For years and years, I was just hoping that one day I will get to the point in my life, where I will be able to say to myself those three words. It took me 31 years to be that person who is not only saying “I love myself” but also feels it. I am living it through genuinely, honestly, fully, and truly. And it was not an easy journey.
The very first memory that pops to my head, that probably was one of the experiences that led me to not accepting myself the way I am for a long time, was in primary school. I remember sitting in the school bench with my friends when a younger girl came to me and said how ugly looking I was thanks to my freckles. It came to me by surprise, I did not understand where she was coming from, and I did not even know that girl. But that split second of moment, how weird I felt after a total stranger pointed out my insecurity, lived in me for a long time. One of the things I did not like about myself, one of the things I was insecure about, was my freckles. Seeing that everybody’s face is so clean in school and mine was full of these brown coloureds, dotted shaped like things. I did not understand why is that I have them and others do not. I did not understand why I was the one who had them and others got to be so lucky to not be the centre of attention due to this. And my sister, who I looked up to when I was little so always tried to imitate her; hating them on her, as well and was always trying to find different creams that promised to lighten the freckles or wearing heavy make-up so no visible signs of those beauty marks could be seen, were not the best examples a little girl can have. But my most favourite “bullying” of all times was from my own godfather who thought he was funny when he said every time, he visited us: “I see a lot of flies were around again.” Referring to flies pooping on my face, to be exact.
The other bigger insecurity of mine was my nose. I remember, I must have been around 8-10 years old, and one day I was looking myself in the mirror and I said how big and crooked of a nose I have and as soon as I got the chance, I must operate it so it would look like on the magazines for those beautiful models. Otherwise, how I could expect anyone to love me. Love only has to do with the superficial things like nose, face, lips, hair, and physical body that all must be perfect in order to get or deserve love. That was my belief.
I was fortunate enough, though, that I managed to leave all these ways of thinking and believes behind much sooner than my biggest battle of all. The physical body one. I think it started in high school when the media, different papers and all influential fashion magazines were advertising and celebrating the skinniest and tiniest and thinnest models. They were putting them on their cover magazines as a great selling point. All you could hear in the media that the thinner you get to be, the prettier and more beautiful you are and the more attractive you become to the other sex. I listened to them because what else a 14/15-year-old girl would do; I got brainwashed so I started to make effort towards my new goal. To lose the body fat that I had never had. I thought I had, though. But, no! I was not even chubby, to be honest. I had little meat on me, spread on my body proportionally, a little baby fat as they would call it when, as a woman, you are growing up and getting more feminine. But because I was not looking like those amazing ladies on the cover of the magazines, who were much older than me, I was not satisfied with myself.
I am fortunate enough to say that I had never been those people who would suffer so deeply with body image issues that it would take dramatic, drastic turns. But, it was severe enough to completely ruin my relationship with food. I had periods when I was taking aperient on a daily basis. Every single morning. It slightly got better when I managed to reduce to take them on occasions only when I thought I had ruined my “healthy” diet (which knowing what I know now was not healthy), because I had eaten pizza. Those occasions happened weekly, at least 2-3 times.
It was an ongoing battle for 15 years. Yes, 15 years. At some stages of my life, it was “better” but majority of my life, it was a struggle. I was obviously afraid of carbs and sugar; I was working out 6 days a week, doing heavy HIIT and cardio workouts for the soul reason to not to gain fat because I have eaten anything at all. There were a lot of the times when I was craving for certain “bad” foods like pizza, ice cream, doughnuts, and my all-time favourite, freshly baked pastries, but I did not allow myself to eat them because those were going to make me fat. And I can give you a lot more of examples on my relationship with food. But this is not that story.
This was hand in hand with how I was looking at myself in the mirror. I had never liked to see myself naked in it. Rather than seeing a beautiful young body that is perfect the way it was, that is always changing and never remaining the same, I had always seen my “flaws”. My small breast, my birthmarks on my body, freckles on my shoulders, my big fat belly, my huge thighs, and my skinny calf. Hence, the reason of my unhealthy way of working out. I had the belief that missing a day of workout will cause me gain weight so let's move my body as many times as I could on a week. So, I did that 6 times a week, as you know by now. But no-good results were seen because of my bad relationship with food, I was binge eating, as well. And as I have mentioned above, I though I was eating right but trust me when I say I had no clue what I was doing. And the food – exercise circle was going round and round and round, leading to nowhere.
This battle was huge part of my life, it was present in it in my teenage years and as an adult, as well. And during this time, I had never ever accepted myself or even had the feeling of loving myself the way I was. Not once, I knew that this situation that I got myself into was not healthy at all and cannot be done for a long time but still, I could not manage to change things around. I kept repeating the same issues.
Up until not too long ago, when I realised that it is not the food I am eating or the workout I am doing that needs to be changed so that things could turn for the better. Yes, I need to do something about them but it is never ever the superficial things that needs to be rewired, altered in order to see the change, transformation, results and growth we want to see in our life. It is my mindset that needed to be changed. My mindset about my beliefs that are connecting to health, food, exercise, and body image. Once, I started to shift my old fashion beliefs about how I supposed to look, or how I supposed to work out or why I supposed to eat those food and once, in general, I stopped listening to other’s opinion and started to listen to my intuitions and started to listen to my body; that is when it all got better. I started to eat, and exercise for me and for my Self. I left behind all what others were suggesting in social media I should do as a work-out routine in order to lose weight, or I should eat in order to have that six pack. They were all good suggestions, but they were not for me. I was never doing them for my pleasure but because I was told so by media. But once, I started to get to know mySelf and once I started to hear and listen to my intuitions, once I started to change my mindset around (and gained the nutritionist certification); the love, and acceptance for myself, the way I am came with them naturally, truly, fully, and genuinely.
Now, I can look into the mirror naked or not and say, “I love you” and mean it. I genuinely mean it without forcing the feeling onto me. I am grateful for the physical body that I have, I am grateful that this physical body is mine and I would never want to have somebody else's body. I am grateful for her carrying me and taking care of me and for being healthy and functioning perfectly. I am grateful for her handling well all the heavy things and pressures that I put on her throughout the years. I am grateful for her being with me all the time and I love her. I love myself. And saying that out loud gives me the feeling of freedom. And I love that! But not as much as I love myself!