Do you keep telling yourself that when you lose weight you’ll finally love yourself? Do you often say negative things to yourself in the mirror and shame yourself for not liking what you see? This belief and behavior is one of the reasons people get stuck and prevent themselves from getting the results they want.
Overeaters commonly approach eating and exercise from a place of self-hatred. It’s no surprise that this creates resentment about taking care of ourselves, particularly when we’ve made it into a form of punishment. It may be tough to think of loving yourself when you have a history of feeling badly about yourself, but we are more likely to change from a place of self-acceptance. When we accept ourselves, we’re more likely to have the energy required to take loving actions towards our bodies – important actions like eating well, sleeping well, and exercising.
Let’s think of it like the difference between renting a home and owning a home. Most people who don’t like themselves treat their bodies like a place they rent, not own. When you rent, you are less likely to want to invest in making improvements. Since someone else already owns it, you live with the little things you might not like about it. You most likely are not heavily invested in the overall condition of the place both financially and emotionally.
When you own your home, you make it yours and decorate it the way you like. You take pride in the time you spend creating the space and investing in its improvements. The financial and emotional investment increases and your attention to every detail is now part of your focus because it’s yours.
If you are waiting until you are “thin” to live and enjoy your life, you actually create more time to turn to food since you don’t pursue your live as actively as you spend too much time interacting with food and your body negatively. You become an observer rather than a participant in your own life. When you are harsh with yourself, you lose the motivation to take care of yourself and then the pain of self-flagellation sends you to the refrigerator to soothe the pain of the harsh inner critic and the cycle continues.
The first step is accepting yourself exactly as you are today. This can sound easier said than done, but it’s a necessary part of taking care of yourself for the rest of your life. Here are a few easy way to start practicing self acceptance and love today:
- Keep a Gratitude Journal-write down at least three things you did well every night.
- Practice Discernment-Surround yourself with accepting, happy, positive people. Look for people who model what you want and spend more time with them. Decrease the time you spend with negative, fear based people.
- Make a list-Ask your friends or family to share what they love about you and acknowledge what you appreciate about yourself. (such as good friend, compassionate, intelligent, fun, reliable. etc)
- Notice how you talk to yourself – Is it working to get you the results you want? Start affirming the good things and disregard the negative habits of criticism.
- Treat yourself with kindness and compassion– We often take much better care of others than we do ourselves. Practice treating yourself as if you were a child, friend or loved one.
Power over food doesn’t just come from changing your thinking; it has to come from changing your actions as well. When you change our actions, your way of thinking inevitably changes. Take loving actions towards yourself and you’ll find self-care feels more rewarding and self-acceptance becomes more natural.