The last two weeks I tried a little experiment on myself; going makeup free every single day. I was surprised to find out that at the end of it, I felt more confident without makeup and that was an exciting realization for me.
You see, it hasn’t always been like this.
Four years ago I was deeply insecure. Weighing 35 lbs more than I do today, I used to use food as a coping mechanism for anything I was going through at the time. Sad? Food. Bored? Food. Having fun? Food. Not to mention I also had really bad acne all over my forehead and had to cover it with layers of concealer and liquid foundation which was creating more acne. This was such a departure from the confident girl I had always been growing up.
I remember when Perry and I were dating and he would bring his camera along on our dates for fun. Whenever he asked to take a photo of me, I would cringe inside because I hated having my picture taken. I felt so awkward in my body. I didn’t know what to do with my hands. I didn’t know how to hide my double chin. I wore baggy clothes that would coverup parts of my body that I didn’t like. And because I was an emotional eater, I’d get stuck in a cycle of emotional cues leading to eating, and eating leading to emotional cues. It was rough you guys.
There was no single solution that pulled me out of that dark place that I used to be in. Instead, it’s been a long series of events that have occurred in my life over the last several years but I want to dive into them for anyone who may find themselves or a loved one struggling in the same way.
After I had Ella, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression (now I think it was postpartum anxiety but that’s beside the point). It lead me down a path of self improvement and introspection where I was forced to deal with a lot of the underlying issues that had actually been going on for years. And by saying I was “forced” to deal with them… I wasn’t actually forced. I just knew that if I didn’t deal with them, my life was going to spiral.
I knew I couldn’t be a good wife, mom and human if I didn’t pull myself together.
I knew I needed to get gritty. I knew I needed to change.
But, where was I supposed to start? Thankfully after doing a bit of research, I taught myself Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and developed new ways of coping with stressful situations.
Now when I feel anxious or insecure about something, I write down gratitude lists, because I know they have an immediate impact on my mood and perspective. I take walks to the park in my neighborhood and swing on the swing set because it makes me feel like a spunky little girl again. I pray and read my bible because it grounds me and reminds me that I am apart of something bigger than myself. Overall, I think the most important thing for anyone looking to break an unhealthy coping mechanism is to find a healthy way to redirect negative energy. If this topic is something that interests you, also look into “equanimity” which is a Buddhist phrase for watching your emotions come and go from an outside perspective. We don’t have a good word for this in the english dictionary, but plenty of ancient cultures have held onto this idea. It’s the understanding that you are not what you feel. Sometimes we feel for no reason at all.
Mayhem occurs when we live a life lead by impulsive emotions.
Whenever I start feeling anxious, I use equanimity as a type of mantra to get me back on track.
As I developed new coping mechanisms to deal with whatever life happened to be throwing at me, I began to realize that I was slowly shedding my extra weight. I wasn’t on a diet. I wasn’t working out. In fact, I was eating whatever I wanted whenever I wanted. But as my inner world was moving towards health, harmony and balance, so was my outer world. I slipped back into my bodies natural weight after I had Ella, which just so happens to be the same weight as when I was in high school; a time when I had zero awareness of my body (a good thing in my opinion!). Perhaps putting too much focus on our bodies can make us overly aware of our insecurities, which then creates negative energy, which in my case lead to emotional eating.
Honestly, I’m shocked that I eventually escaped this cycle. At one point I felt like it consumed me and I was never going to find my way out. This went on for years. I had the same conversations with my support system (Perry and my mom) over and over and over. Somehow, here I am, and I can honestly say that getting out of that cycle has transformed my life in more ways than I can count.
Now I walk into a room with the same confidence I had when I was in high school. I can go to any party, restaurant or grocery store without feeling anxiety over losing control of my eating habits. I don’t have to waste any of my energy counting calories, researching diets or working out for weight loss. Now if I workout, I do it because I know it’s good for my heart. And as I mentioned earlier, I no longer have to hide behind layers of makeup in order to feel confident.
I know where my power comes from.