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Loving myself to health… how I finally got off the self-hate train. 

A few months ago my husband and I were talking (I don’t even remember about what)… and without warning, a flip switched in me that I pray never goes back. At some point during the conversation I said to him…

“I’m finally going to let myself love myself.”

And as cheesy as it sounds, you guys…  I meant it.

I mean like Actually, seriously, not-even-kidding meant it.

He chuckled at me and said “good!”… probably just because of the way that I said it.

I kept repeating it… each time allowing it to solidify more and more in my heart. Ya’ll this has been a long time coming.

I have been on countless diets, tried a gazillion different workout routines… felt shame, anger, resentment, you name it.

And I’m done with it.

I have spent the majority of my life, for as long as I can remember, feeling like my physical appearance is somehow inadequate.

Feeling like I had to explain why I look the way I do… like make excuses for it, or apologize for it, or hide it… I honestly didn’t realize how deeply this went into the way I feel about my worth.

This decision (to let myself love myself) is about me… it’s not about anyone else. It’s about the relationship I have with myself…

It’s about the things I am choosing to leave behind me, and the habits I am committed to breaking…

…The habit of (absentmindedly) looking away quickly when I encounter a mirror because I may just have one more glimpse of the perceived ugliness or fat that would drive even deeper the sense that I am inadequate.

…pushing it “to the max” at the gym because my trainer says that it’s the only way I’ll lose weight, even though my body is screaming otherwise.

…Comparing myself to other women. (It happens without even realizing, doesn’t it?) I can look at all of the positive reformations we’ve been having in the fashion industry, and pro size-doesn’t-matter articles, etc… but the subtle underlying tone of our culture is that you are somehow not reaching the standard of perfection (whether it be health, desirability, or otherwise) unless you wear a certain size jeans or are a certain weight on the scale…

…and, putting myself dead-last to everyone & everything else seemingly more important in my life.

Again, this is about the relationship I have with myself. And relationships take time to build. They take trust, they take work, they take devotion and commitment. And I have committed to love myself.

I honestly used to think that was some sort of silly verbiage for people who were overly-emotional or needy. But I now realize that it’s strength. It’s not about a convincing, it’s about an acceptance.

That I am loveable… every pound (including the extra ones… Especially the extra ones) of me. That I am beautiful. That I am strong.

I am choosing to look at the positive, and trust me when I say, these past few months have not been easy. Old habits die hard…

I struggle with thoughts that I am only doing this as a last-ditch effort to try to convince myself that I’m beautiful (not that I actually am beautiful, just that I’m trying to convince myself of something that isn’t actually true).

I struggle with feeling like I still have to make some sort of explanation for myself… like when telling people I have a “health-blog” and feeling like I have to add… “I know I don’t look like I would have a health blog, but…”

I struggle with not totally trusting my instincts, or feeling like others probably know better about how I should manage my weight or my body more so than myself. And, feeling like I’m solely responsible for getting myself to this weight, size, shape, etc without acknowledging that there have been several factors completely outside of my control… whether by genetics, or lack of knowledge or resources, or the fact that another human being actually grew inside of me and I’ve been responsible for meeting its needs first ever since (definitely not complaining about that last one though!).

As with any relationship, there is a bit of pursuit and intention involved. I have to be intentional about the time I’m committing to myself. Because I want to be successful in this pursuit of “loving myself to health…”, I’m working on a game-plan. It’s still a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far…

  • Make daily hygiene & beauty routines (ie: showering daily) a priority. I know this one probably seems like a no-brainer, but if you have a toddler, then you’ll likely understand.
  • When exercising, focus on stress-reducing, core-strengthening exercises and mindset. I think mindset is really key here… it’s not about perfection on the yoga mat, and it certainly isn’t about doing cardio until you feel like you’re going to pass out, vomit, or both… It’s about listening to your body, knowing when it’s time to stop or (on the flip side) when it’s time to kick your butt into gear! It’s about setting realistic goals for your health and strength… not about reaching a certain number on the scale.

P.S. I told my trainer about my game-plan, and she’s totally on-board… and so far, it’s been fantastic! I have never experienced the benefits of exercise in this way… to truly listen to my body, and do what feels good. To put it simply… it’s empowering and amazing.

…oh, and just for the record… I’m not bringing sexy “back”… It’s been there all along. Who’s with me? I feel like we need a hashtag for this… anyone have any ideas?!

