“I used to think I was ugly”

Like probably many of you, I saw the recent video of singer Pink winning an award at the VMA awards and sharing an intimate story about her daughter. Her daughter had told her how she looked like a boy and felt ugly. I loved the sweet manner in which she shared with both her daughter and the audience, the importance of Being You. Accepting yourself and your own beauty. How your looks will not stop you from being who you are. From being the successful you. And I thought: ‘What a lovely role model to have for a mother. What a lovely role model for us all’. The role model for every little girl who once thought that she was ugly.

This little girl has been me. I too have been that girl who so needed to hear those words about Being You, beautiful and awesome.

Pink, daughter Willow and husband Carey Hart – Editorial credit: Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock.com

The banter

By now, I can look back and understand how our bodies develop. And how when it is developing, new features are coming out. Sometimes changing our entire look.

Some may call it child’s play or general banter, when during that process, comments are made that might include: “Well, you are skinny”, “You are tall”, “You are ugly” and then followed by laughter. Laughter is supposed to mean that we should take such comments in “jest”. Not take it too seriously, too personally, or to heart if someone teased you.

But let’s face it that is rubbish when people are picking out a trait or feature. We all have feelings. I am a firm believer that within every joke lies a core of ‘truth’. There is an honesty about someone’s opinion in there. Whether it is actually true is subjective.

 

Looks apportioning great value

I grew up seeing how beauty was used as a measurement of value. How it was a blessing to be graced with beauty. For example having long hair as opposed to short hair, as it was your crowning glory, especially if you were a girl. My hair did grow very well but due to the texture, it curled and could shrink, especially if it was touched by water. I would cry if my hair was cut short, as I would associate that with my beauty.

At home, there would be banter about beauty and looks. There was the reference to that tale of the ugly duckling that had blossomed into a beautiful swan. It was the other way round with me. My parents would say how I was a gorgeous baby but how I was different now. At this stage, my body and features were changing. I took this to be, “Well you used to be beautiful but not anymore”.

So, for the longest time, I thought of myself as being ugly. I was also tall for my age and was slim. Yes, young people can be great teasers. I was often teased about my height.

At school, it was highlighted, even by a teacher, how it was nice to be tall. It was positive. How models were usually tall and slim and looked at as being beauties. So another belief that I also held onto was how me being slim made me desirable. Guess what happened when my body shape changed? I had a crisis of confidence, especially when an uncle commented: “What happened to you? Both you and ‘X’ were the pretty ones?” He was referring to how I had put on weight after attending University. Yes, my body did change and I had been eating unhealthy meals. Later on, I did lose the weight, slowly, but it stuck with me that I could not get fat, as I would be considered ugly. It was not until my early thirties that I started to have a new approach to beauty. Accepting myself wholly whatever shape or size I was.

You are what you believe yourself to be – feeling sexy and beautiful

Feeling confident, comfortable and at ease in Amsterdam. My inner beauty light shining through.

I’ll never forget reading the opening of Pam Grout’s E-squared book where she shared how she perceived her self to be when she was younger. There was mention of her curly hair and chubbiness. The ending to that was amazing, and shared how now she saw this beautiful woman looking back at her.

I could relate to this story, especially when I looked back at my photographs where I had grown from the once awkward and unconfident teenager. The one who was tall, slim and had slightly bigger feet than her peers.

Looking at those pictures now, I think I look so nice and pretty, but there is something missing there. My light coming through, that radiates my inner beauty. It was there all the time, just not visible yet.

It was a journey, it did not happen overnight. Part of it began when I realized I had not been kind to myself. Kindness can be misinterpreted in everyday society. I was not surprised with some of the initial feedback that I received when I posed a question in my Age of Honesty Community recently, asking: ‘What does being kind mean to you in your everyday life?’ There was an emphasis on being kind to the others around us, almost forgetting about being kind to ourselves.

Kindness is one of the essential acts of love. To start, I needed to connect with the love I have for myself, a connection that had been lacking. This was manifesting in my self-perceptions. How I viewed my outer self and not truly seeing the beauty within. It has not been easy. But I have gotten there. And today the brand I have created; LoveHappyBody, is about accessing your Being and inner beauty; about not being ashamed of your beauty and sensuality.

