In the Five Pillars of the Health Matters System, it is quite intentional that we put loving yourself first. Let’s think of loving yourself as foundation to all the ways you take good care of yourself. You take good care of what you cherish. Right? By regarding your body—indeed your entire being—with love and care, you are able to manifest better health, a more radiant outlook toward life, and a more peaceful and harmonious existence.
These five pillars are intricately interwoven. You will have your own discovery of this as you work your way through this system. When you love yourself first, you will naturally be inclined to eat more nutritious food, to unwind from stress, to heal your gut, and to move your body.
The following are a few examples of questions you can ask yourself to increase your awareness of and ability to make self-love a part of your essential nature.
One amazing aspect of self-love is that when you do take care of yourself, the rewards of doing so further reinforce your desire and ability to continue. An example is choosing refreshing movement when your body is crying out to get up from your computer. The boost of energy and sense of well-being that come as a result of loving your body in this way create a compound effect. When you have more energy and a brighter outlook plus when you feel more relaxed, you can then plough these back into the next time you get up and take your body for a delightful walk. The same is true for creating regular times and rituals for getting a good night’s sleep. You may grow to appreciate how good you feel when you are well-rested, as a result of which you are motivated to make this part of your regular practice. People who love themselves first make sure that their bodies and minds get ample restorative sleep.
As you move through the Five Pillars, there will be plenty of specific tips, data, and education. Everything at Health Matters Coaching is designed for you to love your body and to get your body to love you back. In particular, this first pillar, is a way for you to get oriented. Let’s get you pointed in the right direction. For example, are there any habits that you already know should be added or eliminated for you to feel and look the way you desire? Have you been meaning to tackle giving up the pint of ice cream before going to bed? Has it been on your mind to stretch your lower back instead of enduring pesky back pain unnecessarily? Have you told yourself that staying up past 1:00 AM and dragging yourself out of bed after a mere five hours later is no way to live a life of abundant vitality… and that someday you will get around to a reasonable bed time?
You might or might not relate to any of the examples I just described. That doesn’t matter.
The point is for you to do things on purpose that connect you with your own worthiness. As a result there is more wellness, love, and happiness in your life. And so the cycle continues.
My clients have told me that sometimes they have to practically force themselves to make one choice over another. One guy said it was so hard not to isolate himself in the kitchen where all the food was during a family gathering. He felt so belittled by some of his relatives that he had developed the habit of hiding out, misusing food to stuff down his emotions. (More about this in the pillar Unwind from Stress.) I urged him to identify which relatives were of the so-called toxic variety, and which ones were more positive. Eventually, he went out and sat down with his cousins, who were fun and uplifting and who did not batter him with criticism. He got involved with what was going on in their lives. Then he felt better because of the connections he made. And no surprise, the urge to eat all of the appetizers simply dropped away. It wasn’t easy for him to do this, but that’s okay. But he loved the results in terms of his own aliveness. This became easier for him through continual practice.
For this man, as it can be for you, it’s worth it to learn to make decisions through the lens called “what would be the best way for me to love and honor myself?” And, as a self-loving being, “What is the most wholesome choice I can make at this time?” Even if you have to muster up extra energy to practice these life-and-health-enhancing habits, it works just as well and you will get the same benefit.
Here is one of my favorite and simplest suggestions for you to start to get some good results in this health/vitality/love your body arena: simply move the needle. Make little positive adjustments until you get some feedback that you enjoy. If quitting the habit of mindless snacking is a place where you could get some terrific benefit, start there. Find other ways to sooth yourself so that you don’t have to feed your boredom, loneliness, or whatever emotion you are dealing with. (Again, more about this in Unwind from Stress.)
You can imagine that you love yourself and make some life/health/body-affirming decisions from that perspective. I know you are worthy of this because you have a body. Encourage the being who lives in this body to be loved and nurtured. Take care of yourself. Loving you first is foundational to all of the ways you can transform and live a life of more awesomeness.
More about the upcoming pillar called Unwind from Stress. (You may want to check out our online course by the same name.) Through the lens of loving yourself first, and even before we focus on the particulars of that pillar, for now, you can allow more peace and harmony (less stress) into your life through simple practices that make a positive difference. By setting the intention to treat yourself, including your body, with more loving care, and by asking yourself those questions I posed above, you can notice where and how you can make some adjustments.
The brutal honesty that this requires may stretch you considerably.
I recall during a seminar I took through the Klemmer organization leadership training facing off the old habit of bulimia. For me, this was the ultimate test of self-love. Even though I had cornered this atrocious behavior down to once per month (compared to five times per day back in my twenties and thirties), it still stood between me and ultimately loving myself. I don’t know if you experience anything as devastating as a life-threatening eating disorder, but for me, resolving this catapulted me to an entire new level of being able to nurture and nourish my body and soul.
Another place to make tremendous progress is by paying attention to the people with whom you spend time. In general, people can be advocates and supporters of your intentions to live a balanced and health-focused life. It’s wonderful to notice among your friends that you are being encouraged to make those wholesome decisions. A recurring theme that runs throughout each of the Five Pillars is the value to you of being part of a community.
