Monday, May 6, 2013

Physical & Spiritual Makeover: The Beginning

Warning: This is going to be an emotionally intense post. Trigger warnings for self harm, depression, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety.

Makeover? What? It's (kind of) what it sounds like. I'm not investing in a new makeup look and expensive clothes though. The makeover that I am starting goes so much deeper than that. Mine is a spiritual makeover, combining soul healing, physical health, healthy eating, and natural skin care -and alright, a little bit of a wardrobe makeover.

The past few years have been really rough for me, if I'm honest. I had rough teenage years -a mentally abusive stepfather, depression, suicidal thought, self mutilation addiction, and intense feelings of worthlessness. It wasn't pretty. I got through that alright though.  I managed to fight back years of self destructive tendencies and keep myself positive enough to get through every day. And by the time I was 19, after struggling with a cutting addiction (sometimes 30+ small cuts a day) for 6 years I was able to stop. That's due to a lot of things -I moved out (and lived with my loving and wonderful grandfather) and went to college where I met some really fantastic people. But regardless of any of that, I stopped and I almost never feel the urge to do it again anymore. Anyone who has ever been addicted to something so destructive can understand how amazing it feels not to have the cravings.

However, not long into college things went downhill fast. I found myself in a controlling and mentally abusive relationship with someone who valued my body more than my personality, and who tried to dictate every aspect of my life. It didn't start out that way of course. For at least the first 6 months everything was fantastic. I was in love. He was charming and attentive, he helped me through my first semester at college as best he could and let me practically live out of his dorm room when my roommate turned out to be less than pleasant.

But controlling relationships usually start out like that. It gave him enough time to get into my head, make me dependent, and beat down my independence, all int eh name of "love." From there it was a constant up and down and the details are not something I'm keen on going into. The long and short of it was that the whole thing was bad, really bad. I hate to think that I was so weak and so dependent on someone so terrible. It took me a long time to stop beating myself up over it. I know now that it was not my fault -it was his. He played with my emotions, cheated on me, and made me feel small and incapable of standing up on my own two feet. It took a long time for me to break away.

I did, of course, but the trouble didn't stop there. It has been just over 2 years since I walked away from him for good, but the damage he did to my soul is still with me. My depression has been replaced with anxiety and paranoia. I have been much better at dealing with these things lately than before, but only because I have started to acknowledge just how bad they are. It's no light matter for me, I fight against them constantly, but it is an uphill struggle for me every day. The paranoia has been easier to manage. It's the anxiety that really gets to me. I am anxious about everything. I am anxious about typing this -the only reason I'm doing it is because I'm still high on exercise endorphins (we're getting to that bit later) and it's keeping me strong and positive enough to get it out.

When I say makeover, I mean I am really digging into my soul and my mind to pull out the anxiety and trauma that is keeping me from standing tall and finding balance in my life. And I have come to realize that this is not just an emotional journey. It's an everything journey. In order for me to stay strong and motivated enough to keep going, keep digging, and keep working, my whole well-being needs to be nurtured and tended to.

What does this mean for me? It means I am going to journal every day. It means I am going to try to blog with more soul. It means I am going to be watching what I eat, seriously cutting out most if not all sugary foods, exercising everyday, doing morning yoga everyday, trying to keep all my personal and skin care as natural as possible, creating with my hands as much as possible, laying in the sunshine and soaking up the light, telling the people I care about how much I love them every chance I get, working on my fiction writing, and finding a personal style that vibrates with my soul and makes me feel good about my looks and my body.

Body love is a roller coaster for me. I believe that we should love our bodies, no matter what, and that we should take care of them, listen to them, and make sure we are giving them what they need and getting rid of what they don't. But looking at myself in the mirror and loving what I see can be hard sometimes. I want to be in better shape. I want to be stronger, healthier, and more flexible. So I'm going for it -not for skinny, for fit. I'm not a particularly big person, about 140lb at 5'3" and I carry most of that in my butt and thighs. I am always going to have lower curves, I know that. I just want them to be muscle curves.

