For some of us loving our bodies sounds like a lovely thought but not a realistic one. Because when you’ve spent years bashing your body and seeing it as a roadblock, a boulder, a huge obstacle that keeps you from getting what you want, it’s hard. Maybe even impossible. But, as I’ve written before on Weightless, I believe we can still act in kind ways even if we don’t have kind thoughts. Yet.
In other words, you don’t need to have loving thoughts about your body in order to treat it in loving ways. Of course, it would be nice, and it’s important. But you don’t have to wait until your thoughts finally come around. You can act with love first.
Doing so is similar to pursuing a project that you have self-doubts about. For instance, I might doubt my ability to write a particular article, but I’ll keep scribbling in my notebook, anyway, because that’s how I learn. I don’t think my self-doubts about writing, about any of my capabilities, will ever go away. But I’ll keep doing things anyway.
We can think of acting in loving ways—whatever our thoughts—as practice. You’re simply practicing being loving like you’d practice playing the piano or running.
If you truly loved your body, how would you care for it? What would you do? How would you let others treat you? What boundaries would you set? What would your days look like? What would you say yes to? What would you say no to?
For instance, you might only be intimate with a partner who is kind and loving and respectful of both your body and your heart. You might take dance breaks regularly. You might eat fresh, nutrient-rich foods. You might give yourself unconditional permission to savor slices of bread and apple pie and pasta and potatoes. You might say no to commitments that drain you. You might take a walk when your body aches from sitting for too long.
You might buy clothes that are beautiful and feel wonderful on your skin. You might buy other soft fabrics, such as soft sheets and covers and pillows. You might drink water more often. You might throw away your scale.
You might stop waking up at 5 a.m. to drag yourself, bleary-eyed and bothered, to the gym. You might take your time to get out of bed, savor a long and hot shower, do a few stretches and sit quietly sipping your tea and eating your oatmeal. You might linger longer with other things, knowing that your body prefers a slower, richer pace. You might listen to yourself.
If you’re not sure what you’d do, think about how you’d treat something or someone precious. Think about how you’d behave in a temple, in any sacred space. Think about loving acts you’ve done for your kids or spouse or best friend. Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and think about what sounds good and kind to you. Then make a list of three loving acts you’ll practice this weekend.
And remember that it’s OK if your thoughts start protesting. Just tell them you’re practicing. That’s all.
What ways can you show your body some love? What actions would you take every day if you loved your body?