Ask yourself. Am I doing this because I love my body, or am I doing this because I hate my body?

I met a friend for breakfast a couple weeks ago and we had a discussion on looking at yourself in the mirror and what body checking entailed.  Is it a bad thing to look in the mirror?

Here’s what I’ve decided.  It’s not the mirror that is evil, it’s how we use it.  

A mirror can be a tool used to body check, which can increase your negative self talk and encourage you to control and manipulate your body to a place it’s not supposed to be.  On the other hand, a mirror can be something you look in and think, “you look epic today and you’re gonna get so much done.”

There are many tools in your life that can turn into a thing that increase negative self talk and encourage you to manipulate your body.  Things that could actually be harmful could be going to the gym, eating vegetables, looking in the mirror and many others.

None of these things are negative on their own.  It’s not any particular food or going to the gym that is bad for you, it’s the intention behind the behavior.

Do you eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day because you know fruits and veggies feel good in your body or do you eat 5 servings a day because it’a rigid rule you’ve become obsessed with following?

Do you go on a walk outside because it feels awesome to move your body? Or do you go to that 5am spinning class because you have to be thin or else?

So next time you are about to do something related to food or exercise, stop and ask yourself, am I doing this because I love my body or because I hate my body?

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If it’s because you hate your body and are trying to control and manipulate it, it may be time to choose not to engage in that activity.  Instead give yourself a break from the rigid exercise or rigid meals.

For me, exercise was the thing I used to control and manipulate my body.  About a year ago I took a solid few months off exercise.  I was seeing a neurologist for lower back pain and tingling sensations in my arms and legs, which I’ve attributed to overexercise, because when I took a break from exercise the back pain got 90% better after a year or so of rest and more gentle movement.

After giving my body a break from exercise, the best thing happened.  Last Spring when I had just got back into doing some organized movement/activity, I was in a weight training type of class and started crying because I saw fat on my body (specifically where my arm meets my upper chest).  But I wasn’t crying because fat was there.  I was crying because I had no desire to change it.  I wasn’t like full on bawling in the class, but there was a glistening tear in my eye and I was like, “thank, God.”  For the first time in my entire life I wasn’t at the gym to change the fat on my body.  I was at the gym to simply move my body.  Not to manipulate my body into a place it wasn’t supposed to be.

I have fat on my body and I am healthy.  Those two things can exist at the same time.

I think it’s time for everyone to look inward and ask yourself, “Am I pursuing health, or am I pursuing an appearance?”

If you have a difficult relationship with food and your body, I hope you will look into my online course and see if it is something that resonates with you.

For more information, check out HAES or Body Respect or this Podcast and this post.

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  1. I love this post! This is such a gentle reminder that so many women need to hear. This reminded me of another approach that promotes that just as we should love fat on our body it’s OKAY (and awesome!) to love the look of muscle. Additionally it’s OKAY to love exercise (when in the right mindset, as you said) because it gives us strong muscles.
    I used to cry over the sight of fat on my body. I thought that I looked odd as I’ve always had muscular limbs (since I was eight years old, haha)  I’ve found peace loving the fat on my tummy and the strong muscles that are visible on my arms and legs.
    Body acceptance is such a tricky subject (and for the record you do a fabulous job- I get a jolt of excitement when I see posts like these from you :) ) and I think just as body-positive messages promote that fat is something to be appreciated and loved, so is muscle. I know too many college athletes that hate their build because they don’t look “feminine” enough. Love the squish and love the hard, tough muscle too! Thank you for making me think today and for your positivity everyday. :) 

  2. Thank you! This was a wonderful post to read this morning.

  3. What an encouraging post. I love these little nuggets of wisdom to just tuck away!

  4. This was such an important post for me to read… I used to be really hard on myself to get to the gym and eat healthy foods and drinks lots of water because I wanted to be skinny. Then I realized how good I was feeling from the inside out because of the healthy lifestyle I was living. And this was great! But I wouldn’t let myself cheat – at all. And when I did, I went overboard. Luckily, I am now at at a place in my life where I am accepting and thankful for the body I have – even though it’s not perfect. 

