What is self-love? For me, learning what this means and how to *really* do it has been my biggest personal life challenge. In my past, loving my work was always a higher priority than loving myself. It's easy to list things like getting a manicure or going shopping or treating ourselves to our favorite treat. But are these things *really* self-love?
I used to indulge in my favorite ice cream - often. Indulging every once in awhile as a treat is much different than what I was doing - mindlessly eating a whole container in one sitting multiple times a month. THAT is not self-love, my friends. Any behavior done consciously, occasionally, and with awareness can be a nice indulgence or a way to pamper ourselves. But any behavior that becomes a habitual pattern or becomes a way to escape, avoid, or soothe our emotions - can quickly become unhealthy.
So what does it mean to really love and care for our self? Can we look deeper? True self-love and self-care practices support our LONG-TERM wellbeing - mental, physical, emotional and spiritual. My job isn't to tell people what to do to love themselves better, it's to point them in the right direction. I guide people through the aspects of wellbeing so they can discover for themselves how to better love and care for themselves. We are all unique beings with unique needs, interests, and preferences, so the specific self-love practices will look different for everyone.
Let's consider the aspect of physical wellbeing and how to integrate self-love into our physical health practices. The most obvious components of physical wellbeing include physical activity/exercise, diet/nutrition and rest/leisure. I'll touch on two of these today and revisit the third in a future post.
When choosing a physical activity or starting a new exercise program, I encourage women to find something that takes care of their physical body that they also enjoy doing. When we do this, we are connecting the concepts of physical wellbeing and self-love. Because then you move your body in a way that you enjoy and that feels good rather than one that feels like torture. And every time you show up for your workout, you are choosing to love your body. And you have fun while you're getting fit. Win-win.
What kind of physical activities do you enjoy? Walking or hiking? Running? Aerobics? Kick-boxing? Dancing? Strength training? Something else entirely? Or a combination of these? The ideal workout is different for everyone based on your personal goals, interests and needs.
And speaking of goals... when it comes to physical wellbeing, I encourage women to look beyond the scale. Losing weight is consistently among the most common new year's resolutions. But what happens if you start working out consistently and the scale doesn't budge? We feel discouraged, disappointed, bad about ourselves and we give up.
What if instead we go deeper with our goals? What if our goal wasn't to lose weight, but to improve our health? Or to feel better or have more energy? With these kinds of goals, we are more motivated to make choices that support our health and energy instead of worrying about our weight and depriving our body of nutrients.
I worked out *daily* for 2 months straight during COVID and didn't see the scale budge - not one pound. However, I could SEE other changes. I could tell that my physical strength was increasing and my cardiovascular endurance was improving. And I could SEE the changes in my body - my arms and legs were leaner and more toned and there was visibly less belly fat. Even though I didn't lose weight, I didn't give up on my workouts because I was *seeing* visible proof of change, and I was *feeling* different.
Also important to our physical (as well as our mental, emotional and spiritual) wellbeing is making time for rest, relaxation and leisure. The nourishing rest and leisure activities we choose must also be enjoyable so we make time for it. Do you enjoy lounging in a hammock? Sitting outside? Reading? Journal writing? Making art? Doing yoga or Pilates? Meditating? When we do something we enjoy while also giving our bodies time to replenish, we are practicing self-love.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to physical health or self-love. What nourishes your body? What fuels you? What makes you feel better - energetically and emotionally? What honors your unique needs and preferences? Find your unique path to self-love and really embody it through your physical health practices and daily choices and actions.