Learning To Love Your Body

Learning to love one’s body is a process-it doesn’t always come naturally. For those who have been inordinately influenced by cultural pressures to have a "perfect" body or for those who have suffered eating disorders, the body is not always a safe place. The media message that women should be ever-improving, toning, trimming, and primping distracts us from God’s plans and purposes for us and our bodies. Self-criticism and full-scale attack have become the norm.

But this doesn’t have to be the end of the story. God gave us bodies so that we might use them, appreciate them, and put them into service for His glory. How can we do this if we are so persistently obsessed with the number on the scale or the curve of our hips? How do we regain a healthy perspective on the bodies God has given us?

Here are a list of tips and exercises to prompt love and appreciation of your physical body:

Visualize. Before going to bed at night and when you wake up in the morning, take some time to close your eyes and begin breathing deep, relaxing breaths. Imagine yourself feeling positive about your body and the way you look. Imagine yourself going through your day with confidence, unconcerned about your looks and being fully engaged in life. Imagine what it would be like to take yourself less seriously and to have a humorous attitude about all the little things that bother you about your body.

See what your body can do. One way to begin to love your body is to find out what it can really do and to see how much fun your body can be. Try a new sport or activity. Watch your body adapt, enjoy the process of learning new muscle movements, and enjoy the physical activity and feelings of exhaustion after your body has kept up with all you have asked of it. You’ll be amazed at what your body can do if only you let it try!

Be more concerned with fitness than thinness. You could have a model body today, but if you don’t take care of your heart and your muscles, this body will do very little for you thirty or forty years from now. Every body is unique and they all respond to different exercises in their own ways, but if you can be more excited about physical fitness and endurance, you can focus less on actual body size.

Be grateful. Practice gratitude. This doesn’t always come naturally but it can easily be cultivated with a little work. Use a journal if it helps you, and make a habit of listing three or four things about your body for which you are grateful each day. Were you able to get through that long bike ride? Be grateful for strength and endurance. Did you notice your beautiful eyes when you looked in the mirror? Be grateful for your vision. Gratitude can displace criticism when we make it our focus.

Serve others. Addicts and those who have suffered from eating disorders have spent an inordinate amount of time focused on themselves-often at the expense of others. Their world has become unnaturally small; the number of calories consumed or burned can dominate their mind for the entire day. It is a pattern that has to be stopped if one is to get well. People in recovery talk about the need to "get outside of yourself." There is no better way to do this than through service to others. Who can you help today?

Pay attention to what God says about the body. Remember that God made you-you are his handiwork. To hate your body is to hate what God has created superbly. The Bible contains hundreds of reminders of God’s love for you and His good plans in creating you exactly as you are. Memorize words of Scripture to encourage yourself when you are tempted to self-attack.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. 1

Corinthians 3:16-17 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:19-20