Andie Thueson » Mindset » Learning To Love Myself Has Been My Biggest Struggle

Learning To Love Myself Has Been My Biggest Struggle

Growing up, I never felt comfortable in my own skin.

It was all about looking like a stick with no butt and long, lean lines in the nineties (for my younger readers, google Kate Moss for a visual) – my thick thighs, bum, and curvy figure felt gross and unattractive to me, compared to the stick-thin models that graced the covers of my coveted teen magazines I idolized. Besides a couple of boys in high school (mainly friends, who took pity on me), I was largely dateless and received very little attention from the opposite sex. I was also shy and had very low self-esteem.

In hindsight, these factors probably contributed more to my “dateless” status than my figure did.

My teen years were riddled with insecurity and dateless weekends. I learned quickly to avoid ridicule and embarrassment from my peers; it was safer to remain unseen. I found myself viewing my High School years safely behind the lens of a camera. No one saw me, and I preferred it that way. I managed to blend in and find a spot where I felt needed. My photos graced the yearbook pages and School Newspaper. The only mention of me, a small photo credit in italics under the images I had captured.

From this vantage point, I felt safe and comfortable.

In my late teens and early twenties, I became a serial dieter; I tried everything – diet pills, SlimFast, Atkins, South Beach, the cabbage soup diet, and starving myself. Anything to help me get the body that I wanted.

This is when I first became a binge eater.

I would not eat or work hard on “being perfect,” then I would snap and make a dessert {my comfort food} and end up eating most of it myself. Then the shame would set in, and I would feel awful, and I would go on to berate myself and make myself feel even worse. Then it was back to the diet and trying to be “perfect” to get the body God did not design me to have. This cycle of self-hatred continued for a significant portion of my life. And is the one I continue to struggle with today. Today I can honestly say that I love and appreciate my body – is it what I would call perfect? – No – but that is okay! Instead of feeling guilt or shame about it, I embrace my body and choose to nourish it by eating foods that help me feel strong and healthy.

Photo of Andie in a casual brown wool sweater and jeans, hand is in her back pocket, while smiling confidently at the camera. The words "learning to love myself" are displayed on the image.
The most important journey we all must make.

My self-love journey of self-acceptance started in a very strange place. It began in the dressing room at Last Chance in Phoenix, AZ.

Instead of sharing my story in words – I thought I would record it and share it with you in a Vlog. Because I want you to see the emotion and the way this moment in time and the words of a complete stranger changed the trajectory of my life completely. – View and come back and continue to read!

In her short and brief words, this random woman helped me see that I was indeed beautiful, and although my body was “different,” it was beautiful, and that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes. I walked away with the belief that if this woman could find beauty in me and that there was a whole country somewhere that would worship it – then I had better learn to at least accept it. 

I want to say from that day on, I never questioned or hated my body ever again, but that would be a lie. It did give me newfound confidence, and I began dating and putting myself out there. And surprise, surprise, the more confident I became, the more attention I started to receive from the opposite sex. Guys from my office started approaching me and asking me out. Yes, “me”! I had never received so much male attention in my life. It was weird and very strange to me. But I liked the feeling. At this point in my life, I had found a personal trainer and was working out, eating healthy, and really taking care of myself. I looked and felt amazing. 

This newfound confidence lasted until I found my hubby Kelly, and we had our first child.

After my first kid, I again started to shrink and lose my confidence. I was swallowed up and overwhelmed in being a new mother, and I lost my identity and sense of self. When it came time to have another child, I faced infertility and struggled even more with my identity and relationship with myself. My body seemed to betray me and not do the one thing it was designed to do: produce a child. It was maddening. Month after month of negative pregnancy tests wore on me.

A Conversation That Changed My Life...
A Conversation That Changed My Life: Your Words Matter

My marriage suffered, and I found myself in a dark place where I was surrounded by constant negative talk; this continued for years and involved a stint with Prozac, anything to make me feel alive and comfortable again in my own skin. I hated how I felt and who I had become. Yes, more babies finally came, and with that, I was even more tired all the time and barely making it.

Even in this dark stint of my life, there was happiness there. I loved being a Mom, and my babies were my whole life. But as a woman, I lived for everyone else but myself. It was exhausting. I but everyone else’s needs above my own needs. I didn’t even take the time to think about what I needed.

Photo of Andie with her kids and husband in 2011 after have her third kid, she is at her heaviest weight 172lbs and this is where here story starts, at learning to love myself.
Me at my heaviest 172lbs

After my last child was born, I was at my heaviest at 172lbs. This may not seem that “heavy,” but I am a very petite 5’2″, and all this weight on my small frame felt heavy and foreign to me. I had always been “pleasantly plump,” but this was different. There was no muscle tone in any of that. I snapped and decided I was sick and tired of being sick and tired. So with that, I started running, working out, and learning how to eat and nourish my body better. This is where my journey of health and self-discovery began in earnest. This was a significant turning point in my life.

I learned that the words that I thought about myself made a difference and that I needed to try harder every day to stop being a bully to myself. If I treated others the way I treated myself, I would have no friends, and I would have been punched in the face on more than one occasion. To be blunt, I was a complete “B” to myself. No wonder my life was in chaos; I was in a VERY toxic relationship with myself.

