Often, we intend to lose weight or start a training regimen, because we are not happy with our appearance. But this project will rarely succeed. It sounds counterintuitive, but the momentum has simply the wrong direction. If the reason to change is based on not liking ourselves, we set ourselves up for failure. You need self-love first to change!
Motivation doesn’t equal motivation
How we treat ourselves changes fundamentally with how we perceive ourselves.
If we love ourselves, we feel great. Even if there might be features or skills we want to enhance or improve. But our aim is to make us feel even better instead of worse. The reason is that we appreciate ourselves, just the way we are.
In contrast, if we want to change based on disliking ourselves, we choose strategies which are not sustainable, even unhealthy or dangerous. We merely focus on a quick result like losing weight or gaining muscle. And because we feel bad anyway and hope to feel better after we reached that one goal. Obviously we do not seem to have in mind that we could aim to feel better on the way there. With the decisions and chosen strategies we often treat ourselves more like an enemy than a good friend.
Reward & Punishment
We aim for our goals, hoping they finally will make us happy. At the same time, we do not realize that this will not change our feeling of not being good enough. So we tie our feeling of being good or a failure on our ability to follow the rules of our diet  or training program. The way we judge and how we talk to ourselves is often alarmingly harsh. We never would talk to a friend in the same way, because it would not be a friend for a long time.
We diminish our self-worth because nobody can stick to a restrictive diet or training program. If this is the way we treat ourselves, it is such a fundamental part about how we think that it will not change after we reached a certain goal. We will find something else to make sure we can feel miserable.
Blissfull or Miserable Life?
But why do we choose to feel miserable? Just think about it a minute: Our body is a miracle. Our legs carry us, the brain is giving vital impulses for our heart to beat, our eyes can see and the immune system fights to keep us healthy.
We wake up every morning, we are alive. Millions of other people don’t. We have the chance for a new day. 86,400 fresh seconds as a gift. We can decide how we spend them. These are reasons enough to treat ourselves and our life as a precious gift because it is. And we choose to feel miserable because the scale shows 500g more than yesterday and our shape doesn’t match the photoshopped shape of a model on a woman’s magazine? That’s insane!
Self-Love makes the difference
For many of us, it seems to be impossible to love ourselves, since we have these love handles, cellulite, or we are overweight. But treating ourselves with kindness and compassion means to appreciate that these extra pounds might be a result of a pregnancy or medication. They might even be the consequence of challenges in our lives. If we are compassionate, gaining some pounds is not a failure anymore. We don’t have to punish ourselves with a starvation diet, which makes us feel worse. It just means we have to return to the habit of caring for us even more. We aim to nourish our bodies with good food, move in ways we enjoy and support our bodies and minds to cope with stress or negative emotions instead of beating ourselves up.
It’s a learning process, and some days are better than others. The surprising fact is that if our self-worth doesn’t depend on being perfect or a certain size, it takes a lot of pressure and negative self-talk out of the equation. Both guarantee that we won’t feel great. But if we choose to treat ourselves well instead, we can feel happier and even achieve our goals much easier.
Loving care for ourselves is a lifelong strategy and learning process. As a side effect, it makes everything available what people try to fight for who don’t love themselves. Feeling well and healthy, strong, energetic and loved is a result of our care and not of torture. We can enjoy life, be a great friend, parent, spouse or colleage and we are radiating how we feel, at peace with us.
Self-Love is a fertile soil
To create a picture before I leave: Loving ourselves is like a fertile soil in which we can plant a garden with flowers, vegetables and fruits. We do whatever we can, to care for it. As a result, the garden will flourish, flowers will bloom and we can enjoy every season with all senses.
 Sidenote: We even use food as a reward and training as a punishment. How are we supposed to make training a habit in our life if it is a punishment? How are we supposed to eat wholesome foods, if the highly processed and sugary stuff is our reward?
Here you can read more about Mindfulness – a great strategy for learning to take care of yourself: