Growing up I struggled with my body confidence. I was taller than all of my friends at school which meant I was naturally bigger and more developed than them which made me self-conscious and then I was bullied for my physical appearance on a daily basis that it affected my mindset about the way I viewed myself and my body. I was told I was always fat and ugly and no one would want to date me. When you get told that constantly and it becomes as normal as brushing your teeth every day, you can’t help but be affected by that.
Fitness has helped me a lot with overcoming body confidence issues. I initially started taking up fitness more when I was battling depression and anxiety as a teenager because I loved the way it made me feel empowered than feeling like mental disorders got the best of me. It made me feel like I was fighting back and in turn it helped me look at myself differently because I was working hard to become my best self and taking my power back so in that, I was also seeing myself physically look more the way I wanted to.
Although it hasn’t always been a perfect fix. When I got down to my lowest weight and even looking back at photos now I’m like “Wow, I looked great”, I still felt dissatisfied. I was never enough.
That moment started the process of myself recognising the issues go down to something so much deeper. The realisation point came when I was talking to one of my friends and for the first time I spoke about this default thought mechanism I had whenever I noticed someone I found attractive and they would look my way – I automatically thought they wouldn’t like me because I was fat. Or I had this anxiety of being in a relationship with someone because they would eventually dump me because they’d be disgusted when they would realise how fat I was. Those were always the same thoughts even when I was 20 pounds lighter. It was a subconscious belief that she noticed I never actually challenged and I knew it stemmed from the years of bullying because that was the lie I was always told almost on a daily basis for most of my life.
So I always held this belief that ”Well when I reach that weight then I will be worthy of taking photos to put on my Instagram because I’ll look better” or “When I lose X amount of weight I’ll then be able to wear this and then I’ll be worthy and feel attractive”. It was almost like how I looked would grant me permission to finally feel worthy of living a great life.
One significant thing that helped me a lot was surrounding myself with confident people who had this unshakable level of self-confidence and positive energy they exuded to everyone they encountered. They had a glow that I thought I would get once I dropped the weight, here they were bigger than myself and having that. I wanted to be more like that. You feed off that kind of energy and that inspires the way you live your life. I realised that the quality of my life will not come from what the label on my clothes says or how much fat I’ll have on me at a certain point in my life, it comes from what I’m feeding my soul with.
Now I try to focus more on what makes me feel confident, sexy and attractive. Things that encourage me to have a loving relationship with myself. I enjoy fitness because it makes me feel empowered and strong which also provides me feeling better about my body and looking after it to maintain that feel-good feeling when I’m at the gym. I enjoy making video content on YouTube and editing myself because I like the way I look. It’s a great way for me to practice self-love because I enjoy video editing, complimenting myself and being self-deprecating with my humour when editing mistakes during the editing process.
I create content that make others feel empowered through my YouTube channel (http://youtube.com/livingastasha) and online magazine Espire21 (http://espire21.com/). It’s also has a positive effect on myself to reflect that kind of love towards myself. I was incredibly self hating and self-destructive during my days of depression, so creating digital media content that inspires helps me maintain that positive and loving relationship with myself. I’m passionate about empowering others to live their best lives but I recognise that I need to be doing good to be able to do that so it’s a priority for me to love myself as much as I can because that’s when I’m living my best life.
– Tasha Okeke
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