treat your body like you treat your lover

happy new year

i wanted to write a new year’s post about goal setting, and that got me onto the subject of living a deliberate life, and that made the think about the support systems we have in life and that got me thinking about relationships. and i ended up writing five different posts about the subject, but it’s finally here and look, January isn’t quite over yet. thank god i’m not writing about decisiveness.

now that you’ve failed your diet, let’s talk about love

i’m sorry – i’m sure you’re still doing great with your resolutions. but for those of us who suck at discipline, let me offer another approach to reaching your goals and maintaining self care: love. i know, blah blah blah. but stay with me. what if you treated your body with the same attention and priority you gave your lover? or your mistress? or the gardener? what if you actually showed up when you said you would and went on the activities you promised you were going to do together? what if the problem isn’t a lack of discipline, but a lack of…loverness? instead of trying to force yourself to exercise and to eat well, maybe all you need to do is strengthen the relationship you already have with your body.

the goal is health

i never really thought about this before, but, the first four letters of health are “heal”. when something heals it becomes healthy. see how that works? so if we want a healthy relationship with our body, we may have to start by healing it.

the five qualities of an essential relationship

we’ve talked about the 5 qualities, but wouldn’t it be fun to apply those qualities to a specific relationship in your life? i think so, too. relationship are everywhere. you have them with your friends, family, lover(s), talents, and possessions.
with that in mind, let’s walk through the five qualities of a healthy relationship and see how they apply to the relationship you have with your body. maybe you can get fit through love and connection rather than discipline and force.

1) you’ve got to really see them

set an intention to develop unconditional empathy and understanding for your body. pay attention to the appreciation you feel for it. bask in your enjoyment of it. practicing appreciation is a skill. can you look at what you may have considered to be its flaws and see how they have lead to its strengths? appreciation is a connecting force. it helps you get present. instead of thinking about how something should be, you simply appreciate what is right now. appreciate your body exactly the way it is. wow – what a strong, resilient, magical, powerful wonder it is.

2) you rely on your body for so much – for what can it rely on from you?

there may be times when you will send other relationships to the backseat. if you’re going to heal a relationship, your partner has to know you’re there for them. yes there are boundaries. yes there are limitations. but rather than looking for the limits, look for the ways in which you’ve got their back.
my body is always here for me. it may not be as fast as it once was, or as trim, but that’s not really my body’s fault anyway. i owe it the courtesy of at least finding time to exercise and care for it. my body should be able to trust that it will get a decent amount of sleep. food that does more help than harm. and when it’s weak or struggling, that i’ll be there to care for it and nurse it back to health.

3) give. give the best.

a healthy relationship requires quality inputs. for a body, this is healthful food. for a brain, it may be literature. for a heart, it may be hope. and for a child, it may be confidence. regardless of what or whom your partner in this relationship is, it’s up to you to express your appreciation for them through the best things you can offer. this has to come from a place of authenticity. it has to come from a desire to connect and share, not from a desire to get something from your partner. this is not a hack. this is not a transaction. this is a gift.
when you look at food as a way of showing love and kindness to your body, a diet no longer becomes a matter of discipline. instead, you eat foods that treat your body to health because your body deserves the best you can offer.

4) exercise vulnerability to explore the limits

vulnerability is a portal to connection in most relationships. the relationship with your body is no different. i became aware of this concept while trying to motivate myself to just do a few more pushups one day. i was at 7 and wanted to make it to 10 [wink]. but when you’re not good at discipline, and you aren’t the type to force yourself to do things, what is the motivation to make your body struggle? why would someone who believes in self-care put their body through the discomfort of testing the limits? the answer: because confidence and connection lie on the other side of discomfort. if you avoid discomfort, you cheat yourself; you never get to what’s real.
connect with your body in openness and courage. feel the burn, but stay present. recognize the desire to play safe and stop, but keep. going.
push through the discomfort. push through the pain. push through the mental resistance and, together, discover the other side: the other side is where strength, trust, and confidence are waiting for you. don’t rob yourself or your relationship of those most valuable qualities by staying in your comfort zone.

5) block out time

a healthy relationship requires time. lots of it. and if it’s healing, it needs even more time to do all the things above. time to have fun. time to play. time to connect. time to work. time to laugh together, mourn together, make jokes together. time to discover each other. without this one thing, there’s just not enough space for the other actions to work their magic. you know what i’m going to say here – if you’re going to heal the relationship with your body, you have to be willing to guard the time necessary to do the steps above. your morning run, gym time, lunch – these are not luxuries – these are the moments you restore a critical and essential relationship – one of the keys to experiencing a life well-lived. no matter where you go, your body is there, too – enjoy the best of each other while you can.

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