If you were single or your significant other forgot to surprise you on Valentine's Day, read on. According to Huffington Post blogger, author and body image expert Ann-Sophie Reinhardt, "Loving yourself and your body is totally related to Valentine's Day. Often, we forget that we're the most important person in our life and we look after everyone but ourselves." Anne-Sophie participated in the following Q&A on how self-love is the best first love in your life.
How do you define self-love?
I define self-love as honoring yourself enough to spend time with yourself. The act of self-love feels and is different for everyone, but one thing that we all have in common when it comes to showing ourselves love, is to make to for ourselves and commit to it.
Loving one's body seems to be a struggle with women given the media images that dominate. How does loving one's body look like?
Yes, the media, the fashion and beauty industry, as well as us women alone, make it so hard to accept and love our bodies the way they naturally are: some are curvy, some are slim, some are tall and some are short. Bodies are so unique that loving your own body looks differently for everyone. Here’s what loving your body does not look like: hating up on it, abusing it with your thoughts words, substances and food. Loving your body doesn’t mean walking with the head lowered and believing your ugly, unworthy and better left unseen. Loving your body means having days, during which you are so endlessly in love with your natural shape that it’s hard to put into words, but also have days where you feel “fat” and nothing looks good on you. Loving your body is being human, but it’s not being an abusive, ugly dictator hating your body just because it is.
Why do you have the philosophy that each person is the most important person in their life?
I believe that every person is the most important person in their life because if you don’t like yourself, nobody benefits. If you hate your body, have low self-esteem and a generally negative attitude towards yourself, you’ll give a very negative vibe and people will notice. When I hated myself and was so anorexic that my thoughts were circling around food 24/7, I never smiled and always looked sick. People noticed and they didn’t want to be around me. They didn’t want to burden me because I looked so fragile. However, if you are madly in love with yourself, take care of yourself – body, mind and soul – your family, your friends, even your boss will notice and they’ll love you because you will have more energy, will be able to focus on others and take care of others and you’ll be a joy to be around.
Also, being the most important person in your life will give you the power to decide what’s good for your health – mentally and physically – and will prevent many illnesses.
Describe your coaching programs that cultivate these concepts into your client's lifestyle.
When I work with a client one on one, we dig deep and find out where the body hatred is coming from. Why do they hate their bodies so much? Why do they binge? Why do they abusive themselves with negative thoughts and despicable comments? Why don’t they believe they’re worthy? From there, we work on self-esteem and I guide my clients as they rebuild their self-worth and see – sometimes for the very first time – how very awesome they and their bodies are.
What prompted you to become the type of coach you are?
I struggled with anorexia, a very poor body image, severe depression and a very low self-esteem for 14 years. When I recovered from my eating disorder, I wanted to help at least one person see their true beauty and live a life of freedom – the life I’m living now. Being free from self-hatred is a gift I wish I could give anyone and with my coaching calls and coaching programs, like the 28 Loving Reawakenings or Write Your Way to Body Love, I am able to help a few women achieve the same.
Tell me about your new book that was published this year?
My new book is all about the amazing and powerful effects of social media. Social media often gets a bad rep when it comes to eating disorders, but social networks can be so very helpful and are so important. They truly can save lives and social media saved mine twice. ‘Beyond Marketing and Building Relationships – The Life-Changing Benefits of Social Media’ guides you through a process of using social media to save lives – hundreds of them. However, this book is not only for those in the mental health field; it is a powerful social media marketing guide that will benefit any business.
Where does one start to develop a healthy self-acceptance?
There are so many programs out there but it's about finding the right one for the person.
It’s true, every person has a different need. This is why I created 28 Loving Reawakenings, a program that gives you many different ideas and enables you to put together your unique self-care plan. It’s perfect for those who really don’t know what feels good to them just yet. The fun thing is that there really is no cooler thing than to experiment with what feels good to you, your body, mind and soul, is there?
When did you have your own breakthrough around self-love and having healthy relationships to people and food?
I wouldn’t say I ever had a breakthrough. It was a step-by-step process and I’m still learning every day. I could tell you that my big breakthrough was when I was so exhausted after a particularly crazy workout that I hardly had the energy to make it home Or I could tell you that my breakthrough happened when I stopped abusing laxatives. Or I could tell you that my breakthrough happened when I finally started to cook for myself. There are many breakthroughs, tiny ones, every day and it’s only by looking back that I see how far I’ve come. The crucial thing is to never ever stop working on yourself and your relationship with yourself. You are the most important person in your life and once you forget that, the self-loving process will come to a screeching halt.
What are the core skills and traits for a healthy relationship not just on Valentine's Day but throughout the year?
Honesty, respect and dialogue. I love my freedom and the moment someone’s trying to cage me, I fly away. I think you have to respect and appreciate your partner’s needs and boundaries. If you can’t, then you’re not a good fit. Honesty, of course, is a must, and without dialogue and communication, a partnership will die sooner than you think.
Most of all, you need love though.
Anne-Sophie Reinhardt's official website is: www.annesophie.us