Why is it so hard to love ourselves? Why is the constant criticizing and depriving necessary? Why is it so hard to look in the mirror and LOVE what we see? We all have this image of what we should look like, how we should feel, what we need to buy, how we should act, talk, dress, eat….the list is insane really. It’s easier for us to fall in love with others, fall in love with food, fall in love with places, and fall in love with activities, but why not fall in love with ourselves? I’m not talking about vanity; I’m talking about acceptance. Accepting ourselves and loving ourselves in a positive and nurturing way.
Loving myself is THE HARDEST THING for me to do. Being a dancer, and just a girl in general, I am constantly walking the thin line between being healthy and feeling good in my body, to obsessing over what I eat, my workouts, weight, etc. I (currently) go through these stages where I’m super confident in how I look and feel in my body, and then all of a sudden I eat a slice of cake or drink a super unhealthy (but delish) hot chocolate as a treat and then I’m back to thinking I’m fat and I need to work out super hard the next morning to make up for it. This mentality is so obsessive EXHAUSTING, but knowing that I’m not the only person dealing with this is so comforting and reassuring. Listening to podcasts like the Balanced Blonde have helped me to see that striving for self-love is a daily process. But like any process, the more we practice the more it will become a habit and ingrained into our minds.
This Valentine’s Day, I want to give you guys some things you can do that will help you start towards a life of self-love and acceptance. Remember, if we can’t love ourselves, how can we love anyone else fully? I am DEFINITELY not an expert on this subject, nor do I practice it consistently enough. This is why I am going to join you on this journey and try to find that self-love inside my own body. We’re in this together!
- LISTEN to Your Body- I cannot express how important this is. I have ignored what my body has been trying to tell me for so long and didn’t realize that I was just hurting it instead of helping it. From this, I have developed back and knee injuries. It’s so important in any relationship, whether it be with a spouse, family member, or friend to listen to what the other person has to say. I catch myself interrupting people (like my boyfriend) when they are talking in order to get my opinion in. This is such a terrible habit. Honestly, that’s what I do to my body too. When it tries to tell me that it’s in pain or needs a rest, I just cut it off and say “You’re going to do this work out and you’re going to push through.” What I need to say is “Not feeling it today? Okay, we’ll do some light yoga or just take the day off completely.”
Lately I have taken some time off from my usual intense workouts and just focused on yoga. My body feels sooooo great because of this. I decided to do the 31 day yoga REVOLUTION series on Yoga With Adriene. First of all, she is amazing; you need to subscribe to her YouTube channel ASAP. I not only love her practices, but I love the intentions she has set for each day of the series. Today we focused on Prana which is essentially all the energy that surrounds us. Adriene encourages us to pay attention to our body and become in touch with our “energetic body.” Bringing attention to how our body reacts to certain poses, feels in various positions, how our breath reacts to a specific move….this can help bring more energy to all the things that we do (especially our yoga practice) and how we feel in our bodies. Adriene says “a prana bod is a hot bod” and to “start a new love relationship via your prana bod.” YESSSSSS!
- Eat REAL Foods- Says the girl who is constantly reaching for a protein bar or blue chips for a snack instead of some carrots and hummus or apples and peanut butter. I know, it’s so hard! But our bodies were designed to take in foods that were natural and unprocessed. When we constantly eat foods that are packaged, processed, and UNREAL, that’s when our bodies will react negatively and not look the way we want or feel the way we want. Try incorporating 1-2 foods a day that are just basic. No additions or frills, just food. Keeping it simple is always the way to go when we want our bodies to change. Wish me luck achieving this step, it’s super difficult yet sooooo important. But when we feel better, it’s easier to love being in our body.
- PAMPER Yourself- Anyone else ever forget to do this? I’m constantly rushing from one thing to the next. Pampering my body is the last thing on my mind. I do try to nourish it through food and exercise, but when I say “pamper” I mean to take a hot bath, put on a face mask, drink your hot tea and collagen, heat up a rice bag. Whatever makes YOU feel special and like you’re the queen of the world. I have recently been trying to ween myself off of commercial makeup, skincare products, and birth control….let me tell you, it is NOT easy. I’ve been breaking out like crazy and it’s pretty mortifying because I’ve always had clear skin for the most part. However, I know that my body needs to move away from those toxic chemicals. I’m using a lot of natural remedies like cold cream (which I will link the recipe for because it’s supposed to be AMAZING) and apple cider vinegar for my skin. I also picked up a couple non-toxic/organic face masks from Shea Moisture at Target which I LOVE! I put collagen in my hot tea 3X a day which is helping my hair grow faster….small changes that I’m trying to make in order to pamper and treat my body with love. Little acts of care can go a long way.
- REST!!!!!!!- Rest? What the heck is rest? People still do that? I know right. Rest is a word that is almost looked down upon these days. Some people see it as a sign of weakness or as non-productive; I have totally been guilty of this. Eventually it will start to take a toll on you mentally and physically, take it from my experience. You will be moody, feel like CRAP, and have a negative outlook on pretty much everything. I’m not a fun person to be around when I haven’t rested, just ask my boyfriend who has to deal with me on those days….he’s an amazing guy and I’m so lucky to have him and his love/support. But seriously, take a day and do NOTHING.
Please, let this be your Valentine’s day gift from me. When someone asks “Why are you resting?” just say “Sorry, Ashlyn said I had to.” Have your own little Netflix&Chill night with some popcorn and a Zevia of course (this new grapefruit flavor is AMAZING)! Put on a chick-flick (one of my favorites is Letters to Juliet, a fabulous show like Mad Men (my current fave), or just sleep all day. That sounds pretty amazing right? Unplug, turn your phone off (yikes!) lay the laptop down, and just give in to the rest your body so dearly needs. You will feel so rejuvenated and ALIVE, ready to accomplish the amazing things you are meant to do. (I know, I’m cringing too). It’s a hard thing to do!
Resting doesn’t necessarily have to mean sleeping for you, it could mean taking a break from constantly working your mind/body to hang out with your friends and family. I am one of those people that when my family goes to hang out with friends (people who are practically my family) or I get invited somewhere by one of my friends, I usually stay at home by myself to get some “things done.” Mostly just cram more work into my brain, blog….what have you.
On the night of the Super Bowl, I was working on cleaning out some space for my new apartment when some friends (the ones I mentioned who are practically family) invited my family over. It was last minute, and I REALLY didn’t want to go. I didn’t want to leave my little cocoon of “all work, no play.” But at the last minute, I decided to go. I’m soooooo glad I did guys! I got to spend time laughing with them, playing with my best friend’s adorable new baby boy and her niece (who is an absolute blast) and just enjoyed those carefree moments that are so special.
I want you guys to know that I’m writing this post for you of course, but for myself too! These are things that I don’t implement enough and I feel that they are so important in order to fully accept ourselves, love ourselves, and just have a healthy and happy life. Let’s keep each other motivated and support one another! I’ll hold you accountable if you hold me accountable, sound like a plan? Hope you all have a fantastic Valentine’s Day! Much love from me.
Now go give yourself some love.
Ashlyn Tori <3
PS: #embraceyourplate on Instagram or tag me @adancersplate if you are using any of these tips, or if you have a tip you would like to share with me! I would LOVE to see all the love.