Baby, you should go and love yourself.

"Learning how to be kind to ourselves, learning how to respect ourselves, is important. The reason is that fundamentally, when we look into our own hearts and begin to discover what is confused and what is brilliant, what is bitter and what is sweet, it isn’t just ourselves that we are discovering. We are discovering the universe.”

-Pema Chodron

The moment I decided to choose self love, my life C H A N G E D…and I mean that. I spent years in disordered eating habits, awful body image issues, obsession over things and people that brought me pain. When I say years I really mean it. I’m talking about 16years that I can pull specific examples from and possibly more that I don’t even remember. I realize now more than ever that it was the toxic thought patterns that kept me in the spiral of feeling like I was not strong, or beautiful, or ok in my own skin, regardless of external circumstances or the words of others.

I remember in 7th grade, having to do 100 push ups(more than once) for saying the words “I can’t.” I remember blacking out during part of my senior dance solo and crying as soon as I got off stage, thinking about how stupid I was for days…and realistically, probably years. I remember the toxic relationships and caring a lot about what people thought of me. I remember obsessive eating habits and body dysmorphia. I remember the end of my marriage, feeling completely depleted, worthless, and sad in a way that doesn’t even have words to match.

It didn’t matter how many people I had cheering me on, reminding me of my beauty and my strength. What I see now is that I had gotten good at saying all the right words to help myself get by on the outside but I didn’t know them to be true inside of myself. Regardless of moments of clarity along the way, there was a gap between feeling the love randomly and knowing it on a deeper level.

The shift

Getting right with my body

I had worked myself into a bunch of food allergies and chronic GI distress 1. From the stress I was living under personally and 2. From eating the same foods over and over again because I was obsessing over perfect nutrition and keeping my body a certain way. I did a 90 day strict Candida Detox to H E A L my gut.

For as obsessive as I was prior to this, I L O V E D all things chocolate and baked. I could have none of it in this healing process because the overgrowth was so strong that the only way to clear it was to deprive the Candida of it of it’s main food source-sugar. I remember crying over my journal as I fought chocolate cravings on and off for the first 20ish days. I wish I was joking about the crying! I know now that it wasn’t really about the chocolate it was about the realization of how far away I had gotten from true health and then the hard work of taking my life(in this case my gut health) back in a balanced way when I had been out of balance for so long. My family will laugh reading this part because I certainly was not graceful during this process and I will leave it at that. Either way, 90 days later, I did it. This marked the beginning of a new feeling of strength and health from the I N S I D E out rather than the outside in.

Getting right with my heart and mind

Not too long after that, my marriage sadly ended. Out of respect and love, the details will not be shared. What I will say is that it was hands down the hardest thing I have ever been through. It’s no wonder he kept telling me I had changed…I had. I became toxic to myself and to him and what I learned from all of it is that if things aren’t right on the inside, they’re never going to be right on the outside. The end of this was absolutely the O P P O S I T E of joyous like my 90 day gut restoration. It was abrupt and it hurt like nothing I have ever felt but I knew that it was the only way back to self love for me.

It took a lot of F A I T H to walk through this next part of my life. Honestly, the process of getting back to who I am now was messy at times and feelings were hurt in my wake. I grasped at any stability I could find. I made choices that hurt people, not because I meant to, not because I didn't care deeply but because I didn’t know what I know about myself now until…well, now.

Fast forward about a year and I am looking through my friend Ryan’s camera after a photo shoot that I volunteered for at lululemon. It was weird because I typically hated having my picture taken but I knew Ryan would make it fun so I did it. When I looked through that tiny little hole to see the pictures, something unfamiliar washed over me. It was completely unexpected. I looked and I thought “Is that what everyone else sees?” I pulled the camera back to my face. I saw strong, beautiful, C O U R A G E radiating. I didn’t care about criticizing my pose. I didn’t care about any wrinkles in my waist or the look on my face. What I saw was fierce and it didn’t matter what anyone else was going to say, I knew, skin, to bones, to soul, that I was beginning to feel ok in my own skin…maybe even better than ok. I was becoming ME again.

Retraining and Maintaining

The road to retraining these old thought patterns and maintaining the new ones has not been easy per se but the weight that has been lifted from my chest makes it worth the effort. That lightness I feel is what reminds me any time an old habit creeps in, to turn it around because it is way better, way brighter on this side. When I feel like I can’t do it alone, I call on family and friends to help me remember what to do.

What is different today versus where I was: today I k n o w better. Today I know that if I don’t give kindness and R E S P E C T to myself first, it is impossible for me to authentically give that to anyone else. Today I know that if I don’t L O V E myself first, it is impossible to authentically give love to someone else. Today I k n o w that without getting right with my internal circumstances, nothing on the outside will work.

O B S E R V E your thought patterns.

D I T C H the ones that are attracting everything you don’t want.

B U I L D new ones based on how you want to feel and what gets you excited.

E N R O L L the people who love you, I'm talking really love you, without judgement.

D O T H E W O R K: catch yourself in an old pattern, change the words, the actions, right in that moment, even if it is hard.

When you can’t, C A L L someone who will remind you how

D O it over and over A G A I N.

When you get right with yourself on the inside, when you love and respect yourself no matter what, your outside becomes a product of that beautiful, strong energy on the inside. I promise, it works. There is one catch. You won't have any success with this until you decide you’re worth the effort…and you better believe I have a whole separate post brewing for that concept alone!

Don't wait for anyone else: love yourself, respect yourself,

build the life for yourself.