It’s estimated that up to 15% of women in the United States buy themselves flowers for Valentine’s Day.
Think about it: your friend, sister, girlfriend, wife, or mother not only buying themselves flowers – but having them sent to themselves.
I am not referring to the occasional purchase at the florist or flower section at the grocery store. People were delivering flowers, to themselves (usually at work) so others can see somebody loves them.
Why would else someone send themselves flowers?
Is that what it means to love yourself?
I believe not. I think some of our ideas about love (both women and men) are too wrapped in the need for appreciation and recognition from other people.
That opening statistic saddens me as an incredibly critical commentary on the commercialization of love.
At the same time; if you buy yourself gifts, that is cool. But, if you have to flaunt something you did “special” for yourself, that is not self-love.
The thought of how lonely Sweetest Day, Mother’s Day, and birthdays makes some people have led me to share my experience and a few thoughts on what I feel about self-love.
Before I begin: next time you hear about someone doing this, a hug might be a nice gesture. Flowers (or a gift) might be even better (because some people do equate gifts with love). Know this: There is no greater feeling than love, and it starts with you.
Keep reading to learn how to begin to love yourself better. It may be the best gift you can give someone.
Women Purchase Approximately 85% of All Valentines.
Valentine’s Day is the second-largest card-giving day (only behind Christmas) with an estimate of 1 billion cards being purchased for February 14th.
If you can bear with a few assumptions, momentarily…
- 1 billion cards purchased
- means 850 million cards are bought by women,
- so almost 128 million tokens of love are (potentially) purchased and pretended to be a gift.
We can not only blame this on the commercialization around the holidays.
(Fellas, don’t think you are off the hook…keep reading)
Most Gifts Are Only Transactions
Whether you gift someone a (or buy your own) – that is a transaction.
Love can’t be commodified because love is not transactional.
Love is transcendent: it’s beyond words written in a card and any material possession.
Love starts with our intentions, grows in our thoughts and manifests through our actions.
I’m not saying you should not buy someone you love a gift. I’m also not saying buying something special for yourself is a bad thing. I am assuming if you associate things with love, you are doing it wrong.
“Self-love is love for others.”
I get some of the benefits of being a teacher. Along with being a personal trainer and nutrition coach students, I am a social and emotional learning (SEL) coach too.
I’ve collected a few heart-warming cards over the years.
Did you know teachers get more cards than anyone? (Even moms, wives, and girlfriends)
I’m also one step ahead of conventional, yet overlooked science around personal development.
Social-emotional programs include the child’s experience, expression, and management of emotions and the ability to establish positive and rewarding relationships with others.
SEL is an exciting new field that is growing as a result of our present understanding of biology, emotion, and intelligence as it relates to success.
I think we would all agree with the following statement: emotional health is at the core of a children’s well-being.
Well, your social-emotional fitness is at the center of your health, longevity, and success as well.
I often start teaching elementary students with a lesson titled: “Self-Respect Is Respect For Others.”
After seeing what this awareness about respect does for kids, I have adapted that mantra to help my exercise and nutrition clients become more aware of self-care.
Can you love someone if you don’t love yourself first?
If 3rd and 4th-grade students can understand the psychology around bullying, and learn why it’s essential to practice self-respect, self-compassion, and ultimately self-love, I know adults can too.
There’s new evidence in the field of positive psychology that proves love starts with how you identify with own thoughts about yourself.
As I said before, it really does start with you.
The Missing Ingredient In Every Diet and Weight-Loss Plan
Almost synonymous with love comes values like caring, kindness, friendship, and sympathy. I say almost because love is not just one thing, it’s all of these things and more.
Compassion is synonymous with authentic love. Science has shown that self-compassion may have more effect on your health than even self-esteem.
Self-compassion is the ability to treat yourself kindly when things go badly.
Major studies on self-compassion date back as far as 2007. Researchers at Wake Forest University have shown having a small self-compassion intervention can change eating habits. There were 84 female college students in this study separated into two groups. When they signed up, they all thought they were participating in a food-tasting experiment.
Both groups were asked to eat doughnuts at the beginning of the study.
Then, one group was given a lesson in what it means have self-compassion when it came to nutrition.
Here was the lesson:
”I hope you won’t be hard on yourself. Everyone in the study eats this stuff, so I don’t think there’s any reason to feel really bad about it.”
