Back in 2014 I shared my “reverse progress” photo. At the time, it was the scariest, most vulnerable thing I had ever done. I was a fitness professional who had long clung to the idea that I needed to have a perfect body in order to be successful in this industry.
I thought I needed to have a perfect body in order to be loved.
In order to be happy.
In order to be free.
But the thing that actually set me free was learning to give myself compassion, to let go of perfection, and to treat my body with love, not loathing.
Posting that initial “reverse progress” photo was scary as a mofo, but in a very real way, it was the culmination of this sense of freedom. I got every comment you could possibly imagine:
“I liked you better then.”
“I like you better now.”
“Thank you for sharing your story.”
“You got fat.”
“You’re too skinny to know anything about body image.”
“This is so inspiring!”
“You gave up and let yourself go.”
“Thanks for showing me I’m not alone!”
The point in posting it wasn’t to start a discussion about MY body, it was to help other women start a discussion about their own–to help them release deeply rooted body image issues and learn to be free in their bodies. That conversation is still happening, and helping women start a discussion about their own–to help them release deeply rooted body image issues and learn to be free in their bodies. That conversation is still happening, and helping women start that conversation is a key component of my business.
It’s been 2 years since I shared that photo, and I figured it was time for an update. This is not your typical before and after. The first photo was taken in 2009, at the height of my food/exercise obsession.
The second photo was taken this morning.
In 2009, I was the leanest I’d ever been; today, I’m 10 pounds heavier.
Some people might call this “giving up” or “letting myself go” (trust me, I’ve gotten those comments), but the truth is, neither of those are valid. I still exercise daily and I don’t binge on junk food.
The only things I’ve “let go” are obsessive behaviors in the pursuit of leanness, and the belief that my body somehow defines my worth. Allow me to paint a picture for you of the stark differences between 2009 and 2016…
- I was 12% body fat, 120 pounds.
- I trained 2 hours per day and would often use exercise as a punishment for “bad” nutritional decisions. If I didn’t have time to train 2 hours, it meant I was undisciplined and didn’t have my priorities straight.
- I counted EVERY SINGLE calorie Monday-Friday, and then, because I couldn’t maintain it, I’d binge my face off on the weekend.
- After my weekend binge, I would wake up Monday morning 3-6 pounds heavier than I was on Friday, and then proceed to be as strict as possible to lose the bloat by Friday.
- I weighed myself *every single day,* and depending on what it said, the scale would determine my mood. If I didn’t like the number, I would often cry and feel like a failure.
- I was in an abusive relationship in which I thought, “if only I can be perfect, my partner won’t cheat on me again.” He would often comment on my body if I started to gain fat, and I was quick to change my behaviors to gain his approval.
- If I was lean, I was happy, worthy, and confident.
- If I gained even TWO POUNDS, I was unworthy, undisciplined, a total failure.
- I would turn down invitations to hang out with friends because I was afraid to go “off” my diet. In time, they stopped inviting me because they didn’t want to derail me.
- I looked “healthy” on the outside, but on the inside I was broken. I was suffering from co-dependency, in an abusive relationship, and I generally hated my body–even at this level of leanness. It was never good enough.
- I was never good enough.
And YES, you can be very lean, and not experience any of the above, but the unfortunate truth is that most of us don’t go about it that way.
Most of us pursue extreme leanness because we think if/then. IF I can be leaner, THEN I will be happy. IF I can lose 10 pounds, THEN I can start enjoying life.
After much healing…
This photo was taken just this morning, after I got home from the gym. Yesterday I weighed 131 pounds and I’m probably about 17% body fat. I also did a 32 kg (70 lb) Turkish Get Up this morning, so YAY!
- I do Crossfit 4x a week, practice yoga at home, and enjoy leisure walks with my dogs. I love, love, love my exercise regimen; it brings me so much joy.
- I listen to my body. If I feel like a rest day is necessary, I take it. If I’m PMS’ing and jonesing for some chocolate, I eat it. If I want to enjoy a glass of wine, I drink it. No regrets.
- I never feel guilty about food I’ve eaten or wine I’ve drank.
- I never say no to social interaction out of fear of what I might consume or being “tempted” by food.
- I don’t count calories, but I strive to *mostly* eat whole foods, with the exception of some indulgences as I see fit. I eat when I’m hungry. I don’t binge or restrict. I don’t have “cheat” days. Sometimes I drink a bottle of wine (OH WELL!).
- I don’t hide my body or retouch my photos, and in fact, I am much more comfortable in my skin NOW, than when I was my leanest.
- I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that no matter what my body looks like, I am worthy–simply because I am. Worthy of love, success, affection, and belonging–the fat on my body (or lack thereof) has absolutely nothing to do with my worth as a human on this planet.
- I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that by being PRESENT and practicing self-love, I can be (and am) happy NOW, not later when I achieve some arbitrary body goal.
- I’m less anxious and less attached to outcomes. I believe in directing my energy towards my highest intentions for living, and letting the Universe take care of the rest.
- I’m HAPPY. Like actually happy. With my body. With my life. All of it.
When we talk about “body positive,” a lot of people misinterpret that as a justification for obesity or destructive habits. The truth is, body positive isn’t pro-sedentary. It isn’t pro-junk food. It’s PRO-COMPASSION. Pro-acceptance.
