Fat Loss Weight Loss 

The Weight Loss Motivation Bible: How To Program Your Mind For Sustainable Fat Loss

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Fat Loss 

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Fat Loss 

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I Did CrossFit 5 Days a Week For 1 Month and This Is What Happened

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I don’t really want to share half-naked selfies of myself with the world, but I feel compelled to. Because after years and years of working out four to six days a week, running and training for half-marathons, sweating it out in yoga classes, and eating healthy, I have finally caught a glimpse of the kind of transformation I have been wanting ever since I can remember. And it’s only been one month.

Before

This might sound like a PSA, but so what? I really do owe it all to CrossFit. I had been wanting to try it for years but through two pregnancies, working, and taking care of my two young kiddos, I just felt like I couldn’t carve out the time. It was kind of a lame excuse, actually, and I realized it was high time to make the time and do something for me. So on Mother’s Day 2016, I bought myself a $250 On-Ramp course for CrossFit. No it’s not culty, yes the workouts are frickin’ hard, and yes, the community support really is amazing and was the key to my success.

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After completing that course, I decided to go all in and committed to going for one month, five days a week. Here’s what happened.

Weight down: I have been the same weight for years, trying to lose those last pesky pounds that hide my muscles and make me look softer than I’d like. I was amazed when I stepped on the scale and realized I was at the weight that I lied about on my driver’s license. Down five pounds! I mean, that’s huge when you don’t have a ton of weight to lose. CrossFit smacked my weight-loss plateau in the face!
Less to pinch: OK, so the scale isn’t everything. I also lost at least one inch around my waist. It’s not an enormous change, but I can totally tell in the photos because it’s the first area of my body my eyes move to whenever I look in the mirror. I have had a belly my entire life it seems, and I can finally see it slimming down and that little muffin top diminishing. I even noticed a little definition in my obliques!
Arm definition: While brushing my teeth a couple weeks in, I happily noticed my biceps bulging but didn’t think anything of it until the month was up and people commented on my arms. “What have you been doing?” they asked. Someone else said when they hugged me, my arms felt stronger. Even the Comcast guy who came to fix my cable commented on my “guns.” I also noticed more definition in my upper back.

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After

Toned thighs: I’ve always had lean legs, thanks to running and inherited genes from my mom, but they look even more toned and defined. I slipped on a pair of leggings and loved that I could seen my quad muscles popping out a little. Thank you lunges and deadlifts!
Perkier butt: I also inherited a flat butt from my mom, but a month full of squats, wall balls, and kettlebell swings have turned my flat rear into a more shapely, rounder, lifted bum. My husband has noticed, too. Bonus!

More energy: I used to run for an hour in the morning from 6 to 7 a.m., and by late morning/early afternoon, I felt completely drained. My body felt exhausted, my brain felt foggy, and all I wanted was a nap. I craved sugar and chocolate because I thought it’d give me a pick-me-up. Of course, that backfired with an inevitable sugar crash, plus the extra calories didn’t help me lose weight. I didn’t feel tired once during this month-long CrossFit experiment. Even after getting up at 4:50 to make my 5:45 a.m. classes, I still had more physical and mental energy.

Less hunger: Now this surprised me. I thought all that intense cardio and heavy lifting would leave me insatiably famished. But I felt way less hungry than I did after those hour-long runs. I never ate before those early a.m. classes for fear or puking, and by the time I got home, showered, and started working, I wasn’t hungry until 9 or 10. I was also inspired to eat better because I was putting in all this time and energy, and I didn’t want to undo all that by devouring half a box of Wheat Thins dipped in peanut butter.

Varicose veins diminished: I thought the bulging blue varicose vein behind my left knee was the oh-so-special badge of honor I shared with moms everywhere. But after four weeks of CrossFit, I swear, it’s hardly noticeable. The increased blood flow from all that heart-pumping cardio works magic! I feel way more confident in short shorts and skirts now.

