I've been fairly absent on social media lately and it's not unintentional. In this blog, I talk about how you can take a step back from the things that aren't bringing you joy so you can recharge.
Are you someone that gets in your own way? I am! I'm the girl that over analyzes everything, leading me to live in a constant state of stress. When I'm stressed, I'm not the best person to be around. I become moody, irritable, tired and I don't enjoy the simple things in life. With a lot on my plate this summer, it was a great time for me to take a step back and prioritize the important things so I could get back on track.
The biggest thing I decided to take a step from was social media. I was spending an unnecessary amount of time on Instagram and it was causing me to stress out. I realized that every picture I posted, I would analyze how many likes, comments or saves it got. Not only was I analyzing everything I put up on social media, I was also analyzing what everyone else was doing. I found myself playing the comparison game every time I opened the app and it wasn't good for my mental state. It was time to take a step back. Yes, I still went on Instagram this summer but my time was significantly cut down.
For me, this was a very liberating experience. Social media can have this weird way of controlling us. For me, it controlled my emotions and it also took over my time. I was wasting an unnecessary amount of time on Instagram every single day and I wasn't enjoying it. Now I feel like I've found a healthy balance and I look forward to opening the app for a few minutes each day to catch up.
I've applied this concept to many different aspects of my life and it seems to be working. Take career, friendships, relationships, technology, education, etc. and ask yourself, is this bringing me joy?
Let me know if you have any eye opening realizations; I'm sure I've got more to come in the future!
Do you ever get so caught up in your day that you forget to eat? Or maybe it’s the case of you want to eat, but you don’t have time to stop and get something that will nourish your body. That’s been my life since I moved to New York 4 months ago. I love the fast paced lifestyle but man it’s hard to nourish your body properly when you’re running around all the time! Enter mēle, an all-natural meal replacement shake.
I was at a wellness event a few months back when I was introduced to mēle shake. Intrigued by the cute packaging and free samples, I worked my way over to the table to learn more about the brand.
Mēle currently offers three different flavors; cocoa-nut, supergreen and rawberry. Personally, the cocoa-nut is my favorite but I wouldn’t turn down the supergreen or rawberry option; I’m just a sucker for cocoa based drinks. After trying all of the flavors, multiple times, I was relieved when I looked at the ingredients. Mēle shakes are made up of all-natural fruits, veggies, almonds, whey and milk (coconut or dairy); talk about a balanced meal! Excited about the brand, I was eager to incorporate mēle into my everyday life.
Lately, my days have involved a lot of physical movement. For a solid week I would come home feeling famished. I wasn’t eating enough and if I was eating, I wasn’t getting the balance that I needed. By my second week of constantly being on my feet, I started to take mēle shakes with me. Cocoa-nut being my obvious first choice, I used almond milk and water with the powder. I decided to use the whole bag because I would be gone for about 4 hours and I took an RX bar as an additional snack in case I got hungry. I was very pleased with the shake! It tasted great and also kept me from feeling famished. I felt those midday energy dips disappear and by the time I got home for dinner; it was time for me to eat but I wasn’t starving.
For someone who is as active as I am, mēle is a great addition to my daily routine to keep me fueled. I could feel the difference on days that I would drink a mēle shake to days that I went without. On days that I had a shake, I felt like I had a base underneath me; almost like a support system. On days that I went without, I felt groggy, foggy and hangry. Let me just tell you that when I’m hangry, you do not want to be within 5 feet of me; just ask my fiancé!
I recommend mēle shakes to anyone feeling like they are always on the go and can’t get a good meal in. Especially if you’re in the world of fitness and you need more food than the normal Joe, mēle is a great addition to your daily intake.
eI recently came back from a Europe trip feeling exhausted physically and emotionally. I'm sure the travel contributed, but I know being constantly surrounded by others played a huge part in my exhaustion. I get very tired when I'm surrounded by others for too long; too many energies for me to take in. Below I explain my biggest learning lesson from my trip.
