JohannMami Collage„Pregnant.“

My gynecologist looked at me in surprise.

She’d known me for more than a decade. Had gone through my eating disorder with me, had seen me at my worst and knew that I had just separated from my husband. Again. Mere 2 days before I sat on her chair.

I couldn’t think. I didn’t feel. I just stared ahead, got dressed, shook her hand and walked out of her office.

Pregnant? Now? Me? How?

I had given up all hopes of ever conceiving a child. Doctors had told me. We had tried for years and nothing had happened, nothing worked. I couldn’t have children, had ruined my body. It wasn’t possible.

I sat in the car, turned on the engine and dialed my husband’s number. No answer. What do I do?

I called my mom, afraid of her reaction, afraid of saying the words out loud.

She was fantastic. Calm. Comforting. Just mom.

I was pregnant. 8 weeks already. After all my fears, all my tears, all my regrets, there was a life growing inside of me. Slowly, I began to relax, tears were running down my cheeks and a smile was spreading across my face. I was going to be a mom. I was having a baby.

My life-long dream was becoming a reality. Against all odds, there was life inside of me.

The next 7 months were amazing. I loved being pregnant, seeing my body change and grow. Feeling my child for the very first time was a miracle and I never once stopped being in awe of feeling it kick and move inside. I was going to be alone, but that was OK.

There were fears, yes. I was scared of not being able to provide for the 2 of us. I was afraid of not being “enough” – as a woman, a mom and a sole parent.

But deep down, I knew. I knew I was going to be OK, perfect even. I knew I was strong.

Oh and how much stronger I got with each day of this pregnancy. I learned to take better care of myself. I learned what it meant to have true love, true acceptance for myself. I learned to accept my fears and embrace my hurtful beliefs. I learned to be myself, believe in myself, truly see myself for the very first time in my life. It felt like a door had opened up inside of me and every day, I got a glimpse into a whole new world.

It felt amazing and I felt as ready as you can be when your life is about to be turned upside down.

June 7, 2014

I’m sitting in the waiting room of the delivery station. It’s hot, oh so hot and I’m third in line to see a midwife. My contractions have started. I don’t feel them a lot. It’s early stages, but they’re here. I’m having a baby. It’s really happening now.

June 9, 2014

Midnight. He’s here. Looking at me. Not one scream. He’s just observing and he’s perfect. 38 weeks of pregnancy. 266 days. 1.5 days of labor. 6 hours of intense pain. Now I’m holding him, feeling him, kissing him.

It wasn’t an easy birth (if there ever is one…). I had to be induced. It took forever and I was alone for the last phase of it all, the time when it began to get real. But I managed. And now I’m holding this bundle of cuteness in my arms.

It was all worth it. The labor. The fight against my eating disorder. Holding on to life. My failed marriage. My life off the straight path that everyone else seemed to walk. It was all worth it. And I’d do it a million times over, just to have Johann lying on my chest, looking in my eyes.

The next 11 weeks go by like in a haze. Days and nights are merging. I’m feeding, changing, consoling. I’m walking up and down and up and down and I can’t stop looking at him, observing him, checking if he’s still breathing in the middle of his naps. He’s changing so rapidly, learning something new every day, every hour.

Motherhood feels natural. Johann feels like he’s always been supposed to be here. He’s always been planned. We’re a team and we’re going to figure this all out.

Of course, I have moments of pure exhaustion. Of course, I’m sighing when he wakes up in the middle of the night. Of course, I’m tired. All. The. Time. But I’m never stressed. I don’t feel burdened. I don’t feel trapped.

As I’m writing this, he’s lying next to me, peacefully sucking at his binky. I’m overcome with a rush of love, an affection that feels miraculous, magical, but natural and just so right.

I’ve been contemplating the fact that I’ve been able to stay so relaxed even though he’s been crying a lot, has been very colicky and seems to sometimes just cry because he wants to and is bored. Why have I not felt more stressed with my lack of sleep and the fact that I haven’t really eaten a whole meal without him needing me in between bites?

Why have I not bawled my eyes out over the fact that his father chose to be there for him for one whole week (gasp) before letting him fall to the floor like a boiling egg?

Why have I, the former worrier who was always scared of life, herself, her challenges, been able to move beyond my fears and doubts and become a super confident mom in such a short amount of time?

I think there are a few things I did right before he was born.

I didn’t have any expectations

Before baby Johann was born, I didn’t think about the birth nor about the time after giving birth a lot. I had some dreams about our time together, but those were more about the distant future.

