I was at a meeting this week where a friend read from a devotional book called Out of the Spin Cycle by Jen Hatmaker. She read about body image, and one statement that jumped out at me was something to this effect: "This is the body you will have forty years from now. These hands will hold your grandchildren one day." I'm certain it was put more eloquently within its context, but it was a new thought for me.
Like most new thoughts, this one was less profound than obvious, but I don't tend to think in terms of what I want years down the line, and I should put those ideas on my radar. The decisions I make today regarding what I eat and how/if I exercise will affect me decades down the line, and this thought brought a new gravity to the situation.
I chafe at the idea of exercise and dieting because I don't want to conform to society's lie that our body is who we are. Our body is part of us, but only one part, the way our mind, soul and spirit are the other equally important components. I want to feel good about myself no matter how many extra pounds I carry, or how my stomach looks post-pregnancy and childbirth, or how many new lines appear around my eyes and mouth as I age. I don't want to bow my knee to the idea that I must look a certain way to be acceptable to myself or others.
But thinking of it as a long-term investment in my health so that I am as fit as possible for my adult children and grandchildren is a new way of looking at it. Generally my natural laziness combines with my rebellion at our culture's fixation on low body fat ratios and I opt out of healthier eating and exercise as a result. The only one that's paying the price in that scenario is me, and so I'm grateful for a chance to look at it differently, with exercise as a goal toward the body I will dwell in forty years from now, and not as a way to be skinny and conform to societal pressure.
Possibly the key lies in developing all parts of our personality at the same time. I've been working on my mind and my spirit and my soul, but neglecting my body. Making it a priority for long-term gain is equally important, and I'll feel better if I'm investing time and energy into this body that will house my mind, soul and spirit for as long as I am alive. I need to embrace what I have been given, and treat it with respect, and understand that I need to open up a dialogue with my body which is healthier than the one I've had to this point. I want to be friends with this body, and treat it well, and recognize that I need to look after it better from this day forward.