Learning to See the Pretty…and Photo Reveal from Agi M Photography!

It may sound a little stupid, but I have gotten pretty used to being “pretty.”

A lot of people think I’m really vain, self-absorbed, or shallow… but the fact of the matter is, I am just catching up. I’m making up for lost time. Making up for all of the years, days, hours and minutes that I told myself I wasn’t good enough.

Freshman Year Homecoming... circa 2002?

Freshman Year Homecoming… circa 2002?

Circa 2009...at karaoke with my Other Mother

Circa 2009…at karaoke with my Other Mother

All the time that I sat there and believed I didn’t deserve to be loved.

That was all, pardon my French BULLSHIT.

Your weight doesn’t determine what how much love you deserve. A bad haircut doesn’t instantaneously disqualify you from being treated with respect. It doesn’t work that way.

When someone says “You are so pretty!”  I smile, and accept the damn compliment with a “Thank you!” and I always try to genuinely return compliments as well.

But there is always that one person trying to rain on my parade and make me think that those compliments are undeserved. And lately, that person has been ME.

I literally cried when I saw that homecoming photo on Instagram. Partly because that point in life is hard to re-visit in general, but also partly because I needed a reminder that no matter how I might think I look or feel at times…I am NOT this girl anymore. I am so much stronger. So much braver. So much more confident in what she deserves.

I was honored and thrilled to be asked to model for The Boudoir Divas recently at their annual Boudoir Photographer Retreat, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why I’d been considered in the first place!

I got there, got my makeup done, Candace came and did my hair…I put on my high wasted black panties, black bra, black bustier, and lace robe…and I felt ready!

I felt gorgeous! I felt secure!

As some of the photos made an appearance on Instagram, I started to feel less sure of myself.

As I mentioned awhile back, I ironically LOST weight on vacation in Hawaii. In the midst of my return, I was dealing with things being harder at work, Sean losing his job the day before I departed for Hawaii, and more… and next thing you know, the New Year is here and I’ve gained 20+ pounds.

I was so disappointed. I was so angry. More than anything…I was so ashamed. I pride myself on what I accomplished with weight loss, and here I was, failing. Gaining.

My immediate reaction was fear. Fear of becoming that girl again. So… when I saw these photos from the amazing and talented Agi from Agi M Photography, I was having a hard time seeing the pretty.

I was seeing the cellulite. The HUGE arms. The droopy thighs. The plain face.

(I should disclose that I opened this email Sunday morning at closing ceremonies for Relay for Life, after walking over 30 miles in a weekend, and operating on the one nap I took from 1-6 am. So, I was not the most aware of anything happening!)

You know what? My arms might be huge. But I can change that! My thighs might be droopy… but at least my surgeon said the first revision wasn’t perfect. My face isn’t plain. I’m just a tad dramatic when I see myself NOT smiling. Agi was so much fun to work with; so full of life, so excited, and so passionate about what she does. She is one of those people who you trust instantly, because you feel like you’ve known her forever (she is perfect for this industry, because you’ll recall I felt the same way about the Divas and their MUA Peggy when I very first ventured in. You can read more about that in this post)!

I decided to open the email and re-visit these images this evening, after showing them to Sean last night and sharing how I felt with him last night. If you know my boyfriend, you know he is a huge supporter, and that he loves me for me. And his perspective was not surprising. He said I looked great, and then helped me plan my next steps for fixing what’s really wrong: how I feel inside!

So… here are a few of my favorite shots. Check me out!

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Check out more amazing photos from some amazing women at the retreat in this Boudoir Divas Blog Post! Also, you can connect with Agi M Photography on Facebook! While you’re at it, you need to check out my super talented friend, Candace from Ah La Mode Designs. My phenomenal hair is ALL her doing! Also, the fabulous Peggy with His Blushing Bride who did makeup for all the girls! This was my second makeup run with her, and she is still as fun as the first time I met her!

I’ve rambled on and on… but the moral of the story is… sometimes you have to learn to see past what you hate seeing. See past what you’re struggling with, and know that you are captivating regardless of what a label in a dress or a number on a scale says. You’re not defined by how small your arms are, or how your thighs look. The best thing about boudoir is that it captures your beauty at any size. It’s not about being a Victoria’s Secret Angel… but the fact that you FEEL like one. And that you are captured in a way that puts you right up there with them in rank.

 It’s a gift to learn to see yourself in the eyes of those who capture you the way that Agi captured me. And once I took the time to see that, I found myself re-energized and ready to get back to actually working on those things, instead of avoiding the way they look in photos. I’ll be sharing more from these talented ladies, as I receive them!

That’s all for now… but I won’t be gone for long!

SeeSondraSignaturePRINT

 

#YWM2013 Wrap-Up: A Weekend to Remember!

Let’s be honest: Anyone can begin a “weight loss journey.” Anyone can start and maintain a blog.

But, me? I truly feel there needs to be an underlying passion to really advocate and educate an audience when it comes to the importance of these lifestyle changes, milestones, and victories!

I am so grateful that Sean and I were able to make it to the Obesity Action Coalition Your Weight Matters Convention in Phoenix this year.

I met so many amazing people, and learned so much useful information that I am excited to use to keep going through my transformation, and hopefully, utilize to inspire you on YOURS.

There were multiple speakers and educational sessions that really taught me a lot, and also, some that validated the feelings I have had at my heaviest, and as I transition to the newer, healthier, fitter me.

Sadly, we weren’t able to make it to Thursday’s Member Mingle and Advocacy Training, but we arrived just at the beginning of the breakout sessions on Friday morning, and from the moment we walked into the conference hall, I could feel the energy!

Our first session we attended was “Weight Bias: Changing Public Perception Starts with Me.” I felt like this session was the best way for us to start the day, because a lot of people don’t realize that images and stereotypes of Obesity are perpetuated by society without even thinking about it. How many times have you held a bias towards someone who was Obese, or even too thin? We all do it, and more importantly, we can all help BREAK THAT CYCLE! I am pretty well-known in my circle of friends for being very vocal when people try to attack my size or the size of others in general (just attack-y people in general). I feel a need to really put these people in their place, and make them realize that 1) people can HEAR them and 2) it’s NOT ok to treat people that way. What I walked away from this session, is that I can use the information and resources I have from organizations like the OAC, or even my personal experiences, to educate people, and break those biases.

Other sessions we attended?

Everyday Advocacy: Simple Ways to Make a Difference,” “Planning, Shopping, and Dining: Practical Tactics for Good Nutrition,” “Who’s Staring Back at You in the Mirror: Improving Self-Perception,” “Understanding and Managing Food Addiction,” “My Everyday Routine Matters: Sleep, Stress, and Other Factors Impacting Weight,” and “Weighing Success Beyond the Scale: Identifying and Maintaining a Healthy Weight,” and “Expectations of Your Body After Weight Loss: Plastic Surgery and Other Options.”

All in all? So much good stuff! The OAC will be providing attendees with access to the powerpoint presentations within a week or so, and I’ll be sure to get access of all of you, so that you can see all the amazing lectures and statistics we got to learn from!

Friday evening, there was a Welcoming Ceremonies Dinner, and Sean and I sat at an empty table by the door. We were later joined by 4 others, who just so happened to all be representatives from the Platinum Sponsor of the convention, Eisai Pharmaceuticals. This company has just launched a new weight loss drug that uses neuro-science and triggers the signal in your brain that tells you that you are “full.” They were so interested in my opinion of the American Medical Association declaring Obesity a disease, and what my thoughts are on their product.

It felt so AMAZING to be sitting with this group of professionals and talking to them about something that I wish would have been a more prevalent option back when I was talking about Weight Loss Surgery with my Primary Care Physician. I was honored to have my opinion regarded so highly, and it was an awesome networking opportunity, as well. One woman shared her personal weight loss success with me, and said she was going to have her sister check out my blog.

In general, I made some new friends, and they happened to be some of my most favorite WLS/Health/Weight Loss bloggers! It was AWESOME! Twitter shout-outs were happening all weekend!

It was 114 degrees all weekend, and Saturday night after the awards dinner as I was headed to the bar with some new friends, it was actually raining, and there was lightning…but it was STILL 100 degrees! Crazy!

The resort was beautiful. The OAC truly picked an ideal location, and we enjoyed all of the amenities of the resort that we were able to use during our visit.

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One cool thing about the event was that at the Welcoming Ceremonies Dinner, the location and date of the 2014 Convention was announced!

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Will YOU be there? Because if so, you’ll run into me! We are already planning to make sure we can fit this into the budget, and I am hoping we can make it our first real vacation together, as well! No way we are going to Orlando and not going to their Sea World (and maybe even DISNEYWORLD!?!?!)

We shall see what happens 🙂

This event got me even more excited and inspired for my next convention in October, and it is really cool that some of the new friends I have made will be there, so I won’t be the totally new kid this time around! I cannot wait!

If you’re interested in starting your experience with these amazing, inspiring, educational events, you still have time to register and join me at the Obesity Help Convention in Anaheim October 4-5 and experience the magic for yourself!

That’s all for now, but stay tuned for those amazing presentation powerpoint links coming soon!

Sean and I are off to use our “Planning, Shopping, and Dining: Practical Tactics for Good Nutrition” education this weekend, and prepping all of our meals for the week after we hit up Costco and the Farmer’s Market to do some nutritious damage.

Now? Time to work on the thigh lift post you’ve all been asking for, before this Percocet kicks in again and makes me snooze for the next 6 hours!

‘Til Next Time!

XOXO