Can Less Clothes = More Self-Confidence?
The lovely S-Life Sakaralite Meagan and I were brainstorming articles, when she suggested the idea of sharing tips on how to feel good in your own body during summer — as it’s a season with more skin and less clothes, more self-consciousness and less body confidence. Daunting…as this topic is so close to my heart, and I decided to give it a go to share with you some gems that have helped me along the way.
Here’s the thing — I, like too many others, have struggled with eating disorders since I was 12 years young. At 16, I quit figure skating — my passion of a decade — because I thought it was making my thighs fat, and therefore I would never get thin like the models in the magazines (of course, I was solid, beautiful muscle). I spent years working off every calorie and watching every meal. Quietly, I suffered from immense self-hatred.
When I left for the Big Apple to work in the Fashion Industry at 17, that strive for an "ideal body" followed. I used everything and anything to keep my weight low. When I was 20, I lied to my therapist and said I was having trouble focusing at the demanding showroom job I was co-running and asked for adderall. Without hesitation, she gave me the Rx and off I went without eating more than half a sandwich for days. I got so thin I remember standing on the scale at my lowest weight thinking, if I go any lower, will I survive?
That thought terrified me! How could I get here?! I left the Fashion for the wellness world in search of answers. For the next five years, I did tons of yoga, saw multiple therapists, healers, shamans, and tried hundreds of cleanses (all to little avail). It took me a while to realize that while I had good intentions, I was using the wellness world as another attempt to try to fix myself, rather than work on accepting me, for me.
Last year, I was seriously orthorexic. I was terrified to eat anything that wasn't protein and vegetables. So terrified that if I didn't, I would break out. I transferred the fear of getting fat, to the fear of breaking out — manifest as another way of saying, ”there’s something wrong with me and my body." I started dating my current partner who radically challenged me to let go of my fears, embrace my body and my skin, and start to enjoy life instead. It was a challenge that I was finally ready to take on, as I was tired of waging war against my body and it fighting me back. (Anyone feel the same?)
And so, armed with so much self-compassion, I began to relax. It wasn't an overnight success story, and it’s been a day-by-day bumpy road to learning how to drop all the fears and begin to accept myself for who I am today. I heavily relied on, and continue to rely on, Kundalini Yoga for helping me begin to develop more confidence and self-acceptance while dropping away the self-sabotage behaviors that were leading me to dislike my body in the first place.
Slowly — via this path of self-compassion and surrender to what presently is — I’ve come to appreciate this body that I have and it no longer triggers me when I see someone with a body I once would have thought is better than my own. I've learned to stop comparing myself to others and rather, to start to being inspired by others! I've learned to listen to my body when it needs a break and to also indulge when the time is right. Balance is key.
Summertime is a season where the envy and self-hatred can kick up, simply because there are less and less clothes to hide behind. But rather than hiding behind the fears, it's an opportunity to use this challenge to grow past the self-hate and into complete self-acceptance! Give yourself that gift. Every challenge is an chance for us to become bigger and better versions of ourselves, if we're open enough to it.
Everyone will find a way to embrace self-acceptance their own way. And that is so beautiful. So to inspire you to kick-start your own personal practice during this season, here are some tools to keep you grounded in self-acceptance as the hotter months come on:
- Write out a plan for the week of doable action steps that you can take to feel good in mind, body, and spirit. Aim for your entire pyramid to remain balanced throughout the day. You will feel infinitely more empowered and energized by creating action steps that you're actually excited to commit to, versus overreaching and feeling guilty about not measuring up on time.
- Yoga (or, your favorite gentle way to move your body!) and meditation, daily, to keep the self-hatred + sabotage OUT, and the confidence + radiance IN.
- Similarly, stay active not to lose weight, but to be #sakarastrong! With physical strength comes mental strength. Running, boxing, or HIIT trainings give you a rush of endorphins and a great cortisol (stress hormone!) flush. Personally, I love Kayla Itsines workouts. They’re so challenging and make me feel like a badass. Channel your inner strength, which will give you more confidence and goddess power.
- Eat plenty of plant proteins, healthy fats, and a generous Sakara-approved amount of greens and delicious in-season veggies — while, also knowing when the right time to indulge in richer, amazing meals with friends is.
- Laugh. A lot. Spend time with people who don’t care what you look like, and just want to be with you because they love you.
- A MUST for self-acceptance is mirror affirmations! Everyday, look at your unique self in the mirror and say, “(Your Name), I love and I approve of you completely. You are beautiful, radiant, and you are everything that is good, and loving.”