“I get no respect.” If many people’s bodies could talk, this is probably what they would say, having been abused and neglected by the very person who should love them the most: the person who inhabits them.

Dogs are said to be man’s best friend, but in reality, your body is your best friend. Consider this: Your body is constantly working, trying to help you survive everything around you, and even what gets inside you. It’s working 24/7 with just one goal: your well-being. Sure, sometimes things go wrong, but it’s never due to lack of good intent. The human body is incapable of malice, yet too often it is treated with neglect or even disdain.

I see many people who treat their body as their worst enemy instead of their best friend. If that’s not a terribly uncomfortable way to go through life, I don’t know what is. To dislike, ignore, neglect or abuse your body when you can never get away from it is a sad way to live.

You were born with this body, and you will live out the rest of your life with it. Shouldn’t you make peace with it, accept it, learn to appreciate it and even grow to love it? It’s not as hard as you might think.

Most of us already know how to accept, appreciate, love. We have no trouble acknowledging that we love a specific person despite their physical imperfections, be it a child, a love interest, a parent.

So what is so different about your own body compared to that of your loved one or anyone else’s? Quite simply, nothing. Your body isn’t out to get you. On the contrary, your body does its best to support you in a number of ways. For example, no matter what you feed your body, it tries its hardest to balance things out in a healthful way, working to control blood sugar levels after a high-sugar meal. But you have to take care of your body. Continual abuse and neglect will lead to deterioration.

We should view the body as a loving friend who has our best interest in mind and deserves our help. We must be mindful to not abuse it or take it for granted.

The body must have nutritious food, physical activity, sleep, relaxation, recreation and many other things in order to do its job. You’d go out of your way to make sure those same needs of a child, dear friend or other loved one were met, wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you go out of your way for your body? Why wouldn’t you make its care a priority?

I know that, to some, it may seem odd to think of your body in this way but, in actuality, it should be the most natural thing in the world. To become a better friend to your body, consider doing these things:

* Stand in front of a mirror and try to look at your body objectively. Does it appear healthy and fit for its age? Does it appear neglected or abused?

* Imagine your body trying hard to be the best that it can be for you even when you’re not treating it well.

* Ask yourself, “What have I been doing to help my body? What have I been doing to hurt my body? What kind of friend have I been to my best friend: my body?”

* Ask yourself, “What do I want to do to help my innocent body help me?”

* Now talk to your body like you would talk to someone you love. What would you say to that person?

It’s time to apologize for any neglect or abuse and vow to be a better friend.

In order to learn to love your body so that you can treat it well, you have to step back and get a more objective perspective. It is then that you can see your body as the best friend it really is.