“Your task is not to seek for Love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” - Rumi
February always reminds me of love. It’s probably because Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, or maybe it’s because winter has been so cold that I need something warm to focus on. Lately I have been reminded of how important it is to truly love myself, and I’m not just talking about my self-care practice (although that is also an essential part of being healthy). When I talk about love, I mean whole-hearted, unconditional love.
You’re probably saying to yourself; but Erica, what does love have to do with food and weight loss? And I would say EVERYTHING!
What I have learned from my personal experience, and in working with my clients, is that LOVE needs to be the focus of our work as we learn to let go of our “unwanted” eating habits and cultivate a nourishing relationship between our mind, body and spirit. No matter how much we try to improve our relationship with food or constantly obsess about what to eat and what NOT to eat, one thing I know for certain, food is secondary. If we don’t learn to LOVE and ACCEPT ourselves exactly as we are, then we will never be truly nourished.
The bottom line: The more you love yourself, the more weight you will lose.
All you need to do is ask yourself; how do I love myself? If I truly love myself would I…eat that, say that, do that. Feeling stuck? Here are some ways to help you cultivate a more loving relationship with yourself.
1. Fall in love with yourself.
Love yourself and every part of you. Love your strengths and let them shine. Look in the mirror everyday and say to yourself “I love you unconditionally”.
2. Eliminate self-criticism.
Are you a perfectionist, always saying “I am not good enough”? Having a negative opinion about ourselves can have a huge impact on who we are and what we do. Next time you catch yourself saying something negative about yourself ask, would I speak to a child like that?
3. Be truthful with yourself.
Be aware of what you are feeling. When you are JOYFUL feel it. When you are DEPRESSED feel it. When you are AFRAID ask why? Don’t try to cover up or blur emotions. Ask yourself how you feel often. Share your thoughts and feelings with others.
4. Be patient with yourself.
Practice generosity and patience with yourself. Change can be scary. We can’t expect to change our negative habits and life long patterns overnight. Everything is a practice. Once you let go of the outcome your expectations become limitless.
5. Forgive yourself.
Learn to forgive yourself when you make a mistake. Everyone is a work in progress. With every mistake made comes an opportunity for growth and learning.
6. Let go of worry.
Practice the art of letting go. Practice meditation to release you of your anxieties. Quiet the mind and clean it out of all toxic thoughts. Focus your mind on “I am” instead of “I’m not enough”.
7. Express gratitude.
Express gratitude for the person that you are. Cultivate an appreciation for your strengths and gifts. Feel a sense of gratitude that you are alive and well, and fully capable of making a difference in your life. Practicing gratitude allows us to feel better. When we practice gratitude we focus on the positive.
8. Nurture your dreams.
Dream BIG and make it happen. When we focus our minds on what we really want and fill ourselves with positive affirmations and thoughts our dreams will be achieved. Every moment that you live is a joy because you are expressing yourself fully.
9. Spoil yourself.
Do things just because you want to. Have fun and cultivate JOY. What brings you pleasure? Make a list of all the things you want to do and start doing them.
10. Take care of your body.
Nourish yourself with healthy food, water, and regular exercise. Give yourself enough down time to rest and restore. Set an intention to start loving and respecting your body and follow through with it everyday.
11. Be present.
Learn to see the beauty in everyday. Be present and observe what is around you. Flowers blooming, trees growing, children playing, laughter. When you can appreciate the beauty in the everyday you will begin to see it within yourself.
Even if you just choose one of these and focus on making that your new goal for the month, I promise you will start to feel better. When you start to feel better about yourself you will be able to ask yourself; how am I loving myself today? Is this how I show myself that I truly love myself?