Self-love is the seemingly million-mile journey I’ve been on for some time now. After the birth of my son (who is now five), looking at myself naked in the mirror was hard to do. I didn’t feel beautiful. My body went through changes and those changes left me feeling insecure. I was excited when I lost my pregnancy weight, but discouraged when I gained it all back, plus some. The only way I was willing to look at myself in the mirror was if I was fully clothed. I didn’t like seeing my stretch marks and the kangaroo pouch that hung over my c-section scar.  My cellulite-filled thighs rubbing together were a constant reminder that I was far from my body goals.

For about two and a half years, I wrestled with trying to lose weight, experimenting with multiple diets and trying to work out consistently. It was short-lived. I would see some results and then stop. Before I knew it, I was right back where I started. I lacked motivation. I wanted the results but couldn’t find the will to commit. It was an exhausting and heartbreaking experience. Then something happened in August 2014 that changed my life; I started therapy. Therapy was the key to breaking the cycle. 

While in therapy, I unpacked much of the baggage that had been weighing me down. The biggest bag I’d been carrying was full of childhood trauma. I was abused, neglected, and we lived in poverty. I hadn’t realized how much those circumstances played a major role in my adult life; including becoming a victim of domestic violence, poor self-esteem, insecurity and my weight struggle. 

After about eight months of therapy, I felt very compelled to do the work on my physical health. I felt a burst of inspiration I hadn’t before. I cut out junk food cold turkey. If it wasn’t good for me, I threw it out. I began to run every day. Within three months, I had lost about 40 pounds. It’s now two and a half years later and I am down sixty-four pounds. 

Here’s why I dance in the mirror: 

Self-Reflect

 It didn’t matter how many times people told me I was beautiful, I didn’t believe it. I didn’t feel it. How I saw myself on the outside was a reflection of how I felt on the inside. What I’ve learned over the years is that if I don’t think I’m beautiful, I can’t expect anyone else to, nor will I truly be able to see beauty in anyone else because what I see in others is a reflection of myself. Once I began to become a better me (not a better wife, or a better mother but a better version of me), looking in the mirror became easier. I started to see beauty.

Encourage Myself

Sometimes you just have to encourage yourself. I give myself affirmations. I look myself right in the eyes and lift myself up. Sometimes I say, “You know what Deb, you might not have that Instagram model body, but damn girl, you do look good and you busted your ass to get here.” Ladies, it’s ok to look at yourself and say, “I am beautiful.” Sure, you might want to make some physical adjustments here or there. But it’s so important to love yourself where you are as you get to where you want to be. It makes the journey that much more special.  

Embrace My Sexy 

I feel absolutely sexy when I dance and I own it. I know we put a great deal of focus on modesty when it comes to women. There is nothing wrong with feeling sexy. Sexy is a state of mind. It’s not about attracting someone; it’s the total confidence package that helps you in all walks of life. I feel sexy whether I’m showing a lot of skin or none at all. As for my time in the mirror, I enjoy embracing my curves, rocking my hips and doing every sensual dance move I can think of. Why? Because I enjoy it and my confidence goes through the roof. 

It Keeps Me Raw

I enjoy my time in the mirror because it’s me, raw, unfiltered, as real as it gets. Being able to look at my body and be comfortable in my skin is a beautiful thing. Do I always dance completely naked? Only when I’m about to get in the shower or have just gotten out of it. The majority of the time I'm dancing in my bra and panties. It liberates me. You might be wondering if I still have a few stretch marks. Yes, I do. Do I still have my C-Section scar? Hell yes! Is that little kangaroo pouch from the C-Section still there? Yes, it’s there too, though it's slowing disappearing. But guess what, I don’t care! I brought a precious life into this world and my scars, stretch marks and blemishes are reminders of that beautiful fact. For that, I'm not ashamed.

It Gives Me Lessons On Honor

I work hard every day on my million mile self-love journey. I eat well, I meditate, I do yoga, and I am dedicated to the inner work as well as my physical form. I refuse to hate my body because I haven’t reached my target goal yet. I am grateful for where I am right now and I am going to honor my progress. I am going to honor my body. My body works hard for me every day. When I push it to its limit and probably beyond during my workouts, it keeps going, it fights for me.  So I will always be proud of it.  I will show my body the same love that it shows me. 

True beauty starts within. Whether you started your self-love journey years ago, a month ago or today, honor your process. Honor your willingness to live your life in the beauty it has to offer. Honor your body for the strength it displays day in and day out. Honor yourself for trying every day to be a better version of you. Don’t let the world tell you what beauty is, allow your spirit to give you that truth. I don’t care what size you are, how many stretch marks you have or how thick or thin your thighs might be. If you are on a path to a healthier soul and healthier body, you are to be celebrated. If ‘they’ won’t celebrate with you, then celebrate by yourself. I do it every day, just me, my music, my mirror and my dance moves. I dance to feel free, to feel joy, I dance to be silly, I dance to feel sexy and most of all, I dance to feel love. You should feel love. So no matter the dance, just dance! GO, GIRL!

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