For some of you, what I’m going to reveal today might freak you out
You may get offended, write me off as an over-sharer, or you just won’t get it. But I’m willing to take that risk, because for some of you, this may just be the permission slip you’ve been waiting for your whole adult life.
I feel compelled to share this deeply personal journey up a mountain that for 30 years I have been positive was absolutely unclimbable, in case you are standing there looking up a mountain that is equally unsurmountable, and you need a hand to hold and a little push to take that first step.
Although this episode might not seem like it has much to do with building a brand or growing your business, I can assure you it does, so stay with me.
But fair warning, this episode gets REALLY real.
Today I’m going to reveal some pretty ugly, deeply personal stuff that I have never talked about with anyone before. This is your chance to turn back. But, if you DO decide to continue, and you see value in what I have to say, and you believe this message deserves to be shared, please share it. Share it privately with someone or share it on social media – whatever you feel comfortable with.
This is a topic I KNOW I’m not suffering in alone and I don’t think we talk about it enough. I mention the work of Brené Brown a few times in this episode, and as she would say:
“Shame hates it when we reach out and tell our story. It hates having words wrapped around it- it can’t survive being shared. Shame loves secrecy. When we bury our story, the shame metastasizes.” – Brené Brown
So this is me – reaching out and wrapping words around it. Ok, Here we go.
My whole life… literally since I can remember
I would look at fat women with disgust. I would scan up and down their whole body, analyze there lumps and bulges and wonder what their secret pain is. When fat women wear short shorts revealing cellulite I wonder ‘how can you go out in public like that’? When I would see a bigger girl with a handsome guy, I would genuinely think, ‘how did you get him to date you? What does he possibly see in you?” These are real, ugly truths that I’m not proud of.
I would look at thin women and think ‘wow she’s so pretty’ – what must it be like to walk through the world with a body that size? What must it be like to just wear a swimsuit without desperate humiliation, or dress without spanx to prevent chub-rub, or to be able to easily climb stairs or do push-ups without getting red-faced and winded. What must it be like to be the girl who gets chatted up in bars. What must it be like to actually be the Disney princess?
As I aged and matured of course I started to uncover the surprising truth: that thin women also have body shame. That not all thin women are fit and healthy. And that fat or thin, women deserve to be loved and wear short shorts in public without our judgement.
Of course, my conscious realization of these thoughts and judgements only began to surface when I started to look under some big heavy ocks in my own mind. It actually wasn’t that long ago that I discovered that these awful thoughts AND of course, that were not actually about other women. All of these nasty stories were a reflection of a life-long, unwavering disgust with my own body.
I thought true love would fix this.
In the last episode I described a break up with a fiance. A relationship I ended when I realized I was settling for what I thought I deserved, instead of what I actually wanted. Sleep-walking into an engagement was a huge wakeup call for me. I could no longer deny that there was something in me, limiting my potential and my belief in what was possible. So, after that breakup, I moved to CA, got all new stuff, and set about to do the work to get myself into a place where I felt like I actually deserved what I really wanted. I promised myself I wouldn’t date for a year and I’d just work on being the best, brightest, happiest version of me.
Eight months later, I was feeling really confident, everything was going well for me in the two businesses I owned, and at a wedding one weekend, I met the man of my dreams. Six months later, I moved to London. Two years after that, we got married.
But even with all of that bliss and excitement, change and success, looking back, what I find mind-boggling, is that I actually punished and hated myself right through all of this.
The work I thought I was doing on myself, was really about trying to be less of what I hated… instead of learning to love what I actually was.
My husband literally tells me everyday how much he loves my body and how lucky he feels to be with me… I thought, when I was younger, that if someone would just love me for me, and be genuinely attracted to me enough to want to spend their life with me, that would fix it. That would be the thing that could PROVE to me just how much I deserve love, and therefor, heal the deep wounds of my fat adolescence.
*spoiler alert* it didn’t.
He loves me, but I haven’t loved me. He loves my body, but I hate it. Let me tell you, it doesn’t matter how much someone else desires you, praises you, adores you, cares for you or proves to you over and over that they’re deeply in love with you and attracted to you – you simply cannot accept it if you don’t believe you deserve that love and praise. If you deeply despise something about yourself, you simply reject positive feedback. You simply don’t let any of that kindness and love sink in. But, it was easy to ignore, keep it shoved down, just keep ticking things off the to-do list, and working on everything else.
But this awareness began to wash over me as my husband and I started talking about babies and I started seeing success in my business. My attention finally started to turn towards the one truth I could no longer ignore last January during a retreat I host in Mexico, during what turned out to be a surprisingly spiritual opening ceremony on the beach. Here, with incense tingling in my nose, the sun baking my skin, and my feet buried in sand, the truth that finally made me take action hit me like a tsunami: I can’t help my tribe find what I’ve not yet found.
I help entrepreneurs find freedom and fulfilment by building brands that matter instead of just businesses, but I suddenly realized I was just going through the motions. I have built great and profitable brands, and I have built a life of incredible freedom, which includes great income, working from home, lots of world travel and deeply fulfilling work. But I wasn’t really allowing myself to enjoy it. I wasn’t feeling free or joyful. Why?
