Something you probably all hear me talk about frequently is self compassion and self care. I feel like those two things must be at the forefront of this work because such an important, and pivotal point in recovery ( I mean recovery from being ruled by food, not just full blown EDs) is shifting food and movement choices to come from a place of self care. Choosing to eat a certain food because it will leave you feeling satisfied, energized, and nourished. Or sometimes choosing to eat a food because we fucking want to (that is more than okay too). When we have our entire self in mind when making all of these choices we can really make an important shift in how we relate to food. This looks like giving yourself the room and permission to make all food choices free of guilt and judgement.
For example: I was vegan for 4 ish years and within the past year I discovered I was doing it for the wrong reasons and it really was not serving me any longer. I used to drink smoothies for breakfast during this time period because it was my way of getting out of eating a real breakfast ( I have never had a big morning appetite) but come lunch, I was always starving and always ate way more, and probably things I wouldn’t have eaten if I was properly nourished from the start of my day. So now I sleepily cook eggs every morning, and pack it with me to eat when I get to work. I make this choice because I know I need to be properly fueled to take care of myself and feel good in my body.
Self care is such an important part of this dynamic but it truly applies to all walks of life. When we decide to live our life from a place of compassion, and understanding for ourselves it’s much easier to tune into our needs and honor them. It is much easier for us as human beings to have compassion and understanding for others but to apply that with the relationship with ourself is truly a practice.
One way I have learned to practice compassion with myself is with forgiveness. I have forgiven myself for perpetuating diet culture with my very public and often shame-y vegan practice. This was a hard obstacle to overcome because man was I passionate about veganism being the right diet for everyone and literally not understanding how anyone could disagree. Holy shit was I wrong. So I have forgiven myself, we truly cannot move forward from something until we forgive ourselves and that is what is most important here.
Diet culture likes to hold people responsible for their bodies by saying things like, “This is the only body you get, take care of it!” (aka buy our protein shake, our juice cleanse, or take my crossfit class) While this sentiment is right I think it usually falls at the surface. We do in fact only get one life in this body, but we only get one life in this soul, in this mind, in this spirit. You only get one life to share the beautiful lessons you have learned from the trauma you’ve endured and the strength you’ve gained, with others.
When I say “self care” and “self compassion” I truly mean our self. Do not mistake these terms for “body care” or “body compassion” the lesson is not in how you treat your body, it is in how you treat your true self. I have gotten to know myself better in the past year than I have in the past 25 of my life. So many conversations have been had with myself sometimes it feels like I am really meeting myself for the first time.
This past weekend I practiced self care by spending time with my husband. I took Thursday to just hang out with him. Since I have started working our days off never line up and this often leads me feeling emotionally drained by the end of the week when I finally get to see him come friday night. We grabbed lunch together, we watched a movie, and then we picked Zelda up from school and watched more movies and drank wine on the couch together. It was so simple and so amazing. When life was running circles around us we had the strength to turn to each other and say, “Fuck this you want to do something else for a bit?” It felt so good to be able to tune into what I really needed right then, and then meet my own needs (with my best friend by my side).
So what can you do in your every day to practice self care? It looks different for everyone and I encourage you to turn on that self talk and figure out what it is you need. It is an amazing skill to be able to be so in tune with yourself that you can honor your every need. Whether it be a night in, a night out, an icecream cone on the couch, or to lock yourself in the shower with a bottle of wine while the hubby entertains the kids; it is a necessary part of life. Inevitably the walls around us will crumble at some point and the starting point is to be able to have the strength to say, “Ah this is the brick I put back first” and we tap into that ability when we listen to ourselves with love, care, and compassion.