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“I love my body,” part 1 of 4

Provocative title of this blog post, right?

The topic I probably spent the most time on at the Zermatt class a week ago is the special talent women have for indulging in guilt and tearing ourselves down! Where we spend our thoughts, and feelings, causes us to unite our body/mind/spirit in positive ways–-or it causes us to abuse the only body and spirit we’ll ever have. This creates a destructive cycle during the holidays (with its highest depression rates of the year) resulting in most people gaining a few pounds every year.

We only get one body. Of course, then, it follows that we should love and nurture it. Not say or do things that tear it down.

What do we abuse? Things we do not value.

What do we treat with great care? Things we value highly.

So what does that say about the cause of most of us mistreating our bodies?

I am not talking about eating a brownie now and then at a friend’s house. Preparing food for someone you love is, in many cultures, a gift, bordering on a sacrament. It’s a dicey thing to say no to food made for you! (Ask LDS missionaries about this one, some of whom come home from Latin America 20 lbs. heavier for this reason alone.) I agree with Melissa that we don’t go to our friends’ homes and demand pure adherence to some set of nutrition principles. Melissa and I agreed that we eat what we’re served, as that food was made with love and that love enriches our lives.

When I talk about abusing our bodies, I mean what we do every day: choosing toxic fuel that makes us feel ill meal after meal. At the root of habitual choices, for many, is self-loathing: a desire to distance ourselves from our body, cover it up (with baggy clothes or fat or both), pretend it doesn’t matter.

Love, you say? How can I love this body?! I have rolls around the middle, a saggy behind, all this cellulite and stretch marks, cottage cheese!

You have heard women speak this way about themselves. It’s tragic. My former husband used to say, about my stretch marks, “Please don’t speak that way about your body. Those are the scars that brought my babies into this world and those marks are beautiful to me.”

This helped me accept and even love my body. I trace those pale white lines on my hips sometimes, with my fingers, and think about that–they’re my battle scars for the best thing that’s ever happened to me: becoming a mother. My body was the vehicle for four gorgeous kids–what a miracle! It deserves respect for that. I have changed how I see those marks.

Let’s focus on them being “marks,” rather than scars-–although my scars in life have been pivotal in shaping me for good. Each scar tells a story. One on my shoulder represents my new cycling hobby–skidding across the road in Provo Canyon. One on my forehead represents my bout with chickenpox when I was 8. A cheloid scar on the back of my heel, caused by a screen door banging shut it, my kids call “the worm” because I can make it start small and grow long by flexing my foot.

Tomorrow I’m going to tell you about two women who completely changed my life and taught me to love my body even if it doesn’t look like a supermodel’s.

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