Body image… a weighty topic.

by Elizabeth on January 24, 2013

Let me start out my body image post with a picture of food because I feel it’s appropriate. If you have not tried this you have not lived. I spread some on bread and paninied (it’s a verb, I just made it up) it and had it with some fruit salad at my group yesterday. And honestly, it was more like a dessert than a sandwich. But who’s to say you can’t have that for lunch every now and then?

picmonkey_image

We always begin meals with what we call centering, just to clear our minds and help us be more present in the moment to really experience the meal. I am currently reading a book called Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David, and I found reflecting on this quote during our centering really helpful.

“In changing the way we eat, we change the way we live. By focusing attention while eating, we learn to focus attention in any situation. By enjoying food, we begin to enjoy nourishment at all its forms. By loosening dietary restrictions, we learn to open up to life. By accepting our body as it is, we learn to love ourselves for who we are. And by eating with dignity, we learn to live with dignity.” – Marc David

After lunch we began our group by talking about sex for an hour and a half. Don’t worry, I’m not going to get into that (although I bet quite a few people would keep right on reading if I did…) After that interesting conversation, we shifted focus to body image. I don’t really like the term body image, because it only encompasses one aspect of an issue I think is much more than visual, so I am going to use the term body relationship instead.

You don’t have to have an eating disorder (or even be female for that matter) to struggle to a degree with your body relationship. I found it really helpful to dive into the issue and see where maybe I can improve, and I want to share that with you.

Like I mentioned earlier, body image isn’t the only aspect of a body relationship. It’s probably the one that receives the most focus which in my opinion, isn’t necessarily helpful. Learning to appreciate my body for different things other than how it looks has really helped me shift. I thought listing the different aspects of a body relationship could help me describe those aspects to you.

  1. Function- My body is awesome because my heart beats, my lungs exchange oxygen, I can walk, talk, run, play, have a baby, etc.
  2. Expression- Basically describes who I am and how I give myself to the world. I can choose to invest time in meaningful things, do arts and crafts, and be authentically me through my body. I can dance and sing and express myself in a variety of other ways that make me unique.
  3. Spirituality- Through spirituality I know my body is a vehicle from God which I can live out my life’s purpose. I can experience God through people and events.
  4. Pleasure- I am able to taste wonderful foods, smell amazing candles, coffee in the mornings, seasonal things at Christmas time, feel warm sunshine on my skin, hear beautiful music. Bodies would be pretty dull if we never experienced pleasure.
  5. Image- how I feel about my body and how it looks (not always great, but when taken into consideration with all of the above gifts is really able to change.)

I read this quote (also from Nourishing Wisdom) before dinner and I also found it meaningful.

I agree to the necessity of being an eater. I recognize that at its deepest level, eating is an affirmation of life. Each time I eat, I agree somewhere inside to continue life on earth. I acknowledge that this choice to eat is a fundamental act of love and nourishment, a true celebration of my existence. As a human being on earth, I agree to be an eater. I choose life again and again and again….”

For dinner I made us tilapia with buffalo crumbs and red pepper, grilled vegetables, and beans and rice.

picmonkey_image

Questions:

1. Which area of body relationship do you feel strongly about? Which one is hard for you?

2. Have you tried the Laughing Cow spreadable cheeses?

- No one should answer “no” unless you follow it with “but I am driving to the store now to get some to make my life more complete.”

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kayla Owen January 25, 2013 at 7:44 am

I loved this blog. Insightful. I have never tried that variety if Laughing Cow, but I shall put it in my list. Anything with cinnamon in it is a win-win for me. :)

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2 Elizabeth January 25, 2013 at 2:18 pm

Kayla I miss you so much! I hope you are well! And yes I agree, anything with cinnamon is a win…

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3 Kathy January 25, 2013 at 8:17 am

That book sounds wonderful. The quotes are great. May have to copy/pasted the first one today. ;-)

I probably feel strongly about all of them except the Image~typical right?~I love my body for its function and how God made it and every thing I get to experience while still present in this body God gave me. I am thankful for each day here however, the stressors of life get in the way of enjoying each minute/hour some times.

So trying to accept my “Image” of what I have done with the/my body whether good with consistent exercise and muscle definition or bad when I indulge in too much sugar for 5 days in a row and feeling very bloated/jiggly/blah; my perception of MY image changes and it can be very depressing when not accepting the outcome of my choices. ;-(

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4 Elizabeth January 25, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Copy and paste away! Image is definitely a hard one. It really helps me keep it in perspective though when I think about how much more I value the other ones. It’s never easy! Thanks for your honesty!

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5 Sarah January 25, 2013 at 8:31 am

I love all of this. I obviously struggle with body image a lot so it’s nice to see posts like this that remind me of what the actual purpose of the body is. Who cares if I have some extra skin on me? It’s doing it’s job and that’s what matters. Great post :)
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6 Carly @ Snack Therapy January 25, 2013 at 8:56 am

Pleasure is my favorite and my strongest type of body relationship. I love enjoying the delicious and beautiful things life has to offer!

The image type is probably my biggest struggle. I’m a lot better than I used to be, though, which is definitely something to be proud of!

Great post, girl. Love it :).
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7 Elizabeth January 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

I’m glad to hear that! Enjoy away :-) Thanks Carly!

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8 Alex @ therunwithin January 25, 2013 at 9:26 am

body image is a tough one, I really feel like it is a work in progress for me and something I know I still need to work on. it is tough with a society that pigeon holes us into one look. keep strong lady!
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9 Amanda @ .running with spoons. January 25, 2013 at 10:04 am

Body image has always been a struggle for me, hence my past struggles with an eating disorder. Recovery has really helped me appreciate my body for what it does rather than how it looks, so I’d like to think I’m doing better in that department. And I’ve never tried that type of Laughing Cow, but that’s mostly because I haven’t been able to find it up here.
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10 Alexis January 25, 2013 at 11:29 am

Body image is something that I am definitely working on. I just created a blog to help me keep track of my journey too! :)
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11 Elizabeth January 25, 2013 at 2:20 pm

Can’t wait to read it!!!

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12 torontorunner January 25, 2013 at 3:32 pm

What a wonderful post. :)
Body image , I think, is something everyone can relate to.
Whenever i’m having a down day…or being hard on myself, I relate to the function you mentioned. It is incredibly humbling to stop and think – and be grateful – that you have a functioning and healthy body. I always think about this after every single run – no matter if it’s for 1 mile or 10 – the simple fact that I can run, by choice, is pretty humbling!
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13 Stephanie@nowirun.com January 25, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Well, I’m tall (6 feet) and curvy like a black woman on the bottom (I was told this by my African American basketball coach), totally flat-chested on the top. In the past I haven’t felt like I have a beautiful body because of that mismatch of shapes. This past year I have come to appreciate my body so much more and it feels good to let go of some of the ways I criticize myself.
Laughing Cow cheese is great but I didn’t know they made one with cinnamon! Yum
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14 Alexis January 29, 2013 at 12:26 pm

Wow that cream cheese looks delicious!

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