Someone recently asked me to watch a video on Instagram to get my opinion about a shot that is supposed to help people lose weight. I agreed to view it despite my knee-jerk reaction of wanting to dismiss it outright. I’ve been a dietitian for a long time—forty years, to be exact—and I’ve seen almost every trend known to man when it comes to people trying to lose weight. I’m particularly skeptical about pills and shots that inevitably come with side effects and no promise of long-term effectiveness. As I listened to the woman’s story in the video, which included suffering pretty significant side effects from the shot, my heart hurt for her. In a matter of fifteen minutes, the woman shared that she had lost 100 pounds in her teens, at some point got breast implants, battled cancer twice (including brain tumors), and then later decided to take this shot to lose weight. I could just cry for her body. This was a lady who was not at peace with herself.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not judging this lady, nor am I judging wherever you find yourself on the body-care, body-acceptance spectrum. I spent many years hypercritical of myself, body included. For decades, I tried to avoid having my picture taken from the side because I thought my nose was too big. (Too big for what? I have no idea🙄). I’ve also had seasons of not taking good care of myself by overworking, undersleeping, continuing to exercise when I was injured (ouch), and so on. If there is one thing that I have learned in all my years of helping myself and countless men and women be well in their bodies, it is this: peace with ourselves is an inside-out job, not the reverse.

I have noticed that the more individuals learn to listen to their bodies and honor their legitimate needs, they are more likely to care less about things that don’t matter and take of the things that do. The problem is, this is easier said than done. Many of us either have the attitude that the body is something to be conquered with programs, diets, or pills, or we neglect it altogether. Either extreme is not helpful because the body suffers. In years past, I have put my body in harm’s way as I’ve tried to get it to conform to external standards rather than honor its internal needs. I feel a lot of sadness about that and many other things:

  • I feel sad that there is cultural pressure to have the “right body” (whatever that is!)
  • I feel sad that some people have gotten caught up in idol worship of the body, spending more time working out, following fitness “influencers” on social media, or counting macros/carbs/protein than cultivating a healthy soul.
  • I feel sad that many people live disassociated from their bodies and emotions— checking out through work, food, alcohol, sex, pornography, drugs, or media
  • I feel sad that so many teens are hyperfocused on appearance (made worse through social media) and that there is a 20% obesity rate in kids.
  • I feel sad that so many people don’t trust their bodies or, even worse, hate their bodies.
  • I feel sad that some proponents of “body positivity” seem to equate that with having a free pass to not care for their bodies.
Change neon light signage

I wonder how well you are caring for your body. How well do you accept and honor your body? Below are a few questions to ponder:

  1. How comfortable do you feel in your own skin on a scale of 1 to 10, and why?
  2. Do you find yourself comparing your body to others?
  3. Are there any parts of your body that you struggle to accept? If so, why do you think that is?
  4. Do you over or under-eat on a consistent basis?
  5. Are you able to feed your body when it is hungry and stop when you are full?
  6. Do you prioritize moving your body in a way that you enjoy regularly?
  7. Do you prioritize getting enough sleep and allow your body to rest when you feel tired?
  8. Do you ever speak to your body using derogatory or shaming language?
  9. Are you ever tempted to hide your body or avoid being seen?
  10. Have you ever tried to purposely harm your body (cut, pinch, burn, force vomit, etc.)
  11. On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love and appreciate your body?

I encourage you to sit with those answers for a few minutes and then ask yourself: “If my body were a friend, would it want to hang out with me?” If you’re not sure of the answer, just ask your body: “Body, are you mad at me?” If the answer is yes, you may have some repair work to do. Bodies that have been treated poorly in word or deed can only hold on for so long before they start to break down. Perhaps you are already in that place…

girl standing near plants

If you recognize that you have not taken care of your body in a way that is honoring and loving, it’s not too late to reverse that trend. Our bodies are precious and deserve care, concern, and love for many reasons, not least because we are called to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice to God (Rom 12:1), and He deserves our best. Here are a few other reasons to meditate on:

  • Our body is a temple of God’s Spirit (2 Cor 6:16). Whoa. This is huge.
  • Our body is the vehicle that enables us to carry out what God is calling us to do. Without our bodies, we are toast.
  • Our bodies house our emotions, which tell us what is happening inside. They work together well when we pay attention.
  • We are made in God’s image (Gen 1:27), and He said we are “very good” (Gen 1:31). Don’t argue with God😜.

If you are ready to build a more trusting and caring relationship with your body, keep in mind that it will take time to do that. If you have a pattern of neglecting or even harming your body, a good first step would be to say sorry to yourself: I’m serious about this. If you have been talking trash about the temple of the Holy Spirit, it’s time to repent. Hillary McBride, author of The Wisdom of Your Body, decided to do this very thing by writing her body a three-page letter. Below is an excerpt:

Dear Body, I’m sorry for telling so many lies about you. I called you ugly, a waste of space…I reduced you and used words with you I would never use with others. I told myself and others stories about you that were not true and did not honor how sacred you are…I’m sorry for the ways I’ve neglected and ignored you…I’m sorry for making you an object to use and be used…I’m sorry for hating you when you did nothing wrong…

Of course, a simple apology is a great place to start if writing a letter seems over the top. I suggest also saying sorry to God for the ways you have mistreated yourself. He has declared that “you are fearfully and wonderfully made!” (Psalm 139:14). Ask him to help you believe that.

Honoring your body as a temple of God’s Spirit, worthy of love and care, begins with an attitude shift. Behavior change that is fueled by self-hatred rarely ends well. You may be able to white-knuckle it for a while, but condemnation won’t build the confidence you need to keep going. Think of it this way: If your child is struggling to do well in math, would you shout and him and call him an idiot in order to help him improve? I think not. You would cheer him on and give him all the encouragement he needed to get better. The same goes for you. Try paying attention to the words you say to yourself and try to speak in a more life-giving way:

  • Instead of saying, “I need to lose weight,” try, “Body, I want to feed you in a way that meets your need for nourishment and vitality.”
  • Instead of saying, “I need to start working out,” try, “Body, how would you like to move today?”
  • Instead of saying, “Argh…I hate my (wrinkles, stretch marks, grey hair, fat rolls, receding hair line…),” try, “Body, I will honor all of you because you are mine and loved by God.”
  • Instead of shaming yourself because you are experiencing unwanted cravings for sugar, alcohol, porn, etc., try saying, “I hear you, body. What is it that you really need? I will be with you while we figure this out together.”

A change in attitude toward your body creates an environment for behaviors to gradually change. Try approaching yourself with curiosity rather than condemnation, and get in the habit of checking in with yourself often. I suggest you ask God to help you to remember to do this. The more you approach your body with an attitude of care and trust, the easier it will be for your body to relax into a place of self-guided care. If you slow down and listen, you may find that your body would rather walk than go to the gym or it might crave a quiet night in rather than going to happy hour after work. As you listen to what your body is saying and try to honor what it needs, you are one step closer to living a healthy and authentic life. Heck, it may even mean you finally allow that profile picture to be taken.

*If you would like help in having a healthier relationship with your body, please don’t hesitate to reach out. I would love to support you on your journey.

*Friends, if you are enjoying my blog, please share it with someone else. ❤️ I would be so grateful!

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