    • Hey Ellie, thanks for commenting. I totally have been where you’ve been:) I saw this thing recently that said something like, “you are not in a monogamous relationship with food. So there can be no cheat days.” I loved it! You can only “cheat” on food if you have rules set around food. So glad you’ve found a place without rules around food and exercise!!

  5. i have been wanting to talk about something similar on my blog..but im not articulate like you is really sooo important for everyone, esp women to hear this – we need to be actively working towards better health and happiness rather than the outer appearance. 

    • LOL about “i’m not articulate like you are.” Every time I’m writing I’m always thinking…”this is prob gonna make no sense to people” haha. I somehow got to a point where I decided I’m just gonna write more posts like these and hopefully someone can relate. It’s nice to find community with people like you who support this message! Thanks, Dixya!

  6. Bravo, Kylie!

    I hope you never get your kitchen back if it means these types of posts keep coming…JUST KIDDING! ;)

    This sounds crazy, but I look in the mirror a lot. Sometimes it’s to critique, but usually it’s because I’ve finally embraced my body and kinda like saying “looking good today!” and “thank you for your strength in that BODYPUMP class!”

    Anything positive and good for us can turn negative quickly if we allow it.

    Now if only I could accept my apparently-genetic “armpit fat” without wishing I could make it vanish (especially since it helped me nourish my child for 14 months!).

  7. I LOVE that you were in the gym to USE your body to move.   :)))  When that feeling comes it is SO freeing.

  8. Thank you so much for the past few posts that have carried this message. They came at the perfect time in my life, when I was starting to feel pulled back into a distorted perception of my self worth. It took me a long time, over a decade, to gain an understanding that I am not defined by anything external, only what I carry inside. Every day is still a series of conscious decisions to love and respect who I was, who I am, and who I will be. Without condition. And also to find joy in whatever my “flaws” and “imperfections” might be, to see it as a celebration of my beautiful humanity. So thank you again for sharing your own thoughts, personal battles, and epiphanies.

  9. Love your work lovely lady. Bless you and all that you do :) x

  10. Such a welcome, refreshing, and altogether timely post to read. Thank you for this… i was literally thinking along the lines of this today, particularly in relation to my running. I used to obsessively love to run, but if I’m being honest, I don’t enjoy doing it as much anymore, and have been mentally beating myself up over that.. and recently I sort of realized that though yes, i do still have a spot in my heart for it bc of a million soul-enriching reasons,  I’m largely as mentally attached to it as I am/upset about the fact that i don’t really WANT to do it as often just because of the body image reasons associated. I adore fitness and working out, and it should okay to change your preferred activity because you’re doing it purely because you enjoy it and how it makes you feel/health, rather than bc of its ability to keep you thin. I think I’m rambling now, but hopefully that made sense.:)

  11. I’ve struggled with doing things for my body because I love it or because I hate it for SO long and I’m gradually getting better every day. My body is the heaviest it’s been in 7 years and yet I’m more happy with it now than I was 5 years ago. Or even 3 years ago. Because I am the healthiest, both in body and in mind, than I’ve ever been. Thank you for this post. I’m going to share!

  12. You’re the best. Needed this post today.

  13. Wow… this is such a great post with a very powerful message. Thank you for this, couldn’t have said it better! xoxo

  14. This is so encouraging because it puts the power back in our hands. Because yeah we can look at ourselves in the mirror, step on a scale or slip into skinny jeans and be perfectly okay with what we see. Amazing post!

  15. Amazing post — thank you for spreading the body kindness love!

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  19. Yes yes yes! I remember how it felt when I fimally realised that fat is ok, it’s normal, it’s healthy, and we can have fat and be happy at the same time. It was so liberating! But equally once you’re in that good space sometimes you do want to go for an extra unplanned run one day because it’s sunny and you need the vitamin D and to get back in touch with nature. And that’s ok! Only you know your true motivation for doing something and you have to be in a place where you feel you trust your actions.

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