Ever since I can remember, I have hated the way I look.
My face and the shape of my body have always bothered me, and I’ve lived my entire life battling body, confidence and self-esteem issues – not to mention the anxiety because of it.
Maybe it’s because as I grew up, even with playing all the sports, in elementary, I was still always called fat or big boned because I wasn’t skinny and didn’t wear clothes that revealed the shape I did have.
But, I wasn’t shaped like the other girls, inside or out. I knew that from a very early age.
Towards the end of elementary school, kids made fun of me when I got my period at 11 because all of a sudden had more boobs than everyone else. When they weren’t making fun of my nose, and the small gap in my teeth, they were making fun of my body that was developing at a faster rate than all the other girls.
When I got to middle and high school, things changed. I got leaner, boobs were in, and I played even more sports, but it didn’t change what I saw in the mirror or felt in the pit of my stomach every time I had to get dressed.
Or maybe it’s because as a child, I was told constantly by my mom and other family members that I looked like my father, and since he was never around, I hated him for a long time. So, the thought of looking like him hurt me deeply.
I didn’t want to be reminded of him constantly when I looked in the mirror.
I didn’t want to be reminded of how I never felt good enough for him to be in my life and love me, or pretty enough, like the two white, blue-eyed, blonde girlfriends I met once that had all of his affection and attention – in my young mind.
The few times I saw him, and the few pictures I got to see of him, proved everyone right and left me with a lifetime of self-hate and the constant reminder that I wasn’t good enough to be loved by him.
When I looked in the mirror, I saw his big nose and weird shaped body that doesn’t belong on a girl, it belonged on some kind of penguin or frumpy animal, I would tell myself.
Funny sounding, I know, but this is what I went through everyday of my life up until a couple of years ago.
And if I am honest, it is still something that comes up a lot for me at almost 37 years old because it took me such a long time to really deal with it consistently enough to heal from it.
Yes, there have been moments in my life where I have said fuck it, and took risks, acted confident, and tried my hardest to accept and love my body in whatever shape it was in, but all I was doing was lying to myself.
As long as the outside didn’t match the inside, I could never be happy with myself.
It is something that I work on everyday, and now, it has nothing to do with being skinny or pretty like the other girls.
It has everything to do with accepting who I am once and for all and learning to love every part of me – even the big nose (until I have the balls to get a nose job). #realtalk
After yo-yo dieting my whole life, starving myself, trying to make myself get bulimia or anorexia by binging and then purging when I was much younger, two years ago, I finally had enough.
I joined the gym with the idea of losing weight like I did every other failed attempt; and, within a few months, I realized that the 17 year old Vanessa who constantly hated what she saw in the mirror had to finally die.
I no longer wanted to just lose weight. That mindset wasn’t going to carry me through this complete transformation from the inside out.
I needed to put my money where my mouth is and stop bullshitting myself about not having enough choices, time, or the kids constantly getting in the way – all of my favorite excuses that were all dried and used up, no longer held any power.
How could I be so successful in other areas of my life and not be able to control the one thing that with discipline is the gateway to all discipline?
My goals changed from just losing weight to changing my entire mindset, relationship with food and lifestyle to serve the person I had always been on the inside, even though I had always struggled with making her match what I looked like on the outside.
This time, I was determined to make the boss bitch inside of me match what I saw when I looked in the mirror, and I knew it was going to take a lot more work than just dropping the fat and dress sizes.
I had to shift energetically, completely, and on a soul level.
And when I did, I realized that I had finally reached the point of true self love, and even though I didn’t know that that’s what it was, I know now. Like any other relationship, the one with myself took work to make it work.
But I had finally made it non-negotiable.
I could no longer ignore how my body, health and wellness was impacting the rest of my life.
I could no longer ignore the fact that by hating myself the way I did and making consistent poor food and health choices, I was sending all the wrong messages to my two sons.
I needed to show them that everything starts with loving yourself, but first I had to show it to myself, and go all in once and for all.
I wanted to feel good when I put clothes on, and not like a busted can of biscuits.
Only this time, it wasn’t only about how unsightly I thought that looked on me, but more so, because I felt like shit. Everything hurt.
A small spinal deformity at birth, turned into a couple of slipped discs that I discovered when I was 23 and 200 lbs; and, as I gained more weight over the years, my boobs got bigger and my back pain got stronger.
I wanted to feel good sitting down, standing up, walking into a room. I wanted to feel good in my own dam skin, and not constantly worried about if my shirt was baggy enough to cover my ugly areas, or if the jeans I was wearing made my look more like a box.
What’s funny is as I write this, I remember hearing so many positive things about my beauty throughout my childhood and even now as an adult.
I always said thank you and smile. And then that little voice inside of me would remind me that they were just being nice and that it just couldn’t be true.
That is no way to live for so damn long!
I didn’t want to worry about my angles or what people thought. I didn’t want to care anymore about any of that.
I wanted to not care about any of those things, and just fucking embrace that this is who I am and that I am good, worthy, smart and beautiful enough just like this.
