“Why are you so fat?” someone once asked me.
Apart from feeling like crawling into a cave, I also wondered: How on earth did I let myself become so out of control with food, and out of shape?
Digging deep to uncover the harsh truth was painful, but it also spurred me to take steps that would change my life forever.
From then on, I promised to do everything I could to treat my body the way it deserved—with care and respect— so that I could focus on the things that would allow me to live in my true purpose, not hating how I looked, feeling inadequate and avoiding situations and people that would help me grow as a person.
As the years went by, these steps that I initially took eventually became enduring principles that I now live by to be at my best in body, mind and spirit:
1. Treat your body like a temple
If you don’t, who will?
There will be plenty of stressful, painful moments that will leave you tempted to have one too many drinks, 5 extra slices of pizza or even that one night stand, but giving in and up will always lead to more heartache and disappointment.
What you can do instead: Find out what your triggers for self soothing through food, alcohol and other unhealthy means are, and come up with ways to divert your attention to routines or activities that build you up, not tear you down.
2. Visualize your best life before you sleep and right after you wake up
I’m not asking you to subscribe to wishful thinking—I’m asking that you plant the seeds of success in your subconscious so that taking the necessary actions to get what you desire the most becomes almost instinctive.
If it’s better health that you want, it’ll motivate you to eat, sleep and exercise better. If it’s to become more financially secure, it’ll keep you driven at work so that you won’t give up. If it’s peace of mind that you want, it’ll stop you from surrounding yourself with people who thrive on gossip and drama.
3. Eat to nourish, not entertain
I learned this lesson the hard way by allowing myself to be swallowed up by emotional eating for over 10 years of my life.
Stressed? There was always the bread basket to calm me down. Lonely? There was no better friend than the bowl of pasta carbonara big enough to feed a family of four. Happy? Let’s celebrate with more food!
Several times a day, I’d eat myself into a food-induced coma.
As a result, I lost myself in excess pounds that weighed more than my body down; it also made me lose my spirit and hope.
It took a long time to stop using food as a crutch, but I did it eventually, and learned to see food as nourishment for not just my body, but mind and spirit.
Yes, I still love eating, but food no longer controls me.
4. Put other people’s opinions of your body in their place… and out of your head
Someone else’s thoughts about your body is just that—a thought that has nothing to do with who you are, and isn’t necessarily even true.
Steve Jobs said in his commencement speech at Stanford University in 2005: “Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown your own inner voice.”
And you know what? He was right.
Instead of letting someone else’s negativity invade your head space, think about this: What does being healthy and beautiful mean to YOU?
And, what can you do to feel your healthiest and most beautiful?
The more in tune you are with these answers, the less likely you’ll be affected negatively by someone else’s nasty comments (or even your own), and the easier it’ll be to lift yourself up.