The movement exists to help you give yourself permission to be just where you are, and love yourself as is.
Permission to give yourself some grace, and give yourself a break. And most of all, permission to COMPLETELY detach your worth and character as a person from the size and shape of your body.
This isn’t about which body is better or if leaner is better or worse. In fact, it isn’t about the body at all–it’s about affirming that our body fat and our worth are not in any way related.
We don’t have to HUSTLE for leanness in an effort to be happier, accepted, or more comfortable in our own skin. We don’t have to look a certain way in order to experience connection and belonging.
We are already worthy of those things. RIGHT NOW.
People often ask me, “But, Neg…how?! How did you go from being so obsessed with your physique to being comfortable and empowered?”
It isn’t sexy, but for me, the first step was admitting I wasn’t living empowered, I wasn’t in my integrity. And the next step was practice. Consistently. Compassionately.
I started reading everything I could get my hands on, journaling, and practicing self-compassion and body positive habits. I went to therapy. I went to co-dependents anonymous meetings.
I was patient (and sometimes I wasn’t).
And after much practice and much growth, I arrived at this place:
The place in which I can post a half naked picture of myself on the internet and not actually care what anyone thinks.
The place where I can use my story to help other women heal and reframe their own stories.
The place where being empowered, invigorated, kind, compassionate, and creative are more important to me than being 12% body fat.
The place where I am MORE than a number on the scale (or any number, for that matter).
And so are you.
The journey between 2009 and 2016 was both excruciating and effortless, in turns. It was WORK and it was WORTH IT. I have never felt so alive, so empowered, so free in my body as I do today.
This is why I do the work that I do–to share that freedom with women all over the world and help them heal their wounds. To help them take back their power from the scale, from the images in magazines, from the bullshit “bikini body” expectations.
It’s why I blog, write my newsletter, create programs, film videos, and post across social media–and it’s why I started Wholehearted Coaching.
Women are READY for this shift.
We are ready to be MORE than our bodies. We are READY to feel worthy and powerful and free–right now, not 20 pounds from now.
We are ready to train because we love our bodies, not because we hate them.
We are ready to embrace imperfection.
We are ready to let go of the idea that our body determines our purpose and worth in this world.
We are ready to be set free.
If you’re ready to be set free, to live your life free of obsessive behaviors, and love your body NOW, join me for a life-changing adventure:
It’s a 12-week fitness and lifestyle adventure, designed to help you live your most EMPOWERED life. It’s for women who crave a life of freedom, balance, and authenticity–who want to live more courageously, vibrantly, creatively, and of course, ABUNDANTLY.
Wholehearted Coaching is for YOU.
Because you deserve that.
You deserve to be free in your body and thrilled with your life. You deserve the permission to be powerful, the permission to love your body, the permission to detach your worth from your physique–and in the next 12 weeks, I can help you do just that.
Here’s what you get with Wholehearted Coaching:
- 12 in depth coaching modules designed to tackle our most significant issues
- A welcome packet including what to expect, reading recommendations, tools for coaching success, and other valuable insights
- 12 weekly packets discussing these specific themes
- Weekly videos discussing these profound topics
- Weekly open Q&A to discuss any and all topics
- LIVE webinars (with replay available)
- Monday-Friday coaching support from me via our private group
- 12 weeks of customizable workouts
- Guidance on fitness, lifestyle, relationships, and career endeavors
- Form checks and video analysis via our private group
- Weekly projects and journaling activities, plus creative ways to connect with other Wholehearted Women
- 12 weeks of nutritional guidance and consulting to help you learn to eat in a way that fuels your body, thrills your palate, and fits your lifestyle
- A private, safe, non-judgmental group to share and connect with other Wholehearted Women
You can be fully empowered and find freedom and compassion in your own skin. You can have the sisterhood and support of other wholehearted women who’ve got your back every step of the way. You can be free in your body and full in your heart.
Wholehearted Coaching will teach you how.
As your coach, my ultimate intention is to help you step fully into your power. This is what gives my life purpose and meaning, and being able to share that with you is a gift I don’t take lightly. For me, standing in my power means living authentically, abundantly, and compassionately–for myself, as well as others.
It means that when I wake up in the morning, I don’t groan and lament the start of the new day. Instead, I wake up inspired, energized, and absolutely pumped to fulfill my purpose. It means that I have more positive energy in my life and fewer feelings of anxiety and stress. It means that very night I go to bed thinking, “Yeah Neg, you owned shit today. No matter what, it was enough.”
That’s the ultimate goal of WHC–to help you cultivate a mindset that puts you fully and unconditionally in your power–to help you let go of the idea that you need to look a certain way in order to be happy. It’s my most intimate, personalized, high-level program, and it’s open for enrollment TODAY.
All you need to do to start the enrollment process is click here. You’ll be taken to a page that explains what WHC is all about, with an application at the very bottom. Once you submit your short application, you’ll be guided through the entire process and payment options.
(Please note, submitting an application does not obligate you to the program in any way–in fact, many women say that filling out the application taught them so much about themselves.)
This program only opens for enrollment 3 times a year, and the last session sold out in under two days. Plus, I’ve already filled almost half of the spots through my waiting list, so please don’t wait to apply!