that a woman loving her healthy, normal body as-is made national news is very telling. 

Loving your body as-is, right now, has nothing to do with wanting a healthy or healthier lifestyle. You can practice body positivity right now even if you are making changes and improvements to your eating habits along the way.

Read more body positivity blogs here. 

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