I once had someone ask me, “Why aren’t you having dessert? Don’t you know you look great?”
I think there are some very misguided beliefs when it comes to making healthy choices. There is the belief that if someone exercises, it is because of some dissatisfaction with their body as it is…If I don’t eat sugar, it must be because I think I’m fat…Making healthy choices is really all about trying to look a certain way… If we truly loved our bodies, we wouldn’t need to do anything to change them. You hear this kind of thinking going on, right? Maybe you have even fallen for some of these beliefs.
I believe we should love our bodies exactly as they are. I also believe that improving our health is an important goal. And to me, there is nothing conflicting about these two beliefs.
Let’s look at an example from the ranch. My husband, Tony, LOVES ranching. He loves working outside, having time with our family, working with the animals, working with the land, and finding ways to improve our operation. In the fall, we hold our annual bull sale, where we auction off the bulls he works with tirelessly all year. This sale has been going on for thirty years now, and he loves it. But just because he loves it doesn’t mean that he has become complacent about it. He wants it to be the best it can be, and so he is always looking for ways to improve it.
Each year on sale day, right before the bulls go into the sale barn for auction, Tony and his crew are behind the scenes, preparing them to look as good as possible. This means running them into a chute where they can blow off any dirt and poop (yes—poop is a common word when you live on a ranch!), brush their hair, and do some last-minute primping.
For years, they have used a manual chute, meaning that right when the bull runs into the chute, Tony would have to pull a lever down hard to close the head catch. This was hard work, and sometimes even resulted in accidents when not done at the precise moment needed. But it worked fine and got the job done. Last year, however, the ranch invested in a new chute—a hydraulic one. This chute is easy to use, safer, and more efficient. Tony couldn’t believe how much easier the job of working bulls became with this new improvement!
My son working bulls with the new chute
He didn’t get the new chute because he hated working with the old one. He got it because he loved the work and wanted to make it even better and more efficient. The best improvements are always inspired by love.
I have loved my body for most of my life. I have tried to care for it with exercise and healthy habits for the most part. A little over a year ago, I had fallen into a slump and started neglecting my body. It started working less efficiently. I felt tired, had a harder time with my exercise, and was constantly craving foods that could never really satisfy. I still loved my body, and because I did, I felt a desire to take care of it and improve it. Six months later, because of this love, I had created a new version of my body that I had never had before! It had more energy, could complete tasks more easily, was less prone to sickness and injury, and was working more efficiently than ever! Now, while my improvement took a lot more effort than simply buying a new chute, both improvements had the same effect. And both were inspired by love.
Are your desires for improvement motivated by love, or by some gnawing sense of inadequacy? Are they coming from a place of acceptance, or feelings of unworthiness? Sarah Maria, author of Love Your Body, Love Your Life, teaches, “When your desires come from (a) place of inadequacy, your attempts to fulfill them are often thwarted or require tremendous effort. When you learn to fully befriend, accept, and love yourself, on the other hand, improvement can happen with patience, ease, and grace.”
Becoming a healthier version of YOU is all about small improvements. Improvement is a natural result of truly loving our bodies. And improvement is addictive. More improvement, more love. More love, more improvement. Or, as I like to say, Love your body, and your body will love you.♥