2009- I stood backstage trembling with fear, excitement and exhaustion. I was about to step on stage for my very first time. My mom was in the crowd and the man that got me to this point, my coach. The MC called my number, it was too late to turn around and run. I walked past the other girls who were using bands to pump up, I gave them a shy smile and walked from behind the curtain. I was so nervous I swear to this day I blacked out. The bright lights, the sound of my mom cheering for me and then the music started. Like a robot my body moved without me even having to think about it. Just like that it was all over and I found myself backstage. I couldn’t believe I actually did it. My fear turned into excitement and I couldn’t stop smiling. I did it, I actually stepped on stage at my very first bodybuilding competition.
From that day forward I called myself a bodybuilder. I was hooked and there was nothing that would keep me from the gym. My alarm went off at 3am and I would spring into action. My gym clothes were already on my dresser, from me putting them there the night before. I loved picking out my outfit and putting my sneakers at the foot of my bed. I had everything ready to go. I was setting myself up to be a champion, because that’s what champion’s do. They prepare, prepare and prepare some more. If I were to be the best I had to act like the best and that meant that I had to get up early and train before work.
2015- I didn’t want to do this anymore. I was so over life if it was going to be like this, the daily torment over my body. I couldn’t stop thinking about my body and worrying if everyone was staring at me. My alarm would go off and the first thing I did even before I stepped foot out of my bed was do a wrist check. Yeah, I bet you are wondering what the heck that is and if I had never done it I would ask the same question. A wrist check is when you take the opposite hand and use your middle finger and thumb and wrap them around your other wrist to see if your fingers touch and if they touch just how far they overlap. Even writing that it draws up some deep emotions for me. I feel sorry for that girl. My heart breaks for her. She didn’t realize just how special she is just as she is. She didn’t realize that it doesn’t matter what size her wrist is because the truth is it doesn’t matter what size you are. What truly matters is that you care for your body in a way that keeps you strong and able to take on the world, so you can go out there and live your purpose.
I wish I could say that in 2015 I finally got help and healed my thoughts and behaviors with food, but sadly it took 4 more years of daily torture.
In early 2019 a day came that I was finally tired of living the way I had been living for 10 years. The point is I wasn’t living, I was slowly dying inside. I found myself on a couch across from a therapist just like I was when I was 17, only this time I actually wanted to be there. I am not someone who has to take time to open up to you. I will literally tell you my entire life story within the first 20 minutes of meeting. Needless to say my therapist had her work cut out for her.
I put so much work into myself for the first time in many years. I had to untangle the roots that were my mind. My thinking was so far from reality that when I started to think and see clearly I couldn’t believe all the lies I had been telling myself. I could be walking into a grocery store and glance up and see someone look away from me quickly and I would write an entire book in my head of what they thought of me. I forgot to tell you how vivid my imagination is.
The stories I wrote were never even close to being true. For the first time in my life I quit writing these stories and decided to just smile. It wasn’t really as simple as that so here are some things I did to start the process of changing my life forever.
Compliment something about the person - either in your mind or if you’re feeling extra you can say it to them.
Make up a story in your mind that has the other person complimenting you.
SMILE! And say hi.
Remind yourself that you are just as attractive as they are. (whatever you have to say to yourself to help start changing the narrative in your head)
There are tons of situations that you are going to be in and all of the items listed above can help you. I urge you to go out and start practicing right away. The more you practice the quicker these new thoughts become more natural and before you know it your old thinking will be just that, OLD.
How does any of this tie in with the way I view my body? It’s the exact same thing, I made up stories in my head about what my body looked like and what it meant to look the way I did. When you see a man or woman that looks “in shape” what are your first thoughts? Are your thoughts complimenting them for their hard work or are your thoughts directed towards yourself and negative?
After so many years of self torment I developed a system that I would employ as soon as the negative thoughts would start to creep in. I have healed and recovered, but like most people I still have negative thoughts that try to creep in from time to time. I promise that if you use the same phrasing or a version of your own you will begin to see the value in your body and yourself.
My legs have carried me for __ years! I can’t believe how strong they are. I love my thighs so much!
My stomach is freaking amazing! Can you believe I carried three babies in here? Me either! (I do not have children and this is for all my mommies out there)
My back is so strong, it keeps me standing tall every day.
I love my chubby fingers because honestly I have a pretty strong grip!
What I look like has nothing to do with my worth.
God didn’t put me on earth to focus solely on my body.
I love my body because it has gotten me this far in life and it’s going to keep carrying me.
I love taking care of my body because it makes me feel good.
My body is worth my love and respect.
I love my body because it is MY BODY.
By the end of 2019 I was a completely different person. I still remember the day my husband said how proud he is of me. We were riding in our truck and he looked over at me and said “You are a completely different person, Emily. I am so proud of you for doing so much work to get better.” I was so happy to hear him say that. I was so happy that he was acknowledging how much I had changed.
The crazy thing is that during this time I never once thought to tackle my food issues. The one thing I did do was quit dieting. 2019 was a complete miracle for me. When I changed the way I thought about myself, everything in my life changed. One day I realized that I had no negative thoughts about food. The normal questioning I had before I ate anything was no longer there. I just ate food. If you struggle with your relationship to food then you know the freedom of just being able to eat. Healing myself healed my relationship with food.
All you ever hear is just eat less and move more. How about this- Heal your mind and everything else will follow. Your body reflects your mind. No amount of exercise or dieting will help you heal your negative body image. I want you to live your life being your happiest and healthiest and it 100% starts with the mind. I really hope that sharing my story and my tips will help you start your very own journey to the greatest happiness you can ever have.
The love and respect for the body you were born with.