I want to share about my experience with mindset.
I've had two professional photo shoots in my lifetime. Let me first say both photographers are extremely talented and captured incredible shots. This blog is solely dedicated to my prep, mindset, and personal experience going through my body.
My fitness photo shoot was taken 2 years ago in 2013. I do want to say that this photo shoot was perfect timing in my life. Long story short I went through a traumatic breakup and fell into a depression. (Future blog post.) I needed something to focus on, I needed something to take me out of my thoughts. I committed 3 months prior to do a photo shoot with my friend Blaine. In someone else's life a photo shoot to get ready for seems pretty normal. For me it was not just a photo shoot. It was a body photo shoot. It was a shoot that would expose me. "Expose" my deepest darkest issues from my past. An eating disorder that I had covered up for years. My mindset was not ready for a photo shoot because I was still in a restrictive mindset. I knew it would be dangerous waters for me to tred. I was dipping into meal planning, "perfect" eating, making food right or wrong, and being on a strict schedule. I just wasn't ready because I still hadn't healed from my eating disorder from the past. In my present circumstances I didn't care if I knew it would open up a world I had buried.
To get ready for this photo shoot I had a friend of mine put me on a meal plan. He told me exactly how to eat. Basically protein, veggies, my shakes, vitamins, and a very small amount of carbs. He also put me on a workout regiment. 5-6 days of fasted cardio and weight training 4-5 times a week. Sounds simple but after 3 months of this you can go a bit crazy.
I went all in. I tapped into my "will power" and desire to have the "perfect body" as I did in the past. I ate perfect, I worked out perfect. When I was hungry I never fell off my plan. When I was tired I never skipped a day of working out. My life was centered around eating my meals, cooking, grocery shopping, and gym time. I was too tired to ever go out. Not to mention if I did eat out with friends or family I brought my meal prep. So lame. So not fun. I even began to hate the food I was eating. Eating with hate is not good for your body. The life was being sucked out of me. My body was depleted. My mind, body, and soul were all depleted.
I'm not saying eating healthy, working out, and pushing yourself to reach a goal is wrong. It was wrong for me because I was doing it in an unhealthy way. I was justifying it as "okay" because I actually was eating. Since I wasn't skipping meals and eating less than 800 calories a day I acted as if I was "healed" from my disorder in the past. I was in a trans. Although I felt as if I broke free from my disorder, it was still very present in my life.
The worst part of all this 3 month prep was my "cheat" meals. When I got my hands on something outside of my meal plan it was as if I had never eaten in my life. My body was screaming at me to eat. Since I didn't allow myself any sodium, sugar, high fat, or simple carbs when I consumed this food on a cheat meal I completely over did it and had some series side effects. My friends and I call it "sugar drunk." Sugar would make me feel dizzy and I would end up passing out and waking up with a swollen face. It was a crazy outer body experience every time I was "allowed" a cheat meal. Such a sad way to live. But in my mind there wasn't any other way. I didn't know how to not eat perfect and still be fit.
A week leading up to the photo shoot things got more series. I added more time to my fasted cardio workouts, lifted heavier, and starting eating less. A day before the shoot I was so fatigued. Another technique is to stop drinking water for 24 hrs to deplete your body. It's just crazy. To me at least. The day of the shoot was torturous because I was thirsty, hungry, and had to wait till the late afternoon to shoot. Not to mention I was being shot second. I watched Blaine do his shoot for 2 hours before I was able to go.
As my shoot began all I heard was Blaine crunching on his snacks. I had a 2 hr shoot ahead of me before I could get my hands on some food and some water. I feel sad that I thought I had to work so incredibly hard just to show the world that I had abs. That I was fit. Although I still love to inspire the world to live a healthy active lifestyle I feel like I was being a fraud showing my pictures to the world because inside of myself was not love. It was misery. It was a girl who suffered from an eating disorder and still felt her body would never be good enough. The second my shoot ended guess what my ONLY thought was. GIVE ME FOOD. 3 months for a 2 hr photo shoot that was based on feeding my eating disorder. I did feel fit. I did feel confident in my clothes. I did like working hard and accomplishing a goal but I wasn't in a positive mindset. I don't want to bash anyone else for doing photo shoots in a healthy way I'm just coming from my own experience.
After 2 years of working on myself and going through the hardest years of my life so far, I found what was missing. Love. Not just love for others because I always had that but love for myself. I went on a 2 year journey of falling in love with myself. I read books, listened to audios, went to seminars, talked to mentors, dealt with my pain, went through crazy experiences that would challenge me to fight for myself. The universe was testing me; showing me the extremes of the world. Not letting me live in my bubble I had for the first 23 years of my life. The universe wanted more for me. I had to go through the pain. I had to embrace it. I had to surrender. I had to forgive myself. On the other side of my pain and darkness was all the love I had for myself that I didn't even know I had. There really is light on the other side of darkness. If you are in a dark place keep going. <3
After all this time I found myself in a place that a picture with a smile is real. I found a place of love, a place of happiness, a place that reminds me of the beauty in life. I'm not saying everything is perfect and I don't have anymore struggles but the place that I landed now is live-able, bearable...
My recent photo shoot that I did last week was a breath of fresh air. Almost like a closing to such darkness in my life. My photographer and friend Renee was able to catch my truth that had been waiting to come out for so long. She caught a smile, a laugh; she caught the life in me. I asked her 3 weeks prior to do this shoot for me. I didn't have a workout regiment, I didn't have a strict meal plan. I didn't "get ready." I chose to show up as me. Not a version of me that I thought I needed to be. I want to promote my Body Love, self love, and intuitive eating business. I didn't want to show my abs. I wanted my passion, my love, and new found happiness to shine through in my pictures. (photo credit: Renee Moora Ferri)
I have lots of life left to live. I know whatever comes my way I will be able to survive. I have gained strength. I feel more experienced in the world. I feel empowered to help others. I am ready to take on the world and do what I love. Be the love, see the love, spread the love, breathe for love.
With love, Lauren <3
2015 Copyright Lauren McAulay