I’m drinking a green smoothie for lunch. It’s not a punishment, but that’s how it might have felt to the ghost of Sarah’s past. In fact, this green smoothie is actually very tasty. It’s full of spinach, banana, oat milk, almond butter, and vanilla protein powder, and it tastes like a milkshake. When I think about it, I think about the amino acids coming together like Legos in my muscles and building them, leaning them out, enhancing their strength. I think of the iron giving my blood a boost, the calcium from the oat milk increasing my bone density, the fiber from the banana doing all the good things fiber does.
This kind of lunch used to feel like I was not getting the fun stuff. It used to feel like the lunch only people who need to lose weight would eat, and I felt angry with it. That’s how I felt about a lot of the self-care things I would do.
Why am I even talking about this? I do have a point, I promise.
What I’ve realized over the past year of thinking and contemplating and making notes about life and ranting and arguing points day in and day out (much to Ben’s amusement or annoyance, I’m not really sure. He’s too nice to answer honestly) is this. Self-care isn’t about punishment. It isn’t about losing weight or removing things from your life to be healthier. It’s about adding.
Add the workout. Add the protein. Add the positive outlook. Add the project that you love. Add the gua sha stone and the vegan exfoliator and the time for learning and new language and the 20 minutes of reading and the date night on Fridays and meditation or prayer or both and the movie night where you watch a new movie on the list of critically acclaimed films you wouldn’t normal want to watch but know you should. Keep adding until there’s no room for the stuff you were doing before that wasn’t that good for you.
When you’ve done all that, you realize you don’t have time for negative thinking. You don’t have time to scroll mindlessly on social media. You’re not hungry for the filler foods you used to eat (and by the way, now your body craves the good stuff and you look forward to the fresh-baked bread and the homemade hamburger because they are really that much better than fast food).
Self-care isn’t about punishing yourself or being ashamed of yourself. It’s about loving yourself enough to fill your body and mind up with joy and light and passions that make your heart sing.