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You know what sucks about diet culture? It propagates this idea that people who aren’t thin aren’t actually living. And then that idea promotes the necessary disconnection with your body required to spend hundreds of dollars on fad diets and workout DVDs.

Diet culture is always all like, “Oh, once I lost a million pounds I finally did all this cool shit.” Or, “I couldn’t believe this body was hiding underneath all that fat.”

That’s ridiculous. The body you have now, with all the rolls and dimples and chubby cheeks or whatever, is just as much your body as any body you had in the past or hope to have in the future.

Appreciating the body you have is possible and necessary and healthy no matter your size or weight loss ambitions.

So, whether or not you ever lose “the” weight or the belly or the whatever, consider these tips to start to appreciate the body you have, regardless of what it looks like.

1. Ignore the numbers. The weighing, the measuring, the clothing sizes (which are, by the way, arbitrarily changed to fit retailers’ needs and not a reflection of your actual size). Don’t put so much stock in the non-essential numbers about your body. They’ll change, they don’t tell a complete story and you’ll never be happy if you’re beholden to them. Instead, look for indicators that matter: how much energy you have, how well you sleep and how you look and feel in your clothes.

2. Get new friends. The thin woman constantly asking you if something “makes her look fat?” The co-worker who’s always on some yo-yo diet? The guy who ranks every female body that walks by him? Those people are toxic to any sort of body appreciation you’re hoping to achieve and they can go. Replace with folks who know how to have a conversation about a woman that doesn’t begin and end with how she looks. People who aren’t always looking for the next diet fad (or talking your ear off about the ones they’ve tried.)

3. Show your body some love. Whether that means self-pleasure, pleasure with a partner, or both, expressing yourself sexually—without shame—may contribute to an overall sense of body appreciation. (Of course, that isn’t true for everyone, but it’s worth a try.)

4. Move around a lot. Revel in what your body can do, whether that’s climbing mountains, running a few miles or stretching it out in yoga. Don’t wait until you “get fit” or lose weight to try an activity or challenge your body. (See #5.) Don’t do activities just because they burn a lot of calories, but instead find forms of exercise that you actually like. When you’re not focusing solely on losing weight, you think of daily movement completely differently.

5. Do and wear whatever you want. Don’t let your body type or size stop you from wearing whatever the hell you want to wear. (Bikinis included.) Don’t wait until you lose weight to do whatever you want to do. Losing weight won’t change who you are and if you think you’d enjoy something as a thin person, you’d probably enjoy it just as much as a fat person.

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