Growing up, people would allude to self-love all the time. They used to make it seem like they had struck gold. They would go on and on about the benefits of self-love. How self-love made them okay with their weight, or helped them become a better lover to their partner. Oh, It sounded good. Really good. Long story short, I failed at loving myself for a long time, mostly because I didn’t know how.

It wasn’t that I hated myself; I was sort of just waiting on the love to begin. I had to learn that loving is a series of verbs. When I applied the idea that love is what love does, I found myself loving myself one minute and literally loathing myself the next. Inch by inch I had to learn to love yourself.

Self-love is a lot like any other type of love; it comes complete with dirty little secrets, issues, problems and concerns, and just like in every other working relationship you have you have to work to maintain the love despite those things. This isn’t always easy or fun. You just have to know that you are worth it.

Here are some ways I work at loving myself:

• Eat well: Seriously, putting things into my body that lower the risk of cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, and other harmful conditions is an act of self -love. I am certain it is the thing I am most proud of. I love treating myself well.

This does not mean you have to cut everything at once. Think about it… Making the best choice for your body at each meal is a continuous act of love that can be practiced over and over and over again. I am not saying you have to go vegan (although I love and recommend it!). Over time, small changes will yield big results. Are you worth it?

• Quality Time: There is nothing better than a planned couple of hours or six to myself. Being married and having a son is pretty awesome and busy. I spend a lot of time negotiating and comprising. I don’t always want to share or make a deal.

Sometimes, you need your own pizza (just the way you like it), the bed to yourself (so you can take up the whole thing), and the remote. Other times you need to geek out and do things your friends, partners, and children would rather not, like hanging at your favorite bookstore or taking a long walk in the park. In these times, you will learn your true self. It is easier to be true to yourself once you know what that truth is. For me, quality time is planned. It is the act of making myself a priority.

• Get Better: No matter how much I love myself there is always something I feel will make me better. I am the type of lover that adds value.

• Read a book, take a class or pick up a hobby. Making the improvements you have been thinking about making can be a simple but bold act of self love. This improvement does not have to be expensive. Try checking out a how-to book from the library or perfecting a recipe. The idea here is to become more of the person you want to be. Become more attracted to yourself. Consider your own interest.

In all healthy relationships, we expect our significant others to treat us well and to make our relationship a priority. We expect these things from someone else, but never really have the intention of loving ourselves in the same way. Why? When you learn the art of  loving yourself, it is like finding  the golden ticket. Your self love is a blueprint for how you can teach others to love you. It is the jumping off point to being true to yourself. It truly is everything.