Meet the Team Thursdays (Part IV)

Happy Thursday NAM Warriors!

Welcome back to another installment of our Meet the Team Thursdays segment. We love that you love reading about our amazing ambassadors as much as we love sharing their stories with you so without further ado, this month’s leading ladies include the fabulous Lara Buckheit, Lauren W and Alyssa Newman. These fierce, feisty and fearless vixens blow our minds everyday with their strength and determination not only to live their best lives but to inspire others to do the same. So it should come as no surprise that we’re super excited to share their stories with you and feel very lucky to have them as a part of our NAM family. Scroll down to see what they have to say about self love, body positivity and getting rid of self doubt.

Talk us through your journey of self-love. Were there any stand-out moments? What were they and why?

Lara Buckheit: My journey of self-love has been a walk through fire and ice at the same time. It’s been rocky as hell. I have my good days and my bad days (more so the latter, if I’m being honest ‘cause hey, I’m human). Self-love is not something that is achieved overnight, and as someone who is recovering from an eating disorder and suffering from body dysmorphic disorder, it’s even tougher! I think a stand out moment throughout this journey was loving myself enough to apply to be a NAM Ambassador. Before my journey began, I would berate myself and tell myself that I was unworthy of EVERYTHING – seriously, everything. Now? I smash those self-limiting beliefs, and I put myself first. Always. Even if it means distancing myself so that I can focus on my mental health. That is self-love to me.

Lauren W: I guess I didn’t really realize the extent of self-love until I started my instagram account. I hadn’t considered being able to unapologetically love yourself in all ways until that happened, it was a huge moment of realization for me when I saw women of all different shapes + sizes celebrating their bodies. I felt so inspired by so many women in the recovery community especially and started diving head first into self-work in order to learn how to better love myself.

Alyssa Newman: My journey of self-love has had a lot of ups and downs.  As a kid I really didn’t like myself – not my quiet personality or the way that I looked.  I always felt like there was nothing special about me, nothing that stood out or made people take notice, and being a fat kid made me even more of an outsider.  I spent a lot of time trying to make up for that by being a people pleaser and a push over, desperately hoping that that would be good enough.  It never was and instead I lost a lot of myself.

In high school I became chronically sick.  Physically I was very unwell but no one seemed to be able to diagnose the problem or even believe me.  This also lead to severe bouts of depression and anxiety, something that I had been dealing with, unawares, since I was young.  For about five years I went untreated.  I was shuffled back and fourth between doctors who didn’t know what to do with me, all while trying to manage first being in high school and then university.  Throughout this time I was incredibly hard on myself, blaming my body for things out of its control, and completely isolated myself because it was too difficult to be around other people.  I lost friends.  I dropped out of school.  I further developed eating disorders.  I hurt myself.  And I lied, to myself and to others.

But lying catches up with you in the end.  For me, all of that self-hatred and untruths became overwhelming.  I was exhausted pretending that I was okay.  It was too much.  So I just stopped.  Little by little I dropped the façade and stopped running from what was happening to me.  I stopped downplaying the severity of what I was feeling and I sought mental help on top of the physical help.

In all honesty that has been the biggest part of my self-love journey.  Accepting the not so great things in my life, validating those feelings (even when most of those feelings are “this sucks”), and finding a way to work through them in therapy and in this community.  Once I started to do that with my medical and mental conditions, it became easier to do that with every part of me that I’ve struggled with.  I now like being quiet and needing time to myself because I know it allows me moments of energy and excitement later.  I am proud of the strength my body has shown in this fight, and I respect its’ curves and softness because they are a mark of my continuing life.

It’s not always easy.  I still have bad days.  I still struggle with the mentality I had during my fat kid days.  I still have to resist the urge to lie about how I’m feeling.  And I still have plenty of self doubt.  But I’m working on it. And I WANT to work on it.  That’s really the most important part.

If there was one thing you could express to all the people currently coping with an eating disorder, what would you say?

LB: One thing that I would love to express to someone who is coping with an eating disorder is that recovery is an uphill battle that is unbelievably worth the struggle. It’s important to remember that our worth is not determined by our weight. This is just something that society has brainwashed us to believe. You do not need to lose weight to be beautiful or experience self-love. A lot of people believe that everything gets better if you “just lose the weight.”Newsflash, lovely… it doesn’t. Life only begins to get better when you start living it for yourself. So, tell your eating disorder to fuck off.

LW: If I could express one thing to those who are struggling with an eating disorder I would say that you are so much more than they way you look. Society makes it seem like that is the only thing that matters + that we aren’t worthy unless we look a certain way. That is absolutely NOT true. You are wonderful + beautiful + perfect just the way you are. Recovery is seriously so possible and so worth it. Please reach out for help if you think a friend/ family member or you yourself are struggling with an ED. 
AN: BE KIND TO YOURSELF.  That is truly the thing that has helped me the most.  Allowing yourself moments to indulge in scary foods without punishing yourself for it later.  Or on days when you might not be able to fight off those old patterns, don’t give up hope.  Be kind to yourself.  Remember that this is just one meal, one day, and tomorrow is a new day to fight again.  The more you try, the more you are conscious of those disordered :, the easier it becomes to say goodbye to them.

