the honesty of the body

I’ve been having a struggle with my body lately.*

*lately could mean anything from “last few months” to “last several years” to “since I was born”, in varying levels**

**I think it’s telling that when I learned to spell stomach it made sense there was an “ache” on the end and therefore I miswrite it as stomache to this day



I’ve felt that despite my desire to love & accept my body, I also have to respect the alert signals my body is sending up.

I’ve done some harder exercise to test out whether I’m just not active enough.

I’ve done some cleansing, to see if I’m just eating the wrong things.

And I’ve tried to do a lot of self-care and get better to see if lowering levels of stress would help.***

***in a broad sense, stress is what life is made of. This is not a “mission complete” kind of experiment, but I have done a lot of stress-reduction.


A couple of days ago, I thought for the first time to ask myself, what do I think my body is meant to look like?

Not in terms of beauty standards or even of old Botticelli’s, but in a really practical “I know this about my family heritage and my own peak [so far] form” way.

I can rule out a flat belly. (It’s pretty much not natural for a woman, anyway: literally have more guts than men do.) However, my belly right now is quite clearly bloated.

I can rule out being skinny since I tend to be muscular when I’m fit, rather than lean–however, I know that I am carrying some pudge that probably has to do with clogged lymph and guts.

When I really get to down to what is my body signaling to me–I already know. I’ve known for a while. I have used caffeine for energy, and sugar for a mood-pickup.

While having a little of that occasionally might be okay for some people, it’s pretty clear that I’m not doing well with it.

The question really is: why can’t I commit to having the body I should? Not in terms of shape, but in terms of gut health, sleep regularity, cell-level health and reducing inflammation.

Maybe I’m afraid, not of being fit, but of finding out that all this time I could have been better off without coffee, without those sweet desserts every once in a while. That I knew the secret to being better, but was too stubborn about short-term perks to give myself a long-term gift.

This stuff isn’t easy.

But today I had some cocoa instead of another cup of coffee. And when I get a withdrawal headache tomorrow, I’ll think about the “stomache” I won’t have the day after.

The worst that can happen is that I’ll fail and try again. The best is that I’ll succeed and start repairing a body that knows it’s not quite right, even if it’s not sure what quite right is, since we’ve never really seen it together.

It’s possible my ideal body is just a figment of my imagination. Or that after I quit coffee for real, I’ll discover I still need to clear some foods out of my diet to bring down the chaos in my gut.

I can’t be sure, though, until I try to be honest with my body the way it’s honest with me.

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