Healthy Living and Self-Love

The First Step Towards Being Healthy Is Loving Yourself

Being healthy isn't just about working out and monitoring your food.

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Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror and pick out all of your flaws? Are your thighs a little bigger than what you want? Is your stomach not as flat as you would like? Do you wish you could look like the fitness stars on social media? It is easy for us to narrow down on all of our problems, whether they are physical or emotional. I think back to the classic movie "Mean Girls," when Regina, Karen, and Gretchen are all standing in front of a mirror pointing out their flaws like a big forehead, large pores, and nailbeds that are way below par. This movie is supposed to be a comedy, but there are so many real-life messages in the movie, including body image. I know how hard it is to love yourself and see the beauty in you. Many of us struggle with our appearances, and that can easily lead to wanting to become healthy or to change ourselves. In my opinion though, if you want to become healthier, whether that means you are trying to lose weight or just trying to eat more vegetables, you need to love yourself.

Why does loving yourself even matter when trying to go through the process of being healthy? No pain no gain, right? Wrong. If you are only trying to make health changes about yourself because you hate your body or yourself, it won't be a long-term change. You are doing it all for the wrong reasons if you want to become healthier all because you dislike yourself. Having a negative attitude towards yourself can lead to negative outcomes, your perspective about yourself can decide how your outcome will go. Eating disorders, body dysmorphia, and other issues can be caused because of opinions of food and eating and just your body. These are hard battles to go through, but you are not alone. Trying to be healthy does not have to be a one-person job, create a group with your friends to support each other along your way or go to support groups.

Loving yourself doesn't mean that you decide to avoid all flaws and never change because you are perfect. What loving yourself means is that you are going to put yourself first. You are going to make sacrifices like not going out to eat on dates as much anymore. There are going to be struggles as you try to make this new change. I understand the struggles of trying to be a healthier person; I have had issues with my body image since I can remember. It seems like if I think about food I gain five pounds, and then it takes forever to lose.

For the past six months, I have been counting my calories and keeping track of my macronutrients. I've tried to be positive throughout my journey to becoming a healthier person inside and out, but I've had setbacks. I've had plenty of moments where I sat there in tears wondering what was even the point anymore because the number on the scale hadn't changed or if it did, it went up. Reflecting back on those moments I learned two things. One, the scale is not the mile marker for your health. Yes, it has its purposes but there are other ways to see results, and you shouldn't beat yourself up because you gained two pounds.

Loving yourself means forgiveness. Forgiving yourself for going out the night before and eating unhealthy food because you were focusing on the company rather than the food. It is accepting that you are in fact not perfect, but you can love yourself anyway. The important thing to remember is that you do not give up if you fall off the bandwagon of being healthy. You wipe yourself off, and you hop back onto that wagon again. You don't sit, pout, and blame yourself. You find your motivation again and you keep trying.

You keep fighting for yourself because you are the only one who can make a long-term difference in your life.

This first step in being healthy is not easy, and it can take a lifetime to achieve. You can't just flip a switch and be like "I love myself. Life is good. I am good. I am the all-knowing-being of health and wellness." That isn't how this or life works. Loving yourself is understanding who you are as a person (which is a long journey in itself) and always wanting to become a better person. Your health matters, whether it is physical or mental. You matter. Try loving yourself a little more, write Post-It notes of positive things about yourself or try to not self-degrade yourself. See the potential in yourself and the rest will fall into place.

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To The Girl Struggling With Her Body Image

It's not about the size of your jeans, but the size of your heart, soul, and spirit.

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To the girl struggling with her body image,

You are more than the number on the scale. You are more than the number on your jeans and dresses. You are way more than the number of pounds you've gained or lost in whatever amount of time.

Weight is defined as the quantity of matter contained by a body or object. Weight does not define your self-worth, ambition or potential.

So many girls strive for validation through the various numbers associated with body image and it's really so sad seeing such beautiful, incredible women become discouraged over a few numbers that don't measure anything of true significance.

Yes, it is important to live a healthy lifestyle. Yes, it is important to take care of yourself. However, taking care of yourself includes your mental health as well. Neglecting either your mental or physical health will inflict problems on the other. It's very easy to get caught up in the idea that you're too heavy or too thin, which results in you possibly mistreating your body in some way.

Your body is your special, beautiful temple. It harbors all of your thoughts, feelings, characteristics, and ideas. Without it, you wouldn't be you. If you so wish to change it in a healthy way, then, by all means, go ahead. With that being said, don't make changes to impress or please someone else. You are the only person who is in charge of your body. No one else has the right to tell you whether or not your body is good enough. If you don't satisfy their standards, then you don't need that sort of negative influence in your life. That sort of manipulation and control is extremely unhealthy in its own regard.

Do not hold back on things you love or want to do because of how you interpret your body. You are enough. You are more than enough. You are more than your exterior. You are your inner being, your spirit. A smile and confidence are the most beautiful things you can wear.

It's not about the size of your jeans. It's about the size of your mind and heart. Embrace your body, observe and adore every curve, bone and stretch mark. Wear what makes you feel happy and comfortable in your own skin. Do your hair and makeup (or don't do either) to your heart's desire. Wear the crop top you've been eyeing up in that store window. Want a bikini body? Put a bikini on your body, simple.

So, as hard as it may seem sometimes, understand that the number on the scale doesn't measure the amount or significance of your contributions to this world. Just because that dress doesn't fit you like you had hoped doesn't mean that you're any less of a person.

Love your body, and your body will love you right back.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Margliotti

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Stand In The Mirror

An exercise in self-love.

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If you're reading this, then I want you to stop what you're doing right now, get up from wherever you're sitting, and go stand in the mirror.

Yes, that's right. Close your laptops, put down your phones, and walk to the closest bathroom, or vanity, or wherever else you can see your reflection the most clearly. Pretend like you're the only person in the world for a little while.

Are you there? Good.

Now I want you to look at yourself, very closely.

Start with your eyes. How beautiful they look underneath the light; you can see all their colors, just like a painting! Something that unique belongs in an art museum, don't you think?

Those eyes of yours have seen so many wonderful things. Think of all the sunsets they've allowed you to witness, all the times your best friends have grinned from ear-to-ear and all the books you've read.

Now, look at your lips. Think of all the lovely people they may have kissed, all the Thanksgiving dinners they've touched and all the funny faces they've helped you express.

Think all of the times they've opened to exude laughter and joy, to express awe and other associated feelings words cannot express.

Now it's time to examine your arms. Shrug your shoulders and admire the way they fall so gently at your sides, like water flowing from the mouth of a river. Think of all the wonderful things they've helped you to reach, of all the trees they've helped you climb and monkey bars they've helped you swing through. Think of all the people they've hugged, and all the dogs they've helped you pet.

Finally, move to your legs. Think of all the races they've helped you win, all the hurdles they've helped you jump through and all the lengths they've helped you swim.

Think of all the pristine places they've carried you to, and reflect upon all the places you'll soon be heading to.

Can't you see now that you're a masterpiece, dripping with color and beauty, emotion and experience, from every fiber of your being?

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