The same group was asked to eat candies from large bowls as a part of the taste-testing. Women who were dieting regularly or felt guilty about “bad” foods ate less after hearing the short lesson from an instructor.
The group who did not receive the lesson on self-compassion ate more.
What does this mean? The theory (a scientific assumption) is that women who were compassionate, with themselves, did not overeat. Women engaged in “emotional” eating because they felt terrible about doughnuts because they are typically considered a guilty pleasure.
Jean Fain, a psychotherapist and teaching associate at Harvard Medical School believes, ”Self-compassion is the missing ingredient in every diet and weight-loss plan.” She wrote the book on it ”The Self-Compassion Diet”.
As a nutrition coach, I have to agree with her. Most fitness plans, including food and exercise, are based on starving ourselves from what we find pleasurable. Foods are labeled as “bad,” meals or even entire days are prefaced by the word “cheat.”
These “programs” are literally programming people to feel guilt and shame about food. Instead of teaching and empowering them to make healthier decisions, the current go-to method for lifestyle and weight management a vicious cycle of punishment (in the gym or at the dinner table) and pain.
There’s the fact that diets don’t work. Also, following a strict diet plan doesn’t address the underlying issue around why someone thinks they need one in the first place.
Because science is always a step behind what is happening in the field, I said earlier – I’m a one step ahead.
But I don’t say that to brag or boast. I just want you to know: there is another way to get healthy and fit.
While positive psychology is still a new field (with scientist running more studies), I’ve experienced the transformative power of self-compassion in the students I teach (and adults I coach).
I believe loving yourself will lead to less anxiety, depression, and stress. And said another way – self-love leads to better health, longevity, and success in the long-term.
The Reality: It’s difficult to drop unhealthy habits.
You have been learning bad habits all of your life. That’s the problem.
The solution: you have to be an active participant, consciously learning new habits to build self-compassion.
It’s called habit-based coaching. That’s how I work with my clients. I don’t just “train” people anymore. I coach them. They get daily lessons, so they learn, habits so what they learn sticks, and flexible workouts because people are busy. If you’re interested in learning more about my coaching program: click here.
I also host a free Facebook Group, Fit for Purpose. The premise of the group is that we all have a purpose behind why we aspire to live healthy lifestyles. It’s bigger than being fit, lean, or curvy.
The next challenge is coming up soon. And it’s 100%. For real, I won’t even try to sell you at the end.
If you are interested, you can request access to the group here: I believe in being fit (and healthy) for a purpose – sign me up for the challenge.
I’m working on the details, so you’ll have to join the group for more information.
Or keep reading to get some excellent resources to learn more about habit-based coaching.
5 Tips to Move From Transactional to Transcendent Relationships
#1. Don’t forget what it feels like to be in the other person’s shoes (sometimes you are the other person).
You would never talk to your friends they way to you talk to yourself. Am I wrong?
If love, happiness, and success are not about getting all of your needs met by other people, and more about developing an inner sense of self-worth, monitoring your negative self-talk is a great place to start.
Working with clients, I have found: a) false expectations and b) faulty comparisons have a significant effect how we treat ourselves.
Again, this takes practice, but with the awareness that being gentler (not “tough” love) leads to better outcomes, you are on your way.
#2. Give yourself permission to define the terms of your relationship with exercise, nutrition, and stress.
For the first 18 years of our lives, we are living by our parent’s terms. Then, when you step into adulthood, you are expected to know how to deal with culture, norms, and society.
Unfortunately, most people are ill-equipped to deal with their own emotions.
When it comes to health, I give my clients space to tell me what they think about:
- how they should work out,
- what they should eat,
- and how they can rest and recovery.
It might sound weird, I know. Bear with me.
As a personal trainer, I was living in the culture of the fitness industry. This culture can be summed up in three words:
- and tired.
You can see this completely neglects the social and emotional side, and somehow skirts around what we put into our bodies (food).
The old way of thinking is to punish the body. It’s never been my way, but I didn’t know how to give myself permission, break the norms, and stand out.
Yes, I do give my clients workout plans, but I give them daily lessons and habits without writing meal plans.
I give them permission to find out what health and fitness mean to them, in their own terms. I’m just the guide.
