Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Valentine's Dilemma

Happy Valentine's Day! Or is it your worst nightmare? Are you enjoying being doted on by a thoughtful friend or spouse, surrounded by cards, flowers and hugs? Or is this day a tough one for you... bombarded by candy, cookies and tarts... or worse yet, sitting alone without a single token of affection?

Valentine's Day has so much potential. Potential for sharing, bonding, and healing... and also potential for temptation, loneliness and tears. But what you may not know is that how your Valentine's Day turns out is up to one person: YOU.

There are three common scenarios for this annual holiday:

1) You are in a relationship. Your honey is supportive and thoughtful, so he makes you feel special in ways that won't hurt your weight loss efforts: flowers, a card, a gift perhaps. Or maybe he is just there for you with hugs and kisses and a warm embrace. Maybe just hearing the words "I love you" is the best gift you could ask for. Your day is peaceful and happy, and ends with you feeling loved and blessed.

2) You are in a relationship. Your honey is either clueless about your health issues, or wants you to stay fat and tries to sabotage you. Or maybe he just doesn't get it. So he celebrates the day by giving you a big box of your favorite chocolates, and takes you out to dinner for fettuccine alfredo and deep-fried cheesecake with fudge sauce. Your day is full of stress, guilt, and unhealthy eating, and ends with you feeling bloated and resentful.

3) You are not in a relationship. You have no honey. You don't even really have any friends who think of you on Valentine's Day. You see other people getting flowers and balloon bouquets, and feel you utterly unloved and alone. You wonder why everyone else seems to have love in their life, but you don't. Tears well up in your eyes as you sit alone at your flowerless, cardless, empty dinner table eating your Lean Cuisine dinner (or your self-bought box of chocolates that you are inhaling to try and numb your sadness).

Even if you're not in a "relationship" (dating, married) you can have scenario 1 if you have a thoughtful friend or family member who thinks of you on Valentine's Day. Even when I was divorced, my children made sure I felt completely loved by bringing home hand-made Valentines from school. Those were some of the happiest Valentine's Days ever. You can deal with scenario 2 as a single person as well, if your friend or mother or co-workers insist on dumping cookies and candies on you even though they KNOW you are trying to lose weight. And I KNOW what it is like to have scenario 3 happen. It hurts! Being alone on a day that's all about love... well, it just accentuates your "alone-ness." But did you know that you do NOT have to wait for someone else to decide what kind of day you are going to have? There are things you can do to have a Happy Valentine's Day, no matter what other people around you do.

First, if you do have people around you who *might* give you sweets, you can tell them ahead of time that you don't want any. Give them some doctor's excuse. "My doctor says I need to cut back on sugar." (I bet your doctor does think this!) or "I am trying to get my cholesterol down." (I am!) You can also give hints about what you would like instead.

Second, if someone gives you candy or cookies anyway, guess what? YOU DON'T HAVE TO EAT THEM! I know this may not seem like a news flash, but for many of us, it is. Someone gave you brownies, so you have to eat them. Can't waste them. Um, hello, are they more wasted in the trash can, or on your ample hips? Take the emotion out of it. Thank the person, and when you are alone, throw them away. If you know someone who would appreciate the cookies/candy, feel free to hand them off as a gift, but do not feel obligated to make sure they are consumed. Just throw them out. It is just a pile of sugar and fat anyway. Dump it and get on with life instead of letting it affect you.

And last, but certainly not least, you can be your own Valentine. Why are you waiting for someone else to make you feel special? You ARE special. Love yourself. If you like flowers, buy yourself some. Put them on your table and smile. Make yourself a special, healthy meal. Treat yourself to a long, hot bath with new bath salts and lotions. Curl up with a blanket and a cup of tea and watch a movie. I cannot stress this enough: you DO NOT need someone else to "make" you happy. And before you can have a good healthy loving relationship with someone else, you have to love yourself.

I am not just blowing smoke here. I was a single mom for many years. Sometimes I was dating, sometimes I was not. I remember one Valentine's Day when I was alone. My kids were in school and I was sitting home thinking "I really wish I had someone who would bring me flowers. I miss getting flowers." Then it dawned on me: if I wanted flowers, what was I waiting for? My arms weren't broken. I went out and got some for myself. It isn't even embarrassing. No one knows who you are buying them for. After that, things changed. Often... not just on Valentine's Day... I would stop in the grocery store and get a cheap bouquet to bring home for myself. You can get a bunch of daisies or colorful carnations for 3 or 4 bucks in the grocery store or Wal-Mart. They really brighten up my mood every morning when I see them, and every time I walk through the room I stop and smell them and it makes me smile. Even now that I am married again, I will buy myself flowers if it's been awhile since hubby has gotten me some. I don't have to wait. I just get them, put them in a vase, and they cheer me up all week long.

Find happiness NOW. Don't wait for Mr./Ms. Right to come and make your life perfect. Life is passing by. Make your life brighter NOW by loving yourself, and doing things to bring yourself happiness... whether that be flowers, a special meal, or a leisurely walk in the park. Be your own best Valentine.

Happy Valentine's Day!


Anonymous said...

Great post, as usual! Throwing food away just seems so wrong, but you're right, better in the bin than in your body!

I also often buy myself flowers! Hope you had a great Valentine's!

Anonymous said...


You are so inspiring. I guess I was feeling a little down today, but who cares about me, it's all about YOU, YOU GO GIRL! I am supporting you in your weight loss. I will pray for you. I guess I was feeling down today. You are so freakin' good at this, you truly rock. Thank you.

- a college student trying to lose some pounds and not binge when she's stressed/sad

Ms Ingrid said...


You sure know how to write and you get straight to the point.
I enjoy your blogs very much, thank you.

Heather said...

that is a great post. I like how you are able to list alternatives for every scenario. I think the most important part is doing something for yourself.

Carol said...

I think people place too much importance on Valentines day. So many people feel awful on that day (not to mention Christmas) and it's just so unnecessary. It's just a day. I'm married but I could give a rip about Valentines Day, or flowers or chocolate!

I wish people would not let a man made holiday get them down because it really doesn't mean anything.

Manuela said...

Nobody can make you happy but yourself. It comes from the inside. If you love yourself that really transmits itself to those around you.

I love the before and after pictures following your weight-loss. Isn't it amazing what 30 pounds looks like?

You're awesome and keep up the fabulous work.

Lady Rose said...

Great Valentine's advice! :)
Wishing health and happiness, now and always

fatedtobehated said...

My mother always says "better wasted than on my waist".

Thanks for the inspirational blog. Been reading through the archives and it really motivates me.