Body love can mean whatever you like it to mean. While I certainly do love my body for all that it does for me, even when there are things I’d like to change (there always are), I’ve recently shifted into finding a deep respect (which you can argue that respect is a requirement for a loving relationship with yourself or another) for my body’s hard work and resilience. It does what I ask it to do and responds to the way I treat it. She’s got my back and I’ve got hers. It took us three decades to get here, but we did it.
Body love can feel impossible at times, but it doesn’t have to. It took me a very long time to learn to love my body and that definitely does not mean that there aren’t things I’d like to change. The first step productive step I took on my path to body love was body respect. Take a look at all of the things your body is able to do. It’s actually a machine that’s purpose is to keep you alive. I’m impressed by this on a daily basis. When I ask my body to run, she runs… it may not be the breeziest miles we’ve ever had, but she’ll do it. When I ask her to work 15 hour days, she does it. When I need her to be up and on for teaching a class even though she's exhausted af, she gives me her best shot and silliest dance moves. She, in turn, reminds me that not everything I want can happen right away and also, if I’m asking for things she needs to be treated a certain way to keep up and deliver.
Respect doesn’t happen overnight. You have to first establish a genuine trust and sense of empathy. As someone who has struggled with disordered eating and body issues (physical + emotional) it can be really hard to trust that things won’t go back to the way they used to be. Real talk: I do trust my body, but it’s something that comes up every now and again and I have to work through all the murky doubt to get back to blue-green trust. I trust that she’ll tell me what to eat, when to rest, how she’s feeling and in return I will work hard to listen. Empathy is a necessity in any solid relationship. To understand what is happening and communicate from a place of kindness is a way to build the trust that leads to the respect that leads to the love.
A loving relationship does not mean that everything is going to be perfect and happy with dancing fairies and gluten free avocado toast every minute. But if there is ample respect, trust, empathy, and kindness you’ll be more likely to tap into that love when times feel tough (like when the toast is not gf - joke). My body and I have been up and down, but eventually we got tired of not trusting or listening to each other. So, we put in the gritty, not glamorous work, went to couples counseling (for real though!), and little by little found out how to work together because I am she and she is me.