The meaning of the term “self-care” has changed so much for me over the course of my life. The more I have connected with myself and have grown to love the person I’m becoming, the more I understand what self-care really means (to me anyway). I only really started understanding what self-care is through this last year or so. I think everyone goes through this, finding out what it means to truly care for yourself. Everyone’s view is different and the ways in which people take care for themselves is unique to each individual.
I want to go back to the beginning of this journey for me. To when I hated myself.
My relationship with food and dieting started when I was very young. My parents were always conscious of what we had in the house. I never grew up on soda and only had “junk /bad food” on special occasions or so, which is great! I’m happy I had that understanding from a young age. I remember growing up hearing my mom talk about food and eating. She always felt guilty about eating something “bad” and would beat herself up over having a treat. I remember her telling me and my dad that she was fat. I remember her trying on clothes in front of me and looking genuinely sad as she looked in the mirror. I remember seeing her react in negative ways towards food and how this way made me feel. I remember growing up with this mentality of “If I eat the bad food, then it makes me a bad person. I won’t be pretty or thin if I eat bad- and if I do, I MUST punish myself.”
It’s a shame because I know I am not the only girl who has seen their mother go through this. I don’t think mother’s realize how heartbreaking it is for their daughters to see their mothers hate themselves, and how that makes us feel.
I remember in the summer I would swim at my aunt’s house with some of my cousins and neighbors. I remember being told to put a t-shirt over my 12 year old body because my bathing suit was “inappropriate”. I was BARELY developed at this time and there were other girls there much older than I was. This made me feel even worse and ashamed about my body. For a long time I really put my body through hell. I am thankful that I never developed a full blown eating disorder. I was obsessed with my scale. I remember starving myself for short periods of time. I remember trying to make myself throw up. I even remember putting weights (yes the kind you workout with) literally ON my stomach so it would be flatter. I remember staring at super frail and thin pictures online. I wanted to look like anyone else but me. I wanted to crawl out of my skin.
I don’t remember the exact moment things began to shift but eventually they did. I didn’t wake up one day and go “I’m going to stop hating myself!” but I came to realize that working out and eating right doesn’t have to be about guilt or punishment. It can be fun. I started listening to various podcasts and reading books that really opened my eyes. I stopped using my scale. I educated myself on healthy eating habits and started working out for healthy motivational purposes, such as running races and training for fun. I got into yoga (which I basically wrote an entire blog on just that!). I went to therapy and broke through some really intense shit. With the combination of all these things, my perspective started to change. I was no longer eating and working out because I hated myself anymore. I started loving myself.
Once I obtained this concept of how to care for myself, I never let it go. This DOES NOT mean I feel 100% great about myself every single day. Far from it. I’m not perfect and no one is, but I can be mindful enough to understand that even if I’m only feeling myself 30% it’s OKAY. This doesn’t make me fat. This doesn’t make me ugly. This makes me human. I also don’t let myself feel this way for very long. I refuse to be stuck in a mindset like I was for so long. I deserve better than that.
I don’t share this story to make others feel bad about where they are in this process. It is not a race. This journey was not a straight line up to success- it was very fucking linear. It was painful but liberating. It allowed me to share this story in the first place.
If you think you can’t, stop. You can and you will. There will come a point where you won’t want to feel like this anymore. One thing that I think needs to be said is that comfort in negative thinking is not self-care. Procrastinating is not necessarily self-care. Just because you’ve thought a certain way for so long doesn’t mean it has to be the blue print for how you live the rest of your life.
Embrace the change and the free-fall into loving yourself.
Lots of love to everyone who reads this and to those who relate to my story. No more hate.
You are so loved.