Anastasia Amour is a body image and self-esteem coach with one goal in life; to help others who suffer from low self-esteem, body image issues, and eating disorders. From her own personal knowledge of eating disorders, Anastasia’s passion is to give a friendly and honest support line to those who need it.With her own help website Anastasiaamour.com which includes her 14 day guide to body positivity for anyone to purchase, I speak to Anastasia about how she started this amazing supportline, and her best tips.
You run the positivity and body image advice website Anastasiaamour.com. When did your passion for confidence and helping people with body image issues start and why?
After recovering from Anorexia, I had a huge desire to help others. From what I’d experienced in my own recovery, I wanted to provide support to others who could relate to me, because I knew what they were going through. I realised that as a kid I struggled with being overweight and I’d gone through countless cycles of yo-yo dieting too… so in terms of body image issues, I’ve got a huge amount of experiences under my belt to relate to a lot of women. I started to pursue formal education in psychology, and the rest started to fall into place from there!
You conquered anorexia and are now a body image and self-esteem coach. Do you find it challenging to coach someone who have anorexia themselves?
It definitely has its difficult moments. Over my recovery and research, I’ve learned that self-care is paramount. I know that I’m able to best serve others when I’m functioning at 100%, which means I need to place my own self-care needs as my highest priority. I’ve become quite good at setting my own boundaries. Whenever I find myself struggling or absorbing the energy of others in a way that’s challenging my own self-love, I take a step backwards and hit pause whilst I regenerate myself.
How did you conquer anorexia and who helped you?
Through a lot of hard work, relapses, total failures… picking myself up and dusting myself off each time I failed and trying again. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t wish an eating disorder upon anyone. The hardest part of recovery was letting go of the part of me that I’d come to identify with so incredibly strongly for half a decade. The tiny rational voice inside me that started to peek through screamed that I was dying, but the biggest part of me – the disordered part – told me that recovery would kill me. Ignoring that and keeping going was torturous.
I felt such a huge sense of shame and stigma around my illness and my recovery, so I actually didn’t seek outside help – my recovery was entirely self-managed and I wouldn’t ever recommend that to anyone. I know now how incredibly dangerous that was to my physical and mental health and I’m amazingly lucky to still be here talking to you right now! I’m grateful for that every day.
Throughout my recovery, the only person that I actually talked to about my illness was a phone hotline support worker from The Butterfly Foundation, whom I talked to most weeknights. She was a listening ear, and that meant the world to me.
It must be so rewarding supporting others! What is the best thing about being a body image and self-esteem coach?
It’s immensely rewarding. The best thing for me is getting to be a support network for those who feel like they’re totally alone. In my own recovery I felt that sense of isolation so deeply, so having been on the other side of the battle, I know what it feels like for the women that I coach. It’s so rewarding when I see my clients have those “lightbulb” moments and watching them start to flourish.
Many people find it hard to control their weight, and this can turn into negative thoughts and activities. How would you say is the best way for someone to take a step in the right direction regarding their anxieties about weight?
A lot of people don’t realise that the body and mind aren’t things that should be controlled or conquered, but rather elements that need to work in harmony together. It’s impossible to have a healthy body if the mind is preoccupied with enforcing strict or arbitrary standards and likewise, it’s incredibly hard to have a healthy mind if you’re treating your body badly. Negative body image has a snowball effect over time and the longer you leave it, the more deeply ingrained those anxieties can become. I always recommend to my clients that whenever they start to notice their body insecurities becoming louder and louder in their minds, they take a step back and instead of judging those thoughts – really listen to what those thoughts are telling them. From there, you can start to unpick the root cause of the thoughts and start to heal the anxiety. Body anxiety is usually a symptom of deeper emotional conflict.
Confidence is something many people lack. They may have received negativity from others, or are negative to themselves. Is confidence easy to gain?
Yes and no!
No, because it’s no small task to go about undoing years of damage of the words of others and yourself that have been cemented in your mind. It takes time, effort, careful unpicking and rebuilding your self-esteem.
But also yes, because once you start doing the work I mentioned above, things start to click and you begin to realise that YOU and you alone are in full control of defining your worth. And that is an absolutely beautiful moment of revelation.
Anastasia’s 3 tips for body positivity:
1.Don’t be afraid to audit your life. Think about who you follow on social media, the people that you spend time with and the information that you consume… ask yourself how all of these elements impact your self-esteem, and take steps to surround yourself with positivity!
2. Commit yourself to making self-care an integral part of your daily routine, rather than just a “band aid” for when you’re feeling low. Find out the self-love practices that work for you, and know that your self-love practices don’t have to look like anyone else’s! Think of them as an opportunity to really get in touch with yourself and your mind-body needs.
3. Don’t underestimate the importance of joyful movement – exercise is important to not only physical wellbeing, but mental health too. If you can find ways of moving that make your mind and body sing, then you’ll reap the rewards. Even if it’s only twirling around your living room to your favourite songs, that still counts! Find what works for you and don’t be afraid to think outside of the box ☺