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Summer recreation means we’re often in circumstances where we see everyone else in swimming attire at the pool, beach, etc. It’s next to impossible not to notice and compare. It’s not unusual to feel frustration, envy or inadequacy.  These feelings then have a nasty way of robbing us of healthy feelings and respect for our bodies, as well as the motivation to take positive action and make changes.  I found a great deal of inspiration from a neighbor and kindergarten teacher.

Shannon had been overweight from early adolescence and told me,

“From the time I was a teenager I thought that because I come from a family of unusually big-boned, wide-shouldered women — and would clearly never be a “California girl” —  that somehow it wasn’t worth the effort to take control of my weight. It doesn’t’ make sense, I know, but that’s how I felt, so that’s how I lived.” Her turning point came when she started experiencing knee and joint pain in her mid-40’s. “It wasn’t a matter of how I looked; it was a matter of keeping up with my own children, and all my little students at school.”

When she reached the half-way mark, down just under 30 pounds, she announced to her husband, “Honey, I’ve lost a toddler!”

He was quite concerned, thinking a child had gotten lost. She quickly and enthusiastically reassured him that it was her extra human weight that was now permanently gone.

I’m one toddler down — and one to go!”  As she showed him the extra folds of fabric in her way-too-big shirt, she asked, “Can you imagine how I’ll look when I’ve lost it all?”

“Sweetheart,” he responded, I love you no matter what you weigh, but it’ll sure be fun to find out.”

It was indeed fun to find out as she very, very slowly lost the rest. Though extremely frustrating at the time, the 9-12 months it took gave her the opportunity to prayerfully accept her own body type and shape.

It’s now six years later and she continues to keep it off. 

Her counsel is wonderful: “Don’t let your body type destroy what is your divine privilege: to achieve and maintain a healthy weight! I’m still big-boned, large-busted and wide shouldered, but I look great, feel great and have established something priceless for myself and my own daughter, who has inherited the same body type. We have every right to celebrate our body type as other women with different types!  I’ve learned to consciously dismiss thoughts and images of body types that have no bearing on my reality.  My Heavenly Father wouldn’t have it any other way, and neither would I.”

Finding that peace with your own body is as challenging as losing the weight.   So how do we accept our own body types and thus find joy in caring for them?

Online health writer I. Kvetka at eHow.com says:

 “Acceptance is the act of embracing what life presents to you with a good attitude. For many people, their body is the target for their harshest judgments and the barometer by which they measure their self-worth. Since your physical shape is the form in which you show up in the world, it is very often the way you define yourself and often the way others define you. There is much documented proof that the mind and the body are connected, so acceptance of your body is not only essential for your emotional well-being, it is essential for your physical health, as well. You know you are moving in the right direction, when you can accept your body exactly as it is in its present form.”

Does this mean that you should never endeavor to improve your body? Of course not. It is perfectly natural and human to want to be at your physical best. What this does mean, however, is that you need to stop criticizing, judging, or finding fault with your body even when you are not at your healthiest or most attractive. Acceptance or rejection of your body only carries weight in your mind. You can make the very subtle but powerful mental shift into acceptance.

One of the most important ways to find peace through acceptance is to identify what stands in your way, your weakness. Putting it out on paper: the physical characteristics that frustrate and inhibit your ability to accept yourself, such as your lack of height, large bone-size/frame (which was Karen Carpenter’s lament) over-sized hips from Grandma Jones, pear-shape, etc. By acknowledging the limiting belief that you have about your self you can than move to the second step: to search your soul for a deeper core connection with who you really are.

What joy there is in finding the strength to do this through the scriptures!

“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” Ether 12:27

When those weaknesses are made manifest, we can humbly say, as the young boy Samuel did, “”Speak, lord; for thy Servant heareth.’ I Samuel 3;9

With that humble acceptance will come, as it did for Shannon, the blessing of God-given affection and respect for your mortal body as a temple.

Kvetka continues “To respect your body means to hold it in high regard and honor it. Respect is treating your body with the same care you would give any other valuable irreplaceable object. Learning to respect your body is vital. Treat your body as a structure worthy of respect and it will respond in kind. Abuse or ignore it and it will break down in various ways. Listen your body and its wisdom; it will tell you what it needs if you ask, listen and take heed. It will give a lightness to your heart and do wonders for your soul.

Another scriptural way to accept your body is simply to memorize this celebrated scripture:

This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24

Elder Marvin J. Ashton (May 6, 1915 – February 25, 1994) often shared the story of a little boy who, though full of the dickens and often in trouble, told his teacher after yet another scolding: “I know I’m somebody cause God don’t make no junk!”

So, while this the day the Lord has made, so is your body, something special that the Lord hath made.

While it may not be the one you’d choose if given a catalog, nevertheless, it is the one that He has made FOR you! We can rejoice and be glad in that, even as we find joy and rejoicing in the other things he has made.

Though it’s way too easy, and only marginally important to make a list of the shortcomings your physical body presents, it’s much more beneficial to make a list of all the things it can and does do for you each day – even a handicapped body that is in a wheel chair, or one that cannot exercise or participate fully. You can, breathe, read, talk, see, hear, listen, smell, taste, love, laugh – not matter WHAT your body type is, or WHAT you may currently weigh. Is that not something to rejoice and be glad about? That literally carries weight and brings confidence and value for health choices to make this very moment and day?

I believe our Heavenly Father rejoices and is glad when we come to Him for help in accepting that which he has made … and then, with his love, move on to filling the measure of our creation with the health and energy that is the natural consequence of treating ourselves with respect through smart food and exercise choices – no matter what our body type or current weight is! In fact, it just may be that our body types were given to us as weaknesses, so that we could and would turn to him as an opportunity for us to become closer and more dependent upon His grace, which is suffficent for all …

Indeed, we will rejoice and be glad .. not matter what our body shape or type!

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success – One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life, available at her website:  CLICK HERE

She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. She is the owner MyMiracleTea.com, an herbal detox tonic in keeping with the Word of Wisdom, now used by Meridian readers and missionaries everywhere.  CLICK HERE.

She is a mother of five and the grandmother of a growing number of grandsons and granddaughters and lives with her husband, Bob, in Springfield Virginia, where they serve as the nursery leaders.