©2018 by Tamara Kennedy.

My Self Love and Body Image Journey

September 6, 2017

My purpose in life is to love. To give love, teach love, learn love and receive love, in whatever form that arrives or presents itself in.

 

My vision in life is to inspire, empower and encourage women to thrive at life. To inspire and teach women how to love, be kind and believe in themselves. Giving them the tools and support to know how but also to believe that they are totally worth investing in each and every day.

 

For those that don’t know me, my name is Tamara Kennedy. I am a personal trainer, by trade, have been for 12 years now, owning my own business for just over 10 of those. I have mentored several PT’s along the way both in practical and business mentoring. I have been a rehab and conditioning coach within TAC Cup and the VFL. I am also an elite sports masseuse, working with some of Australias top professional elite athletes, including Hawthorn FC, Cricket Australia, and the Sydney Roosters as well as several other individual professional and elite athletes, including being apart of the Rip Curl Pro WSL event earlier this year.

 

In 2016, I started my own activewear line called The A.M, and while working full time, owning two businesses and travelling around Australia with Hawthorn FC, I somehow managed to find the time write my very first book, I AM. I am an independent, driven, self motivated, confident woman that believes in her worth in his world, and pretty much doesn't take shit from anyone… But it hasn’t always been that way.

 

While writing I AM, the amount of people that said to me “but how do you write a book on body image and self love, when you have never had a body image issue?”... and that's the funny thing about society, is that we are so used to seeing everyone else's “highlight reel” that we forget that every single person is human (including me) and has their own struggles, baggage and issues, some are just better at hiding them than others.

 

At the age of 13 I was picked on by all of the boys at school. I was picked on for the size of my bum and for not being skinny like the other girls. I was an athletic shape (still am), spending every spare minute I had playing some form of sport. I had boobs, hips and a bum… I was different to the other girls at school and for that I was picked on. Now that was an innocent 13 year old boy most likely having a joke... but hell if it didn't take me 11 years of being self conscious about it, and a further year before I ever even imagined wearing any form of tight clothing. There were nights I would cry before going out with my friends because I was so worried about the way I looked. Whereas now, my bum is one of my favourite parts of my body and it’s quite ironic that I own an activewear label, and wear tight clothing every single day that shapes my body.

 

My moment happened at 13, yours will be different, but I think we all have that moment in our lives where we were picked on or made fun of, or where someone says something negative about the way we look and our body image issues start to develop from there.

For me, my insecurities were so much more than just body image and the way I looked though. They were at my worth, my self esteem, my self confidence and not feeling like I was good enough for anyone or anything in this world.

 

So here I am, a woman that is nearly 30, and has never applied for a job in her life, I am the person that walks into the workplace I want to work for, and goes into the bosses office and says this is who I am, this is what I can offer you and this is what I am going to bring to the table to make your business or sporting club more successful. With no actual job on offer, I am so confident in my own ability that I believe I can show them why they need to create a job for me, and have me apart of their team. I have self confidence, self esteem and believe in my worth.

 

But as I said, this has not always been the case. Growing up, I never knew my dad, he left before I could meet him and it’s not being fatherless in life that caused my biggest insecurities growing up, it’s the trust that was broken in order to keep information about him away from me. So as a 17 year old girl, with some pretty big insecurities, I got into my first serious relationship. A relationship that until a few months ago I had never really spoken about because I was so ashamed of the girl I was back then. To be honest the first time that I spoke about it out loud was at the launch of my book in March of this year, 9 years later.

The relationship was incredibly abusive, both physically, emotionally and mentally.

When I finally got out of this particular relationship 4 years later, I was at my lowest. For those four years, I was locked in a bedroom when he would go out, I was beaten with a metal baseball bat, made to go to the toilet in a bucket, as there were days I wasn’t allowed out of the room, and if I was even 2 minutes late home from work all of my belongings were thrown on the front lawn and I was beaten. All of my friends and family were cut off, male staff I used to work with got abused and threatened if they even said hi to me so eventually people stopped even saying hi, and for four years my already low self confidence was beaten to the ground.

 

It was an incredibly tough 4 years, but as I said I am so ashamed of who I was then, and at the time I didn’t think there was a way out, I thought that’s what being an adult involved and that all relationships were like that. He would continually tell me that I wasn’t good enough, that no-one would ever love me, and that I would never be worth loving on any level. I was told I was ugly, that I had a disgusting body and that he was doing me a favour being with me because my personality was so shit and I was unlovable.

 

After 4 years I finally got out of the relationship and the two years after that followed were probably even harder, which seems crazy but I kind of knew what to expect with him. But when he wasn’t around, I lived my entire life in fear. Fear to go outside in the dark, I remember when I needed to get something from my car in my driveway and I burst into tears as I was so terrified of going out in the dark in case he was hiding out there waiting for me. A grown woman terrified of being in the dark, I can’t even explain the fear I lived in. In those two years, I got death threats, my house got broken into, my tyres were slashed, I was run off the road, I was in a constant state of fear, no matter where I went he would do drive by's... all in all was some of the worst days of my life...On a scale of 1-10 in confidence I wasn’t even on the charts, as I can’t even explain to you how poorly I felt about myself. I was a completely different person to who I am now, and to the point that I don't even know who that is anymore.

