Do I Have to Love My Body to Feel Good in It?
Valentine’s Day had me considering my relationship with my body.
Do I love my body?
Do you love your body?
There is a lot of talk these days about body image, body positivity, body acceptance, etc. I share frequently about my struggles with body image when I was growing up and as a woman in her 20s, 30s, and even 40s. I never had a good relationship with my body.
When I was pregnant with Ethan, I felt like I never fully embraced my pregnant body. Of course I loved the child growing inside me and was in awe of what was happening, but I didn’t love my body during those nine months. I struggled to connect with my pregnant body.
On this journey of living fit and free, I’ve had to admit that I don’t love my body. And I believe I don’t have to love my body to honor and appreciate it and to simply feel good in it.
I would describe my attitude towards my body as neutral.
I don’t hate my body, but I also don’t love my body. I appreciate it. I feel good in it. I live in a way to honor it by eating things that are nutritious and satisfying yet not leaving me feeling stuffed (most of the time). I exercise regularly but no longer to punish myself for eating or so that I can eat certain things. I splash on makeup and do my hair (most days!), but I don’t stand in front of the mirror very long any day. In fact, I rarely look at my reflection in a full length mirror.
You may not love your body, but you can love what your body does for you. You can love the One who created your body. You can still care for it and admire it.
“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10 (NKJV)
The thing is, we have to stop working against our body. And for some of us, trying to make ourselves love our body is simply too much to ask.
Feeling like we must love our body when we don’t know how puts us at odds with our body. We try to force it to look a certain way. We become frustrated when it doesn’t respond to our efforts of change in a way or at a pace that we think it should. These things result in a negative attitude towards our body.
Instead of feeling like we need to make the leap to love our body, could we replace the negative attitude we have with a neutral attitude?
Adopting a neutral attitude towards our body can help us to do what we know is right for it without judging how it responds to what we do.
The best way to begin this attitude shift is to start with gratitude. Gratitude for what the body can do and how it’s carried us this far in our lives.
Every person in our world may not be our valentine, but we can always find something for which to be grateful about them. It helps us accept them for who they are, just as they are.
And so with our body, we may not love it at the moment, but we can be thankful for it, for something about it. It’s the first step of accepting the wonderful way God has made us.
“For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Marvelous are Your works, And that my soul knows very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 (NKJV)
Once we begin to appreciate our body, we can learn to honor and respect it. What might that look like?
- Listen to hunger and fullness cues and respond accordingly
- Move regularly
- Get outside
- Practice self-care
- Drink plenty of water
- Nurture your spiritual life
Take a look at my Faith and Fitness Framework for more on learning to feel good in your body.
Take the first step today to a better relationship with your body by focusing on one thing your body has done for you.