I don't claim to have all the answers to life's questions but I do have systems that work for me. Systems that help me manage everyday life in a positive way and keep smiling, laughing, and living. Perseverance. Mostly I accomplish this by living my life exactly the way I would like to. However I realize this is not reality for most people. Can it be? I believe so. But they have to believe it for themselves for it to be true. I get asked all the time..."How do you do that?" in reference to all kinds of things but often they are asking me about how I incorporate self-love into my life on a daily basis and how I carry myself with such confidence. Especially as a person who has lost a significant amount of weight and is still, by no means, considered "petite" in any sense of the word. Well, if anyone has ever told you that it's easy to be proud of your body, to love your body in it's entirety and embrace every inch of it...that person was lying big time. I could tell you that I love my body every day but that's not helpful to you or me because it's not true. Which brings me to my first body-lovin' rule:
Be honest with yourself.
There's a lot of pressure on us, coming from all directions, to throw the silk robe to the wind and reveal our perfectly imperfect bodies. It's a pretty popular marketing campaign right now and we see it all over the media. Those messages are great and all, but we still have a looooong way to go. Let me be the first to tell you that it's OK to be partial towards one part of your body, and not another. It's OK to think your feet are sexy. It's OK to think they're not. Whatever you think about yourself is OK because it's about you. What other people think about you is irrelevant. No matter how flawless or beautiful someone is said to be, there will always be people out there who think otherwise. Someone will think your sexy feet are atrocious. But it's up to you to decide if that's true or not. Because, what ever YOU believe, is what's true. Letting another opinion alter how you feel about yourself is dangerous. It's also kind of inevitable, especially if you are young. So, you have to be really honest with yourself. I mean that deep, raw, unrelenting honesty. What, if anything, do you not like about your body and why? The why is important. I think most people will find that their reasoning will resonate with socially constructed ideas of what bodies are "supposed" to be like. "I don't like my upper arms because they're flabby and shake when I wave." How many times have we seen those commercials or ads targeting and hunting down people who feel this way? We sell them workout programs, pills, and slimming clothing to hide that "embarrassing problem." Embarrassing? Problem? That's why so many people complain about their upper arms. Because we've learned that it's an embarrassing problem and should be treated or concealed in some way. You know what I think? Thank the universe that I HAVE an arm to wave. Some people do not. They are born without or they lose an arm (or both) one way or another. Think they give a damn about that shakey arm problem? Which leads me to my next point...
Put it into perspective.
I mean really. Can we all take a moment to express gratitude for our bodies? Our hard-working, miraculous, multi-talented, incredible bodies! What fascinating natural machines we are. Created by who knows what and who knows how, we are simply amazing. Every part of us, from our large bones to the cells within, have a specific purpose and function (except maybe the gallbladder). We are each a walking, talking, thinking, individual, conscious, BEING. Insanity! I for one, am grateful to be alive and have a body that functions well. I thank the universe everyday for this gift.
Start with you.
Being loved and in love is incredible. No doubt about that. And yes I have an amazing partner who literally tells me everyday how much she loves everything about me, including my body. Umm...folks, yes I do realize how lucky I am. But, would her opinion or words mean anything to me if I didn't already believe that I am an amazing, beautiful, smart, strong woman? Hell no. This is something I see my friends, family, and clients deal with ALL the time. They say that they're partner doesn't make them feel sexy, that they're friends mentioned something about their thighs, that they're grandmother told them that they would be much more attractive if they lost weight. Trust me, I can relate to all of that in my own way. But, if you rely on other people to make you feel good about yourself, I assure you you will be thoroughly disappointed. Over and over again. This is a solo job. Make yourself feel sexy. Throw on your favorite outfit just for the hell of it and take yourself out on a date. Treat yourself to a spa day. Write a letter to yourself about how wonderful you are, and ALWAYS...
Actively Practice Self-Love.
What are you doing right now in your life to show yourself love and appreciation? It's OK, I'll wait while you think about it...
...got something? Hopefully you have a list. Would you like to hear mine? Of course you would! Here's the shortened version:
- Reading. How is this self-love you ask? Well, simply by allowing myself free time to sit with my morning tea and start my day slowly, my way, I am practicing a very powerful form of self-love. Time is a precious gift and I give it to myself daily.
- Exercise. Hiking, walking, stretching, lifting, running...these are a few of my favorite things (did you sing that?) Taking care of your physical body is the ultimate form or self-care. How much stronger of a statement can you make then I love me so much, I'm going to strengthen my muscles, maintain my joints, care for my heart and lungs, and sweat because it makes me feel good and it's good for me and my future. Good health is one hell of a gift to give yourself.
- Food. I make quality food and home cooked meals an absolute priority and requirement of my budget and time. This is of the utmost importance to me because it allows me to make a statement about my lack of support for factory farms, and unsustainable and inhumane food production. And I feel so much better when I eat my own food. Better about myself as a person and better physically and mentally.
- Sex. Ok folks, we're adults, so we can talk about this. What greater celebration of your body than sex? When was the last time you explored your own body? Again...I'll wait while you think about it.
Do it. Alone.
- Nudity. I freaking LOVE being naked! I'm naked at some point during the day, EVERY day. And I'm not just talking about getting in and out of the shower. I walk around my house naked, I examine my body in front of the mirror naked, I flex my muscles and trace their form...I check myself out! I also frequent clothing optional spas and hot springs. May I recommend Esalen in Big Sur and Orr Hot Springs in Ukiah? You should visit, especially if you've never been to a clothing optional resort. There is NOTHING like being naked in nature. To be free and raw. Does this make you uncomfortable? Good, that's even more reason to do it because on your journey towards ultimate body loving you MUST...
Remember that 30-Day Get Uncomfortable Challenge I did via YouTube? That was a life changing challenge for me. By forcing yourself out of your comfort zone, you gotta dig deep and uncover the real good stuff about yourself. I learned a lot about myself in those 30 days. I learned that I had performance anxiety. I learned that I put too much pressure on myself. I learned that I still hide behind my fears. You should really watch the videos or at least watch Day 1 compared to Day 30 and you'll see exactly what I mean...and hear about all the other cool stuff I learned about myself. But most importantly, I learned how to DEAL with those things, because I had to. When you're uncomfortable, and allow yourself to be present in that moment, you grow as a person. You change. You develop new skills. You become stronger. You do better. And doing better is a huge part of maturing and becoming a self-loving machine. When you do better, you feel better. And when you feel better, you do better. Did you catch that? The same can be said about your body. Put yourself in an uncomfortable position and live through the experience. You'll emerge on the other side as an enlightened, empowered being. I promise. Don't like your tummy? Wear a crop top or a fitted button down and work that shit. Think your thighs are too big or too small? Rock some short shorts. Think you have to purchase clothes one or two sizes up or down because you're ashamed of the real number. Fuck that! OWN YOUR BODY.
Say it loud and proud.
Your thoughts, beliefs, and words are your REALITY. Never forget that. If you believe you're hideous, you will act, think, and BE hideous. Do you get that? Are you really hearing me?? Speak of yourself using only positive adjectives. Praise yourself. But wait! What if I don't have any positive things to say about myself? I don't care, do it anyways. Have you ever heard the phrase "Fake it 'til you make it"? Apply it here. Tell yourself you are amazing, beautiful, sexy, strong, capable, and perfect. Do this everyday, before your coffee, and see how it changes your entire day. Magic? No. You create your own self-image, so paint yourself a pretty picture. Every day that you are blessed to wake and rise, you get to decide who you are. Why not be the most fabulous, thriving, awe-inspiring, immaculate version of yourself? The only person stopping you..is you!