I was born and raised in a small farm town in northern Illinois. I am the youngest of 6 children and have always been the quiet one. I remember wishing I could be the popular girl, the one with the perfect smile, the perfect hair, the captain of the cheerleading squad, and the “perfect size 2” body. I struggled with self-love all throughout my life.

After college, I pursued my dream of becoming a veterinarian. During my first 2 years of vet school, I began to count calories and became an exercise addict. My weight dipped down to 117 lbs, which is way too small for my frame. It was then I was beginning to realize that being skinny does not equal happiness.

Fast-forward 12 years; I am the mother of 2 young boys. Pregnancy changed my body. I longed to be that “size 2” picture perfect women again. I began training and competed in a bikini competition. At my leanest BMI, face full of makeup, fake eyelashes, sparkly bikini, high heels, and fake tan, I still wasn’t happy with my body.

Why?!? What is wrong with me?!? Well, I was striving to be like someone else. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I had an “ah ha” moment. I began to realize that my body is not meant to be like someone else’s. God didn’t intend for it to be perfect. My body was MY body. Once I realized this, I began to think differently. Instead of wishing it were something else, I began to appreciate my body for what it has been able to do. It’s been through the birth of 2 children, a marathon, a half marathon, sprint triathlons’, a bikini competition, a polar bear challenge, a fitness competition, and several 5K’s. I am now starting to appreciate MY body!

Now don’t get me wrong, I still struggle with self-love. I have to remind myself I am not meant to be perfect. I have flaws, I have strengths, and I am beautiful. I have come a long way, yet still, have a long way to go.

I am excited to be a part of the “Beautiful Me” movement. If you are reading this, I hope my story will encourage and empower you to join us. “Beauty begins in the moment you decide to be yourself.”— Coco Chanel