I was preparing an absolutely enormous spinach salad for dinner when I had this revelation: I'm in love, and it's changed everything.
I spent my teens and twenties at war with my body... stressing about it, crying about it, trying to shrink it, hide it, living in fear of it. I felt most confident and most accomplished when I succeeded at starving or training it into a smaller size.
As I neared 30, mercifully, that self-hatred began to wane. The concept that my appearance had to change for me to accept myself and be accepted started to fray and unravel. As the flimsy veil fell, something better blossomed: forgiveness, confidence, a deeper understanding that our lives are not the surface things they seem to be. There is a universe outside of us, and within us, and the most astonishing part is that they're one.
But what motivates us to be our best selves (our healthiest, most productive, creative, truest selves) when our inner drill sergeant puts down the bullhorn? My inner trainer, The Punisher, had berated me until I'd cried, until I'd vowed to set a determined goal and achieve it. The means were healthy, and the achievements were positive, but my mind was not. The cycle always repeated.
I was fixed to the outcomes. I had never acted to improve my health purely out of unapologetic, unbridled, overwhelming LOVE for my precious life. My actions had been inextricably bound to the results, and when I achieved them, I proclaimed, "I have arrived. I'm one of the beautiful people. I can rest easy."
And sure enough, whiskey, french fries and fun would take over, and I'd have to do it all over again. What I lacked was LOVE for the journey and the genuine LOVE it takes to give your body what it actually wants and needs.
Do you love yourself enough to take excellent care of yourself? I finally do.
I've finally answered what feels like my life-long question: what will motivate me if not self-hate? Self-love, baby. REAL love. It's been so stunningly simple all along.
I thought love meant giving into the brain's every desire: sit idle, stay asleep, french fries, french fries, french fries. But get a daily taste of what the SOUL desires, and you won't soon forget the glory of a sunrise, sunset, how it feels to breathe and sweat. How much better is an overflowing bowl of juicy berries than a greasy burger and its energy-sapping aftermath? How wonderful is it to look at your dinner plate and say, "nobody suffered for this; nobody died."
Is it the transition to a plant-based diet? Is it growing up? Maybe there's no one reason why compassion has flooded my veins, but LOVE is a drug I want to stay hooked on. When you love yourself, you give yourself what you need. When you love yourself, you take care of your mind and body. When you love yourself, you don't let everything stress and upset you. When you love yourself, you know that you're whole... just you and nothing else... no need to mask it, stuff it, shrink it, paint it, or pull up the covers and sleep.
I'm in love with myself, and it's changed everything.