As with my other posts, all of this unsolicited advice (lol) stems from my personal experiences. This particular experience just so happens to be occurring as I type this.
So for the past 4 years I have prided myself on making my health a PRIORITY. Throughout my time during undergrad, fitness was my first and only love, everything else fell by the wayside. If I had time for it after I worked out, then OK cool I did it, but if not then tough shit. I was happy being in my own space, taking care of my body (in the best way I knew how) and not feeling obligated to do anything EXCEPT just that.
My approach to self-care at that time is broken down as follows:
I worked out for excessively. No literally. I would be at my college gym for HOURS doing cardio or lifting weights.
In contrast, I skirted on properly nourishing myself. I would go from eating a small, DRY salad during the day to binging on a whole bag of Doritos Spicy Nacho chips, trash chocolate, and other "goodies" my friends and I could get our hands on at 2 o'clock in the morning.
I was also semi-socially isolating myself. I would nurture the friendships that appeared to understand, and even enable my obsessive behaviors, but did not allow for true intimacy with those that I had not known for an extended period of time.
Once I graduated from college, these habits mostly continued, but once I started working as a personal trainer full time I became so much more aware of the realities of self-involvement versus true self-care. At the gym I took notice of the lifestyle habits of my colleagues and realized we were all running in a hamster's wheel - we kept up with this idea of health in order to sell health and put a superficial band-aid on our own issues in order to be prepared to sell personal training packages at any moment. It was tiring and I felt like an impostor preaching about self-love and patience for self all while personally focusing on the quick fix.
Fast forward to today, it has been a long and steady progression to really loving myself where I am at. Personally, this is the most out-of-shape I have ever been. Yes, I am eating whole, nutrient-rich foods, and yes I am staying active no less than 4 days a week, but I have taken a new approach to my personal health. Never in my life have I taken into such account the 1,2,3... steps it takes for one to really unlearn and then recondition the mind. I am on the journey of marrying the health of my mind and the health my body.
My current, and far-improved, approach to self-care is as follows:
I have a personal trainer (yes, a trainer needs to be trained too!)
Every morning I listen to music, podcasts, or nothing (prayer & meditation) to make sure that I am allowing the necessary space for me to align with God and my true self.
I rest. A lot. I believe I am in a stage in my life where preservation of energy is key because there is a season approaching that will require me to haul ass.
I pour into those that have poured into me and who have healthily challenged me, causing an expansion of self, while leaving more than enough space for new friends, lovers, teachers, etc.
I am playing soccer on a fairly organized team - I played for 12 years, 7 years competitively but slinked away from it because of my own insecurities. SKRRRRRRrrRRrrrrRRRRt I AM BACK BABY!
So as you can see, being kind to yourself while developing a self-care practice that fits your individuality, allows you to have more sustainability and genuine happiness while feeling out the process. Yes, maybe I am not as vascular, fast, or conditioned as I was last summer, but I am so much more attune, patient, and receptive to the teachings of the world around me. This does not mean that I do not have personal fitness goals that I plan to CRUSH by this upcoming summer, but it does mean I am enjoying my way there and I'm more than positive that you can do the same.