My trip to Europe was great; I was able to spend time with my parents, my fiancé and his family. The biggest downfall was that I didn't have alone time the whole trip. For me, alone time is KEY. I love seeing people and hanging out, but I'm the type of introvert that gets tired from being around others. During the trip, I was constantly going and was always in the company of others. Towards the end of the trip, I could feel my attention span dropping during conversations and my mind starting to wander. Not only did this negatively affect me, but it also affected the people that were with me. I'm sure I came off as uninterested and bored, even though that wasn't the case.
Once returning home from my trip, I was beat. Obviously jet lag and travel contributed, but I believe that spending too much time around others was the biggest reason for my exhaustion. I just wanted a moment alone, free from having a conversation. Thankfully my fiancé knows me well enough to respect my antisocial introverted moments. To recoup, I spent the first few days spending time at home alone.
If you're like me, this type of experience isn't fun. It also is something that is bound to happen, especially when traveling with others. How can we avoid having this exhaustion in the future?
If I could turn back time (any Cher fans here?), I would've made a more conscious effort to block out moments alone. This is easier said than done, but at one point I took a nap while my fiancé and his family hung out. That nap gave me life, seriously! I spent the rest of the night chatting and having a good time while we had a BBQ. I'm sure I was more enjoyable to be around and I genuinely had a great time.
Going forward I know that I need to put my mental wellness first, even if it means skipping time with others.
Next up on my blog is how to stop stretching yourself too thin, something else I've been guilty of this past month!
When we think of health, we often fall into the trap of just focusing on one tiny aspect of it. If we want to lose 10 pounds, we focus on cutting out carbs; if we want to meditate more, we block out 10 minutes each day to meditate. While these things are great, they don't take into account the other aspects of your health. In this blog I want to talk about how health is all-encompassing, and where I am with my journey.
I will admit that I haven't done the best job recently focusing on all of my aspects of health. I've been trying to get back into a rhythm since moving to New York and I've been guilty of focusing on only a few areas of my health. Lately, I've been focusing on moving my body, specifically going on runs a few times a week. When anyone works out consistently, they need to properly fuel their body. Wanna know a secret? I haven't! (embarrassed face) I haven't been eating unhealthy per see, I just haven't been eating the proper foods that my body needs. I've been caught numerous times this month skipping lunch because I'm either running around or I'm just too busy. This usually results in me snacking and not getting the balanced meal my body is looking for. And because I'm not fueling my body properly, I get more tired during the day, which means my work starts to suffer. It's like a chain reaction! If I had just eaten a balanced meal for lunch, I wouldn't feel like I need a nap at 3 pm.
Recently, I've also noticed that I need other outlets for my health. I can't just focus on the fitness and food aspects and forget the rest; I need to take care of my mental and emotional state too. A friend of mine recommended journaling every morning when I'm eating breakfast. Write down things such as: what I'm going to do that day, positive affirmations and what I'm grateful for. I've been doing this for the past week and I can already tell how much it's helped my emotional well-being.
These are just some examples from my own personal life, but everyone is different. I've provided some examples below of different areas in your life that are important to your health. Some are more obvious than others.
Looking at this list, do you need to focus on some of these areas more than others? For me, I need to continue to put effort into journaling until it becomes a habit.
What's one thing you can work on this week?
Ever feel like you're constantly doubting yourself? Doubting your abilities, purpose, uniqueness, etc. If you said yes, then I'm right there with you!
These past few months have been crazy for me work wise. I spent months developing and launching a women's wellness company with an amazing business partner. After a few months, I came to the realization that I wanted to help people who are experiencing some of the hardships I faced after my accident. It wasn't an easy decision or easy conversation, but I knew in my heart that this is the direction I needed to go in. The phrase that's consistently come up for me is, "I feel like I survived my accident for a reason" and I know that this is the reason.
