We live in a strange time. There’s a seemingly constant push from the media and society to be thin, to get skinny, to be a certain size, a certain physique. But, simultaneously, there’s a huge campaign for self-love, loving your body at any and every size, and general body acceptance. It’s hard to not feel like it’s an “either/or” proposition. How can you love yourself, love your body, and still be looking to lose weight, or add muscle, or change shape? And conversely, how can you possibly say you won’t “love” yourself until you are a certain size, certain weight, can lift a particular amount?

I want you to embrace a new mantra – “both/and”. You can both love yourself right now, and want to make changes or improvements. You can both be working to lose weight, and indulging your love of pastries now and again. You can both flaunt your body at the beach this summer, and be training in the gym to flaunt a more chiseled one next summer. Just like the rest of our lives, our body and our health is a journey. Admitting that you’d like to lose some weight doesn’t mean you don’t or can’t or shouldn’t love yourself now. This body of yours is getting you through each day. This body of yours has gotten you to where you are right now. This body of yours is what will get you to the next place you choose to go in your life.

But, loving your body means more than just loving your size. You can certainly love your body, your curves, your extra pounds, or “more” to love, but you can also realize that your health might require weight loss, more exercise, a better diet. That doesn’t mean you have to hate your body. On the contrary – because you love your body, you might need to make changes to make sure you keep that body around for longer! And if you’re eating healthy, exercising, have a strong bill of health, but aren’t a size 2? That’s awesome too! Being your best self isn’t about your pant size or your weight on the scale. Yes, those things might decrease as you make changes to improve your health, but that’s not, or at least really shouldn’t be, the goal.

Make changes because it’s best for you and your health and increases the likelihood that you’ll be around to enjoy your family, friends, and life for a long, long time. If your pant size changes along the way, great. If it doesn’t, that’s great too! Love yourself at every size, but don’t let that love of yourself now prevent you from making changes. Loving your current size isn’t an excuse to not change it if that’s what’s best for your health.

Aubrey Phelps MS RDN LDN