Every year for Lent, Christians find something to “give up.” For many, this is a second chance at a New Year’s Resolution, like giving up chocolate for the 40 days. Over the past few years, I’ve tried to use this time as an opportunity not to give something up, but rather to add something in. I’ve written in gratitude journals, tried to say nice things to others, and some of these have stuck even past Easter Sunday.
This year, I took on a bit of a bigger challenge. I vowed to do something every day to appreciate my body. This may sound a bit weird or simple, but it is really, really hard. How many times a day do we think, “oh, my ____ is aching,” or, “if I lost a couple of pounds right here…” with the implication that then we would be love-able, or perfect, or even just acceptable?
Especially with a condition like food allergies, it can be very difficult at times to express love and positive feeling towards myself. After an allergic reaction, I find it especially difficult to love myself and not feel betrayed by or angry towards my body.
But when we think negatively towards our body, it is near impossible not to think negatively about ourselves as a whole. We’re not thinking, “if I lost those two pounds my body would be so much better, but my mind is already wonderful.” (If you do think this, kudos to you). We generalize, and it is hard not to internalize the negativity we direct towards ourselves.
So, for Lent this year, I decided to try to raise my awareness of what I’m saying and feeling about my body, and where possible, do something every day to appreciate the body I have. To get a little religious on you – I believe this body I have is a gift from God, so I wanted to use Lent to appreciate it a little more.
Every day, I either worked out, did 10 minutes of yoga, or wrote in a journal something that I appreciated about my body. It was much more difficult than I expected, and some days, I’ll admit, I let it slip. Some days I was not pleased with my body, and the best I could do was think about how thankful I was for this body that was able to run around after my 2 year old niece earlier in the day.
I have not learned to love all my imperfections in 40 days. But, I did raise my awareness and realize the times when I am most hard on myself, and when I might need a little bit more compassion for my body (after a reaction is one of those times). I also realized that when I work out, when I go to bed early and when I put good food into my body, the appreciation grows. I’m imperfect, and so are you, and that’s okay.