— Relationships —

What Nobody’s Saying About Self-Care

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Megan is a devoted wife, mother of four children of various ages, a photographer and the one in charge of cooking, cleaning and providing a family taxi service. Her pottery wheel is where she says, “I go, daily, to reclaim my sense of self.”

To the casual observer Megan and I are completely different. She’s tall and slender, never wears makeup or nail polish and is very quiet. I, on the other hand, am short and curvy, rarely seen without mascara and a red manicure and can be quite vocal. We live vastly different lives.

Yet we strongly agree on one particular topic; the importance of self-care.

Self-care has become a buzzword, an Instagram hashtag and let’s face it…we all know at least one person who uses “self-care” as an excuse to think only of themselves. It’s also become a lucrative industry. We’re being sold the idea that it’s a luxury item; something to be booked and put in the diary when time allows or added to our shopping carts.

But the first step in self-care isn’t booking a spa day or buying a new overpriced candle. It’s believing you’re worthy of self-care at all.

At the heart of healing my relationship with my body was my commitment to practicing self-care no matter how much I weighed. This was the opposite of what I’d been doing: Viewing it as something I needed to “earn,” a reward I could only claim once I lost weight…which rarely happened.

When I initially made this commitment, wearing clothes that made me feel fabulous and buying myself flowers were some of my first steps. Now my practice has evolved beyond items I’m privileged to have. I no longer view it as “a nice thing to do when life allows,” but rather as non-negotiable actions which form a firm foundation for my life, especially during tumultuous times. The pretty dresses and weekly flowers are an added bonus, not essentials.

If you’re waiting until you’ve lost 10, 20 or 100 pounds before you invest in self-care, you’re looking at this from the wrong angle. You are already worthy, not once you reach a goal weight. Could it be you’re used to giving so much, you’ve forgotten how to ask for what you need? That won’t stop just because you reach a “magical” number on a scale.

Start treating yourself, now, as you plan to treat your future self.

There’s no magic self-care prescription. Just as Megan and I take a different approach, so can you. You may decide it means making time to journal or read each day or signing up for that class you were going to take after you lost a few pounds.  I have a friend who considers her work an essential part of her self-care and another who finally freed herself from toxic friends.

Whatever you choose to do, someone will have an opinion. Take a self-care tip from me: Ignore them unless you agree. By the way, this isn’t a static concept. What you need at this stage of your life may differ over time. What’s important is that you believe you’re worthy of self-care – not in future – but right now.

The Pro-Body Project is published fortnightly. You can read the first entry here.


14 Comments

  • Reply Donna O'Klock May 8, 2017 at 8:24 am

    Oh, Esther, beautiful article! The KNOWLEDGE that we are worthy is the whole point… and often the highest hurdle. Thank you for reminding women it isn’t a reward to be earned.
    After all, if we don’t care for ourselves, how can we care for anyone else??
    XO Donna

    • Reply Esther Zimmer May 9, 2017 at 1:29 am

      Thank you, Donna! Exactly, that knowledge IS the whole point, but the true essence and value of self-care seems to have been lost, or people twist the meaning for their own self-serving purposes. Still, I wanted to write about it in the context of weight-loss, because I know so many women who feel it’s something they only deserve once they reach a certain weight. Not true. Thanks for commenting! Esther xx

  • Reply Jenn May 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

    This is the realization that I have just come to (I have something similar on my blog) in that I wasn’t buying myself NICE stuff UNTIL I earned them by losing weight. And then I ended up with a closet full of cheap, ill-fitting clothes that made me feel worse about myself at the moment.

    I’m now getting more frequent facials (to preserve my skin) and doing things that other people might consider treat but not one that they need to earn. IT totally changes your mindset, doesn’t it, when you learn to value yourself as you are?

