VIDEO: Maggie Battista's A New Way to Food & learning to love yourself

NINE STEPS TO LOVE YOURSELF

(A shortened excerpt from Maggie's book, A New Way to Food)

When I say I love myself, now, I mean, I understand my past, I appreciate my present, and I am enthusiastic for my future; I mean, it’s okay to eat however I want here or there, for very good reasons, and it’s okay to pause first and say, “What is this food going to do for my health today?”; I mean, I don’t need to explain myself or toss out excuses for my behavior, I simply need to be kind to myself and to others.

This process isn’t easy. But as the saying goes, nothing worth doing is ever easy. For real, this is worth doing and it doesn’t just work for someone like me with suitcases full of food baggage. There are so many ways in which you may avoid loving yourself. Perhaps you drink a little too much booze to feel better. Perhaps you think you aren’t pretty enough, good enough, strong enough, or smart enough to finally figure out what’s standing between you and self-love. Don’t let any of those demons stop you from taking good care of yourself. Please believe me, if I can change my world, you can change yours.

To help you find your path to loving yourself, I’ve summarized everything I did to get there. Remember, I am not a psychologist or even really trained in learning selflove. I am sharing all of this 100 percent from personal experience. Some of it may help and you may choose to skip some of it. Whatever path you take, just take it.

1. Reflect on your past. Engage in a mindset that is open to exploring your past. Think about positive memories (moments full of happiness) and any negative events (moments that left you bewildered, upset, angry, or disappointed). This reflective phase isn’t a moment; it’s a process of thoughtful consideration that may last weeks or months.

2. Write down the demons that emerge from this reflection time. The pain begins to feel addressable when you write it down. When you write, be explicit. Once you have an exhaustive list, go back through it and ask yourself “why” for each one. For example, if you wrote down “I overeat,” ask yourself “why” until you reach as solid of an answer as you can. This may take you into reflective mode or it may just provide a very common sense cause.

3. Own your demons. Whatever pain, anger, or disappointment you feel around any of these demons you’ve described, take responsibility for how you feel about it all today. If you’ve been an overeater all of your life, you can’t change that you ate too much when you were younger. Move past any blame and take control of it now.

Photo by @brewinghappiness

4. Decide which demons you want to crush. Learning to love yourself doesn’t happen in a day or two. Perhaps the decision happens in a moment, but the real work takes time and focus. Pick a demon or two that you’d like to reflect on further, explore in depth, and work to crush or minimize. It can be overwhelming to tackle them all at once. For example, I couldn’t figure out a new way to eat and a new way to exercise at the same time. It was just too much. A few years after my elimination diet helped me find a new way to food, I am only now beginning to explore movement (to feel good and not necessarily to lose weight).

5. Build positive relationships. To tackle some of my demons, I needed help. I engaged with a total stranger to coach me toward putting good food in my mouth. I found a therapist who helped explore some of the demons from my childhood. I deprioritized demanding relationships that weren’t giving me much in terms of love, understanding, and support. I elevated my relationships with women who understood my struggles, who shared objective advice, who didn’t judge me, who just enjoyed my company and friendship. Seek these relationships outside of your partner or spouse. I certainly consulted my husband, but I didn’t rely on him as my sole positive relationship.

6. Seek beneficial inspiration. I read self-help books, of course, but I also read books that explored some of the hard topics of my life, like the mechanics of how fat works in our bodies; how to learn to love others the way they want to be loved; and ways to calm my brain and find mindfulness. However, in today’s world, it’s about more than books. I surrounded myself with all sorts of motivating and encouraging stimuli. I started following health-focused folks on social media. I subscribed to a couple new periodicals that got my brain jazzed about what was going on in the world. I listened to brand-new podcasts, including ones about love and business, and even ones created by athletes, people who I thought were so unlike me, but in reality, their struggles are similar and their methods are exciting.

7. Be mindful of everything. When I say mindful, I mean, pay close attention to every single action you take. If you want to eat, pause and really take in that feeling before eating. If you want to drink, pause and ask yourself why before you do.

8. Forgive yourself and your past. I hated myself for so long for, one, letting myself get so enormous and, two, thinking that I wasn’t worthy of good health. In my youth, I definitely blamed everyone else but myself for my body predicament. Over time, I found so much compassion for myself. The only way to love me was to acknowledge my past and my demons and then let it all go. Saying the words “I understand and it’s okay” aloud has proven to be such a life preserver. Those words help me stay afloat, for real.

9. Love yourself, even if you don’t yet. You need to take the action to love yourself long before you feel that love deep within. Loving yourself is not a feeling you summon. You can’t whisper, “I love myself” and then you just feel it. I wish it worked that way. For me, I had to physically take action to love myself in order to finally feel real love for myself. It’s as if the little actions, all added up on top of each other, builds that bridge to real self-love. If you want to love yourself enough to look at your naked body in a mirror, don’t wait. Just look at your naked body in a mirror.  My thighs are still thick. My belly is still puffy. But I love them so much for carrying me through this world the best they can and that’s really all I can hope for them. And for me, really.