There is this little blue house in my neighborhood that was rented out and trashed for that matter by its inhabitants. It hadn’t received any love or attention for a long time, and it was quite apparent. Outside the house, stood a for sale sign.

Every time, I drove or walked by I thought to myself, that house has potential, the lot itself was located on the most pristine of lakes and was filled with beautiful live oak trees, while the house had a charming front porch embedded within its own character. But the beauty I saw within it didn’t matter because in the meantime, it was just being rented and trashed because the inhabitants didn’t take ownership of it. Well once it sold, things started to change.

The owners started to pay attention. They started to take care of it. They cleaned it up, pressure washed it, hand picked the weeds, etc. because this house was their investment. This house was to be their home, a place for them to live, be and dwell.

So why am I telling you the story of a little blue house?

When a patient comes into my office inundated with processed foods, fresh off of a fad diet, or picking at their imperfections. I say whoa, stop, let’s take a different approach, ditch the for sale sign and focus on the relationship you have with your body.

I teach them how to first look at their body and more importantly, themselves in a new way, with love and affection, like they would with a loved one or a precious child.

I then ask some of the following questions, “Would you pick at your child’s imperfections? Probably not, right?” and it always boils down to this, “So why are you treating yourself this way?”

Why would anyone trash their body with toxic foods, thoughts and lifestyle choices if they knew it was not for rent, if they knew it was theirs to keep?

Easier said than done, right? Well here are three steps that you can take to make the shift and start to take ownership of yourself, your body and your life today.

First and foremost, it’s important to become aware of your patterns by looking objectively at what works and what does not. This means to take a look at your thoughts, feelings and lifestyle choices and evaluate accordingly by choosing to keep what works and let go of what does not.

Second, focus on yourself and your life, and let go of comparing yourself to others, their choices and their lives. This means learning how to have a relationship with yourself, seeing what you like and don’t like, looking at what style of exercise you enjoy, what nutritional choices energize you, and so on. The more you get to know yourself the less need you will have to search outside yourself for answers.

Last but not least, raise your own standards and let go of compromising yourself and what is important to you. What I mean by this is to up your game by letting go of what does not benefit you by aligning your focus and your choices with your true self and desires, through acknowledging and embracing what matters most to you and executing accordingly.

In summary, this is your body, this is your life, and this is your journey. It’s time to build a solid foundation predicated on love for yourself, while making choices that lead to balance and an increased state of being rather than getting caught up and lost in some sort of superficial agenda devoid of anything worthwhile and real. If you decide to ditch the for sale sign and invest in yourself, your body and life will start to invest and work for you in the same way.

(article published in the February 2015: A Better You edition of the Orlando Sentinel)