Try this: write down what you think you should do for moving more, eating better, and stress less.
Then compare it to what you are actually doing.
Are you in alignment? If not, why?
Set the intention: I design my healthy lifestyle. Think: how can I move more, eat better, and stress less. Then, act on it.
#3. Learn the science whenever possible.
I understand some of this stuff might sound out there. Yet, it’s always been something I have intuitively known.
I created the name MISPIBO because I knew my three pillars would be:
- And Body.
And if you delete a few letters here, capitalize a couple there, and smash what you have together – you get MISPIBO.
It was out of fear I did not incorporate more self-care into my program design earlier in my career. The fear I didn’t know what I was doing. Scared my clients wouldn’t think they were getting a good workout. The fact that I didn’t practice self-care; choosing to hustle instead.
Science helps me because it’s a binary approach to getting better.
The more science I find about how the body, the mind, and spirituality, the better I’m able to create strategies and systems that work for the people that I coach and me.
Here are few of my favorite science-based books I’ve read recently about self-empowerment:
- “The Power of Habit: why we do what we do in life and business,” by Charles Duhigg
- “You Are Not Your Brain: The 4-step solution for changing bad habits, ending unhealthy thinking, and taking control of your life,” by Jeffrey Schwartz and Rebecca Gladding
- “The MindBody Code,” by Dr. Mario Martinez
- “Subliminal: how your unconscious mind rules your behavior,” by Leonard Mlodinow
- “Grit: the power of passion and perseverance,” by Angela Duckworth
Other than really long titles, I hope you noticed something. Science backs up what we already know.
Love starts with how you identify yourself.
Let me know if you have read one of these or plan to. I’m thinking of starting a book or blog club up in 2018.
#4. Never forget the power of social support and feel like you have to do it all by yourself.
You don’t have to do it alone. The best; winners and champions, will tell you time and time again – strength lies in numbers.
I could go on an on about this. Social support has become the aspect of health and fitness I’m the most interested in because it’s been proven to be the best way to improve your health.
I wrote about this here: Social Connection Is the Best Way to Optimize Your Health.
You can also see this at work in the Fit for Purpose Facebook group page. All the challenges are 100% free. Neither I or anyone else will try to sell you on anything.
It’s a place for health-minded people to be surrounded by other people who know their fitness has a purpose bigger than themselves.
Or, if you are a teacher, coach, mentor or someone who has the skill of deep listening, I’d love to have you as well.
#5. It starts with what you think and continues with what you do about it.
Thoughts become things.
Let’s take money, for example. As an entrepreneur, I became aware of my “money story” around 2008.
Here’s the story I told myself about money: there’s never enough and money is a root of evil.
When I thought this way, out of feelings of fear, I created this in my own reality. The result was anxiety about how I was going to make enough to live. Anger at myself for not being as successful as I knew I could be.
And also frustration when it came to selling.
It didn’t matter how much much I had because I’d: a) always feel like it wasn’t enough and b) deep down feel bad because I had it.
I was out of alignment.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m still practicing. For me, my lack of self-worth does not manifest itself in my health as much as my clients. But, it does show up in other ways.
We all have our own work to do. I suggest you find yours.
Now, I know I am whole, complete, and money is nothing by an exchange of value. People buy what they find value in. I know if I provide enough value, I’ll be taken care of. But, most importantly, whether I have a lot or a little, I’m able to live well.
The world will be a better place when men start loving themselves.
Guys, I told you I would not forget about you.
This has been an area I have avoided for too long. At least publicly.
While 80% of my coaching clients have historically been women, the students I work with who are barely surviving, are boys of color.
My hesitation in advocating self-love among men and boys is complicated. There’s the obvious euphemism (masturbation) among the immature and the misguided prejudice in the black community around the LGBTQ community. Then there is my lack of awareness and understanding of my own male privilege.
I don’t know where it’s going to go, but I do know this:
If we want men (and women) to be more loving, we all must remember and feel we are worthy of that love.
I will find scientifically proven, fun ways to program self-love into what I do here at MISPIBO Fitness for the fellas in 2018 and beyond.
If we want to break these cycles of disease, poverty, and violence, we are going to have to create new positive habit loops in our brains so we can act them out with our bodies.
That’s real self-love.
You have permission to give and accept love (and it doesn’t have cost you a thing).