Self love, reaching for your dreams, cookies and brownies...

Have you ever started a diet and then within about two hours you feel like eating everything in sight? Everything you "can't have"? Yeah, me too, welcome to the club. This is exactly the reason that diets are a complete waste of time and will actually set you back in accomplishing your weight-loss goals. So now, you might ask, well, if I don't control my eating and I hate exercise, how do I lose weight? The answer is deep, so brace yourself. 

Well, do you love yourself?

This is a tough question for a lot of people to truly answer. I used to say I loved myself all the time. In fact, I have never had serious problems with my self esteem and the like. But, there I was - just 24 years old, overweight, fairly unhappy and tired. And every Friday night, I would polish off an entire medium pizza, 20 oz of coke and at least an entire pint of ice cream as some sort of twisted reward for a tough week. What kind of person "rewards" themselves with poison? Yeah, I know this now, but at the time, I had no clue that all the stuff I was eating wasn't actually food.

For me, and most people I know who have been successful with weight loss, it starts with a decision. Making a decision to love yourself and treat yourself like you love you. Simple example. If you're a Mom and your child has just started eating solid food, you don't give them donuts and cookies do you? No. Most parents I know are very cautious about what they feed their kids - often giving them only organic varieties of food and giving them only fruits and vegetables to start. They don't do this because they are punishing their kids. The exact opposite is true - they love them so much that they want to feed them the best that money can buy.

We need to work on doing the same for ourselves! Our bodies are our vehicles in this life, our babies. If we don't love and nurture them, we won't be able to accomplish the goals we are meant to. It's our responsibility to take care of ourselves so that we may serve others and society in a productive way.

After reading all that, you may think, "Tanuja, that's all well and good, but you're basically telling me to eat healthy, right?" Yes and no. Yes, you should eat healthy, but really it comes naturally as a product of loving yourself.  And this is where a health coach can come in really handy! She can help you dig deep and get to the root of why you're not treating yourself well. Health coaches can also guide you to healthy, tasty options so you can start incorporating those foods into your life as you begin loving yourself more and more.

Does loving yourself mean you have to give up fried chicken, ice cream and brownies? Um. NO. This is definitely where the NO part comes in! See, it's all about your attitude. If you're stuffing your face with pizza, fried chicken and ice cream because you're sad and you hate your job and your friends are creating drama in your life, that's totally not okay. You're trying to drown your feelings in food instead of addressing the core issues. It's just like putting a bandage on a cut without finding out how deep the cut is and trying to stop the bleeding first. It's like taking Tylenol for a headache without realizing that the reason you probably have a headache is because you're dehydrated. You should really be drinking water. But you've just decided to take the "easy" way out. Over time, you'll discover that the seemingly "easy" way out is actually a very difficult maze to nowhere and will actually lead to more obstacles like overweight, obesity, diabetes, fatty liver disease, and a lot of other unpleasant things.

When you love yourself, you'll naturally want to fill yourself with nourishing foods - with the best that money can buy. Before, when I used to drive by Taco Bell and see pizza on the counter or ice cream in the freezer, I simply felt like I couldn't stop myself. I had so much emptiness inside that I would start eating and wouldn't know how to stop. Of course, some of it is also biological - our bodies are hard-wired to gravitate towards certain foods and stock up on calories so we don't starve. But as I've grown to love and respect myself, I've learned techniques to combat these cravings and I just don't crave those foods the same way I used to.   | © divya pande 2014 | © divya pande 2014

I do still eat pizza and Taco Bell and ice cream and fried chicken. Yes, you read that right. Because, you know what? Life is not about being perfect all the time. That's just exhausting. Take it from me - a self-proclaimed, in-recovery perfectionist. You can go to birthday parties and bridal showers and just out to eat on a Tuesday, but you've got to approach it in the right way. Now, after working on loving myself, I don't feel like I'm in an downward emotional spiral so my impetus for eating these foods is different. I don't eat because I'm sad or "rewarding" myself. I indulge in certain foods when I'm having fun socializing and the rest of the time, I'm totally happy cooking and eating nourishing foods at home. Yes! Finally, I can have my cake and eat it too! But what about when you want a brownie when you're at home and trying to have a healthy meal? This is another area where you can have your cake and eat it too (keep reading)! I spent many years in various degrees of sugar comas because I am in love with sweets. Brownies, cookies, muffins, cakes, ice cream - I pretty much love it all! While I was on my journey to health and wellness, I discovered that I was a pretty good cook...and I was an even better baker! I spent years studying different ingredients and their effects on the body (ie: the combination of almonds and coconut nectar actually helps to promote stability in blood sugar levels), tinkering with recipes and really just experimenting on my own body and I found what I consider to be kind of a miracle. I learned how to make brownies, cookies, ice cream, cupcakes, muffins and many other things HEALTHY. Yes, the ingredients I use are actively good for you!   | © divya pande 2014 | © divya pande 2014

Last July, my good friend and energy healer encouraged me to make the decision to start my own business. I made that decision and that's how Love Bites by Tanuja was born. All of my baked goods are crafted with nutrient dense ingredients like almond flour, organic coconut nectar and Himalayan pink salt. I refuse to compromise on quality and I refuse to compromise on taste. Everything I make is gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, free of all white processed sugars, non-GMO and paleo-friendly (ie: high-protein, low-carb). It's so exciting to me that I can eat a healthy salad and maybe some quinoa with veggies and then have a couple of  cookies for dessert and I won't be ruining my day of healthy! I don't believe in counting calories, so rather than focusing on numbers, I focus on using good, quality ingredients that are derived from whole foods. More than anything, I'm super excited to share this with all of you! I have met people time and time again who don't even care about eating healthy and then they try my desserts and they're like, "No way that's healthy! It tastes really good!" It's the most gratifying thing in the world to hear that. And to show people that healthy can taste good! The best thing ever is to see kids when they eat my goodies. Two-year old kids will ask for a sample and their parents (after they see my sign saying that it's healthy and all the stuff it's free of) will almost always tell their kids, oh you won't like that. Well, the parents definitely get a slap in the face when the kids beg them to buy a box for them - I've seen pulling, begging, crying, whining - all so they can have a box to themselves. That is so absolutely the best feeling in the world! My cousins - elementary age and middle-school age fight over the treats when I ship them to California. Best. Feeling. Ever.   | © divya pande 2014 | © divya pande 2014

See, when you love yourself, amazing things happen. You can have your cake and eat it too. Literally. I have worked hard to love myself over the years - and it's actually not as hard as you think once you get to the root of the issues. 

I made a decision a while ago that mediocrity was not an option for me. I have always known that I am destined for great things (as we all are). Yet, I found myself in a job I hated and in relationships that didn't serve me (both friends and romantic). I made the decision to change all that. I refused to go through life like a hamster on a wheel. I decided that I wanted to break the mold. Just making that decision led me to all kinds of beneficial things! From that one decision, I began my journey to weight loss and wellness, I started several businesses, I began and ended a very life-changing romantic relationship, and I met friendscoaches, and healers who supported me. From that one decision, my life changed completely.

Once you make a decision that is for your highest good, the Universe will have no choice but to support you. Trust in that. I did, and it has brought me nothing but love, joy and opportunities for growth.