Shifting the focus from being ‘healthy’ to being loving instead!
Love is the great miracle cure. Loving ourselves creates real healing & miracles in our lives.
– Louise L. Hay
I’ve been reflecting a lot this week on how important it is to focus on being loving to myself rather than any kind of pushing or striving to be ‘healthy’. As some of you know with my daughter having been sick the past few weeks and with my current crazy work schedule, I have gone a little into survival mode and I’m feeling pretty exhausted. Each day I am taking as it comes and listening and responding to what is needed. I am eating much more comforting filling foods and sleeping whenever I can. Because I am focusing on being as loving to myself as I can rather than being healthy thankfully everything that I am doing is ok! I don’t have to feel like I am not meeting a grade or expectation and I don’t have to feel like I have to get myself out of this place and push myself into a more ‘healthy’ one. I know that if I keep focusing on being loving to myself then this phase will pass and I will be less tired and I will eventually crave again lighter more vibrant foods and I’ll get to the gym or on my yoga matt when it feels like the loving thing to do. It will come when it is time. And I can feel loved throughout it all…. by myself!
With this huge health movement literally exploding in the Western world at the moment, the topic of being ‘healthy’ is absolutely everywhere. And yet EVERYONE has different views on what that actually means! Some are saying it’s all about going raw, others say it is all about cutting out gluten, cutting out meat, cutting out carbs, juicing, enemas etc etc etc… the list is literally endless and it can all get very confusing.
The truth is for me, even though I think there are many many amazing pro’s to this health movement it also concerns me massively. On the one hand there are topics being discussed now that were completely dismissed a decade ago when I first started on this journey, like the effects of refined sugar on us, and there are many many people from all kinds of lives, ages, worlds that are now becoming even a little interested in eating in ways they would never have dreamed of before, with constant access to amazing recipes, cooking videos and blogs. But on the downside this unbelievable obsession of being ‘healthy’ makes me very very nervous.
I’ve had students on my 6 week courses this year that have shared with me that when they first arrived on my course they were experiencing immense amounts of anxiety whenever it was time to eat. With heads full of what they ‘should’ be eating and what was ‘healthy’, having read numerous food blogs promoting different kinds of this and that, yet both of them admitted that they were so obsessed with trying to be ‘healthy’ that they had no idea about what they really wanted or needed. It certainly wasn’t making them feel very good emotionally. They were both filling their bodies’ with all these ‘healthy’ foods that they were ‘supposed’ to be eating and yet they were full of anxieties and insecurities and it certainly wasn’t doing anything for their relationship they actually had with themselves or with food.
I have spent more than half of my life obsessed with being healthy and only really the past few years focusing on being loving instead. I can tell you that I have discovered that they are not the same things.
Having suffered from anorexia, bulimia and emotional binging for over a decade, striving to being super ‘healthy’ was my full time job. When I first became plant-based, sugar & dairy free and vegan (I am not vegan anymore by the way) everyone around me thought I was the ‘healthiest’ person they knew, but I was so busy trying to be healthy that I was completely by-passing being loving to myself and in the end not really being healthy at all. And when I say that I mean the relationship I had with myself was not healthy. The relationship I had with food and nourishing myself was not healthy. Yet 90% of the time the foods that actually went into my mouth were pretty damn healthy! I can say with full conviction and with my hand on my heart, that the ONLY thing that has allowed me to begin having a ‘healthy’, loving & empowered relationship with myself, with food and with the way I nourish myself, has been putting loving myself as the number one priority! ALWAYS!
Of course what that looks like varies depending on where I am, who I am and what my goals are. Having a good knowledge about how food effects me on all levels really helps and gives me the ability to have more of a choice on what is loving and what isn’t. So does having a good awareness about myself on all levels, so that I have more awareness of what I may need, what I may be feeling, and how my body is.
For me, I don’t believe there is such a thing as the perfect healthy diet. What may be healthy for one person can be pure poison to another. Daily green juicing may be pure liberation for one human being but for someone who is under-weight and anorexic it can be like poison. A piece of chocolate cake may be an act of pure self-sabotage for me one day and an act of pure self-love for me on another. What I need today is so different to what I needed last year and likely to be different to what I’ll need next year.
Each one of us are so different. Different sex, shapes, sizes, weights, with different lifestyles, from different cultures, come from different emotional backgrounds and histories. How is it possible for ‘healthy’ to be the same thing for all of us? The one thing that is universal though everywhere is ‘love’.
So, if you are someone that gets caught up in trying really hard to be ‘healthy’ like I have so often in my life, and it’s not really helping you feel better about yourself on a deeper level, then I am writing this post for you. If you are someone who constantly strives to be healthier and when you cannot meet your expectations you feel like you’ve failed, then I am writing this post for you. I want to tell you that you are not alone! We are all so beautiful just as we are. And I believe every single one of us has the power within us to know what is absolutely the best for ourselves. I believe every single one of us has the instinct within us to be loving to ourselves, we may have just lost our way a bit. And loving ourselves means treating ourselves with love on a daily basis.