I didn’t plan on having a certain kind of birth. I just planned on experiencing the unexpected. I was asked many times if I wanted to have a water birth or if I was going to have a natural birth. I just didn’t care. All I wanted was to have a healthy baby. If there was something happening and I’d have to have a cesarean, I was fine with it.

I didn’t want to attach myself to any specific way because I knew that it was going to hurt me more than it would help me and it paid off for sure.

I didn’t expect him to be a quiet baby. I didn’t worry about him being a crybaby. I didn’t worry about how many times he was going to wake up at night.

And as a result, there were no disappointment, no let downs, no unresolved expectations. It just was the way it was and it was perfect.

I didn’t plan on any “upbringing” methods

I had one book that I read for my pregnancy. I had some ideas about what I was going to do like raising Johann bilingual and having weight NOT be an issue at all.

Everything else, I did intuitively. I took him out of his bed when he cried and it felt right. I carried him around for as long as it felt right. I let him sleep in my bed when it felt right and it did. Often. And obviously still does.

I know there is the “raising-a-baby-the-right-way-police” sharing all the do’s and don’ts, but I won’t listen to them. He’s my baby and I can raise him exactly the way I want. My choice is to do it intuitively. Hence, my calmness.

I accepted help

I was pretty obnoxious before Johann was born. I thought I could manage on my own and in a way, I still think I could’ve.

But – and this is a BIG but – it was so so so much easier to transition into this new life with the help of my family. They’re crazy about him and so it was a win-win to have them take care of him when I needed to work, shower or just have a moment to breathe and be by myself.

I coached myself and was coached a lot

Even before my pregnancy began, I was going through major changes and had hired a life coach who helped me become stronger, more aligned with myself, more at peace and ultimately, more the Anne-Sophie that I am today.

I continued my coaching sessions throughout my pregnancy, which gave me a chance to talk about my fears, my beliefs and my internal blocks. I also coached myself a lot by asking about the motivations behind my thoughts and my feelings.

This, I’m sure, was the biggest contributor to my calmness and joy in these months of adjustment.

Of course, there were also many things I completely messed up.

One of those was going back to “work” after 2 weeks. Even though I’m working from home, it was still stressful to have to think about doing this and that when all I wanted to do was be with Johann, look at his perfect little hands and feet, hold him and just be in the moment with him.

Some of you might say that motherhood hasn’t even started yet. That the “best” is yet to come. That I got lucky and didn’t have any post-partum issues. And you’re right.

But still, I’m proud of myself for having managed the past few months the way I have. Because you know what, given my history, given my life, it could’ve been different – should’ve been if you ask the people who’ve spent my life with me.

And knowing how I’ve grown in the past year, I know that I’m ready to face any challenges that will arise in the coming years.

Because…

Juse a year ago, I was a little girl who didn’t know what to do with her life and now I know.

Just a year ago, I would’ve never felt good enough to just figure everything out one step at a time and now I feel.

Just a year ago, I would’ve never dreamt of trusting my intuition and myself enough to just ease into the process of motherhood and now I trust.

Just a year ago, I could’ve never imagined the love I feel for this little human being and now I feel.

Aaand just a year ago, I would’ve never dreamt of worrying about the color of my baby’s poop and now I’m a master poop reader.

You see, just a year ago, I wasn’t whole.

But now I am.

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You used to have it. That rock solid confidence. That playful way of engaging with yourself.

You used to be fascinated with your feet, your fingers tasted like honey on a buttered bread.

You used to feel light, excited, free.

Most of all, you followed your inner core, your peaceful self and were genuinely happy, liking yourself for who you were.

Then, something changed.

You grew up.

You listened to your parents, teachers, strangers on TV. You began to see yourself in a new light. Not a brighter one, but a darker, grimmer, uglier one.

Suddenly your hair that you used to cherish so much wasn’t good enough anymore.

Suddenly your legs that carried you over meadows and helped you win races against your friends felt too short, the thighs too big and the gap in between not big enough.

Suddenly your beautiful art that you spent hours upon hours creating seemed silly and was replaced by arduous studying and burning self-doubts.

Suddenly, you just didn’t like yourself anymore. Your relationship with yourself was washed down the drain and replaced by a facade that carried you through life but made you more and more unhappy as every day went by.

Maybe you began to binge, diet or exercise excessively. Maybe you began to have sex with strangers you met in a bar. Maybe you began to retreat into your own little shell. Or maybe you just sleepwalked through your days dreaming of a better life.

Simply put, you just felt lost, abandoned by the most important person in your life: yourself.

Now, however, you’re reading this. Now, however, you want to change. Now, however, it’s time to reconnect, get your bliss back and begin feeling divine in the skin you’re in.

