In today’s world, we find ourselves bombarded with information about how we should take care of our bodies. We constantly see the latest exercises, different kinds of meal plans, food options, workout routines, etc. and sometimes it’s hard to keep up.
For this reason, I think it’s important to share that it’s not about following trends or getting sucked into people’s opinion; rather, we should develop our own voice and determine what works for us as individuals. I decided that I no longer wanted to follow others or read what worked for others; instead, I decided to start listening to my body, what it liked, disliked, what made it feel good and what made it feel not so good. I decided to give my days a switch up, but little did I know, this switch up has developed into a lifestyle. My lifestyle is now based on two simple words: self-love.
This new lifestyle consists of listening to my body, nurturing it, moving at my own pace, and finding new ways to challenge my body and mind. Instead of letting anxiety and society determine what I should look like or eat, I allow my emotions to flow and give my body permission to signal me what it needs for the day. Maybe on some days, I may need to enjoy some of my favorite ice cream, and perhaps on other days, I may need to move my body. I no longer silence my inner voice; I listen to it and let it choose the best for me, and not for others.
This has been an everyday challenge, which involves immersing myself to face my own limitations and to break down the walls that prevent me from making real and fulfilling changes. It goes beyond getting abs and perkier butt. This is a lifestyle change that challenges me to throw away my old beliefs and to find new ways to cope with my fears while continuing to build a new path. I am not just working on myself to stay physically healthy, but I am also working towards developing a better relationship with myself that allows me to choose new ways of thinking, relating myself with others, and of course, choosing foods that nourish me and keep my taste buds satisfied.
Sometimes we make choices without knowing the consequences they can have on our body and mind. As we get to know ourselves, we start to identify how we can start taking better care of our body and mind. We start to identify the kind of thoughts we need to add to our days or the habits we need to eliminate. We start to become more aware of the foods our body tolerates and the type of routines that help us to achieve effective results. We start to explore different strategies that help us boost our motivation and strengthen our mindset.
Motivation always comes from within, and choosing activities and routines that are flexible and realistic is also part of the process. Part of this new lifestyle is being able to challenge myself every day physically, mentally, and emotionally by stepping outside of my comfort zone and tearing down my old ways of facing life. Am I able to accomplish it every single day? NO! But I no longer beat myself up because I have learned to be patient with myself and understand that it’s okay to have a crappy day, as long as I learn from it and make the next day a great one.
I have learned that through the eating disorder, I related to life. I have learned that my eating habits reflect my emotional state. I started observing the kinds of foods I ate when I was sad, angry, happy, anxious etc., and I realized that the choices always varied. Part of this process is being okay and comfortable with what you find along the way, because the only way to achieve lasting and fulfilling changes is through self-acceptance. There is nothing more effective than self-love. That’s the beginning of any lifestyle change. Be willing to love yourself and the rest will start to come into place, maybe not in a day, but every single step makes a difference.
Sometimes we need to put our little ego on halt and nourish our soul a little bit more. Sometimes we just need to tap into our inner voice and follow it. It’s not about the image we are building physically, it’s about the internal changes we are achieving, and how they start to reflect effortlessly.
The perfect body does not exist, and little by little I’ve understood that the number on a scale or the size of my jeans will never measure my self worth. It will never be about the hours trained at the gym or the number of reps. I have found that listening to my inner voice is what’s helping me to determine what my body needs.
I have realized that the only smoothie I need in my life is called self-love, because it has helped me to increase the size of my smile, reduce my insecurities, and increase my sense of gratitude.
My story with an eating disorder goes all the way back to middle school and although time has evolved, there are bits that sometimes pop up and linger on and that’s okay, because it’s not about how fast you can recover but rather how much you are willing to forgive and love yourself along the process. When it come to healing yourself there are never days off, and sometimes the past can catch up again, but it’s all about the will to get passed the challenge to set yourself free and fly in a new direction.
Self-love is an everyday decision and everything starts with a thought, which is why I choose to be me and I choose to live.
Daniela is a 25-year-old mental health counseling student in training. She is currently developing a motivational and supportive sacred space via Instagram to encourage women to nourish their bodies and minds by becoming aware of themselves and finding strength in between the shadows of life. She is passionate about writing and shares her words through her blog in Spanish and English: eljardinenmi.wordpress.com @eljardinenmi
Read the Spanish-language version of this piece here.