The other day I was sitting at the Costco food court waiting for new tires to get installed on my car. I was feeling pretty good—just watching the moms and dads corralling their kids, the retired couples enjoying each other’s company—and congratulating myself on not giving in to the temptation to get one of the giant slices of cheese pizza I saw numerous people eating.
And then it happened.
I saw her. She was wearing yoga pants and a fitted black coat—and even with a coat on I could tell she had a fantastic figure. She had gorgeous legs and a flawless butt. Her hair was pulled up in a perfect messy bun. She was obviously a good 15 years younger than me, but that didn’t matter.
I started to feel a little less confident.
I was suddenly very aware of the fact that my neck was a bit loose. I was still carrying a little too much weight around my waist. And while my butt was okay, it definitely wasn’t as great as hers—and my legs were what you might term “curvy” with lots of room for improvement. Sure, I was a 6 or a 7. But this girl? She was a solid 9.
And my confidence had now dropped from a 10 to a 2 in about 3.7 seconds.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
What’s crazy is that this woman, who I was so ridiculously comparing myself to, probably has plenty of insecurities herself. I mean, we all do, right? Especially when it comes to our bodies.
Experts agree that in order to successfully lose weight and keep it off, we have to learn to love ourselves right now as we are. Otherwise, we get caught in a self-destructive cycle that either (1) leads to us gaining more weight; or (2) leads to us temporarily losing weight and then regaining it—plus some—over and over.
When I started comparing myself to the woman at Costco, you can be sure that my desire to eat the pizza—and the soda and everything else Costco carries—got quite a bit stronger because what makes us feel better when we’re feeling bad about ourselves? Our best friend, food!
When we tell ourselves we’re fat or ugly or not good enough or that we can’t do anything, we often comfort ourselves with food. And not the kind of food that’s going to nourish our bodies, but the kind of food that’s going to bring temporary comfort: calorie-dense, low-nutrient foods that will eventually just make us feel worse!
And there’s more bad news: There’s no guarantee that even if you are able to break through the negative self-talk and lose the weight that you’re suddenly going to love yourself! Ever heard the saying that old habits are hard to break? There’s a reason it’s a saying. While losing weight can bring about many improvements to your health, it’s not a magic cure-all to life. You need to find happiness within yourself now—not sometime down the road when this happens or that happens.
Learning to love yourself here and now is the absolute best thing you can do to ensure a healthy body image and body weight. So here are a few exercises you can try to begin your journey of self-love.
1. Write Down or Even Say Out Loud All the Things You Like About Yourself
It might feel funny—or even hard—to do this at first. But self-affirming words really do make a difference in how you view beautiful, wonderful you! It’s going to take some time to reverse all that negative talk you’ve been doling out, so be generous with yourself. Spend time every single day focused on what makes you unique and wonderful and perfect.
2. Be Mindful of the Foods You Put in Your Body
Just having a greater awareness of what you’re eating can help you better choose foods that will nourish your body versus slow it down. Remember that your body can do amazing things—be kind to it.
3. Practice Thorough Self-Love
Take long bubble baths, use yummy smelling lotions, get that pedicure or manicure you’ve been wanting to get, take care of yourself! We all need those days when we lounge around in our jammies—I have plenty of those! But it always makes me feel a little bit better when I get up, get dressed, and don’t worry about if I see every single person I know at Target.
4. Move Your Body
That doesn’t necessarily mean 90 minutes of extreme CrossFit daily. That could mean getting outside for a 20-minute walk. Parking a little further away from the entrance to the store. Dancing to your favorite tune on the radio. The more you can move that beautiful body, the more comfortable you’ll start to feel within your own skin.
5. Respect Your Body
Accept the genetics that you were given. If you wear a size 9 shoe, you don’t expect to squeeze into a size 6, right? Then why have any different expectations for the rest of your body? Respect the body you have and, for goodness’ sake, stop comparing it to everybody else’s! Consider all the amazing things that your body does for you each and every day and treat it with love and reverence.
As you learn to love yourself, a natural consequence will be treating your body with greater kindness. This, in turn, will result in feeding your body better foods and moving your body in more ways—and before you know it, you’ll have loved yourself to your perfect body for you!