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There are a lot of things that can hold us back from creating a healthy lifestyle and getting fit and lean. Today I want to talk about one of the biggest things that might be keeping you from reaching your health and fitness goals.

A lot of people try to change their bodies in an attempt to feel better about themselves. They hate their thighs. they hate the muffin top. They think if they could just lose weight and look better, they will love themselves more. Maybe they believe that the more they hate how they look now, the more it will motivate them to change. 

Unfortunately, hating yourself thin doesn’t work. What motivates you to lose weight is important. Being motivated by self hatred or self loathing won’t lead to lasting success. The only lasting motivation for change is love. If we love ourselves, we want to feel better, do better, eat better. We want to take the best care of ourselves that we can. And in turn, the physical changes we are hoping for will start to appear, not because we are forcing them, but because they are a byproduct of the things we do when we love our bodies. 

Now, here’s the thing: self love can be hard. It feels hard to love yourself when there are habits you want to change, or you don’t love how you look in the mirror. So how do we love ourselves in the present, even when we feel very unlovable? Today’s post will deep dive into how you can love yourself now. Not 20 pounds later. Not after your abs are visible. Not after you stop binging. Right now. 

Woman touching mirror while looking at reflection

But first, here’s let’s talk about what self love isn’t.

Self love isn’t about self obsession

The problem with the internet is that everyone has an opinion, and has an idea of what it takes for you to see the results you want. With the rise of body positivity and the call for self love (both good things in my book) there are a lot more people advocating self love and self acceptance. Unfortunately not everyone who has an audience is well equipped to discuss the topics they are preaching about. It’s easy to get sent on a wild goose chase for self love, and come back empty handed. 

Let’s take a look at what isn’t self love: posting duck lipped selfies on instagram every day and telling the world how awesome you are. It’s easy to see these public acts of “self love” and think they will make us feel better, but the truth is, it’s easy to post about how awesome we are, but much harder to feel it. Plus, it puts you in the 1% of most annoying people in the universe. Don’t do it. 

Another self love trap that we can fall into is comparison with others. We think that if we think about the ways that we are better than other people we will feel good about ourselves. But the habit of comparison only serves as a means to future disappointment and bitterness. If we feel good about how we are better than others, then we will also feel bad about how others are better than us. 

So self obsession (aka vanity) and comparison are not lasting paths to self love. So what do we do? Today I want to uncover a new way of thinking that can help you love yourself unconditionally without vanity or comparison. 

The key to self love: learning 

The reason we struggle with self love isn’t because we’re unlovable or not good enough. Self love doesn’t come once we’ve reached a certain weight, or once we look better, or even feel better. If you don’t love yourself now, you won’t 5 pounds from now, 20 pounds from now, or even 100 pounds from now. 

The reason we struggle with self love is because we expect that if we achieve a certain goal we will suddenly love ourselves completely. It’s self abuse. If your husband told you he would only love you if you did XYZ, I’d call it abuse. Stop abusing yourself.

Love isn’t earned, it’s learned.
Self acceptance

The key to self love is viewing life as “love school,” and choosing to see every experience we have as a lesson in how to love ourselves, love others, and love something greater than ourselves. When we see life this way, hard experiences, embarrassing experiences, and hurtful experiences are don’t sting as much because we know there is good that can come from the experience, if we choose to learn from it.

When a coworker comments that “it looks like you’ve gained some weight” you have a choice to make. You can fume, feel embarrassed, and silently plot your revenge. Or you can pause and think: how can I learn love from this experience?  

By treating all our life experiences as curriculum in “love school” you will learn exactly what you, personally, need to feel loved by yourself. 

So how do we use our experiences in life to learn love?

Here’s how to make the most of your “love school” curriculum

The first year of our son’s life was a tough one for my marriage. I was sleep deprived, touched out, and physically and emotionally drained. It left very little time for caring for my husband. “He can take care of himself” I thought. But I needed to do more for him. Not because he needed it. But because I needed it. 

You see, love grows not by thinking about loving someone more, but by acting and serving that person. The key to love: loving service. If you want to love your spouse more, wake up early and make him breakfast. If you want to love yourself more, wake up early and make yourself breakfast… or allow yourself to sleep in, whatever meets your needs best. 

Making a healthy juice at home

One powerful tool for creating an amazing self service ritual is the morning power hour. Before your day starts, before the responsibilities begin, before the world needs you, take care of you. Intentionally take the time to take care of yourself physically, spiritually, and mentally. When you start your day by loving and serving you, it creates a domino effect on the rest of your day. It helps you act in love towards yourself more consistently throughout the day. It helps you learn love from every experience. 

Conclusion:

Loving yourself isn’t as simple as “accept your thighs” or “post better selfies” it’s a dynamic process of learning. If you don’t have it figured out, take heart. It’s why you’re here. Learning to love is your greatest source of happiness in life. So don’t expect it to come overnight. It is a continuous process of growth and learning. 

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Ashley Palmer
Ashley is a Registered Nurse with a Master’s Degree in Human Nutrition. Ashley loves her son, her husband, and lifting heavy things then putting them back down repeatedly. She is a nutrition, fitness and weight loss coach and blogs at www.youtrition.net.

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