Monday, June 22, 2015

What Is A Body Positive Athlete?

http://www.mirrorwatching.com
Today I have on the blog someone who has been become a huge inspiration to me in my fitness journey.  I discovered her Facebook group Body Positive Athletes while I was training for my Duathlon and I was blown away with the support, encouragement and kindness she and the other participants of her page share. It was via this group that a whisper sprung up in my mind that I was indeed an athlete.  If you have been following my story you will know that that is a tremendous breakthrough.  Please welcome Leah Gilbert to Mirror Watching!  It is an honor.

MW: Leah, please introduce yourself.

LG: My name is Leah, I'm 36, a mother of two (3 years & 8 weeks), endurance athlete, Body Positive Fitness Advocate and Specialist Fitness Instructor. I live in NSW Australia. I am the founder of Body Positive Athletes, a community of awesome people who believe the term 'athletic' defines a lifestyle and not a body type. I and am a Brand Ambassador for both 2XU Australia and Lola Getts.

MW:  Leah, for many people this may be the first time the are hearing the term ‘Body Positive Movement’. What is it and in turn what is a body positive athlete? 

LG:   The 'Body Positive' movement has many 'faces', but to me it means that we represent a belief that it is time we not only viewed our own bodies in a positive manner, but everyone else's bodies positively at the same time. It's a celebration of the diversity of our bodies and no longer feeling obliged to mold our bodies to suit what society has deemed as 'beautiful' or 'acceptable'. 

To me, a 'Body Positive Athlete' is someone who views their body in the context of how it performs for them and not what it looks like. We tend to have 3 core beliefs:
  1. We believe that the term 'athletic' defines a lifestyle and not a body shape. 
  2. We appreciate our bodies for what they do for us and we give credit to the physical activity we undertake in both training and competing in our chosen sport
  3. We believe that a person has the right to pursue their athletic or fitness dreams without a fear of being judged for what they look like doing it.
http://www.MirrorWatching.com


MW:   You are the publisher of the blog BodyPositiveAthletes.com. What prompted you to start this blog?

LG:  Funnily enough, I started it out as a page of reference for all of the media appearances and freelance writing I was starting to do. I had no intention to use it as a blog because I didn't really have the time to maintain it - or so I thought! 

One day I felt really compelled to write about something and then it went from there. I'm always humbled by the responses that my blog posts receive. I remember one of my first pieces about Plus Size Athletes was interpreted as promoting obesity.  The post went viral and had over 3,000 shares on Facebook alone. However, I get great satisfaction from readers who comment 'Thank you. I needed to read this today' or the likes.  It is encouraging to know that my post reached someone who really needed it.

"We believe that the term 'athletic' defines a 
lifestyle and not a body shape." tweet this!


MW:  Being a body positive fitness advocate and an athlete, how are you and your message being received? Are you finding any resistance or push-back from the fitness/athletic community as a whole?


LG:  To be honest, the whole 'Body Positive' movement is relatively young in Australia, so much of my audience and support base is from the US, Canada and UK.  Like anything else, when you are advocating something that people are not awakened to, you can get a lot of people that don't really understand the concept or the point of the movement. However, but when I do actually speak to people in person about what I do and the goals I have then they tend to be extremely positive and realize the value of what I do.


Unfortunately, I have found quite a bit of resistance from the Fitness arena.  Particularly when I was approaching them in context of assisting them with relating better to their plus size clientele. I used to get frustrated by it, but now I understand that they simply are not my audience.  Now I focus on the people who do need and want to hear the messages I promote.

On the flip side, of late, there have been some amazing body positive trainers and facilities who put their hands up to have their details feature on the Body Positive Trainer and Facility Directory on the blog. I really enjoy seeing them connecting with the right clients and everyone flourishing as a result. 


Perhaps most positive response I get from the health and fitness sector is from Dieticians and Nutritionists, who I think are tired of competing with the fad diet and Diet Industry in general, and are therefore happy to have some more advocates in their corner.

http://www.mirrorwatching.com
Photo Credits: Nicole Spears Photography


MW:  You have an amazing presence on Facebook with a private community of like minded individuals. Are you finding that this forum is helping people? What are some of the standout successes you are finding in the community?


LG:  Honestly, I am thankful every day for the amazing spirit of support and friendship our community has. I think it is very rare for a group of people from such diverse locations and backgrounds to have such a sense of unity, mutual respect and positivity. 

Making that subtle shift in thinking and giving more credit to your athletic and fitness endeavours really is a life changing experience for people. I see people training harder, entering 'that' event they have always wanted to, or starting to talk about their activities with a greater confidence. It really is an honor to sit back and watch people flourish. 

