I have a friend who’s beautiful.

She’s vivacious, smart, funny, kind, great at what she does and turns heads just walking by, but for some reason, constantly doubts her self-worth and struggles with her self-esteem.

For over 5 years, I worked as a fitness coach at a weight-loss bootcamp. I was strong and fast. The people I coached told me that I inspired them. Even so, I never felt like I ‘belonged’ in the fitness industry.

I was just a normal girl who ate normal food who had a normal-looking body who lived a normal life.

And I felt like a fraud because of the work I did.

But as the years have gone by, I’ve become more able—with effort and mindfulness—to gradually own who I am and make my way through life with greater confidence.

This is how I’ve come to learn the following lessons about finding peace and confidence in my own skin:

Spend more time with confident people. It helps…a lot.

The notion that you become who you spend the most time with isn’t a new one, and is relevant no matter what you’re trying to achieve in life.

Spend most of your time with people who drink a lot, and you’ll probably find yourself heading to the bar more often.

Spend most of your time with people who are successful, confident (not to be confused with being cocky) and purposeful, the less time you’ll spend wallowing in your insecurities and the more inspired you’ll be to ask: “What are the things that she does everyday that helps her live this way?”

I’m Priscilla/Unsplash

So if you want to help yourself become confident and certain in your own skin, do it by spending more time with people who know how to get and stay there.

Do hard things that make you uncomfortable to build your resilience.

Developing a fit body requires that you sweat, experience discomfort, and push yourself beyond your perceived limits. It involves placing increasing amounts of measured stress on your body with the goal of making it stronger, faster, more flexible, and more capable of enduring the physical rigours of life.

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But that alone isn’t enough to make you resilient inside and out, or able to rebound from adversity.

Rising from difficult circumstances, be it heartbreak, betrayal, abuse or disappointment and getting better at withstanding more of them requires that you go through the accompanying mental and emotional discomfort.

Just like the way the torn muscle fibers in your body get stronger as they recover and rebuild after a challenging workout, so does your ability to get up and keep moving forward after being knocked down.

Break down your self-limiting beliefs by doing more and thinking less.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had this tiny voice in my head whose only job seemed to be to plant the seeds of doubt when hope, new ideas or opportunities presented themselves, causing me to stop in my tracks and give up on even trying.

At some point, I needed to get real with myself to find out why this voice was there—and I did, with great discomfort. After awhile, I realised that it was just a self-protection mechanism that I was using to keep me safe from failure and disappointment.

Despite being aware of it, I haven’t been able to get rid of it completely. But what I am able to do is silence it with action. The more I focus on the ‘doing’ despite my inner resistance and the more success I achieve, the quieter the voice in my head gets.

Quiet down your thinking with ‘doing’, and the better you’ll get at breaking past your invisible limits.

Master your body by mastering your meals.

A big part of feeling good in your own skin comes from knowing how to nourish your body.

There’s a huge misconception about eating well, especially if you’re one of the estimated 50% of Americans who want to lose weight, and it’s that you need to starve, deprive and punish your way skinny.

I’d struggled with my weight and emotional overeating for about 20 years of my life, and it was only when I began to master the food in my life so they no longer controlled me that I started to truly feel comfortable and confident in my body.

How did I get here? By realizing at rock bottom when I was on the verge of giving up, that I wanted so much more out of life, and deciding to eat in a way that allowed me to feel good about being alive instead of abusing food (and my body) because I didn’t know how else to deal with the stresses of life.

Brooke Lark/Unsplash

This meant prioritising awareness, mindfulness and habit development over external tactics like counting calories and restriction, which almost always led to more food cravings and bingeing. It also meant making sure that my primary focus was on eating foods that helped me feel energetic, nourished and satisfied, rather than forcing myself to ‘eat clean’ day in and day out.

I didn’t realise it then, but this path of mindful, joyful eating allowed me to heal my dysfunctional relationship with food, and finally, lose all the extra weight I’d been carrying around for years without starving and depriving myself of the food I loved.

Tired of overeating and feeling uneasy in your body? Rediscover what it’s like to feel at-ease and happy in your own skin by nipping your tendency to overeat or eat mindlessly in the bud with my FREE Lose 4 Pounds in 4 Weeks Without Going On A Diet email course. To get your first lesson send to your inbox, sign up here. No spam. Just helpful, good-for-you stuff. Pinky swear.

This article originally appeared on michelelian.com

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