Since I made my decision, I've been working with clients post-physical setback and I absolutely love it. It's so rewarding to watch people grow in a short amount of time. This is something I have extensive experience in. If you follow me on Instagram or have read my About Me, you know that I was a collegiate volleyball athlete. After recovering from my car accident, I was told by my doctor that I would be back to normal. To me, normal meant being a great volleyball player. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case. I couldn't regain the strength I once had and it showed in my abilities. I was crushed. Because I didn't have anyone to talk to, I slowly started to give up. I dwindled from a starter to a bench player within 2 years and I ended my career on a sour note. This is why I'm so passionate about helping people post-physical setback; I know how difficult it can be.
Knowing the type of clients I want to help is a great feeling, but I would be lying if I said that there haven't been moments of self-doubt. Questions like, "will people take me seriously?", "do I know enough?", "do I deserve to have a great job where I get to just help people?" have been circling my brain for the past few weeks. When I write them down in this blog I even think, "how silly are these questions?"! Going through my experience makes me knowledgable on the topic. I know the feelings that can come up and I know what to do and what not to do to start moving forward.
When these moments of self-doubt come up, it can be very debilitating. I've learned that keeping these feelings to myself only makes things worse. For the past few weeks, I've made it a point to verbalize my self-doubt with others. I've found that this is the best way for me to break through my insecurities. When I sweep my fears under the rug and act like they don't exist, I find I'm not as productive.
If you're reading this blog and you are struggling with insecurities, know that you're not alone. Self-doubt is something that everyone experiences! To work through these insecurities, try out different techniques. (i.e. journaling, talking with a friend) Take it from me, bottling up those insecurities is not the best use of your energy!
When we get out of our routine it can be hard as hell to get back into it! The longer we prolong getting back into said routine the harder it becomes. Phrases like, I will start tomorrow become your new routine.
Today I'm going to talk about the 3 things you can do to get back into a routine. Why? Well I just moved to NYC and I'm finding it hard to get back into my own routine. This blog is just as much for me as it is for you!
1. Schedule bits of your routine out
I don't know about you, but if I have a schedule it's important for me to stick to it; especially if I write something down. When something is in writing it holds more weight for me and I feel like I need to do it!
It can be super beneficial to schedule small parts of your routine back into your life. Notice I used the phrase small parts? Overwhelming yourself and doing too much at first is one of the worst things you can do. If you're trying to get back into the swing of things, the last thing you want to do is try and do everything at once. You will end up getting too overwhelmed and you will have a harder time sticking to your routine.
So start with baby steps. If you have a morning routine that you want to get back into, try incorporating one thing for the first few days. Then when you feel like that's turning into a routine, you can add on another bit of your routine. The baby steps will create lasting change!
2. Have someone keep you accountable
Having someone keep you accountable is a great way to get things done. Find a friend or someone close to you that will give you some tough love if you don't keep up your end of the deal. It will help you stay accountable to follow-through with your tasks.
It also helps if you find a friend or find someone else that is also looking for some accountability. You both can keep one another accountable and it won't feel like you have a friend that is constantly nagging you.
My friend is my old business partner. We have weekly calls where we talk about work and set out weekly action steps for one another. When we have our check-ins we make sure the other person has been keeping up and doing their work!
3. Focus on what you've done - not what you haven't done
When getting back into the swing of things, you're going to have some slip ups. You may not hit all the marks in your routine and that's totally fine! Instead of focusing on what you didn't do, focus on what you have done. If you did one solid bit of your routine during the day but didn't do 3 other things, focus on the fact that you even did one part of your routine. You don't need to have it all figured out and be perfect every day. When we focus on the good things we've done, it motivates us to continue to work. When we focus on the bad, it demotivates us.
The most important thing is to remember that you're constantly evolving and changing. Don't get down in the dumps if something doesn't go as expected or you don't do everything you hoped for the day. Keep that positive attitude going and it will fall into place.
It's been almost a month since I wrote a blog - holy smokes! I wanted to write a blog and provide an update on what I've been up to for those of you who are interested.