So today I started Jillian Murphy's 30 Day Shred. I don't have the weights (yet!) but I think the exercise still works well without them. On top of that workout, I do sun salutations in the morning, and some extra leg workouts, and hooping a few times a week. I am also hoping to incorporate some walks around the neighborhood on top of all that. So the results I hope to see at the end of 30 days should be more than just from the workout video. And of course my diet is getting a kick in the butt. I am already a fruit and veggie nut (and a vegetarian so I don't take in any fat from meats) and guzzle water and green tea like it's going out of style. I plan to cut out most sugar, limit my bread intake, eat less dairy, and eventually do some kind of detox.

So, here's what I look like on day one of the 30 day shred (this is post workout by the way)

See, I am pretty curvy in the butt area, haha. And seriously, let me make this clear -I do not think that I am overweight. I'm not. I'm just not as healthy as I want to be. I believe in loving yourself. And loving myself includes whipping my butt into shape!

I will be posting updates periodically, and I plan to start running once I finish the 30 Day Shred to help keep myself going and make sure I don't get lazy.

Have any of you every had to do something like this? Healing can be such a long and tricky process, and it's so different for everyone -I'm interested to know in how you guys have dealt with similar issues, etc. My readers give me so much motivation and strength and I am so lucky to have so many people who check up on this space on a regular basis. In means the world to me and I hope you will stick around with me through this part of my journey.

I hope everyone is having a great Monday!

Manda Rave


  1. I cannot tell you how much reading this post has touched me, how much it resonates with me. I too have struggled with an extremely nasty ex, I was with him for nearly 5 years and in that time he did his damn best to destroy my confidence, my spirit... he was emotionally and sexually abusive, and I totally get what you mean when you say the first 6 months were great. That happened with me too, even in the beginning there were warning signs, but he hid things pretty well for a while.
    I broke up with him nearly 4 years ago now, and I'm still working through all of the issues that came up because of that relationship. When I first got out my self confidence was none existant, I never slept because I was so frightened of what might happen to me, I hardly ate because he had told me I should be thinner, always thinner (I look back and I realise I looked so frail back then). Even now, with an amazing, loving boyfriend I still have a lot of issues around sex. For years I had panic attacks, luckily they've mostly stopped now but I still suffer bad anxiety at times, and I tend to get depressed at night due to everything that used to happen to me at night with my ex.
    Thank you for being so open about your self harm past as well, you are doing so well with having stopped. I also have a self-harm addiction which started around the age of 14. I am trying my hardest to stop doing it completely, and I'm going on 6 months now with no self harm at all, but I still have times when it is all I can think about and it is so, so hard not to do it.

    I am really proud of you for doing this, does that sound strange? I just find it amazing that you are setting out to make the changes you want, purely for yourself. I really admire that and am excited to be sharing this journey with you.

    Love, light and blessings to you my dear ♥

    1. I am giving you the biggest internet hug ever. I know what you mean about the weirdness around sex. Sexual abuse is one of the worst things (and another thing he put me through) and has really fucked with my head. I have gotten a lot better and in the care of my loving and amazing boyfriend I am learning to deal with it and feel safe again.
      I hope that you can keep clean of self harm, dear, it's such a nasty thing to wrestle with. It gets easier as time goes on, but I know how easily it can be triggered. <3

      I'm so happy that I have met you Lottie and that I can share part of my life with you and my other readers. I'm so happy to have the support and to give support where I can. I really do believe love is the most powerful force in the universe, and I want to bathe myself and everyone I can in it.

  2. Aw, good for you, lady! For the record, I think your shape is absolutely beautiful! But I know what you mean about it being more than how you look - such a huge part is how you feel. I have definitely had struggles with anxiety and can totally sympathize - it's taken a long time to work through it...self-exploration, prescription medicatiosn, various treatments with my naturopath. The journey requires patience, but from what I can tell, you are strong and determined and definitely doing all the right things.

    I'm so curious about the 30-day shred. How do you find it? Is it something you can do from the comfort of home? Also, hooping - it's been coming up a lot for me lately, and I think it's time I pursue it. Recommendations?

    You go, girl! I'm rooting for you! <3


    1. I found the 30 day shred videos on youtube and you can do them at home easily which is nice. This is lvl one:

      And for hooping, I recommend check out this etsy shop:
      The owner is a sweetheart and her listings give you all the info you need to pick out the right diameter and weight for your hoop. Plus they're not too expensive and come with lots of pretty tape options! I have two hoops from there and they are really great!

