For as long as I can remember every woman around me has either been on a diet or inflicting guilt on herself for not being on a diet, “Fell off the wagon, diet starts Monday!” sound familiar? From family members, to beloved characters on TV or in films, the latest celebrity trend and scaremongering on the news. “Obesity hits all time heights!” we are a nation obsessed about our looks. I have always struggled with my body image, from a young age I became very aware by the fact that everyone else’s boobs had grown and mine hadn’t, however my bum and thighs seemed 10 times bigger. I felt uneven, unbalanced and wrong because like everyone else at the time I too lusted over the hour glass figure, perfect boob to bum ratio and small waist. I was sure that once I had a boob job I would be happy with how I looked. I had done all the research, knew the company I was going to use, how much it would cost but money was the only thing that held me back (and thank god it did).
My obsession with dieting didn’t spike until after I’d become a mother, at 20 years young I found myself having just had my first baby standing in front of a full length mirror staring at what felt like an alien body. I had a smooth pregnancy and absolutely loved my bump but I was not prepared for the changes my postpartum body brought. I knew all about stretch marks but what I didn’t know was that you can literally get them anywhere, from your boobs to the backs of your calves. I was clueless to what cellulite was and seeing all of these dimples, along with my protruding belly leaving me looking 5 months pregnant still, I felt disgusted and began longing for my pre baby body - you know the one that I had spent most of my life physically and mentally abusing? Oh the irony! Just 9 months later and I fell pregnant once again, to say it was a shock is a understatement and then to find out that we were expecting twins took us to another level of surprised.
At 21 years old I had new born twins and a 14 month old just starting to walk, life was hectic and I look back and feel proud of how well I coped but know the strain it had on me physically and emotionally. Not only was I dealing with being a single mother and recovering from a c-section but the pressure I put on myself to get back to my “pre baby body” back, which was really a “pre pre baby body” was immense. I tried them all and failed, dust diet, counting calories, cutting out food groups, etc. I would lose weight but not enough to feel good about myself, so saying screw it, binging and feeling huge waves a guilt, to then putting it all back on. Eventually I found a ‘healthy lifestyle plan’ that helped me gain good healthy habits but also encouraged cutting out foods, restricting others and labelling foods ‘good’ and ‘bad’. My obsession with weight loss grew as I saw results and even after losing 3 stone in just 6 months I still didn’t believe the compliments that people paid me. The marks on my body that postpartum left, now adding a twin pregnancy meant that underneath the clothes the skin on my tummy sagged which made me feel even more disgusted, ugly and unlovable.
It wasn’t enough to be controlling over my diet to get the results I believed I needed, I added in exercise, a former subject I despised which grew to an addiction. “If you exercise more and eat cleaner you’ll get rid of that ‘stubborn’ fat.” said every PT I ever met. No matter what I did that skin was part of me and was not going to budge, the more weight I lost the ‘worse’ it looked. Eventually over the years I started slowly putting weight back on and I struggled to get it off again. Through business I have always aimed to empower women and back in 2017 it was through health and wellness. I came across a book “The Goddess Revolution” by Mel Wells and as I read I began to feel uncomfortable. She proclaimed that we do not need to restrict food to be happy with our bodies. I laughed “She’s mad, if I could eat whatever I’d like I’d be fat and then I’d be even more unhappy.”Even though I didn’t finish reading the book at the time it led me to question, “Do I really have to watch what I eat for the rest of my life?” and I started to search for my answer. I found body positive influencers online, embracing their bodies, smaller bodies with similar marks to me, bigger bodies with similar marks to me, some mothers, some not. I finally started to see that I was not alone and my ‘flaws’ were actually nothing to be ashamed of.
I had well and truly dived into my self love journey, I consumed so much content, from Instagram posts to blogs to books to podcasts. As I grew and my eyes were opened to the lies I had been told
all my life, I began to get to know my body and appreciate it for what it has survived in life. Looking at my business and my new mindset, they no longer aligned, I knew the suffering and pain that dieting had caused me and I wanted to continue my journey to empower women and set them free from the chains that held them to the scales and the treadmill. In 2019 I rebranded our support group to Self Love Detox and our mission to empower women to honour their ‘flaws’ & rule their clothes with confidence. Now we continue our mission with over 1,600 women in our girl power support group and coming into our fifth of producing Statement Tees and Sweatshirts, bold in colour and in statement. From reminding you that you’re a ‘Badass Woman’ to my personal mantra ‘Powerful Strong Fierce’ putting on a piece of our Statement Merchandise is the perfect reminder for the busy woman of the world to continue their self love journey and embrace who they are. For September we have some new products being added, including a gorgeous mantra necklace that we have collaborated with Laura from Lexico and our other surprise, you’ll have to come and join us and see.
I did find the answer to my question, it is a simple as no we don’t have to watch what we eat for the rest of our lives and yes we can be happy with our weight and still eat without any restrictions but it is not as easy as it sounds. It’s a journey but it is so worth doing, if you’d like to chat more about please feel free to send me a message. I hope this sparks off a question in your head and perhaps it is the start or the continuation of your journey to finding self love.
With love & gratitude,
Ana Louise Bonasera
To read more about Ana’s story you can get her book “Stretched: A mother’s journey to love her ‘flaws’ & how you can too”
To connect with Ana