Do you express gratitude for your body?
For how it breathes and pumps blood and thinks and moves for you everyday?
I have a lot of questions for you today. I have a lot of questions for you about you and your body. Let’s start with these two biggies. 1) What is more important: how your body looks or what your body does? 2) What do your actions say you value: how your body looks or what your body does?
I’m going to take a stab at it and guess how you answered. I bet you know that a functional body is more important than a pretty body. But I also bet that you probably live and act like what your body looks like is the end-all-be-all of your existence. I bet that, regardless of what you know to be true, your focus is on fixing your body so that it is “good enough” and not on appreciating what your body is actually for.
I would bet that is how you would answer because, for the majority of my life, that was my answer too. I wouldn’t actually say it out loud– “The thing I want most in life is to have a thin body.” But I thought it and my actions (crazy diets, crazy exercise, crazy obsession) supported my thoughts. I never thought about what my body did for me. I only thought about how it was failing me.
Welcome to Form vs. Function. Let’s break this whole body thing down and see how Dictionary.com (that wonderful space on the internet) defines form and function.
Form: the external appearance; the shape of a thing or person.
Function: the purpose for which something is designed or exists.
So basically, our body’s form is our external shape, size, and appearance. And our body’s function is the purpose for which it exists.
Our bodies were designed for functionality– that’s why we have them and why we need them. I will step into dramatic waters here: Without your body You. Have. Nothing. You cannot function in this dimension without a body! The most important thing about your body is that it ALLOWS YOU TO HAVE A LIFE!! How your body looks? In the grand scheme of things? NOT IMPORTANT! AT ALL!!!
We know this. We know this deep down. But we don’t live like we know this. Ask yourself this: how many times in the day do you criticize or harshly judge or have negative or hateful thoughts about how your body looks? Now ask yourself this: how many times a day do you express gratitude for what your body does for you? For how it breathes and pumps blood and thinks and moves everyday for you?
I know. It kinda hits you in the gut, doesn’t it? The truth can be a hard pill to swallow. But sometimes we need a little tough love to help us have the strength to change our truth. So don’t beat yourself up– we do that plenty. Give yourself compassion– there are very real reasons for why we live and believe this way (stuff for another post). But be honest… is this really what you want for yourself? Do you really want to spend your life worried about how you look?
Do you want to spend your life:
- being mean to yourself?
- starving yourself?
- counting calories all the live-long day?
- going to the gym instead of hanging with your friends and family?
- wasting hours trying on outfit after outfit because you think you look fat?
- missing entire conversations because you are thinking about how fat you feel and how you shouldn’t have eaten that piece of cake?
- feeling like shit about yourself because you have bought into the fucking false belief that how you look is the most important measure of who you are as a person?
Do you want to look back at the end of your life and:
- have maintaining a size 8 as your greatest accomplishment?
- have people say at your funeral that you were the most committed exerciser ever– I mean, did you see her abs? (When she was young, of course, because she aged and those abs went away.)
- have your headstone read, “Her life was spent in a fog of criticism and judgement. But she was SO EFFING THIN?”?
I know I’m being snarky at this point, but I mean it. Really think about it. What do you want for yourself?
This was one of the most important questions I ever asked myself. I remember when I had to finally grab my thoughts by the collar and give them a shake. I was feeling horribly about myself. I was being vicious with myself. I was lost in a fog of feeling worthless and only seeing myself as a failure because I couldn’t make my body comply with my weight loss plans. (Actually, the reasons went a lot deeper than that and you can read about them here.) I was writing in my journal and this is what I wrote:
- Do I want the size and shape of my body to determine how I feel about myself and my life?
- Do I want the size and shape of my body to determine how I feel in any given moment?
- Do I want the size and shape of my body and how I feel about it to be a part of everything I do and every interaction I have?
- Do I want to continue to give my life and my energy to the size and shape of my body?
And do you know what? The answer was hell no. To every single question. HELL NO. That journal entry changed things for me because it felt so profoundly heavy. I was giving full power over my life to the size and shape of my body. And I finally was able to see the futility and wastefulness of that choice. I was able to see that I was trading away my LIFE for a thin body. I was choosing form over function and I was missing the fucking point.
The point is that we have a body that allows us to live our life. Without that body we don’t get to be here with our kids and our lovers and our pets and our friends and our family and the warm sun and the smell of the air after it rains and that rush of overwhelming gratitude that comes sometimes when you realize how big and amazing life is and how blessed you are to be living it. That’s the point.
So, really and seriously. What do you want for yourself? What do you want for your life?
Have you heard that fab quote by Sarah Silverman?
“Mother Theresa didn’t walk around complaining about her thighs, she had shit to do.”
Sweetie? I’m telling you. You’ve got shit to do…