I struggled with disordered eating and body image issues for years. I call that time in my life my “diet depression,” when I was literally on over 50 fad diets in less than four years, and I failed at every single one of them. It took three years of self-discovery work, sitting in the pain that I had suppressed for so long, and healing before I reached recovery and was able to stop emotional eating and finally love my body. Those three years taught me one of the most valuable lessons of my life: that self-love was the key to overcoming food and body issues, it was the key to transformation.
I grew up as a dancer and an actress. Everything about my life, my very identity, stemmed from things outside of myself. When I stopped performing at the age of 18, it was like every ounce of my significance disappeared. I didn’t know who I was. I was unhappy, lonely, and I felt lost. I started to focus on my looks more than ever, because they had always been the source of my significance and accolades. I began to obsess over food, tracking every single calorie I ate and expended. Right from the start of my battle, I was doing the thing that so many people do when it comes to food and body issues – I was externalizing an internal issue.
Everyone thinks that food and body issues are external. Thanks to the $80 billion weight loss industry, we are conditioned to believe that the way to “fix” ourselves is with the common “bandaid on bullet wound” quick fix methodology aka diet and exercise. Take a look at any fad diet on the market right now, and I guarantee that not ONE of them digs into the struggle from an emotional angle. Not one fad diet out there focuses on self-love as a foundational basis for healing. It’s all about what you eat, how you move, and how you look. It’s never about how you feel–emotionally or viscerally–it’s just a merry go round of restriction and emotional eating. It wasn’t until I ditched that mentality that my journey to recovery started. I hit rock bottom and got to the point where my emotional and mental well-being meant more to me than the number on the scale, and that is when I finally started to see progress.
At the beginning of my journey to recovery, self-love was a completely foreign concept to me. I was much more familiar with shame. I was constantly trying to shame my way to perfection and happiness. Fad diets were like a security blanket to me in that way, as they focus on rules and restriction. The weight loss industry revels in our shame, because it’s how they market to us – through our shame and insecurities. This is why dieting always made me feel worse. My shame and desperation to be thin led me to restrict, restriction led me to emotionally eat, and emotional eating led me to even more shame and self-loathing. It was a vicious cycle.
It took me a long time to realize that being a perfectionist was at the core of my battle. My all or nothing mentality was legendary, and also the reason why I always failed at fad diets. It was why self-love was incomprehensible to me. I was driven by the fear of failure, the fear of not being loved, the fear of not measuring up and being found unworthy. I was motivated by fear and shame, like so many people who struggle with food and body issues. One of the true turning points for me was when I realized that I needed to be motivated by love. Self-love. I’ll never forget the moment I had this revelation – that my struggle wasn’t a food and body issue, it was a self-love issue. It was a game changer for me.
I was always chasing a feeling, happiness and freedom. I thought that being a certain weight and looking a certain way would help me achieve this feeling. I thought diets, relationships, and validation from others would make me happy and carefree. The truth is that I needed to feel happy and liberated from WITHIN. This all started with self-love. Once I finally ditched my scale and gave up on fad diets for good, I started to focus on the emotional side of my struggle. I made time for unearthing my intuition and connecting with my body through stillness and meditation. I confronted the painful, sticky emotional issues that were the core source of my fight with food and body. I felt the pain, acknowledged it, thanked it, and let it go. Slowly, I began to trust my body and myself. I turned to food for comfort less and less. I began to truly heal. I began to fall in love with myself, not in spite of my flaws, but because of them.
Today, every single thing that I do is based in self-love. From how I nourish my body, to my workouts, to how I run my business. If it’s not an act of love, and it doesn’t feel good in my body, then I don’t do it. Self-love is one of the foundational lessons that fuel the coaching services offered by my company. It’s one of the top ways in which we help people heal their relationship to food and body. Like it was for me, self-love is most definitely a foreign concept to people who have been riddled with shame and guilt for most of their lives. But once they start to forgive themselves, and infuse compassion and grace into their work and healing, they experience incredible transformation. And something that I’ve seen help people along their own journeys to self-love is the shift we’re starting to see in societal standards and a call for self-love and body positivity. Companies like True & Co., who produce beautiful, comfy bras for women of all shapes and sizes so they can feel good in their skin, and Dove, a pioneer in the body positivity movement who creates inspirational ad campaigns about body diversity and acceptance.
The greatest gift I ever gave myself was learning to love and accept myself unconditionally. Now, I get to teach thousands of people around the world to do the same. Self-love really is the key to epic transformation. It’s one of the main tools to achieve happiness and peace. Self-love is a heal all balm that every single person should get to experience, which is exactly why I do the work that I do.