Stronger overall: Carry three bags of groceries on each arm from the car to the house? No problem! Lifting heavier weights for just one month made me stronger and more capable of handling life’s challenges. When both kids’ heads accidentally collided when reaching for the same flower, CrossFit mommy power came to the rescue and I could bend down and lift 80 pounds worth of kid without my knees giving out with energy left to kiss both boo-boos! Running feels easier, previously difficult yoga poses like One-Legged Crow are doable, and come Winter, I’m excited to see how CrossFit-strong legs tackle the ski slopes.

Confidence: It wears on you when you spend years thinking about your weight while working hard to change your body and not seeing the results you’re after. Making a change that actually worked was life changing. I feel more confident and am just overall happier. I also realized that I like pushing myself and since CrossFit encourages you to to get stronger every day, I’m embracing this feeling of pride, and it’s inspiring me to keep pushing myself. I see now why people become hooked on WODs. It only took one month, but I’m addicted now, too. I can’t wait to see how my body changes in the months to come.

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Iskra Lawrence Opens Up About Her Past and Reminds Us That We Are the Only Ones in Control of Our Lives

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When Iskra Lawrence was just 16 years old, her modeling agency dropped her for being too curvy; now, at 26 years old, when we hear her name we immediately think of body positivity and confidence. For Iskra and many other women, her journey to feeling this way was tough, and now she’s opening up about how she got to this place in her life in the January/February cover feature of SELF magazine.

The British model has gathered over 2.9 million Instagram followers thanks to her authenticity and genuine ability to keep it real, all while radiating sexiness and humor. When she stripped down to her bra and underwear on a New York City subway to spread a message about vulnerability, it didn’t matter that she wasn’t wearing clothes because everyone was blown away by her message. Iskra tried every diet under the sun when she was younger, but eventually realized she wanted to embrace being different in the modeling industry, and that’s when her message spread like wildfire.

“Once I convinced myself I could do this, I was able to convince them,” she told SELF, referring to modeling agencies. “I saw it as a way to express myself and show that I’m more than a set of measurements.” Iskra jokes about her “tiger stripe stretch marks” and “cellulite lightning bolts,” but above all of that, she’s changing the lives of so many women.

From her appreciation for McDonald’s to her ability to control her own future, Iskra is telling all, and it’s motivating us to bring on 2017 with confidence, humor, and an unwavering feeling of self-love. Keep reading to see everything Iskra had to say about her journey and the amazing ways she’s transformed.

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The Pull-Up Guide — It's Not as Scary as You Think!

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Despite what you might think, pull-ups are not impossible and can be adjusted for any fitness level. This infamous exercise offers a great upper-body workout that quickly tones the back, arms, and chest. Not only will it make you stronger, but conquering this move will also give an extra boost of confidence and help you feel like you can tackle anything — because, let’s face it, you can.

Beginner Pull-Ups

Assisted Pull-Up Machine: The pull-up machine is a great way to try your first go at pull-ups. The machine uses counterbalance weights, which means the higher the weight you set the machine, the easier the exercise becomes. Start by setting the weight to 20 pounds less than your weight, complete three to five reps, and then adjust the weight accordingly. Here are step-by-step instructions on how to use the assisted pull-up machine at your gym.
Band Pull-Up: With the help of a superband — a giant, two-inch-thick rubber band — you can tackle consecutive pull-ups. All you have to do is wrap the rubber band securely around the pull-up bar, put it under one knee (or one foot for even more assistance), grab onto the bar (stepping off a stool if needed to reach), and begin your pull-up. Superbands are the same length, but the wider the band, the more assistance. Eventually, you will no longer be a “groupie” to the band and will be able to use your body weight!

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Intermediate Pull-Ups

Jump Pull-Ups: Consider jump pull-ups (pull-ups with a jump start) the next level after the assisted pull-up machine. Standing under the bar, jump up to grab the bar, harnessing the momentum of the jump to pull your body and chin to the bar. If your chin doesn’t come close to the bar, don’t give up — this move often takes practice.