Putting yourself out there on social media is no easy feat. What gave you the inspiration to build such a strong presence on platforms such as Instagram?

LB: I’ve always been a very bold and outgoing person. It’s just who I am… once I started recovering from my eating disorder, I essentially said “fuck it.” I was tired of being told that because my BMI didn’t reach the lowest of lows to state I had an eating disorder on paper, that my ED didn’t exist. That was bullshit. So, I took to Instagram to build a community of my own that understands that eating disorders are a mental illness with physical symptoms – NOT the other way around.

LW: Originally, I started a blog that I wanted to get out there. I wasn’t sure the best way to do that so I ended up starting an instagram account for the purpose of my blog. However, then I realized that instagram was actually a great platform to reach + connect with people who had similar stories, feelings and struggles. I have almost had my account for a year and it has truly been amazing! I have “met” the most amazing people that inspire, challenge and push me every day.

AN: I started @lysslady for two reasons.  The first was purely for myself.  I needed a place to be able to explore what I was feeling – just to get all of these complicated emotions about mental illness, invisible disabilities, and self worth out of my brain.  It was purely cathartic release.  The second reason was to be supportive of a friend of mine who had created a body positive/self love project.  I was so proud of what she was doing and wanted to be a part of that world.  I had no intention of getting as involved as I did, but it’s been a pleasant surprise.

When you’re dealing with thoughts that aren’t body-positive, what do you do?

LB: If I’m not feeling body positive (usually because I find myself comparing my body, my life, my everything, to others), I take a step back and look at different aspects of my life. Where is the negativity really stemming from? Am I stressed out? Have I been practicing self care? Did someone say something to me recently that stuck with me? I go through a little checklist that I created and really sort through what I’m feeling. Most importantly, I allow myself to F E E L. I don’t punish myself for being unhappy and not so bopo. I go through the emotions and come back feeling better than ever.

LW:When I am dealing with thoughts that aren’t body positive ( because it definitely still happens- I am only human after all!) I let myself fully feel it. I usually try to track down where these feelings are coming from to recognize if I have been triggered by someone/something and if I have, I try to put preventative measures in place so that it won’t trigger me in the future (if it is possible to do so). After doing that, I usually reach out to someone about it. I like to talk things out so whether its through a post, text message or conversation I find just allowing myself to speak about my struggles out loud really helps.

AN: We all get thoughts that aren’t body positive.  It’s hard not to when we live in a world that is so completely shaped around making us feel like we’re not good enough.  The thing that I do now is acknowledge it, see if I can figure out why I’m feeling that way in this moment, and remind myself of the body positive things that I’ve been practicing.  Even if I don’t necessarily believe those things right then and there, it helps just to say them.  I’m also a big proponent of a good outfit, red lipstick, and some great music to dance around to.  Always makes me feel better.

What is one change you’ve made in your life that has greatly helped you on your journey to body-positivity?

LB: One change I’ve made to my life to further my progress to full on body positivity mode is not giving a single fuck about numbers. The scale? My pant size? The amount of calories I consumed? I. Don’t. Give. A. Single. Fuck. I made the conscious decision to ignore the numbers and focus on how I feel. #bless

LW:I have decided to stop caring about that other people think. Obviously sometimes my anxiety still kicks in and I can’t help it.. but for the most part I have let go of that. I think another huge change I have made that was really hard to do was starting to stand up for myself in triggering situations. I am really good now about expressing when a conversation makes me feel uncomfortable or triggered. There is just so much unnecessary chat out there about diet culture, it can be really hard to listen to it!

AN: I’ve stopped keeping track of my meals and making a checklist of how I’m supposed to work out each day.  That journal would ALWAYS make me feel terrible about myself, especially when I’d write notes about the things I was doing wrong.  Now, without that constant in-your-face reminder, I eat what I want, when I want, without worrying about “too many carbs” or “don’t eat dessert”, and I work out when I actually want to instead of feeling like I have to.

Do you have a body-positive mantra? And if not, what would your mantra be?

LB: Hmm… This is a tough one! I live by so many mantras. If I could choose my favorite that I came up with it would be: Give yourself a chance to love your body as it is.

LW: I don’t really have a body-positive mantra per se but I do have this promise to myself + my body that I will love it endlessly, listen to it and respect it no matter what changes it goes through. 

AN: I don’t really have a body-positive mantra, but my philosophy in this self-love world is essentially “You do you”.  No one has the right to tell you you have to change.  No one has the right to say you’re not good enough or that you don’t deserve respect because of whatever prejudice they happen to have.  Be yourself.  Live the way you want to live.  The only person who a say in it is you.

And there you have it. Three NAM warriors. Endless determination. Endless inspiration.

We hope you feel uplifted and confident today and ready to rock the skin you’re in – as you deserve! We love you as much as you ought to love yourself and we’ll be back with another soul-uplifting Meet the Team Thursdays next month.

Until then,

Love,

Team NAM xx

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