I Am Body Positive AND Losing Weight

I am overweight. In no way does that mean that I am not as beautiful, sexy, fun or any other positive trait that is often exclusively associated with thin women. Beauty and body size aren’t mutually exclusive, and while I have struggled to love and accept my body in the past, I now have a greater appreciation and pride for the person I am today.

Our generation has been privileged enough to witness the establishment and growth of the body positivity movement and watched as it stretched globally and impacted millions of people. More than ever before, women of all shapes and sizes are being celebrated and, to be frank, it’s about damn time. It’s so refreshing to see women who, while battling their share of insecurities, are still putting their best foot forward, are confident and are actively deciding that the body they have is worthy of all the love and recognition that the universe has to offer.

Plus size models and social media influences, like Stephanie Yeboah, Brielle Anyea Cunningham, and Ashley Graham are killing the game with their push for acceptance, body confidence and unique fashion sense. However, there has been a recent debate that questions whether plus size women, especially influencers, can still be considered body positive when they are purposefully losing weight. And I must admit, these notions have even made me stop to question my values. There are a couple reasons for this: one, I am an overweight woman and a huge supporter of the body positive movement, and two, because I am in the process of losing weight myself.

I want to be able to enjoy my body and all of its capabilities, to live freely without limitations (whether that be physical or mental). But, unfortunately, I don’t feel that I’m able to do that at my current size. Despite the naysayers, I know that I can still be an agent for body positivity while losing weight, and I can definitely love my body as its appearance changes.

So, without further ado, here are three ways that working out has further inspired my interests in healthy living and body positivity:

1. I feel more in tune with my body

Through this experience, I have been surprised again and again by my body’s resilience and strength. With each workout, I’m able to give a little more than before and am very pleased with the results. I feel that I am a much better listener. I have a deeper understanding of what my body is asking of me, whether it is nutrient-dense food, more water or rest. I feel able to provide those things without pressure to overindulge.

2. My mental health has improved

I’ve recently noticed that my stress levels have decreased, and I am far less tense than my past selves. I won’t lie and claim that I look forward to my workouts. I’m not there yet. But every time that I workout, I’m always pleased with my results. I feel a sense of pride to have kept my pledge to be disciplined and consistent. I always feel accomplished, and my general disposition has been more optimistic.

3. I feel more confident

Confidence is certainly a feeling that I’ve been hoping to exude more of, but I wasn’t expecting exercise to be the one to lure it out. The intense pride that I feel as a result of this lifestyle change has drastically diminished old feelings of insecurity or doubt and has allowed me to feel centered and in control. I have experienced a new surge of confidence and am more interested in doing things that I often shied away from, like taking pictures or clothes shopping with friends.

No matter your body type, we should all be eager to express love and appreciation for our bodies,whatever form it may take. The biggest lesson that I am taking away from this experience is the importance of expressing gratitude, no matter how little. While I may be troubled from time to time by feelings of insecurity (I am human after all), I do my best to remind myself that all forms of progression take time and that while I haven’t achieved my goal yet, the lessons learned throughout the journey are what truly matter.