Why I want to stop worrying about my body
TL;DR: I can't take it with me
All the energy I spend on my body and appearance won’t matter much in whatever comes next; so why do I care so much?
My mom’s been preaching this for a while — she always reminds me, “no one looked down into Grandma Spicuzza’s casket and said, ‘she would have been a better woman if she was 10 lbs. skinnier’”.
Still, even after mega amounts of therapy a decade of self-improvement while in recovery for an eating disorder, one-too-many girl scout cookies and an extra 8 lbs. on the scale2 still makes me feel like a worthless blob that would eat an entire Costco if left to her own devices.
In his book that explores all things spirituality, Wilson shares this popular trope about two twins chatting in the womb:
“One says to the other, “I can’t wait to get out of here! What adventures await! I bet it’s amazing on the other side of that trap door.” The other says, “Are you out of your uterine mind!? On the other side of that vaginal trap door is nothing but death and blood and screams and chaos! Enjoy your life in here! Nothing to do but kick back and enjoy this amniotic fluid and poke your elbows around every once in a while. We’ll just keep growing our organs and chillin’ in the sac, bro! Oblivion awaits out there! Fight it! Don’t gooo! Stay inside at all cost!” (58).
Wilson includes this story to illustrate how our purpose here in this life may be as simple as “to grow what we need for whatever realm or plane lies beyond this physical one”
I could be wrong, but my hunch is that there won’t be a scale at the pearly gates of heaven.3
On the flip side, what if the wrinkles and flab we gain as we approach the end of our time here are part of a grand design that will be useful in the next frontier? Something as purposeful as those seemingly useless eyes that baby in the womb eventually opened to see his mother.
Maybe I’ll keep my wrinkles, just in case…
Now, I’m not suggesting a total ban on fitness or taking care of your physical body. Afterall, the longer you live the more time you have to grow your soul. Instead, I’m advocating for a reprioritization of how we take care of our bodies and a recalibration of how much time we spend on our bodies versus how much time we spend developing our soul.
Born Fitness did an excellent post on the importance of moving boulders not mountains — basically the 80/20 rule.
There are a few small things that will make the biggest difference in terms of keeping our physical bodies healthy and comfortable long term in this world (walking, sleeping, a stress reduction technique, some light strength training), whereas some of the more complex and time consuming aspects of fitness have relatively little upside, especially when you consider what you give up (time, resources, headspace) to access them.
For example — there’s a follow up doctor appointment I need to make to address some pre-cancerous cells that keep forming on my cervix. Scary, important stuff, but I never seem to have time to make that phone call. Meanwhile, I’ve managed to read six chapters from a book on healing my gut, have taken 14 fitness classes and spent well over $200 on “healthy” foods this January alone.
All those things are fine in theory, but it’s a symptom of how focused on the 20% wellness culture has become, as I have yet to read one article or post for “wellness” month that’s encouraged me to schedule important doctor visits for the year4. We feel like we’re healthy, but all this focus on optimization when we don’t even have the fundamentals down is a distraction — just wasted time we could be filling with important, soul-developing activities like giving, connecting, showing kindness.
Imagine if some of your “wellness” energy was replaced with energy spent on developing your soul, and the soul of those closest to you.
Instead of how many calories I ate today, I asked how much kindness did I spread today? Instead of squeezing in 3-5 solo-fitness classes a week, what if I swapped one of those sessions with water aerobics to chit-chat with the (mostly) older women who always offer a hilarious dose of fresh perspective; or what if I swapped one of my postnatal core tightening sessions to volunteer to help other moms at Lotus House5?
Instead of wondering “do I need Botox now that I’m 35?”, I wondered “now that I’m 35, which charity should I support more generously?”6 What if I skipped food logging and logged some more hours on the project I started here, to create guidelines to regulate how the wellness industry markets to kids?7
Now remember, I’m also the person who sometimes equates my entire self worth to a number on the scale. I know our knee-jerk reaction is to fuss over our bodies, because it’s a lot easier to do than transform our souls. Plus, there are fancy machine (scales, fitness trackers, etc.) that will tell you if you’re doing it right!
But, I WANT to change this, because it’s not my body that will live on or be remembered after I die. When I feel the familiar anxiety swelling up in me for eating a whole sleeve of cookies, I (try to) wave to it as it passes by. I take a deep breath and remember the kindness and laughs I shared with the friend I supported with my purchase.
This year, flip the script: you’re not a body that has a soul, you’re a soul that has a body. Because, it’s very possible that our overarching purpose her on earth isn’t to have the fittest bod, but something much more pure and simple: soul growth.
Yes, Dwight wrote a book about the notorious G.O.D.
I threw away my scale and hadn’t been keeping tabs on my weight, so these extra lbs. hit hard, “mistrust” for myself, like I couldn’t be trusted with my weight without a scale, was the biggest feeling that came up
Or, wherever we go next.
This is your sign to schedule your annual dermatology skin check!
I realize it’s a lot harder to sign up to volunteer than it is for a fitness class; these places really should make it easier. But, try starting with a simple email to info@ and see where it gets you. Hi, I’d like to volunteer, what’s the next step. It’s usually simpler than it appears.
Reminder, the average Botox appointment is $300-$850 every 4-6 months.
Still plugging away, but made an interesting connection with a potential partner for this project; stay tuned!