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Body Neutrality: A Rest-Stop Between Body-Hate and Body-Love and How to Get There

MAC Fitness Team - Thursday, November 08, 2018

We, as perfectly-flawed humans, can be easily influenced by the media. How many hours are spent glued to cell phones, scanning the plethora of media outlets (social media included) for answers to our questions and solutions to our problems? Through the media, we can find ourselves exposed and somewhat vulnerable to the images of celebrities and fashion models exhibiting what we perceive are perfect bodies and ideal physiques. Who hasn't longed for a magical anti-wrinkle cream, a fat-melting diet or supplements to make us stronger, bigger, and faster? In these moments of desire, we often forget to consider everybody is different and can easily slip into unrealistic comparisons. Instead of deploying a healthy, positive mindset to fight off the criticisms, we often fall victim to the negative self-talk. Sadly, there begins the pattern of disliking our bodies and ourselves.

Negative self-talk decreases self-esteem and motivation, which in turn can cause even more body-dissatisfaction and increased self-hate. It truly becomes a vicious cycle. Examples of negative self-talk include:
  • "Last night I ate two pieces of cake. Now I’ve probably gained weight, and will have to work twice as hard to lose those few pounds!"
  • "I don’t really have time to exercise today, so I might as well do nothing!"
  • "When I wear this dress, I look fat!"
  • "I'll never have six-pack abs like the guy on the cover of [insert title of men's magazine here]."
To break this cycle, we must find a way to appreciate ourselves as we are and be grateful for the things made possible with the bodies we have! Body-positivity is something to should strive for, but it is challenging and requires practice. Recognizing everybody is unique and identifying individual needs are two skills which may help. Ultimately, each mindful moment of practice can be a step toward feeling more positive overall and also help with body-specific positivity. Body-positivity affirmations can include:
  • "Dear body, I thank you, for being extraordinary and allowing me to do the things I do every day!"
  • "Today I will nourish and cherish my body; it’s the only one I’ve got!"
  • "My body is my temple."
  • "My body is strong."
If body-positivity feels impossible or disingenuous at first, start with practicing body-neutrality. Think of body-neutrality as a rest-stop between body-negativity (body-hate) and body-positivity (body-love). Body-neutrality can be a strategy rather than the act of actual body acceptance. With body-neutrality, the focus is on the present and showing appreciation for what is and what your body is now (instead of focusing on what it isn’t). Examples of body-neutral statements include:
  • "I am going to the gym tonight. I’ve been sitting on the train all day and it would feel great to move my body."
  • "I need to look in the mirror before I leave to make sure I removed all the tags from my jacket.
  • "I like this dress. It is very comfortable!"
  • "I like this shirt. It looks like it was tailored just for me!"
Tips on how to reach a neutral body mindset and feel more comfortable in your own skin:
  • Acknowledge the negative self-talk and be able to recognize it (without more judgment!). 
  • As a way to create space and move from reaction to response, take a nice deep breath.
  • Recognize the body shaming and think, 'I know this way of thinking, but I am going to try it a different way today.'
  • Exercise progressive affirmations. Start with the body-neutral category and slowly progress to body-positive when you feel ready to experiment.
  • Know this takes time to improve and don't shame yourself more if you fall back into old habits.

Masha Proshutina, MAC Fitness Professional, loves to keep fitness fun for her clients while seeing them make progress. To learn more about Masha or get in touch click HERE.

The information presented here is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or health condition. As always, please speak with your health care provider before beginning an exercise program and any modifications to physical activity.