Let’s get serious today. The concept of self-love is being touted by our society, and whether you a tree-hugging hippie or a conservative feminist, you have heard about loving yourself. It is often misinterpreted as egocentric, narcissistic, and a selfish practice. In truth, you experience it every day – when you are eating a healthier lunch, going for a walk, taking a bath (hiding from kids, huh?), or buying a new outfit to go on a date with your favorite person. Today I would like to talk about this provocative topic: self-love in relation to your health and weight. Get your hot beverage, sit down comfortably, and let’s explore together.
My self-love story
First of all, it has not been easy for me. I believe that overcoming those challenges around us is hard for everyone. When I grew up, I have been bullied by other kids. I always had ridiculously high standards and demands of myself. My dad was very strict, in the most loving way. I was a perfectionist for a long time, so it never was enough. I was never good enough.
There was no self-love for me until my late twenties. It took years of work to understand what I am worth, and how I can love myself, yet balance it with the desire to change. Yes, I wanted to have the most glorious skin, perfect body, and impeccable taste. I battled with nutrition issues and smoking for a long while. I wanted to lose weight, become the fastest marathoner in the world (hello, Paula Radcliffe), and to have washboard abs!
The methods I used were not always the healthiest. It took me awhile to get where I want to be, and I dug in the “whys” a lot. I still struggle, and still set challenges for myself. Why exactly I could accept and love parts of me, and why other things were annoying the crap out of me, and I was in despair to change them. I found my balance, and I learned to align my daily routines to the goals. I also learned how to quiet down the perfectionist in me, and when it IS time to push towards my higher goals. Not easy? No. But doable. As a result, I am much happier human being. Acceptance is a big part of it.
Self-love and acceptance
You either have enough of it, or you don’t. How honest are you with yourself? Do you realistically look at your health, body, fitness, and goals, and say “Oh yeah. I am doing great!” Do you hide behind the comfort of “accepting yourself as is”? There is no right or wrong here. The truth is, acceptance does wonders. Everyone has their worth, and no one should say or even hint otherwise. It is much harder to live with a heavy heart full of hatred towards yourself, then accepting yourself and moving forward towards your goals. That is the key. Setting goals for yourself, to be better, stronger, faster… for YOU.
Once you love yourself as is, it is easier to pursue desired results. You already positively reinforce your greatness. You are as important as your loved ones. Remember they say you have to put an oxygen mask on first, then help the others.
If you honestly love and accept yourself as you are, then others will too. When you strive for more, others will cheer you on.
Acceptance is a confidence booster! You can accept your body and your wonderful inside and outside qualities, yet gently guide yourself to becoming better (healthier, stronger, thinner, etc.)
Self-love and self-acceptance go together with self-esteem and self-worth. You are the only person who can build yourself up. No one can change you EXCEPT you!
You are often going to be tempted to allow acceptance to put you in a certain category where you don’t belong.”I am obese”, “I am too skinny”, “I need a thigh gap”… Your internal voice will tell you whether you should change or stay in that category. Be careful to avoid the never trap. “I’ll never have a 6-pack”, “I’ll never run a marathon”, shouldn’t exist, because you are the only one that sets your own standards and limits.
What does society think about self-love and weight loss?
There is so much going on body image that is hard to predict what’s the next trend we are going to be pushed towards (thanks, social media). Meanwhile, France bans super skinny models, and America produces body positivity activists. Nothing is wrong with either, but they are extremely strong and influential trends. They can influence you whether you want it or not, and they can justify some of your actions. It is always good to get a reality check against your own ideas. Are you happy in your body? What is your next health goal? Do you need more of self-love, or do you need to lose weight? Maybe something in between?
Where is the happy middle?
It is a healthy, happy body that can move. The most amazing body that can go on a hike and breathe freely. The body that will enjoy sex. It will not be constantly sick and in need of care. The body that is full of energy, and the mind that is clear and contented. But that’s for me. What is it for you?
While obesity is epidemic in the US, we need to understand: it is not the body image issue, it is the health issue standing behind it. Weight loss industry made sure they will provide you with the fastest, one-fits-all solution to make you happy. Starve yourself, count points, wear out that treadmill, but how about people who are unhealthy, and the weight is only a symptom? Doctors aren’t helping them much. How about people who have an autoimmune disease, chronic colds and flu, blood pressure problems, and such? Taking a pill is just a Band-aid. So when do you actually need help, and what to do about it?
How to Know Your Body Needs Your Help
⇒ Look at your entire life’s picture. What is it you are missing the most? In your health, love life, family, work, etc? Are you energetic, healthy, and happy? Read further if your answer is “no”.
⇒ Where do you want to be? Skinnier, healthier, stronger, looking better? Think about the perfect image of yourself ( OK, if you want to be Brad Pitt, there might be some additional work involved 😉
⇒ Prioritize towards your goals. You know you can’t run after your kid if you have 50 extra pounds on you. Because it is hard. If your goal is to look like an Incredible Hulk, downing pizzas and beers every Friday may not work. Be realistic.
⇒ Listen to your body. If you never ran, you probably won’t qualify for Boston marathon tomorrow. It does not mean you should not move at all. Just don’t run 26 miles at once. Be smart.
⇒ Is your body giving you signs? Do you feel tired, depressed, unhappy when you wake up? Do you like what you see in the mirror – your skin, your shape, your hair?If your body tells you it’s unhappy with you (e.g. you get sick often, you have too much of extra weight, you have no energy, you have reproductive issues, etc), it is time to help it, in the most loving way you can. Donuts might be comforting but they aren’t loving.
⇒ Make time for yourself and your body as well as you make time to work, take care of others, and nourish your soul. Also, it will create a strong base for your health pyramid – the pyramids with strongest and widest bases do better holding everything up.
⇒ Consider self-love as an investment. You are spending all the time and effort to make yourself better, to feel better, to love better, and live a fulfilled life.
Self-love and change? Here are 7 ways to do so.
1. It is a journey, and it can be enjoyable. That’s where self-love and acceptance should come in and help you. You may not need to lose weight, or fitness goals are not on your radar, it might be some illness you are dealing with, energy levels, or else. Make it enjoyable.
2. The art of small steps. I can’t stress it enough – it will bring the compound results over time. Pick a new healthy habit, start practicing it.
3. Forgive yourself if you did not do well. You will have good and bad days. Don’t punish yourself for anything bad you’ve done. Start over, and keep going.
4. Food is for nourishing your body. Make the best choices for your goals.
5. Ask for help. We get so wrapped up in life and don’t realize how much a friend or a professional can do for us. It is time-saving and encouraging!
6. Balance out your stress and emotions. There are the roadblocks for most people. Learn how to respond to either in the best manner and keep pursuing your goal out of self-love, not against it.
7. You are the most important person to yourself. Nobody’s opinion should matter more than yours. You are a queen or king of your own kingdom! Block out the noise ( social media, your surroundings, and even significant others may tell you otherwise).
You may hate what you have become, or the habits that you have acquired, but it is important to not associate what was, with what can be. Loving yourself means moving past those flaws and overcoming! How do you handle this gentle balance of self-love and weight loss?
And of course, my dear, I am here to answer any of the questions you have. Always! You can also take these tips to implement change easily.
Author: Anya Perry
Anya Perry battled boring diets, low energy, and declining health for over 10 years before she found what works. Now, she helps women achieve their dream state of health, fitness, and vitality… without the struggles, battles of miserable diets and yo-yo results. She can’t live without coffee and challenges.