 

Now I am not telling you this story for you to feel sorry for me, because I don’t feel sorry for me. I wouldn’t change a thing. Bad times shape us - mine was this, yours will be something else, but they all shape us to who we are meant to become. I wouldn’t ever change what I've been through for the world as it has shaped who I am today and in my opinion who I have become is pretty amazing.

 

Pain and heartbreak, and struggles, and being beaten down and finding a way to stand up again are what makes us strong and even if I had my time again I wouldn’t change a thing, purely because I wouldn’t be standing here the woman that I have fought so hard to become, without the shit, without the negative and without teaching myself how to stand again even when life threw me down. And there is hurt in this world that can’t be fixed by bandaids, and I get that, but you do have the power and ability to change your own attitude and perspective on your situation and life, and you have the ability to choose what happens next and what positive you can get out of it, or how much you can grow.

 

Everyone has struggles, everyone has felt pain or gone through something terrible, thats a part of life, but it is how we grow from these things that is the most beautiful thing.

 

In 2011 is where everything changed for me. It’s one of those moments that change your life and at that point mine needed changing. If I am being honest, looking back my life and I probably needed saving and being my stubborn self the universe needed to send me a pretty big wake up call and that's what I got.

 

In March of that year, I was in a pretty horrific car accident, my car spun out of control on one of the country roads at home and me and my car ended up down a cliff. I can’t even explain to you how incredibly lucky I was, but to give you even a slight idea, I was down a cliff, a tree had launched itself through my back window and into my passenger seat (not my seat), another tree was jammed into my petrol tank but my car didn’t explode. My seatbelt broke, and airbags didn’t go off, I was an area of zero phone reception in the middle of a country road at 2am. Yet somehow a man drove past and saw my headlights facing the sky and stopped. When the police and ambulance arrived they said, ‘we expected you to be dead by the time we found you’... now you are probably thinking how on earth is this how it all changed... But with all that could have gone wrong, I am still here today and minus a broken scapula and some slight nerve irritation, I walked out of that accident without a bump or bruise. How incredible is that? I am meant to still be here today.

 

So being unable to work due to the pain I was in, my aunty offered me an opportunity to go live with her and nanny my beautiful new baby cousin up in Brisbane while she went back to work. He changed my life. It was the first time in my life I had felt that kind of love before, it’s amazing how watching a little human crawl for the first time, or walk for the first time, eat solids or do anything for the first time can bring you so much love and joy. He literally filled my heart. I started training again, made friends, and turned my perception of life around. It 100% all came from my mindset. I didn’t live my life in fear anymore and I saw the good in life. This was also the moment that I stopped comparing myself to anyone and the reason for this is because no-one is me and it was such a light bulb realisation. It was just like my confidence and worth just came back.

 

So what happened 12 years after that 13 year old boy picked on me for having a big bum?

What changed for me to love every inch of myself and how i look?

 

It’s super ironic... and you’ll laugh...

 

I am super health and fitness conscious, even when I was in Brisbane I would train hard, twice a day most days. But the funny thing is in those 2 years I was actually at my heaviest. I got to 15kg heavier than I am now, because of the amount we partied, and for the first time in my life since I was 13 years old - I loved myself.

 

How crazy is that - that in a society that tells us skinny is where we are will be most happy. I can actually pin point the exact moment it all changed - and I was 75kg - fit as fuck - but heavier than I am now - and happy. I loved every part of myself when I looked in the mirror.

Now obviously drinking every weekend wasn’t staying true to my core values, so after 2 years it was time to move back to Melbourne and start my next adventure and the self love, confidence and worth I have for myself hasn’t changed.

 

It was a long process and I still have bad days where I wake up and think shit you look like a sloth but I know that will always change with a shower and some clean clothes, and that makes me human. I do my very best to wake up every day and say something I love about myself when I first look in the mirror.

 

The biggest thing for me though is that in order to love who you are and the life you’ve created, you cannot hate or think negatively about the experiences that shaped you.

Writing I AM, even though when I first went to write it I wanted to help others and make a positive difference in the world, it’s actually changed my life. I have learnt so much more about myself and who I am and for that I will be eternally grateful for the crazy part of me that decided to climb a mountain on new years morning at 2am to watch the first sunrise of the year and who while up there came up with the even crazier idea of writing a book.

 

So welcome to the sisterhood. A community of epic humans who want to be apart of something bigger than themselves. A space for every woman everywhere to share their own story, learn to love and be kind to themselves and network with other like minded epic humans to make a positive difference in the world. A safe, supportive and empowering environment to learn, make friends and change the world, one day and one person at a time.

 

I will be sharing my random crazy ideas and thoughts on everything I AM, from movement and nutrition, to self development, spiritual discovery, growth as well as all things self love, body positivity and how to just be a good human. I hope by sharing my story it will encourage you to share yours. So much love for you all. I can't wait to change the world with you all by my side and create an amazing sisterhood together.

 

Thank you so much for reading my first piece of the sisterhood and please connect with me, let me know what you think of my book, and always remember that you are incredible just the way that you are. - T xx

 

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