I was chatting with a friend recently when she sheepishly mentioned something she wanted to change about her body.
“I don’t know if I want to tell you,” she squeaked out tentatively.
“It’s fine; just tell me,” I responded with a smile.
“But I feel conflicted about this change in some ways myself; it makes me feel like I might not be fully accepting of my body.”
I laughed and said, “Who is?”
But I also followed up and said: “People get the mistaken idea that acceptance means you never change, but that couldn’t be true even if we wanted it to be. Our bodies are always changing, so acceptance can never be a static thing.”
I believe deeply that acceptance is always shifting, at least a little, because so are we; to me, that’s an indisputable fact. Every day, things about our bodies are changing. Some are imperceptible (like what’s happening on a cellular level). Some we know about but don’t register most of the time (like hair growing, skin cells shedding, etc.). And some are things about our bodies that we might want to change.
For example, we might want to move our bodies more because it feels good (hello, walk I took this morning on a beautiful day!). We might shift what we eat from season to season because our bodies are craving something different (nothing is less appealing to me than a salad in winter, but in summer, I love it!). We might want to make our bodies more flexible so we can keep ourselves resilient in the face of a potential fall (after years of falling constantly, I finally started working with the mobility in my feet and ankles, and now it happens much less often).
Body acceptance doesn’t mean you never change. To me, it means you tune into your body’s current needs and meet them based on moving, eating and otherwise nourishing yourself in ways that work for you — not based only on the scale like, I, for one, did for decades.
Here’s the thing: you can make anything a hammer over your own head. That can be as true if the hammer is a diet as if it’s thinking there’s an end point to body acceptance and you’ll never get “there.”
The point isn’t to get a new hammer.
It’s to put the hammer down.