Having a great relationship with yourself, truly knowing and appreciating yourself, is not only essential when it comes to your issues with food, but it’s also a way of adding more quality of life to your every day. You spend so much time with yourself, 24/7 to be exact – so why shouldn’t you feel truly happy with who you are?

It’s a no brainer, right? But it’s easier said than done. I’ve been working on my relationship with myself for more than 3 years now, but as I’ve been thinking about my own inner world over the last few months, I realized that there are still tons of construction places to be worked on.

One of them is my lack of self-confidence. In a way, I think I’ve regressed in the past year. I used to feel rock solid, but somehow, I’ve begun to feel small again. How does it show up?

I’m terrified of talking with people on the phone. TERRIFIED. When I know I have a call, I feel restless all day long. I’m sweating, trembling and queasy as I still think that I don’t have anything worthy to say, that I have to pretend to be someone else, that people will dislike me for who I am. As a result, my English goes out the window and I just stumble along those calls.

At the same time, I’ve noticed that when people ask me about my life, I refer back to them as fast as I can. For some reason, I feel embarrassed about sharing my story and am more comfortable listening to others share theirs.

Now, obviously this isn’t a bad characteristic, but if you do it too often, you’re being self-denying and that hurts your self-esteem and does injustice to your self-worth.

I am sure that this is standing in the way of me being the mom and sister, coach and business owner, friend and daughter I truly want and am destined to be.

You can probably relate, right?

If you can, then it’s time to turn it around. It’s time to begin a relationship with yourself again that lasts a lifetime, supports you, loves you and heals you inside and out.

1. Change your living situation

Thomas Moore, who is a former monk and clinical psychologist, says that our outer world (the possessions we have, the way we choose to decorate our bedroom, the pictures we hang on the wall etc.) reflects the condition of our inner lives.

And I agree.

The more clutter I have, the less relaxed I feel. The lighter the colors of my furniture, the freer I feel. The bigger the windows in my home, the clearer my mind. It’s all connected.

So, take a look around your house and do a body check to see how you feel in your home. If you feel negative feelings, it’s time to change something. Now, I don’t suggest you go ahead, sell your home and move across the world. Although, if that’s what you truly desire, DO IT. But even just a few adjustments can make a big difference in the way you feel, and thus in your relationship with your beautiful self.

Set yourself a challenge, look for the room or corner in your home that you like the least and begin taking out one piece a day that you’d rather live without. You can then either leave that spot empty or replace it with an object, a painting, a scent that inspires you and feels like it represents your core.

Repeat this process for a week or until your space feels good to you again and see how your relationship with yourself evolves.

2. Do The Work on yourself

Never heard of The Work by Byron Katie? Then, it’s about time you learn about it, my love.

I’ve stumbled upon Byron Katie’s work two years ago as I was going through a big self-transformation and Byron’s process helped me tremendously. My initial separation from my husband paired with a new bout of anorexia unleashed a whole slew of painful thoughts and beliefs that made me want to dig deeper into my inner demons. Through The Work, I was able to create space around my thoughts and replace the charge they carried with a more benign way of looking at myself and my situation.

I know I’m not alone with my painful doubts and we all carry around hideous reminders of our supposed shortcoming that keep us up at night.

You know the Top 10 list of your own limiting beliefs, don’t you? Some of my clients’ favourites are:

I’m not good enough.

I’m not smart enough.

I need to do more.

I need to lose weight.

I should work out more. 

I should dress up more often for my husband.

I am a failure as a mom. 

I’m failing myself.

People judge me for my weight.

I should be happier. 

And on and on and on goes our mind. Yet, Byron Katie reminds us that our thoughts are just a random running commentary that doesn’t have to be true. We can easily defuse the pain these thoughts create by asking the following questions:

1. Is it true?

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true?

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?

4. Who would you be without the thought?

Then, we can turn the thought around, and find at least three genuine, specific examples for each turnaround.

Turn the thought to the Opposite.

Turn the thought to the Other.

Turn the thought to the Self.

Sounds too complicated? It isn’t. Let’s look at an example.

People judge me for my weight.

1. Is it true? Yes.

2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No.

3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? I resent people who look at me or even just glance at me. I feel insecure and just want to cry all day long. It also makes me want to binge on everything in sight.

4. Who would you be without the thought? I would be free, happy and self-confident. I would finally accept myself the way I am. I’d also be so much friendlier and open towards other people.

Time to turn the thought around:

Turn the thought to the Opposite. People don’t judge me for my weight.

Turn the thought to the Other. My weight judges me for people.

Turn the thought to the Self. I judge me for my weight.

Then try to find three examples for every turnaround that could be true or truer than the original thought. 

