How to love yourself

Let me start this post by saying, Ow! My legs hurt, my arms hurt, my back hurts, and believe it or not, that spot where my invisible pack of abs are hurts. I started school back this week which means I'm back to being a full time student, a full time employee, and of course-- a full time wife. When I'm not at school, I'm at work. And any free time early in the morning or late at night I spend with Brad at the gym. Needless to say, I've been busy.

With all that being said, grab you a cup of coffee, put on some fuzzy socks, and get comfy because this post is going to be a bit more lengthy as we dive into a touchy subject that's sometimes hard to discuss-- Low self esteem.

First, you're going to need to know some things about me...

Flashback several years ago to when I was in high school. Those were the years that I woke up two hours before we had to leave for school to get ready. I would watch makeup tutorials on youtube, and look at pictures of beautiful women with their hair styled perfectly to try and mimic their hairstyles. Without fail, no matter how hard I would try, I never looked like them. Eventually I would just give up because my two hours were running out, so I'd leave my hair wavy and frizzy and my makeup bland. I remember those mornings like they were yesterday. I'd look at myself in the mirror once more before leaving my room and feel disgusted. And as I put on that oversized hoodie to hide my body and left my room, I would wipe those few tears that had begun to form in my eyes.

"No man could ever want me," I would say in my head. "Not unless I change my body and I look beautiful." "Because it's a lie to say that there's men out there who are looking for a woman only beautiful on the inside." And sadly, those thoughts fueled my motivation to try and be that hot model of a girl guys were looking for. But it never worked. The more "pretty" I tried to make myself on the outside, the more torn apart and "ugly" I became on the inside. Fast forward to my junior year of high school. I was beginning to see that the face, and the body, and every part of the girl I saw in the mirror was as good as it was going to get. I rose my white flag, and I surrendered. "Maybe someday someone will look at me and say 'she's beautiful'." And maybe someday, I might actually agree with them.

And then that summer, I met Brad. I can still remember the shock I felt when this very handsome man began talking to me as if he were interested in me. I thought he was joking when he whispered, "I like you AG." But no matter how many times he saw me without makeup and no matter how many times I gave him plenty of reasons to leave, he decided to stick around. And that meant something to me. "Surely if a guy as good looking as he is choosing to stay with me, I must be attractive in some way to him, right?" I still did not know my value because I was still so surprised that he saw value in me.

I was 19 years old and still embarrassed by my curves and baby face, and on top of that--married to Mr. broad shoulders and busting biceps. Anytime we'd go out I'd assume everyone that looked our way was saying something like, "She doesn't deserve him." It even got to the point where I started to believe those made up words in my head. My lack of self worth was like a virus that started from within and was slowly starting to take over all of me. I was ashamed of myself, and I forced myself to believe that Brad was ashamed of me too (which was in no way true). My emotions were hurting from my self esteem issues, as was our marriage. You see it was frustrating to Brad that no matter how many times he called me beautiful, I refused to believe it. And I was frustrated that I couldn't see the value in myself that he claimed to see. Some people might think that it's easier to wake up with high self esteem if you're married and you've already found your significant other. To those of you who still struggle after marriage, it's OK. I have been there. The truth is you cannot go into marriage or any relationship expecting your partner to supply your self value and love. Maybe some of you are realizing what I realized-- if you can't even love yourself, how can you love your partner? I almost lost everything because I didn't think I was worth anything...

I like to think that the moment I realized my self worth was the moment I truly started to live a fulfilling life.

The day that I faced myself, flaws and all in the mirror and said these three words: You. Are. Enough. Everything about you is enough. There is nothing more-- looks, personality, or character that you could ever be that would make you enough for yourself or your husband. Because you are already enough.

It's not an easy process. Self love doesn't just come with a snap of your fingers. It's a commitment to yourself, and for me-- also to my God. And so my dear friends, that is where your first step to loving yourself begins:

1.) Make a commitment to yourself. A commitment where every morning you choose to look at yourself and love what you see. Maybe you see smudged makeup from the day before. Maybe you see wrinkles. Maybe you see big thighs or too many curves. Or maybe you have a hard time seeing because your messy, knotty hair is all in your face. Whatever you see, choose to love it all!

2.) If there's something you'd like to change, change it. If you really don't appreciate those curves, there's things you can do to make you appreciate them. I can testify to this: working out helps. There are specific workouts for your body type. But sometimes it's as simple as adding fruits and vegetables to your plate. There are people out there who have a passion for helping others improve their health, figure, and nutritional value. Reach out to someone for guidance. You don't have to do it alone!

3.) Set boundaries for yourself. There have to be lines that you draw for yourself that you refuse to cross. I refuse to spend time looking at beautiful women I see in magazines, on the internet, and the ones I walk by in the grocery store and wishing I looked like them. I refuse to make myself believe that I am undeserving of a good looking man. You know what your lines are and you know exactly when to draw them. So start doing it!

4.) It's OK to enhance your already naturally beautiful self. Makeup can easily be something we try to hide behind, but it can also be something we use to enhance our best qualities. First and simple rule to wearing makeup-- know that you don't actually need it. You are already beautiful. But girl if you've been blessed with an amazing pair of eyes, go ahead and give them some attention. If you try on a dress at Ross and you know it looks good on you and you feel good in it, go ahead and get it. And you wear that dress with pride and dignity!

5.) Smile and laugh a whole lot more. It's a proven fact that the most attractive people out there are the ones that smile. I know this girl who has the most contagious laugh. I find her self confidence infatuating simply by the amount of times she's smiling and laughing. She's someone you want to be around---you desire to hang out with because you know she's going to make you smile and feel better about yourself. She's one of the most beautiful people I know, and it has nothing to do with her looks.

The past five months I have felt more myself and more passionate about life. I am continuing to overcome my lack of self love and as I walk this journey I encourage my readers to connect. Connect with me, connect with others. Know that you are not alone and take my five simple steps to begin your own journey.

In the words of Rudy Francisco...

"Perhaps we should love ourselves so fiercely, that when others see us they know exactly how it should be done."

You know I love you all!