There are places I have been where only my body could have taken me.

I’ve leaned it back in a chilly mountain stream five miles from the nearest parking lot, without a soul around, and a million dollar view of some north Georgia mountains.

A woman in a sports bra grins while lounging in a mountain stream

I’ve hauled it up and down boulders and stood it on the top of a 5,267 foot tall peak.

A man and a woman stand in the fog next to a sign marking Katahdin's peak

I’ve paddled it into the quiet cove of a lake where I startled a turtle but snuck up on a heron who didn’t know I was enjoying its company.

I love the parts of my body for what they can do, if not always for what they look like.

The arms with their jiggly bits that can pull me through two miles of murky lake water and see the beautiful wooded shore when I take a breath into my practiced lungs.

The thighs that are difficult to shop for because of how they strain against blue jeans can also strain their way up mountains, and back down, shaking with the effort.

The stomach that’s less-than-flat can give me the pleasure of an hour-long Pilates mat class.

I have come into my body over time. It is more of a woman’s body these days, softer, a little rounder at the edges. I was always straight up and down, square at the shoulders and made more so by my hours in the pool. And then, a surprise of blooming hips, throwing off my casual equilibrium in the water. I had to learn to care for this new shape, to take it to the gym occasionally, and to eat fewer sweets. I will never be skinny, never be described as boyish or waifish or any other -ish that our magazine culture prefers.

I’m me-ish, and I love my body for what it can do.

It can run 6.5 miles in short sleeves on an unseasonably spring-like January day.

It can wade through a squish of decomposing leaves to stand naked, shivering, and alive under a frigid hidden wilderness waterfall.

It can tussle and tickle and share big belly laughs, which sound a lot like love.

There’s a mind that governs this body, which I love for what it can do, and the mind doesn’t always paint such a rosy picture. The mind strives for control, for the counting of calories, more exercise, fitting into smaller pants. But the mind also yearns for the buttery flake of a perfectly baked croissant, the salty tang of a roasted sausage, chocolate melting on the tongue.

I’m learning to love this body, the one that I have, instead of any other one I might wish I had, and take pleasure and pride in what it can do.

I am interested lately in the principles of Intuitive Eating:

  • Ditch diet culture
  • Honor your hunger
  • Make peace with food
  • Challenge the food police
  • Feel your fullness
  • Discover the satisfaction factor
  • Eating your emotions
  • Practice body respect
  • Practice intuitive movement
  • Honor your health with gentle nutrition

Appreciating what my body can do, and knowing that I shouldn’t take its health and its abilities for granted, helps me reset my brain when I’m tempted to dive back into another Whole 30 because the number on the scale isn’t one that I like. The principles of Intuitive Eating are helping me work through feelings of guilt when I experience hunger, encouraging me to move because it feels good and not because I have to, and reminding me that it’s a good thing to take pleasure in the foods I get to eat.

I love this body, with all its imperfect, squishy, and blotchy parts, for the things it can do and the places it has taken me and will continue to take me if I give it the fuel and the respect it needs.

Laura Lindeman

Laura Lindeman