My First Fitness Photoshoot Was A Success!!!
Today was a very special day for me. After years of battling with body dismorphia, weight gain, Anorexia, low self-esteem, lack of confidence and poor body image, I overcame a momentous challenge: My first photo shoot dedicated to fitness. For the first time in my adult life, I displayed my healthy, well nourished body and felt completely confident and proud of my physique and of everything it has taken for me to arrive at this place of unwavering balance.
This shoot was a success for me in so many ways, I cannot even begin to describe but I will try. I have modelled for many years in many different industries including fashion, art house, beauty and yoga, despite my low self-esteem and horrific body image issues.
Put simply, I have never liked my body. Growing up, I detested every photograph ever taken of me and although others would comment on how gorgeous the shots were, inside, I would always pick out my faults: my huge Indian hips, my flat chest, my flabby thighs, my thick arms and on and on.
The problem was that I loved modelling. I loved that it brought out my most artistic and creative self and it seemed like no one else really noticed those faults except for me, so I kept at it. Thinking back, I know now how much my previous modelling work contributed to my way of thinking about myself and my body as well as what I actually considered to be beautiful but was anything but.
A product of our warped society, where one in five women have an eating disorder of some variety, and the fact that I have been a performer since my tweens, exposed to criticism and judgement not to mention the cruel envy and gossip dished out by peers, body issues and a deep lack of worth, was a given.
Although I was always athletic, I never liked my body and would always compare myself to other girls wishing I had their thighs or waist. Modelling in a bikini was something that those girls could enjoy but it was never something that I would ever be able to do because I lacked the genetics for a lean body, or at least that’s what I believed.
When I became sick with Anorexia it seemed that all of these issues that I had with my body vanished, for the first little while at least. The positive reinforcement that I got from my agent and people in the ‘industry’ made me feel as though eating tiny amounts of food to have a body that I felt amazing in, was a small price to pay. I felt great at photo shoots and my career was taking off. I could fit into any little bikini, corset etc and although I could not concentrate on something for longer than fifteen minutes or the fact that I stopped menstruating really didn’t bother me at first; those things were just a minor sacrifice compared to the feeling of confidence I had in my body. A confidence and heightened self-esteem that I had never felt in my life prior to getting sick.
Little did I know that those destructive choices would nearly kill me and send me into a dark, unbearable depression that took four years and every ounce of strength I had to heal. Little did I know that I would be force fed through tubes, that I would put the lives of my family on hold, that I would relapse by pulling food I had just thrown away out of the garbage and eating it, that I would lose what I thought were my closest friends, that I would fluctuate in weight by nearly 40 pounds, that I would look for markers in my puke the few times that I tried to be bulimic, that I would try every diet on the market to secretly try to become Anorexic again, that I would meet the love of my life and he would support me and understand, that I would learn to eat every 2-3 hours, that I would shop for jeans, that I would no longer be afraid of bananas, that I would increase my calories to a healthy level, that I would be able to step on a scale and not want to die, that I would no longer reach for food in times of emotional upheaval, that I would mend the relationships I had destroyed, that I would hang a mirror in my home, that I would exercise a healthy amount, that I would meet my amazing coach, that she would guide me to an even healthier place with my training and meals, that I would be able to reach out to others suffering and through my experience help and guide them, that I would aspire to become a fitness/bikini model, that I would love my life and myself again, that I would have mornings where I woke up feeling completely at ease, where I would walk into a room and not look at the girl with the thinnest thighs and wish I were her, where I would change my perception of what beautiful is, that I would eat pancakes and enjoy chocolate pudding and desserts, that I would consider exercise a pleasure, that I would find amazing and encouraging friends and teammates who inspire me, that I would share my story in the hopes that I would inspire others, that I would become certified as a Nutritionist, that I would live my dreams, that I would help others achieve theirs, that I would stand in a bikini in front of a camera today in complete confidence and that perhaps I may end up in the pages of a fitness magazine as a whole, healthy, woman.
It’s not that I don’t have bad days or that I feel fantastic all of the time. There are many days when the dismorphia comes back in full force, torturing my mind for hours or even days conjuring up old thoughts of skipping meals or running another few km’s or taking a laxative tea but I am far enough in my recovery now to observe these thoughts and understand why they have come and what I can do to protect myself during these times.
My meal plan, yoga practice, training program, prayer as well as my support team are the back bone of my healthy life and I talk about this in more detail in my other posts.
There are still days when I doubt that I can be successful in the fitness industry because I am not completely comfortable putting on the amount of muscle that I would need for the bikini division or to be featured in the pages of Oxygen. I am still working on this and I know that my fear lies in the feeling of heaviness (that comes from putting on muscle) that I have connected with losing control during the binge phase of my Anorexia. I am not sure that I will ever be comfortable putting on this amount of muscle but then again, I never thought I would be comfortable eating the enormous amount of food that I eat now or taking two rest days per week instead of training myself to death seven days a week which is what I did for years.
Yes the doubts still exist. The fears still creep up from time to time. But today, I can truly say that I have come to a place in my life and in my healing where I can finally exhale and where I know deep in my heart that no matter where my path takes me, I have already arrived.
Some photos to come soon…