Building a Healthy Relationship with Your Body
I tell my clients that we should think of our body as our house. The outside of our house, that part that everyone sees, is like the foundation and the walls of our real house. It shelters and protects what’s inside, and is often a reflection of how we feel and how well we care for ourselves. Our skin, posture, physique, and even our expressions mirror how healthy we are on the inside, but they don’t tell the whole story. Those things that we cannot see, all the functions that make us unique and are essential to our health and well being, often suffer from our neglect. We depend on our personal house to protect us from illness and disease, but we don’t always care for it properly.
The reality is, we take pride in the home in which we live. No matter what it’s size, or whether it’s an apartment, duplex, or condo, it is personal to us. It’s our safe haven, and within those four walls are our memories from the past and our hopes for the future. But are we equally invested in caring for the home that represents our body? Do we take as much pride in our personal health? Do we exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet, sleep well, and get regular check ups? Would the house in which we live hold any meaning or value if we weren’t around to appreciate it?
I have come to the conclusion after more than 25 years of working in the fitness, education, and counseling professions, that we, especially women, would invest more in our personal house if we would spend less time focusing on what we don’t like and more time embracing it for all the wonder that it is. If we could see the big picture and realize what our body has done for us over the years: How many steps our feet have taken. How our legs have kept us standing despite the obstacles we have faced. How our hips, thighs, and abdominals give us our unique shape, and how they may be the bane of our existence, but in another person’s eyes signify the beauty and grace that makes us women. How our arms have embraced our children and the people we love, and lifted everything from the heavy load of life’s burdens to the powerful kettlebell we swing at the gym. How our neck and face may show our age, but thanks to good health we’ve made it to an age where those fine lines are a badge of honor, a sign of wisdom and experience.
What I’m trying to say is that personal acceptance is where it all begins. I am a living testament to this, and the fact that age has helped me make peace with my body. I am less judgmental and critical of its flaws because it’s those flaws that keep me humble and challenge me to work harder. I’m also more amazed by what my body is capable of and what it has done for me over the years. In the end, personal acceptance translates to us feeling worthy of the time and energy it takes to care for ourselves properly, and to make our physical, emotional, and intellectual health a priority. It allows us to come to terms with the fact that our body may have its flaws, but it’s a pretty amazing place to live. Most importantly, we realize that if we invest as much love and dedication into our personal house as we do the house in which we live we’ll be around longer to enjoy it. We’ll also be around longer to enjoy our kids, family, friends, significant other, and everything else that holds meaning and value in our lives.