Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentines Day Gifts: Sweet or Sour

Since Valentines Day is about love we tend to shower our loved ones with sweet gifts--often literally filled with sugar and other things that maybe aren't in our best interests. So a sweet gift can easily turn sour--if it is received in the wrong way.

I'm not one to say you can't have sugar ever...and I for one have no intention of giving up chocolate entirely. In fact, I don't believe in having a list of "forbidden foods" because I know how that just makes us psychologically just want it even more.

However, buying sweets simply because it is Valentines Day is less about a conscious, love-filled gift and more about a marketing ploy.

What does Valentines Day really mean to you? Is it about feeling loved by a significant other or by family members? Will you feel loved if you receive a card? a phone call? a nice dinner out? a box of chocolates? a dozen roses? a diamond necklace?

Let your loved one know how you will feel special on this special day--and other ones, too. Unless you let people know what YOU want then you will be subject to what they THINK you want...and those thoughts are generally influenced by marketing efforts from companies who are selling things that they want you to believe will make you happy.

Don't expect people to be able to read your mind--as much as they love you and no matter how long they have been in your life. If you are trying to lose weight and having chocolates around will make it harder for you to make healthy choices so you'd rather not have them in the house--let your voice be heard. On the other hand, if NOT receiving chocolates will make you feel deprived then your loved ones deserve to know that, too!

This is about asking for the kind of support that works for YOU, because each of us operates just a little bit differently based on our biology and more importantly based on our upbringing--all the messages we got growing up.

It can be hard for others to know what we want when we have declared we are intending to lose weight. Will they be accused of trying to sabotage our efforts if they buy us candy? Will they be accused not loving us if they do?

Instead of leaving them guessing and risking buying us a gift that was intending to be loving but leaves us with a sour feeling, figure out what you would like and ask for what you want. This is an excellent exercising for us to express our desires. It is something that most of us are not really good at. Sometimes we aren't good at asking for it because we don't think we are worth it...we are so good at putting others first that it is hard for us to accept that we can be first. Sometimes it is hard for us to ask because we've bought into the idea that "they should just know what I want" even though that is often a moving target! We might not even be aware of what we want--so how the heck can we expect someone else to figure it out???

If you really love chocolate but know that more than one piece sets you off on a binge...then maybe you request a piece of really, really special chocolate from a fancy store rather than a box of ho-hum chocolates from Wal-green's. For me, a really good piece of chocolate allows me to savor it and appreciate it and make a conscious choice about eating it, whereas a big box of chocolate tends to send off physical and mental cravings and before I know it I have eaten way more than I intended.

Or if you aren't a chocoholic like me and can keep it in the house, then be sure to specify what you like so that when you do choose to indulge you get the absolute best satisfaction. In other words, if you love the dark chocolate caramels then you don't want a box filled with milk chocolate creams! You might eat them, but you won't have that same satisfaction, so eat what you really love. You'll actually end up consuming less!

If you don't want chocolates around then think of other gifts that you'd prefer. They don't have to be expensive gifts like jewelry or short-lived ones like flowers (although those are nice, too!) Sometimes the best gifts are inexpensive like a homemade card or a poem. Always the sweetest gifts are the ones that are thought-full: a great book for a reader, a journal for a writer, a photo in a nice frame for the desk at work, a compilation of favorite songs for your ipod for relaxation or working out to...or having the car cleaned, serviced and tires rotated for the busy commuter!

The bottom line is we must learn to love ourselves enough to know that we deserve our health and happiness--and gifts that we really want. So we must love ourselves enough to learn to express our needs.

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