Let’s take, for example, my ass.
Several years ago, I took a good long look at it – yes, IT, without clothes, without special angles, without good lighting – just IT. And, though EVERYTHING I’ve said --about getting in shape, losing weight, getting healthy for the sake of being a good role model to my kids, being happier on a daily basis. ALL of that-- is true, what’s also true is that I wanted a nicer ass.
So, I worked really hard, and I got, what looked to me like, a nicer ass. And I enjoyed having a pretty nice ass for a woman of my age. I enjoyed the jeans I could fit that ass into. I enjoyed the way skirts made that ass look. I enjoyed –yes, the vanity—of feeling good about the way my ass looked in the presence of my husband. And I think all of that is fair. It’s fair to want to feel really good about your ass. It’s fair to want to feel really good about your whole body.
And self-love – pure, unconditional self-love – is ABSOLUTELY first and foremost and much more important than having a nice ass. This is true because… people who have really nice asses but hate themselves are still insufferable to be around and still suffer, unnecessarily, inside too. This is also true because… people who don’t really like their asses aren’t going to be able to do anything about the fact that they don’t like their asses, long term, if they just sit around hating themselves and beating themselves up all the time. SELF-LOVE FIRST. ALWAYS.
But, once you’ve got self-love down. Once you know you are fabulous no matter what and you are loved no matter what and the Universe wants what’s best for you, then there has to be personal responsibility and accountability for your actions. Self-love isn’t about endless sitting around on the couch, eating chips straight out of the family-sized bag, binge-watching glee, ignoring your children and dogs and still telling yourself you are awesome no matter what (I mean, you might need a day of that here and there but not “endlessly”). Self-love is about taking care of yourself. Self-love IS self-care. And sometimes… sometimes self-love means taking a good hard look at your ass and deciding whether you like what you see or not. If you DO, that is FABULOUS! Celebrate that amazing ass, baby! But if you don’t. If you take a good, hard look and you really truly DO NOT like what you see there, Self-love/ Self-care requires that you begin to actually DO something about that. Take action.
One of my favorite Professors and all-around fitness heroes, Peggy Barber, always says: “Live the way you want to look!” At some point, self-love/self-care is about knowing how you want to look and taking the appropriate actions. Eat healthy. Exercise consistently.
This may sound like plain-old vanity to you. And, I would agree. It is vanity. It IS vanity to want to look good, to look YOUR best. But, I’m not suggesting we chase after looking good to the detriment of all other self-care. I’m not suggesting botox or plastic surgery or other dangerous interventions that are very much the antithesis of self-care. I’m talking about healthy eating and consistent exercise. And guess what healthy eating and consistent exercise do for us. They don’t just make us look good, they (MUCH MORE IMPORTANTLY) make us FEEL good. So, not only do you get a fabulous ass, you get a fabulous attitude that goes along with that ass. And that fabulous attitude makes EVERYTHING (including your ass) look better to you!
I have allowed chasing my little dream of building a mermaid business to totally disrupt my ability to eat well and workout consistently. Every available moment I used to have (because, mind you, I DO have a full-time job that requires the true majority of my time) for running, swimming, biking, meal prep, lifting, grocery shopping – all of that time – I have been pouring into my business and I MUST finally admit, it has taken a toll on my poor ass.
Yep, got another good, long look at it a couple of days ago and I’ve been reeling every since. When did it begin to spread and slide down my legs like that? And why haven’t I really truly noticed until now?
The good news is because I’ve been holding on – for dear life – to my sense of self-love and my profound belief in self-care – I have been able to avoid hating on myself to the point of absolute denial and despair. When a hateful thought rises up, I’m able to squash it. When I am tempted to starve myself because “oh poor me, I’m just SO fat!” I sit myself down and shut myself up with an apple and a little handful of almonds. “Take care of yourself” I say. Over and over and over. And I do. I take care of myself. And lately, taking care of myself has meant cutting myself a LOT of slack because I'm doing a lot. But, there comes a point where you've maybe given yourself too much slack and need to give yourself a little tough love instead.
And... I’m not liking the look of my ass these days. I’m not liking it because it is just an outward (like, really outward and downward, really), physical manifestation of how, though I have held on to self-love, I have not been honest about what I need for self-care. I have not been taking action. Self-love/self-care has been a philosophy – not a practice.
SO, I’m giving myself a little tough love and I’m committing again to the PRACTICE of self-love and self-care, not just the words, not just the philosophy or the belief, but THE PRACTICE. Running, lifting, yoga, making healthy choices with food, cramming exercise in wherever I find a nook or cranny in my day because that’s what it takes: Action.
Practice, take action, take care of yourself, with love, Teamies!
Oh, and, LOVE your ass, while you’re at it!