L – Loving Yourself {ABCs of Health}

This is the transcript of my interview with Danielle Doan. See the video at the end of the post.

Aline
Allright everyone, welcome to the ABCs of Health. Today we are on letter L, and this isn’t exactly a word. We’re doing a bit of a sentence, Loving Yourself Through It. I love this letter because health is more than just what we eat, it’s more than just how much we exercise, there’s a lot more to it and it all starts with us. So today I have the great privilege of interviewing Danielle. I met Danielle on Instagram, and I think it was because of curls, I’m not sure, she popped up somewhere there! Through Danielle I discovered the workout program that I have been doing for little over a year, and I love it and she’s just a beautiful ray of sunshine, she is wonderful, and so she’s going to tell you guys what she does, and we will go from there, and it’ll tell you why she’s the person to do this letter. But let’s start with what she does.

Danielle
Right. I’m moving to the floor ’cause I just feel like I’ll be more comfortable sitting here. Criss cross applesauce works better. There’s all kinds of crazy things going on on my porch, so alright. I’m just sharing a little bit about what I do? Oh wow, I feel like that could take forever… it’s just so… yeah there’s a lot! A lot of what I do is based on my story and my own journey. About almost 13 years ago I had my daughter and just went through some really hard times, a little bit of tragedy in our family, and it shifted a lot of things for me and I ended up eating my emotions and turning to food as the source of comfort when I was just drowning in postpartum depression and sorrow, and really some PTSD from what had transpired in my family. So when my daughter was almost a year old I just saw a picture of myself on the beach and I didn’t recognize her… but it wasn’t even the physical aspect of it. It was the person who I could see that sorrow, and I could see that despair, and that I had kind of lost who I was, and maybe had never really known who she was in the first place. So a friend of mine invited me to her… we call it virtual gym now, but her Beachbody accountability group, and I was just hooked on the community, and I loved the at home workouts ’cause I don’t have to go anywhere and schedule things. I am a free spirit, I don’t like a schedule, I don’t like to have to make it anywhere on time, so going to the gym was just added stress to my crazy life. So, I just worked out with my babies when I could made it fit, and knew that each day I could do a little bit of something and take little steps to being a healthier me and figuring out what I wanted to be when I grew up. Yeah, I really believe God has gifted me in just cheering on other women, and supporting them, and loving them, and being their biggest hype girl, so I started doing that as a coach and I’ve been doing it for 9 incredible years! I’m amazed to see how God has grown it and used it in my life and along the way, who He’s helped me realize I am along the way. I became who I was supposed to be, who God had me to be all along. So, there’s kind of short answer really.

Aline
As short as you can get it! But really, it’s a great story. It’s always good to hear, and that story is part of the reason why I asked you to take over this letter because it’s like you said, it’s not just that the physical aspect of saying: OK, I don’t like what I’m seeing in the picture. It’s who I am. I’m not happy with the person that I am right now. And so my first question to you would be: what do you think our perception of ourselves, and how we feel about ourselves, how do you think that interferes with our health?

Danielle
I think that a lot of times… here’s something, ok? I know a lot of people jump into health and wellness and will say, well, you have to love who are right where you are. That’s part of the journey. I honestly believe that, but I also believe some discontent with who we are is good because discontent compels us into action. If I had never looked at that picture and seen myself, who I did not recognize, and honestly I did not like the way I looked… I did not like the way I felt and those feelings of discontent maybe they were misplaced, and maybe I did not have self-love, I had a lot of self-loathing, but those feelings propelled me to action. So honestly, I won’t always call them bad. I think sometimes we need that good hard reality check of I know that there is something greater and better within me, and it really is so much more than just what we look like on the outside, but I think we have to go through the journey and the hard to realize that.

Aline
And the process of saying OK I can learn to love myself, and I can be happy where I am, but I can always want to get better. Because just saying, OK I love myself the way I am, this is fine – there’s no growth there, right? There’s no physical growth, no emotional growth, no mental growth.

Danielle
You know, I would still have pain in my knees, and I wouldn’t be able to keep up with my kids. I would still be having asthma issues… just so many things that I am glad for the discontent that brought me to action. So I feel like some of love is a tough love where we’re honest with ourselves and say: you know what, this might not be the best version of my body. And even now, I mean, I am at a place where the pandemic and different things going on with my children, just thigs God’s brought our way have kind of rocked our world, and I gained a little bit of weight. But that doesn’t mean that I look at myself with disgust. I think that that’s a journey to recognizing our body is going to change and grow along the way, and there’s different aspects of loving ourselves and giving ourselves grace, but also now I’m at the point where OK now I know there are some steps I need to take to love myself even better – and it becomes about so much more than weight loss I think too.