I've been so silent on the blog because for the past month I've been planning a move to NYC. We had been talking about moving back to New York since the summer, but just kept pushing off the date. We gave ourselves a month to get everything done. Thanks to my sister for the little extra push, we made a move date, booked a ticket, and everything just started to fall into place.
While getting ready for our big move, my fiancé and I were on a run in the evening. We saw a man off his bike, with a cute little puppy ahead of us. We started to run by and we asked if we could pet the puppy. To our surprise, the man said that the puppy wasn't his. There was no one in the area. It was just us, this man and a cute little puppy. The man explained he couldn't take the puppy home and call the ACC because he was on a bike and lived too far. Instead, we called my mom and had her come pick us up with the puppy. It was raining and cold out. This puppy had clearly been out in the rain for awhile. We came home and went through all of the motions. Called the ACC, posted on NextDoor, checked Craigslist daily, took him to a vet to see if he was chipped and no luck. The ACC said it sounded like an abandoned puppy based on the description and the fact that no one had already called for him. But to make sure, we checked back with the ACC to see if we had any bites on the report, but no one had. The puppy had gotten so attached to us, we had gotten so attached to him, and no one claimed him so we took the little guy in. Now we were making a move across the country with all of our stuff, our cat and this new little pup. In case you didn't know, flying with animals is a lot of extra work!
Thankfully, the cat and dog (Tubs and Spuds) were able to make the trip with us and were beyond easy on the flight. After a delayed red eye with two animals, 10 checked bags and navigating a big car through NYC, I'm glad to say the hard part was over.
And to end our big stressful move, we both ended up getting sick about 4 days after being in NYC. I definitely attribute it to stress, as well as consistently being on the go, while being jet lagged from an overnight flight. After a week of being sick, I'm finally starting to get better.
So that's what I've been up to for the past month and a half, and is the reason I've been so quiet on my blog. But now that I'm settled, I'm excited to write again!
Stay tuned. :)
If you saw my past post, Leaning into Fear, you know that I have been working on my anxiety. It wasn't an easy process, but I'm finally at a place where I rarely have anxiety attacks. That doesn't mean that my anxiety is gone for good, far from it. It just means that when those anxious thoughts creep into my head, I know how to handle them.
In my past anxiety blogs, I talked about the steps I take when I feel anxiety starting to set in. I had so many messages from people who struggle with anxiety, so I wanted to write another piece about the things I do to make me feel better when I'm feeling anxious.
These may not work for everyone, but I thought they would be worth sharing because it might help you think of some ideas.
1.) Watching your favorite show
This is a big one for me! I usually turn something lighthearted on that I know will make me laugh. Examples being, Friends, The Office or Parks and Recreation. I always find that doing this helps me stop focusing on the things I'm feeling anxious about. My anxiety is around death, so when I'm watching a funny show it really helps clear my head from those thoughts.
2.) Working out
This one used to seem impossible for me, but I've done a much better job of getting myself moving when I'm feeling anxious. I've been running recently and I find it's a great way to clear my head. I usually start off my run feeling anxious, but as I keep running my head starts to clear, and I start to allow other thoughts to come in. Sometimes no thoughts come in at all which is great! This one can be tough getting out the door, but I always remind myself how much better I will feel when I get home.
3.) Take a nap
When anxiety kicks in, it really can be debilitating. So much so that you start feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. When I start feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, I try to take a nap. Even if it's just 15 minutes, I will just close my eyes and let me head rest. I always wake up from my nap feeling better.
4.) Talk to someone
A few years ago, I would've never considered talking to someone. Not that there was anything wrong with that, but I always thought to myself, well I can figure it out on my own. Since I've started therapy, I've really learned that talking to someone is incredibly beneficial and it can be very powerful. Whether I'm talking about anxiety, or just what's going on in my life, I find it can be very therapeutic. You don't need to go to a therapist, you can find a coach (hi there!) or even just find a friend. You can't let that anxiety fester so try talking it out with someone.