Advanced Pull-Ups

Traditional Body Weight Pull-Ups: Using your body weight is the most traditional, but often the most challenging, way to complete a pull-up. With palms facing away from you, grip a pull-up bar with arms extended. Keeping your core tight while engaging your back and lats, bring yourself up until your chin passes above the bar, then lower yourself down into the starting position. The trick (and challenge) to any pull-up is to avoid swinging your entire body or using your neck for added momentum.
Weighted Pull-Up: When you’re ready, let your inner gymnast shine. Following the movements for a traditional pull-up, add a weighted plate for an extra challenge. Using a weight belt or simply holding a weight between your knees, you will be the star of the gym and any workout.

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New to the Gym? Make It Less Intimidating With These Tips

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Prior to this year, I had never set foot in a gym. Weird, right? I know, I know. Though fitness is now a part of my everyday life, I started with running, then yoga, then studio fitness . . . I was always intimidated by the gym. Would it be full of super meaty, ripped dudes pumping iron and side-eyeing me and my five-pound hand weights? Or super sculpted and svelte babes with some kind of crazy strength routine their personal trainer made just for them? What do I even do with the machines? They look like torture devices!

I’d consider myself to be a pretty awkward person in general, so as a complete newbie, I anticipated a lot of social anxiety vibes when I stepped into Equinox for my first gym day (not to mention a huge fear of having ZERO idea about what to do once I actually got to the gym). Fortunately, my experience this year was far less scary than I had predicted, and I learned some things along the way.

If you’re nodding your head saying, “Yes, that’s me,” and “They really ARE torture devices!” then I’ve got you. These tips will help you feel more prepared so you can get the most out of your experience. You’ll be a gym rat pro in no time!

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Pump yourself up. Before you even leave your house, remind yourself of your goals and why you got this membership in the first place. A few words of intention and a quick pep talk can clear your mind of any anxiety or jitters that may be making you feel intimidated. Remind yourself: you are STRONG! Your decision to start working out means you’re stronger than you know.Bring a buddy. This one doesn’t need much explanation — bring a friend! Whether they’re new to the gym as well or an expert who can take you under their wing, it’ll help so much to have a pal there with you (and know that if you don’t have a friend to bring with you, that’s OK, too!).
Make a game plan. Going in with zero idea of what you’re going to do won’t end well; this is one of the aforementioned lessons I learned, but I learned it the hard way. If you have no idea how to use the machines, and no one has ever taught you a gym routine, you’ll end up on a treadmill — walking — and if you’re like me, you’ll be really mad at yourself. Do a little research: use one of POPSUGAR’s printable workouts, or bring your favorite workout program with you on your phone (like BBG or Tone It Up), and follow one of those routines. Knowing what you’re going to do ahead of time and having that intention makes you feel less aimless, lost, and insecure.
Pump the tunes. Headphones are everything in the gym, in my opinion. You need your music to pump you up and make you feel strong — and more comfortable! A good gym playlist can help ease tension and fuel an awesome workout.
Try a trainer. Some gyms offer you a free personal training session when you start your membership (Equinox is a prime example of this). I used this time to pick up some tips and tricks and learn how to use the machines. See if you can book a session or just ask a trainer how to use a machine — one quick lesson could set you up for so many more workouts so you can optimize your gym membership.
Start with classes. If your gym offers group fitness, this is an awesome way to get into the swing of things (and definitely how I started!). You’ll have a trainer telling you exactly what to do, and the benefit of the group fitness experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t waste your time feeling afraid or nervous. Ask someone who looks like they know what they’re doing, or anyone on the gym staff — that’s what they’re there for! Their end goal is for you to get healthy and love the gym, which you obviously can’t do if you’re floating around aimlessly or too intimidated to come back.
Snap a selfie. Before you roll your eyes, let me explain (then you can go back to rolling your eyes). For many women, a gym selfie has nothing to do with vanity — in fact, it can be quite the opposite. Taking a picture before or after your workout can inspire confidence, build up your self-esteem, and keep you accountable for your workouts going forward. In fact, these pictures can be so effective, trainers actually encourage gym selfies!