 

How do you connect with your inner beauty:

  1. It starts with loving yourself first. It is difficult to love others if you do not love your Self first and don’t like or see your inner beauty. From this place, you can begin to be kind to yourself.
  2. Purchase a note book, or create an electronic one and name it, “I am beautiful”.
  3. Look at all of yourself. Start looking at your different features. Write down the stuff you like about yourself on one side of the page. Then on the other side name the things that you are not confident about. On the side where you list your favourite features, write down what you like about them. On the other side of the page, looking at your least favourite features, describe why you are thankful for them anyway. I would like to invite you to practice being kind. For example, I may say about my feet: “They have made it possible to visit many different places and carried me whilst I enjoyed some amazing experiences”. Get into the habit of loving all of you: Even what you may consider a “wart”.
  4. Connect to your inner God/Goddess. Sex is a potent force. Connect to the power of it. The energy. It is a combination of body confidence as well as self-confidence. This is very sexy and attractive to your potential partner. You will be amazed how what you may consider being an undesirable feature can, in fact, be a turn-on. Or your lover may not see what you consider to be undesirable the way you do at all. You may think your bum is big, like a shelf. However, with the rise and notoriety of the Kardashians and before that Jennifer Lopez, it is, in fact for many men, a turn-on. The same goes for a man who may think one of his features is unattractive, but can be seen as gorgeous by women.

    Bringing out my sensual diva – Photographer Elin Robinson

  5. Feel comfortable with touching yourself. Yes, I am talking about pleasuring yourself. It is a natural act. If you do not feel comfortable due to beliefs and faith then do not practice, but it will help with step 3, connecting with your inner God/Goddess.
  6. Make a date at least once a month to pamper yourself. This could be having a massage, going for a facial or even doing-it-yourself from the comfort of your home. Remember ‘Being Kind’?
  7. Eat well and look after your body. Learn to listen to it. This includes taking note of how your body reacts to specific foods. Is it causing a reaction? Making you feel like your energy has been sapped? Worship this body that you were born in. Spend time of focusing on your favourite attribute. Maybe giving your feet a pedicure.
  8. Write down a list of your personal attributes that make you awesome. Of those things that you have accomplished with that body and mind of yours. Ask yourself: ‘Have my body and looks prevented me from achieving my goals? Achieving my life wins? Prevented me from building and developing relationships?” Beauty starts from within.
  9. Recount the times that people have asked you out on dates, paid you a compliment about your features. Perhaps also write those comments down in the “I am beautiful” note book. Remember that you are the one who needs to see your beauty first, and the way people respond to you is a projection. Not a validation that you are beautiful.
  10. Accept that there are going to be days where you are not going to be feeling your sexy, awesome, and beautiful self. I get these days too. Sometimes it is during my period. And I know something here: “It will pass”.

 

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder – the world view

Beauty is subjective. Just like art, someone is going to have his or her own interpretation of beauty. One guy may be a “breasts man” whilst another guy may be more of a “bum person”. Just as some women like beards and others don’t. As mentioned before confidence and how you carry yourself is an attractive quality. Look at certain celebrities, who have the “X-factor”. The French actor Vincent Cassel may be seen to one person as being villain-like, like some of the dark characters that he has played; whereas to another person, he can be devilishly handsome. However one views him, the fact is he is currently dating another model after being married a number of years to what some people describe as the most beautiful woman on earth.

In this Western World, yes, it can be hard to not get caught up sometimes in a distorted view of beauty. But you need to question whose view is it. Is it a fixture of social conditioning? A fashion trend? And we know what happens with fashion: it is feeble. True beauty lies in emanating the feel-good. Projecting and being at ease and comfort with yourself. Being damn comfortable with who you are, not striving to be an image that may have been “airbrushed”.

“Be sexy, be awesome, be happy and be you. And screw those images that tell you otherwise”.

Unpolished, no make-up, no filter selfie – Just being me

 

Being carefree and in the moment – no filter – Photo taken by friend Martine Sanders

I love this photo with my fellow writer friend, India Ameye. Yes, the humidity got to my hair

Question: Were you once the ugly duckling? How did you sprout into the Swan – the best version of you? I love to hear your thoughts.

Week 6-8: The Inner Workings

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You may wonder where I have been for the past 6-9 weeks? And whether I have been exercising? To answer you: I did not take a break from my weekly exercise. I continued to meet up with Annie at Battersea Park. I did however realize that there were some areas I needed to work on besides building stamina.  I needed to look at what was going on from within. Our inner workings are always important, as they will be projected outwards.

