So tomorrow is Valentine's Day, which isn't a day that I personally really celebrate. (Yes, my husband is the luckiest in the world, I don't really like diamonds and I don't like Valentine's Day.) It's no personal knock to those who do, as always do your thing and rock on. I was just single for a very long time before getting married, so it wasn't a thing I really participated in, plus the whole cliche "I don't need a day designated for love" argument. Having said all of that, I did want to write a bit today about self love. (Not THAT kind, you pervs!)
I have always generally liked myself and have been okay with who I am, and have been more so the older I've gotten. I am a great cook and gardener. I love to learn. I'm generally a pretty nice person and try to be caring/involved with charity and volunteer work. I'm very outspoken for things and people I care about. I'm a good writer, when I take the time to really sit down and dust off my poor neglected short stories that is! I feel like I'm vaguely attractive. Not like Ava Gardner stop men in traffic attractive, but no one is going to be giving me the brown bag treatment either. I feel like I'm pretty funny. These are all things I felt about myself when I was 250 pounds. There was definitely self love there.
Yet, I was not satisfied. I knew I was not living up to my full potential. I knew I was letting myself down and short changing myself by not getting myself to a healthy weight. It bothered me not from a beauty standpoint or making other people happy standpoint, but a making myself feel 100% standpoint.
Now that I'm at the lowest weight I've been at in years, I'm truly floored at the changes. There are anxieties I didn't know I had, micro thoughts that flew in and out of my brain so fast that I barely could register them. I will give you my grocery shopping trips as an example. The last couple of times I've been shopping I will throw in a bag of Dove Promises or some other little chocolate treat that I can enjoy at night. No biggie right? The other night I got up to the counter and realized that all the other years I've shopped that I've been completely anxious that people are looking in my cart, then at me and thinking, "No wonder she's fat." It was an anxiety and shame so ingrained that I didn't realize I had it until the other night when I realized I wasn't feeling it. Now that I eat in a balanced way, of course I can have little treats like chocolate or wine because that's what a normal person does. My cart looked like my daily life. Plenty of fruits and vegetables, a bag of chocolates, the makings of a nice veggie pizza Friday dinner and fixings for healthy dinners and lunches throughout the week. Nothing to be ashamed or worried about, because I'm normal.
Physically there is no contest when it comes to before verses now. Everything in my life that I was doing before like climbing stairs, running, walking, and squatting is 20 times easier. I am just physically more comfortable, and there's no way to describe it to a person without them experiencing it. And I wish I could. I wish I could go back in time and tell old me that yes, it is overwhelming as hell at first, but if I stay with it, my life will be so much better. I wish I could tell any overwhelmed person starting out that I KNOW it's daunting. I know it's frustrating. But the physical changes you feel and the power you give yourself is so freeing that one day, it will make everything worth it.
All of the nice things I felt about myself before I feel 10 times more, plus I am finding new things to be proud about. A newly discovered determination, more calm, less anxiety. I feel like I'm nicer and like my brain is more balanced. I have so much more energy and devote it to things like our house, which gives me more many bursts of pride. I told Eric that I am almost as proud of the paint job I did on our spare room as I am of the marathon. Could I have painted the room at 250 pounds? Of course, but I was never motivated to do those types of things before. I was always tired and just wanted to sit on the weekends. Now I feel energized and want to get things taken care of, which is very unlike "old" me. I honestly feel more energetic now than I did in my 20s. I'm proud of my organization and meal planning each week, which is the hardest thing to stick with for me, but I think I've missed maybe 2 days of bringing my lunch to work. I have been logging steadily in MFP. I finally feel with it.
And am I happy that feeling more physically attractive comes with the package of losing weight? You're damn straight I am. There are days I feel downright beautiful, and I am thrilled. And it's not really from a mentality of fitting in with society. I'll never fit in with any kind of "ideal beauty". I've got silvery stretch marks from stem to stern. My boobs and stomach are starting to look like a train wreck and will look more so once I get to goal weight. And honestly, I'm good with that because fried egg on a nail boobs and a sharpei stomach are a better alternative to heart attacks, diabetes, joint pain and all of the other misery that I feel I was headed for.
Self love is a delicate balance but it really comes down to this. You can love yourself but also want to better yourself. It's like writing a novel. You may write a pretty damn decent first draft, but you still should go in and read over it however many times it takes and make tweaks to take things from good to great. That is what this health thing is for me. I liked myself before, but liking myself didn't mean I was healthy physically. It didn't mean I wasn't at risk for heart problems or disease. Self esteem and body acceptance don't will away science. I was good just the way I was, but now I'm better. And I'll keep getting better and keep discovering new things I like about myself.
So during this weekend of Valentine's love, remember to take time to love yourself to a place of health. Mentally, emotionally, spiritually and yes, physically. There are days when it's tedious and not fun to exercise, plan meals, count calories, pack lunches and make a choice to have something healthier. But I don't do it to fit in or try to make anyone like me. I do it because I love myself enough to make my life great instead of good.