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What It's Really Like to Lose Over 25 Pounds

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By the middle of my sophomore year of college, I was in the worst physical shape of my life. A mix of drinking, the freedom to eat whatever and whenever I pleased, and my mom’s cancer prognosis led to rapid weight gain and plummeting self-confidence. Every day I dragged myself to class wearing shapeless, oversize clothing, and avoided eye contact with my peers — I was genuinely unhappy with my appearance. The weight wasn’t just burdening my body; it was affecting my mind as well. I felt intense anxiety and self-consciousness, and social situations that I used to flourish in became intimidating and difficult to maneuver.

My rock bottom

One night when I was getting ready for a friend’s birthday dinner, I realized the extent of my dissatisfaction. As I thumbed through my closet feeling uninspired by every article of clothing, I realized that style, something I had always cherished, no longer excited me. It felt out of reach. I was not comfortable with the body I was dressing, and that realization was enough for me to begin making major lifestyle changes immediately.

I first had to accept that losing weight wasn’t going to be an easy task, and that was why it was going to be worth it. Working toward anything takes unwavering willpower, strength, and sacrifice: weight loss was no different. Once I decided I wanted to change, a game-plan fell into place. Step 1: I assessed my habits
I had always heard that weight loss was more about diet than exercise. In my case, this was more than true. I had been eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, and as much as I wanted. My weakness was (and probably always will be) carbs, in all forms. I craved pasta, pizza, and bread of all sorts, much more than any indulgent dessert or treat. So, I knew for sure that this was an area that could use serious improvement. Since my mom has always commented on my unhealthy attraction to carbs, I confided in her about wanting to make a change and she helped me understand the difference between good and bad carbs. I hit the ground running and immediately cut out refined and processed carbohydrates, such as those found in the pasta and bread I loved, eating only carbs that were found naturally in fruits and vegetables. I knew I would be able to return to pasta someday, but for now it had to go.32131660
Step 2: Apps that aided and recorded progressBeing a full-time student while balancing a social life, I definitely did not have access or the funds for guidance from a nutritionist, so, I did what any problem-solving millennial would do and I scavenged the app store for something that could help me instead. The app that kick-started and aided me immensely in my journey was MyFitnessPal. It taught me a lot about my body and what and how much I should be eating. What I found most useful was the ability to choose a target weight and the amount of time I wanted to take to reach the target weight. It was especially helpful in the beginning because I had no idea about intake and calories. Is 800 calories a lot for a meal? How many calories should I be eating a day? Is butter a carb? I also used KeepSafe, which is a camera roll protected by fingerprint and/or a custom passcode. For me, tracking my progress visually was incredibly important. I wanted to keep track of my weight loss through photos of myself in a sports bra and underwear so that I could easily observe the changes happening. That being said, I didn’t want intimate photos of myself nearly naked living in my camera roll where a friend could easily stumble upon them.
Step 3: I skipped my diet sometimes
I remember beating myself up pretty harshly the first few times I broke the “no carb” rule I set for myself, but I quickly realized the significance of moderation. One meal, no matter how big or unhealthy, was probably not going to affect my weight as long as I was diligent and consistent with my diet the majority of the time. There was no reason to make myself feel as though I had failed for indulging. A bowl of gnocchi is something to celebrate!Step 4: I found my place to sweatI had always hated the gym and running, and intense anxiety tended to inhibit me from trying classes because I’m not completely in control of the situation. But, FINALLY, after a year and a half of healthy eating with no exercise, I forced myself to join a yoga studio. From the first time I went I was hooked. A tighter tummy was great, but a clear mind was even better. Step 5: I mentally prepared myself for others’ reactions When someone loses weight, even a few pounds, people notice. So, after six months and over 20 pounds shed, people reacted. I wasn’t heavy in a way that was threatening my health or well-being, so others questioned why I was trying to lose weight in the first place. I reassured my parents and close friends this was something positive and that I had everything under control, but everyone else was left to wonder. I found being genuine and kind was the best way to react to people’s opinions, both good and bad . . . even though it was annoying.

