perspective

Body Envy

A recent conversation between friends turned to observations about an acquaintance of ours. In the past year or so she has become incredibly fit and muscular. The comments jumped back and forth: “Have you seen her?” “She is just a solid rock.” “I might have body envy.”

I thought about it and, remarkably, I totally don’t have body envy. At all.

I can look at her and think wow, she looks great. She is lean and strong. So it’s not that I don’t think she is in amazing shape…it’s more that I don’t have body envy of anyone.

Maybe there was a time when I looked at bodies and wished mine were different. But not now. Am I perfect? Nope. Mine is a body that has carried as much as 314 pounds (or more.) There is flab and extra skin hanging down that no amount of clean eating and gym work will ever take away. It’s me. It’s my story. Even though I am proud of my shoulders, if I lift my arms up there is a ton of deflated balloon skin that just drapes down. It is what it is. It is me.

It’s a choice for me. A choice to be comfortable in my skin. I’m pretty proud of where I am and what I can do. So no, I don’t have body envy. I wouldn’t change my story.

You know what I envy, if anything? A person’s spirit. Their soul. Their joy.

People with endless kindness. People with hearts for so many. People who always seem to find the bright side, even in the darkest of times. People who are caring, lively, giving.

Bodies are great. Goodness knows we need them and need to keep them healthy. But there are limits to what we can do to change them, especially after years and decades of experience (and, in some cases, enjoyment or abuse, depending on how you look at it.)

The spirit can always be made more beautiful.

balance

My Control Panel

In a challenge right now with a fitness group, we were tasked with thinking daily about what in our lives we can and cannot control. We had to write it down and repeat it to ourselves each day several times. To some this might seem silly, but especially in this time of flux and frustration, I found it useful. Here are some of the things I wrote down this week.

What I cannot control:

-My other family members’ schedules

-Other people’s priorities

-How other people interpret and respond to my choices

-How other people see me

-Many details about my work day – where I work, how I allocate my time, how many meetings I have to attend

-Traffic

-How fast the postal service delivers packages

-The coronavirus pandemic – its length, severity, and impact on people I care about and the world at large

-How others respond to the pandemic…their movements, opinions, responses, precautions (or lack of)

-Whether or not my daughter will have a lacrosse season

-The weather

-Other people’s level of stress and its’ impact on their actions, attitudes, etc.

The list goes on…and I realize I spend a LOT of time spinning my mental and spiritual wheels on the list above. NOTHING I CAN DO ANYTHING ABOUT. AT. ALL.

Here’s what I can control.

-My actions

-My choices

-Where I put my energy – writing, reading, recreation, learning, exercise, rest

-Where I direct my attention

-My movement

-What I consume – food, media, etc.

-My hydration

-My attitude toward challenges

Really, it’s a small list, but it’s what I need to focus on. You notice that most of what I can’t control involves other people and most of what I can involves me. When I find myself fretting about the world and all its ups and downs, I remember what I can control and then try to DO something related to these lists.

It seems like a goofy task to say these things several times a day, but I learned that my anxiousness lessens when I consciously remind myself what I can do something about. And then DO one of those things. What’s on your lists? Give it a try and see how you fare.