  • I’m gonna let people take pictures of me without trying to hide. Now, don’t get me wrong… I’m still going to request that they make every effort to get my “good” side… I’m not totally crazy! But, I also will not shy away from allowing special memories to be captured just because looking at pictures of myself invokes feelings of worthlessness. I’m also going to do as little editing to pictures of myself as possible… I feel like this is as much for my sake as it is for those looking at the pictures of me who may be influenced by altered versions of reality.
  • Look at myself in the mirror, and actually appreciate what I see… this one is taking some practice. Honestly I feel like Stuart Smalley from SNL, lol… anyone remember him? I had to look up a video for reference (please feel free to play as many times as you need to let the affirmation sink in… 😉 )
  • Remember that I’m loveable not just because I say so… but because He says so. …that’s seriously the most legit reason I can think of.

“I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14

I encourage you to take a moment and just let that sink in… let it go really deep… until you feel it in your bones, and your heart begins to find hope again. There is healing there for past wounds and feelings of insecurity… Healing for the messy times when we get confused and feel like the only way we’re allowed to be loveable is when we’re a size 6 or when we say no to eating the donut out of sheer will-power, rooted in self-deprecation. May you know His love for you, and allow it to change the way you see yourself.

 

 

…I don’t really know how to end this thing. I’m sharing my heart, and my hope is that you’ll be encouraged to make a commitment to loving yourself because well, quite frankly… you’re good enough, you’re smart enough… and doggone it people like you. 😉

P.S. here’s a realistic picture of myself… totally unedited… one that in the past I would have been hesitant to share. It’s of my family at the beach this year… a sweet memory, and one I’m glad we captured.

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Be blessed.
~Sarah

Sarah McLain


Sarah McLain, RN

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  1. i absolutely LOVE this!! I think we pretty much all struggle with this. I remember hearing someone in an interview mention that a lot of time autoimmune issues were a result of not being able to forgive ourselves (or something like that) and that hit me like a ton of bricks. I was so hard on myself and healing my autoimmune issues has been as much a spiritual journey as a physical one. Thanks for being so open and sharing! Personally I think you are a very beautiful person inside and out and I’m thankful to call you my friend!

    1. Oh wow Michelle, the thought about autoimmune issues makes so much sense… and you’re right, it is Absolutely a WHOLE person journey… mind, body, & Spirit! Love you so much friend, so thankful for you in my life! You are beautiful inside and out!

  2. I needed so much to hear this! I’ve struggled with confidence and self esteem all my life. Now with autoimmune issues, the struggle is even harder. This will be so helpful to so many women. Thank you Sarah! You are a very beautiful woman of God!

    1. Robin, thank you so much for sharing your heart! I love that we get to encourage each other with His goodness. I’m so glad that we’ve been able to become friends… I admire your sweet and surprisingly sassy spirit… AND your sense of style! You are beautiful inside and out!

  3. Oh Sarah!!!

    I love this on so many levels but it’s two fold.

    I remember the first time I met you. I thought… “Wow! What a vibrant soul.” I’ll admit that I never saw the “fat” you speak of although I did see the boobs that made me envious! Haha. ((oh us women! Or at least some of us!!) To read this hurts and warms my heart at the same time. hurts my heart to know that you’ve been as cruel to you as I see I’ve been to me. Warms my heart that you’re done with that and giving me permission to be done with it too.

    Thank you for sharing your beautiful heart. I am so grateful for you. We may not see each other often and quite honestly not even know each other that well…. but you get me. …and I get you… even in just written word.

    Carry on my beautiful sister-friend. Carry on!!

    1. Lol Michelle!! You are so awesome! I am SOOOO glad that you have taken hold of the permission to be done with the things that hold us back from walking in the full peace and confidence that He has for us… it is so good to be His! Thank you for sharing this, it’s good to know we’re not alone in the midst of it. <3

  4. I’ve always thought you were beautiful! Struggle with these issues myself though. So many women (and men) need to hear this. Thank you for sharing so honestly and openly! Love, Mom ?

  5. Thank you.
    If you can check out the neurosurgeon Jack Kruse blog. Not easy reading but so valuable. He would approve of this post and your family out in the sun at the beach! Hooray for full spectrum UV.

  6. Sarah you are absolutely beautiful inside and out! I’m so happy you are able to see that. 🙂 I loved reading this, thanks for sharing.

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