I share these thoughts with you because maybe you have been there too, or perhaps you are there no. If so, I want to give you a big cyber hug and tell you, you can change. The pain you are feeling can go away! And you can heal.

There is no easy path to learning to love myself; this loving yourself takes work. It is deep work; it is soul work and worth the time and effort it will take to become your own best friend.

The Best Tools For Building A Strong Sense of Self Love:

Positive Affirmations: Buy some 3×5 index cards and write out “I Am” affirmations; repeat them first thing in the morning and throughout the day and again at night before you go to bed. Make this a non-negotiable part of your daily practices. At first, these statements like “I am amazing” may feel foolish and silly and maybe even like lies. But dear one, they are indeed true. So keep saying them until they become your new story and your new truth. If these statements feel hard at first, focus on a personality trait you feel confident about. “I am a loving human.” Then work from there.

Boundaries: Spend time with yourself and figure out what you need to feel alive and full. Maybe you need to alone time each day. Set boundaries with family members so that they can help honor this need.

Forgiveness: Just a reminder, you are human; you will make mistakes, fail, and be overcome with negative emotions and shame spiral out of control. All of this is human nature and part of the human experience we call life. All the mistakes weighing on you, take a deep breath and let them go. All the mistakes we have made have gotten us to where we are. They have helped us to learn and grow. But it is time to forgive yourself and move on. Write a love letter to yourself from your higher self, letting go of the pain, shame, guilt, and whatever else you may be feeling, and allow yourself to move on. This was one of the best things I did to shift and change my life. The hardest person to forgive can be ourselves. You are worthy of love.

Inner Child Work: Often, at a young age, we were hurt. Whether that was physical abuse, mental abuse, or words we heard loving parents say that were taken out of context and used to shape our story about ourselves. One of the best ways to discover these wounds is through energy work and inner child healings. There are several meditations available for free on the app Insight Timer or feel free to reach out and book a session with me. {[email protected]}

Make Your Physical Health a Priority: Start taking better care of yourself. Eat healthy foods, practice mindful eating, move your body daily. Making your health a priority is life changing. Instead of dieting and losing weight based on shame, guilt, and fear of heart disease. Do the things you know you should because you love yourself and want to nurture this amazing person starring back at you in the mirror.

Write out your life story: This is a big one, folks. Write out how your life looks today. Do not hold back at all; leave it all out there on the paper in front of you. Now read it over, no judgment. This will give you a better idea of the bigger picture in your own life. Within these pages of journaling, you can see what your thoughts have currently created for you. But this does not have to be your story. I love the law of attraction and teaching my clients about their ability to create. Now write out how you WANT your life to look. Think about this new version of your everyday life. What does it feel like? How are things different for you? What does your love life look like? What do your finances look like? Are you traveling more? Get creative and dare to build out a life you are excited about!

Practice Self-Care: What lights you up? What makes you joyful? Think of all the different ways you can spoil and treat yourself well. Every month I schedule a “me” day. I take myself out on a date, and I get a massage, get my nails done, check out a restaurant I have wanted to. I spend the day doing exactly what I want to do. As a bonafide recovering people pleaser, at first, I had a hard time planning what I wanted to do. I was always the first to let others do what they wanted, never thinking about myself and my needs or wants.

Expand and Protect Your Social Circle: Choose your closest friends wisely. Choose friends that build you up with a pep talk when you need it most. Choose friends that surround you with positive energy and have a positive impact on your life. Be wise with what social media accounts you follow. Choose accounts that inspire you and help you to feel better about yourself. Unfollow accounts that make you feel inadequate or that your life doesn’t measure up. I have cleaned my followings of accounts with women dressed perfectly, and with flawless skin and makeup, perfect husband, and well-behaved coordinating children. I choose to follow real women who are authentic and let me know where they are struggling too. Perfection is a myth. We are all beautifully imperfect.

Do I have it perfect yet? Have I mastered “learning to love myself”? Absolutely not, sometimes I find myself “bullying” myself, the negative thoughts spiral out of control, and the half pan of brownies wins. But I go right back to my tools for self-love. I forgive myself and shower myself with affirmations that I need to be reminded of again. I extend myself grace and remind myself that I am a good person and I am worthy of love. I am AMAZING! (And you, my dear, are too!)

Just remember that no matter your shape or size – be kind to yourself, let go of shame, and embrace the beautiful human being God made and intended you to be! This knowledge and learning to forgive myself have made all the difference. 

Much Love!

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4 Comments

  1. ellen beck says:

    You’re really quite lovely! So may young women go through this, and it begins so early. I wish we were born with more wisdom from the get go but we arent. I went through some of the same things, only you were blessed with more kids than we were. Now………… well now I envy youth and think of how much time I wasted being critical!

  2. 5 stars
    This is JUST what I needed/wanted to hear today! Thank you so much for sharing this! Perfect timing too, right here at the beginning of the year. I’m going to definitely do these.

  3. All great messages. Working as a fitness professional for 30+ years, I’ve seen all the dysfunctional messaging, sadly much of it from the “professionals” themselves. Hopefully with more awareness like this, we can move society along to a more positive approach.

  4. 5 stars
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! Such a great inspiration for many!

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