Love yourself challenge

Simple post today. I challenge you to post up your favorite recent picture of yourself and write down a snippet of what you love about yourself. Try to find a picture from the last year or so. Can be a physical attribute or something in relation to your personality. Try to write the first thing that comes to mind and embrace it. Then comment here or on social media with the link to your post.

IMG_20180318_151455.jpg

I love this picture because it’s artsy, but also because it shows that hard work pays off. I love my legs, arms and shoulders. I work hard on them and loving the results.

Now post up your picture! πŸ™‚

The struggle to love unconditionally

_img6057

Love as the media shows it is not true love. It’s the love where you are happy and showered with all the feels, until it gets hard. Then it’s time to break up and move on to the next. This illusion of plenty of fish in the sea, and maybe the lie of that perfect person for us keeps us unsatisfied until we end up alone and grumpy wondering where we went wrong.

Most of my life, I have struggled to learn and apply unconditional love in all of my relationships. I’m talking family, friends and most importantly romantic relationships. And the biggest struggle I face is unconditionally loving people who can’t love me back.

Both historically (my exes) and currently, there are and have been people in my life that I have and still love wholeheartedly who don’t have the capacity love me back. I won’t drop names, but there is someone in my life right now where I have to sit and meditate, take several deep breaths, before composing myself to respond to him in the most loving way I can.

But he already rejected me months ago, and even without that I know he doesn’t have the ability to love me back. At least, not the way I love him. And I’m not going to lie, there are nights where I just feel like crying. But each day gets better, because God gives me the strength to continue loving him the way Jesus loves me. And I pray that one day, he too will know and understand that type of love. The one where there are no limits. Without conditions. The way love is supposed to be.

Body image and self love

It feels like I’ve always had body image issues. Looking back, I can’t seem to remember a moment where I loved the way I looked. I would try my best to be content with my body, but I would always find something I’d like to change.

When I was a baby, I didn’t have a neck. My uncle called me Jabba the Hut since I was all baby fat. I didn’t ever crawl, because I was way too happy being immobile. Once I started walking, I lost the baby fat and thinned out. In high school, I was pretty active and stayed relatively thin but still felt chubby. I didn’t see myself as sexy and focused way too much on my extra-small boobs.

Freshman year in college I’d skip meals because I felt chubby. The other three years of college, I gained about 25 to 30 pounds that I instantly hated and tried to combat best I could. My boyfriend encouraged me by working out with me, but at the end of the day I felt fat and didn’t know what exercises to do other than run and some strength machines. Through the years, I’ve gone up and down in my weight. I started my fitness journey 7 years ago when I weighed in at my heaviest. I still hated my body, but decided to finally do something about it. So I joined a local Kung Fu school and started practicing traditional martial arts.

Even over the last 7 years, I still felt chubby and fat. In the beginning, my diet was crap as I was trying to workout 3-4 times a week. About a year into my fitness journey was when I decided to watch a few food documentaries. These altered my world and my diet. I was vegan for almost two years, and that was when I noticed the real change occurring in my body. I finally liked my body weight, and almost liked how I looked. My endurance was increasing but I felt like I needed more of a challenge. So I started running in addition to the martial arts training.

When I started running, I mostly hated it. But my friend Sarah kept me accountable and we ran many races together over the years. Even as a runner and martial artist, I still struggled with my body image. Especially after I fell off the vegan wagon and started to be more open with my diet. And, you know, got married and comfortable. When I turned 30 only a year and a half ago, I felt embarrassed when looking at photos of myself. That chubby tummy and love handles were too much! I knew I needed more strength training and a better diet, but kinda let myself go. It was when my ex left that I reassessed everything in my life, but chose to focus on self love and body image.

I turned to fitness and working out to help me get through one of the hardest situations in my life. I upped the frequency and intensity of working out. I made a conscious decision to focus on my health and everything else would work itself out. I felt called to run the Chicago marathon last year, and I chose to focus more on strength training both while running and after the race. Even after running the marathon, I still felt chubby. But I sat down and created a fitness goal for myself in order to help me work towards the body I want rather than the one I had.

And guess what? I didn’t reach my goal. My goal was to get to 18% body fat by last week. I’m currently hovering just above 19% body fat, but I started at 25% four months ago. Despite not meeting my goal, I can finally say I love my body. Just the way it is. I know I’m still a work in progress, and I still have fitness goals I’m working on. But I realized it isn’t about the numbers. It’s not about how much I weigh nor how much body fat I have (as long as I’m not obese). It’s about how I look and feel. Hard work pays off, but most of the work I’ve needed has been mental. 90% mental, 10% physical.

IMG_20180225_164645_439

Relationships and compromise

Because without compromise no relationship would ever work out, today we are going to talk about how much of yourself you truly have to give up to make that “perfect” or (in reality) not so perfect relationship actually work. This is a perk of my always-thinking (read: overthinking) mind and also has been inspired by other people in my life who have opened up to me in regards to their relationships.

Self Love

A lot of us, as humans, are selfish. At the end of the day, we only have ourselves to rely on and love. And self-love is very important! Actually, if you don’t love yourself you won’t be able to properly love someone else. It is nearly impossible. So the very first thing you must learn to do is love and respect yourself. Without that, the relationship will consume you. You know, that “perfect” relationship with the “perfect” guy or girl. It will chew you up and spit you back out. It will destroy you, if you let it. But defend yourself with the proper mindset and it will help you grow and become a better version of yourself.

But on the other side of the same token, if you’re too selfish and focused on yourself that relationship will shrivel up and die. And you’ll be left with just yourself again, wondering what went wrong since you seemed to be doing fine the entire time.

Healthy Relationshipdigital-art-398342_1920

You have to find the right balance between yourself and your significant other. You have to compromise the right amount, and spend the right amount of time together (growing together) but also still have time for yourself and your hobbies/passions. And sometimes those passions and hobbies will overlap, but you still have to have your own interests so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the other person. As humans, it is important that we feel a few things as listed below.

  • Unique. We want to feel special, like there is no one else like us.
  • Loved. We want to feel wanted by others, their love validates us that we are lovable.
  • Strong/Independent. We don’t want to feel weak or that we have to depend on someone else to live our lives the way we want to.

But what about me?

With all this in mind, there will be sacrifices and compromises that we will have to make to be with someone. While the idea of there being “the one” perfect person for us is nice, it isn’t true. Instead of hoping/waiting for the perfect person to fit ever so perfectly into your life, you should create a list or two to help narrow down your choices (plenty of fish) so that you can find someone to work towards having a healthy relationship with. The lists that I created that have helped me are the two below:

  1. A list of ten deal-breakers. If the guy I’m dating doesn’t meet all ten, I move on.
  2. A list ofΒ red flags. Everyone has luggage, no one is perfect, but after going through my marriage, my husband cheating/living a double life, and my divorce I learned which red flags I won’t accept. If these pop up, bye felicia.

Are you in a healthy relationship? One that helps you be a better person? If not, perhaps you should make these lists and re-assess that relationship and what you’re looking for in a significant other. Feel free to comment below your deal breakers or any red flags that make you leave. And let me know if you’d be interested in my lists I’ve created for my next relationship.

Orange you glad I met ya?