“Listen to your body.” It’s a common refrain. We might hear this from a fitness instructor leading stretches, a friend encouraging us to eat an appealing-sounding meal, or a concerned coworker advising us to be sure we get enough rest.
At one point I wondered how to reconcile this message with what I had perceived as a need to disregard the body. In a well-intentioned but misguided effort to assert control over the body rather than allowing it to dictate conditions for my well-being, I had developed what was almost a disdain for my body. It was as if I just wanted it to disappear, and it was a drag to find it still there each day.
As I thought more about how to regard my body, I became increasingly aware that much of the media and society tend to swing to one of two extremes, either to deify or to demonize the body. But I concluded that neither of these approaches is helpful or healthy.