Chances are, if you have Facebook or Instagram, you’ve seen the hashtag #transformationtuesday and the oodles of weight loss/weight gain photos accompanying it. Bodies transformed from loose to ripped, pre- and post-pregnancy comparisons, or even an underweight frame with a healthy smile and few added pounds are common themes.
I think it’s great to celebrate one’s physical accomplishments, so long as there’s no body shaming, deprivation, or unhealthy comparisons going on. Self-improvement is something to which we all should strive, whether it’s our health, energy, or fitness.
I thought I’d share with you my transformation. Per my pregnancy updates, I’ve gone through quite a few physical changes in the last 8 months. Nevertheless, I’m giving you insight into a mental transformation.
I’ve mentioned before how last year was a struggle for me. I wasn’t unhappy, per se, but I wasn’t wholly aware of the many blessings in my life. In many ways, I was trying to be something I’m not; through blogging, and even keeping up with my childhood and college friends, I was stuck neck-deep in the comparison trap, that dreaded but pervasive mental state many of us find ourselves in as we delve into new careers and families.
In all honesty, it was suffocating!
I was unhappy at my job, and I felt as if I’d fallen far short of all the expectations my parents, teachers, and peers had of me. My marriage was (and still is!) one of the greatest things in my life, but I was envious of both my single, fun-loving friends and friends who appeared to have it all together: high-paying job, perfect home, and the adorable 2.5 kids.
In short, I didn’t know who I was, and what little of myself I did know, I just didn’t like that much.
But, with self-reflection, time, and active attempts at change, I’ve found myself in a much better place.
I’ve realized that we make our own happiness, and that, while I’m not always challenged by my job, I’m just not one of those career-focused people who search out ladder rungs to climb. While the reality of having my first child and losing much of my free time is nearing, I’ve realized I’m anything but a social animal. As much as I love travel and dining out, I’m perfectly comfortable with my calmer lifestyle that often includes Friday night Netflix binges.
I’ve also learned through my outlet and hobby (blogging) that I don’t have to be just like the bloggers whom I follow. I can enjoy eating well and staying fit, but I don’t have to eat a salad a day or instagram myself after every workout. I can enjoy running one day and loathe it the next. I can go a week without doing any exercise at all, and life still goes on!
I’ve learned the importance of meditation through Bikram yoga. While beating myself up during classes initially, I learned to love my body and what it could do for me rather than how it looked in spandex, shaking and dripping with sweat.
One of the most important changes I’ve made, though, is how I approach others. I’ve noticed myself smiling more and being friendlier. I’ve allowed myself to open up to strangers and friends alike, realizing that sometimes all you need to go from aggravated and self-loathing to chipper and grateful is a good conversation, a genuine compliment, or an intense laugh.
So, before I go, I encourage you to think about your own transformation. If you’re trying to improve your health or eating habits, by all means, continue! But remember true self-love comes from within. You won’t get there overnight, but with daily practice, you will get there. Repeating these 5 steps until they become a daily habit will help.
1. Practice gratitude
Whether this takes the form of prayer, writing in a nightly journal, or filling a gratitude jar (as I’ve done), it’s important to take a moment to reflect on the joys you do notice in your life.
2. Practice self-affirmation
When we hear something repeatedly, we tend to believe it, whether it’s true or not. Rather than cutting yourself down, make a point to give yourself a compliment every day. Whether it’s a “looking good!” in the mirror or a “you nailed that presentation!” after work, encourage and lift up yourself as you would a friend or beloved family member.
3. Practice kindness
When you’re unhappy with yourself, you’re going to feel the same way about others. Make a point to speak to strangers at the grocery. Practice random acts of kindness daily. Whether it’s cooking dinner when your spouse normally assumes that responsibility or having lunch with a lonely coworker, be sure to step outside of your comfort zone and do something for others.
4. Find your passion (or at least something you enjoy)
This can be anything: volunteering, painting, cooking, yoga—the opportunities are endless. Just make sure you take time to participate in or improve upon whatever makes you happy. And please, do it for yourself, not for recognition and praise.
5. Remember where you’ve come from and where you’ve been
When you do feel discouraged, think about past troubles you’ve already overcome. Don’t dwell on them, of course, but remember that things do get better. Live in the moment and don’t take anything for granted.
Whether you’re struggling with self-acceptance right now or loving your current life, I hope you take something beneficial from this post. :-)