Be Kind To Yourself And Your Body: Wisdom from Tiffany Cleveland

For some reason, the beginning of the New Year feels like the perfect time to start something new.  I’m not sure if fitness center marketing started that or if it really feels like an organic time to Get. On. Track. 

The old habit: 

  • Start a workout program with full vigor.
  • Watch it fizzle into a twice a week half-hearted treadmill jaunt.
  • Watch that turn into equal parts “I’m too tired” and self-shame.
  • Give it another go in a few month ‘cause New Year, New Me

Setting Goals That Matter

I’m talking about prioritizing changing the shape of your attitude before your abdomen. I know, the term “self-love” is really thrown around a lot.  It sounds like a big task but it is really important and it takes practice and discipline–just like getting that booty you’ve always wanted.  But it can help change your life, not just your body.

The Things We Tell Ourselves

I think the part that I always struggled with is: How do I love myself when I’m just so imperfect? How do I believe that I’m perfect AND have so many goals to be better? 

The truth is that you ARE perfect right now. You are a miracle!  And like a miracle of perfection you have the inner push to be better every day. So, be your own today’s version of perfect and it’s okay to push for tomorrow’s version of perfect sans the self-shame of not being perfect. Clear as mud?  

The New Habit List

This new habit list is a starting point.  Take what resonates with you and leave what doesn’t. I do recommend trying them a few days in a row before completely disregarding them.  

Change is almost as uncomfortable as the day after lunges. You can make them fit your agenda, beliefs, and timelines. I just ask that you stay curious and make sure they feel good to your soul.

  1. When you wake up and go into the bathroom, look into the mirror.  Look into your eyes and smile at your reflection.   

A few things can happen here.  There is a good chance you’ll say, “This is stupid”. I ask that you stare a little longer. This isn’t easy for everyone, so have patience. You might get emotional.  

Looking into your eyes might feel a lot like looking into your pain points, your sleeplessness, your insecurities. Notice the thought and let it go. Smile again. 

No matter how you feel about what you see, this IS you. This is where you get to start your new journey today. Have gratitude that you’re standing and you have another opportunity to start a mini-adventure.

  1. Do your bathroom business to include any self-care that lifts your mood.
  1. Before you leave, put your hands on your hips, pick your chin up and close your eyes. Take a few deep-cleansing breaths. 

On every inhale, count to five and imagine breathing in fresh, clear, clean air. 

On every exhale, count to seven and imagine breathing out any thought or worry you’ve ever had. 

  1. Keep your eyes closed.  Now imagine how it feels to be who you want to be. 

If your goal is to be a healthy person, embody that feeling. What does it mean to you? What does it mean for you? How would you feel in your clothes? How would you feel in front of strangers or at the gym? 

With your eyes closed, put that costume on and walk like a boss. Own your body and your attitude and everything that comes with it. Know that you are that healthy person and take that with you throughout the day.

  1. Make decisions as that healthy person.  

During the day we make hundreds, even thousands of decisions.  When you come to a valid choice point, ask yourself “Which one of these would a healthy person choose?” The answer is usually clear, if it’s not then it might not be relative at all.

  1. Use discretion and not judgment. 

If you choose the cake over the oatmeal for breakfast, say it out loud: “I am choosing to have cake for breakfast instead of oatmeal.” 

You have the opportunity to be honest with yourself without shaming your choice. This is a concept that I did not grow up understanding, and it is one that brought a huge shift in my perspective. But clearly, sometimes cake for breakfast is a must.

  1. Be patient with yourself.  

If you have any trials with anxiety or insecurities, this work may be almost as exhausting as the first day back to the gym.  Keep going. You got this. 

Final Thoughts

Try this method for a few weeks.  Notice the ease that comes with smiling at you.  Notice how other people respond to you. 

When negative thoughts pop in, let them. They are just thoughts; notice them and let them go. 


Author Bio

Tiffany Cleveland is a light and encouragement to all who know her. She dabbles in all the things she loves: volunteering at the Food Bank, writing, mountain biking, and Youtubing. She describes herself as “just a girl who understands that unconditional love is a slow dance of choice and a practice of repetitive choice”.

Tiffany grew up in a small town in eastern PA and blossomed into her “ever-changing self” in North Carolina, Italy, Japan, and the desert that speaks to her soul: Tucson, Arizona.

When she is not busy serving as a Master Sergeant in the Air Force, Tiffany embraces experiences that take her out of her comfort zone, deep conversations over decaf espresso, and sitting in stillness to hear the inaudible nudges from above.  She has a passion for learning, and she loves brave, incredibly compassionate people doing wildly good things in this world.