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.