Is it possible to accept myself but still want to change?

confidence mindset self-love Feb 09, 2018

Something I’ve been pondering lately is whether I can say I am truly “embracing” my body if I still really would like to change it so it was timely when I came across an article by Miranda Larbi on addressing this very issue.  

If I am learning to “love” my body and be positive about it can I still want to lose weight, is that being authentic or just saying the words? There has been a dramatic increase in the media and social media about loving your body the way it is which can lead to feeling guilty and confused about wanting to change it.  For me, it all depends on the reasons why you want to change and the position from which you are undertaking that change.

Having come from a place where I hated my body and those feelings greatly effecting my confidence and participation in life, to one where I can accept it and celebrate what my body can do, it’s hard to know whether I would have reached this place without losing a fair amount of weight along the way. 

What I do know is that my weight is no longer how I define myself. 

I used to feel and assume, whether rightly or wrongly, that my size would be one of the first things people would think of when you mentioned me.  It didn’t matter what else I could do – play musical instruments to a good standard, I did well academically, was involved in growing and progressing a business – or other characteristics of myself –  I believed fat/overweight was the primary trait people would think of. 

I’d see people I hadn’t seen for ages and they’d say, “you haven’t changed” and you can guarantee I’d jump in and say something like “just fatter” assuming that’s what they would be thinking – they may well have just been pleased to see me, like I was them. 

I had a eureka moment a while ago now when I realised that most of the friends I now see regularly had all met me at my biggest so maybe people did see more to me than just being fat! 

In subsequent conversations with 2 close friends they were really surprised and said they’d only ever thought of me as Sarah, their friend.  Not that they haven’t noticed changes in the last few years – both physical and in my mindset – but that’s not what they valued about me.

I’ve had to learn to stop assuming people are judging me because of my size in the same way I’ve had to learn to stop judging myself.  I’ve moved away from an obsession with the numbers – what I weigh, measurements, dress size etc – to a place where I want to eat nutritiously and exercise because of how it makes me feel – energized, positive and strong. 

My prime concern is no longer to take up less space physically but to enjoy and participate, to feel healthy. 

I spent so many years (nearly 40!) feeling negatively about myself because of one facet to me – my size – I’ve finally realised my value does not lie there – as the adage goes “size doesn’t matter”!!  This isn’t to say I was miserable – I wasn’t, but in certain situations would be very self-concious and would not want to be the centre of attention.  On arriving at social occasions I would always try to walk in behind someone, would always hide at the back in pictures and so on – anything not to draw attention to my size.

So yes, in an ideal world I would maybe like to lose a bit more weight, be a bit slimmer but I am not going to waste any more energy worrying about it. 

That doesn’t mean I am going to give up the positive nutrition habits I’ve learned, but the weight loss, if it happens, will be a by-product of a lifestyle that is healthy for me – in every meaning of the word health – mentally and physically.  I believe you can still be positive about your body and still want to change if that is from a place of feeling worthy and that you realise your body/appearance is not what makes you valuable as a human being.

Anna Magee, CEO of Healthista, quoted by Larbi, sums it up:

Having a strong body image is really important – this is after all, one accessory you have to live with for the rest of your life, so you might as well learn to love and cherish it…. But a strong body image means different things to different people …. It means taking great care of your body, the best you can afford at whatever size you are.”


Sign up to 21 Days to Unleash Your Confidence

Use the tools daily to see your confidence soar.