Today’s story is a feel good story. A journey of finding yourself and becoming who you’re meant to be. We speak so often about beauty and cosmetics that we wanted to switch things up a bit and provide a story that speaks to so much more and to so many more people in today’s world. Today’s story is one of what we hope will be a series. Today is the first portion of our interview with Larissa Lopes.
Larissa’s journey is one that we want to be able to see more people triumph and find themselves. Self-empowerment and liberating the you that is inside of you that other may or may not see. We support the #TheBestVersionOfMyselfMovement. One of the things we want to help promote and make people more aware of with this series of interviews.
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Larissa and for sharing your story and journey. We are truly excited about being able to share it with our audience. In addition to helping you to get the word out on what you’re doing.
Please tell our readers about your #TheBestVersionOfMyselfMovement.
#TheBestVersionOfMyselfMovement is a platform that I created to connect, promote and support everyone trying to improve their own lives. It all started 5 years ago, actually, when I began my own journey to become the best version of myself. I didn’t realize it back then, but every time you’re bold enough to change, you’re also inspiring those around you to do the same.
After I lost 100lbs/45kg (without any diet or regular exercise), people started asking me how I had done it. And I even made a YouTube series in 2016 called THE 12 HABITS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE, to share with them everything I’ve learned during my transformation. It was then that some of my students, friends, and family members started to tell me what they were doing to improve their own lives. And their stories were so inspiring that I decided to create a platform to support and connect them. These people are all real-life heroes, doing everything they can to become a better version of themselves. So, I hope that by sharing their struggle—not only their success—we can inspire even more people to start changing their lives.
We’d like to start by talking about your journey from the beginning. There are people out there that are in their own heads and feeling alone or like others may not understand them and their struggle. We believe your story and journey will help them realize that they’re not alone.
In this interview we will speak to your transformation in losing 100lbs and maintaining the weight loss. That’s no small task and one that so many struggle with these days. The struggle to meet the perception of being modelesque. When the reality is there are more people in the world that won’t be a size 2 or 3 than people that are.
In speaking with you, you’ve mentioned that your journey and transformation started roughly 5 years ago. Can you tell our readers more about where you were at mindset wise and what prompted you to feel like a change was necessary?
You may not believe it now, but I’m one of those people that really reached rock bottom. I was only 24 at the time, but I felt so hopeless (after struggling with eating disorders, anxiety and depression for over 8 years) that I almost gave up on myself. To be honest, the only thing that kept me from doing it, was my dream of becoming a writer. I knew I could be better than the person I was back then, and I wanted to become that person—to write the book I had in my head.
I spent years stuck, genuinely believing that to start living the life I wanted to live, first I had to lose weight, cure myself from all my mental illnesses, and become an adjusted human being. But that vision was so far from my reality that one day I officially went crazy. LOL I literally quit real life and started to live in my imaginary world. I had nothing to lose anyway, I was already at rock bottom.
I remember looking at myself in the mirror and thinking: “From today on I don’t want to look at you anymore. You don’t represent me, I know I’m better than you.” I made the decision to “act as if” I was already the person I wanted to become, the person I knew I was inside. And I started living in that fantasy and making all my daily decisions based on my vision, not on my sight. And now, 5 years later, she’s the person I actually see when I look at the mirror.
You mentioned having struggles/battles with food. Can you tell our readers a bit more about that struggle?
I’ve always had a terrible relationship with food. I’ve grown up in an obese, diabetic and hypertensive family, and being fat/sick was something genetic, normal, even inevitable, in their beliefs. So, no one actually taught me how to be healthy, you know? They simply didn’t know how.
At the age of 8, I was already obese—that’s when I started dieting. I lost weight, but gained everything back a few years later. Then when I lost it again at 14, I knew I would have to work harder to keep my weight down. But since I was the only one trying to change in my family, sometimes I couldn’t resist temptation, and that’s when binge eating started to happen. I spent all my early teens dieting or overeating—binge eating or having anorexic days, to be more specific. But then a traumatic event happened when I was 17 (which later would inspire my book, THE GUY HE WAS SUPPOSED TO BE), and I completely lost control of my weight.
Today I know that I overeat for two main reasons: when I’m sad, and when I’m disappointed at myself. And unfortunately for me, those are the two places where our mind spends the most time, when we’re depressed. I tried a new/different diet at least every other week during this period, but after 8 years of fighting and losing all the battles I started against food, I was officially hopeless.
