self-love

Happy Valentine's Day! Across the nation, couples young and old are celebrating love. While it's customary to shower your significant other with cards, candy and flowers, we wanted to remind everyone - in a relationship or not - how important it is to love yourself today, too.

What does self-love mean to you? How do you practice it? We asked our athletes for some insight into how they care for themselves and the answers are inspiring.

“Love and respect yourself.” — Sasha Brown 
My self-love mantra: If you can't love and respect yourself, no one else will be able to make that happen. As a New Year's resolution, instead of promising yourself to "get in shape," make a promise to take care of your body and health! It's much easier to love yourself when you are healthy. I get chiropractic care and a massage every month. Forgive yourself for your mistakes in the past. Sometimes because we are holding on to the past and what we did then, we start hating ourselves…. Just accept your mistakes, learn from that and move on!

“Everything happens for a reason.” — Narmin Assria 
What I have learned about self-love is it starts from YOU and only YOU. No one else can love you more than yourself. The minute you learn that you are the most important person in your life is the minute you will see your life blossom into something amazing. Be able to look into the mirror and be proud of the woman you have become. Go out and do something you love, like dancing, and buying yourself new gym clothes, or booking yourself a getaway trip you have always wanted to take. Be surrounded by positive and like-minded people. It will change your universe around and make you so happy. Always, ALWAYS remember everything happens for a reason, so don't forget to put yourself first if you haven't today.

“Have a positive mindset.” — Steven Cao
Change the way you perceive negative situations. I always have a positive mindset and try to be optimistic with every situation, whether it be bad or good. When you have a positive and optimistic mindset you'll always be in a happy, great mood and for your body that is very essential. I used to be stressed out all the time and overthink a lot of things so I started doing this and it helped a lot. Also, starting every day with a small goal to achieve. That keeps me thriving and motivated and I feel accomplished when I do reach that goal.

“Be grateful, acknowledge the small achievements & do something completely different.” — Tyrone Bell
Take some time each week to reflect. Sure it isn't going to be all good all the time, but even in the worst of weeks there will still be things to be grateful for. Identifying all the things that warrant being grateful for will actually help lower cortisol levels and in turn help lower stress levels. Acknowledge all the small achievements every day. It's hard to do this when our to-do lists are always so full. It's so easy to be working on one task and already thinking about what else has to be done. Slow down a fraction. Complete one task, acknowledge its completion, then move to the next and repeat. This 'slowing down' and acknowledging each task completion as small victories will make day-to-day tasks more rewarding, and result in a feeling of achievement instead of a feeling of exhaustion.

Also, do something completely different every now and then. I try and do something completely out of left field. Something completely non-gym/fitness related, purely for the experience. Going to see a foreign movie, trying food that I've never tasted before, spending time exploring a part of a city I haven't visited before, etc. Regularly experiencing different things is a simple way to get out of your routine quickly - and seems to help reset me.