The real reason you think, “I can’t accept this body”

“I can’t accept this body”

I hear this phrase repeatedly when I talk to women about body acceptance.

When they say this to me, I know they’re worried that acceptance will mean letting their body go.

So in this post, I’m breaking down the fears about body acceptance, and explaining why it doesn’t mean you give up on, or stop caring about your body.

Listen or read below:

I can’t accept this body – why you resist acceptance

When a woman says to me, “I can’t accept this body”, I know she’s worried that acceptance will mean:

  • Giving up on being healthy
  • Using it as an excuse to never exercise
  • Having no control over what she eats
  • Having no purpose if she’s not chasing the perfect body

There is so much resistance to body acceptance because it goes against everything you’ve learnt about your body from diet and beauty culture.

These industries profit from you believing that your life purpose is to have the ‘perfect’ body. But these standards of beauty are constantly shifting and forever out of reach, meaning that you must work harder to get anywhere near them.

You’ve internalised these ideals and invested so much time and effort into achieving them, that you feel like a failure when you can’t achieve them or a quitter if you give up on them (which you’re not, because they’re unattainable!).

You assume that if you aren’t actively working towards a better body through diet, beauty regimes or relentless exercise that you can’t be healthy or happy.

And if you give up on doing all these things, you believe that you can’t do anything that is nourishing or caring for your body.

To top it all off, if you’re heavily invested in achieving a better body, you’ve probably lost touch with who you really are and what lights you up. You might worry about how you’ll fill your life if you stop chasing the ideal body.

What body acceptance really means

If you feel, “I can’t accept this body”, I get it. It’s hard to let go of years of conditioning and what feels like years of hard work and dedication.

But, if you’re feeling this way, you’re not seeing body acceptance for what it really is.

Letting go of oppressive messages

The industries that profit from body insecurities carefully create their marketing messages to make you feel like a loser if you embrace your body; the subtext behind each message is, “I can’t accept this body or I won’t be loveable, desirable or successful”.

But body acceptance means letting go of these oppressive messages that hold you back from living a freer, more peaceful and fulfilling life.

So, if body acceptance isn’t giving up on health and letting yourself go, what is it?

It’s about being kinder and more compassionate to yourself, which is the opposite of giving up!

Quite simply, you are never going to treat yourself well by shaming your body and punishing it with restrictive diets and exercise regimes.

It’s virtually impossible to treat something well that you hate.

Treat your body with kindness and compassion

Imagine owning a home that you hate. Would you want to take care of it? More likely, you’d be far less motivated to clean, tidy and add loving touches to it.

It’s the same with your body. When you hate it and shame it, you become disconnected from it. You’re not listening to what it needs, whether that’s food, movement, or rest.

So, you starve it, push it to the point of exhaustion and then won’t rest when you get sick, all the while saying your body is against you. How is that healthy?

What if you decided to treat your body with more kindness? Each day tune into what your body needs. What do you notice? Are you hungry and need to eat? Are you full? What movement does your body want? Or do you need to rest? How is that unhealthy or giving up? It’s a much healthier approach!

Embracing body acceptance

If you’re still struggling with the idea of body acceptance, ask, how has not accepting your body worked for you so far? How do you feel most days?

Counting calories, shaming yourself in the mirror, feeling guilting for eating, punishing your body at the gym, comparing your body, panicking when you step on the scales don’t make you feel good!

The paradox is that you can only change how you feel about yourself (and your body) through unconditional acceptance. Acceptance is precisely what allows you to treat yourself better and feel that you are worthy.

And while diets are designed to fail, you can’t fail at acceptance. You can’t be a failure while learning to treat your body with kindness and recognise your worth.

There is so much more to gain. Imagine:

  • Spending less time thinking negatively about your body
  • Moving your body because it feels good, not to burn calories
  • Not feeling like you must earn your food

How might that feel? When you let go of the restrictive body ideals that keep you stuck in the shackles of body hate, your life opens up.

And when that happens, what might you have more room for in your life?

Working towards body acceptance – self-reflection

Body acceptance is NOT giving up on your body or being unhealthy, quite the opposite! It’s an active practice that allows you to treat your body with greater care and respect, which can only be healthy!

If you’re someone who feels, “I can’t accept this body”, take a moment to reflect on what I’ve said in this post.

So, to help with your self-reflection, I’ve got a few coaching questions for you:

  • Where does the belief, “I can’t accept this body?” come from?
  • Do I respect and trust the source of this belief?
  • Has my belief shifted because of what I’ve just read? If so, how?
  • What’s my biggest take away from this post?
  • What’s one small step I can take to embrace body acceptance?

I’d love to hear your answers to any or all these self-reflection questions. Please let me know in the comments.

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