About self-love

It has been a while since I have come here to share my thoughts with you. I think I just had lost motivation to write about health and fitness and exercise. I haven’t lost my passion for these things – on the contrary, these topics interest me even more since I have entered menopause. As a result, I have increasingly looked into research on longevity and also started a course to attain a certificate in coaching senior fitness.

But I am back now! However, it’s not one of my blogs where I share with you what I have researched. I am back because I really wanted to share my thoughts with you about self-love.This is something I have been thinking about for a while and it’s very personal. It may be related to the fact that I have turned 50 this summer. It’s such a blessing to celebrate 50 years of life in good health. There is a lot to reflect on – my past 50 years and what I expect for the second half of my life. If you are interested in more details about my past relating to health, fitness and weightloss, please read my blogs about my journey.

I am a strong believer that exercise and a healthy diet make us not just look better, but also feel better. I feel happy when I exercise and I love feeling strong in my body. I also love to nurture my body with good nutritious food. At the same time, I also allow my body and my soul – some times more often than others – to celebrate life, create memories and skip the gym, enjoy indulgent treats, drink champagne. So when I see friends or family, or some social media influencers, train or eat in a specific way to achieve a certain – in most cases quite unrealistic – physique, it makes me think about the reasons why we chase these goals. Exercising to stay healthy and strong and eating well to nourish our bodies shouldn’t be a chore to attain an ever changing beauty standard. It should be something that is fun, makes us feel good and happy and that we do out of love for our amazing bodies. Our amazing bodies that we want to function as well as possible for a life as long as possible – a life where we function as independently as possible until the end, where we truly “live” and not just “exist” on countless pills, in medical care or a nursing home. What I am trying to say is – the reason why we exercise and eat well should be out of self-love.

Exercising to stay healthy and strong and eating well to nourish our bodies shouldn’t be a chore to attain an ever changing beauty standard.

Self-love is a term that gets thrown around a lot. And self-love can mean different things for different people. After all, we are all individuals with different ideas about what it means to take care of ourselves. But I think that at the core we can all agree that self-love implies taking actions that support our physical, psychological and spiritual growth.1 I firmly believe that exercising and healthy eating should come from a place of self-love. But here is the problem: I believe it, I intellectually understand it, I study health and fitness so I can pass it on and I live this belief through my actions. But, and this is a huge BUT – do I actually feel it? Do I perform these actions (exercising, eating well, avoiding drugs etc.) because I love myself? If I truly did, why would I be unhappy with my body when I don’t fit in my favourite pair of jeans? Why do I only see sagging skin and cellulite and a bloated belly when I look in the mirror? Why do I feel guilty looking at my bloated face in the mirror after having had some champagne the day before? Maybe at a party where we celebrated life, where we created happy memories with family or friends? Shouldn’t I love my body no matter what it looks like and be grateful because it is healthy and strong thanks to my taking care of it?

There is obviously a disconnect between what my head knows and understands and what my heart and soul feel.

This disconnect shows in other ways as well. I am very bad at accepting compliments as what they are. When my husband says I look great, I am happy – but I also feel that he may say it because he loves me and wants to make me feel good. When friends compliment me I feel that they only say it because they don’t want me to go on some crazy diet or exercise more. When strangers compliment me I suspect them of having ulterior motives. Somewhere inside I am scared that if I just slip up a little bit, I am going to end up looking fat and ugly and unattractive – again (as mentioned above, you can read about my weightloss journey here). I am freaked out that I may have again to shop for baggy clothes in big sizes and not be able to wear my pretty dresses anymore.

You know how you feel when you put on your best outfit, and you feel great in it, you love your reflection in the mirror, you strut around confidently, happy? Why can I not feel like that no matter what the size of my dress is? No matter how much my belly may show in it, or my sagging bum or my wrinkly thighs? Why can I not feel that self-love no matter my size? I am 50 years old now – am I doomed to feel forever lacking?

This is not just a personal problem either. How I perceive myself reflects on what I pass on to my children. There is nothing more important in my life than my children. Certainly way more important than what I look like. They are my biggest motivation to stay healthy and fit for as long as possible so I can look after them. I never wanted to make them feel like my fitness routines or eating habits are more important than them. I never skipped birthday cake, or declined a lovingly offered bite of their chocolate, I never told them that I didn’t have time for them because I needed to work out. I am trying to teach them that exercising is part of a healthy lifestyle and that we eat to nourish our bodies. But I wonder if am I truly authentic and honest if I teach what I know, but can’t really internalize it? How can I teach my children self-love and self-care if I don’t really feel it myself?

Please don’t get me wrong – I do love exercising. Or, in other words, I only do exercise that I love. I also love delicious food and cooking with fresh produce. I love to move my body and be active, and when it involves the whole family like hiking, skiing, swimming, snorkeling, cycling etc. it is even more fun. I enjoy watching my family eat what I have prepared and knowing that they get the nutrition they need to thrive. I just wish that my love for exercise and good food transferred to how I feel when I look at my reflection in the mirror.

I am not really sure how I am going to change myself. I heard somewhere that looking into the mirror and telling yourself “I love you” is a first step. It’s definitely something I will try. I say to my husband and kids every day several times a day “I love you”. Maybe it’s time to say it out loud to myself so with time this affirmation will sink into my subconscious. I would love to hear what you do – how to truly love yourself no matter your dress size or what you look like.

1 Brain and Behavior Research Foundation, Self-Love and What It Means, https://www.bbrfoundation.org/blog/self-love-and-what-it-means

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