Friday, February 14, 2014

This Valentine's Day: Love Yourself

Valentines Day. Love it or hate it, you can't miss it. It seems like the pink and red explosion takes over places like Target and Kroger practically the first day of January every year and doesn't even leave time for the leftover Christmas supplies to be marked down to clearance and sold.

I'm a fan of the "holiday" and I always have been, except for a few years in my early teens when it felt like I was the only girl around without a boyfriend. But my parents have always been advocates of little valentines day treats, and as a kid we got to decorate shoebox mailboxes and share cards and candy with our classmates. One for everyone, of course. What's not to love about that?

Regardless of your feelings about Valentines Day, whether you are single or coupled up, the day serves as a good chance to reflect on love. Love comes in so many forms and romantic one is only one of the types of love that may be a part of our every day life. What else do you love? I love my pets, my family, my friends, my job (most days), my unborn daughter on the way, and God. I also "love" exercising, good food, cupcakes, ice cream, Saturdays, sunshine, the beach...the list goes on.

What do you love? Make a list, either in your head or on paper.

Did you list "myself" as something you love? What about "my body?"

At the prenatal yoga class I attended on Wednesday night, the instructor said that in honor of valentines day, we were to share with the group one thing we love about our bodies right now. I can't even begin to tell you how hard that question was for me. I froze and my initial reaction in my head was "nothing."

I am a big proponent of loving myself and try to share that with you guys regularly. Through weight loss and weight gain and in between, I know my body is strong and muscular and can run a half marathon or complete a half marathon, no matter what the number on the scale says or what size jeans I'm currently wearing. I've had my share of "fat days" when I looked in the mirror and felt bad about what I saw, but those dash have always been outnumbered my confident days. I think that's a benefit of exercise.

But lately, I don't recognize my body anymore. It's transforming and changing and it's very much out of my control. Does that mean I get to choose to stop loving myself?

Definitely not. No matter where any of us are in life at any given moment, we have to choose to love ourselves, and it's important. We can't beat ourselves up for gaining weight or losing fitness or seeing out bodies change or age. Instead, we should focus on two things.

1) Find something you love about yourself at any weight or place in life and focus on that. Maybe it's your eyes, your hair, your smile, your strong arms or your killer biceps. Play up and focus on your strengths. Love them. Tell yourself you love them!

2) Set SMART goals for making changes. Up 10 pounds and feeling bad about it? Commit to adding an extra workout each week and cooking at home more than eating out. Think about what you would like to change that would ultimately make you love yourself even more than ever, and set goals to make the change reality. Remember, SMART goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Bound.

At the end of the day, we each only have one body. We can always strive to improve it and make it better and stronger, but we should also love it for what it's capable of and the miracle that it truly is. Our bodies can do so many things that we take for granted, just by virtue of keeping us alive every day. We don't often thank our hearts for beating and pumping blood or our lungs for breathing, but all the systems that make up our bodies are pretty unbelievable when you think about it.
When treated and fueled properly, our bodies give us the abilities to do whatever we ask of them, whether it's running, biking, swimming, yoga, pilates, CrossFit, giving birth, chasing kids around, or whatever you ask your body to do.

You are amazing in your own right. Your body is an incredible thing. Give it the love and respect that it deserves.

Happy Valentines Day.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I am so bad about this, and now that I have a 13 year old daughter, and she has started criticizing her body, I tell her she is beautiful and shouldn't be down on herself, but then I set a bad example by doing the very same thing. Hard habit for me to break, but it's important, not only for me, but also my daughter!


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