Everything else.. In Conversation with Gaia: Can Body Positivity Survive the Fitness Industry?

In Conversation with Gaia: Can Body Positivity Survive the Fitness Industry?

2020 Jun 10


I am not the same Gaia as I was 8 years ago. I am no longer a victim of abuse, no longer a woman who lives in fear or conflict, no longer a permanent tenant of confusion and depression. All of this is a result of moving my body and feeding it right. It is like peeling layers of an onion, you evolve every single day into this multidimensional being who experiences quantum levels of growth, if you give it the right tools.”

Have you ever noticed that when you see your friend working out on social media or if your colleague mentions that they’ve started exercising to you, you might automatically assume that ‘they’re working hard to get in shape’ or ‘they’re trying to lose weight’? 

What is the first thought that pops into your head when you’re looking at yourself in the mirror and notice that your flab of belly fat has increased or if your thighs are thicker than usual? Is it not “I really need to start working out”? 

There is quite a bit of skepticism surrounding the fitness industry and its co-existence with body positivity. Needless to say, it’s because of the beauty standards in our society that is imprinted in our minds from younger days.


However, fitness does not only bring about benefits to one’s physical health and well-being but is known to also enhance one’s mental and spiritual well-being. And many people work out to maintain their mental health stability and also to improve their spiritual well-being, focusing lesser on how exercise brings about changes to their appearance. 

We spoke to the Transformational Coach, Gaia Kodithuwakku, who shed light on how body positivity and the fitness industry can go hand in hand. She has indeed changed the game in the fitness industry. Gaia is a qualified Fitness and Health Coach, possessing accolades as a Bikini and Fitness Model competitor. 

Fitness is more than weight loss 

“Training was my effort to not want to kill myself. To get out of depression. The mind and the body is one of the same. The energetic and physical extensions of the same being. Just as meditation can affect your physical well-being, fitness can affect your mental and spiritual well-being.”

It is a given fact that all of us experience different circumstances in life that puts us through many hardships that we have to endure, causing our mental health stability to depreciate. Depression, anxiety are common woes of the mind, that tends to affect our thoughts and actions throughout the day in a very negative manner. Fitness can promote  better mental and spiritual well-being in the following ways:

  • Improves your overall mood – Exercise helps release endorphins and also will make your body produce chemicals like serotonin, norepinephrine, BDNF and dopamine, which will boost your mood and make you feel happier and good about yourself. This will help with relieving the day-to-day stress that our minds undergo. 
  • Relieves you of Anxiety and Depression – Exercising continuously will help with making you feel more positive about yourself, which will gradually help with changing your mind from making you feel anxious, worn out and depressed to making you feel worthy, empowered and beautiful. 
  • Promotes mindfulness, focus and concentration – Exercise will help you improve your focus as you tend to pay more attention to the physical activities that you are conducting. Physical activity will help you stay in the present, without letting your mind wander, which will help you improve your mindfulness. 
  • Improves cognition – Physical activity is known to improve your blood flow to your brain, thus promoting improvement in the cognitive abilities of our brain. 
  • Promotes self-confidence – Since working out continuously will improve your overall mood, your confidence and self-esteem will also improve, making you feel like you can conquer your day. 
  • Improves sleep – The drop in body temperature after physical activity will promote sleepiness, hence allowing your mind and body to have the restful sleep it deserves. 

Body positivity and self-love is much more than how you look

“This shift between fitness and body positivity can happen only if we work from a place of self-love as opposed to self-hate. Many of us use exercise as a form of release with the intention of wanting to look better. But one thing I always prioritize is to steer my clients to fall in love with the process of movement as if it is meditation. To fall in love with eating right as if it was an extension of self-love and compassion. I often refer to the body as “her”; “she” has been through so much for you so it’s your duty to treat her right. I do this to create sensitivity towards our bodies and treat it with love instead of hate or frustration.” 

Gaia couldn’t have said it any better. The insane beauty standards of our society have turned others to be toxic towards us, to constantly judge our bodies for the constant change it goes through and more importantly, it has turned us to be toxic towards ourselves. Our bodies are susceptible to change, over time, just like how our bodies are not the same when we were 5 years old, compared to what it looks like now. 

Working towards changing this narrative in our mind that tells ourselves that we don’t look good, we don’t look beautiful just because our bodies are not the way we hope it would be, should be prioritized. 

“You could be so many different shapes and yet be healthy, functional and happy. Personally my body changes depend on my seasons as I compete. And during these seasons, I am lean at times and bulked at times. And since I treat my body as a being on her own, my happiness is not derived from a certain shape. I am still the same Gaia, if anything, a constantly evolving Gaia regardless of what I look like. Society and media may teach us things but its up to us to stay in alignment with our center and draw power from it. Each one of us is a never to be repeated walking miracle. If each of us truly knew this, none of us would be walking around feeling ugly. We would be holding ourselves high feeling like true royalty knowing that we are channels for the divine to flow through.”

Exercising and conducting physical activity for all the right reasons, to evolve as a person, to grow and to improve our mental and spiritual well-being, is key to make us keep our levels of happiness and fulfillment on the high. Basing your happiness on something that is evolving over time and not on something that fluctuates over time, can help with overcoming every obstacle, every lightning bolt that life throws at you because whatever you go through, you’ll always learn and grow.

So the next time someone fat shames you, remember that you’re so much more than your appearance. Don’t let the toxicity and negativity of others around you, make you feel any less than who you really are. If you’re happy and fulfilled, you’ll automatically look beautiful in your eyes and that’s the only thing that matters.