Deciding to love yourself.

And self love as a practice.

Making a decision to do something is important. But sometimes what is more important is practicing it day in, day out.

A couple of days ago I wrote a post about how I came to find respect and compassion for my body. I may even have gone so far as to use the word love. A powerful statement for someone that has spent the majority of her life hiding and disparaging the cells that hold her spirit.

Of course a post like that – read or even written in isolation – is that it makes one think that the destination is reached. Like the end of a movie where everyone holds hands and skips off into the sunset. All is good in the world, and everyone lives happily ever after.

The trouble is that life doesn’t work that way.

Just because I have a newfound appreciation for my body, does not wipe away a lifetime of habits.

In my case old habits die hard…  

It’s all well and good to appreciate your body when it is accomplishing some mean feat. When it is feeling lean or strong. When it manages it’s first chataranga. Or when it conquers a mountain or long distance run.

It’s a very different matter to appreciate or love your body when it isn’t looking, feeling or performing it’s best. Or when you are surrounded by people who ARE looking or performing at their best!

When it has had too little rest. When it has had too much food. When it is sluggish, and slow, and aching, and weak. When it is flabby and ghostly white.

This is what I have been struggling with upon my arrival in Costa Rica. Next week I will join a group with the aim of running 96 miles through the Costa Rican jungle. It will be hot, humid and extremely hilly.

The thought of it scares the hell out of me. And a week out I should be feeling supremely healthy and fit. But I don’t.

The irony is, that I am struggling with this in a beachside town in Costa Rica.

On the one hand I am in a tropical paradise, doing yoga in the mornings and supping on kale smoothies in the afternoons. So surely it is easy to relax and be comfortable in my own skin.

On the other hand I am surrounded by flawlessly beautiful people. Women – tanned and strolling around in bikinis all day. Men – ripped and shirtless. As much as I wake up and affirm my new found love for these cells that I call home, old habits are hard to kill.

Time and time again I find myself falling into the trap of comparison and self criticism.

Add to this environment the very real anxiety I feel about joining a group of runners for a 96 mile trail run through the (very hilly!) jungle, and my inner critic is ever present and ever struggling.

She is always there simmering below the surface, ready to whisper negative words into my ear at the slightest sign of weakness.

That said, she is not winning the war, and in a sadistic way I’m kind of enjoying her presence.

My inner critic’s relentless bitching has one positive. It is a reminder that love isn’t a one-off decision, it’s an ongoing practice. And this week I’m getting lots of practice.

Am I the only freak who hears this voice in her head? Do you have any tips for silencing your inner critic?

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