A relationship with our bodies is exactly that: a relationship.
And as with any relationship, it can be positive and affirming or negative and destructive. It requires consistent communication and attention. Your relationship with yourself can be incredibly rewarding or a source of sadness and anxiety. There will always be ups and downs, but by practicing healthy and consistent behaviors, you will find yourself balancing somewhere in the middle.
Learning to love and care for our bodies and our whole selves can be a daunting process. Expect some setbacks, but accept them and move towards a healthier relationship with some of these tips:
Find a better reason to live healthier than you "should"
Living a healthy lifestyle because you "should" is not sustainable. You won't enjoy it, you won't find satisfaction in it, and you won't be able to sustain it. I wrote a post awhile ago about the difference between "should" and "could" that might help you change your perspective.
Find a reason to exercise or eat better that doesn't revolve around a sense of obligation. Think of how lucky you are to do these things. If you run, be grateful for that fact. If you like to lift weights, reflect on each and every improvement. Pay attention to each new milestone you achieve. Pretty soon it will no longer be that you "should," but that you "get to."
Imperfections are not meant to be controlled
If you are anything like me, perfectionism can become the bane of your existence. You will have to realize that imperfections are not meant to be controlled. You can't fight genetics (minus any paid alterations), so you will have to learn to embrace what you are given. You may fight that for a long time like I did, but ultimately you need to learn to love the body you were born with. I say the sooner the better, but you're more than welcome to fight me on it.
I was unhappy with my body for many years and there are still days when it pisses me off, but if I am thinking in relationship terms, I need to treat myself the way I would want to be treated. Rather than try and manipulate ourselves into something we're not, simply let go of that control and practice some acceptance. Doing this leads to things like being happy that my jeans are too tight. Not doing this leads me to exercise obsessively and restrict my eating.
Back to relationships. How do you deserve to be treated? Learn to treat yourself with respect, dignity, and love. Learn to listen to what your body needs and wants. Poor self-care can be a sign that something deeper is going on either emotionally or with our priorities. Communicate with yourself as you would in any relationship to get below the surface and at what is actually going on.
Embrace the gray
I am a big fan of good vs. bad and black vs. white. I operate on two extreme ends of a spectrum and both can be equally damaging. It's something I'm working on, but like everything else, it's not perfect.
Learn to find your middle ground. Learn to balance. If you can only exercise three days a week, fine. If you can only get in 30 minutes today, fine. Find what YOUR balance is instead of living on either end of the spectrum. Not exercising at all and exercising seven days a week can be equally as detrimental.
Related: How to Balance Life and Blogging (you can easily substitute blogging with whatever you need help balancing)
Don't put yourself down
Think about a healthy relationship. Does it involve insulting and putting down your partner? Does it involve pointing out his or her flaws? I'm guessing that most of you know the answer is no. Your body is your friend. Love your friend. Know that through everything, you are enough.