How could I TRULY love and support and help people design, build and live the life of their dreams, if there was an entire dark unexplored continent within my own life?
If I’m going to sell freedom and fulfilment, I needed to live it, and to live it, I had to define what it REALLY IS.
So, when I got home, I dove into a world of research, exploring books and white papers and the science of what really makes humans happy. I explored different cultural beliefs and modalities, I read hundreds of happiness recipes from dozens of authors. As I explored and began to create my definitions of ‘freedom’ and ‘fulfilment’ – I discovered a grave truth. One devastating reality that I desperately didn’t want to be true. I discovered that the #1 item on the list for feeling both free and fulfilled, (and all of the productivity and success in business stuff, by the way) is to learn to love and accept ourselves EXACTLY as we are right now. All the signs and authors and cultures pointed to self-love as the answer.
Ready for the big cliche?
I realized I couldn’t give love, if I didn’t truly love myself first. I have built my entire brand around ‘walking my talk’ and ‘keepin’ it real’ and caring, but this was one place I just couldn’t walk to. I couldn’t even look at it.
In the immortal words of of Brené Brown (who’s books “Daring Greatly” and “The Gifts of Imperfection” were among the many that I turned to for insights right after the retreat) it became painfully clear that: “I cannot give what I do not have.”
Sure, I can give love and care and support – but it’s exhausting and depleting because I don’t have enough to go around. As it turns out, when you refuse to accept love, or learn how to truly accept and love yourself, love is a finite resource instead of a naturally replenishing spring.
As someone who has managed to avoid this conversation my whole life, I was reealllllly did not want to ‘go there’. There are many, many things in my life I’m proud of, which I have fed off of in order to avoid looking at this dark corner. I have built a life where my confidence has been bolstered by the areas where I have focused and felt strong: mostly, my intellectual and entrepreneurial accomplishments. This started as a kid, when I was just good at school.
But, having also learned to heal some areas of deep shame and some destructive habits in my life, especially connected to money (which is a whole ‘nother story), I know transformation is possible, and in the areas where shame turns to empowerment – the payoff is life changing. But I’ve avoided THIS, My darkest shame, my deepest trauma my body shame, for as long as I have been looking in a mirror.
This has led to deeply rooted beliefs that I am unworthy of the things I most desire: success, freedom, fulfilment, and of course love, all because of the size and shape and texture of my body. I knew I could not explore a discussion about self-love, without exploring the deep disdain I felt for my body.
As I began to ponder this depressing truth (and stalled actually doing anything about it), I started to just get really conscious about the conversations in my head about myself. What I found was essentially a 24/7 narrative of self-criticism and self-loathing. Even having lived with that constant voice for over 3 decades, I stood slack-jawed and horrified by the way I spoke to myself, pretty much all the time, about pretty much everything.
Somehow, each task in the day, whether it was related to work, life or love – each deadline, every plan, all physical routines of course (like food, water, exercise, sex, bathing, getting dressed etc.) all occurred despite a quiet, dark, dreadful internal script of unworthiness, hatred, and most especially: disgust.
Three truths became excruciatingly impossible to ignore:
I have spent a lifetime disgusted by my large, jiggly, pale pink body. That makes me deeply sad.
I don’t acknowledge any of the wonderful things this body has done and continues to do for me, like its strength, its consistent good health and its pain-free movements, the joy, pleasure and reslience it offers me, its soft blemish-free skin, and most especially, its ability to maintain despite my mistreatment of it. That makes me deeply grateful and empathetic towards it.
Change is essential. I need to figure out some way to love and accept it, NOW. Not when it becomes less of what I hate and more of what I approve of. AND I need to work towards getting it into a fitter, healthier state. That makes me terrified.
So, the first thing I did, was to throw myself a life-line. I thought that to accomplish this impossible thing, perhaps using the same formula I had used to grow my business and heal some of my toxic money stories (the biggest thing I could think of that had previously been impossible and had become possible) just might work for this. So, I hired a coach. I told her I wasn’t read to ‘do anything’ yet – except talk-through the self loathing. It was pretty clear that my dozens of failed weight-loss attempts over the years (and even the few successful ones) had all ultimately been in vain because of truths #1 – my self disgust and truth #2 – my lack of self-love and gratitude.
As I began to loosen my grip on my self-hate, and began practicing little acts of self love and gratitude, I found myself being drawn to things that had previously seemed ridiculous to me. One of those things was the conversation on social media about body positivity. I began following plus-size models on instagram and pinning ‘body positivity’ quotes and role models on Pinterest. I began seeking out women who looked more like me, who I could genuinely acknowledge were attractive and even sexy, despite having larger, curvier bodies, and along the way I even found un-retouched campaigns showing swimsuit models with stretch marks and back fat.
