We all think we know what love is and what the definition is, but I resonate the most with how Brené Brown defines love–
We cultivate love when we allow our most vulnerable and powerful selves to be deeply seen and known, and when we honour the spiritual connection that grows from that offering with trust, respect, kindness and affection.
Love is not something we give or get, it is something that we nurture and grow, a connection that can only be cultivated between two people when it exists within each of them – we can only love others as much as we love ourselves.
For the first 30 years of my life I thought I knew what love was and that I was living as an example of love—dependable, reliable, giving, and selfless. I’ve come to now see that what I was really offering was anything but that. I was clueless, unaware, oblivious and at times, destructive.
Not to others.
Back when I was young, married and raising three people I was completely asleep when it came to self love. I have come to realize now however that I simply did not like who I was, so loving me was not even close to being on my radar. I know now that when you love yourself, you take actions that care for yourself.
Back then I had no awareness that the fast food I was consuming and the sedentary life I was living was contributing to my very large body. I never connected that the heaviness I was in my body was a direct link to the heaviness in my emotions. I thought by being an amazing mom and wife I was all about love. And then I realized.
Not to myself.
When I began to what I like to refer to as “wake up” and get healthy, I started to like me. I was finding dark shadows that were lurking in my heart that were asking to be let out. I healed many things that were literally weighing me down. I forgave others. I accepted circumstances. I began to care for me.
The logistics in which I lost weight are simple–I changed my habits. I recognized what wasn’t working and made a very conscious decision to change it. Some of my strategies were this:
- Eating meals on small plates
- Chewing gum while I cooked
- Teaching others to do their dishes
- Putting trigger foods out of sight
- Making sure my walking shoes were always with me
- Changing routines to avoid mindless eating (taking long baths, going for a walk, learning to garden)
You see these simple changes were to avoid be being unconscious with snacking, portions, sedentary lifestyle choices and emotional eating. Many of these changes still remain part of my life.
By swapping out the mindless munching on snacks for bubble baths or a short walk, my mind was beginning to see the value in me. It is extraordinary what happens to a person’s soul when time is spent consistently alone on a walk. The changes that occurred both on the inside and outside were amazing.
I began noticing myself.
I have spent a decade and a half living like these habits—mindful eating, multiple daily walks, I even became a yoga and meditation teacher, and basically transformed myself from an angry obese woman to a healthy and happy woman.
A vibrant life was mine.
Then I got injured.
For the last seven years I have dealt with healing from four orthopedic surgeries and learning to live with chronic pain. This body that I had worked so hard to become healthy began to defile me. It was as if she was rebelling against this lifestyle of health and fitness. I began to feel a deep sadness for her.
While I have maintained a healthy weight for over 20 years, I have struggled with trusting my body. The multiple diagnoses felt at times like a betrayal. I mean, I spent a solid 10 adult years living on double cheeseburgers, fries and chicken nuggets without a stitch of pain or health issues.
I wondered many times why I began to develop inflammatory issues when I was now living my best life? I was loving my body’s ability to climb mountains, race bicycles, practice endless hours of yoga, walk miles and miles each day.
And yet, my body was struggling.
I have since learned to accept what is and have continued on living an extraordinary happy and healthy life. I still make daily choices around movement vs sitting, ice cream vs a single bite of dark chocolate, and binging on tv vs a long bubble bath. I’ve been extremely happy with the self love I have discovered by nurturing myself.
The game changed about six months ago when I stumbled onto a strength training program. I was completely content with my body and it’s strength and flexibility-and my size- but was intrigued by this idea of committing to something new.
Questions of value immediately rose to the surface. The excuses were miles long. (I can’t do that because of my hip, that will hurt my ankle, I don’t need to do burpees, I don’t have enough weights, my body is “good enough”).
Deep down I knew that all of that internal dialogue didn’t sound much like loving myself. And I knew it.
So I began October 1st. A brand new love affair with myself. And like any new love there have bumps along the way—days I doubted myself and had some pretty bad words spoken, days I wanted to give up and go back to the inner narrative that I was “good enough”.
Those challenging days of the early love affair with my 51 year old self are gone. Now, I am in complete awe of what I have been able to do and overcome. I am happily shocked at the human body and it’s ability to transform. I am no longer held back by the story of age or injury and instead I am madly loving my ability and what I have achieved.
Not the amount of weight I can lift or the pushups I can now easily complete, but the confidence in my physical body to overcome pain, injury and doubt.
Amazing how much healing can happen when you say yes to YOU. Whether it is food choices, walking, yoga, mindfulness or even getting down with lifting weights learning to love myself has been a journey I am so grateful for.
I have found trust in myself. And isn’t trust a much needed part of love?
This new love affair is destined to last a long, long time and I couldn’t be happier.