Self-Love Real Talk for Anyone Who Has Ever Dieted (and Felt like a Failure)
Well, it’s almost Valentine’s Day here in North America and instead of sharing a healthy (yet sexxxy & chocolate-y) vegan protein brownie recipe or an interview with a bad-ass vegan power couple like I’ve done on V-Days past, I decided to do something different this year and write a post all about self-love.
Sure, Valentine’s Day is supposedly meant for “lovers,” but let’s be honest. It is equally as important (if not MORE important) that we give love and care to the THE most important person in our lives. And that person, should of course, be ME. Just kiddin’! 🙂
Obviously I’m referring to YOU, gorgeous! And yes, it sounds both cheesy and cliche and soooo not my usual style. But when we’re able to love and appreciate ourselves better, we can create much more meaningful relationships with other peeps too. So yeah, I’d say this is a relevant and timely post for V-Day, no?
And unlike my usual smart-assed writing style… For once, I’m actually going to share a very heartfelt and serious post– an “open letter” if you will to anyone who’s ever dieted (and felt like a failure) or struggled with body image or just given too much authority to their asshole inner critic.
Truth is, I’ve heard from wayyyyyy too many amazing women and clients over the years in my work as a vegan coach. Stunning women who express such mind-boggling dislike for their bodies, or guilt for their so-called dieting and exercise “failures.” Successful, full-grown women who account their entire self worth solely to the number that appears on their bathroom scale or dress size and come to me looking for the vegan diet plan that will finally land them the body of their dreams, confidence and of course, inner peace and happiness.
Well ladies, here’s your first rude awakening:
Yes, we ALL want to look our best and rock a bikini on the beach feeling like a bombshell (and without any cellulite.) But I cannot stress enough just how important it is before embarking on any kind of diet or training program that we accept who we are AT THIS VERY MOMENT and accept that IT’S OKAY TO BE WHO YOU ARE RIGHT NOW as you work toward greatness (even more greatness).
Yes, you need to allow yourself to evolve via healthy eating and regular exercise, but throughout the grind of it all, you also have to always care for yourself and be kind to yourself.
We love to have this ridiculous obsession with needing to lose any excess weight IMMEDIATELY and yet seem to forget that we didn’t gain those extra pounds in a few weeks so how the hell can you possibly expect to lose it in a couple of weeks?!
And the more you hate on your current self and get stuck in the “I’ll be better when…” mentality (which there’s never an ending to the “when” by the way), your focus is always on something negative.
A positive body image means holding yourself with integrity and always being kind, thoughtful, compassionate and loving to yourself. Easier said than done I know. And believe me, we ALL struggle with negative body image at some point or another and we ALL want instant results when we commit to a new diet or exercise program. We live in a world of instant gratification. It’s normal and a hard pattern to break!
Believe me, I am ALL for wanting to look and feel my best. Hell, I’m a vegan bikini competitor and choose to participate in the most subjective, superficial sport on Earth! And yes, I even make my living creating vegan nutrition and training plans for others. I’m shallow AF and I’m the first to admit it!
We all have goals to achieve. It’s part of what makes us psychologically healthy and what helps move us forward in life. But when we get into the cycle of “I’m fat, “I’m disgusting” or “I’m a failure,” we set ourselves up to be unhappy and we have a REALLY hard time finding happiness amidst the grind of dieting and training. And I KNOW because I’ve been there many times myself!
Check this blog post about my 2014 competition prep for a prime example.
What I learned (and discuss in the above post) is that when your ENTIRE focus is on transforming your body or losing weight, you actually end up doing more damage than good.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for healthy competition and a determined, winning mindset but I’ve learned that the focus HAS to be on gaining, not losing. And I’m not talking about gaining muscle or a huge walnut crushing ass.
I’m talking about gaining strength, gaining health and gaining peace. It’s about feeling lighter. And again, I’m not talking about feeling skinny or shredded. It means dropping all of those negative beliefs that we have about ourselves. All those mean thoughts we play on loop in our heads every time we decide to throw back an entire bag of chips and watch Netflix instead of going to the gym.
Accept that you had a different priority that day. Accept that you made a choice to eat oreos for dinner instead of tofu & steamed asparagus. So what if you got drunk with your friends last weekend instead of ordering water and watching them get drunk. YOU ARE HUMAN!!!
Instead of beating yourself up every time you fall off track, ditch the inner critic and instead be with “I am healing. I am learning. Who I am right now in this very moment is fine and I’m simply doing my best to live a healthy, balanced life in a manageable, maintainable way.”
And the irony is that when you accept your choices and screw-ups and understand that they served a purpose for that particular time in your life, you will find that you’re able to keep making progress AND transform your body AND yes, even lose weight! Why? Because you’re not sitting there, beating yourself up! Because your inner asshole isn’t driving your choices. Because you will have better things to do with yourself than obsess over your so-called “flaws” and “failures.”
The path to optimal wellness is simple, my friends: one foot in front of the other. Moving slowly, moving kindly and moving with support and love.
When I’m feeling stressed or depressed and that tub of peanut butter in the cupboard is calling my name (because yes, I have weaknesses too) I usually try to ask myself:
What am I really needing right now?
More often than not, the **real** answer isn’t even food or my second fave coping mechanism: retail therapy. Most of the time, I’m looking for some human connection and some time away from my damn computer! Or sometimes, I’m just procrastinating and looking for an excuse to get out of writing client plans or answering emails. And sometimes I’m just plain bored and want to bake something while I listen to my fave podcasts.
And you know what? Sometimes I eat half a tub of damn peanut butter or splurge on (yet another) pair of Lululemon pants. And even if I do, I still don’t allow myself to feel like a failure or feel guilty. Why? Because I’M HUMAN! And I train damn hard at the gym **most of the time** and I’ve damn well earned a generous helping of that sweet, creamy, nutty goodness from time to time.
I also always ask myself “how will consuming this/doing this right now (or NOT doing this) serve me and my goals? What am I looking to gain from it? And is there another way I can get that?”
Nine times out of ten, I can avoid a hog fest or shopping spree by taking a hot bath and doing a facial. Or by calling a friend, painting my nails or making a batch of low-cal chocolate PB pronuts. And sometimes, I’m satisfied just by closing up my laptop and indulging in some mindless reality TV. These are the REAL self-care habits that help me feel centered and on track with my goals. Not peanut butter binges or trips to the mall.
And finally, I guess the main point I’m trying to make here is that it’s perfectly okay to be okay with who you are in this very moment instead of after you’ve apparently “accomplished” your goal weight or dream body.
You don’t have to wait to be who you are until after you’ve changed your body or your circumstances. Just be your kick-ass self NOW and thrive as HER while at the same time, constantly improving, learning, growing AND making mistakes along the way.
And with that, I wish you a Happy Valentine’s Day, vegan fit crew! I leave you with one of my favourite quotes of all-time (because this post clearly didn’t have enough quote memes in it already…) 😉
Peace and love, homies. And remember, strength starts on the inside. 🙂
-Sam Shorkey, Jacked on the Beanstalk