BODY NEUTRALITY AND THE HOLIDAYS - Dirigo Collective | Media Company


It’s that time of year when we get concerned about those extra pounds that tend to creep up during the holidays.

There are endless articles out there citing tips on how to avoid pesky holiday weight gain. There’s always some new trend we are supposed to be following. It can feel like there is no escaping the flurry of ads that promote weight-loss, dieting and at home stationary bicycles.

Just look at this stat by Pathmatics which recorded a four-fold increase in ad spending across the fitness and weight-loss category from October 2019 to January 2020. Total spend across the category in October and November was only $62M, whereas spend from December 1 to January 21 was an estimated $273.4M!

How do we manage the media’s impact on our body image?

I recently learned a term called Body Neutrality. It’s the practice of accepting your body in its current state for what it can do, rather than focusing on how it looks.

Hmmm… interesting. You mean it’s ok to simply be ok with your body?

We’ve been conditioned to equate our self worth to our physical appearance, so when I heard the term body neutrality, it really spoke to me. The idea behind this practice is to be grateful for a body that is able to get you from point A to point B and to focus on your body’s incredible ability as opposed to how thin you are.

It’s a slightly different mindset than being body positive which tends to focus on all bodies being beautiful and loving your body no matter what it looks like. Body neutrality emphasizes achievements vs. appearance and that can be very inspiring.

It’s not always easy to love your body.

Being body positive might not be attainable for some people.

Over the last several years, I’ve seen two of my very best friends struggle with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a disabling disease of the brain and spinal cord. This disease can cause permanent damage to the nerves. There is no cure for it.

The condition is so severe for one friend that she is no longer able to walk independently. She uses a walker and will need a wheelchair in the not too distant future. It’s no surprise that this has impacted her both physically and mentally. She has expressed feelings of embarrassment, shame and depression. Focusing on a few extra holiday pounds is not something either of these women are concerned with. Finding joys like getting out of the house to meet long time friends, the ability to bake holiday cookies with a preschooler or the simple pleasure of being able to hold a small child are far more important. I have seen these fearless women be very intentional with their efforts to stay connected to friends and family. They watch their thoughts (depression is one of the most common symptoms of MS). They surround themselves with positive people, simplify their life, stay mobile and know when not to push their body too hard.

Their journey to embracing body neutrality came over time.

It’s not always realistic for people to love their body no matter what but you can be neutral about it – accept it, appreciate and recognize what it can do for you.

Holiday, gratitude and those extra pounds.

This holiday season, take time to be mindful of your body. Respect and care for it. Get proper rest, eat well and exercise. So what if you gain a pound…or two. Find gratitude in what remarkable abilities your body can do for you.