These are just a few of my go-tos when I'm feeling anxious. Hopefully they help spark some ideas! And as always if you ever need someone to talk to, you know where to find me.
Next up on my interview is a friend of mine, Joanne (gofitjo). I met Jo over a year ago and immediately was drawn to her I got this mentality. I remember being at Wanderlust with Jo, asking her questions about how she got into her fitness journey. She was totally open and told me the story (you can find in the interview below), which really made me feel more connected to her. We had only met a few times, but I loved that she just laid it all out there. If you follow her on Instagram, you know that Jo is honest and open about the shit she is experiencing. (I've shed a few tears during her Instagram stories!)
I'm so grateful she said yes to being part of my influencer blog series and am so excited to share her interview.
Can you tell us the story of Jo. How has your relationship with your body and with yourself evolved?
The story of Jo can be a long one so I’ll try to keep it short and sweet! I became a mother at 21, which alongside with all the other challenges that motherhood and parenting have, comes the challenges of facing your body changing due to your pregnancy. I was like most women who undergo their first pregnancy. I rubbed all the creams and oils to try to keep my skin elastic through the changes of my body while my first was growing within me. My sister and mother didn’t have stretch marks so I thought I’d probably have the same luck. I remember the first time I saw them, I was in my final weeks of my pregnancy and I saw them after coming out of the shower. “SHIT!” I thought to myself, “I’ve got stretch marks!” My body didn’t concern me in the first year of being a new mom. I was more concerned about keeping my baby alive and making sure I had enough sleep as well as building my clientele as a new hairstylist. But as the years passed I realized my body wasn’t changing. To some degree I felt as if this young youthful body I was supposed to have in my 20s was taken from me because of early motherhood. Don’t get me wrong I’m so grateful for my kids, but having a child at 21 was definitely not in my plans. We made it work and our life is amazing because of it.
My husband and I got married and had our 2nd daughter. Life was grand, I “had it all”. A new career, a home over our head, a new dog, a husband, and two wonderful kids. However I was living in and out of depression for 18 months not understanding why. Until one day my eldest daughter and I were getting ready in her room and she said to me, “Mom, you’re so beautiful.” I quickly answered the same way girlfriends would talk to each other in a dressing room trying on clothes, “No I’m not. I’m ugly and fat.” The look on her face is one I’ll never forget. She turned and left the room. I had robbed every ounce of truth that she knew of this woman that in her eyes was a queen. It was that moment that I had realized I wasn’t happy with the person I was becoming. I was consumed with work, our photography business, and raising a family that I had forgotten to take care of myself, my mental and physical health, and quickly became out of shape. I wasn’t terribly overweight, but I was so out of shape that I couldn’t run after Olivia at the park who was two and a half at the time.
The relationship I have with my body is constantly evolving and growing. When I first started my fitness journey I said to myself that I wanted to become the healthiest version of me in my 30s both mind and body. This was the first time I had committed to a fitness goal that wasn’t defined by a number. In the past I would make goals around events like a vacation, my wedding, or to simply lose the 15lbs post baby weight. Those never seemed to work long term for me because I’d always find myself back and square one minus a few steps. I dedicated a lot of time and energy into my fitness journey the first 12 weeks. I was exhausted but so happy and thrilled that I was finally seeing and feeling results. I felt strong and I felt the best I had felt in a long time. I then went on to compete in several body building competitions because I thought to myself, “If I was able to do accomplish a goal I never thought I could, what would happen if I dedicated more energy into it, where could I go then?” This was pretty crazy for me because what it meant was me being judged by my aesthetics and physique on stage amongst other women while being tanned, glazed, and in an itty bitty bikini. Bikinis since I was 21 was a HARD NO for me because of the stretch marks. But something deep inside me wanted to see if I could overcome the fear and judgement I placed on myself.
