Down with Self-loathing!

Woman & mannequinI grew up chubby and have often seen “fat” when I looked in the mirror, even when the scales said differently. Only in recent years have I begun to accept, even like my body.

No wonder I love the trend toward accepting one’s body— curvy hips, belly rolls, the slope of one’s nose, cellulite, freckles… I applaud the women who say,“I’m not covering up these jiggly thighs for your pleasure. I will wear skintight yoga pants if I choose. I will shake these hips and let my flesh spill out in celebration.”

Self love=Self care

Self-love is healthier than the self-loathing that has been the norm. For years I’ve listened to females from pre-pubescent to elderly “dis” their bodies. Too short, too skinny, ugly knees, and the most prevalent, “too fat.” Along with scores of “sisters” I’ve looked in the mirror and asked the proverbial question, “Does this make me look fat?”

All that self-loathing takes a toll. It takes time and energy, which could be spent doing something you love—painting, hiking, snuggling, reading, growing a business… But instead that time is spent putting yourself down or worrying about how your butt looks.

Plus there’s the emotional and energetic toll. Your body, mind, and spirit register that mean spirited talk. And that registering, even for a comment that might seem small and insignificant, takes a toll. It’s a punch in the gut. A kick to the heart.

It’s self-abuse. So you can see why I’m heartened to hear and see the trend in the opposite direction.

I believe in self-love.

For years we’ve been “fed” images by the media of thin, too thin, and photoshopped lovelies. Many of us received the message loud and clear that we too should look just like the women in the ads. And we don’t.

As the pendulum swings to the other side we’re getting messages that it’s acceptable, maybe even preferable to be as Meghan Trainor says in her popular song, “all about that bass.” If you’ve worked long and hard to get your body to look like Kate Moss, only to feel like a failure, you’re probably ready to embrace the current trend to love every bit of you. Love away.

BUT…

Here’s my concern.

I think for some self-acceptance has come to mean “I can eat a bag of Doritos because I love myself and I’m not punishing myself any longer. Rather than watching what I eat I’m learning to love all of me.”

True that punishing yourself is not self-love. Lose the punishment. Yes to loving all of you. But feeding your body foods that cause you to be obese, to be unwell, to not feel good, or have energy is NOT self-love. No matter what you look like.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the well-documented risks of making poor diet choices and being overweight. Stroke, heart attack, cancer, osteoarthritis, mobility issues, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, reproductive concerns, gallbladder problems, back pain… Self-love does not include behaviors that put you at risk for these kinds of issues.

Pendulum dilemma

In my perfect world:

  • We all learn to accept, even cherish our precious bodies. They are a miracle. (Isn’t it amazing that your body can take a peach or a Big Mac and turn them into energy?)
  • We all make choices that support, honor, and grow the miracles that we walk around in. I’m talking about that body of yours. You know, the one that feels love, can drive a stick shift, and fills out government forms. Okay, so maybe you never learned to drive a stick shift. Still you’re amazing and deserve to be treated that way.

So maybe you’ve ridden the pendulum to one side: “I need to wear a size 2 or my life is over” or the other “My curves are beautiful so I don’t need to worry about what I eat ever again.” Seek your perfect balance point. That point will let you, on most days, love the body you have. And because you love that body you treat it accordingly, discovering what it loves, what nurtures it, what heals it.

I hear some of you saying, “But my body loves sour cream and onion potato chips.” You might love the taste of those chips. (I do too.) But I’m asking you to go deeper. How do you feel when you eat them? How do you sleep? How easy is it to move? How much energy do you have for the things that you really want to do?

I find that I don’t feel or look as amazing if I eat lots of chips and sugar. I think more clearly without them in my world. I sleep better. I stay healthier. And all of those things help me live the life of my dreams.

My goal is to make a self-loving choice with food more often than not. (If you see me in line at my favorite health food store with a pint of Luna & Larry’s Mint Galactica Coconut Bliss and a spoon you might not want to take that moment to suggest that I make a more loving choice.) But stalk me at my favorite health food store and you’ll find my cart is usually filled with healthy, non-sugar, non-chip foods.

But not always. I’m not saying be perfect. I’m saying be loving. To your cells. To your heart. To your head.

The pendulum swings. Riding it to the middle can be challenging. Having the support of a coach can make a world of difference. Coaching can help you find a place where you feel like you’re making choices rather than being driven by your cravings, your habits, or your emotions. You can find a place where you accept yourself AND learn to make healthy choices your way.

What do you think? Are you on one side of the pendulum? What are your ideas about finding and managing your balance point? I’d love it if you’d share them here. Might help me or someone else on one of those less than balanced days.

 

Are You Paying Attention?

Self-care isn’t something that’s nice to do.Now-later

It’s essential.

I’ve known that for some time. True in my own life and that of my clients. But I’ve been quiet about some of the services I offer. Afraid to promote too heavily. Afraid of rejection. But all that changed for me about a month ago.

On a Sunday a friend who’s an author and international trainer had a stroke. This woman, a key figure in her industry, has touched the lives of many. Today she’s relearning to walk, do laundry, use a computer…

On that Tuesday another friend, a man with a brilliant mind and big heart, passed away after an 8 month dance with cancer. His kindness and belief in me were life changing when I was in my 20’s. His professional life was all about being an advocate for those in vulnerable situations.

On that Thursday his wife, my best friend from college and the maid of honor at my wedding, received her first chemo treatment for ovarian cancer. My friend was a social worker. Currently she works as a nurse practitioner in an emergency room. If you’ve ever complained about a health care practitioner without people skills you can appreciate how important this woman with skills in nursing AND counseling is to her community.

Big Heart, Brilliant Minds

The world needs people with big hearts and brilliant minds. We need the gifts, the life purpose, of these creative and caring souls.

I can’t say that if any of them had made different choices they would have avoided the events of that week. But I do know that people of a caring nature, the massage therapists, coaches, teachers, social workers, artists, etc. I work with often neglect themselves in the pursuit of helping others.

They skimp (or skip) on their workouts. They work late in order to help someone. They eat a fast food meal because they’re too tired from giving, giving, giving.

Yes, I’m talking about others, but I fall victim to this pattern as well sometimes. Thinking that finishing a project is more important than getting to bed. Telling myself I need to work “just a little longer” when what I need is to walk. When I pay attention and take care of myself it always serves me.

My takeaways from that week:

  • Take good care, really good care of the precious body, mind, spirit that you’ve been given.
  • If something’s important to you spend time with it. Friends, family, your pets, a favorite hobby, your purpose in life…
  • I need to be bolder about my message. I’ve stayed too hidden. I need to let people know how I can help. My genius is in helping people with a passion sink firmly into their purpose in a way that is sustainable. I can help them get out of overwork and overwhelm and onto a path that gives them energy and wellness. All while still doing the thing that they’re meant to do.

How about you? What can you commit to doing this week in service of your wellness and your purpose? Commit to it here!