But watching my body melt, feeling all the loose skin, and seeing even more stretch marks popping up than I had during my two pregnancies, has been both rewarding and horrific.
Nobody prepares you for dealing with the aftermath of picking up the pieces of yourself after you let yourself go for so long.
How did I let myself get like this?
How did I let myself get to the point where I hated myself so much that for decades, I ate foods I knew made me feel like shit; I stopped moving my body the way I used to when I was younger and into sports, and really, I just let myself fucking go.
Why? Why? WHY? Did I do this to myself?
My highest weight was 260 lbs at 5’7-5’8. I only gained 35 lbs with my first pregnancy and 45 with my second, which is good, right?
It didn’t make a difference to me because I felt fat and unhealthy before and after the pregnancies. And, I didn’t only feel it, I was it.
I didn’t wear shorts or a bikini for over ten years. I hid from mirrors, pictures and anything that put me in the spotlight even though as introverted as I am, I know that’s where I belong because I have always known that I am meant to help the masses.
And even though I love sex, I could only bring myself to enjoy it most of the time if the lights were off or dimmed. And I could only really get loose and confident with my body when I was drinking.
And the relationships, I was in, you ask?
My lack of self-love caused me to settle over and over again, accepting so much less than what I needed and deserved, and ultimately, took me to the point of no return where I walked away from every single one of them even though they didn’t want it to end.
I could only settle for so long before my own soul was making me accountable from the inside out.
Even though I had all this leadership, mindset and corporate coaching experience and had always been trying to improve my mindset and emotional shit, I let my body go.
I numbed myself with alcohol for years, and made every excuse in the book, even good ones like when my subconscious would kick in to help out and give me massive back pains.
And because of that, the self-hate was like poison that seeped into every other part of my life, making me weaker in every other area whether I wanted to admit it or not.
You cannot work on some parts of yourself and ignore the rest. You cannot focus on one area of yourself and let the others go.
Because when you do? All of you suffers, not just your hips and thighs.
I cannot explain the frustration and pain I feel sometimes when I look back at how long and far I let myself go. It is seething that I have to forgive myself for almost everyday.
The pain I feel sometimes when I see what I did to my body and think for a split second that it’ll never look “right”now.
It is something that I am using to fuel my work and purpose because I know that so many women let themselves go for a lot of the same reasons. Lack of putting themselves first and lack of loving themselves enough to not accept any less than what you deserve – from yourself and others.
I have to constantly remind myself that that won’t be me. My skin will tighten up. My stretch marks will disapear. Nursing two babies and going up and down on my weight the way I did will eventually still allow my boobs to self repair.
I am re-programming myself on a subconscious level to believe these things because I know it is possible if I believe they are true, but the human and pain the ass logical side of me wants to rear its ugly head periodically, and tell me how hard and possible that may be.
I don’t care.
I don’t car anymore about that voice, those realistic fears or anything 3D.
I don’t care anymore how long it takes.
I don’t care if I never get a nose job.
I don’t care if I never have the balls to get a boob job.
I don’t care if I ever look like the girls on instagram.
I don’t care what anyone thinks or says about the way I dress or look now because if I feel good and comfortable, that is all I need.
I will stay in my little world because I know I am co-creating my reality, and no one’s opinions outside that world can ever hold enough weight to make me continue comparing and hating myself for not looking like someone else.
And I won’t have it any other way now. I refuse to continue living a life where I let a decision I made as a kid about my father loving me, and decisions I made as a teenager about how a girl/woman’s body is supposed to look dictate my present and future.
I know I have come a long way, and I am beyond proud.
I don’t plan to stop because this is no longer just about losing weight, this is about really loving myself.
And going to the gym isn’t what helped me reach this point. It was finally stopping to look in the mirror for more than a few seconds.
Seeing what I did to myself, and knowing in my heart and soul that I deserve better, and that I am the only one who can give that kind of love to myself.
I have walked away from jobs, family members, and relationships that no longer served me throughout my life, but walking away from the old self-hating me, was the hardest.
My journey isn’t over, and I know I am getting stronger everyday.
Everyday I love myself more.
Everyday I stare at myself in the mirror, and see how beautiful I am inside and out.
Everyday I remind myself that nothing else matters more than how I treat and talk to myself.
Everyday I am reminded that the journey to real self-love is what has finally awakened ALL of me: soul-mind-heart-body.
Everyday I share my message and stories and help someone in some part of the world see something I themselves that they, too, need to love.
And that’s enough for me.
Taking care of my body and stepping into unapologetic self love had been the missing ingredient on my journey to full integration.
To allow myself to feel whole and complete.
And I understand now why integration hurts so much at times. But I wouldn’t change it for the world. There is no turning back for me, and this is only the beginning.
I wouldn’t change my nose, brown eyes, thick thighs, full lips and perpetual resting bitch face for anything I the world because loving who I am has taught me that I am one of a kind, and nothing can measure or compare to that.