Feeling connected to and supported by people who want for you what you want for yourself is a big part of this tapestry. Let’s say one of your primary goals is to avoid diabetes and to have favorable numbers measuring your blood glucose. Maybe your parents had or have diabetes and you know that you need to make changes in your life to stay well and dodge this bullet. Do your family and friends support you and encourage you? Just as importantly, do they avoid being critical, negative, or even sabotaging your efforts?
If you encounter people who try to discourage you away from making new and uplifting decisions about what to eat and when to exercise, you might want to turn your focus and energy away from these people. If they are your family members, and you can’t end the relationships, learning to speak up for yourself can help you feel better and stay on course with your goals.
When you love yourself first, you do not allow others to derail you from the goals that you have determined are important to you. You may choose to spend less time with certain people.
For example, my 91 year old mother has a habit of being very critical. As one who practices self-love though words and deeds, I have learned ways to be gentle yet firm with my mom. I’ll say to her, “Mom, let’s not go there.” Or, “Mom, I’m not in a place where I can have this conversation with you today.” You can see how I’ve set a boundary and gently taken myself away from her criticism and negativity. It does not help even the strongest of us, nor the most confident, to hear unkind words that put a ding in our intentions to live a healthy and wholesome life.
In my book, Health Matters, I devote an entire chapter to the concept and practice of having a Bio Day. This is an entire day, or a portion of a day, during which you completely focus on what your body needs to feel great, get plenty of rest, be well-nourished, and enjoy peaceful relaxation. A Bio Day is among the most beautiful and generous gifts you can give yourself. It is a time to celebrate you. For example, tuning in to food that helps you be in a good mood is an act of self-love. This may present itself during a Bio Day.
Sidebar: Processed foods and foods laden with chemicals will not boost your mood. They can leave you feeling tired, foggy in your brain, and cranky in your outlook on life. This is because of the impact on your blood sugar, stress hormones, and neurotransmitters. Increasing the inflammation in your body by eating copious amounts of refined foods is not what you do when you love yourself and your body. Eating whole foods that are loaded with nutrition, often in the form of fruits, veggies, nuts, seeds, and complete grains will be gifts to your body, and expression of your self-love. We will get more into the specifics of this kind of food in the next pillar, Eat Nutritious Food.
Back to your Bio Day. Whether you take an entire twenty-four period, or an afternoon, or even one hour if that is all you have, the results can be powerful and astonishing. What would happen for you if you spent a dedicated chunk of time nurturing your body the way you would a child or kitten? If you learned how well you feel when you respond to an impulse to move and stretch. When you recognize your thirst and you quench your body with filtered water. When you feel drowsy and surrender to the need to take a nap. When you are enthusiastic about a work project and spend an hour letting the creative juices flow while on your computer. When your legs, shoulders and back feel a little bit stiff, so you get up and take a walk. When you crave quiet time to meditate, breathe or read your book. When you notice a surge of energy so you jump on your bike, or take your dog to the park to play. When you were free from meeting other’s needs and able to focus on taking care of you. When the result of hanging out with your body results in a connection and knowing that leave you feeling absolutely energized and full of vitality.
This, my friends, is what it looks like when you love yourself first. Instead of a diet coke, you know that water is better for you, so you choose that. You know that salads are a better choice for lunch, compared with a greasy burger. You know that you simply cannot sit at your desk without getting up to move, release tension and fatigue, and put energy back into the system. Loving yourself first is not a gimmick or a fad. We don’t engage in self-love to give us bragging rights or because of what others think of this. At the beginning, I described this as foundational. This is your relationship with yourself at your core. It is intimately personal.
Imagine yourself stepping on to a conveyor belt. It takes you around your life with countless stopping points. Along the way you will be able to make many choices. When you love yourself first, and as you get better at practicing this, these wholesome choices will become more second nature. Along the way you may have to stare down old habits… you know those ones that aren’t so high in healthfulness. You may discover ways you have engaged in self-destructive habits and it might not be easy to reconcile changing. But when loving yourself is foundational, then you are more equipped to navigate this unfamiliar territory, being patient with yourself, accepting your imperfections, and encouraging yourself to try again. Thank goodness perfectionism is overrated and that’s not what we are talking about.
Here is a resource for you. The very first podcast in the Health Matters System is called… you guessed it… Love Yourself First.
Working with a coach can make a huge difference in your ability to get on track, move past barriers, and develop a sustained loving relationship with yourself. A coach is an ally, someone who will encourage and equip you to achieve the goals that you desire. There is a form below if you resonate with this, and if you are willing, ready, and able to receive this potentially life-changing help. You can always email me and let me know how you are progressing. You have the power to make my day by sharing your successes with me.
Like I do at the end of all the pillars, I want to remind you about getting help. I have coaches in a variety of aspects of my life. When someone knows more than I do on a subject where I long to improve, and she or he can lead me to achieve my particular goals, I bring that coach on to my team. It makes sense to me that a coach will guide me to get the results I am looking for faster, smoother, and with less pain, suffering, and frustration.
If you resonate with this, and if you are willing to find out how I can help you move forward with your life, health, food, and body goals, please let me know by completing this form. My passion for guiding you to feel and look better is in my DNA. If you send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject PILLAR and your contact info, I will gladly add you to my Health Matters newsletter plus call you for a complimentary discussion.
Copyright ©2019 Rosie Bank