Why Self-Love is More Than Skin Deep

Whether it’s freckles on your nose, curves that fill your jeans, or hair that can’t be tamed, every woman has different features to be proud of. Despite constant pressures from the media to look a certain way, body positivity – for both men and women – is slowly taking over. For the first time, women are loving their bodies for what they are, and not for what they look like according to someone else’s standards.

While it’s important to not be afraid to rock your love handles, curly hair, freckles, hip bones, cellulite, or whatever assets you possess, loving your body means more than appreciating what you see in the mirror.

When you love someone, you care for them. You take care of family when they’re sick, you make sure everyone is eating healthy and you listen to them when they’re struggling. You should be doing the same thing for yourself.

Nobody’s perfect, and so much of being young is making mistakes and questionable decisions to push our limits and make us stronger. However, balance is important. If you’re going to put something not-so-healthy into your body (e.g. Insomnia cookies, screwdrivers), you need to put in something healthy as well.

Eat well, feel well.

If you eat food that’s good for you, your body and mind will reap the benefits. A few months ago I gave my eating habits a makeover, and I no longer buy non-vegan items such as meat and dairy while grocery shopping. The differences are amazing. I almost never break out, I’m not as fatigued during the day and my digestive system feels healthier.

A large body of evidence shows that people who follow a plant-based diet have significantly less health risks. A diet that’s mostly vegan contributes to everything from getting enough vitamins and nutrients to eating less fat and processed chemicals. In terms of getting enough protein, beans are way cheaper and healthier than ground beef, and not to mention infinitely better for the environment. There’s even evidence that a diet high in legumes reduces the risk of breast cancer.

You don’t need to go full-blown vegan. A cheeseburger and some ice cream on the weekend won’t kill you. There is no shame in treating yourself, because life is too short to cut Chipotle out of your diet. Just be sure to eat plenty of veggies, friends.

Move your body!

Make it run, jump, stretch and dance. Eating healthy will make you feel great, but exercise will make you feel that much better. Not only will exercising help you physically feel great, it will also improve your mental health. One study showed that college-age women who exercised had an enhanced quality of life compared to those who didn’t.

Some women claim they don’t have enough time to exercise. Contrary to popular belief, working out doesn’t have to cut into your studies, work or Netflix time. I’m not ashamed to admit that I watch “The Office” or study with flashcards while on the elliptical or the stair climber. Besides, working out doesn’t have to be a time commitment. One hour a day, three days a week will make a world of a difference for your heart and muscles. Besides, have you seen our rec center? It’s big, shiny and beautiful – and your tuition is paying for it, so make a playlist, buy some cute new work out clothes and go get your money’s worth. Just make sure not to jam too hard and pull a Taylor Swift.

Give yourself time to unwind.

When was the last time you looked at your phone? There’s actually a pretty good chance it’s in your hand as you’re reading this, or sitting right next to you on your desk. While always being connected can have its advantages, it also leaves less time for you to truly have for yourself.

Make sure you’re giving yourself time to relax each day, especially before bed. Put down your phone, close your laptop and disconnect for a little while. Read a book. Paint your nails. While on campus, we seem to have limited privacy, so having “me-time” is important in your busy life.

Remember that you’re not your body.

Your body belongs to you, but it isn’t you. However, how you care for your body reflects on how it carries you. Listen to your body, show it some love and it will love you back.

At some point in their lifetime, approximately 30 million people in the United States will be impacted by an eating disorder. If you have any questions or are struggling with self-love, know that you are not alone.  For further support, please  contact Boynton Nutrition Services or The Joy Project for more information.