Everywhere I go, people ask, “When are you due?” When I tell them, they say, “Are you having twins?” or “Wow, you’re going to have a big baby!” If anyone had commented on my body like this before I got pregnant, I probably would have cried.

No matter what size you are, I believe almost all women struggle with their body image to some degree. And while I’ve never been overweight, loving my body was still a struggle for me.

In my late teens and early 20’s, I was insecure about my body, especially my belly. I wanted a perfect stomach. You know — one of those stomachs that is on the cover of SHAPE Magazine. It seemed attainable for me since I was an athlete. So I spent a lot of energy and effort trying to obtain this goal — even if it meant neglecting my health at times. (I wouldn’t eat anything with nutritional value… I would eat mostly fat free foods).

Yet somehow, I still felt like I always fell short of those perfect flat abs. Leaving me to feel like a bit of a failure and never quite living up to my own perfectionist standards.

I felt I needed to have the perfect body in order to feel loved, accepted and happy in my life. In fact, I built a wall around me and blocked myself from truly opening my heart, feeling vulnerable and ultimately having a life I loved.

I was waiting on the perfect stomach before I could have a romantic relationship that I could totally be myself in.

I was waiting to look a certain way before I could do public speaking and get up in front of people.

I was waiting to feel my best before putting myself out there in my business.

When I realized my perfectionist standards about my body were holding me back, I wanted to change.

Around this time, I started learning about chakras (the energy centers of our body in which energy flows through). I learned the the stomach is the area of the solar plexus chakra. This chakra is connected to our ability to be confident and in control of our lives.

I started to make the association that this is an area of self-confidence — and how my perception of my body was holding me back from going for things I wanted. So, I developed a determination to change my relationship with this area of my body.

This started with developing self-acceptance.

Rather than being attached to how my body looked and desperately wanting to fit into a pair of skinny jeans, I practiced accepting myself just as I am — right here right now. I started to pay attention to my health and understand that our bodies will change. We will go up and down in weight maybe throughout our whole lives and it’s not a measure of success or failure.

Second, I started looking for things I loved about my body. When I looked in the mirror, instead of always looking for what’s wrong, I looked for what’s right. The truth is — It’s really extraordinary what our bodies can do. It’s amazing how the body has the ability to heal itself, digest food, and fight infections. It knows what to do without us telling it.

Acceptance and appreciation of my body changed everything for me. I started opening up, going for things I wanted and getting results in my personal and professional life. I stopped waiting for myself to perfect to go for things I wanted and allowed myself to pursue my desires. One of my mentors had a motto: “You don’t have to get it right — you just have to get it going.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.36.43 PMNow, having my belly expand has been one of the most amazing experiences. Being pregnant, I’ve gained 45 pounds and had to completely surrender to the process. I would be lying to you if I didn’t say it hasn’t been challenging at times. But, I have been sending my belly so much love and rubbing it (whereas in the past I used to hate on it). I don’t mind when people rub or touch my belly, whereas in the past I hid it.

It’s been a tremendous shift for me to go from shame to love. Our bodies are amazing and beautiful no matter what size or shape they are.

If you’re waiting for the “perfect size” to be confident and pursue your desires, I want to remind you to stop waiting and start living. Appreciate and accept where you are, while you pursue your dreams. Love yourself now.

 So, have you struggled with loving your body before?

How have you moved through it into appreciation for your amazing body?

Let me know in the comments below.