On this day after Valentine's Day, I am reflecting on just how lucky I am. While I continue to nitpick my flaws big and small on a daily basis, I have managed to choose a mate that loves me flaws and all. Even at my heaviest, even when I spent my life covering up my bulges and hiding from every photo opportunity, my husband Sean continued to love me despite what I thought of myself. And while he is loving the new me, he loved me and thought I was beautiful even when I carried more than 230 pounds on my body.
So why is it that many of us find it difficult to love ourselves? In my case, I have never really felt comfortable in my own skin. If I am truly honest, I don't even like spending time alone with myself and I never have. This was actually something that I had to add as part of my Ironman training. Because I love to train with my friends, I actually had to plan sessions where I ran, swam and biked by myself to simulate the time I would spend by myself on the Ironman course. What I found through this process was that being alone was not scary--no one was staring at me and wondering why I was alone. I actually found that having this alone time was healthy and productive. I could think over issues that were troubling me, plan some of my work training sessions, and I even wrote some blogs in my head on these solo training sessions.
In my research for this blog I came across an interesting resource with ten easy suggestions for being kind to yourself--I will summarize it a bit and put on my own spin as well: 10 Really Easy Ways You Can Love Yourself More Today! by Gala Darling
- As I shared above, the first thing the author suggests is to spend some time alone getting comfortable with yourself. If I can do it, anyone can!
- Give yourself a compliment. We are taught to be humble, but sometimes we just need to cheer ourselves on. Today I reminded myself how brave I can be by always setting higher goals for myself physically. I am choosing to focus on what I am doing well until I can get my eating back under control.
- The author suggests reading poetry, but I just suggest finding time to read or do what makes you happy. I don't often make time to read even though it is one of my favorite pastimes. You are important enough to cut out a little quality time to do things you love! Today I put on my favorite tunes and danced around the bathroom--music also makes me happy!
- It is more important to be beautiful on the inside than on the outside. I have spent so much of my life focused on my physical appearance, that I rarely stopped to think that while I do want to be a healthy weight, my friends and family love me no matter what because I am a good person. I am not making excuses, and I know I need to gain some control, but I need to put this issue in perspective.
- Her suggestion to write a love letter to ourselves on the mirror is not one I have tried, but I do have love and support messages from my kids proudly displayed where I can read them each morning. These messages remind me that I am strong and keep me moving forward on difficult days.
- Surrounding yourself with positive images and people is an excellent way to be loving to yourself. I know that when I am surrounded by negative situations and people I feel drained. I make it a point to try to walk away from this negativity because it can also be contagious.
- I could not agree more with the author's suggestion to take the time to get out and move your body. I know that I always feel better after a run, bike, or swim. It can be hard to fit in workouts with our busy schedules, but what better way to show yourself love than to make YOU a priority.
- I interpret her eighth suggestion to mean that we should feel comfortable being ourselves. I am a little strange and I can be a bit neurotic, but I think my family and friends love and appreciate me just the way I am. Never feel like you need to change to meet someone else's expectations--we should have left that all behind when we graduated from high school, right? Never be afraid to be you!
- Her suggestion to go to bed early and get more rest is a great one, but it is one that I am still working on. Attempting to balance my family's needs (dinner, homework and reading), a heavy load at work, and my precious workout sessions can leave me less rested than I would like. Not to mention that even when I make a good effort, sometimes things are out of my control. Last night Siobhan's cat decided to spend the whole night purring, kneading, and sleeping on my head, which did not leave me feeling rested today despite my going to bed early.
- And I completely agree with Gala's final suggestion that it is important to give back to others. This is part of the reason I take time each week to write my blog. It keeps me accountable, and I hope that it resonates with my readers and makes them realize they are not alone.
Beauty is when you can appreciate yourself. When you love yourself, that's when you're most beautiful.