I have been interested in health and wellness for several years, but I have always struggled with committing to a 100% healthy lifestyle. There are temptations everywhere, and I'll admit, I have given into unhealthy indulgences or cravings on numerous occasions. Sometimes, I have gone through a stretch of multiple days of physical inactivity, which I justify by how much work I have or how I deserve relaxation time.
Recently, I had a realization that I (and many other people in my generation) have a skewed view of rewarding or treating ourselves. We tend to allow ourselves to satisfy our desires for comfort in every way possible.
We tend to think of a reward as something unnecessary, but we deserve it because we've earned the right to indulge.
Many young adults don't think of their lifestyle choices as having real effects on their bodies, especially long-term. But over time, our actions have consequences.
College students put their bodies (and minds) through enormous amounts of stress. Take midterm week: all-nighters to cram for exams, being sedentary with days of nonstop sitting, fast food and late-night binging to power through. And then comes the reward: a night of nonstop partying and drinking, or staring at Netflix for 12 hours armed with pizza and candy. I know I'm exaggerating, but you get the point: are these really rewards?
It's clear to me that those indulgences of "comfort foods" that I have given into have profound effects on my digestive system, gut microbiome, and much more. Those hours (read: days) of "relaxation time" spent binge-watching Netflix may have been entertaining, but were detrimental to my body's cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.
In other words, it turns out I'm not really "treating myself" if my body ends up paying for it.
I'm not telling you that you can never eat your favorite unhealthy foods or drinks, or spend a day watching TV, or whatever habit it is that's not good for you. It most likely won't affect you all that much if you do these things once in a while.
I simply believe it's time to re-construct our view of treating ourselves. I'm saying that, whatever choices we do make, we should be fully aware of the fact that certain habits are not rewards.
I think it's much better for us in the long term to fundamentally change what "Treat Yo Self" means to us rather than spend our lives trying to fight our desires.
I've finally started to understand that real "treats" are things that nourish my body. They include the small things, like making sure to get enough sleep and water, to more involved things like taking outdoor study breaks, making sure to squeeze a workout into a busy day, or cooking a fresh, clean meal for myself. When you come from a place of self-love, "treating yo self" means helping to give your body what it truly craves, which is to get into a state of optimal health.
Since realizing that our lifestyle choices have a lot to do with self-love, I came across a guided morning meditation that incorporates self-love, and I decided to try it for a few days.
One thing that tends to stay in my mind throughout the day after this meditation is the quote, "Today I'm giving love to my body."
After practicing this guided meditation every morning, I have noticed that my mindset has been shifting. I have newfound respect and gratitude for my body. I am bewildered by the amazing ability our bodies have to heal themselves, from the cellular to the psychological levels, if we simply give them the nourishment they need.
Since practicing self-love meditation, I have found it easier to stick to my goals of eating healthy foods and taking time to exercise every day. It now feels like I am rewarding myself when I choose a green smoothie over a bag of cookies. It feels like a reward, and a privilege, to be able to nourish my body, rather than indulge in something for temporary satisfaction. I only wish to share the truth: we are immensely lucky to have our own brilliant life machine that is our bodies.
It's a miracle to have blood flowing through our veins, and we should strive to treat our bodies with the love and respect they deserve. I believe the real way to "treat yo self" is to ask, "What would make my body happy?"