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Body positivity and fitness: the two may not seem to go in hand, but they very well can. Unfortunately, exercise has become synonymous with achieving appearance-driven goals — pushing your body past its limits to look a certain way. But it definitely doesn’t have to be that way.

Fitness should ultimately be all about moving your body in a way that makes you feel good — whether that means stronger, more energized, or more flexible. Fitness should be about celebrating what your body is capable of, not seeking to achieve an unattainable figure.

So, how do you get fit while staying body positive? Simply follow these four foolproof steps.

Forget about the numbers

If you’re trying to focus on staying body positive, you’ll need to ditch any obsession over measurements, the scale, etc. Hear us out: Placing an emphasis on these numbers makes fitness all about looking a certain way. And isn’t body positivity all about embracing your unique figure? So the key is to find other ways to measure and track your progress. For example, you might find that you’re able to pick up increasingly heavier weights with every month you engage in strength training. Or maybe you’re able to go an extra quarter mile after regularly running for a few weeks. You might want to set goals for these kinds of aspects so that you can work on achieving them by a certain time frame.

Do it for the right reasons

Being motivated to work out is great. But are you motivated for the right reasons? Body positivity means you shouldn’t be exercising to reach a certain size, fit into a certain pair of jeans, or have a certain percent body fat. Some stellar reasons for working out include: being able to be more active with your young kids, feeling stronger or more energized in general, relieving stress, and improving your cardiovascular health. In other words, there is a slew of perks that come with exercising besides burning calories.

Related: A Beginner’s Guide To Body Positivity

Dress for confidence

You know how phenomenal you feel when you slip on a flawlessly fitting pair of jeans or a dress that hugs your curves in all the right places? You can’t wait to show off your ensemble, because you feel downright fabulous. Well, wearing fitness apparel that makes you feel that confident can really help in the body positivity department, too. The idea is to wear pieces that are comfortable and fit well, so you don’t have to worry about adjusting them during your workout or feeling remotely self-conscious. Because the last thing you need to be worried about while you’re lifting weights or moving through a yoga flow is how your clothes look. Besides, if you have some cute new workout clothes, you’ll be excited to flaunt them — which means you’re more likely to stick to your fitness routine. A well-fitting sports bra and quality pair of sneakers that are tailored to your form of exercise can go a long way in making you feel empowered during exercise.

Honor your limits

Repeat after us: Do what you can, at your own pace. There are lots of reasons why you may be tempted to push yourself past our comfort zone — and sometimes, it can be great to do so. But there’s a difference between challenging yourself and disrespecting your limits. If you start to feel unwell and need to skip out of a class 10 minutes early, don’t stress — instead, congratulate yourself for getting there and participating in as much as you could. If you simply don’t have the ability to perform certain moves due to flexibility or mobility limitations, that’s OK, too. You can ask the instructor for modifications, and if it’s realistic, set the goal to eventually be able to try those moves once you’ve gradually worked up to them. Respecting your limits means thanking your body for all that it can do, and never punishing it for anything that it can’t.

The bottom line is this: It is indeed very possible to up your fitness game while continually staying body positive. All you have to do is forget about the numbers, shift your focus to the right motivators, set realistic goals, dress to make yourself feel good, and respect your own limitations.

Related: Empower Your Girlfriends: How To Boost Their Confidence

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Rebecca Strong

Rebecca is a Boston-based freelance writer who focuses on style, fitness, food, and travel. She has contributed to such publications as HuffPost, Elite Daily and U.S. News & World Report. When she's not writing, she can be found at home or in the studio working on the songs for her upcoming album. Her favorite bra is a black demi-cup style with all-over-lace — timeless and feminine.

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