The word AND is powerful.
It allows two things to be true at the same time.
I love staying up late and watching movies. And I love going to bed on time so I get enough sleep.
I love to spend time with my friends. And sometimes I turn my phone to “do not disturb” so that I can take care of myself.
I love classic and alternative rock music. And sometimes I am so caught up in the beauty of worship I start crying.
I love and accept that my body is good. And I want to be healthy.
That last one is heavy. Just sit with it for a while.
When you read it, what kind of feelings does it evoke in you? Freedom? Peace? Encouragement? Motivation? Shame? Guilt?
I hope you feel freedom and peace and are encouraged to take care of your body (and other aspects of health and wellness for that matter).
If you spend any amount of time on social media you will likely hear messages from across the spectrum of “you should be doing more” to “you’re fine the way you are” to “you can’t accept YXZ (insert some aspect of health and wellness) and still be working on it at the same time.”
There are multiple problems with these messages. First, I would argue that health is nuanced. Everyone has a different health journey that they are working on. If you have had a history of eating disorders the message of doing more is likely harmful. Second, for someone who has been diagnosed with a disease of lifestyle, a message that encourages them to take steps towards health (without guilt or shame) could be a life-saving message, and the message of “you’re fine the way you are” could be harmful. This is why I love the word and.
‘And’ as a word allows us to connect thoughts and sentences and allows there to be room for growth. Where the word ‘but’ can cancel the previous statement out, the word ‘and’ allows you to build upon what is already there.
I love and accept my body. But, I want to be healthy.
But, in this case, implies there is work that has to be done, that what is there currently is not good enough the way it is.
I love and accept my body. And, I want to be healthy.
And, in this case, it implies that I can do both, accept my body and be healthy. That I can recognize that my body is good, but that there are things that I can do to be healthy. I think this is something that is frequently missing from the love and acceptance movement. The idea that you can’t do both at the same time. Sadly, the love and acceptance movement sometimes (not always, not everyone) also uses this reasoning as an excuse to not work on health. I accept the way I am, therefore I do not need to work on anything. At its heart, the movement is not about not doing work. It is about treating your body with kindness and respect, honoring hunger signals, and fullness signals, and finding enjoyable ways to move your body. All of these are good things.
So, how do you do both? That is the question, right? And allows both to be true in words, but what does it look like in action? It starts with realizing that healthy habits are a foundation for that mindset. It is the little things day in and day out that help to make us healthy.