 

Need to release my tension

The root of some illnesses starts from within the mind. Stress can start out as “just” affecting your emotions, but it can soon begin to have an affect on your physical wellbeing. During week 8, I found the session to be a struggle to begin with as my muscles were tensed up. I was doing some exercises where I needed to use weights. Annie soon noticed this just wasn’t working and adapted the session. The focus was shifted to getting me to relax and ease the tension in my muscles. We did this by doing some dancing/aerobic exercises and some mat work.  After this session I felt so much more relaxed. It was most certainly what the doctor ordered.

 

The Green Room – My time-out

Currently a lot of new changes are coming about in my life. Change is natural and it is good. I am looking forward to entering some new phases in my life, including moving countries later on in the year. Doing new things in my business. It will not be my first time sharing this, nor my last, but there are times when I am not too sure how things will come together. But I always have faith and trust that it is happening.

At the same time when I am doing certain things, I must not forget about my body; and it became evident that I did exactly that when I started to get tensed; which manifested in a workout session.

And like I described in my book Be Happy, I too need to do regular time-outs, where I am in a safe space, with no judgments and not focusing on everyday life but more on breathing. Taking time away from my daily routine. Smelling the roses and finding the joys of life.  My body was warning me: “Don’t forget to go to the green room”.

Screen Shot 2016-04-10 at 22.54.32

Checking some stuff out

It is always advisable to go for a full physical with your doctor or nurse, once you start to embark on any physical training journey. I have done this before when I was experiencing lower back pains and was then introduced to Pilates by my doctor. And even with my old Pilates teacher there were forms that I needed to fill out before I started working with her.

During my training with Annie I noticed that I started to experience some symptoms like getting cramps and in one session I got dizzy. To note, according to my last check up, everything seemed fine. This included my iron levels while I have a history of anemia. So I knew I needed to look into matters further. I first went to my doctor and he checked my heart and blood pressure and they seemed to be fine. So the next step was for him to order some blood tests.  It’s good to do a process of elimination.

I also know people who are specialists in nutrition and diet, so I decided to seek out their advice. Yes, I have studied nutrition myself, but as I am not fully qualified, I felt it was a good idea good to ask an expert. Someone who has studied his or her specialism extensively at an accredited course provider, as well as having post qualification experience. After all you cannot ‘risk’ your health.  I am lucky to have access to this. One person I did speak to was a Certified Functional Medicine Practitioner.  Please find a description here of what functional medicine is, taken from the Institute for Functional Medicine.

One thing I know from my studies and was also reminded about, was how we are all biologically ‘unique’, so what works for one person in terms of nutritional requirements will not be identical to what works for another person. The advice I got only applies to me. So, I will keep you posted on this part of my journey.

 

Question: Have there been times when you almost reached a burn-out and had forgotten to take your time-out?

 

Week 5: Happy Mind, Healthy Body

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This week I had a break from my usual weekly fitness session with Annie, as I was away on vacation. Vacations are always a difficult time to stick to the regular regime when it comes to food and exercise.

[Missed week 4, check it out here]

travel time

So, did I fall off the wagon?

“The mind is also interconnected with the healthy body”

I decided to take my recent break because I was feeling close to burned out. There was not one particular point but a series of different points – building up.

Most of it was work-related, both with my work as a consultant, as well as my own developing business.

To top it off there was also my self-development work. This is the time I invest in myself for my wellness, fitness and learning business tools. It all adds up to make for a busy life, and we can feel balanced or not at times.

When I first told Annie about my feelings of being close to burned out, and how I wanted to get away, she responded with an interesting comeback. She mentioned how it is not only about getting the tools from  a retreat on living a balanced life. But it is about how you incorporate it and make it part of your lifestyle going forward.To paraphrase it, it went something like this: “I don’t go away to find my calm or cope with burnout. I create a lifestyle that works for me and does not cause me to want to escape due to getting burnout to begin with.”

She continued with how she has seen many people taking vacations to ease the feeling of a burnout, sometimes attending retreats and getting taught some tools to cope with everyday stress, but once they returned to their day-to-day lives the old patterns returned. Thus resulting in a vicious cycle. So the question was: ‘What were my lifestyle patterns that were not working for me?’ I still needed the break so I decided to book the trip anyway. Whilst I was away I could ponder what changes I was supposed to make to create that lifestyle that wouldn’t cause me to get burned out.

