If you could go back in time and speak to your former self, would you?
I would. And I would have SO much to tell her.
I had an amazing childhood. I've had a pretty awesome life, all things considered.
From the outside, life can often look pretty picture perfect.
Hell, as a recovering perfectionist, I MADE it appear that way for YEARS.
As so many of us do.
But what you so often don't see are the struggles and hardships others face -- because let's be honest, EVERYONE goes through something hard. Period.
If you don't, you're a robot and this post isn't for you.
Growing up, I WAS happy. I had an amazing family, wonderful friends and I was constantly doing things that lit me up: choir practice, rehearsing for shows, soccer, volleyball, planning volunteer events to raise money for charities, working my butt off to do well in school -- I was the epitome of the perfect daughter/student/friend/you name it.
But what most people didn't see was the stuff I hid behind closed doors.
The bullying. The body shaming. The emotional eating. The dieting.
Dear 8 year old Amanda:
It doesn’t matter what those girls in your ballet class say or think. “You don’t belong here”, she said. Those words. They impact you in ways you never imagined. And while you may have stopped dancing for 10 years because of it, guess what? You freaking DANCE now. It may have taken time, and a whole lot of coaxing on behalf of your friends, but you belong anywhere you decide to belong. Period. The only person that decides your path is YOU.
Dear 10 year old Amanda:
Yelling at Mom about how nothing fits in the dressing room at the Hudson’s Bay Company isn’t going to make you feel better. She’s trying to help, because she LOVES you. And hates to watch you tear your body apart with your words. You may not be skinny like that popular girl in your class, but that doesn’t mean you’re not beautiful just the way you are.
Dear 13 year old Amanda:
I know you’re hurting. I know you don’t understand how anyone could be so awful as to literally throw rocks at you and call you ugly. I know you feel alone and scared but this? This will make you stronger. This will allow you to resonate with other women who have also been bullied and will open your heart up to a beautiful vulnerability that helps OTHER women heal. And THAT is a beautiful and powerful thing.
Dear 19 year old Amanda:
Hearing the words “you’re as big as a mac truck” from someone who supposedly loved you isn’t easy. And I know you can’t recognize it now, but this will be the thing that triggers your negative relationship with food and binge eating habits. YOUR WORTH is not dictated by another person's opinion of you. Your sadness will not be solved by an entire pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. And those words? They don’t define you -- all they do is shed a little insight into the BS world that person is projecting onto you.
Dear 21 year old Amanda:
This is the year it hits you. The year you realize that you actually look the way you never thought you would. You've somehow gained 30 lbs in 2 years without realizing -- what apparently happens when you're in college and have a disordered relationship with food -- and when you see that picture from your trip to Greece, you break down and cry. I know you're feeling helpless right now but this is the beginning of you finding your LIGHT, and while it may not be an easy road the next few years, it's going to make you stronger and have the experience to help so many women find a consistent, balanced and JOY-filled relationship with exercise and food.
Dear 23 year old Amanda:
Working out 2 times a day and eating only brussel sprouts for dinner is not sustainable. You’re going to finally lose the weight you’ve been telling yourself you needed to lose to be happy. Actually, you’re going to get so skinny that your friends start telling you they’re concerned, but you just don’t see it. But you know what? Over-exercising and existing on bird food and cleanses? It’s not going to make you feel GOOD. It’s only going to exacerbate your emotional eating, negative self talk and mental health. Only when you are FUELING yourself from the inside out and using fitness as a way to feel STRONG will you find your groove and feel ALIVE and CONFIDENT in your own skin.
Dear 24 year old Amanda:
I know this year has been CRAZY for you. You’ve been prepping for a wedding, bought your first home, and spend your days working 7 day jobs. You are going to burn out. And feel overwhelmed and exhausted. And you know what? That will lead you to the BEST decision of your life. Sometimes we have to hit rock bottom to see the light.
My darling Amanda.
You are the STRONGEST, most COURAGEOUS woman I know.
You may not know it now, but these struggles? They don't define you.
And while in the moment, they felt HARD and IMPOSSIBLE to get through.
You did. You made it through.
And almost 3 years later, it's led you to such a beautiful life.
A life with a marriage that is far from perfect but gives you SO much joy every single life.
A life by design that YOU have crafted that genuinely lifts you up.
A positive relationship with food, exercise and your body.
And through it all, you've developed the COURAGE to share your story & maybe, just maybe, the work you do will make a dent in the world.
Give women a safe space to grow into their best selves.
And THAT is something to celebrate.
Xo, your future self.