Tuesday, February 26, 2013

On Loving Yourself

At the very end of this week I will celebrate another birthday.  One more year of growing older and maybe a little wiser.  As I was getting ready this morning, it was hard not to notice the lines around my eyes and mouth; the saggy skin from growing 2 humans from a tiny speck; the way my hair is slowly fading into a light blonde gray.  I'm peeking peaking into my mid-30's and it's starting to show. The age.  The years. And then I look again.  My smile is still bright and shiny; my teeth straight from the braces I wore almost 25 years ago.  My hair is long and flowing down my back.  My skin while saggy and wrinkle-prone is still full of youth and dewy sheen.  I am a woman. A mother now. Maturing and growing up and still ready to pick at my own flaws.  Why is it that we do this? I know it's not just me.  So many women are constantly at war with themselves, nitpicking every nook and cranny of their wonderful being. But there's so much more, I tell myself. So much more to LOVE.  

I remember when I started my weight loss journey so many years ago and all that I wanted to was to be happy in my own skin.  To look in the mirror and love what I saw. I was much younger by the years then; much harder on myself.  I wondered what might happen if I lost the weight and even if I found that magazine-ideal, what would I feel INSIDE? Would I be HAPPY? What I've learned is that happiness has to begin on the inside.  You can't expect that losing the weight will somehow fix what is going on between your ears.  We can be our best cheerleader or our best critic. It's a choice each day how we speak to ourselves.  I remember several years ago I shared a video in a blog post here about ending FAT TALK.  (I encourage you to watch the video there) If I dial my brain back a bit, I feel like this was a turning point in my journey not only to get healthy for good, but to love myself exactly how I am in each and every moment.  Each and every? Really, you ask? YES.  If you don't love yourself at 230 pounds, you aren't going to find happiness at 160 pounds either. It's got to start inside of you first before the outside can start to develop and take it's shape.  Otherwise, we're just constantly at war with ourselves and how much fun is that? Yeah, not so fun.  The cycle will only repeat until you decide that you are okay with who you are RIGHT NOW.  If you can't find anything that you're loving about yourself, ask your friends, your husband or your family.  I can bet you they will be able to point out a million non-physical traits that make up a perfect, unique version of YOU.  Don't try to be anything other than that right now. Just be YOU.  Embrace yourself, your flaws--both physical and internal, your beauty and your strength. As Angie Gooding recently said, "There's nothing wrong with working toward having a body you're proud of. However, problems arise if you believe this ideal body will bring you happiness exclusively or when the pursuit of the body you desire becomes an unhealthy fixation."  There is no exclusive happiness in an ideal body!
In my yoga practices, there comes a point after doing a certain pose or inversion where the instructor tells you to give yourself a big hug.  You know, grab your knees while laying down and squeeze!!! hard.  Even if that's what you need to do today, do it.  Walk into the bathroom, look at yourself in the mirror and say, "I love you."  Then, give yourself a big ole' hug.  I know, it sounds wild, but if you can't love on yourself, how can anyone else possibly love you?  You're worthy of your own self-love. 

As I step into another year on this Earth, I'm thankful for those that love me---flaws, quirks and the whole mess included.  However, I'm even more thankful for the understanding that it's okay, no, not just okay, that's it's NECESSARY to love who I am at any stage in my life. Unconditional Love of Myself.  None of what you are seeking on your healthy journey can compare to finding true love with yourself. Inside and out; beauty and flaws and the whole mess that makes up your unique self. It's worth it.  You are worth it.  

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