Unlike most of our clients, Ana had already started her journey to body confidence long before she got in contact with us. She has been working hard to love her body after years of struggling with dieting and having a huge disconnect with her body, and through that process also wrote her own book about it titled "Stretched".
After learning to love herself, she decided helping others to do the same was her calling. Now she is a body confidence inspiring queen, who's been working hard promoting self-love and empowerment to as many people as she can. If you wanted to see what she's all about and get some inspiration from her amazing outlook on life, you can head to her Instagram page.
Where did it all start?
"So I've been on a whole journey with my body, as I think everyone has, but I think a lot of people don't realise where they are in that journey. So this year I wrote my book “Stretched” which is kind of when it all came out about how it really felt and how, really, the obsession to diet and change my body to look like the picture-perfect image that we all see on Instagram, that we aspire to be like, that kind of all... I came to realise how that actually affected my mental health. Things that I was ashamed of, that I'd done during that period of desperation to lose weight, weren't actually my fault. They were things that I did because I wasn't mentally fit & well to be thinking about things like that, especially after having a baby.
After I'd lost weight, you know, that's when you think that you'll be happy because you've lost the weight, I actually lost double what I intended to, and then I wasn't happy. I still found something to obsess over, my stomach that had been stretched from having twins, the skin was so loose that I was just mortified & disgusted by my reflection.
Everyone would look at me and say “Oh, wow, you've lost so much weight! You must feel amazing” and I just felt like an impostor on the inside. I just felt ugly and everyone thought I was this confident, beautiful person but I was thinking on the I inside “Well if they saw you without any clothes on...” and that actually prevented me from being in a relationship for a number of years. At that point I was single after splitting up with my three older ones dad and it stopped me being intimate with anyone. I would go on first dates and I would kind of push people away because I didn't want to get close to anyone.
I wouldn't buy jeans because if I couldn't fit into a 10 or a 12 I didn't think I was worthy or beautiful to wear a size 14 or whatever I was, the size I actually was, which I wouldn't even try on. I'd stick to the 'rules' of only wearing what flatters you because you can't wear colour, you can't wear patterns on your bottom because you don't want to draw attention to your 'problem area' and all that. It was all so damaging.”
What caused 'the switch'?
"Everyone asked me all the time “what was the switch?” And I don't really know. I just think it was a number of things. I started to realise... I started to read books that were from a different perspective. So I remember reading a book and it was like “It's wrong to have restrictions on food, it's bad for your mental health” And I remember thinking “Pfft, no It's not. It's alright to have a little restriction.” And I look back now and I realise how much in denial I was. They were talking about how living a healthy lifestyle is just another word for a diet and it's disordered eating and I was like “That's a no, no, no. That's not me!” And then I was realising how much I was actually... like when I did eventually find my partner and we got together, I would only ever eat sweet potatoes, not normal potatoes and he was like “Why? Why don't you eat normal potatoes?” “Oh because they're bad carbs.” Giving all this food this bad name and having this disordered eating with food and complicated relationship.
It was kind of like, a little bit like working on little bits, and little bits, and little bits, and then through my third pregnancy with my fourth child, he was born in 2018, and afterwards obviously you have all the changes of your body and everything. I'd gone through that before and I'd hated it, after I had my first child I was only 20, I did not have a clue what was gonna happen. I kept thinking "Why do I still look pregnant? Why do I still have all these stretch marks? Not even just on my tummy, on my boobs, on my arms, on my calves. I got cellulite in places I didn't know you could get it." Literally, all these changes and then after I'd had Spencer, I just remember one day I was just driving in a car and I was like “Do you know what? If I stay this shape and size for the rest of my life, what's the big deal? Like, genuinely, there's so much more to life than worrying about having a few stretch marks, and you know... being like a size 16.”
Negative past experiences
"When I was 18, I had a photo shoot, I was talking to Robin about this during the shoot and it wasn't necessarily my body back then, but I hated how the make-up artist had done my face and I hadn't been brave enough to actually say “Oh no, could you add this, could you add that?” And I just felt like I looked like a drug dealer. So, literally, for my 18th birthday present, I hated it. I literally felt so self-conscious.
And, do you know what? When you look back in your brain and you think about the images, I probably didn't even look that bad. I probably didn't look as bad as I was feeling.
So I came here, obviously, with a different purpose to show how bodies are more naturally and not hide the 'problem areas' that people might think they have, just to show them that their body is beautiful, just as they are and it is a normality. What you see on your media screens is a minority of people. Coming here was a really great experience."
Even body confidence gurus get nervous
"I did feel nervous... not necessarily about getting in my underwear because I've done a few things this year where I've had to do that, but losing control. I think of not taking the pictures myself and trusting other people to do it.
I was worried I wouldn't like how I looked. I think, for me, it's not necessarily about my body it's more about my face. I think I'm still a bit self-conscious about what faces I'm pulling what angle and stuff.
How does Ana feel about herself now?
"Amazing. I'm glad I trusted and I let go and didn't have control over it. Although I did make Robin take a few shots that maybe he wouldn't have, they look amazing. I look sexy!"
Ana's message to anyone who's feeling apprehensive about coming along to us:
"I'd say you're not the only one. I think probably all women who think about it probably spend longer thinking about it than they do other things. But just take a breath and remember how short life is and what have you got to lose? Go for it and just trust, and just let go, and just go with it. "
The Embrace Your Body Project is all about empowering women to love themselves and their bodies, as they are, right now.
It's about embracing our bodies, whatever flaws we may think we have, and accepting ourselves.
It's about showing that nobody is perfect, but that we are all beautiful in our imperfections.
And it's about sharing that experience with other women, to help them on their journey to body confidence.