Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How to Love Your Body

Just read a blog over at Livestrong where the author talks about getting an e-mail from someone who said "I hate my body." ("Cut Through the BS")

Now, you all know that I am an overweight barefoot runner.  There are a lot of people out there who might think I should hate my body.

But I don't.

I used to hate my body, but now I don't.  I love my body.

I don't believe that love is a REaction. I think love is an ACTION.

I wrote a post about "How to Love Your Voice" over at my Avocational Singer Blog.

What I wrote over there is about how the example of the loving actions a mother takes on behalf of the child she loves can serve as a template for how to love our voices. I highly recommend you check the ideas out in that post because it also can serve as a way to understand how to love our bodies.

An example of loving or hating one's body based on a REaction would be something like this:  I look in the mirror and I approve of what I see -- meets my conditions for acceptability -- and then I feel love for my body.  Or I look in the mirror and don't approve of what I see -- doesn't meet my conditions for acceptability -- and then I feel hate for my body.

A lot of people want to run because they are hoping that running will be a tool to shape them into the kind of body that they can love.  They come from a place of not loving their bodies, and wanting to transform their bodies so that some time in the future they can love their bodies.

But I would like to assert here that it is love for our bodies that transforms.  We have to start with the love.  Love that is put into action.

Using the same analogy as loving our children, we can treat our body as that "child" of ours that we love.

We don't force our children to do unbearably difficult exercise, stand over them and holler and get them to repeat laps and reps.  We try to find something they enjoy and have fun doing, like take them to the playground and let them swing from the monkey bars,  so that they don't even realize that they're getting exercise.  We sacrifice our time to bring them to the playground after school and on weekends, because we want them to have that benefit and not just sit inside and live a sedentary life.  We want them to breathe fresh air and hear the rustle of the leaves in the trees and feel the wind on their cheeks and the warmth of the sun because we LOVE them.

We make sure they go to bed at a decent hour because we want them to feel good.  We know they will be able to function better in their day at school, be in a more cheerful mood, thus eliciting more positive responses from the people around them.  We know their immune systems will function better.  We make sure they go to bed because we LOVE them.

We bring them to the doctor when they are sick and remove them from activities and let them lie on the couch and color and watch TV because we want them to get well.  We take care of their injuries, and make them stop activities so that they can be whole again to enjoy those same activities to the fullest.  We do that because we LOVE them.

We make sure we shop for the kinds of foods that will build and repair their growing cells, tissues, muscles, bones.  We provide nutritious meals for them.  We let them have treats, but within limits.  We don't starve them, beat them, deprive them.  We give them good things in a good way so that they can grow.  We go to a lot of trouble to feed them this way because we LOVE them.

Well, if you replace the word "body" for "children" in the preceding examples, it might be easy see that it is by loving actions towards our bodies that we will have the greatest impact on them.  They will be formed in the most optimal way.

By loving ourselves this way, we don't have to wait until some transformation that turns us into something lovable, because we can be lovable as we are right now.  Not a future lovable.  A NOW lovable.