When your appearance doesn't accurately represent how you feel inside.

In high school I had TERRIBLE skin. 
Bad. So bad that my face was often swollen either from the acne or the meds I was using to clear the acne. 
My life revolved around my skin. 
I didn't want to sweat too much, because I thought it would cause a breakout.
I didn't want to go places unless I was having a good skin day....never happened.
Acne ruled my life.
It was the first thing I thought about every morning and the last thing I thought about before I went to bed.

                 I HATED this ad so much. Desperately wanted her skin.

                 I HATED this ad so much. Desperately wanted her skin.

I struggled with it for a long time, because as a high school girl I thought appearance was the most important thing (still have to remind myself that it's not) and I hated what I saw when I looked in the mirror.
I can't find any pictures, because I literally either snuck them into the trash or burned them. 
No lie.

But you know what really made the acne so difficult to deal with?
The things I had to do to cover up and care for my skin were not in line with what I as all about.

I didn't like avoiding and dreading sweat-inducing activities. 
I didn't like having a "skin regimen" because I liked simple.
Simple hair, simple skin, simple (if any) makeup. I wanted to just take a natural approach to my appearance, and here acne was forcing me to do all these things that I felt were out of character for me. 
I now know that half of the things I was doing were because TV commercials and dermatologists were telling me to do them, but they were actually making things worse...

Finally one day I just decided that I was going to put the actual acne out of my head and just start living the life that I wanted to live. 
I stopped wearing makeup over it. 
I stopped treating it. 
I made myself smile-hoping that smiling would help people to see the real me under all the zits, puffiness, scars, and discomfort. 

And you know what, I felt better and the acne improved.  
Eventually it improved altogether, thanks for some dietary changes and the fact that I was no longer using externals chemicals to treat it, and I learned something from that experience that has stuck with me forever.

Like I said, I burned most of the pics, but this is a pic of my when my skin was"good" still super swollen and and broken out, but notice my smile with two of my best buds in college. Yes, I'm wearing a beaded choker that I made.

Like I said, I burned most of the pics, but this is a pic of my when my skin was"good" still super swollen and and broken out, but notice my smile with two of my best buds in college. Yes, I'm wearing a beaded choker that I made.

I guess what I'm trying to explain with my story is that, those things you don't like about how your look right now, they either come from one of two places.

1. Internal source
2. External source

If they are external in origin, meaning you feel them because others are making you feel that way, then a mission statement will help you sort that out. 

If they are coming from inside you, again, a mission statement is going to help you understand why you feel the way that you do, and what to do next.

A concrete (albeit evolving) mission statement helps us to know what we want in our lives.
And what we don't.

Then we become aware of what we need to do to make our lives look more like who we feel we are on the inside.
You see it becomes more of a wholistic approach rather than just the pressure to change an aesthetic attribute about ourselves. 
This also facilitates the creation of behavior-based goals instead of results-based goals.

So no longer do we only focus on thoughts like, 
"I should lose weight".

Instead our mission statements includes some core values like:
Feeling proud, comfortable, and capable in my body.
Nourishing my and strengthening my body with food and movement...so I feel good.

Then when we have to make decisions about what to eat, how and when to move, and when to rest you can use this core value to determine what your next move is. 

"Does eating this quart of ice cream align with my core values? Will it help me to feel proud, comfortable, and capable in my body?"

We have an answer!

-"Yes, because I'm proud of the fact that I can feel comfortable indulging in ice cream sometimes because I also eat nutritious food and care for my body with movement."


-"No, eating ice cream right now will not make me feel proud and comfortable tomorrow, I'm going make a protein shake and take a walk instead."

The beauty of knowing what you are about and what you aren't about is that it begins to make it easier for you to mute those nagging negative thoughts. 

I use the core values of my personal mission statement to make decisions all the time about what I do with my body, how I spend my time, how I raise my kids, how I love my husband.

So when I'm deciding about something that isn't necessarily "good" or "bad" all I need to ask is,
"Does this align with who you want to be?"

And then for the most part, I know what to do.

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Sarah Smith is a Raleigh-based personal trainer, strength and lifestyle coach.

She specializes in helping real women cultivate lifestyles that make them feel confident, capable and content in their bodies and lives!

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Sarah Smith