My body has betrayed me.
At least that is how it has felt since I turned 30 a year ago. Since then, it’s seemed like everything is in a slow decline. The disc I have herniated in my spine is the most recent and obvious example, but it’s also evident in small ways. I can’t seem to lose weight like I used to. I have to get good sleep or I am essentially unless the next day. And I swear I watched a new wrinkle form on my head one morning while putting on my makeup.
The body I have relied on now creaks and pops and hurts. I cringe when I hear myself exhale loudly when I stand up just like my grandmother used to do. And forget trying to be sexy. After getting a haircut recently, I attempted a shampoo commercial-style hair toss to show off to my husband, but it went terribly wrong when I kinked my neck mid-toss and then threw out my back. So hot.
All in all, it feels like a betrayal. I want to scream, “Don’t let me down now, old friend!”
But then the thought hit me that maybe I have been guilty of letting my body down throughout the years. Maybe I haven’t always been as kind to my own body as I now wish it were being to me. There was that year in college, for example, when I ate ham and cheese hot pockets and hot tamale candies almost exclusively. And what about all those times I’ve looked in the mirror and hated the way I looked, hated my body or called myself ugly or fat?
As a mother of two daughters, I of course think of how I want them to treat their bodies. Yes, they too may be doing physical therapy at age 30 because of our awesome gene pool, but at least I can share what I wish I had known about my body.
So, to my daughters:
- Enjoy your body: Your bodies are amazing. You are so lucky to have healthy bodies that can do everything you ask them to do. Run. Jump. Play. Do cartwheels in the grass. Hang upside down from monkey bars. Feel the chill of sprinkler water on a hot day. Run barefoot in the sand. Run until your lungs burn and you can’t feel your legs. Don’t waste your bodies sitting around watching TV or playing on the iPad. Get every moment of twirling, leaping, sprinting enjoyment out of your body.
- Love your body: Embrace your body, even with its flaws. Everybody has things they would like to change if they could, but the big secret is nobody else really cares or even notices. If you love your body, others will see your beauty inside and out. Don’t cut yourself down by judging yourself too harshly or listening to the comments of other girls who are simply trying to hide their own flaws by highlighting yours. Your body is a gift from God. Embrace it. Show Him your gratitude by loving your body and taking care of it. Get enough sleep. Fuel your body with good foods and water. Love your body enough to take care of it every day.
- Respect your body: Your body is yours. It is one of the only things in this life that is truly yours to protect and to use. Use it wisely. Don’t sell yourself short with revealing clothes. If you think so little of your body, others will too. Your body is one of the most sacred things on this earth. One day, it will hopefully be a home to your own babies. When you feel that little kick inside you and suddenly love that unseen person more than life itself, you will realize why it’s so important to treat your body as a temple. Respect it now and always.
What would you tell your daughters about their bodies? Do you ever feel like your body is letting you down or that maybe you have let it down?