That was me 20 years ago. Much younger, yes, but 50 pounds heavier than the woman you see now. I would also gain and lose 40+ pounds two more times.
It’s funny because I’ve had clients and other people tell me that they don’t think I can relate to them because I am at my natural weight, but I’m here to say you can have an unhealthy relationship with yourself at any weight. And don’t worry about me not being able to relate. I know all about the drama, the mind-chatter, the self-loathing that can happen when we carry extra pounds.
More worrisome than the extra pounds, I have a master’s degree in self-loathing. Self-loathing means you have a crappy opinion of yourself, and why? Because, I had some extra weight. Seems so superficial. Truth be told, my friends didn’t seem to treat me any different when I was overweight, yet I treated myself terribly. I had an illogical thought process that went like “If you shame yourself for being overweight, you won’t be. “But guess what, it never worked?
So when I see this picture of myself, I’m bummed. Not because of the weight but because of the shaming thoughts I had about by myself. This shame led to me hiding from most photo opps, and thank goodness no one knew of the word selfie back in the mid-90s. My cycle of shame, hiding, and overeating lasted way too long. I wish someone would have told me long ago, that actually loving myself, even at this weight, would have stopped this vicious cycle.
So how do you develop self-love? “Melanie, this sounds too simple. That by loving myself, I’ll lose weight? I’ll feel good about myself. I’ve heard that before, but there has to be more to it.” I get the resistance. It does sound easy, especially when we often haven’t been taught the proper tools to develop self-love. Unfortunately, self-love isn’t something we’re born with. We’re born with defense mechanisms, protective instincts, but over time, these instincts can work in contrast against self-love and acceptance. So here’s three steps to develop self -love
- Enjoy your own company—-Schedule time to be with just you, doing things that you truly enjoy doing. Give yourself your own attention, I bet you are craving it. Even ten minutes a day is helpful.
- Give yourself your own compliments—Answer this question-would you chose to be around someone who is always negative, always self-derogatory, a complete downer? In a perfect world, I think we’d usually say no. So, all else being equal, would you want to spend time with yourself if you are putting yourself down? It’s the same thing. So find characteristics about yourself that you do love, focus on those, and if you can’t come up with any, ask your best friend for a list. Looking outside ourselves can add perspective.
- Give yourself a time out for being mean to yourself.—There is no upside to being unkind to anyone, why give yourself a pass? If you give your kids a time out for being mean to each other, do the same for you. It stops today! No more beatings! And if you’re beating yourself up, go to the time out corner for 10 minutes. And you can’t leave until ten minutes are up and you apologize to yourself afterwards.
When you love yourself, you want to move your body, you want to eat right, you want to connect with others, not when you are in a space of constant shame. This journey of self-love has led me to find my passion in Life and Weight Coaching, and looking back I wouldn’t trade my journey for another. My experiences help me relate, uncover quickly the unhealthy chatter in others, and love what I do. It has also helped me love this picture of me, even though 20 years ago, I hated to look at it. ~Till next time former picture haters. Join me for a complimentary mini-session, @ mindyourstrength.com.