Have you ever felt so ashamed of your body that you just didn’t want to be you anymore? That if you could just lose 10 to 15 more pounds, people would think you were prettier and men would find you attractive? I’m guilty of this. In fact, I dated this guy on and off in college and every time we broke up, I told myself that if I came back prettier (by prettier I mean thinner) then he would love me and not want to break up anymore.
For years, I was constantly living into expectations of what I put into my mind. How my body should look, what I should be doing with my life and how I should be getting there.
I purchased every fitness program there was from Kayla Itsines Tone It Up, to BuffBunny, and Beachbody. The first four weeks were great, until I didn’t look like a perfectly toned goddess. I quickly became overwhelmed with everything the programs would ask me to do and without really noticing, I woke up one week realizing I was no longer following the program. I was constantly chasing after a life that was not authentic to me and deep down I could feel that inauthenticity. I thought that if I could just get there, then it would feel like my life was mine and I would be happy. In reality, I was keeping everything and everyone else around me afloat and I was sinking. I wasn’t feeling my best, and I wasn’t looking my best; I wasn’t taking care of me.
But the truth is, how you do one thing is how you do everything. This went beyond my fitness journey and into how I showed up to all aspects of my life from friendships, relationships, school, sports, work, family, and how I viewed myself.
I have had body image issues for as long as I can remember, especially all through high school and college. I was training for basketball, but I wanted to look like the skinny girl and would be embarrassed when someone told me I was muscular or had a perfectly round big butt (why would their compliments embarrass me?). I feel silly looking back on it now, but it’s a common self-esteem issue many girls have as they grow up, and many struggle with their entire life. I’ll confess that I still have days that I look in the mirror and I see cellulite on my ass and feel ashamed.
There was a point in college that I noticed a large fluctuation in my weight. I trained all year playing basketball while binge eating and drinking whatever I wanted, because it was college, right? I told myself my body could handle anything and I would just burn it off during practice, and by playing an intense game of beer olympics.
I would go home for the summer months and realize how much weight I gained, and in doing so, I felt I had disappointed my parents. I became addicted to fitness and spent hours working out, on top of the time I spent with my trainer to get back into basketball shape. I remember going back to college after summer break and being asked by one of my friends if that was the skinniest I had ever been. Yes, yes it was! And I thought I looked amazing (I did look great!), but was it healthy? No! It was a result of an obsession to “look” good; I wasn’t doing it for my health. Sure, there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good, it’s a great goal! However, I didn’t want to just look good for myself, I wanted the hot guy on the football team to notice me.
My weight was at an all time low, but so was my confidence. I was mentally unstable with my basketball career. I was showing up hungover to practices because I had been out all night socializing in a way I thought I needed to in order for people to like me. I was doing just enough in my schoolwork to pass. Despite having a big group of friends and an active social life, I felt completely lost and alone. I had so many beautiful humans surrounding me, but due to the anger within myself, I wasn’t able to receive or return the love and support they gave me. Luckily, they are the most wonderful people I know and I still call them family.
Fast forward to just a few years ago. I made healthier choices than I did in college (trust me, I could only go up from there lol), but I still wasn’t choosing things for myself. I was in a relationship at the time with someone that loved fitness as much as I did. I let myself spiral down the same path of wanting to look good for him rather than myself. I went to extremes with food, eating only bland vegetables and lean protein for periods of time for a quick lean fix. It got to the point that I became very obsessive with this quick fix and started taking diet pills to lean out for summer beach trips (and no you can’t find them at Walgreens). My weight would then bounce back up once I started eating normally again. For me, personally eating a bland protein and veggies diet isn’t sustainable for me long term. While those foods might be ideal for some people, I’m a foodie and couldn’t deprive myself of the things I love. At the time, I felt comfortable and happy with what my life and body had become, but there was still a more deeply rooted conflict within me that I couldn’t quite see just yet. I was aware of a subtle sense of discontentment, but I just ignored it because I thought that it was just how life was supposed to be.
The full truth, that I don’t totally want to admit, is that when I cheated, my boyfriend didn’t for one second pop into my head. When I came back and told him, I felt sad because I had done something morally wrong to me, but once I left his house the day that I told him, I couldn’t have felt more relieved. While I do not condone my actions, the reality is, sometimes our revolution happens in messy ways. If I could go back and do it all over, I would love to find a way where I didn’t hurt somebody. I knew I shouldn’t have felt relieved after doing that, but a part of me felt like I was free to finally start my process. I had adapted so much to his lifestyle and preferences while forgetting about what was most important to me. I was trying to fit into his lifestyle. There was absolutely nothing wrong with him, he is such a wonderful person. We should never try to change anybody to fit what we need in life. If it’s not the right fit, it’s not the right fit. I just wasn’t able to see that because I wanted so much to fit his lifestyle. I did not realize I was trying to change me.
