What Self-Care Is Truly About!October 29, 2019
Self-care is a major buzz-word these days as we all try to manage our sanity and our health despite busy schedules and competing demands. But it might be hard to know, what exactly is self-care anyway?
You may mistake a massage, a night out with your buddies, or indulging in your favorite meal as examples. While these activities may be fun, relaxing, and enjoyable at the moment, they do not replace true self-care, which emanates from a deep, soul-searching, and self-loving place. Certainly, how we feed ourselves and what we nourish our bodies with is a function of self-care.
Here is How I Define Self-CARE
It all starts with compassion, self-compassion.
Most of us have no trouble offering compassion to others - our partner, our children, our friends, and our co-workers. However, when it comes to ourselves, we often forget compassion. We engage in negative and disparaging self-talk. We judge ourselves. We blame ourselves. We chastise ourselves for getting off-track or for not sticking to our idea of perfection.
Not only is this lack of self-compassion hurtful, but it is also damaging to our goals. When we judge ourselves, we are more likely to give up, to self-sabotage, and to get in our own way of success. Lack of self-compassion impedes our ability to achieve our potential and to grow.
So, the next time you engage in some kind of change, commit to self-compassion. Recognize that your inability to be “perfect,” does not make you unworthy or a failure; it makes you human. Have compassion for yourself and for your humanity and progress will follow from there.
Self-awareness is multi-faceted.
It refers to how you are feeling on a minute to minute, day to day basis, and it refers to an understanding of your core values and true intentions. First, the latter. Why do you want to lose weight anyway? Can you pinpoint your deepest intentions? Often it is a matter of health, vitality, and independence. But when I dig deeper, my patients give me very personal and specific reasons like,
“I want to run around with my kids at the park without getting short of breath.”
“I want to stop snoring or improve my apnea so I can sleep next to my wife.”
“I want to wake up energized.”
“I want to feel comfortable in my own skin.”
There are endless examples of why we want to lose weight and live healthier lives, which are aligned with very concrete and personal goals. Dig deep, identify those goals. This awareness allows an inherent alignment between our intentions and our actions - an alignment that allows us to create change with ease, not struggle.
The other awareness that I refer to is an awareness of our feelings. We often act and react to our feelings without knowing that we are doing so and without awareness of what those feelings even are. Anger, sadness, boredom, frustration, excitement. What are you feeling? And how are those feelings impacting your choices?
When we stop to check in with ourselves and get a sense of how we are feeling, we are much more likely not to react mindlessly. Instead, we enable ourselves to respond from a place of awareness and thoughtful introspection so that we may do what is genuinely right for ourselves and our bodies.
Being resilient means being willing to put in the time and effort now for a future gain or reward.
It means having patience and perseverance during the inevitable ups and downs of any process or journey. Most of us accept that the important things in life require resilience. Take, for example, a marriage or partnership, cultivating any relationship requires time, practice, and patience, why should we assume our relationship with food be any different? A business or education are other examples. We acknowledge that all of these worthy endeavors require time, practice, and patience; they require resilience.
But when it comes to weight matters, we have created unrealistic expectations, an attachment to what is quick and expedient rather than what is realistic and durable. We expect to lose weight fast. We expect to make a change for a defined period of time, a month, six months, or even a year but then to reap the benefits indefinitely. We expect that we engage in this process seamlessly, without any slip-ups, difficulty, or temporary setback.
These unrealistic expectations lead to disappointment and sabotage. When it comes to our health and our weight, we must be resilient, acknowledge that success takes time, patience, and practice, and to be willing to be resilient in the process.
E: Effort & Engagement
Effort and Engagement is what will create momentum to reach your goals.
They say that a goal without a plan is just a wish. We can have the right intentions, but if we do not have a road map or a plan, we cannot expect success. Effort and engagement mean not only having a plan but committing to it and committing now. Not next Monday, not next full moon and not next New Year's Eve. Commit now. The right effort and engagement mean making time to do what is right.
“I don’t have time,” is the enemy of self-care.
Self-care is taking the time and putting in the effort to acknowledge that you matter and are worth the same time and effort you would give to a parent, a child, a spouse, or a work deadline.
Self-care is not a mani-pedi. Self-care is digging deep, putting in the work, and is being committed to the journey with self-love and self-compassion. Self-CARE is not easy, but it is a noble endeavor. A declaration that you know yourself to be worthy of health and well-being. Here’s to your wholehearted journey in pursuit of good health - mind, body, and soul!
ABOUT THE AUTHORDr. Adrienne Youdim, is an internist who specializes in medical weight loss, clinical nutrition and the metabolic support of bariatric surgery patients. Dr. Youdim currently sees patients in her private practice in Beverly Hills. Her new book is "Hungry for More: Stories and Science to Inspire Weight Loss from the Inside Out". She also hosts the Health Bite podcast and is founder of Dehl Nutrition, a complete line of nutritional supplements made with functional nutrients to promote health and wellbeing.