You have a body.
What does the word “Body” bring up for you?
Does a mental image of your own body pop up? The body that you’d like to have? Does it bring up thoughts of food and dieting? How about exercise?
If any of these things sound familiar, congratulations, you’re human! And also, I have totally been there too.
But in all seriousness, we live in a culture that has conditioned us to associate the word “Body” with an ideal, and probably worse so, a lot of struggle to get to that ideal.
But I want to take this opportunity to remind you of a few things:
You have a body, you are not your body. Remember, your worth, righteousness, happiness, and sanity have nothing to do with your Body. If you think you’ll be happy once you reach a certain size or weight or circumference or aesthetic, I’m here to tell you that that simply is not true. What makes us truly happy is expressing ourselves, being creative, working in a career that fills your soul, loving others, and not one of those things involves your body in any way. Let’s say you’ve gotten to that “perfect” size or weight or whatever fills your brainspace -- what then? What do you believe will happen once you get there? I’m here to tell you that nothing different will happen. You won’t have more friends or more love. You won’t have a more solidified purpose in this world and your career won’t take off. Remember that you are more than any physical "ideal." Yes, you have a body, but that is not who you are, and your happiness will never be defined by it. Instead, devote your energy to going after the career you've been working so hard for; to calling a friend you haven't talked to in a while; to telling your parents, your siblings, your significant other that you love them; to making a difference in the world. You'll soon realize how much more you have to offer and to enjoy being in this world than your Body.
Your body (lowercase “b” because, why is it such a big deal anyway, right?), is your vehicle, your casing, your vessel through which you think, feel, and do all the things in your life. Your body is not your abdominal muscles, the circumference of your thigh, your height, the amount of flesh that sits at the back of your arm. It’s also not the length or texture or color of your hair, the shape of your nose, the texture or color of your skin. These are all things we have assigned as features of our bodies; features that don’t matter one bit to your health and well-being. In fact, fixating on them is a sure-fire way to live your life for reasons other than your health, wellbeing and happiness. When we’re so hyper-focused on these features, we ignore the amazing life happening around us, and we miss out on creating a joyful Body-indifferent life for ourselves. Tell me, when you’re 85 years old, will you wish that you had spent more time looking in the mirror wishing you had six-pack abs? Will you have wished that you could just lose that last 5 pounds? Or will you have wished you had spent your time with the people you love, connecting with people, and building a life that lights you up so you can look back on it as an 85 year old and not regret one moment of wasted time? Speaking of, I have a feeling you’re going to be the coolest 85-year old :)
Your body is an amazing machine, using nutrient-dense foods to fuel its innumerable processes. At any given time, your body is creating electrical impulses to contract your muscles to move and keep your heart beating (yep, you need those things to happen). Throughout the day your body releases substances that catalyze reactions so that you can move, digest, breath, think. It’s truly amazing to think about. Depriving your body of the fuel it needs to conduct this amazing orchestra of reactions and processes because you think your “Body” needs to be a certain way is a guaranteed way to get sick very fast. And your 85 year-old-self wouldn’t be cool with that, am I right?
All this to say, you’re so much more than the labels and numbers and sizes and miles and tablespoons that you’re spending your precious time in this life worrying about. Your body is an incredible vehicle for you to live your life through, and we should treat it with love and respect. After all, it’s the only one we get and it’s working really hard to keep you around. Be kind to it.