Step 6: I became okay with never hitting my target weight
Yes, a scale was a good way to measure change in my body, but it wasn’t the most important representation of my progress. It was much more about being comfortable in my own skin and dressing in clothes that made me happy. I did have a “goal weight” somewhat in my mind when I changed my lifestyle, but it dissipated from importance when I felt more confident and proud of my body, many pounds away from my original “goal.” I never hit my goal weight, and if I ever do I probably won’t know, because my scale has found a home in the trash can.

While I no longer use apps to track my diet, I am eternally grateful for how they helped me become the person I am today: a happy, healthy, self-confident yogi.

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9 Health Editors Share How They Practice Self Care

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Between long hours at work, weekend chores, dinner plans with friends, and time for your family, your calendar is overflowing. But can you remember the last time you took an hour, maybe even two, for yourself? If you had to think longer than a few seconds, you may want to consider taking a step back and reevaluating your schedule. Prioritizing everyone else in your life may seem honorable, but the reality is, totally neglecting yourself isn’t good for anyone. In order to take care of others, you first need to take care of yourself. (It's kind of like the safety messages on airplanes: "In the event of an emergency, please put on your oxygen mask before assisting others.”) So whether you’re facing a rough patch or simply going through the day-to-day grind, self-care should always be on your agenda. Need some inspiration on how to spend your me-time? Here are some self-care practices the editors at Health swear by.

RELATED: 5 Powerful Mantras to Help You Quiet Anxiety, Beat Self-Doubt, Manage Stress, and More

Sweat it out

"It’s the answer you always hear, but making time every day to exercise is my form of self-care. I’m a firm believer in that saying, ‘You’re only one workout away from a good mood.’ In particular, boxing is a huge physical and mental release for me, and barre classes take me back to my ballet days, which feels especially therapeutic. My other self-care move is curling up in my giant fuzzy blanket and watching Sex and the City reruns. It’s mindless and relaxing and just feels great sometimes." —Jacqueline Andriakos, associate editor

Tune in to YouTube

"When I’m feeling down, I typically turn to my favorite form of escapism: YouTube videos. Having a moment when I can just veg out, slap on a calming sheet mask, and watch a video by one of my favorite YouTubers (looking at you, Estée Lalonde and SoothingSista), allows me to momentarily get out of my own head. It might sound silly, but just like reading a good book, watching a good YouTube video takes me out of my own world and into someone else’s, even if just for 10 minutes. It’s enough time for me to put my thoughts and feelings into perspective and luckily, if I need more than 10 minutes of down time, there’s a whole YouTube world out there waiting for me to enjoy."—Julia Naftulin, editorial assistant

RELATED: 8 Relaxing Gift Ideas for a Friend Who's Stressed to the Max

Create a relaxing routine

"I’ve recently started a new nighttime self-care routine that I think has been helping me de-stress and fall asleep a little more easily. Step 1: Turn off the TV around 10 p.m. and force myself to stop refreshing my Facebook feed. Step 2: Make a cup of chamomile tea. Step 3: Turn off all lights in my bedroom, light a few candles, and set up my yoga mat. Step 4: Do the “Bedtime Yoga” sequence from Yoga by Adriene. It’s a 36-minute gentle yoga routine that includes moves to help you unwind and relax muscles, plus a short meditation to set your intentions for the following day." —Kathleen Mulpeeter, senior editor

Grab some knitting needles

"Lately I’ve been doing a lot of knitting. At first it was for practical reasons (I’m making my husband a scarf for Christmas), but I’ve found it has emotional benefits too. The repetitive motion is super soothing, almost meditative—it’s a great before-bed wind-down activity. I’m just bad enough a knitter that I have to concentrate a little on what I’m doing—I can’t knit on autopilot—so it’s very absorbing. I can be sitting on the couch or at the sidelines during my kids’ sports activities and find that 30 minutes has gone by without my even noticing. There’s the satisfaction of having something real and tactile to show for my time. Best of all, it keeps both hands busy so I stay off my phone!" —Jeannie Kim, executive deputy editor

