A Valentine… for Ourselves.

A lot of folks, women particularly, find Valentine’s Day to be a depressing part of the year. We’re so inundated with the idea we have to be part of a couple come Feb. 14 that those who are normally happily single feel just a bit miffed at the societal pressure that single isn’t good enough.

Because unfortunately, in this society, it really kind of isn’t.

I think this hits women especially hard because we’re subliminally taught from a young age that we’re not “complete” until we find our Prince Charming. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. In order to really appreciate your perfect mate when he (or she) arrives you have to be pretty happy with who you are as a person without him (or her). Otherwise you’ll turn into this cloying, needy freak who will literally scare away every potential lover that crosses your path.

Trust me. I know.

Poetry, songs and fairy tales all want us to give away everything we have to another person in order for it to be love. The problem with that is if you’re not getting loved in return you just become an empty vessel – which isn’t good for anyone. Especially you.

Because here’s the reality – it’s very uncommon to find someone who will love you as much as you have to love yourself simply to survive. There may be those rare individuals you’d be willing to die for if the situation arose, but if that plane is going down you have to think of self-preservation first to do anyone else any good. Yet as women we’re taught we’re nothing unless we’re giving all of that away for someone else, that this is the idea of “love,” to be totally self sacrificing and martyrs for those we care about.

The idea is if we do this we’ll be worth love and honor in return.

The most miserable people you’ll ever meet are the ones who seek love and worth from the outside in. Self-esteem is the foundation for every other kind of love, and it has to be strong or every relationship you have in your life will suffer.

Most of the overweight women I know are the most generous women on the planet. They give their all to their families, their friends and their lovers. Yet they never take that time to give back to themselves, and it shows by what they do to their bodies in the form of self-destructive behavior.

Not so coincidentally, a lot of overweight women are then unhappy because as much as they give they don’t get the basic respect they should have earned, or have their well of love replenished from the outside in.

That’s because we teach people how to treat us. If we can’t show ourselves basic respect, it’s very hard for other people to learn how to fill the gap. There’s a reason that those who give all end up surrounded by those who take all and give little in return. You think they deserve your best and you don’t deserve to expect anything in return… and they simply agree.

So today, I want everyone to give a Valentine to yourself. Whether you’re single or partnered, fat or thin, happy or sad, stressed, overwhelmed and crazed or living the life of your dreams – pat yourself on the back today for being so awesomely YOU.

That’s the one thing you have that no one else does. They never have. They never will. You are a perfect example of a unique individual who will never be as you are ever again. Take a moment and just think about how amazing that is. In this world of a billion people, there isn’t another you. In all of history there has never been another you. Toward infinity there will be another you. You’re a completely original masterpiece, and that deserves a proper amount of respect and awe.

Let that love start from the inside and pour outward, turning into your own eternal fountain that will never run dry.

Men have often stated that attitude is key when they find a woman sexy. That’s how all those chicks who don’t have perfect bodies end up with all the guys… they let the guys know that they offer something that is pretty darned awesome and the guys would be *lucky* to get a piece of it.

So stop waiting for the moment when you’ll be “perfect” and beat yourself up daily because of all the flaws you have to nitpick. Love your flaws! (That’s right… I said it.)

If my biggest flaw is my weight, here’s what being fat has taught me:

It’s taught me empathy for my fellow man.
It’s taught me how to look deeper when it comes to other people, rather than just depend totally on what I see on the surface.
It’s taught me how to appreciate a good man who can love me for who I am, rather than what I wear.
It’s taught me how to be more appreciative of health than a dress size.
It’s taught me how to see through the bullshit – from others and myself.

And all those things make up a pretty great gal. I may not be perfect, but I’m perfectly me. And for that, I deserve my own self-respect – a self respect that isn’t dependent upon any number on a scale or dress size OR public opinion. (ESPECIALLY public opinion.)

I get to be okay with being me, simply because *I* choose to be.

So today look in the mirror and show some love to yourself. Learn to love those things about you that you normally disdain. So what if you’re 30 pounds overweight? If your heart is beating and you can take a breath, your body is doing its job. Instead of beating the poor thing up and tearing it to shreds, in essence – abusing yourself, do something ABOUT those 30 extra pounds. Go for a long walk. If it’s pretty outside, take advantage of the sunshine. If it’s cold, find a mall and just take a couple of laps around while you look at all the pretty stuff you’ll be able to wear when you get to your goal weight.

If you’re single and feeling the pressure of being alone, find that activity you absolutely love that you normally couldn’t do if you were paired up with someone. Take a *you* day. Light candles, take a bubble bath, go get a massage or a manicure. Watch sappy romantic movies or *cough* read a great romantic novel *cough*. Write a hot and steamy erotic story starring you and your crush de jour (celebrities are always a fun choice)or simply be silly while there’s no one else around to judge you. Go swing on a swingset at a park – play hopscotch… bake cookies… turn up cheesy 80s or disco music no one else likes and dance all night in your pajamas. Pick yourself some flowers or prepare your favorite meal… or better yet find a group of your single pals and make a night of it. Dance till the wee hours with some hot single guy you’ll never see again and flirt all night like you’ve never dared to before.

(Or you could babysit some kids from your married friends who want to take a date night. Just TRY to be depressed as you’re being silly and playing like a kid. Glitter and crayons are mandatory.)

Pretend you are your very best friend who needs a little special pampering, then do the pampering. All that love you would bestow upon someone else, turn toward yourself by giving yourself the best possible treatment ever – including words of encouragement and empowerment that say it’s perfectly okay to be *just you* because you’re pretty freaking spectacular just the way you are.

Take whatever it is that makes you feel blue and do something about it to make you feel better. Only you have that power.

You could also make yourself feel better by making the day of someone else. Give the life-giving gift of blood, or make homemade Valentines and take it to a children’s ward at a hospital or a nursing home. Give the gift of love, just because – to people who need it just as much as you do.

And if you’re dealing with depression because you’ve experienced loss or illness or something dire that makes a celebratory mood impossible – give yourself the comfort and support you would any dear friend going through similar circumstances.

You are so much stronger than you know. Recognize that… honor that… because that’s part of what makes you who you are, which again is pretty damn spectacular.

So love yourself today. You deserve it.

And Happy Valentine’s Day, you lil lovemuffin.

My food journal, compliments of Sparkpeople.com.

Weigh-in: 281, a three pound loss for the week.


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