In the past 4 years I’ve seen my body go through so many changes. From being heavy and overweight to being 14% body fat and leaner than I’ve been in my entire life. I’ve had to overcome recovery from surgery, shoulder injuries from work and stress, and learning how to break away from exercise addiction. In each stage I’ve had to learn to love my body in that present moment whether I was at my best aesthetically or feeling like I was in a major setback. Finding joy in each part has been the biggest learning lesson.
Could you talk about your stretch marks on your stomach? How did you start to embrace them?
For over 11 years I hated looking at them. Even during my fitness journey I thought to myself, “I’m working so hard in the gym, focusing on my nutrition as much as I can, and I’m still never going to look like some of these BBG moms who have perfect #morningabs.” Even during my competition training my abs were never as defined as others. My youngest daughter Olivia is the curious one. She speaks her mind, her feelings, and just wants to know everything in the world! It’s really quite incredible to be around her. One day as I was getting ready in my bathroom she came up to me and asked “Mommy, what are these marks?” referring to my stretch marks. I replied, “I got them from you and your sister, I call them my strength marks.” She replied, “Will they ever go away?”. I said, “No, baby they wont. They are my reminder to keep going for you and your sister. To never give up on my dreams because you’re watching.” That was when I finally embraced them. As the words came out of my mouth that day, I felt healing beginning to happen in my heart.
In life, we are surrounded by messages from the media and diet culture that we aren’t good enough. How do you navigate your way through those negative messages yourself? Does this impact how you parent?
To be honest, this one is a tough one. Trying to shut out the noise from media and diet culture can be super difficult especially as its shoved in our faces left and right through social media and traditional media outlets. I do feel that the message of body positivity, self love, self acceptance, and beauty standards are changing. You see so many of this movement happening online, in magazines, and even in major apparel brands. It’s such an amazing sight to see. However there are still moments where I don’t feel like I’m enough. They are few and far between but it does happen. When I’m going through something like that I face it head on. I ask myself why am I feeling this in the first place and almost go down a quick checklist of things to ask myself.
How do you combat negative self talk these days?
I try to shut it down as quickly as I can, but most important I refer to 5 self affirmations I wrote earlier this year when I need to lift my self up. In addition to trying to shut it down as quickly as I can, I pull back and do some self-distancing especially from what’s causing it in the first place.
What do you do for self-love?
Almost everything I do is a form of self love to a certain degree. The moment I became a mom I realized that my life was no longer fully mine. I had to share it with others who needed me most, but as I mentioned in earlier I never valued caring for myself until several years ago. I see forms of self love in how I put myself personal needs first. Training, eating whole nutritious foods, journaling, taking a bath, complimenting myself, and spending time with the people I cherish are all forms of self love for me. I always say, if it does not serve your purpose or give you joy it has no place in your daily life. This is a hard practice because I know we as humans want connection and to create a loving space for every single person, experience, or thing that come along our way, but the truth is until we figure out what we need to provide us joy, we can’t take other things in. Other things I do for self-love is daily journaling of my intentions for the day and the things I’m grateful for. I never realized the importance of this until recently. It’s been so nourishing and vital to my mental health.
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about how you feel about your body that you would want to share with your daughters?
I would want them to know that fitness is not about the perfect body. It’s about overcoming insecurities, gaining confidence, and inner strength to face our biggest fears. I’d like them to know that their bodies will under go change at every season, learn to love it and learn to befriend it. We are the only ones who can push ourselves to better our lives, other people can be inspirations, but that’s about as much as they can be. Within us is the power to make a change in our lives. YOU GOT THIS!
If you don't follow Jo, go check her out at gofitjo. Thanks so much for being part of this series Jo! Always appreciate your love and support!
Next up on my blog is Michelle (mindsetforlifeltd) I found Michelle through Dana, (dothehotpants) and I'm so happy I found her. Michelle's Instagram spoke to me personally because of her campaign Scarred Not Scared. Michelle has had 15 surgeries, and has scars all over her body. This obviously spoke to me because of the scars on my arm, neck and leg. Her campaign is powerful and she's always sharing the amazing people who are part of it. Michelle talks about her campaign, why she started it and more on body positivity in the interview below.
