Tuesday, June 21, 2011
My folks live outside of Myrtle Beach, SC home of the MB Pelicans, an Atlanta Braves farm team in single-A minor league baseball. One of the sponsors of the games there is an auto lube franchise who has a costumed mascot at the games called Lubey. On Lubey's jacket is the company's motto, "If you love it, lube it." Now, I'm not going to make the obvious off-color jokes about this (although I have, many, many times because I have a low sense of humor and only the barest veneer of class). Instead I want to take it as a springboard to talk about something that's a bit harder to get our heads around: loving our bodies.
Our relationships with our bodies are difficult by definition. The body is the source of our appetites, has needs which we sometimes find disgusting, etc. We find it difficult to deny our body's wants even when we know we should. It's no coincidence that St. Francis called his body "Brother Ass." Those of us who are overweight (*raises hand*) have to deal with the fact that we're frequently ashamed of our bodies, wishing our bodies more closely resembled those of the people we see in the media. It's entirely too easy to go from frustration or embarrassment with our bodies to actually hating them...and that's something we need to be cautious of.
Hating our bodies is a tremendous mistake and one that can have enormous negative consequences. Getting fit, being healthy, being happy means doing the right things for our bodies--feeding them enough of the right kind of food, exercising them carefully and regularly, monitoring their feedback to identify and correct small problems before they become big ones. It's a lot like taking care of a car or motorcycle. You have to make sure it gets the right fuel, that the various systems are in good repair, the oil is changed and a dozen other things to make sure it's running right and looking good. Ask yourself this question: would you go to that effort for a car you hate? Would you go to that effort for a body you hate?
Obviously, you wouldn't. To my mind, step one is to break free of shame and fear and loathing of our bodies and to go ahead and love them, just as they are right now. Someone who buys an old junker to restore it loves that junker when he buys it...not just when he finishes restoring it. The love precedes the restoration. The love, arguably, is what causes the restoration. If we want to devote the time and effort and work to making our bodies better we have to start by loving them right now, warts and weight and all. We are extraordinary machines--it's high time we acted like it.