I literally spent months hemming and hawing over what to say when I re-launched my blog, painstakingly trying to craft the perfect post, because I wanted it to be impactful enough that you might actually come back. I thought that when I finally pulled the trigger, that writing everything else would be a piece of cake.
Incidentally, I just spent the past hour of my life scrolling through Instagram while the screensaver flashed across the monitor of my untouched computer (yes, I have one of those and yes, when something scares me, my general reaction is to procrastinate). The idea of jumping right into this topic felt heavy, un-fun, and struck me as slightly uncomfortable to read, but here's the deal - I firmly believe that without this foundation, radical, long term change to your health and happiness is impossible. Also, I promise that if you read all of it, my next post will be a recipe for this really amazing healthy coffee/ fudge/ raw almond ice cream I made the other day. So here we go.
The following are 3 truths that I tell each of my coaching clients when we first start working together:
- There are a lot of things that may potentially sabotage efforts to make changes to your health.
- There are quite a few things that will more than likely sabotage said efforts.
- Then there are a couple of things that will make it very near impossible to make real, long term change, and the most important of all of them is this:
If you’re going to lose weight, improve your health, or make any lasting lifestyle change, you must learn to fully love yourself, body included, exactly where you’re at and throughout the entire journey.
Most of us looking to lose weight or make other big changes have the mindset that once we hit that goal, we'll be happy, we'll be able love ourselves more. If you stop reading my blog forever after this, please take away just one thought: It's the reverse of this that actually holds truth.
it doesn’t matter if you weigh 600 pounds and need a crane to lift your ass out of bed each morning. I’m going to repeat this because it’s so important: you must be able to look in the mirror and love what you see, because if you don’t, you’re constantly fighting your own efforts. When was the last time you treated something you despised, with love and compassion? If you’re trying to make positive changes to yourself, it’s critical that you treat yourself accordingly, and love is something that you simply can’t fake.
As someone who hated my own body for years of my life, I know that you don't just wake up one morning totally in love with yourself. It's a long process but it's the most important process you'll ever go though. This is just a start, but below are some of the practices that have worked for both myself and later, my coaching clients - resulting in a rock-solid foundation when it comes time to start making changes.
Be cognizant of messaging.
Have you ever actually given any thought as to why we, as women (and more frequently, men too) constantly beat ourselves up over the way we look? I have, and I’ve researched it extensively. Here’s the Cliffs Notes: We live in a society where our outward appearance is given a tremendous amount of weight in defining who we are as humans. You’ve been exposed to this from a very young age, so it's likely rooted deeply in your subconscious. You can’t escape the “perfect” woman: she’s in movies, on TV, on billboards, in magazines, in advertising. You’re literally surrounded in images and messaging telling you on a subliminal level that to be perceived as sexy (read: worthy, desirable, lovable), you must hold a certain set of aesthetic qualities. Qualities that these women themselves don’t even possess because they’re heavily photoshopped and edited (yes, on TV too). The result is generations of women -and more increasingly men- who look in the mirror each day and feel like they aren’t enough. Not sexy enough, not desirable enough, not worthy enough. Excuse my French but F that. We’ll come back to this in a future post but for now, just start paying attention to it.
Get clear on your why.
If you’re just in it to look pretty (eg, strictly weight loss as an end goal), I gots news for ya - it’s not enough for long term change. We humans like pretty but what we really crave is connection, experience, and a rich, fulfilling life. The human experience is not about being pretty; It’s about being strong enough to chase our kids, to have enough focus to produce work we are proud of, enough energy to enjoy every moment of the day, and to vibe at the highest level possible so we can lead epic f’ing lives. Optimal health is a catalyst for all of those things. Is it ok to want to feel pretty? Of course. Is that the roadmap to changes that last? Highly unlikely. If you’re stuck on your Why, I have a kick-ass exercise I recommend to all of my own coaching clients, and it helped me get crystal clear on my own Why. Happy to share.
Every day, write down 10 things you love about yourself, and 10 things you love about your body.
Ooh. This was so hard for me at first. After I got divorced, I dedicated an entire 18 months to falling in love with myself, and I started here. Real talk: it took discipline, but the results were 100% worth it - I am hands down, the happiest I have ever been. This was the practice I used to get clear on who I was, what I loved about myself, and why I was not just enough, but why I am amazing. There will be days you might not be able to hit 10 in each category easily, so it’s ok to repeat the same 10 things. (Hint: if you’re feeling stuck, ask a close friend or significant other what your best qualities are. Feels awkward AF, do it anyway).
Look yourself in the eyes (in the mirror) each day, and tell yourself that you are enough.
Now that you’ve identified the things about you that are awesome, you can do this with conviction. Feel like 10 great qualities don’t make you enough? You’re a perfectionist, and it’s time to let go of the idea that you need to be perfect. Perfect isn’t just boring, it’s impossible. Anyway - do this, commit to it. Spend the discipline you once used to white knuckle your way through the Atkins diet, on this exercise instead. Why? Because when you truly love yourself, you'll treat your body accordingly. Not the other way around.
PS: To accelerate the process: do this nekkid. Whole new level of vulnerability, insanely effective.
Stop calling yourself fat.
Seriously, just stop. Because:
1. You may very well may be offending people who are larger than you or perceive themselves to be larger than you.
2. By complaining about being fat to others, you’re making it ok for them to do the same.
3. You internalize the things you say out loud, and the things you think acutely influence the way you behave. Want to struggle with letting go of weight? Keep calling yourself fat. More on that soon.
Be aware of who you surround yourself with.
Do your friends care more about the way they look, or the qualities they actually bring to the table in life? Sure, we’re all drawn to aesthetically pleasing things, so we’re probably going to talk about makeup and shoes and shit like that sometimes because it’s fun. But be aware of fat shaming, self-trash-talking, and obsessive body talk. If you’re surrounded in people who are constantly bashing other people’s bodies or their own, heed my warning: It’s going to rub off on you.
It just so happens that two of my favorite quotes are about this very subject:
“Don’t compare your chapter 1 to someone else’s chapter 20.”
“Comparison is the Thief of Joy.”
It really is. I have some really, really beautiful friends. If I sat around wishing I had Karie’s boobs and Natalie’s abs and Erin’s ass and Lisa’s hair, all of my own great qualities would be totally lost on myself. And if I ever said those things out loud to someone, they would tell me to STFU.
There’s a misconception that getting healthy and losing weight takes discipline, but if that’s your current mindset, I'm going to give it to you straight: you’re focus is misplaced. Start re-directing that discipline toward self love, and it will make the steps toward improving your health infinitely easier. I've been there, so know that the idea of putting these into practice sounds uncomfortable, but trust me when I say they will not only change your outlook on health and your ability to improve it, but they’ll also change your life.