Hello friend! I hope you’re having a lovely week. Today I want to get real with you and share the #1 most important health tip I share in my private practice. If you’re anything like me, you have likely undertaken various, possibly dangerous, diets, cleanses, exercise programs, or detoxes all in the hopes of achieving some cultural ideal of what it means to be healthy (hint that often equates with thinness… which is not a very useful indicator of health. And if you’re punishing your body on a daily basis with excessive exercise and restrictive eating to try to get there, well I can hazard a guess that your mental health isn’t necessarily factored into the equation. Say it with me “Mental health IS health!”).
I also bet that you have likely struggled to stick with it and may fall prey to self-sabotage, ending up exactly where you started a few months down the road. I bet you’re feeling frustrated and unhappy and like this healthy living thing just won’t work for you.
I’m here to tell you that you’re right. Now bear with me for a moment. There are a couple of reasons these changes are likely not sticking.
The first is that most diets, detoxes, and weight-loss programs are unsustainable by their very nature, end up lowering your resting metabolic rate, and leave you feeling starving, agitated and so focused on food (what you’re eating, what you’re not eating, what you should be eating) that it wears away at your mental and physical resolve and you are so exhausted with it all that you can’t sustain it.
To these programs I say good riddance. Throw em out and never look back. If someone is telling you to weigh and measure every thing you eat, I can virtually guarantee this won’t be sustainable for the next 10, 15, 30, 50 years of your life. Building health is more about stacking habits that make you feel amazing, inside and out, and honestly this will likely look different for every person on the planet thanks to our bioindividuality.
And they encompass everything from choosing foods that work with your body, to creating healthy boundaries in work & relationships, finding ways to move around that feel like fun and not punishment, taking care of your mental health & healing past traumas, cultivating joy & hobbies, and literally all the wonderful things that go into building a healthy life. Food can play a role, but it is not even close to the only factor at play! So start by thinking about what your REAL health goals are outside of anything to do with weight loss. What do you want to be able to do in the world? What habits do you want to cultivate to create that vision? They can be anything from “I want to start my day with a crossword puzzle and my favourite cup of tea” to “I want to turn my computer off by 9:30pm so I can get up early and train for a marathon.”
The second reason that is more insidious and comes about once we’ve ditched these narrow and unhelpful ideas of what it means to be healthy.
When my clients come to see me they usually know exactly what works for them and what habits or foods keep them feeling unwell and unhappy. That’s not where our work typically lives. I cannot count the number of times I’ve been going through an intake and listened to my clients tell me what foods and habits light them up and make them feel their best. And then I ask them this question: Do you think you deserve to be healthy and happy? What follows is often tears and the response in some iteration that no, they don’t feel worthy of these things.
Yes we work with herbs, healing foods, lifestyle interventions, and therapeutic supplementation, but none of that stuff will stick if you are still approaching your healing from a space of self-defeat: that you don’t think that you deserve health and happiness just as you are, in this exact moment. All people are worthy of love and respect regardless of health status, but we are not taught this on a daily basis. In fact we are often told the opposite: you are only worthy if you are thin, white, and healthy.
When you don’t believe on a fundamental level that you deserve respect and happiness due to cultural conditioning and constant messaging that tells you that you must change in order to be worthy, then any dietary habits and lifestyle changes you make might work for a couple of weeks or a few months.
Then slowly, but surely, little self-sabotaging habits will start sneaking in as you let the meditation you KNOW is so beneficial for your stress levels and focus slide out the window because you’re “too busy” or you start hitting the drive thru on your way home from work because meal prepping and planning is taking up too much time.
Or your gym sessions, yoga classes, evening walks, painting, journaling, biking, hiking, knitting, whatever beautiful thing fills your soul gets placed in a corner to gather dust because you have more important things to focus on.
Yes life is busy. I get that. I run my own business and fulfill all the roles: receptionist, social media strategist, web designer, coach, cooking instructor, yoga teacher, recipe developer, blogger, etc., etc., etc. But without my self-care regimen (which includes setting healthy boundaries and learning to say no!) I would not have the energy or the desire to fulfill these roles, to continue to learn & grow, and share this with you.
And for a long time I let that stuff that fed my soul and nourished my body slide so that I could spend another hour working on another project. My productivity fell and my business wasn’t flourishing. I struggled to make enough to pay my bills every month even though I was working like a beast. And this focus on work was a symptom of something larger: the belief that I didn’t deserve rest, nourishment, love, health, and happiness.
After much work and some good ol’ fashion faking it til I make it, (by which I mean I acted like, and treated by body as if, I loved myself or was at least neutral towards my body, even if I didn’t quite believe it yet) I’ve arrived at a place where I can look in the mirror and see beauty and joy and feel the love I have for myself, even if I don’t look exactly like society tells me I should. And I’m close enough to that standard that I receive a lot of unconscious benefits of thin and white privilege, so please do not be hard on yourself if you are not in that space. There are many hurdles to overcome and I hope to help support you in that journey in whatever way that I can in my sphere of knowledge.
I’ve gotten to the place where caring for my mind and my body is of utmost importance. Because if I don’t, those 16 hour days hosting retreats or working on e-books and online courses won’t happen and I definitely won’t enjoy the process when they do!
I had to get to the place where I felt like I deserved this time for myself, where I deserved to wake up free of aches and pains and bloating and a face full of zits before it could stick. And luckily through trial and error I’ve figured out some steps to start shifting things in that direction for my clients, so that you can make these changes part of your lifestyle, permanently.
This exercise is one of the very first ones I give out when we’re starting our work together.
Developing Self-Love Exercise
I passionately believe that in order to get and stay well, we first must love and accept our bodies just as they are. Only once we treat ourselves with the compassion often reserved for our loved ones will true healing take place. In order to begin fostering this loving relationship with our bodies, we have to appreciate where we are in this moment and everything our bodies are doing for us to keep us alive. In honour of this I have the following simple exercise to get you started.
- Every day for the next week sit down for five minutes somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed.
- Write down TWO things you appreciate about your body. They can be as simple as the ability to breathe or something as incredible as giving birth. It doesn’t matter what they are. And they don’t have to adhere to physical standards; it can include things such as your ability to support those around you, to give excellent hugs, or make a delicious meal.
- Once you write them down write a sentence or two about why this ability/achievement is so special to you and possibly your loved ones.
- Every day after you’ve written down what you appreciate about your body read through the previous days entries.
- Take five more minutes after writing to sit with what you’ve written and read and see how it makes you feel.
Thank you for joining me today and know that this journey won’t happen overnight. The process of falling in love with yourself requires commitment, openness, time, energy, and support.
If you’re looking for a way to kick-start some of these healthy habits, self-love practices, and figure out which foods are keeping you feeling sluggish, bloated, or anxious then check out my new Learn to Love Your Healthy Self Nutrition Challenge! It’s a 28 day guided program (complete with online cooking classes, guided meditations, yoga classes, and Q & A sessions!!) to give you the tools & knowledge to make lasting habit changes to help improve your sleep, clear up your skin, improve digestion, & balance out your moods with just a little bit of time dedicated to your self care & nutrition every day.
You can check out all the information right here and if you sign up by midnight on Wednesday January 13th, you’ll get a special discount! I’ve already got a great group excited to start Monday, January 18th. You can read about all the details here.
As always, thank you for your support!
Have a fabulous day, stay safe, and take care of one another!