Based in Frome, somerset, #fitMess is a blog by Joanna Beale. Her posts draw on her work as a personal trainer, as well as her own personal past experience of significant obesity.  Her general focus is overall wellness and body positivity.

Body Acceptance: exercising, not exorcising

Body acceptance: exercising, not exorcising

#fitMess is for every body - every body you can imagine. Everyone starts somewhere, and it's important to remember acceptance of our own bodies is not about giving in or giving up. It's doing what you can with what you've got at any given moment. You may not be able to run a marathon (yet), but if you can run, you can run 100m today. Maybe you can run 500m next week, and by the end of 12 weeks, perhaps 5km. Perhaps you can't run (yet); you could walk 1km really fast, maybe by the end of the month you can run 500m. OR maybe you try it for a month, and you really don't enjoy running. So, don't fucking run. Challenge yourself, don't punish yourself. Exercise not exorcise: for wellness, not for punishment. Attaching negativity to anything will eventually result in it being an unpleasant obligation. I promise there is a form of exercise you will love, but it may not always be the same thing as it is today. You may even love something that feels unnatural at first, you might need to practice and practice until you get it right. Or you might get stuck in a rut, and you just need to shake up your routine or give yourself a kick up the arse. But, I digress.

Some of the most damaging behaviours that I see, as a trainer, are patterns of self loathing. Overeating, comfort eating, exercise to try to counteract excessive eating or drinking, self sabotage, self hate, negative dialogue... These thoughts of inadequacy, deeply entrenched, cause clients to hate their own bodies, effectively closing off their minds to the concept of physical achievement or even basic enjoyment of their physical being. Self loathing can come from a thousand different places, and in my experience it seems often to be rooted in a fairly dark, emotionally complicated, place. It can be deeply uncomfortable to confront the reasons that you hate your body, as it usually goes significantly deeper than just thinking 'I am fat = I am bad'*. Sometimes it stems from an extrapolation; for example, there was a time that [body part] did not/ does not function >>> therefore, my body is useless and I hate it/myself. It happens after illness, injury, surgery and is often true in people who have experienced fertility issues or pregnancy difficulties. Some of the most heartbreaking cases of self loathing I've seen have been in clients who are trapped in cycles of punishment and self-sabotage because they feel they have not been or are not able to be 'proper' women or men; they disconnect with their physical selves as they struggle to deal with this complex emotional difficulty. Much the same pattern of behaviour can occur in victims of abuse, people with gender and/or sexuality/identity issues and even those stuck in an unsatisfying career/relationship holding pattern.

Unravelling the emotional distress** is the key to unlocking the physical potential, and the process takes both time and effort. For a place of peace to be found between the mind and the body, acceptance of your own physical form must take place. The body you are in will perform a lot better for you if you treat it well, if you talk to it kindly, if you listen to its needs. Hating your body will only result in self destruction and misery. Everyone's body is different and every body has both strengths and weaknesses. Some bodies have recurring injuries. Some bodies only have one, two or three limbs. Some bodies have only one kidney. Some bodies cannot see or hear. Some bodies are not fertile. Some bodies have been damaged or injured and will never be the same. Not a single one of these states of physical existence have any bearing on the value of the person who owns the body. You can learn to accept (and, yes, even love) your body whilst improving your physical fitness; you'd be surprised how much quicker you can lose weight or gain weight - depending on your goals - by not fighting with yourself in the mirror every day or facing demons at every meal.

You are not useless, worthless, stupid or ugly. Your body may be old, fat, bony, hurt, awkward, painful, ill or broken but that does not make you less of a person. Acceptance can only take place in the present moment. You cannot defer it to the future. So all of you who made it this far, and you're thinking, well sure, that sounds good, I'll do it when I've lost 20lbs... it doesn't work like that. You need to accept your body in the now in order to move forward. It is perfectly you, and you are amazing.

#fitMess: doing what you can with what you've got at any given moment.

*this is, of course, not true

**please, if you need to, seek professional psychological help with any difficult emotional issues, no matter how small you might think they are. There is no shame in looking after both your mental and your physical health - and you will reap the benefits in the long run ❤

Jo x
Joanna Beale
Personal Trainer


Reality check

Defining #fitMess