What I experienced when I saw these things, at first, it felt like slipping into an ice-bath
As my senses and guts went into shock and discomfort at the sight of large, ‘imperfect’, jiggly bodies appearing in swimsuit ads. These women had cellulite and big wobbly thighs like me AND they are also undeniably, empirically attractive. More than that, these women were being paid to model swimsuits. My shock was absolute. My mind was blown. All the programming my whole life has told me this was not possible! But here it was…
As I explored the shifting conversation in popular media about being fat and still being beautiful, for the first time I didn’t immediately dismiss these messages. I let them sit. What if it is possible to be both fat AND beautiful? What if these things can co-exist? What if it’s possible to be big and jiggly and NOT disgusting? What’s more – what if I really AM as sexy and desirable as my husband says I am, exactly as my body is now and the way it was the day he says he fell in love with me at first sight? Could these things actually be true?
So, after months of research and experimenting, conversations and the secret, I’ve discovered, is this…
Facing the fear, putting the effort and investment in to learning… really learning through practice (not just thinking about it) how to love what you believe to be the most unloveable parts of you – whatever they may be, is actually the #1 KEY to being a successful entrepreneur.
I know this may seem insane and totally unrelated, but it’s not. If you want to get everything on your to-do list done, if you finally want a profitable business, if you want to find your magic, if you want to prove that you can do this, if you want to be able to quit your corporate job because your side-hustle business is finally providing you with a six-figure salary, then listen up.
Whatever your darkest corner is, it’s time to grab a flashlight and a buddy, and go there. You can avoid it for as long as you want – but while you do, you’re not going to access the ease, joy, freedom, fulfilment and success you’re hungry for.
I am sorry I don’t have better news
Trust me when I say I wish this weren’t true… but I promise you this is the it. This is the secret. This is the life hack you’ve been looking for. This is it, there is nothing else.
So, for me personally, my health coach and I have taken it up a notch, and we’ve moved out of the hypothetical into the actual. I’m not just exploring these concepts and talking about my feelings anymore, I’m facing my fear of failure and diving headfirst into another period of thoughtful eating, daily exercise, no alcohol, no sugar and no white flour. And, you know, I’m going public, I’m here talking to you about!
But this time, it’s not about the plan, or the days or the pounds or the steps. It’s about pushing to keep spreading this feeling of acceptance all over my lumpy, imperfect, lovely body.
It’s about LOVING myself through it, instead of punishing myself.
This trickles down to my work as well… I no longer belief in discipline… only acts of self love. When I don’t want to do something, instead of guilting myself and reminding myself how I always procrastinate and never finish things and how I HAVE TO DO IT, because it HAS TO BE DONE. Instead of all this I gently motivate myself by gently exploring how nice it would feel to have it done. How great it would feel to have the rest of the day to do other stuff without worrying about it. For me, it actually works a lot better and a lot faster, than the forcing it.
So for you, magic maker
if you want to join me in the daily practice of self love, your goal is to:
- explore and stay centered in the belief that: You deserve love and acceptance and anything else you desire or dream of, right now.
- Use the proof you have from past experience doing the impossible thing, and use that to remind you how strong and capable you are of doing what really matters to you.
- Acknowledging and work on accepting that you have everything you need to be successful right now, you don’t need to wait anymore.
Now, I have to tell you
When I sat down to write this, I fully intended to file it away until I reach some sort of ‘respectable’ weight loss goal, so I could share my success story with you. I mean obviously, nothing I say here has value until I’m thin and I get to tell you about the magical journey of losing weight and learning to love myself more and more each day. Right?
But that’s the old me trying to stay safe and perfect.
I am fighting these instincts, because deep inside I know this moment – the one right now where I’m terrified and raw and fat and empowered and trying with everything I’ve got to rewrite my stories… is the one that matters. Is the one where the REAL change can occur. Once the weight is gone, the change has happened.
I am willing to bet you might be having a similar moment.
Let me be clear, this is not about weight loss, it’s about learning to truly and deeply love and accept ourselves as we are NOW. It’s about learning to believe that we are allowed to be EXACTLY who we are RIGHT NOW and still be worthy of love, success, respect.
This is the real secret to having that big change, the big life you dream of. Just like starting or growing in business, it’s about not waiting. It’s about starting now, before you’re ready, and figuring out the details as you go along (which by the way, is much easier in business when you have the confidence that comes automatically from this whole self-love and acceptance thing!)
So I am sharing it NOW, so if you want to, you can come along with me. So that if you can relate to anything I’ve shared, you can reach out and tell me and together we can take brave steps forward, one at a time to change our narrative.
I’d love to have you join me in my private facebook group:
it is a safe place where we can share our shame so we can get rid of it.
SO we can begin the practice of self-love and self-acceptance, together. I hope you will join me.
That’s it for episode 6 of the Magic Maker podcast – welcome to the headquarters of entrepreneurs who want to do good, be real, find happy and build brands that matter.
We’re thrilled you’re here.
We’re going to dive deeper into a discussion about discipline and why it doesn’t work. We’ll look at some super practical ways to get more done AND explore how to combat the guilt during our magic maker journey towards freedom and fulfilment.
If you want to make sure you don’t miss the next episode, or any for that matter, be sure to subscribe and of course, we would be so grateful if you would be willing to invest a few moments of your precious time by reviewing this podcast on iTunes, so we can reach more magic makers and help too, to change their lives, and the world.
We’ll see you next time.