Hold on tight this one is a long one, but needed to be shared.
If you were to ask me my version of beauty today vs my version of beauty from 10 years ago (maybe even longer), I would give you very different answers. My story is compiled into years and years of growing and finally feeling free at the age of 28 years old.
Beauty to me 10 years ago was defined by putting my identity in something or someone else. Let me explain, I grew up as an athlete and knew my purpose and identity was being “the athlete.” I defined myself as beautiful because it was a place that people told me I was doing a good job, or I was in great shape, that I was fast, etc. and I didn’t realize the depth of this identity until I finally freed myself of bad diets, quick fixes, and essentially humbling myself and asking for help. In all realness, it took me going through a rough mental patch in my pregnancy to having my baby to really putting my health first. Now more than ever I have a true understanding of beauty. Especially beauty within me.
Here is some back story:
I started working out with a trainer at the age of 15 years old to improve my performance and fell in love with fitness. At 18 I received a Division 1 Scholarship away from home where I first discovered the pressure of holding a standard to someone else that was not me. During 5:00 AM weights during season, we were weighed about 3 times a week, and while this is very common, I was criticized for being 3 pounds heavier (even if it was because my time of month came). I started to see that the number on the scale as normal for my body. I ended up transferring after my freshman year and while I left that school behind, I found that I carried the standard of what weight and how my body should be with me. I was young and vein and thought that this shape I was in at the time was what the kids say nowadays “bod goals”. I thrived for compliments that came with being an athlete and fully put my confidence in the hands of others. It’s sad to write this and think that I was so obsessed with holding onto the image for others even pre-social media. I felt “beautiful” on occasion based on my collar bones, my stomach, the toned leg muscles and put so much power into this thought of beauty that I didn’t really KNOW ME.
Hilo, Hawaii is where I finished out my collegiate athletic career and it was the greatest experience but taught me a lot of hard lessons. I was now living in a place where I was in a bikini a lot and surrounded by a lot of other gorgeous women and teammates in bikinis. I found my now husband there and founded my Instagram based on my life on the island… sounds like a dream, right?
While I was so beyond blessed to live in one of the most beautiful places on earth (I’m super biased), I was now living in a world of comparing myself to other beautiful women. I was now living in a world of social media and trying to uphold this perfect image. I was still playing ball, but no longer trained for my performance but but rather for my appearance. Why? Because the number of likes on a photo was apparently more important than the strength, I had to hit the ball further, run faster, or throw harder.
My hardest lesson was the ankle reconstructive surgery right after my senior season. Just two months after my season, I was scheduled to be out of commission for MONTHS. Not only did I feel like I quickly became a washed-up bum, but I gained weight, and completely lost my identity. I didn’t know me without sports, I didn’t know me with a cast on, I didn’t know me 30 pounds heavier, and trying to be in the fitness industry while I was still rehabbing my ankle left me with no confidence at all. This may come off a little dramatic, but I felt shattered and lost because I didn’t know the value of my own self-worth outside of sports, outside of a bikini pic, or outside of the lifestyle I was living. Shoot, that was rough.
2014 until 2019, I battled, I struggled, I tried everything to fit the mold of an athlete when I was no longer one. I had good moments, then bad ones, I developed high anxiety, body dysmorphia, and just went through it until the biggest blessing changed my life... literally. I found out I was pregnant and although I can’t say I had the best pregnancy mentally, what happened after that was transformative.
Currently crying while typing this, but I thanked my body for the first time EVER in my whole life. Giving birth to our baby boy changed my perspective of what my body could do, and I had never appreciated it more. I felt strong and empowered……. until social media took over during my “breastfeeding hours” leaving me feeling a whole new standard that I wasn’t meeting. Post-partum is a weird thing and although I couldn’t have been prouder of my body, I felt this pressure of bouncing back, having a strong core again, and being this mom that I would see all over my feed (those dang algorithms).
I quickly made the decision that instead of feeling sorry for myself, I needed to take action to be the best ME that I could be.
I want to show up for my husband, my family, my baby boy, and my future babies.
In March of 2020, amidst the worldwide pandemic I reached out to a holistic nutritionist to help me with my hormones. After months of zoom calls, learning, changing, deep diving, and adding small tips to my day, I noticed the beautiful shift in my mind and then my body started to change. Another first time in my life moment, was being able to see food as valued and fuel and a friend vs seeing it as the enemy.
Shout out to Tori Simeone for changing my life and teaching me to fall in love with food the healthiest way.
I then sought out a naturopathic doctor to look a little more in depth into my actual health and ever since, I can honestly say that I have never felt more beautiful in my life. Not because I was a certain weight, not because of the way I looked in a bikini, not because of an Instagram picture, but because I am a dang beautiful person and through healing parts of my journey (bad relationships with food, anxiety, and body dysmorphia) I healed myself.
I am a kindhearted spirit, a wife, a mother, a daughter, and a friend. I feel confident in ME as a person which to me is the most beautiful gift I can give myself.
Beauty to me is the way we spread light into others and act towards ourselves. It’s not necessarily the picture that is posted, rather the moments that are captured and the journey that was and is being created.
I hope you have the most beautiful day,