I am going to get a bit unconventional here today and choose to acknowledge Valentine's Day as a way we can ALL celebrate not just loving others, but loving ourselves as well!
Carob-Date Caramel Covered Strawberries!
Learning to love yourself, for who you are AT THIS MOMENT, is so important as you embark on your journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
Without getting too cliche here, it really is true that your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever have. If you don't take care of yourself-- your body and mind, what good are you to other people?
For the longest time I looked at food and exercise as a rewards/punishment system. Even though I was eating a 100% plant-based, vegan, low fat raw diet! My exercise correlated to what I could and couldn't eat; if I did Bikram and then ran at the gym then I deserved to eat two durian, but if I didn't then I was lazy and I wasn't worthy of indulging in my favorite food. This would then correlate to how I perceived my body overall; my abs weren't visible enough, my stomach wasn't completely flat, my jeans felt a bit tighter. Even when it came to normal food consumption, I had rules that I had set for myself in regards to eating and often this translated to this feeling of constantly needing to be moving, expending energy -- earning my food. I couldn't just sit back and relax. I felt manic and stressed.
In essence, just because I changed the way I was eating, didn't mean that my negative view of myself or my body dis-morphia, that manifested in high school when I began dieting, magically went away as I thought it would. I was still ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT FOOD. And granted, I love food, and I love making food, but the way I was always thinking about food wasn't healthy.
Food and exercise should never be used in a rewards system situation no matter how healthy you are eating. Food and exercise are about nourishing your body and soul, end of story.
It wasn't until I got some disappointing blood tests back that I finally was able to take a step back and say, "Woah, what am I doing to myself here?" and "Is this really all worth it?" (Let me be clear in saying that I was never restricting calories- I still ate huge portions and never counted calories.) I realized that this obsessive routine I had created around food and exercise was interfering with what I wanted to do in my life. And I began to look at the larger picture in that, when I look back, twenty years from now, am I going to be happy? Ultimately, the answer was, "no."
Somewhere along that way I had begun to equate the way I looked, how my clothes fit, etc. with how much I valued myself and in turn, how much the people in my life loved me. I felt like if I looked a certain way then they would love me more. It is a common way of thinking, but extremely deluded, especially since no one in my life EVER gave me a reason to feel that way. I allowed myself to be consumed with negative thoughts, anger, and simply never feeling worthy.
It took time and a lot of dedication to change 10+ years of thinking, but learning to love who I am, right now, was key. Allowing myself to relax a little and not put so much pressure on myself to be perfect and always in control was another big step. And I think just learning to trust my overall natural instinct again was very important.
So, on this day of love, if you are feeling unworthy, self-conscious, angry, sad, alone - just take a minute, breathe in deep, and allow yourself to feel all these things. Then exhale them all out, let them go. Really, just let it all go. Tell yourself that you are worth it. Whatever body you are in right now, LOVE IT.
Once you accept that you are perfect as you are right now then achieving all the other goals you have set for yourself, will be that much more possible.
Hope you all have a sweet, positive, self-LOVING day!