“I decided to go on my own”

I have experienced many times before how I feel like a lone traveller when I am on my journey to a destination. Actually, we are all lone travellers in this life journey. I decided to do this trip solo, although initially I was going to go with one of my friends. In a way I’m glad it turned out the way it did, as I did not need to be dealing with other people’s stuff – their stories. I needed to listen to mine.

I did have fun although I did get to a point where I thought it wasn’t right but this turned around. I got something from the trip that I did not expect. A new realization and a lesson to liberate me. What can be more awesome?

“A new meaning”

The process of letting go can sometimes be liberating. Letting go of beliefs that may not really be yours. Ones that we may have made an agreement to hang on to a long time ago.

One of my beliefs was to do what was “proper” in terms of relationships. This could mean both long-term and short-term romances.

Now I decide things mainly on what choice makes me feel good. And I no longer embed judgment in those choices – no more thoughts that are there to make me feel bad. How liberating it is to realize that once I know I am following my heart, I am always on the right path. It is all about feeling good.

“The body”

There was no intense cardiovascular exercise as I usually did, with exception of my run from gates 12-34 at the airport, when my flight was leaving in less than 30 minutes. Annie may not have been happy here, on the point of me doing “high impact” running due to the issue I have with my left knee. But rules get broken sometimes. The rest of the trip I paced myself and I merely did some low-impact walking through the streets of Barcelona. I do enjoy walking, especially power walking. I find it also meditative.

On the second day of my trip, I went into a clothes store. As much as I love my body, when I was trying on some of the designs, I did see places that I need to work on to get leaner. As a motivator, I bought myself a new workout outfit. Please be on the lookout for the picture.

Please note that in terms of my fitness plan I am not only looking at the aesthetic but also want to feel good inside. For example: I want to feel better going up a few flights of stairs, instead of being exhausted at the 5th floor.

So I realized, even more, the importance of the work that I’m doing together with Annie. Who doesn’t want to connect to the “feel good”?

“Food wise, we can learn a lot from the Mediterranean way of life”

sardines     salad time

Barcelona was one of the healthier trips that I have undertaken. I ate small portions and healthy foods. Another thing is the way how things are cooked. If you go to my instagram account tagged #sophiaworld #longweekend you will see some of the beautiful food. My trainer had already mentioned to me the benefits of eating smaller portions. I did feel the sense of fullness. That can also be a symbol of this trip. The feeling good; The feeling full, complete. Even, or rather, especially being in my own company!

Until my next week “joy of life”.

 

Meet Annie – Official LoveHappyBody Personal Trainer

Meet Annie, a lady who loves movement. She is a certified fitness instructor who enjoys dancing as well as running marathons for charity. She is an in demand personal trainer, who not only helps her clients to achieve their results, but she makes it fun. Her current clientèle includes high profile people and celebrities. You can find out more about her here.

She is currently working with Sophia Husbands of SophiaWorld, who is on her own lovehappybody journey into getting fitter and healthier. Follow Sophia’s progress each week, as she gives you an honest and candid account of her road towards getting fit.

Week 4: Carbohydrates are not your enemy

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In the time leading up to my next session with my personal trainer, I admit that I did have a moment of: “Do I have to do this?”

To see my previous 3 weeks, read ‘Getting back to my fitness: Finding my fitness doula

It is normal and fine to get these thoughts when you are in the early stages of developing a new habit. The big secret is to still keep going, maintaining the momentum.

Why it is good to listen to your body

I am a person who is prone to sometimes getting low haemoglobin, which sometimes results in me getting anaemia. To prevent this I do try to add iron into my diet by eating lots of “the green stuff” like spinach. I do love it and sometimes add it to my meals, along with tomatoes or some feta cheese every now and then. The only thing I find with spinach is that it does expire very quickly. So I would advise you to freeze it. You can also add it to smoothies. Another green that I enjoy is Brussels sprouts – one that sometimes is excluded from meals by people who have children, because they mostly dislike the taste of it. But the key to greens tasting good is always in the preparation. [I will talk about preparing vegetables in another article].

Before my workout I decided to make a change in my diet that I soon found out was not right for that day. I decided to have black pudding, along with a ciabatta roll. Yes, I do eat carbohydrates. Black pudding is not only rich in iron, but also in potassium, zinc and fat. It was not a heavy breakfast. And I tend not too have fried food very often.

