I was at an event today and as you know, when you meet new people, you chit chat about how you started with what you do. It has been a while since I got to the root and really explained just how my profession and then APL came to be for me. I realized, not many people get that story and it is so much of who I am. Alas, I decided to share it with a twist, explaining how I evolved into who I am today in more than 140 characters or in an edited photo of my current meal or completed workout. So you can see that I have struggled with my body and my confidence throughout my life like so many of my followers and clients. (Fun Fact: Just because of my profession, I am SO not immune to having issues with my own eating and my own motivation, or lack there of…)
In talking about my start in this industry, I did flash back to when I truly woke up and clicked into the woman I am now, both professionally and personally. When I say click, I mean the instant I figured out where I wanted to be and how I wanted to live, because DAMN it was hard work to get here and it was not immediate or easy (maybe “click” is the wrong word, haha.) In my mind, I time-traveled back to Ashley (then, an unmarried Ashley Walter,) pre-APL, definitely before adopting my “I am gonna’ kick ass” attitude, and far before I had any idea just how pivotal a role nutrition was going to play in my life. Lots of tumultuous times played out before my eyes: high school anorexia and serious exercise bulimia, above average college weight gain and serious depression, isolation, massive insecurities that interfered with relationships and professional success, crying every time I entered a dressing room (no matter what my size was 00-12,) 40+ fad diets tried/failed, a laundry list of food allergies (nearly didn’t make it through discovering one) and a slew of intolerances, chronic digestive disorders, goodness knows how much money spent on help of any kind, and so on…Obviously, it is easier to remember the negative, but I think of my experiences, both good and bad, as building blocks for the stage I now stand upon with pride…I OWN who I was in my past, flaws and all, and I have to say…that has been my biggest fear, but also my biggest success to-date.
Let’s get real; everyone has a story. I am not pretending to be in a place where no woman (or man) has been before. We’re all in the same boat, just have ridden different waves. The difference comes in how you utilize those experiences to make yourself a better person. Owning YOU is such a big part of living a healthy lifestyle. When you become happy with yourself and put your health first, you will succeed and you will truly feel it as a boost of energy and motivation.
A few random tips from my last decade of figuring sh**t out….
1. The first thing I learned was forgiveness. I had to forgive myself for the mistakes I made and more specifically, what I had done to my body to try to attain perfection (which I now know doesn’t exist- EVER.) Without forgiveness, you cannot move on and start fresh.
2. Step number two in my life was to stop comparing myself to other people. This is essential for your self-esteem, but also for you to truly identify who you are and not that you want to be a mash-up of other people. I used to be the girl who walked in a room and would comparison shop (I want her thighs, her nose, blah, blah-sound familiar?) I made myself feel like the least attractive person within 100 miles for no reason. Now, I applaud others without wishing it for myself. I was born this way baby, big booty and all! So I own it. This was certainly easier to do after Step 1: forgiveness. I know how hard I have worked to be healthy in my life, so whether that is in a size 10 or a size 2, the effort is what I focus on and not that my thighs aren’t the size of a carrot stick.
Aside from comparing yourself to others physically, you also cannot do it in any other capacity. The more authentic you are to your natural inclinations and who you truly are on the inside, the better off you will be. My career, what kind of mother I am, how I eat, down to even how I workout…it is all done in a way that is best for me, at whatever time in my life I am in, and in no way to be measured up to or compared to others.
3. Dump toxic relationships of all kind. Even more so, don’t ever let anyone in your life hold a metaphorical mirror up to you and tell you who you are or what is wrong with you, especially when it is just NEG-A-TIVE crap. They suck. (Just kidding, they probably don’t, but they could be deflecting their own issues onto you, which no one needs.) Hang with people who make you flourish, who are supportive and loving, who bring out the best in you, and vice versa.
3. NOTHING is worth it if you have to take incredibly drastic measures to achieve it…this couldn’t ring more true when it comes to weight loss and exercise. I have been there, done that ladies and gents. I have ruined my metabolism before through starvation, lost a ton of weight, gained more, worked out 5+ hours a day, eaten an apple and a Diet Coke a day for a month straight to get bikini-ready, been vegan, Paleo, and yada, yada, yada…From each instance I have learned that deprivation is the Devil and there can be “too much of a good thing.” I have since mastered the recipe for my body that is the right way to live to feel my best and I encourage you all to have the patience and help to do so for yourself. There is nothing better than being at peace with how you live, feeling healthy and happy on a daily basis, and staying healthy in a realistic way.
4. Celebrate others for their beauty and success, but don’t covet them. Sounds similar to the comparison shout-out, but really it is just dropping judgment and envy and being a CHEERLEADER. Even if you have stopped comparing yourself to others, you may still secretly sabotage yourself by spending too much time lusting after other people’s situation. You are your own person and trust me, just as much as you may want what they have, there are people out there looking at you and saying the same thing.
5. On a more superficial level versus emotional/internal level, I learned how to dress for my body. I highly recommend getting help from a stylist and a good tailor. I don’t have a personal stylist budget, but I have met with one once to go through my current closet of clothes and recommend the best styles, cuts, and colors for my particular body. I even took some things I owned to get tailored to fit better without needing to shop more. Yes, I have a pear-shaped thing going on with a shorter stature (same height as Carrie Bradshaw, so not complaining, just wear heels a lot) and a smaller upper body. That sounds like it’s meant to be a negative statement, but it isn’t! I now know what to wear to accentuate these features in a GOOD way and the best part, in a way that makes me feel HOTTTTT! Not everything is made to look good on everyone, but there are things that will make you look KILLER, you just have to figure out fashion for your figure and then rock it.
I have blabbed on for too long, I know! I hope some of this resonates with you all and in some way helps you to overcome some of the things that may stand in your way from becoming a truly healthy person. At the very least, I hope you found a soul sister who maybe shares some of your past or present struggles. You are never alone; I am always here for support and wish nothing but HEALTH & HAPPINESS for you all!