Are You Doing Things TO Your Body or FOR Your Body?


Photo by Valerie D. Perry

I read on a friend’s Facebook Timeline the other day: “Instead of doing things TO your body, try doing things FOR your body!” Wow. Yes.

When we do things TO our body, we are interested in an outcome. We want to lose weight, tone muscles, look sexy, whatever. And 99% of the time, those things that we are doing have nothing with how we feel, and everything to do with how we want to be seen by others. (See last week’s post.)

When we do things FOR our body, our emphasis is on ourselves. Feeling good, doing what feels good to us, listening to our intuition. (See next week’s post.)

We are more likely to accomplish our goals if we’ve set them for ourselves, in response to ourselves. Not in response to what society asks of us. We are more likely to do the tasks required to meet our goals if we are actually excited about achieving them and invested in the outcome. Going to the gym and eating our vegetables wouldn’t feel like such a drag if we chose to do them simply because we know we feel good when we do.

I think of Pilates and dance as being done FOR my body. Stretch, strength, coordination, awareness. I think of running as being done TO my body. Slamming joints, disengaged mind. There may be a benefit, but there are too many negatives for me. I think of eating healthy foods as being done FOR my body. I feel better, my skin is better, I have more energy. I think of giving up dessert and alcohol altogether as something being done TO my body. It’s like a punishment. Life is less fun without a little treat!

When we do something FOR our body, it’s like giving it a gift, or doing it a favor, just like when we do something FOR someone else. Why is it we can be much kinder to others than we ever are to ourselves? When we do something TO our body, it’s like a punishment. Whenever we talk about doing something TO someone else, it’s always a negative. “What did I ever do TO you?” Or a physically violent act.

Doing something FOR your body implies moving ahead. We do something for a reason, to make progress, have or be something different than the present condition. Doing something TO your body implies standing still. You have to be in one place to have something done TO you. I know I want to be moving ahead. And I’m guessing, because you are reading this, you do too.

My challenge to you: Listen to your body. (I’ll write more on this next week.) Are you doing things TO it, or FOR it? Are you giving it a gift with your daily routines or punishing it? Are you moving ahead, or staying in place? Treat yourself with kindness. Making choices that are good for your body does not have to mean making choices that are making you unhappy, punishing your joints, or sucking valuable time from your day. What is something in your routine you can recognize as being done TO you, instead of FOR you? What can you do to change it?