I did notice during my workout that I was full of energy at the beginning, then it spiked when I got was ¾ through. I knew that there was something wrong. According to my personal instructor, I did not get enough energy from the food I had taken.

I had almost forgotten the importance of certain food types. I am referring to carbohydrates, the food group that is sometimes given a bad name by people who want to lose weight.

What are carbohydrates? They are an important source of obtaining energy. 

carbs are good

The typical food where you will find them are in pasta, wheat, quinoa and even in fruit. They convert into glucose. A sugar, which in turns fuels the body and gives it energy. Energy is which is needed, especially when doing a workout. Think about athletes. They would be collapsing if they didn’t get their carbohydrates. This energy is actually used doing these exercises, so it does not convert into fat. It’s clear why people may avoid carbohydrates, because there is a risk that the sugar can end up converting into fat. But if you are doing enough exercise, there is no need to worry about this happening. It’s all about maintaining a healthy balance. My trainer also reminded me of the benefits of eating low Glycemic Index (GI) food. This is food like whole grains that take time to slowly release glucose into the blood. So you are unlikely to get a sugar high and then suddenly crash. Often I hear people say when a person’s blood sugar is low to eat something sweet. It may feel good at first but then it will spike, then go back down. Have you ever had breakfast then felt hungry mid morning? One way to prevent this sudden burst of hunger is by altering your diet. Eating porridge like I do is good. I sometimes add fruit. This may be blueberries or even piece of a banana. Protein is good for helping your blood sugar. Like nuts and even eggs. I had one friend who used to feel hungry mid morning, I recommended she eat a boiled egg at breakfast. Guess what, she felt fuller throughout the morning. So going back to me, I realised that I needed the right amount of energy.

As I already mentioned, usually I have my fruit in the mornings with my porridge or on its own. Although fruit is good, it should be eaten in moderation. For example if you are diabetic and like bananas it is good to have half a portion to begin with and then eat the rest later on . In my family, there is a history of diabetes, so I do need to be careful. During the training, Annie, my personal trainer, did observe how I was drinking a lot of water, which may be a sign of diabetes. In the past, I have had issues with my blood sugar level. So I will be looking into this further by going for a check up. It is good to have check ups at regular intervals. This is also part of staying in tune with your body.

Moving – finding something that you find fun

One of the things that I enjoyed about this session is that I was introduced to boxing. I admit that when I was younger, my father would watch fights on the television – and even do an invisible/air jab every now and then, getting caught up into the match – however I was not taken with the sport myself; what is great about punching into someone? This view changed when I got my gloves on. I did say to my personal trainer Annie, that boxing may be fun. I enjoyed it! I am now a convert. I’ll tell you the reasons why:

1. It’s great for the body – It is a good form of doing cardiovascular training; it really gets the heart going. This will help reduce the risk of heart disease. You also burn calories so you will lose weight.

2. You’re working different parts of your body. It’s very good for your muscles, I myself was doing some moves which focus on muscles in the arms. It is also great for flexibility.

3. It’s fun. Fun is important in the fitness journey. You need to enjoy the journey.

4. It’s great for mental focus. You are using your hand- and eye co-ordination, which is good for balance.

5. It’s a good way to release out tension and even negativity. I got to punch out all the residual frustration buildup of the week. It’s só good as a stress buster.

6. It doesn’t feel like a workout when you get into it. Unless you get burnt out like I did due to my energy levels depleting when I did my second round.

me doing boxing

boxer me

boxer me

My big take away, which I always promote, is to incorporate moving into your lifestyle. During the week I was also doing my squats, which have been incorporated into my fitness plan. I made it fun by doing lunges up seven flights of stairs quite a few times.

This week’s exercise tip– Find something that is good for your cardiovascular exercise that you enjoy. If you like to dance, dance. I now like to incorporate boxing, what about you? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.

 

 

Meet Annie – the official LoveHappyBody personal trainer

Meet Annie, a lady who loves movement. She is a certified fitness instructor who enjoys dancing as well as running marathons for charity. She is an in demand personal trainer, who not only helps her clients to achieve their results, but she makes it fun. Her current clientèle includes high profile people and celebrities. You can find out more about her here.

She is currently working with Sophia Husbands of SophiaWorld, who is on her own lovehappybody journey into getting fitter and healthier. Follow Sophia’s progress each week, as she gives you an honest and candid account of her road towards getting fit.