The Body is a Tool

Five years have vanished since the last time I laced up my sneakers and competed in a basketball arena. And now, instead of stepping onto the hardwood, I found myself stepping in front of the mirror.

Although less pronounced, muscles continue to protrude from my shoulders and biceps. My calves still bulge so big, my trainer felt it necessary to come over and touch them.

“Too bad I don’t play sports anymore,” I caught myself thinking as I stared at myself in the mirror.

Or, in other words: I don’t need this type of body anymore. Too bad I can’t change it.

After a career in athletics that spanned the course of nearly two decades, my body has been through a lot. It has been pushed, sculpted, and shaped at the hands of trainers as meticulous as Michelangelo. It has been broken and stitched back together by orthopedic surgeons. And it has also been whittled, chiseled, and “fine-tuned” by disordered eating.

People notice your body. And lots of times, they report back to you with their findings. They notice when you lose weight and “look good”. While on the flip side, they notice when your stomach needs to “deflate” (someone’s actual word).

Because of that, in my own mind, my body became a gauge of perfection. A status symbol, really.

After all, what other status symbol can broadcast whether you’ve been self-disciplined and diligent in exercise and diet? What other status symbol has the ability to attract or repulse? What other status symbol garners as much attention (whether that be positive or negative) as the body?

So, my body became a billboard—the best and most easily identifiable indicator—of all I had achieved. It was the trophy for all my hard work and success. It was the symbol of my own “perfection”. And at times, I wanted perfection more than I wanted to eat.

But ladies (and gentlemen), our bodies are not symbols. They are tools. They are not the representation of our success, but rather its nuts and bolts.

Until we recognize the good our bodies do (and the good they are), we will never be satisfied. They will continue to represent a myth, a lie, that we have attained perfection.

I take one last glance in the mirror before turning off the light and walking away.

“MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM!” my two-year-old yells. Her hands flail above her head as she sprints toward me with a huge smile on her face.

I bend down and hold my arms out wide as Marie crashes into my embrace. Laughter bubbles as we topple backwards together. I kiss her cheeks, tickle her sides, and brush the hair from her face. Then I scoop up my infant, planting pecks on her cheeks as well, listening as she coos and mutters “mamamama”.

In that moment, I find immense, genuine gratitude for my body.

After all, what other tool can pour out that much love? What besides my body can I use to kiss, tickle, hug, and hold my children? What better tool can I use to show people I love them?

There isn’t a plethora of tools I can whip out upon convenience. Heck, there isn’t even a toolbox. I only have one tool: my body.

And I intend to use it well.

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