That may mean eating well or it may mean allowing ourselves to be imperfect. It may mean sleeping more or it may mean exercising more. This is not a black and white situation – this is a life long commitment of listening, learning and loving ourselves.
Deepen this trust in yourself by loving yourself and I believe that you will find your way back. Or you will find or attract a teacher that will guide you there. It is likely that it will be a little of both.
Here are some of the tools I have used in my life and that I teach to others to help start and deepen this process:
1. Write a food diary
This is an exercise that everyone on my course does for the entire 6 weeks. This is one of the most effective exercises I know in helping us learn more about ourselves. It can be very confronting but it is very useful. So often we hide even from ourselves how we behave around how we do or don’t nourish ourselves, so getting it out on paper forces us to see ourselves clearer. You write everything that you eat and also anything that you may feel or that comes up throughout the process. This is not an exercise about eating perfectly or beating yourself up for not. This is an exercise to be able to learn more about yourself and how you are nourishing yourself. Be brave, be courageous and most of all be loving. Look for your patterns, behaviours around how you do or don’t nourish yourself. Notice any reoccurring thoughts in your head – do you think a lot that there are ‘good’ foods and ‘bad’ foods? Do you allow yourself to have what you really want? Or do you ignore yourself and push yourself to eat another way that you think is better. Pay attention to how foods make you feel – if you eat sugar what happens to your body afterwards? Bloatedness? Tired? Sluggish? Emotional? Just pay attention without trying to make too many big decisions too early. If you can do it for a period of 2 weeks or more then only afterwards you may be ready to make some choices that would feel more loving to you.
2. As yourself “If I was 100% loving to myself today what would that look like”?
This again is a really helpful exercise that helps you check in with yourself each day. As each day the answer may be different. Some mornings it may be to allow yourself to sleep more, others it may be to get yourself out of bed to the gym. Some may be to eat lightly and lots of veggies, others it may be that you need something really substantial and heavy. The most important thing is that you check in with where you are right now and that your main priority is to be loving. If you have done exercise 1 then this is a great follow on exercise based on the awareness you’ve fained from your food diary.
3. Knowledge is power but nobody can be your guru!
Learning about the benefits of foods and how foods effect us on all levels is an incredibly important tool in building a more loving empowering relationship with yourself. The more knowledge and awareness the more information we have to make decisions based on. But also please remember that no-one knows your body better than you do. So please take the knowledge and then try it on yourself and check in with yourself with points 1 & 2 on how you are actually feeling. This process may take time, a few years even, as you try out different things and ways that work or you. For me almost everything I’ve studied I’ve practiced on myself or at least tried so that I have first hand experience on how it makes me feel. I know sugar, dairy & meat leave me feeling pretty rubbish and if I do choose to eat them then I am at least doing it with awareness and know of the consequences. Then at least I may be able to take good care of myself afterwards. At some points in my life being vegan really worked for me and then in others I really needed some fish and once or twice a year maybe I’ll eat some really good quality ethically sourced meat. I’ll only know these things because i am constantly listening to myself and checking in with myself. I am my own guru! And I have also had some amazing teachers along the way!
4. Find some amazing teachers that you trust to guide you!
Everything I know today and have learnt today I have either learnt from other teachers or been guided to discover by other teachers. Amazingly when I look back on my life every single teacher that I’ve been guided too has been perfect for me! Find the teachers, authors, leaders that you really resonate with and if it feels really right in your gut and intuition then let them guide you. My belief is a really good teacher will essential guide you back to yourself in the end! This is a really great teacher! One that wants to empower you to be able to trust and listen to yourself.
5. Don’t try and get this perfectly!
This journey for me has been a very messy, clunky, imperfect one. I have learnt from so many mistakes and continue to do so, but essentially it has all been unbelievable experience that I have taken with me to this day. As long as I am keeping the question on being loving to myself, then the answers will change along the way. And if I make a mistake, then if I am being loving, it is ok. I don’t need to beat myself up. I don’t even need to make it mean anything. It is just a mistake and I can let it move past quickly. If I am really being loving then there are no mistakes, only more experiences and learnings!!
So that’s all from me for this week. I hope you have found this useful. As always it has been incredibly useful for me too. Trust yourselves and love yourselves so much that you fall madly in love with yourself! Listen to yourself as best you can and you will begin to hear exactly what you need in each moment. EVERYTHING else will come from a place of love. This is what will stay with us for the rest of our lives. So much more then a healthy diet we are trying to stick to!
Wishing you all a really beautiful, nourishing, love filled week.
The relationship we have with how we nourish ourselves is the single most intimate relationship we’ll have (outside of the one with ourself) throughout our entire life. Give it the full attention and unconditional love that it needs
and we will reap the benefits. A life of freedom, truth, love and empowerment.
– Nicky Clinch