Do you love your body?
Good. We’re not alone.
We’ve actually come a long way, my body and me. We ‘re on pretty good terms today, and that’s a lot more than I can say for our relationship back in the 80s.
Back then, we really couldn’t stand each other. I was always mad at my body for not looking like I thought it should, and it was always mad at me for trying to force it into something it was never meant to be.
It wasn’t my really body’s fault at all. I realize that now. My body was trying its best to comply with my all-over-the-board demands. It always responded appropriately based on the input it received from me.
When I ran, it got stronger.
When I ate less, it got thinner.
When I ate too much, it used up everything it possibly could and then hung onto the rest for dear life.
But then my body would get bigger . . . and I would get madder.
I’m sure my body was thoroughly confused by this. I’m sure it wanted to say, “Look, what do you want from me here? I told you we had room for, like, a carrot or something, and you sent me an entire funnel cake? What did you think was going to happen?”
I guess I thought my body would have some respect and work with me to stay swimsuit-ready all year long. No matter what.
But my body always reminded me that wasn’t the case by letting my clothes get too tight or making the numbers on the scale reach new heights (even first thing in the morning!). Then I would embark on some crazy new diet plan that was sure to work – and by work, I mean it would magically keep me thin and fit through no effort of my own.
But the more I tried to keep up with my latest dieting tactics, the more I would think about food.
There were times when the last thing in the world I wanted was to put one more bite of cake in my mouth, yet I would find myself having seconds, thirds, sometimes more. I was like Godzilla on a rampage. I couldn’t stop, so I would get even madder and blame my diet, my body, or the cake.
I wanted to be thin, but I couldn’t seem to pull it off.
(Because I already was.)
I was out of control, and I knew it.
(I was beautiful.)
I felt like it was all God’s fault because he had made me this way, hadn’t he?
(I was His masterpiece.)
It was okay, though, because when the diets didn’t “work,” there were always laxatives and water pills and gag reflexes and running suits waiting to comfort me.
(I deserved better.)
When I got married, I went into high gear to get my body in tip-top shape for my wedding dress.
(But I was already good enough.)
Then married life and military moves added more stress. The cycle of binging, purging, and dieting continued.
But when I discovered I was expecting our first child, I knew the craziness had to stop.
So I waited . . . and I watched.
I watched as my body grew into a miracle. I watched it grow bigger and bigger until I didn’t recognize it anymore.
And I was genuinely surprised to find I was still the same person inside.
There was intense healing in that discovery. It gave me my first taste of freedom. Freedom from the burden of having to look a certain way and weigh a certain weight.
Now, years later, I have found some more healing through yoga. Yoga has shown me how my body can hold me up and move me where I want to go. It has shown me my body is capable of powerful things as it grows stronger with every class. It has reminded me my body is nothing more than a home for The Real Me.
The me that matters.
The struggle isn’t completely over, but these days it’s just a shadow of what it once was. I am slowly winning the struggle to love myself just as I am, and not as I think I should be. Inside and out. That’s not to say there isn’t always room for improvement, or that I don’t still try to eat healthy or exercise. In fact, it’s just the opposite. This body has served me well so far, and I want to take good care of it so I can get the most out of the years I’ve been given.
It’s been a long time coming, but I am finally learning what God has been trying to teach me all along.
My body was carefully and lovingly crafted by the creator of the universe and
work of art.