    • Reply Esther Zimmer May 9, 2017 at 2:09 am

      Hi Jenn and thanks for commenting! I worked as a personal stylist for three years, I’ve seen wardrobes full of cheap, “transitional” clothes over and over again. And yes, it does totally change your mindset, when you learn to value yourself as you are! I love that you’re doing this. Having said that, I believe whilst learning how to practice self-care can start with things like wearing clothes we really love and facials and massages, the true essence of self-care are the actions we take that make our day-to-day lives more enjoyable, and ensure we stay strong when times get tough. Esther xx

  • Reply Haralee May 8, 2017 at 9:07 am

    Taking care of ourselves is our responsibility. While setting goals is great the brass ring only at achieving it not so great!

    • Reply Esther Zimmer May 9, 2017 at 2:11 am

      Haralee, thanks for your comment! And so true, taking care of ourselves IS our responsibility. I often feel when women tell me, “I don’t have time for self-care” what they really mean is, “I can’t be bothered”. Esther xx

  • Reply Carla May 8, 2017 at 9:08 am

    Yessssssss. I so agree with what you’re saying here. Sure a massage or a girls weekend is nice – – but if underneath it all I don’t value me and fully believe I am enough – – it doesn’t work

    • Reply Esther Zimmer May 9, 2017 at 2:16 am

      Hi Carla and thanks for your comment! Exactly, and whilst massages and girls’ weekends are lovely, they’re not something we can do everyday – although a daily massage would be delicious! It’s claiming our worth and knowing what we need everyday to stay healthy and strong – which are usually far less sexy things like sleep and water and eating our greens – which forms the basis of true self-care. Esther xx

  • Reply 1010ParkPlace May 8, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    There are a lot of people who’re jumping on that bandwagon so beware. I’ve had one encounter with “self-care,” and it was a joke! Self-care is more than a spa day, even a retreat. It’s how we think of ourselves and picture our lives each day. I was at a convenience store a little while ago, getting gas and watched a woman buy two giant sodas and two giant hot dogs on white bread buns and sit in her car and eat them. That’s not a woman who thinks she’s worthy of a good life. Self-esteem and self-care are intertwinably linked. XOXOX, Brenda

    • Reply Esther Zimmer May 9, 2017 at 2:25 am

      I know exactly what you mean, Brenda, it’s an industry! I’m definitely not jumping on any bandwagons. I read so many articles and blogs about self-care to see what others are saying about this topic, did you know you can even hire “self-care” coaches now? Hmmm. I simply wanted to share my experience; believing I’m worthy started with a change in mindset and yes, buying actual “things”, but now it’s a series of non-negotiable actions which keep me healthy and strong – especially when times get tough. That woman was definitely not practicing self-care and deep down, she knows it. Essie xx

  • Reply Mithra Ballesteros May 10, 2017 at 9:00 am

    Oh Esther, how you strike a chord! I love this post. I think that this subject is so tricky, for women particularly, who are trained early on to make personal sacrifices for the greater good of family, work, community. If we don’t figure out how to follow your advice, we are like an avocado that stays in the fridge too long — hollowed out, nutrients gone, and nothing but a pit inside. Thanks for such a spot-on essay.

    • Reply Esther Zimmer May 13, 2017 at 4:44 am

      Mithra, thanks so much for your kind comment! Yes, definitely a tricky subject – for so many reasons. Thanks for your support! Esther xx

  • Reply Jen May 10, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    I love this so much! I’m returning to the world after some botched eye surgery and it’s been kind of a gift to be able to say, “no, can’t, half blind.” How sad is it that it takes illness for me to take a stand? I’m recommitting to self-care even harder: particularly the toxic friends piece. Life is too short… xo

    • Reply Esther Zimmer May 13, 2017 at 4:46 am

      Oh Jen! I’m so sorry to read you’ve had some botched eye surgery, that must have been traumatic. At least you’ve found something positive to take from the situation but yes, it’s often only the most dire of circumstances that force many women to take a stand. I hope you’re back to full health soon! Esther xx

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