Aline
What would you say that in this process, in this journey to love yourself, what took you beyond the weight? Because most people get into health for weight reasons, right, like most of us started exercising or decide to eat right most of the time it’s for a weight issue. What took you beyond that? Because the thing is, nobody cares how much we weigh. The truth is your friends never said: oh she’s my best friend because she weighs x amount of pounds. Nobody cares. But for health reasons, sometimes you need to drop some weight. How did you get to this acceptance beyond that, because many people think if only I lose X amount of pounds I’ll finally love myself, and then they lose the X amount of pounds but they don’t.

Danielle
I’ll be honest I think it was getting down to my lowest weight ever that made me truly take a hard look at myself and go OK you did it, now what? Are you truly content with your body? And there were still so many hang-ups that I had, that I had to take a good hard look inside and realize, you know what? These serious restrictions on my diet, is this truly living abundantly and loving myself well? And I think I needed to go almost to another extreme to realize, you know what? Tou got to that goal, and you still haven’t found what you so craved. And yeah, you got the six pack abs, but did that truly bring you abundant life and joy? And while I was proud of myself, and I don’t regret that journey, once again, it was like this good hard look inside to see: OK am I truly… I guess recognizing who God made me to be and living the abundant life. And restricting my food so severely was not really the answer for that, so as much as like… it’s the journey really… it is the journey. We’re gonna learn, and love, and pray all along the way. It’s just the truth of it. I am such a big proponent of loving ourselves, but I also think that it has to be based in truth, and in God revealing the deep dark parts of our hearts where we can just keep those in line with Him and his word and keep growing too. I don’t know. Does that make sense?

Aline
It does. You talk about, ok, you finally reach that super low weight like that magical number you had in your head. It was about looking inside. So how do you feel that that mental and emotional shift of saying OK… because a lot of the talk about self-love is actually the love of the mirror, right? The love of the physical aspect, but that’s not really self-love, that’s the love of the image. Again, it’s a journey most of us have to go through. The process of finding peace with that image that changes all the time, right? I mean, our bodies change, we’re women, our bodies change! And so you went into the emotional, spiritual, and the mental aspect of that – when that changed for you when you found, ok, this is who I am,  I love the person I am not just the person that fits in this dress size, how did that change how you took care of your health from the outside?

Danielle
I think they gave me a little bit more freedom to still have guidelines, because I think that freedom doesn’t mean you don’t have to drive on the road, right? We still have these beautiful guidelines and so for me it’s being honest about food that’s gonna make me feel good. Sure, I can eat anything, and honestly, I don’t have any foods that are off limits in my mind, but I know now, I have learned now, I have experienced the consequences of foods that do not serve my body, so am I choosing to love my body truly completely by feeding it well? Because enjoying the treats in the moderation that I know my body can handle well, and being honest about those things, and not just oh it’s there I’m going to eat it, but will I truly enjoy this and really really being honest. I think that that is such a journey. It takes time, it’s something that we don’t learn overnight, and that’s hard because… I work with so many women who they want to arrive there, and it really is a matter of learning and growing and recognizing your body and being in tune with it. And I think too, something that helped me just to keep going forward in the right direction, is personal development. Reading other people’s stories, people who’ve overcome, people who have found peace with their bodies or are in the process. I think books like that can be so beneficial for us to help recognize that it is possible, and that we are not alone, and we can keep going making progress.

Aline
I love that because freedom looks different for all of us, right? What’s difficult for you may be super easy for me, and what’s my biggest struggle is just a walk in the park for you, right?

Danielle
It’s so true.

Aline
So, freedom isn’t yes all the time and freedom isn’t no all the time. It really is a personal discovery like I can’t do exactly what you do because that won’t be my freedom. Because of the person I am, not just the body that I may want…

Danielle
And isn’t it a part of really like learning ourselves, like I said, being honest with ourselves because we… I mean the heart is deceitful, we are our own best deceivers. We really are! We’re good at it, but I think sometimes we just have to be so honest with ourselves. Like, OK girl those Oreos are not gonna make you feel good tomorrow like, can we just be honest?