We all have an inner critical voice – what do you do to pick yourself up when you’re feeling down on yourself?
I try to poke holes in whatever my inner voice has said. How I dealt with my inner voice for years has changed over time. I used to say what I was thinking out loud because then you realize how stupid you sound and a lot of the things you’re saying are things that aren't true. In your head, if you’re thinking no one likes you, and you say those words out loud, you can see that’s not true and it’s exaggerated. I don’t know about your inner voice but mine over exaggerates and over emphasizes the negative in everything. So when I say it out loud, I’m like, ok let's go back to reality. One person doesn’t like me in this moment and it doesn't mean that everyone doesn’t like me. So I just break it down by fact checking it with the reality of the situation. For example, there was a point in my life I thought I was an awful writer, which was very much taught to me from school. You would think it ends in school, but it doesn't because now I am a writer and I write everyday on my Instagram. Occasionally when a spelling or grammar mistake comes out, it's really easy to jump back to to that old place and think I’m an awful writer. In that moment I will go back to times when people have specifically complimented me on my writing or the number of times that people have told me my writing has inspired them. I fact check it and prove that what I’m thinking is not right; it’s just one spelling mistake or one grammar mistake and it’s not the end of the world. That’s how I work around it.
The thing that I’ve found that combats the inner voice the most is meditation and just taking the time to breathe and just calm down. I think when I personally get over stressed, I do jump to that place where I over exaggerate everything. When I breathe and take a moment I’m more realistic.
We’re constantly surrounded by messages from the media and our diet culture that we aren’t good enough. How do you navigate your way through these negative messages?
I think it starts with internal work; it starts with your own self-love and self-care. Once you’ve established a basic learning of self-love and self-care, those messages aren’t influencing you as much and don’t have an impact on your day as much as they used to. Obviously it's still frustrating as hell that they’re being thrown in everyone’s faces, especially children. We are teaching children at such a young age all of these messages. I believe that what’s more powerful for children than the messages they’re getting around them is the messages they’re getting at home. If parents work on self-love and self-care, it will help their children not internalize those messages. You can even have conversations around that, saying this might be what you’re seeing but that doesn’t mean it’s true. The reason that you're seeing that is because the company is profiting off of it. Give them the reasons why those adverts are there because children are getting smarter and smarter younger and younger thanks to things like the internet and social media. I think it’s a shame that parents sometimes don't have these conversations with their kids because they don’t think they will understand.
I was actually going back and reading my childhood diaries on my YouTube the other day. Going back to my diaries, even without the internet at 8 years old, I was already getting these messages. I had written a diary entry that said I just went to the gym and lost 7 pounds I’m so happy! I don’t know how the hell I stepped on a scale and weighed myself 7 pounds different before and after but I had already learned that at 8 years old. So it makes you think, what are children learning now, and they’re definitely learning it a lot younger than when I was learning it.
Could you talk about your scars?
I’ve had 15 surgeries. I have scars on my head , my chest, my stomach, on my ankles, all over my body. It’s why I started my campaign Scarred Not Scared. All my scars are hidden; you wouldn’t see them or notice them in day to day life. I went out of my way to hide them. When it came to bikinis those were off limits.
I reached a point where I had to take my top off in front of a boy - the first guy I wanted to take my top off in front of and I got really nervous. I didn’t know how to explain it because I had never had this conversation before. I had never spoken about my scars to a single person ever. My friends that saw my scars would stare at it but them but we would never talk about it. So I was 18 year old trying to figure out how the hell do I tell anyone about my scars. I was about to go to university where no one knew my story. Everyone at school knew my story because I had my operations while at school, and now I would have to explain to a bunch of new people what happened. So I started Googling, how to tell your boyfriend about your scar. Nothing came up! I was so alarmed by that because this was 8 years ago, the internet was fully fledged, yet you couldn’t find advice on it.
