How I and others feel about our bodies has been a pervasive issue for many years. My own journey has been interesting in that I went from being an overweight and out of shape kid, to a disturbingly lean and extremely fit cyclist, to a much stronger more muscular individual who lacked aerobic fitness, to where I am now which is some mix of all of it.
In my working and personal life it seems that sooner or later body image will rear its ugly head in the discussion. Over the years my approach to this issue has changed. Back in my more eager athletic therapy student and strength and conditioning coach days I would offer exercise and dietary solutions. As the years have gone by however and experience and utter failure has taught me, there is a much more important solution to this extremely pervasive issue:
We must all love our bodies unconditionally if we want to be well.
Imagine for a moment what it would be like if your body was a child. Ok kid, here’s the deal. I’m only going to love and appreciate you when you are exactly as I would like you to be. How do you think that would turn out? I guess there are plenty of examples of this around. This is called conditional love.
The way most people relate to their bodies is very conditional. Body – I will love and appreciate you so long as you have a six pack. Body – I will appreciate you so long as you can achieve spectacular athletic feats. Body – I will love you so long as you are free from disease. When the body fails to meet our conditions what do we do? We start getting down on it. We start criticizing it. We start sending it negative energy.
Just as children don’t tend to thrive when bombarded with negative energy so goes it with our bodies. Your body isn’t stupid. It can very easily tell the difference between when you feel good being in it and when you don’t and adjusts its function accordingly.
Interestingly I observed a situation lately where the way someone felt about their body created a vicious cycle. They didn’t feel good in their skin and it robbed them of the energy they could have used to lovingly feed, exercise, and care for their body. It also created some relationship tension because when you don’t feel good in your body it’s much harder to be present and connected in an intimate setting. Furthermore the bombardment of negative energy weakened the immune system and led to infection.
All of this can be resolved and/or avoided through a shift in how the type of energy you direct toward your body. When you love your body unconditionally it simply works better. It sparkles. It has way more energy to be active and create with.
If you happen to be one of the people who has read this post to this point I strongly encourage you to take a moment to take stock of how you’re relating to your body and to adjust if necessary. I would also encourage you to stop letting numbers determine the type of energy you will send your body. Love your body regardless of what the scale says, what your cholesterol reading is (don’t get me started), what your blood pressure is, what your time up to the Champlain Lookout is, and revel in the benefits.