Did you know that it doesn’t matter how perfect your smoothie bowls are? It also doesn’t matter if you know how to make ombre chia seed pudding. Believe me – your body doesn’t actually care how flawless that smoothie bowl you just made looks – only instagram does.
This post isn’t to hate on people who can perfect the appearance of their foods – honestly, it’s an art – and it’s really cool that people are passionate about promoting healthy eating.
But – is it just me, or does it feel like another line item on the “Body – Project” rubric? Do you know what I mean? Maybe I’m the only one who feels these pressures? Like – it’s not even just about being skinny anymore…it’s about being skinny, with the perfect muscle tone in just the right spots. It’s about perfecting your handstand at yoga so you can post sunset pictures on the beach – imagine the likes! It’s about 6 am spin class so that everyone on your snapchat knows you’re dedicated. It’s about wearing the best workout gear – so people know your serious, and so you can look cute even when you work out (which feels like an oxymoron). It’s about eating all the right foods, keeping up with trends, and making sure that – yes, even your food looks perfect before you actually eat it. It’s making sure that you’re buying all the right supplements and powders, following all the right wellness accounts, and nailing down the perfect health routine day and night.
And like I said – none of that is inherently bad. Yoga is good. Spin class is good. Being an advocate for health is good. Eating well, and caring for your body is all good. But – just like many other things in our culture it’s spiraling out of control. I honestly can’t keep up – and for a while it was overwhelming to me. It became something I found myself trying to keep up with, failing, and feeling bad because I’m not as dedicated to morning workouts as everyone else is. I feel like the line items just kept piling up. And when unchecked line items pile up for me – so does the shame. Why can’t I do it all, why can’t I just get it together? Why can’t I just have “that” kind of self-control?
My body felt like a giant project. You know what I mean? Like I found myself trying to get A’s across the board. Ya know? And one day I woke up realizing that I felt pretty indifferent about my body. I won’t sit here and say I hate my body – because I don’t (which hasn’t always been the case, I’ve been my body’s worst nightmare before), but I realized that it was like a project to me. I had almost detached my body from my self. Like it almost became an object to me, outside of self. In a world telling people not to objectify women’s bodies – some days I felt like my biggest offender.
And then I realized that this wasn’t new…I’ve always treated my body like a project, and maybe you can relate? My goals for my body and health have never been about what’s best for ME. My goals came from scrolling instagram and seeing all these girls with near perfect bodies – if I just worked harder – my body could look like that too. My goals came from numbers – if I see this number on the scale – then I’ll have made it. None of these goals had anything to do with health – it was all about controlling my appearance. The work it takes to keep up appearance became a project.
What you put into your body and how you treat your physical self isn’t a project. It’s not an assignment to be conquered or completed. There’s no check list here. You will never get to a point where you’re finished and it’s time to turn it in.
Maybe you’ve read this far, and you’re just like…yeah, duh, which, seriously – that’s awesome. Or maybe you’re like me – and you just can’t seem to figure it all out either, can’t seem to keep up. One day it’s kale – next day it’s chlorophyll. One day it’s pine pollen – next day it’s ashwagandha. And we think that if we could just find the right shakes to drink, blogs or instagram accounts to follow that we’ll finally be able to rest easy. Finally be able to check all the boxes, and move on to the next project.
I couldn’t sustain this. I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t continue with this weird brain/body disconnection. I had to start loving my body again – and not for how it looked, but for how it felt, the opportunities it afforded me (being able to walk, run, hike…all the things I actually like to do). With all the messages being thrown at me about how I should view my body (be toned, be skinny, be whatever you want, hate it, love it, don’t love it too much, don’t worry about it, worry about it constantly) – I had to quiet them all, and go to the source for truth. I took it to God, I scoured scripture, and here’s what I found out, spoiler alert: I found a wholeeee bunch of freedom.
“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and Spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
My body is a temple for the Holy Spirit. WHAT? Literally, my body houses Jesus’ Spirit. Maybe this isn’t new news to you, I mean, it wasn’t the first time I had heard this, but it was the first time it really sunk in. And it absolutely blew my MIND. I knew one thing had to change: I had to start caring for and loving my body like I actually believe the Holy Spirit resides in it. The Holy Spirit is my FRIEND. Literally, my constant companion…and I had to look at my body as my friend also.
Wow, I don’t know about you, but the idea that GOD is living in my body makes me want to care for it in a big way…and not so that I can achieve a six-pack, but so that I can care for the place in which God’s spirit resides. Not because God will only reside in perfectly toned bodies, but because I want to present my body as a living sacrifice. And somedays…discipline feels like sacrifice. Somedays – I want to eat sour patch kids all day long.
Ultimately, working out stopped being about achieving a body type – and started being about love, respect, service, and gratitude for the Holy Spirit. Honestly, working out became an act of worship for me. Like, YES Holy Spirit, come on in, I’ve been preparing for you.
Eating stopped being the shame game, and started becoming about what I could use to best fuel this temple that God has given me. I started asking myself if this food serves my body, or does it destroy my body. Does it build the temple, or tear it down? Hint: there’s something to that dairy-free, sugar-free lifestyle FYI.
And then there’s grace. On those days where maybe I can’t get a workout in, or I didn’t eat perfectly I am much more able to extend grace to myself than ever before. Because I’ve learned to love this creation of God’s – and love means grace. I am friends with what lives in my body, and I care deeply for that friend, I love that friend. Love casts out shame.
I love my body because I love God. And you can’t love God, but hate His creation. I care for my body because I care so much about Jesus. And you can’t care for Jesus, but hate His Spirit’s house.