Aline
And sometimes just the saying it out loud. I mean, I know we’re weird, not everybody would agree with this, but some of the things that we tell ourselves in our head we would laugh if someone were to use that argument with us! We likely would say: really? That’s not an argument! That’s not… you can’t say that! But we convince ourselves, it sounds so good in our head, right? We go ahead and move forward with the not great option.

Danielle
Learn and grow…

Aline
Yeah, a couple letters before we had J for journey and that’s exactly what the whole conversation was about that this is… everything that we reach is a marker it’s not the final goal. Because there’s this idea in this industry, like, ok, I’m gonna get there and I’m gonna sit there but that’s not real life! I mean you reach a goal, you learn something, and you keep going, you keep moving forward.

Danielle
You know this as well as I, my dear, as each year goes on the game changes! It just does… and so I think we just have to be willing for that growth and change, yeah. Because it does, it doesn’t ever stay the same.

Aline
And we have to learn who we are through all of the crazy changes. So, my last question for you is what is one thing that you would suggest someone who, no matter where they are in the process, maybe just in that first stage of saying: OK something isn’t good, I hate who I see in the mirror, I’m not happy with myself, I’m not doing well. Or maybe someone who’s already in the process, and in there, and creating new habits, creating these good things. What is one step you would say that’s important to practice to maintain this self-love, to maintain this self-knowledge and self-acceptance?

Danielle
Oh yeah… oh man, just one thing. Ok, that’s tricky.

Aline
Give me 1-3 things!

Danielle
I would say the biggest thing is just keep going, right? Just keep going… the journey is not linear. It’s up and down, all over and in between and just… just keep going and fail forward so big. I do have like, this just popped into my head so I’m gonna share. And I haven’t shared in my virtual gym in a while so I need to, but one thing that I heard years ago that stuck with me forever and I don’t know why, this may be the difference, but maybe it’s a tangible thing that we can all do today. I remember someone telling me: OK, have a mirror, and you just jump in front of that mirror and say something so positive! Like maybe you think it through ahead of time, or you write it down, or whatever, but it’s like think about something about yourself that you can just totally say and surprise yourself! Like I’m not kidding! I would tell my girls, you go out and then you drop it: you have awesome hair! You’re amazing! Oh my God like seriously… and just surprise yourself. Because we’re so good at looking at ourselves and picking apart every little wrinkle, freckle, dark spot… you know, like the jiggle… we’re so good at that. I think if we purposely and intentionally out loud say good things, it starts to shift. It just does. Like I hear stories about plants that you speak life to them and positivity… are we not greater than a plant as God’s creation? Speak life. So, there you go, that’s my tangible gift, or tip. Speak life. Do it out loud.

Aline
I have an exercise that I sometimes suggest to people that it’s that exact idea. You’re going to make a list of the things that you tell yourself and not the good things, you are going to make a list of the real things that you tell yourself, that you would never say out loud, that you would never ever say about your daughter, about your best friend, those things that you look in the mirror and that you tell yourself. You’re gonna make a list and then right next to it, you’re going to make a list of something that is true going against each one of these negative things. Because we need that bank, right? We need that bank of truth for us to pull from, because we all have the hard days, we all have the difficult, the bloated, that pain the week that you can’t work out because you hurt your foot, or whatever. We’re all gonna have difficult times, the meal that didn’t go well… whatever it is, right? This idea of looking at yourself and actually telling yourself – not just in your head staring out a window, but just looking at yourself and telling it to yourself. That’s powerful. Alright so any last things that you would like to say?

Danielle
I think I shared it all!

Aline
Thank you thank you thank you and everyone watching, Danielle’s Instagram handle is gonna be down here (@curlyfitmom), go follow her, and she’s wonderful and beautiful and it’s just it’s just so wonderful to have you in my life, and to have you as part of this journey. You’re just so… it’s beautiful to see how far you’ve come, and how much you can pour into people. Because we can only pour from what we have, and to see your example of daily putting into yourself so that you can give to all the people that you impact… that’s beautiful. So, everyone, go follow, go listen, go watch, go see and it’s also fun, because she’s hilarious.

Danielle
I am! I never claim to be anything but a hot mess! So, there you go.

Aline
Keep following along and we’re heading towards the last part of the alphabet, so stay tuned!

Keeping it simple,
Aline

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