This year came in like a bang! And with it, the barrage of diet commercials on television and advertisements on social media. “Lose weight. For good,” is what each one claims. It is everywhere. And hard to get away from, as our society is hyper-focused on the thin ideal. It can be tempting to dive into the latest diet plan this year. But what if you focused on something besides dieting this year? What if you put all your energy into your own self-care, without a diet? What will be the possibilities?
I have been on a self-love journey, that includes a self-care practice, for about five years now. When The Emily Program first told me I was diagnosed with an eating disorder a little over five years ago, I didn’t believe them. I thought I had answered a couple questions incorrectly on their intake assessment or that the therapist heard me wrong. I was almost 46 (3 weeks shy as a matter of fact) and had been working most of my adult life to lose weight. This couldn’t be. How could this be? I was in a larger body (at the time I was being weaned from a doctor prescribed appetite suppressant, so I was no where near my heaviest) and was extremely successful from a career perspective. I had achieved many great things and had many accolades in my career up to that point. This just couldn’t be.
Yet it was. I was 46 and needing intensive treatment to combat my eating disorder. One of the many things that I learned through the various treatment programs in those first several months is that I was not taking care of myself. Say what? I thought I was taking care of myself. I had many career accolades. I was a mom with two beautiful teenage children, and a loving husband. I lived in a suburb in a modest home. We just had purchased our first family dog – a 10 week old Goldendoodle puppy, we lovingly named Ollie. I had all these “things” that showed I was taking care of myself. Or did they?
Unraveling the layers even more, I would come to realize that I was not taking care of myself.
Because taking care of myself meant so much more than what was reflected in my bank account, my home address, or the type of dog we had purchased.
I was avoiding important (aka hard) conversations with people “to keep the peace.” I was running on empty, thinking it was all about others – my kids, my direct reports, my husband, my mom, you name it. I was avoiding my feelings, “sucking it up” like I was taught. When I came to realize these things, I discovered that I truly needed to focus on developing a self-care practice that centered on my well-being, not my career well-being.
So, I went about on my journey, practicing self-care in big ways. I would get a massage. Take big trips with my husband. Start up a morning meditation practice. Dabble in yoga. All in the name of self-care. To me, self-care needed to be big practices. Things that everyone does, is what I thought. Until recently.
As a member of the Positive Intelligence PQ coaches circle, I was recently introduced to an exercise that included visualization and contemplation on what was important. It included a visualization of our elder, wiser self. In that exercise, I experienced deep emotions when my elder, wiser self told me what was truly important amidst all the priorities that I had come up with in the first part of the exercise. She gently served up that self-care is the most important thing for me in this moment of life. And then she continued to nudge me to re-consider what self-care meant.
As I pondered that a little more, I came to realize that self-care can be practiced every day, in little ways.
Whether that is using a framework I learned in treatment to have hard conversations with people, or giving myself permission, or doing a mini declutter. It is so many little things and those little things all add up at the end of the day.
With this, I launched a self-care Tips for Tuesdays practice on my social media this week. Each Tuesday of this year, I will post a small, yet powerful, self-care tip for everyone to try. This first Tuesday of the year, I posed the powerful self-care tip to ask yourself this question: “What do I need?” So often, we are busy running around during a given day that we don’t stop to ask ourselves, and our bodies, what we truly need. So that is the question (and tip) for this week – what do I need? Then, the challenge is to go give yourself exactly what it is you need. Do you need a little nap? A little joyful movement? Some much needed time with a loved one? What do you need?
Want to follow along with my weekly self-care tips?
Head over to my Facebook page and follow along. If you want to go deeper and be a part of a private group focused on body acceptance, sign up to join that group. There is no worry of diet talk in that space! If you want to go deeper with your self-care practice and want a guide on your side and an accountability partner, sign up for an initial Discovery Call with me. There is so much more possible when you partner with a coach on your goals!