Yes, while I cheated on him at the end, the moral of the story was that I had been cheating on myself the entire time we were together.
Something about the breakup allowed me to shed a layer (or a few) and the real me had begun to surface. During the relationship, part of me had to be hidden while I portrayed what I thought to be a “perfect” image. I started to be open about not being perfect, being more vulnerable and trusting the people I loved to accept me. I remember going home and telling my parents what had happened, something I never would have done before because I felt they would have been ashamed of me.
What I finally saw was that I had been living my life based on what I thought other people expected of me.
I had been cheating on ME my entire life and it was showing up everywhere from who I dated, what I ate, and every other decision I made. And I was done. I felt free and it was obvious. Clients would even come up to me and ask what had changed because I was just so much brighter.
I had been cheating myself from opportunities and happiness. Most importantly, living this way blinded me from seeing what I actually needed to do to change my life and my body the way I wanted to. I had spent so much time focusing on the process to change everything around me that it never occurred to me to dive deeper into the MENTAL process that was controlling my life.
(left) May 1, 2020 | (right) July 1, 2020
I finally put myself in a good space mentally to succeed physically. If I wanted to get myself out of this loop, I had to start looking not just at the things I was doing to change, but the way I was thinking about change. This is what I mean when I say it’s time to UNprocess the Process.
So many women spend all of their time and energy looking to diets, meal plans, influencers and other people to tell them what they need to be doing in order to look a certain way or reach their goals. They fail over and don’t realize what is really missing is their ability to look at their own process and identify and implement what really works for them as an individual.
If you are in your 20’s or 30’s reading this, you probably still think about yourself the same way you did in High School and College. We actually have to unprocess the mental image of ourselves in order to make the change we want to make.
We don’t outgrow our body image issues because we out age the timeframe it was created.
I still follow people I am inspired by, but I stopped following their programs. I started by taking bits and pieces that resonated with me and implementing them into my own lifestyle. For example, I stopped to see how my body and mind adapted, without allowing judgement to create a panic that I wasn’t losing weight fast enough. Because I wasn’t panicking, I could actually start to see the types of foods and workouts that fit my lifestyle and body, leading me to feel my best, healthiest and most energized. I reorganized my life by planning my days ahead of time so I could live each day with ‘purpose’ and without wasting time in areas that didn’t need my attention (or AS much of it).
If there is something you enjoy doing, it needs to be part of the journey. I still eat pizza and couldn’t dream of a life without tequila. I do not diet, I chose my lifestyle. My lifestyle allows me to care for my body physically and mentally, without depriving myself of the things I enjoy. Outside of food, I’m not constantly saying yes to doing things I don’t really want to do. I’ve untrained myself to constantly say ‘yes’ when I really mean ‘no’ and I’ve slowly started to teach the people around me not to expect that I will jump at every request. They’re getting comfortable hearing ‘no’ from me., In other words, I am able to communicate my needs more clearly. This has strengthened my relationships more than when I was just saying ‘yes’ all the time and has allowed me to be fully present in every moment rather than just showing up in my physical body.
I spend a lot of time outside of my business watching Disney movies with my nephews. In Finding Nemo, Crush, the California Sea Turtle, offers a great piece of advice. They’re in the Sydney current, a really strong current that carries them across the ocean. They’re ready to exit this current and Crush says, “grab your exit buddy.”
In order to get out of a strong current that you’ve been stuck in for your life, you need an exit buddy. I could have never made this transition without the right support and you can stop trying to force yourself to do it on your own.
Whether you work with me one-on-one, follow me on social media, read my blog, or join my upcoming challenges, I’m here for you.
As I continue to self study I constantly look back to things I did in the past to learn from. My experiences from my past have helped me get to where I am today.
The more aware and accepting I am of what has happened to me in my past, the more I am able to use it to grow. I’m so grateful to my past self, and the experiences I have had and the mistakes I have made to get to who I have become. I had to lose so many layers of myself to become the best version of me. Toxic love is manipulative, and the scariest relationship I have ever been in is the one with myself. Feeling trapped and controlled by someone that did not feel like me. Unfaithful to myself in ways I did not realize until I was able to break free. Without letting myself down a time or two and learning from my past experiences, I would not be who I am today.
Shout out to my ex (self)