Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. - 1 Corinthians 6:19-20
An important facet of living like love is loving yourself-- specifically loving your body. Our bodies are temples, right? They're to be living sacrifices to God. God has trusted us to take care of all of His creation, which includes ourselves. We are to take care of our bodies as well as we care for everything else God has entrusted to us. We really only get one body. If we don't properly care for it, we're the ones who suffer the consequences. God has blessed us with bodies that are capable of so many amazing things, but we aren't doing His gift justice when we treat ourselves like dirt and continually berate ourselves for not fitting into the narrow definition of beauty our society feeds us.
Many of us are seeing the growing importance of taking care of the environment. We agree that measures need to be taken from keeping pollutants out of the air and water supply. We take steps to personally be responsible by recycling, reducing waste, and finding more sustainable products. But we often stop there, disregarding the link between caring for the earth and living things around us and caring for ourselves.
We treat things differently based upon the value we put on them. If we highly value and cherish a possession, we will take greater care to keep it in good condition. On the other hand, if we don't appreciate something we have, we are likely to neglect it and mistreat it. We can't treat our bodies well until we learn to be grateful for what they're capable of instead of focusing on perceived flaws.
We have predominantly negative views of our bodies, but studies have shown that there are great benefits that can be ours if we were to accept them as they are, flaws and all. Among them are feeling healthier, being better able to handle setbacks and disappointments, and reducing our risk of obesity. Not being ashamed of our bodies, but appreciating them for what they can do, and treating them with the respect and care they deserve, is one of the greatest ways we can take care of our physical, mental, emotional, and even spiritual health.
How exactly do we go about doing something so vague as "loving ourselves"? We treat ourselves with greater respect. We take care of ourselves. We don't focus so much on the numbers, be it calories, pounds, or inches; instead, we think about how we feel and what we can do to be the best versions of ourselves.
- Move more. Find a type of exercise you enjoy, and do it often. Appreciate the fact that your body can do all that it can do.
- Drink more water. We all know we need it.
- Eat more plant foods, like vegetables and whole grains. Fill up with foods that will give you strength and leave you feeling your best.
- Reduce processed food intake. Learn to limit things that don't make you feel good.
- Sleep more. Know that your body needs rest.
And ask yourself why you're doing what you're doing. If we're striving to make changes for the wrong reasons, we're unlikely to stick to them. On the flip side, if our motivation comes from a place of self-love and a sincere desire to do what's best for ourselves, we will be more committed to pursuing our goals, despite setbacks, and we will extend more grace to ourselves when we do slip up.
Instead of striving for six-pack abs, let's aim for increasing our overall strength, attaining whole-body and whole-life wellness, and rediscovering the joy that is found when we properly care for ourselves. May we see greater value in pursuing a feeling of empowerment by taking charge of our own well-being and relish the incomparable value of the sense of empowerment that comes with loving ourselves just the way God made us.