There’s no right or wrong way to answer these questions. There’s no way of doing it wrong. Just go with your gut reactions and see how you feel after you’ve gone through this process. My experience shows that you’ll feel relieved, lighter and just a tiny bit less sad.

Obviously, there’s much more to The Work than that. So go over to Byron Katie’s website to dig a little deeper and get the entire scoop about freeing yourself from your destructive thoughts.

3. Use the Body Compass to find out what you really want

Your body is your truest guide and the best tool to find your way back home to yourself. However, most of us have completely forgotten to rely on the wisdom of our bodies and instead rely solely on our minds.

This leads to unhappiness, wrong decisions, weight gain, disordered eating, staying in disastrous relationships, accepting jobs we hate and forgetting who we really are.

The cool thing is that your body is very forgiving and always ready to welcome you back home. {Click to tweet}

So, maybe now is the time for you to re-connect with your body, learn to listen to it again and live a life in a partnership that won’t let you down.

In comes the Body Compass by Martha Beck, which will help you to make decisions, figure out if you’re hungry, emotional, feeling good or bad (some of us don’t even know the difference anymore) and simply serve as a guide on your journey to a deeper relationship with yourself.

Try to give yourself an hour of uninterrupted time in order to calibrate your body compass. Close your eyes, begin to breathe deeply and relax.

First, do a simple body scan. Feel your body beginning at your toes and ending at your head. Simply notice your body, one part at a time.

Once you feel complete, recall a very unhappy memory in your life. Try to go back to that painful event and dig into how you felt at that point. Then, notice how your body feels right now. What changed in your body once you began thinking of this painful memory? What bodily sensations are connected to this event?

Once you’ve identified the physical sensations connected to the bad feeling, give this feeling a name.

Then, shake it all off and repeat the process for a happy, joyful event in your life.

Now that you’ve begun the reconnection process with your body, you’ll begin to notice the good and bad feelings in your body more and more, which will enable you to change the course of your life and your relationship with yourself.

Does your body compass tell you that the meeting with your friend feels negative? Well, don’t go.

Does your body compass signal that you are happiest when you are in your garden? Purchase more seeds and spend more time outside.

Simply listen, act and have fun with it.

4. Change what doesn’t work

You already know what stands in the way of you truly liking yourself, don’t you? You know when you’re most unhappy, when you feel most out of balance, when your inner core is most misaligned.

You’re just waiting for someone to take your hand and guide you to the change that you truly desire. Well, you can be your own guide beginning right now.

You just need to commit to it. Commit to taking steps forward. Every little one counts. If you feel stuck, do The Work on your thoughts and begin again. If you feel like you can’t do it alone, hire a coach (like me) and let the wisdom and councel of others help you along. If you feel resistance inside about changing anything at all, acknowledge that these fears are normal, expected even, but that your life will forever be the same if you choose to stand still.

But you already know what you need to do, am I right?

5. Act As If

Sometimes the first step towards a more aligned relationship with yourself is to just act as if you already have one.

How would you behave, what would you do, what would your daily patterns look like if you didn’t feel resentful about yourself? What happen if you were truly happy with your body, mind and soul? How would you walk into a room if you felt self-confident and how would you talk to that handsome guy you can’t stop looking at if your self-doubts were suddenly gone?

Act as if and find out!

6. Simply have some fun

When was the last time you just let go and enjoyed yourself? A month ago? 2 years? 3 decades?

Having fun, doing what truly makes your heart sing is a great way of reconnecting with yourself.

If you’re having trouble coming up with anything you enjoy doing, try to think back to what you loved doing as a child.

If you loved to paint, paint! Even if it feels scary or you fear that you’re not good at it anymore. Who cares? Just do it.

If you loved to play hide and seek, do that. Drag your husband or your neighbor’s children along and just play.

If you loved to observe and catch bees (which I did), then go on a tour and do that. But try not to get hurt. 

If you watched Spice Girls concerts over and over again trying to learn the choreographies of every song (me again!), take up a Zumba class or dance Hip Hop at they Y.

The possibilities are endless. Just choose one thing and go with it.

7. Stop the blame game

So, you’ve had something really bad happen in the past. It hurt, maybe it knocked you down for a while and it took you months or years to get back up. It stinks. It’s unfair, but it doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.

If you keep blaming others for your circumstances, you’re standing in your own way of finding happiness and peace.

I’ve done it. For years, I’ve blamed my brother for my unhappiness, my anorexia, my lack of will to be alive. I’ve resented him for everything he did to me. I’ve played the scenarios and the psycho messages he sent me over and over again in my head until they made me go crazier, get more and more mad, feel more hurt and more like a victim. Slowly, I was destroying myself by repeating the past in my mind.