I really struggled through university but then, when I became a Life Coach, I was talking to one of my friends about it who said, you want to be a body confidence coach, but you won’t be able to help someone who's struggling with wearing a bikini because you have never worn one. So I made it my decision that summer to wear a bikini for the first time and that’s how Scarred Not Scared started.
Suddenly I started getting all of these stories of people sharing their scar stories with me. I guess I hadn’t quite realized how abnormal my medical history or stomach was until I went viral for it. It was then I realized that apparently my scars do look like a smile! I had no clue because I had never starred in the mirror long enough to notice. It was all of these things and people were like wow that's really unusual you went through all these surgeries. Just because it was my life, I didn’t think it was that abnormal; this was my normal. That’s when I knew we needed to start talking about it.
For all these years I hid it and lived in shame not wanting to talk about it because I didn’t want to draw more attention to them. I felt like it was wrong to be me and that it needed to be fixed or changed. So I wanted to create a community where we could talk about scars and not just scars but the surgeries or accidents that lead to them. I think it’s something very special about my campaign and the stories behind them. I believe body positivity is more than being about your body. Each story that I get is so much more impactful than whatever it could look like. And that to me always matters more than what you look like.
Are there any challenges with being influential on Instagram? Is there any negative self talk that stems from being influential and having lots of followers?
I have had the privilege of not having that many trolls. I’ve grown slower than a lot of the body positive Instagram accounts so I have had time to get used to it and not be thrown into the spotlight instantly. It is something that has been more positive for me, it’s never had a negative impact on my mental health. If it did I would really question if I would do it or not.
What I do feel is that as I’ve grown and hit the 25,000 mark, I feel more pressure to stick to the easier conversations and not the more controversial ones. I find it harder now to have those conversations without having to defend myself constantly. I did a post the other day about if my rise and growth of followers had lead to me losing my voice, then it wouldn’t have been worth it. I’m going to keep talking about what I want to talk about and you’re free to stick around if you want. I’m still going to have these conversations even if they are controversial.
What’s your favorite thing to do to show yourself some self-love?
My way of showing self-love is very much to do with my interval voice. I think there's this thing on social media where self-love has been equated to manicures and baths and to me that isn’t self-love. I will take a bath to just take time out of my life, but the self-love aspect of that will be what I’m saying, doing or thinking in the bath. I will take time to just get away from my hectic lifestyle. You can do this anywhere. I did this today by going to the gym. In that time I was at the gym, I spent that hour thinking about how I want to feel and where I want to be in my life. That means I focus on the now and also on the future, rather than focusing on the past which to me has always been my natural tendency, to just pick apart the things that I have done wrong in the past. Self-love and self-care to me is literally the smallest things, whether it be taking your medication if you need it or taking yourself out of the house. It can be really simple and basic, you don't need to buy nail polish in order to do it! It’s accessible to everyone and even just saying nice inside your head is self-love to me.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned about how you feel about your body that you want to share with others?
I would say to start somewhere because it’s going to be a long complex journey. Even just believing it’s possible to get to a place where you’re loving your body is a controversial belief to have. We get brought up a world where insecurity is almost expected. To be even open to the idea of loving and accepting your body exactly as it is now is controversial. So just open yourself up to that idea and that possibility and see where it takes you. Start getting curious about it. I think curiosity is the most beautiful characteristics about being a human. Getting curious about body positivity can lead you to an amazing place and really get you started on a journey to self-love and self acceptance. I’ve never found anyone that’s found body positivity and gone ugh I hate this, because the community is so loving and so supportive. We've been seeing this a lot recently with newbies joining the conversation, and they’re all so overwhelmed by how nice and loving everyone is. The number of comments I get now that they say I didn’t know the internet could be this nice. I’m like well the other internet to just people, it just depends what kind of people you find!
If you don't follow Michelle, go follow her at mindsetforlifeltd! You can also find out more about her on her site which you can find here.
Thanks so much for being part of this series Michelle!
Just a girl writing down her thoughts on life post-physical setback, body acceptance and wellness.