“I am not beautiful like you. I am beautiful like me”
I had a random thought the other day. Why is it that often times, a confident woman is seen as being conceited or “full of herself”? Why are they sometimes judged, talked about, or are constantly having their intentions questioned? Isn’t confidence something we try to instill in our daughters at a young age? Don’t we want them to grow up to love and respect themselves and be strong, confident women? Don’t we all want to find happiness with who we are, throw away all of the doubts and judgments we place upon ourselves, and finally achieve self-confidence? Of course, I am completely aware that there are those who have crossed the confidence line and have gone over to the conceited side, but I have also witnessed perfectly non-conceited women be the topic of gossip and judgment, for no reason other than her wonderful, beautiful confidence in herself. And that really sucks. Why does this double standard continue to live on in society, and why do women so often turn on each other, becoming so judgmental and negative? Why can’t a woman’s confidence be embraced? It sure makes it difficult for us all to instill this value within ourselves. Okay, admittedly, that was a lot of random thoughts!
As I sit here today, I can honestly say that I am the healthiest, fittest, and most confident I have ever been in my entire life. And of course, I would be completely naïve to think that I haven’t been on the receiving end of the gossip and judging nonsense. Trust me, I have almost felt my ears burning at times, who hasn’t I suppose. Everyone has haters around them. The key is to learn to not let them affect you, which is the constant battle for me, although I am getting there slowly but surely. Level “I don’t give a flying flip what you think” is almost unlocked, almost. My road to self-confidence has been bumpy though, nauseous bumpy at times, even pull over and lose my lunch bumpy at times (sorry). Just like many others, I have days I completely doubt myself and don’t give myself the credit I deserve. I have had past relationships that made me feel far from beautiful, even empty and numb. I have years of experience on my resume of looking in the mirror and seeing only imperfections: thin hair, fat thighs, chubby cheeks, jiggly arms, and a huge back side. Looking beyond the exterior and looking inside myself to find the beauty within wasn’t something I knew how to do for a long time. But today I am without a doubt the most confident I have ever been. For the first time in my life I feel beautiful. Strong. Deserving. Happy.
Along my journey I have learned that others aren’t really our biggest critics. Most of the time, we are our own biggest critic. We are usually harder on ourselves than anyone else, and we are the biggest obstacle in our quest for self-confidence. Even now, I look back at pictures of myself and wonder why I didn’t embrace who I was and love the body I had been given. I wish I could get back the years of picking myself apart, thinking I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or skinny enough. Even with all of the haters, gossipers, and judgmental eyes on us, we are usually the toughest on ourselves. Over the course of my wellness journey I lost 30 pounds and have recently started gaining some muscle mass. But believe it or not, it was before the weight loss that I had an “ah ha!” moment with myself. A moment when I started accepting my body and loving it just the way it was. Obviously, the weight loss and muscle tone have helped my confidence grow tremendously, but I will never give all the credit to that alone. Eating healthier and exercising has made me feel better both physically and mentally. When I run, the endorphins and positive energy is flowing throughout my body making me feel different than I have ever felt before. When I eat something good for my body versus something that makes me feel bloated and sluggish, it affects my mood and my day in an extremely positive way. I put these two together and found an amazing combination. Diet and exercise can do so much for your body, weight loss or no weight loss. You feel better physically, you have more energy, and you gain positive feelings about your life, and yourself. Confidence can start to surface, and you have to keep chasing it down, grab hold, and then never let go.
I’ll let you in on a little secret if you don’t already know: You are beautiful. I know that often times it is hard to see or feel, I have been there too, and I will have plenty of days where I am there again. It is part of life; insecurities just exist, usually deeply rooted inside of us and they surface from time to time no matter how hard we try to suppress them. This is why we should support each other, love each other, and tell each other how wonderful and beautiful we are. Not talk about each other, pick each other apart, and judge each other’s lives that we likely don’t know all of the story to. Over the years, it has really become all about perspective for me, and turning my thoughts around completely. Let’s say I’m having a bad hair day, and I get frustrated at how thin and unmanageable my hair is. I stop and think about the person who woke up today and found their hair on a pillow, lost to chemotherapy. When I don’t like the way my legs look in a certain pair of jeans and start picking myself apart physically, I stop and think about the person that would love to be standing there, looking at themselves in the mirror wearing a pair of blue jeans, but they have no legs. I remind myself that beauty is something different than what the world portrays in magazines and on reality TV shows. Beauty is your radiant smile, and the life, love, and happiness you share with others. It is your kind and selfless actions, and the way you make the people around you feel. It exudes from you in your daily activities: going to work, caring for your children, running a million errands, taking time to comfort a friend, and still standing and smiling at the end of the day. It is your scars, your stories, your strength, and your heart. Maybe it’s a C-section scar, stretch marks, or extra weight around your waist that tell the beautiful story of your precious child who is now running around the house giggling and playing. Maybe it’s a surgical scar on your body that tells a story of courage, strength, and a battle you faced, fought, and won. Blemishes, scars, and marks on your body aren’t imperfections, but the parts of you that tell your unique life story. Look in the mirror, and see your beautiful.
Many people have asked me how I lost weight, how I changed my diet, and how I started and have been able to stick to a daily exercise routine. The question is always “Where do I start?” And this is my humble advice: It starts within yourself. It starts with believing that right now, just the way you are, you are beautiful. No matter what. The thing is, healthy eating and daily exercise is a lifestyle, not a 12 week diet, so in order for you to have your greatest, life-long results, you have to be doing it for the right reasons to begin with. For me, it was a strong desire to feel better physically, ridding my life of stomach problems, sickness, and low to no energy. If your reasons for beginning the journey are the right ones from the start, and you believe in yourself, you have already reached the first step. You are ready to jump in and reach for your goals. Embrace your beautiful, and let’s get this journey started.