Our bodies must last a lifetime. After all, we only get one body. Without it, life ends. Done. Finished. Fini.
So why don’t we treat our bodies lovingly? Like prized possessions? Wouldn’t you think I’d appreciate my body’s nonstop efforts to function smoothly?
My body asks for little: rest when I’m tired or sick; food for nutrients, energy, and strong bones; water to keep hydrated; and play to lift my spirits.
Its ability to overcome indiscretions and respond to good care is impressive. But not only do I take this resiliency for granted, I’m annoyed when a physical constraint, such as a cold or injury, keeps me from doing what I want.
Until recently, I abused my body with excesses of all kinds. Moreover, I was harshly critical when it failed to conform to standards of beauty in the media. Evidently, I’m not the only one who struggles to develop a positive relationship with his or her body.
At one extreme, I’ve seen acquaintances and family members systematically destroy their bodies through drugs, overeating, alcoholism, or workaholism. My overeating, sedentary lifestyle, and excessive work weren’t fatal, but they had a negative impact on my life. I could see my future: increased medical expenses, injuries, premature death. For years I had good intentions to change, but I didn’t follow through.
Once I understood that it was in my own self-interest to take care of my body, I made more constructive choices. Instead of asking the question, “What do I want?” I asked, “What does my body need?” And then I responded accordingly. Positive actions—exercising, eating mindfully, getting enough rest and water, limiting my work hours, and scheduling recreation—became regular habits rather than disciplined efforts.