Hello, friends – happy 2020!!!!

This time of year always has me reflecting on what I’ve learned and how I want to approach a new year. Historically it’s been a time when I’m making a list of everything wrong with me that I need to fix. I’m happy to say that’s not the case this year. If there’s one gift I could encourage you to give yourself this holiday season, it’s this – BREAK UP WITH SHAMING YOURSELF.

How many years have you approached December and January thinking about whether or not you’re going to eat or starve your way through it? How many years have the holidays been a source of contention about your body, your eating habits, or vowing to become a totally different person in the new year, based solely on how you look?

Been there, done that, got the t-shirt in a size that probably no longer fits because I don’t starve myself anymore. 

I’ve lost track of how many times I struggled through a season of life worrying about food, worrying about how I look, and swearing I will embark on a total body transformation effective January 1st. And you know what? No amount of criticizing myself ever did me any good. I have been every size imaginable on December 25th and January 1st and February 14th and every day in between. I have eaten with reckless abandon and I have kept track of everything I put in my mouth. I have abstained from food served at holiday parties and I’ve eaten it mindlessly. What have I learned from the years of ups and downs?

Well, a lot actually. And you can bet I learned it the hard way.

If you’re ready to put an end to the vicious cycle of self-loathing, here are my top tips to get started. 

Love yourself first. I don’t think I can over-state how important this is. It’s the foundation for everything else. If you are constantly saying negative things to and about yourself, you have to stop it. I’ll say it again. YOU HAVE TO STOP IT. I know that’s hard when your inner dialogue has always been a running list of reasons why you’re not good enough. It takes work to stop being mean to yourself. While anyone can have a sudden epiphany, it often doesn’t happen overnight. That doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. I promise, from the bottom of my heart, it makes the biggest difference.

If I could go back and do it differently for myself, I would. It was only at one of the lowest points of my adult life that I realized it was too exhausting to go on treating myself like garbage. I hope you can find a million reasons to fall in love with yourself, but if it just feels too hard, then simply find one. Write it down. Read it everyday. Then, let people love you. I have talked about this in another post (click here to read) but I used to struggle with believing my husband when he told me he loved me no matter what I looked like. I grew up believing men don’t want to be with anyone who looks like me. As an adult, I got more attention from men when I was thinner, which only reinforced that belief. My husband knew me at various sizes, but when we started dating I was a much smaller size. When my looks changed, it was hard to believe he could still feel the same way about me. I didn’t give him enough credit. It took the heartbreak of miscarriage to understand something so simple – he loves me like crazy. I just needed to let him do it, and accept what he was offering, which was unconditional love. I wish it hadn’t taken such a painful situation to fully grasp this, but once I did, it changed everything. Accept the gift of love. Believe you deserve it. You do. 

Check your own judgments. I had a really bad habit of holding people at arm’s length because I thought if they were being nice, they just felt sorry for me. I always had my guard up. I was skeptical of people, waiting to be the punch line of a joke. Some of that was justified. I had been on the receiving end of hurtful things. But lumping everyone into one category isn’t fair. Judging anyone based on how they look isn’t cool – and it goes both ways. Some of my biggest advocates and cheerleaders look nothing like me. Before you roll your eyes at a girl who is thin, you have to ask yourself how you’d feel if she rolled her eyes because you aren’t. If you’ve ever been the victim of body shame, self-inflicted or otherwise, you know how much it hurts. Stop doing it to yourself, and stop doing it to others. 

Feel the fear and do it anyway.Letting go of shame and getting to a place of confidence means knowing it’s okay to be afraid. Confidence is the thing that allows us to stand tall, even while our knees are shaking. Confidence is how we know no matter the outcome, we’re still okay. It’s easy to tell ourselves we can’t do something because we haven’t lost weight yet. We promise ourselves we’ll lose weight, and then we will live the life we deserve. Did you know you deserve a good life RIGHT NOW? I was afraid to post a full length picture in an outfit. There was a time when you saw way more of my shoes on Instagram than anything else. But eventually I decided to stop avoiding it and post everything I was wearing from head to toe. IT WAS LIFE CHANGING. My blog, Instagram, Pinterest – all of it started to grow and thrive when I leaned into fear and did the thing I was scared to do. Today, my posts have been shared by national brands. My pictures have been seen by thousands of people. The number of negative things said are minuscule compared to the good. You know what’s awesome about that? I’m no different than you. If I can do it, anyone can. 

Feelings and perceptions about our bodies and self-worth are so personal. Some days it’s easy to find love and acceptance. Other days are filled with struggle and frustration from decades of hurt and shame. It’s on those hard days you have to remember you are valuable. You matter in this world. You deserve happiness. You deserve to see every one of your dreams come true. And that has nothing to do with the way you look

This year, I want to encourage you to put aside your fears or feeling like you don’t deserve good things unless you change. Try something new. Do something that challenges you. Run in the direction of your dreams as though your life depends on it. It does. And without question, demand the very best for your life. Put yourself out there and share what’s on your heart. I bet instead of falling, you’ll soar. As always, I’ll be here cheering for you. 

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