"A few years ago I was going through a rough period in my life and I decided to take up knitting at night when I was having a hard time sleeping. My aunt had taught me the basic stitch when I was a teenager, so I went to my local Michael’s store and bought a bright chunky ball of yarn and got started. Since then, I’ve knit scarves for everyone I love, and this winter I’m planning on paying it forward with a knitting circle making scarves for homeless people in NYC." —MaryAnn Barone, social media editor

RELATED: A Meditation for Dealing With Conflict

Escape with Friends

"There is nothing better than coming home after a long day, lighting some great smelling candles, having a cup of tea and reading a good book in my bed. If I’m not in the mood to focus on a book, I’ll instead put on Friends or some other happy, funny TV show in the background and play games on my iPad. I could do that for days." —Chelsey Hamilton, editorial assistant

Pound the pavement

"If I can, I head out for a run. Especially in the cold weather, a run is very meditative for me—hearing each foot strike and a steady breath can be extremely grounding. And as someone who can’t sit still, classic meditation/breathing exercises do almost nothing for me to relax. Running is also a huge confidence boost—I feel powerful and in control of my body and mind. In training for races, I’ve forgotten how much a run can absolutely turn around my perspective. When you’re going out for a predetermined amount of miles, at a certain pace, on already tired legs, it can feel like such a chore. But last week, when I was feeling stressed and antsy, I decided to head out the door and run for however long I felt like. I came back feeling relaxed and re-centered." —Alison Mango, editorial producer

Pick up a good read

"I know it sounds cliché, but getting lost in a book is my favorite form of self-care. With a two-year-old at home, I don’t have that much time to read. But I sneak in 10 minutes here and there—on the bus, while my son naps, before bed. Right now I’m halfway through Amy Schumer’s The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo, and it is exactly the escape I need." —Catherine Di Benedetto, features director

RELATED: 7 Health Truths We Wish We Knew In Our 20s

Laugh at what you know

"For me, self-care is curling up on the couch and watching a TV show that makes me laugh. When I’m feeling stressed, my go-tos are reruns of Seinfeld, Parks & Recreation, 30 Rock, and The Office—I’ve seen all the episodes more times than I can count, but that’s the beauty of it. Watching them helps shut off the negative part of my brain for a while." —Christine Mattheis, deputy editor

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Why This Fitness Blogger Is Showing Off Her Belly Rolls

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Ashlie Molstad knows the true value of self-acceptance. In a recent post, the social media star known as Foodie Girl Fitness shared two pics of herself taken minutes apart. In the first, she's standing tall in a sports bra and underwear, looking sculpted and strong. In the second, she's perched on a chair so we can see how the skin on her stomach rolls as soon as she sits down.

"If I'm going to show you the posed, put together, professional sides of me," the 31-year-old fitness coach wrote in the caption, "I'm gonna make damn sure you see the not so flattering sides too."

Molstad's greater message: Loving yourself means loving your body, belly rolls, cellulite, jiggly arms, and all—and tuning out the constant societal pressure to somehow achieve physical "perfection." As she so powerfully put it, "Our bodies aren't broken. The message society is trying to tell us {by airbrushing everything, erasing dimples and rolls and fluff} is.”

Of course, reversing what we've been taught to think about our appearance is challenging. But it's worth it, she urges. "We've been told for years that we're not good enough until we {insert any of the thousands of ideas of perfection that has been fed to us over the years}. But I call BS. I say that the real magic happens when we embrace who we are, at every angle and size."

RELATED: Aly Raisman Shuts Down the Boys Who Used to Make Fun of Her Muscular Arms

We especially love that Molstad looks equally happy in both images, which have been shared nearly 60,000 times. But her confidence doesn't always come easily, she admits. “This doesn't mean I don't also struggle with embracing this body I was given, but it does mean that I understand working on loving me is the most important job I will ever have.”

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