You love your body, but what if you STILL want more?

shutterstock_70910263Chances are, you’ve seen those articles about loving your body—exactly as it is—no matter what your size or shape.

So let’s hear it—have YOU learned to accept yourself, flaws and all? Are you like, “Every one of my butt dimples defines my magnificence!” Or do you affirm, “My muffin top is a direct extension of unstoppable, sexy ME!” Or maybe you shout from the rooftops, “Me and my arm flaps RULE, sistas!”

If any of these scenarios ring true, then YOU GO. I mean that. Own your jiggle. Wiggle it proudly. You got to shake what ya mama gave ya, right?

Loving your body exactly as it is means you’re in a unique position to gain stamina, speed, agility and strength from a positive place. It’s rare to find an avid exerciser who doesn’t want to change anything about themselves.

But can you love yourself exactly as you are AND want to change yourself? You bet that fine a** you can.

Here’s how I see it.

My body is just like yours – to a point, and also unique in its dimensions and proportions. I worked long and hard to reshape my body, but I’m still a work in process learning to like what I see in the mirror. Learning to stop comparing myself to fitness models or to my clients and to stop believing that my body should look a certain way in order to hold value.

My body is my vehicle. It moves me from place to place. It lifts heavy loads, and carries precious cargo—a.k.a. my kid. It sustains my very life, and for that miraculous job, I am eternally grateful. I love my body for that.

I also see (lots of) room for improvement and know that my body is malleable and will bend, mold and shape according to the stresses and demands I place on it, and for that miracle of plasticity I am also eternally grateful. I love witnessing the birth of a bulging tricep muscle or knowing that all those deadlifts and heavy Kettlebell swings (OK, and genetics) have given me a “kettlebooty” or seeing definition come to life in my quads (no thigh gap here).

Know this: you can love yourself AND work to achieve the physique of your dreams. Just know that there are limits, defined mostly by your skeleton. So love your diminutive (or extra-long) height, your wide (or narrow) pelvis, short (or long) waist and broad (or narrow) shoulders. And work with the flexible systems: muscular, digestive, cardiovascular.

It’s like the serenity prayer, for your body:

“Lord, give me the strength (literally!) to change the things I can, the courage to accept (and love!) the things I can’t, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

Don’t EVER feel like you’re being shallow or ungrateful for wanting to change the way you look. You know beauty when you see it, whether you’re looking at a flower, a building, or a body. Aesthetically pleasing shapes excite the eye and stimulate the mind. They bring a sense of contentment and indescribable satisfaction.

In fact, speaking of buildings, imagine you’re house hunting. After looking at dozens of duds, you find the house of your dreams. The house you love has excellent bones but is in dire condition. The plumbing is old, the wiring is ancient, there are stained ceiling tiles, and matted wall-to-wall carpeting. Are you going to take the house and not renovate? Hell no. You’re going to lovingly, patiently and enthusiastically restore it to its utmost potential. You’re going to live in it for goodness sake! You wouldn’t say, “Oh I love this house just the way it is. So what if the sink drips and it smells like mold and my mother is afraid to sit down anywhere in the thing. It’s perfect just the way it is!” And you’d never feel guilty about sprucing it up.

The same goes for your body, and, like that house—even more so, YOU LIVE IN YOUR BODY. So go ahead and renovate. Sculpt the body of your dreams using exercise and food.

And love yourself no matter what.

Skinny Jeans Happy