Rooting Wellness in Self-Love: the Why & the How

Updated: May 23, 2021

The Why

When one gets "healthy" without it being rooted in self-love, it doesn't last and usually is a achieved from some genuinely unhealthy practices.

Many of you may be wondering why I decided to center my wellness practice around self-love. Amanda, do you want to help people love themselves or get healthy? Pick one! However, in my experience, when one gets "healthy" without it being rooted in self-love, it doesn't last and usually is a achieved from some genuinely unhealthy practices: under-eating, calorie counting, obsession with macro-nutrients (can you say demonizing carbs and fat, and glorifying protein??), over-exercising, excessive fasting, chronic labeling of foods as good or bad. It goes on and on! And without meaning to, I was guilty of many of these things for a long time as I kept trying to figure out how to get and stay healthy.

Disordered Eating & Exercise Patterns

Trying to achieve wellness without self-love means trying to "fix" yourself, which leads to many common, but unhealthy behaviors surrounding food & exercise.

  • under-eating & calorie restriction

  • extended or excessive fasting

  • yo-yo dieting

  • binge cycling

  • skipping meals

  • obsession with nutrition values, such as calories, carbohydrates, fat, & protein

  • obsession with food quantities and portion control

  • polarized labeling of foods (good foods vs. bad foods)

  • feelings of guilt and shame pervasive certain types or amounts of food and eating

  • preoccupation with weight

  • use of exercise to "make up for" dieting mistakes

  • excessive exercising

  • regular use of "quick fixes" such as diet pills, weight-loss teas, or low-calorie meal replacements

Diet Mentality & Brevity

Trying to achieve wellness through the society-prescribed diet mentality usually means:

  • feeling restricted by a certain set of diet rules

  • feeling guilty if you fail to follow the rules for any reason

  • sticking to intense exercise programs that may or may not lead to the results as quickly as promised

  • changing food patterns temporarily

  • changing exercise patterns temporarily

  • regaining weight after completion of the program

  • guilt at failing to keep the weight off

Effects on Mental Health

Diet mentality, social messaging, and the socially accepted disordered habits that tend to go along with it tend to have a notable negative impact on mental health. This is both because mental health is often neglected in lieu of trying to fix physical "imperfections" and because the patterns often used to try to achieve those results directly and negatively impact our own self-perceptions, leading to:

  • distrust of our own body's cues (hunger, thirst, exhaustion, etc.)

  • negative self-image

  • chronic negative self-talk

  • perfectionism & unrealistic standards

  • an extremely conditional sense of self-love

  • over-dependence on will-power and motivation

  • self-hatred and criticism for even tiny "mistakes"

  • feelings of unworthiness

  • body shame

The How

Instead of fixing our imperfections, we are learning to embrace both our strengths and our flaws, celebrate our efforts, and engage in habits because we love ourselves.

My model approaches wellness from a completely different lens, ditching diet culture in favor of holistic wellness habits which are both rooted in self-love and help support growth and maintenance of self-love. Instead of fixing our imperfections, we are learning to embrace both our strengths and our flaws, celebrate our efforts, and engage in habits because we love ourselves.

Shift Your Internal Dialogue

Start with a few core habits to start shifting your mental dialogue from critical and rigid to compassionate and flexible.

  • Build a mirror habit that fits you and feels authentic. For some, daily affirmations are great. Something as simple as I am strong, I am growing, and I am enough as I am today could be a great place to start if you are feel particularly stuck. There are also a million and one option across google though, so don't be afraid to look around and find something that really resonates with you. Alternatively, I also really favor the idea of saying something nice to yourself every time you look in the mirror. Anything goes! For me, sometimes it is pointing our parts of me I like, like my eyes. Other times it is pointing out my accomplishments today. Sometimes I'm complimenting a whole ensemble. And sometimes, especially at the beginning or on a less positive day, it sounded more like "My body may not be perfect, but it is a perfectly normal human body." - which believe it or not, still did wonders!

  • Start reminding yourself that perfection is not the goal and restate your antagonizing dialogue when you falter. If your brain says - "Pizza is not a healthy food. You really should have had a salad", restate as "Pizza is not a perfect food for my body everyday, but it is what I want right now. Allowing myself to eat it is good for my mind and my soul." or even just "Pizza isn't perfect, but that's okay because I don't have to be perfect."

  • Make self-care a daily and weekly priority. You may not feel like you have the time, I get it. I know I definitely didn't feel like I did. But honestly the burnout toll was way worse than a few minutes each day, a night off, or a weekend ritual. You body and mind need to recharge and you cannot fill from an empty cup. Set a short period of time aside each day to do something that calms you - meditate, listen to music, take a bath, read, engage in a hobby - anything goes! And set aside a larger chunk of time weekly, at least an hour or 2 to do something a little more special that is just for you! It can be the same thing each day or week or you can switch it up, but it is imperative to your mental health.

Build Habits from a Holistic Lens

Let go of the notion that physical health is the only part of wellness. From here on out, we are building wellness habits that not only impact our physical health, but also the other aspects our wellness. How can you incorporate regular emotional check-ins, opportunities