Then I realized that my brother didn’t give a s**t about my pain and that he wouldn’t get hurt by my holding on to his actions. So, slowly and gently, I let go. I freed myself of the blame game and I accepted responsibility for my own life. None of this makes his freakish behavior right, but it’s made me the person I truly am supposed to be.

Now, I’m happy, free and successful.

So, whatever past resentments you are holding on to, let them go, realize that you are responsible for your own life, for your present circumstances and your future. Take back control and notice how you begin seeing yourself in a new light.

8. Go deeper

If you desire to build a true, genuine connection with yourself, you can’t stay on the surface. Your work has to go deep – so deep that it hurts initially. A life-changing transformation requires a dissolution of your old beliefs, your old habits, your ego. This doesn’t happen over night and it doesn’t happen by buying yourself a bouquet of your favorite flowers.

The deeper you go, the more it hurts, the more certain your ascent to a new life and a deeper relationship with yourself.

So, question yourself. Question your behavior. Journal, work with a coach, meditate and sit with your emotions until you have dealt with the root issue, until you have freed yourself and uncovered the person you truly are.

Don’t rush this process, be patient and confident that the other side will feel like homing home to the person you have always been.

9. Dare to dream

I’ve just had someone coach me through my perfect day and boy was it a revelation. Everything I saw was different than I had expected it to be. My outlook on life, my dreams for Johann and myself changed completely: in the matter of an hour. It was powerful, emotional and truly eye opening.

Do you know what you want for yourself? Do you know what your ideal day really looks like? What makes you feel blissful, confident and – most importantly – true to yourself?

If not, dare to dream. Sit back, relax and envision your ideal life, your perfect day, your most outrageous dreams. Do you want to wake up on Fiji and go to bed in the mountains of Colorado? Done! Do you want to spend your days outside and your nights having dinner in Paris? No big deal. Do you want to live a quiet life with your crazy family and build a business you can be truly proud of? It’s happening!

Whatever you want, it’s yours. Don’t chastise yourself for wanting more than you have right now, but let it inspire you to create your ideal day in the life you have now.

Finding you way back home to yourself is a process that might sometimes seem rocky and often, you’ll want to give up. But just think about the possibilities, the freedom, the love and the peace you’ll have once you’ve bust through your fears, worked your way through your blogs, loved your way to a whole you?

The reward, believe me, will feel, look, smell and taste so much better than you can ever imagine.

So, begin your journey today. Be brave. Be curious. And you’ll finally find - and love - the real you!

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It’s Not About Willpower

August 16, 2014

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Transforming Your Relationship With Food Won’t Make You Happy

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Free eBook: A Guide to Body-Acceptance- Real-Life Stories About Making Peace With The Body You Have

June 7, 2014

For most of my life, I’ve hated my body. I grew up wishing to be skinnier, wanting to look like Britney Spears, with toned abs and a perfect butt. I longed to have upper arms like Heidi Klum and long legs like Giselle Bundchen. All in all, I wanted to be everyone but me: a […]

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What It Really Means to Love Your Body

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Body-love is such a loaded topic, isn’t it? Every woman is talking about it and every woman has an opinion on it because every woman is struggling with it. There are those who say loving your body is impossible if you don’t wear a size 0 and there are those who pretend to be totally […]

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Body-Love & Self-Care After Cancer

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Today, I am super excited to share an interview with Llinos Mai Thomas with you. Llinos Mai Thomas is a writer, cancer survivor, mental health warrior and creative soul from Cardiff, UK.  She shares her health journey to inspire others on the road to healing, and has raised thousands of pounds for charity. Her book, […]

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100 Beautiful Quotes To Inspire Your Body-Love Journey

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Your body hears everything your mind says. ~ Naomi Judd To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to see yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are. ~ Anne Lamott As a child, I never heard one woman say to me, “I love […]

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Body-acceptance 101 – The 5 Best Tactics to Finally Love the Skin You’re In

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Much has been said and written about body-acceptance and self-love. There are many ways you can learn to make peace with your body and stop dieting once and for all. But what are the best ways to begin your body-love journey? What does really help when you just can’t seem to be OK with who […]

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{Body-Confidence Makeover Challenge} Day 10: Break Up With Your Body-Love Frenemies

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Vogue. Elle. Vanity Fair. Cosmopolitan. Shape Magazine. Bravo. Seventeen. Marie Claire. Glamour. Allure. The list of magazines published on a weekly basis is huge. Every week, you see new pictures of beautiful, flawless, skinny, (often) teenage models–on the way to work, on the way to checking out, and in the hands of co-workers and friends. […]

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