• Amy Picco, DO

Radical Self Love

I stand for radical self-love. And this radical self-love is rooted in how we eat, who we choose to be as eaters, how we show up in our bodies, and subsequently how our bodies engage in the greater community.

Why am I calling it radical?

Because we’ve been so accustomed to NOT loving ourselves first that the mere act of looking into how we can do it best has become radical. I’m not talking about checking out at the spa, having a drink with friends, or listening to a great audio book. Don’t get me wrong, these are fun. But this is not the true self-care I’m referring to. These are lovely little escapes; vacations from your day to day reality. The version of self-care I’m offering here is a way of living that honors mind, body, and spirit, in the NOW. That supports your whole self for today, the next day, even the next generation. It is radical in that it reshapes who you are and how you show up in the world. It shines light on both your unique independence and your undeniable link to every other being on the planet. What it is not, though, is obscure. No need to travel to India for 3 months of silent meditation. Just show up with a little more awareness in the things you do every day, and the shift to self-love is born.

It is radical, in the face of our enormous to-do list and pressure coming in from all sides, to truly care for ourselves. To give up something outside of us to focus on what the inside of us needs. Even more radical than that is to both hear the needs and to trust in the messages from our body so that we know exactly HOW to do that.

But truly, my loves, if we are to stand together in our powerful feminine (both men and women have this feminine power, btw) and change the world (as I am SURE it is asking us to) we need to come from a place of love. We need to first learn love of self in order to act in love to others. It’s really simple when we get right into the heart of it.

How do we love ourselves? Let’s keep it simple. Let's start with what we do every day. Preparing food and eating it; moving our bodies; interacting with the energy around us. Here’s just a few thoughts among the hundreds in my busy brain:

1. Stop to breath when life gets busy and before every meal. It sounds so simple and boring. But trust me – it is profound. Taking 3 seconds (literally, that is all it takes) to breath deeply and feel into your body takes you out of the mind-cycling you were just in. And into the now. Where magic, new perspective, and gratitude happens. Not to mention allowing your parasympathetic nervous system (the part of you that allows digestion, rest, ease) to activate so that you can eat in peace. Literally. And actually digest your food. Studies show that you absorb as little as 30% of your nutrients when feeling stressed (fight or flight) while eating.

2. Eat quality food. Savor it. Spend time with it and make love to it in your mouth and in your heart. This is the nourishment you’ve chosen for your body in this moment. Honor it. Celebrate it. And if it's not the best quality? Don't judge the meal, just honor your body next time. Food has no morality – it is not good or bad. All that matters is how that food makes your body feel. Not your mouth. Your whole body. Quality food leads to a quality body, a quality state of mind, ultimately a quality life. Choose quality most often. And truly celebrate the occasional wildcard choices as part of life without guilt. There is no room for guilt in nourishment, just the opportunity to make different choices.

3. Give thanks before every meal. Again, to some of you this seems so old fashioned or obvious. But did you know that we have proven that water, plants and animals respond to love? That they chemically change? What happens to your food if you truly, from your heart, bless it? Moreover, what does that moment of connectivity to all who had a hand in getting that food to your plate do for your soul? Are you living a life full of blessings or are you absentmindedly leaving curses in your wake?

4. Move your body – it doesn’t matter how, but movement is life. Many studies have shown contradictory evidence for what is the ‘best’ activity or intensity or time doing it. You know what that says to me? That it’s different for every Body. What does YOUR Body say? Whatever it tells you – do that. Maybe it’s gentle stretching; maybe it asks for swimming or dancing or a walk with a friend. It. Does. Not. Matter. Just do it. Don’t lose the sensation of your own body (you only get this ONE) moving in this world. How can you move your body to reflect how you’d like to show up in this world?

5. Drink water. You are comprised of nearly 70% water. Trust me – your skin, your metabolism, your mood, your energy level, your entire body will feel better, thus making it far easier to love yourself.

6. Pause in the sunshine for 10 minutes. Maybe 20. It takes about 20 minutes for your body to produce the vitamin D you need but honestly just take about 5 or 10 to feel warm, honored, and part of this glorious earth. It’s not just the day of summer solstice that we should honor this great ball of flame in the sky. Reconnect with the energy that sustains the plants you eat and the people you love. Paying homage to the physical often then connects us to the spiritual.

7. Love your children (or the children in your life). They are our future. They keep us grounded in the present. They remind us of the past. They have not yet been altered or hardened by the stress of the world; take their advice, play with them, feel how genuine their hearts are. Remember how it felt to live like that. What part of that innocence can you reignite and nurture within you?

8. Plan date time with YOU – time to read a book, go shopping, putz around in your garden – whatever makes you happy. It’s easy to fill up all of your free time. Make sure you don’t. You need you, too.

9. Connect with your tribe sisters. We’ve known for a while now from scientific research that men live longer if they have a supportive woman in their life but we now know from various studies that SO DO WOMEN. If women have a good support group of women we live longer. And have higher happiness scores. We are not only the food we eat but the company we keep. Mom was right, darnit.

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