Last updated on July 17th, 2023 at 01:39 pm
How often have you thought about your big dream but convinced yourself you weren’t worthy of it?
How many times have you hesitated to take the first steps to try and make it a reality?
I’m not talking about winning the lottery. I’m talking about being willing to risk change, maybe working on healthier habits, learning new difficult things, and finding real happiness.
My career in healing women’s body image issues through photography came from a dream to help women as they took the first steps to change their negative self-image.
After a breakup, I realized I had based much of my happiness on spending time with a partner. That’s certainly normal when you connect with someone; however, I decided I was tired of needing someone else to be truly happy.
Are all your big dreams and happiness resting like eggs in one basket?
Your children, your career, your partner? Children grow. Jobs come and go. And partners can become exes. Harsh truths we don’t like to think about. If something falls apart, you still have ways to find happiness in a storm. Suppose your happiness hinges on waiting for something or someone–the “I’ll be happy when” syndrome; you’re just waiting to be happy.
What’s the fun in that?
A few months ago, I took stock of my life and decided to change parts of my life that weren’t working. I wanted to feel happy. I wanted my body to be stronger. I wanted to wear different clothes. I wanted an active social life in a new place. I wanted to have enough strength and energy to scoop my growing son up in my arms.
My first step was to act like the woman I wanted to become–an energetic, healthy, secure woman. That kind of woman doesn’t sit on the couch eating ice cream at midnight, complaining to her cats that the dating world is too hard to try.
I may or may not have done that.
My idea of the woman I wanted to be was someone with a vibrant circle of friends, active in her community, enjoyed her family, physically able to keep up with her son, and date men who treat her respectfully. Whether or not the dates turn into “The One.”
So I kept trying.
Fast forward to the future, and I have achieved all that because I kept checking in and asking myself if I was doing what the vision of the woman I wanted to be would do. Everyone asks how I lost weight. It was simple. I had to decide whether or not I really wanted it.
Part of me liked feeling anonymous when I went out in public. I’d never liked unwanted male attention. Part of me felt that my body weight protected me. I had to decide that I was ready to lose it and face what came with losing weight and a changing body.
The actual weight loss was simple. Don’t let people make you believe it’s complicated. Prior to my decision to change, my daily choices were not those of a healthy woman. I have an immune disorder that complicated things, but ultimately, I was the only one responsible for my food and exercise choices.
Recently, I wore this dress to the mall, and at first, I felt uncomfortable when people stared at me —
I had vowed to do the entire day without hiding behind my iPhone, forcing me to be more aware of my surroundings. I was certain the people who looked at me were saying awful things in their heads. I wanted to run home and change. But I put my chin up and changed the tape in my head from strangers thinking mean things about me to admiring my outfit.
On my way out of the mall, two women behind the Estée Lauder counter stopped me. They said they’d wanted to compliment me on my fabulous dress when I first walked in. I admitted I’d been feeling self-conscious of the stares.
“Why are people staring? Can you see my vagina?!” I joked. Also, I love saying “vagina” in public. They assured me it was because I looked beautiful.
Throughout the day, several women complimented me on how I looked. Why do we give the little negative voices so much power? When I was carrying extra weight, I was devastatingly hard on myself, and it became a vicious cycle of degrading myself and eating badly because I didn’t value myself enough to try.
But then, I decided to treat myself with love and took baby steps toward health. One hundred pounds later, I’m celebrating fitting into a lovely Calvin Klein dress in a teeny size four.
Throughout the process, when I hit a speed bump, I checked in with myself:
“Is this how my happy and healthy self would act? Is this how she would talk to herself? Is this how she would spend her time?”
Sometimes the first steps to go after your dreams are the scariest. I was lucky to have friends, and family join me on some of my new adventures.
In that light, I’ve started a meetup group for women in my area. A friendly face can help us face our fears. I’m really excited to witness other women gain the self-esteem and confidence that comes from growing into who we are meant to be. Many of us have barely scratched the surface of what we’re capable of.
And I’ll be honest. I can preach this happiness and health stuff all day and still have days that I struggle. I am not one of those women who gets healthy and then judges others she believes are not. There’s nothing worse than someone who obsesses over their new health regimen and then bugs everyone else about theirs. I’ve got to worry about myself, thank you very much, and I am compassionate about others’ health struggles. Society doesn’t make change easy.
But today could be the day when you decide to take that first baby step toward the woman you want to be. She’s in you. Don’t be afraid to give her a chance.
Because you can make your dreams come true.
Iman Woods is an American artist who specializes in pin-up photography. Through a unique and therapeutic process, she’s spent over a decade in perfecting, Iman helps women undo the damage from a negative self-image and unrealistic beauty industry expectations. She helps women embrace their own style of beauty and see themselves in a new light. You can find her on her website, ImanWoods[dot]com.
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