I view my relationship with my body as one of the most important relationships in my life. Like my marriage, it is a relationship that is the source of much joy, but it is not perfect. It is a relationship that changes, emphasizing different things at different times. For example, during my most recent pregnancy, I had a heightened awareness of my need to keep my body safe and take fewer risks- I stopped driving my scooter. I was alarmed after slipping on a wet restaurant floor and falling at seven months into my pregnancy. Thankfully, I was okay and my fear dissipated, but the heightened awareness of wanting to protect my body (and my baby’s) remained throughout pregnancy.
My relationship with my body is different than a real marriage in that I did not choose my body. It could be viewed as an “arranged marriage.” Nevertheless, I do choose how to treat my body. Just as in a marriage relationship, I make hundreds of small choices each day to either nurture or not nurture my body. It’s a relationship that is healthy if I have a positive attitude toward it, wishing the best for it but accepting and respecting its limitations. I take care to educate myself about and practice nutritious but flexible choices. I take time to engage in enjoyable, moderate activity. I also maintain flexibility and listen to my body when it begins to tell me that it needs more rest or just needs to slow down a little.
I maintain a good relationship with my body when I listen to it. I stay tuned in enough to realize when my body is hungry, full, tired, or has any other type of need. I remain passive enough to take in the messages it sends to me, and active enough to respond promptly and lovingly, as a compassionate spouse would respond.
Just as a marriage heads into troubled waters when one spouse idolizes the other or becomes wholly dependent and loses a sense of self, so does one’s relationship with the body deteriorate when we start expecting it to be everything for us and set unrealistic expectations on its performance and appearance. A healthy relationship involves realistic expectations, love, and respect. It involves a commitment to keep loving our bodies even when we age, get sick, get hurt, and things get difficult.
What trials have you faced in your relationship with your body? What could you do today to respond more lovingly to your body and strengthen your relationship with your body? It is a relationship worth your time and investment.