Loving yourself is never a one-and-done deal.
There is always more of you to love.
Because who you are today is different to who you were yesterday.. or last week or last month… or five years ago.
Change is the only constant.
Our beliefs change. we learn new things and things that we believed years ago, we now realize don’t hold true for us any more.
Our relationships change. People who were our best friends for a long time we no longer see any more because we grew apart. Or the person that we married and thought was the love of our life we now realize was just a temporary stop on our journey through love.
Our body changes. We gain weight or we lose weight. Our body ages and we now have trouble with our hearing or our eye sight or our body just feels different than it used to.
And so we have to fall in love with our self… over and over again. Just like we do with our significant other.
I discovered this for myself recently. I am currently losing weight without even trying. Let me back up for a minute and say that I was always skinny growing up. My mother was always trying to convince me to eat and I was a picky, picky eater ( and as all mother’s do she cursed me by saying ” I hope you have a child as fussy as you when you grow up”. Thanks Mum, I did, with bells on!). I was alsop teased unmercifully by adults and children alike.
I was told not to stand side on or I might disappear altogether, that I was lucky my legs didn’t snap and run up my arse ( who says that to someone?), that I should be careful in the wind in case I got blown away. That is just the adults. This kids just called me “stork legs”
I stayed skinny until I turned thirty although I was always terrified of becoming fat and obsessed over my weight.
Then came the perfect storm: I got pregnant to the man I was divorcing, I gave birth, got a tubal ligation, turned thirty and met the man of my dreams … and his four girls. Not only did my hair start falling out in handfuls – so much that my hairdresser asked what to do about my bald patches but the weight ( which had all dropped off dramatically after the birth) all started piling on… and on … and on.
I took a long time adjusting the image I had of myself to the image that was now in front of me. In my mind I was still slim. I tried eating differently. I tried exercising nothing changed.
It took me a long time to get comfortable and love my new body.
Over the past few years I have fallen deeply in love with my curvy body. I called myself voluptuous. I claimed myself as a Sex Goddess. I wrote a book and I shifted my mindset about what my body meant to me.
Yes, I changed my eating habits but not drastically. I am following the Paleo lifestyle ( I loathe to call it a diet becasue it doesn’t feel like a diet at all) but not stringently. I have increased the amount of physical activity I’m doing because I have more energy although I wouldn’t call it exercising ( that’s in the plan though!)
But here’s the thing my body is shedding the excess pounds which is great but I am also adjusting to the new slimmer me again. My clothes are getting lose and baggy. I have already gone down one size and these are now loose on me too.
As the pounds are dropping off I am learning to love myself in a new way. The stretch marks are becoming deeper and more noticeable now they are not stretched over fat, my breasts are not as plump and round as they once were. Not only is my body losing weight but,of course, I am older than I was when I was last slim so everything is different.
Oh and menopause is definitely on the horizon. Fun times.
The biggest thing I am learning ( relearning, reminding myself, noticing) is that my body really is only a very small part of who I am and the Me that I have to love is the one who lies inside all of that. So I am loving myself a little more every day.
So here are my five tips to loving yourself through change:
(1) Change is inevitable.
Accept that change is going to happen. If you keep struggling to keep things the same you are going to miss out on all the fun.
(2) Get comfortable with the new “normal”
Once you accept that change is happening embrace it. All change feels uncomfortable at first but struggling with it, resisting it will only make the transition last longer and feel miserable in the process.
(3) Be gentle with yourself.
Some days everything will feel fine and others you will struggle with. It is all okay. Beating yourself up for having a bad day won’t help. Taking a warm bath and going to bed early might be just the thing you need. Gentle, gentle.
(4) Look at yourself in the mirror every morning and say “I love you”
Keep reminding yourself how much you love you. Even on the days you feel like crap. Especially on the days you feel like crap. Do something you love. Treat yourself like your own best friend.
Take the time to acknowledge how far you have come . Every small step in the direction you want to go is a huge victory so take the time to celebrate. And keep going!