    2. Awesome, will definitely check out the shred!

      And the hoops aren't too expensive at all - love!


  3. Lady, you are awesome. Seriously. This post made me cry, because I have been in the same situation. I was with a very abusive man for almost 5 years before I found the strength to confess what was happening to one of my best friends. Thank goodness he helped me get out of it. A few months later I started dating the same person who helped me get out of the situation. He is now my husband and I will be forever grateful for the day I chose to speak up instead of hiding.
    That was over 15 years ago, and sometimes I still feel the pain he caused not only to my body, but my soul. The good news is it does get easier and the real love you find with someone else helps to make all that shit that you feel hurt a lot less.

    I don't want to sound dramatic, but yoga and hooping have changed my life. Yoga has taught me to love my body again and feel so connected to my spirit. My hoop has become a close friend and I feel so alive when I crank up a good mix and just hoop away. Life changers for sure. I also started clean eating about a year ago (I have already lost 30 pounds) and I have so much more energy.

    I am sending you lots of love on your healing journey sister. It takes a lot of work to get over the pain that life has handed us, and I will still be dealing with it for a long time too. Know that I am holding you in love and light. xoxo

    1. You are so sweet Hollie, thank you so much <3
      I don't think that sounded dramatic at all -hooping and yoga have been huge life changing things for me as well. I feel better while and after I do both and the happiness and peace they bring me is something little other physical activities have done.

  4. I wrote a VERY long comment on Lottie's blog, so I won't go as in depth here as I know you read her blog as well. I'll try, anyway. I have so many wonderful thoughts on this subject, and many that haunt me as well. Luckily, mine aren't romantic/partner wise. Jen is why I am alive, and vice versa. We're best friends, and we're each others' soul mate. Her journey was different from mine, growing up with mentally abusive parents, her dad being verbally abusive as well. When she was little, he tried to teach her how to ride a bike, she couldn't figure that out so he called her names and threw the bike against the wall. When she was older, she had to quit a military corps for teenagers program, he called her a failure and that stuck. When we first met, I saved her from one suicide attempt after her first didn't work. I literally, cannot thank the Goddess enough, that she's here with me. Luckily she hasn't cut, nor thought about or attempted suicide for a long, long time. I'd say about two years!

    My story, on the other hand, is a little different. I grew up with a "perfect" family... a verbally and mentally abusive dad, a mom who had... many issues. Including never letting me go anywhere without her, not even the yard, never letting me have any friends or even talk to other kids, and especially when she fell, broke her hip and refused a doctor visit/ER trip, and therefore slowly started getting weaker. This was all when I was 13-18, the latter part, and I was the one caring for her. However, since I never went to school and didn't have friends growing up, I thought this was normal, I thought my parents WERE perfect. When I was around 13-15 I started realizing something was messed up. When I was 18, and moved in with Jen so she didn't have to live with my family, I realized something was REALLY messed up with my parents. However, I also was introduced to Jen's parents who are a whole 'nother situation. They started doing everything to me, that they did to Jen. They still do. I've actually started cutting myself in my 20s vs my teenage years, despite the fact that my depression began when I was 16, because of a foul person who tried to attack Jen and I because we were in love, and also because I couldn't be around her because of the distance. It wasn't until my mother-in-law started treating me like she does, that my cuts began and while they're not often, nor are they very deep, I definitely want to stop altogether. Jen is without a doubt my biggest supporter. We both have Bipolar disorder and anxiety, while Jen has social anxiety and I have OCD and separation anxiety. If I am NOT around Jen, I literally will panic, hurt myself, etc. and have even gone in front of a car when her parents tried to take her somewhere without me, though luckily I wasn't hit. Jen understand, yet not many people do. I hate how people see mental illness, I hate that it's not talked about ENOUGH. So thank you, thank you so much for sharing. Know if you -ever- need a friend, need to talk, cry, laugh or just chat about anything or nothing, I'm here for you. You can reach me at:

    1. -hugshugshugs-
      You are such a lovely person Angie. Cutting is a hard thing to deal with and I hope that is a thing that if you haven't gotten through you do very soon.
      Thank you for being so open and for being such a good friend


Thank you so much for your comments! I love hearing from my readers and your support means a lot to me!

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