In high school we see shifts going on in our bodies and, wow, we better get into that gym and do some exercise classes to stay in shape.
Then we get onto the scale at the doctors office. Okay, phew, maybe we are still “in range.” But what does that even mean? Shouldn’t we be on the lower side? Do we want to be average?
Our bodies start changing and we wake into a new meaning of who we are and how we are here to support them and help them grow strong. Our bodies start changing and we understand that eating Cheetos every day after school may not be the move.
At least that’s what I started to learn.
I remember this moment distinctly: asking my mom for tomato and lettuce with my tuna fish salad instead of bread. Sure, I convinced myself that it was just for health and nutrition, but at the end of the day, I was living in fear that my body would change sizes and maybe one day even grow big. From that day on I wanted to change my physical form. I wasn’t skinny enough. Or I was in fear that my stick-thin body would blow up somehow.
In college, we run miles and miles on the treadmill, waking up each morning dreading the next day. We spend hours in the gym. We compare our size to our friends sizes and we get down on ourselves thinking “if only” I was a size smaller then I would be able to do everything I’ve ever wanted to do. When I lose weight, then I will feel good in my skin so then I will go out more and have more friends and be happy.
At least that’s what I started think.
And then, we’re adults. Time to get real, people.
We plan out our meals. We seek the highest quality foods. We get rid of processed foods. We may even try the paleo diet, or (god forbid) give up fruit and carbohydrates in an effort to get healthy or lose weight. We tone our bodies and tan our bodies and often restrict our bodies.
We will do anything to be smaller. Isn’t that what beauty is?
We say no to dinner parties and we hide out in fear of the “bad” foods all around. We only keep pure foods in the house and then feel out of control in a binge the moment a jar of peanut butter comes around. We hire coaches and nutritionists and personal trainers hoping that they will have the magic pill—the potion that will do it all. We put it in their hands to get us the body that we dream, the body that will make life different, sexier, more fun and full of life.
At least that’s what I started to do.
We spend a quality portion of our lives trying to shape this body we’ve been given—this miracle! And sometimes, we forget a very important piece of the puzzle: our bodies are not the masterpieces. Our lives are.
Let me ask you this question: If you spend all your time shaping your body, working it out, cleansing it out, toning it, tanning it, exercising it, putting makeup on it, dressing it, restricting it… are you living your life fully? Are you living for an overall beautiful life? Or are you living for a beautiful body? There is a huge difference.
Sure, eating and exercising in a beautifully healthy way may be your passion and that is gorgeous. Good for you. Life extension. Longevity. Health. Yes, I feel you. Truly, I believe we should all pursue our highest quality of health, upgrading whenever we can.
The only problem comes when we start solely living our lives for our bodies and not with them. When we start missing out on experience. When we spend hours and hours in the day making sure we eat the right things so that our abs show.
The only problem comes when we live thinking that one day we will have it all, disillusioned from the now in hopes for the future.
I’ve been in that cycle for most of my life.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve had symptoms that no doctor or holistic practitioner could really understand. My hair started falling out and I couldn’t digest a bit of my food. I had no libido or energy. But still, a part of me knew that this was not a normal part of the human experience. So, I dedicated my life to my body. To heal my body. To thrive in my body. And it worked. It did.
But, even then, even through all the healing, the plant-based, the cleanses, the detox retreats, the yoga, the breath work…
I was still way too focused on my physical body. I was still stuck in the societal traps that have us living for form.
Life is breath. It’s energy. It’s love. Life is laughter and beauty and flowers and sunrise.
Life is cuddles and fresh farmers market food. It’s spiritual highs. And meditation highs. And the highs from the cold water plunges in that gorgeous rushing river, back skirts Oregon. It’s superfood hot chocolate but its also a glass of red wine.
Life is travel. It’s reaching the top of a mountain. It’s dancing in the rain.
Life is communicating with the heart. Screaming at the top of your lungs.
Our beautiful bodies are our homes. They matter, don’t get me wrong. But they’re not the only thing we’re here for. They’re only the vessel to get us to do everything else.
You don’t need to master your body to master your life and you don’t need to control your body to enjoy a glorious life. You can do everything you’ve ever wanted to do. Your body isn’t stopping you. And never will.
Your body isn’t your masterpiece. Your life is.
Author: Carly Morgan Gross
Editor: Katarina Tavčar
Photo: Author’s own