I believe everyone has had a standout moment within their own experiences so it's hard to single out people as there are too many! Your journey to your Duathlon would be a great example, though - by training hard, backing yourself and conquering your event you have unleashed an athlete who has realized that anything you have always dreamed of doing is only a good training plan and your determination away Smiling face with smiling eyes


MW:  Leah you are so right!  I remember you saying that to me when you inquired as to how the event went; it was an epiphany moment for me. It put into words to elation of the how if felt to conquer something that once was impossible for me and it provided the strategy of how to achieve it again the next time.  Thank you so much for that! 

Well, Leah this was an awesome interview.  Thank you for agreeing to do it.  Thank you for the concept of Body Positive Athletes by definition.  I hope that it gives as much hope and light to others as it has given to me.  I wish you continued success in every aspect of your life and purpose.

To read Leah's blog please pop over to Body Positive Athletes.  Also join the Facebook group to offer encouragement and be encouraged!

Did you enjoy this interview?  If so, please leave a comment below, noting a standout point for you.

Are you a Body Positive Athlete?

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48 comments :

  1. Great philosophy and love the idea behind it. We should all be proud of our bodies and our accomplishments

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  2. I love this idea and did I see that correctly 8 week baby I looked a mess after my baby was 3 months. I love when you can gather a community of people together for health love it

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  3. Great post! We all have to feel good about what we are doing and where we are at.

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  4. Love this! I'm working on being proud of my own body

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  5. What a great approach to life! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. What an inspiring woman! I love the term body positive! Amen sister! We all need to be this way!

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  7. Hey! Thanks for sharing this wonderful woman. It is great she is creating a positive space for women on her blog and in the group...

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  8. This is awesome! Tweeted the quote and joined the FB group :)

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    1. Thanks for tweeting Jill and I hope you enjoy the group. There are some awesome people in there.

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  9. Thanks for sharing this! It is so important we accept and love ourselves. She is such an inspiration.

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  10. This is pretty cool and inspirational. Glad you shared her story!

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  11. Such a great and needed movement! Glad you shared this with us!

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  12. Such a POSITIVE energy and focus. I am going to check this group out. Thanks for the introduction!

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  13. I love her attitude and her philosophy that athletic is a lifestyle and not a body type. She is very motivational.

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  14. I love this and think it's so important to realize we're all more than how we look.

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  15. LOVE this message behind the Body Positive Movement. Thanks for sharing it with us :D

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  16. Very important and needed post! Thanks for sharing this with us. I hope everyone joins the Body Positive Movement!

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  17. Great post Gina! I love the idea of embracing the Body Positive Movement. Awesome interview!

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  18. Great interview! Whenever I feel down on myself I always remind myself the amazing things this body has done (half marathons, marathons, lifting). etc. and am grateful for just having the ability to do those things!

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  19. Love this! It's always so great to have such positive perspectives!

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  20. Great interview and I love her message. The images in the media of not just models and actors but also athletes is all the same. Everyone is built differently and she do whatever they enjoy to stay fit! I take barre classes but I do feel kinda crappy half the time cause all the instructors and participants are skinny! But I go anyway cause I enjoy it.

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  21. The positive body movement is something everyone needs to be apart of.

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  22. Great interview! Body acceptance is self-acceptance and self-love!!

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  23. THIS IS AWESOME!!! I'm all about this...I think we as women are too scared about waht people might think...we have to look perfect to work out...we have to be in shape already to run a local race...NO NO NO...just move and love your body who cares what you look like!

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  24. LOVE this! We are more than just our bodies! We need more women with messages like this.

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  25. I just love this!!! I have never heard the term before but love the entire philosophy! Thanks for introducing her and highlighting her work! :)

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  26. Always enjoy your post...wishing you great success!!

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  27. Really nice interview! I never heard of body positive athletes but I love it! Let's focus on what our bodies can do instead of what they look like...I'm totally on board!

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  28. Great philosophy and outlook!

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  29. Great post. The way I see it, my legs may not be the "best looking" according to beauty standards, but they are awesome because they can do a great mae geri (frontal kick) ;-)

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  30. I have never heard that term before - thank you so much for introducing me to it!

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    1. You are welcome! It is a very new movement.

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  31. I never heard of this before. Great interview.

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    1. Tess, I only heard about it recently myself and I loved the concept.

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  32. Such a wonderful interview! We need more people who promote health, wellness, and loving our bodies instead of fad diets and fitting the media's portrayal of what an athlete should look like. Thank you for this!

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    1. So true Amanda. I'm glad yo enjoyed the post.

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  33. I love this perspective on our bodies. Not everyone is at the same level, but we can celebrate where we are and where we'd like to be. Thanks for linking up to Small Victories Sunday Linkup!

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  34. I try to be body positive, appreciating what my body can do for me, but it's hard when it's fighting back so much now that I've hit my goal weight.

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    1. Wow, Cassandra! Congrats on meeting your goal. I say maintence is the twin to the weightloss beast. I wish you the best.

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