You know it’s Valentine’s Week when the television commercials really kick it up a notch with their cheesy jewelry ads. My husband is one of those guys who believes that Valentine’s Day is a “made up holiday to get guys to buy things.” I would not describe him as a hopeless romantic (to say the least) but I do know that I am loved on a regular basis when he brings me a random bouquet of food coloring dyed flowers from the Giant or spends his rare weekend off doing endless loads of laundry. He reminds me everyday with his actions that love is a verb, not a heart pendant from Jared’s Galleria of Jewelry. For that I am grateful.
For me, Valentine’s Day is a great reminder that we need to love ourselves BEFORE we can truly love another. It took me years to understand the true meaning of self-love. Self love takes practice. I work with a lot of women who struggle with self-love: not good enough, pity-parties, mom guilt emotions. It is so easy to tell others to be kinder to themselves, but why is it hard sometimes to take our own advice?
Recently I’ve started conducting a social experiment where I treat myself as I would treat my best friend. Would I tell my best friend to get on the scale every morning and verbalize feelings of disappointment if I didn’t like how much she weighed? Would I over-schedule my best friend so that she is so busy that she has no time to rest? Would I tell my friend she shouldn’t take one hour of the day for herself because she needed to be with her kids 24/7? I would never treat my best friend that way, so why would I treat myself that way? I have encouraged the women in my macro group to conduct this same experiment. How did that change the way they treated themselves that day? The results were eye-opening. Why are we so kind to others, but so hard on ourselves? Don’t we deserve to be treated with the same love and respect?
After many years of practicing this habit, I have become very good at taking care of myself. When my daughter was 4 weeks old, I quickly lined up family to come and watch her for an hour or two a day so that I could hit the gym or get a manicure. I have heard of the term “mom guilt” many times, but honestly I have never experienced it myself. I know that I am a better mom and wife when I take time for me. Period. I am sure that if I had a conversation with Gianna twenty years from now when she is a young adult that she would agree that it was important for me to continue to enjoy my individuality as a woman when she was a child. I highly doubt she would be mad at me for taking that time for myself when she was wheeling around Elmo in her toy stroller. So why is the term “mom guilt” used so often these days? It makes me sad. Whether it’s an hour yoga class or just a cup of coffee alone at Starbucks, we all need that time to just be us. Not moms, not wives, not employees, just women.
Here are some ways that I practice self-love on a daily basis. These simple steps help me to be a whole and healthier me and the best version of myself:
- Drink a gallon of water a day. A gallon is conservative. My average is 1.5-2 gallons a day. I start every morning with 2 large Tervis tumblers of lukewarm lemon water. I started doing it after I watched this video about 3 years ago, and I’ve rarely missed a day. Water increases energy and reduces fatigue. Since our brain is mostly water, drinking it helps you be more alert and focused. Water promotes weight loss, improves skin’s complexion and is a natural headache remedy.
- Sleep for 8 hours a night. Sleep is a health tip that is often overlooked. I strive for at least 8 hours a sleep a night. When I first met my husband, he only slept for 4-5 hours a night, stating that’s “all he needed.” Then I started to convince him to go to bed at the same time as me each night (which we still do every night). Now he complains when he “only gets 7 hours.” When you are sleep deprived, you are moodier and you tend to make poor food choices the next day. Your body is looking for a way to cope with being tired, and usually it looks to cope with fatty, salty food cravings. No television show is worth me staying up too late. I tape it, watch it the next day, and get to bed.
- Rest on the weekends. I have mentioned this many times before (and recently on my Snapchat @ MaryGoNavy), but on the weekends, I prefer to do nothing. I teach my 1 spin class on Saturday, hit the grocery store and come home, shower and get back in to my sweats for the day. I don’t want my weekends filled with activities. I want to rest and enjoy time with my family doing simple things. We have 1 child who is too young for sports activities, so it’s easy for me to do nothing. I am sure that will change one day, but for now we are enjoying reading books and watching Mickey Mouse. As a result, I am more recharged and refocused when Monday comes because I was able to rest on Saturday and Sunday.
- Choose foods that make me FEEL good. 90% of the reason that I choose the foods that I eat is because of the way that they make me feel. During bikini prep, I really view food as fuel. If I’m going to workout, I know I need to choose carbs and protein to help give me energy and build muscle. Post workout is the same. At night, I have been reducing carbs to help with fat burning when I sleep. I eat very little refined sugar, not because it’s “not on my diet” but because it makes me FEEL terrible afterwards. On the rare day that I choose to have ice cream or a decadent dessert at a restaurant, I enjoy the foods while I’m actually eating them, but 10-20 minutes later the “crash” sets in and I regret the choice. Not because of the scale or the physical impact of how I will look, but because those foods make me tired, cranky and irritable when they start to digest. I don’t like doing that to my body. My body is so kind to me, so I try not to punish it with foods that make it crash and under perform. My body doesn’t deserve that kind of treatment.
- Engage in healthy relationships. I don’t do drama. At all. I don’t gossip. I choose relationships, mainly friendships, based upon mutual respect, a common bond and no bullshit. I am a straight-shooter, loyal and generous. I have close friends which are near and dear to my heart, and I spend time in healthy relationships that are mutually beneficial and that help me continue to grow into a better person.
- Sweat 6 days a week. The mental release that I experience when I workout outweighs the physical result tenfold. I really cannot describe the mental shift that takes place when I teach a spin class or set a deadlift PR. It just happens. It’s a chemical reaction, a mental breakthrough, an emotional and a spiritual experience.
I hope this post will inspire you to take a little more time out this week for you. Love your spouse or significant other a little harder. SHOW them you care everyday. Then show yourself the same love and compassion. You deserve it. It’s not selfish. It’s self-love.