How do we reconcile the two viewpoints of:
1) I need to learn to accept and love my body as it is
2) I want my body to be healthier, fitter and, let’s face it, thinner than it is now?
I believe it can be done.
For any craft that we do, from writing to witchcraft or knitting or biking or whatever hobby or activity you want to insert here, we always have our current state of competence or being and our desired goal of competence or being.
When I did pottery I was ecstatic when I finally made a bowl that was recognizably a bowl. I was very happy with it. Just because I was happy with it didn’t mean that I wanted to stop learning and becoming better as a potter. When I made my first big bowl, it was a huge deal and I was thrilled. But it didn’t stop me from wanting to do more.
Each level of skill attained made me happy and I was pleased with where I was but I also wanted to improve myself.
The same applies to our bodies.
We can love our bodies for where they are now. And honestly, dammit we should. Without them there wouldn’t be flavours, touch, dancing or any incarnate experience.
And while we love them as they are now, we are welcome to seek improvement.
But it is improvement we need to seek! And where improvement is becoming healthier.
If we recognize and accept that the ultimate goal is to be healthy *and none of the other measurements matter* then it is very easy to reconcile the two statements. Because we are simply loving who we are now and working to improve, make healthier, our bodies.
And the best part about this reconciliation?
We can ask our bodies to help us with it.
That’s right. It is no longer a war with our bodies, a constant battle to transform them into some intellectual (and sadly probably culturally determined) ideal. It is a union, a partnership towards a shared goal.
Gods, what a wondrous feeling, to work with my body (who utterly adores me, btw, irrespective of how horribly I treat her sometimes) and spirit together to become the healthiest me I can be.
Let me reiterate this point. When you love your body (who also loves you) and you accept that you can love your body as it is now then TOGETHER you can work towards becoming healthier in the future.
It’s not a constant battle of the mind thinking chocolate is bad and the body craving it or the body wanting to sleep in and you forcing it to go for a walk.
Instead, it is a recognition that the body has its things that it desires that isn’t good for it, but if you accept that and work with the body, it can release most times those desires and work with you on those things that make you both healthier.
This is not a master/slave relationship. This is a partnership built on love and hopefully eventually trust.
The mind isn’t always right so as part of that partnership it needs to listen to the body. Sometimes the body really does need that sleep or that chocolate, in order to be healthy (and happy).
Invite your body to work with you on becoming more healthy. That’s what I’m going to do.
I don’t know yet how this will turn out. But I do know one thing, I will be a much happier person now that I can go around not hating myself (after all, we are who we are and my body needs all of my love just as it gives me all of its) and still work towards improving myself but where improvement is in my health, not in my looks.
Being healthy is so much better and frankly easier of a goal than being thin. Now getting healthier may result in some weight loss. But as soon as the goal becomes weight loss, you run the high risk of re-entering that unhealthy mental zone that pits you against your own body and creates a warfield within yourself (and it ignores all the hidden issues that the body holds for us but that’s a topic for another day). Yuck.
Health. Isn’t that a great goal? Attainable, realistic, in many ways measurable.
If a genie came up and offered you a choice: “You can be healthy or you can be thin, choose now!” What would you choose?
~the Abysmal Witch