Strength training is a powerful tool that can help improve our overall health and wellness. It can benefit our physical health, mental health, and help us become more resilient and capable in our everyday lives. Unfortunately, the fitness industry can often be a daunting and exclusivist space that reinforces weight loss goals and negative body image. For plus-sized individuals, the added layer of diet talk and fatphobia can sometimes feel like an insurmountable barrier to entry. Fortunately, there are ways to approach strength training that don’t center weight loss or degrade individuals based on their size.
1. Focus on Strength Goals Instead of Weight Loss Goals
If you’re new to strength training, it’s easy to fall into the trap of setting weight loss-specific goals. However, these goals can be triggering for those struggling with body image or disordered eating patterns. Instead, focus on strength-based goals like being able to lift heavier weights, perform more pushups, or complete a full set of pull-ups. By shifting the focus away from weight loss, you can create a healthier and more inclusive environment that welcomes individuals of all sizes and shapes.
2. Find Trainers or Communities That Embrace Body Diversity
Sometimes, finding a safe and welcoming space to work out in can be challenging. If you’re struggling to find a gym or trainer that embraces body diversity, try searching online for virtual communities or trainers that specialize in inclusive fitness. Social media is also a great resource for finding body-positive accounts that showcase real-life bodies of all shapes and sizes. Having a supportive community can make all the difference in creating a long-term and sustainable strength training routine.
3. Create a Plan that Works for You
Strength training can feel daunting at first, but with a little bit of planning and preparation, it can quickly become an enjoyable part of your self-care routine. Start by creating a strength training plan that focuses on exercises that you enjoy and are attainable for your fitness level. Consider working with a trainer or taking a virtual class to learn proper form and technique. And, most importantly, be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate this new territory.
4. Focus on Non-Scale Victories
While it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers on the scale, it’s important to recognize that strength training can impact your body and mind in many ways beyond weight loss. Track your progress by celebrating non-scale victories like increased energy, improved sleep, better posture, or decreased pain. Focusing on these non-financial benefits can create a more positive and empowering mindset around strength training.
5. Experiment and Have Fun
Finally, it’s essential to remember that exercise should be enjoyable! Instead of seeing strength training as a chore, approach it as a fun and engaging way to challenge and empower yourself. Try new exercises, experiment with different equipment, and don’t be afraid to switch up your routine to keep things fresh and engaging. The key is to find a routine that works for you and supports your overall health and wellbeing.
Strength training should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their size or shape. By focusing on strength-based goals, finding supportive communities, creating a safe and supportive plan, celebrating non-scale victories, and prioritizing enjoyment and experimentation, anyone can create a sustainable and empowering strength training routine. Remember, fitness is not a one-size-fits-all approach, and there is no single right way to do things. With patience, persistence, and a little bit of self-love, anyone can start their strength training journey today.