With the recent launch of my online program, Sensual Movement, I am brought back a flood of memories to when I felt my lowest of lows in the sexy and confident arena. It may be shocking to some and I’ve been wanting to tell this story for some time.
In 2014 I had come off of a back-to-back stint of 7 bodybuilding shows. What started out as a bucket list goal became an unhealthy relationship with food, exercise and my thoughts.
Like many of the women that I have met over the years, I thought that when I could get myself as lean as possible, I’d love my body and finally be happy with myself. I’m pretty sure I thought “Geeze, aren’t all of these women who walk around with 6-pack abs, jacked and lean living happy wonderful lives and running around naked since they look perfect!???
And, while I know for certain there are some women that live happily with low levels of body fat, eat tilapia and asparagus for 5 out of 6 meals and count every calorie they burn (and ounce of water they drink) — that’s just not my experience.
While I would never take back my experience in bodybuilding, what I wish I could take back were the years of loathing my body in the process. Each show I wasn’t lean enough. I didn’t look as good as the other women. I was still too heavy.
Even at my last show winning 1st place and the overall in the masters division in a group of more than 45 women, I still didn’t love body, or myself, for that matter.
A typical day would go something like this:
- Wake up, look at my abs, pinch the fat around my stomach and think “I feel so fat”
- Get on the scale (after pee and poop of course) and freak out if my weight went up even an ounce
- Depending on what the scale said would determine my mood and how nice I was to everyone
- Every time I’d walk by a mirror I’d pinch the areas of my body that had fat I needed to lose
- I’d weigh, measure and count every morsel of food and, if the scale was up that day, cut something out
- Exercising 6-7x a week, oftentimes 2x per day usually ending in 2-3 hours of intense exercise
- Resent everyone who got to eat “normal” food
- Obsessively wearing a heart rate monitor (so much I went thru 3 of them) to count every calorie I was burning
- Avoiding any form of movement or exercise that wasn’t contributing to gaining muscle or cardio. Nothing was done for the sheer pleasure of fun or stress relief.
During my competition journey I typically avoided teaching Sensual Movement in my studio as much as possible. I wasn’t “in” it and I was too concerned with everything that I did for exercising needing to be aimed at fat loss. I didn’t want to be bothered with getting in touch with my sexy side, it was time to grind and any fun in that process seemed wrong.
It was during that time that I lost one of the most important relationships of my life – the one with myself.
I was chasing lower levels of body fat, lower and lower scale weight and happiness I thought would come at the end of all that.
I became robotic, obsessive and disconnected to my femininity. I had reached such low levels of body fat that my period disappeared for 4-6 months at a time with each show. My hormones were a wreck and my mind was a sea of disordered thoughts. There wasn’t much about me that felt sexy or confident.
What I didn’t realize was how much worse these thoughts, feelings and behaviors would become after my last show. When I decided to stop competing, naturally my body changed. It was completely un-realistic to think that I could maintain that physique for the long haul, but I was convinced and I was going to try. Those expectations fell flat and my unhealthy thoughts about my body and disordered eating were at an all time high.
It took almost 2 years to un-do all of the mental damage that I had done.
I had to get to know myself again. I craved to be the woman I was before I associated my worth with my leanness. The woman who fell in love with exercise, in particular Sensual Movement, because of how it made her feel, not how many calories it burned.
I had to get back to that place and it took time, but it was a beautiful journey back into who I truly was before the glittery bikini and spray tan.
I knew I couldn’t keep up that facade forever. I slowly started my reverse transformation. As my body changed and became softer, my thinking also needed to soften. I went back to my roots. I had to reprioritize how and why I exercised.
Here’s how I got back to a place of loving my body more than ever.
- I love challenging myself so I started doing things that offered clear, concise ways of determining winners (objective) rather than being chosen based on if a judge thinks I look good enough (subjective). So I did a powerlifting competition, several mud runs and a Spartan race. This gave me a fire to train for a purpose rather than my reflection. The body results followed and made exercise fun.
- I immersed myself in mindfulness. This was a huge turning point for me. I allowed yoga and Sensual Movement to be my moving meditation by connecting and flowing with my body for the pure joy of feeling connected to my sensuality again. Not to add calories burned to my heart rate monitor (I actually threw all of them away).
- I started talking to myself (sounds crazy, I know) like I talked to my most treasured clients who struggled with body image issues. I used positive affirmations to re-cultivate a genuine confidence regardless of the changing shape that my body was taking.
- I stopped overexercising as a means to fix the overeating that I was doing.
- I forever gave up eating cold gelatinous tilapia from a plastic Tupperwear container ever again.
It was the act of repeatedly doing these things over and over and over again in where I found my way back to my true luminous, confident and sexy nature.
Have you lost your way? Has exercise and eating healthy become a chore, obsession and a means in which you think you will finally achieve happiness, confidence or feeling sexy in your skin when you “arrive” at your scale destination?
My biggest testimony to cultivating my confidence, and the confidence of all of my clients, is Sensual Movement. It has been life changing. To be able to love my body EVEN when it was in transformation back to a healthier form was a life saver.
How about you? Are you needing to get back to learning to love your body and appreciate your femininity? Have you stifled areas of your life in efforts to chase a scale goal? Tell me in the comments below!