If you're at a happy place with your body, then you probably don't need to read this, but if—on the other hand—you're one of the nearly 80% people who feel less than thrilled about their physicality, then it may be worth examining body neutrality.
This concept, reportedly coined by college fitness instructor Anne Poirier in 2015, is gaining traction as one of the best and most realistic philosophies you can aim to develop with your body.
Keep reading. We’re going to tell you all about it.
What is Body Neutrality?
It Starts By Not Attaching Morality to the Way You Feel About Your Body
Feeling great about your body? Cool.
Feeling less than stellar about your physique? That's cool too.
Body neutrality is a philosophy that states you can feel whatever way you want about your body, and it has no bearing on your worth as a person.
What's more, body neutrality is more invested in what your body can do, not what it looks like. So it doesn't matter if you don't feel amazing about how your body looks in a string bikini. Body neutrality puts more emphasis on your ability to do things that bring you joy, like playing with your kids, or trekking to the top of a mountain to watch a stunning sunset.
If you’ve been training with us, you can probably see why we love the body neutrality ideology so much. Yes, feeling strong and sexy is great, but what’s even better than that are the amazing everyday accomplishments your body is capable of achieving.
You only have to catch a class on BR+ to get caught up in this vibe. We’re all about coming to class as we are, and doing what we can. We’re not about oppressive, impossible expectations. See for yourself.
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Body Neutrality vs. Body Positivity: What’s the Difference?
The sentiment of body neutrality is a stark contrast to body positivity, which places an emphasis on feeling good about your body 24/7.
Elizabeth Wassenaar, a psychiatrist and medical director of the Eating Recovery Center in Denver, Colorado, says body positivity, "can be sometimes a stretch for people because we live in an environment that does not necessarily encourage women feel positive about their bodies.”
What's more, you can practice body neutrality and still desire to change your body, whether it be through workouts or cosmetic surgery. This is because body neutrality slowly allows people to see that physicality isn't the pinnacle of happiness, so even if a person wants a different nose or a perkier backside, they are also aware that these changes won't necessarily make them more fulfilled on the whole.
Mindfulness and Body Neutrality
A final tenant of the body neutrality philosophy we want to focus on is mindfulness: being present in the here and now. For this reason, diet and fitness routines that encourage individuals to focus on their future self and what they aspire to look like (like with before and after photos) isn't always helpful to achieving the everyday mindfulness that's part and parcel of body neutrality.
How to Achieve Body Neutrality
Mindfulness is by far the best strategy to embrace body neutrality.
If you have a bad thought about yourself, don't react negatively to that: don't get frustrated or angry with yourself. Just allow the thought to pass over you as how you feel now. Having the thought doesn't make you a bad person.
Similarly, practicing intuitive, mindful eating is a wonderful way to embrace body neutrality. Intuitive eating simply means listening to your body and what it wants. This may seem like a simple tactic but for people who are used to following strict diets and ignoring their body's natural cues for hunger and satiety, learning to eat intuitively can be a personal Everest.
Intuitive exercise is another fantastic way to take on body neutrality. As with intuitive eating, you ask yourself what type of movement you feel like doing and then do that: you don't force yourself to do workouts you don't feel like doing.
Learn more: What is Intuitive Exercise and How You Do It
Entire books, courses and rehab therapies have been designed to teach people how to eat and exercise intuitively and it's certainly not our intention to oversimplify things here. Rather, we want to encourage you to explore ways of thinking and being that help you live your healthiest, happiest life. For many people, adopting a body neutral attitude is a fantastic way to begin doing just that.
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