Those kind of struggles and doubt can lead to depression. Battling with the perception of other people as well as battling your own. Speaking from experience I know how difficult it can be to shut out the noise and try to find the light in that kind of darkness.
There are people that struggle/battle with food for so many reasons. There are people who eat when they get nervous or stressed. People that eat out of boredom and habit. There are people who eat more because of the people in their lives and the pressure put on them. The list goes on and it’s a lengthy one when it comes to reasons why it’s easier not to address or acknowledge it. Identifying it as a an issue is a big step.
The flip side of it is there are so many people that have let the voices creep in and don’t eat. Diet in unhealthy ways trying to accomplish something that may not be for them. Chasing fitting into the image of others rather than what they’re best version might be. Whether that pressure is coming from within or from others telling people what they should look like vs. what’s comfortable and reasonable.
Can you share with our readers how you began to find your way out of those perceptions and to the version of you that you wanted to be able to see in the mirror? The best version of yourself…
As I said before, the only thing that kept me alive during these years of depression, was the dream of becoming a writer. I think everyone has a calling inside of us—something we want to do, or be. I believe the reason why we get so disappointed at ourselves is because we know our true potential.
Every time you look at your life and feel unsatisfied, it’s because deep down you have a better vision for it, and you wish you were living in that version. And I’m not talking about being “rich, famous and retired.” I’m talking about being a better partner, or a better parent; or improving your physical, or your grades; or going back to school, or getting a different job—things that are not only possible, but that you know you could do/be.
And the worst part is that, if you don’t show the world who you really are, it will simply never know! Only you know what you’re capable of, and we all want to live up to our full potential—to show the world the best version of ourselves!
To me, the reason why people choose not to change is because they see that vision too far away from their currently reality. They know it will take a lot of time and effort to get to where they want to be, and they feel discouraged. At least that’s how I felt for a very long time.
But to become the best version of yourself, you don’t need to change anything overnight—except for your mindset! Stop seeing your reflex in the mirror as the person you are now, and truly see the one you want to become. Walk out the door and act as if you were that person, make all your decisions from this person’s point of view. “Start living today as if you were already the best version of yourself,” that’s my secret. That’s what I did.
Most times the struggle is to start but the real difficulties are in becoming consistent with the changes that you want to make in your life. Especially when you have to do with the outside noise and doubt from what can be the people who are closest to you. They may not see what you see or feel to know how to encourage and support you in the way that’s needed.
How did you deal with and overcome that part of making a life change?
As I said before, you don’t need to change anything overnight—except for your mindset. The story we tell ourselves every day is the most important element of any life transformation. And the second most important is consistency.
I decided in my mind that I was already that new person, and every time I made a mistake and caught myself going back to old habits, I would simply think with my new mindset. If I had a binge crisis, for example, I wouldn’t think “Congratulations, you did it again! You’re so weak, you lost another battle to food,” like I used to do before. I would say, “It’s ok, let’s pretend your new self was in this awesome party and couldn’t help but taste all these amazing plates, like this one and that one…” and I remember feeling like I really was in the party, meeting interesting people, tasting gourmet food (not my cheap unhealthy snacks), and receiving compliments for my looks.
And guess what happened? Most of the times I stopped eating right then! I would save the rest of the meal for the next day or even throw it away. I didn’t need the food anymore, I was living in my vision and bringing her to the present moment made me automatically change my behavior. If you apply this new mindset with consistency, you’re going to start seeing the results. And the more results you see, the easier it will be for you to live according to your vision. That’s how I got here today.
We want this story of triumph to resonate with people that are at all phases of this kind of transformation. Whether it’s those trying to will, themselves into making that change. Or those that have begun and need that encouragement and extra motivation to stay on the path that they’ve chosen.
Pretty sure there were times where you could have quit or not followed through. What kept you going? What did you use as motivation?
My vision. Always my vision.
If you have a compelling future waiting for you, you’ll always feel motivated to go after it. But it’s like I said before, it’s not enough to see your vision in the future, you have to live it now! Create a new story in your head, visualize it, feel it, and start making decisions as if you were already that person.
I personally like to associate a moment in the future (like the day I’ll receive my diploma, for example), to a specific song. Like this, every time I listen to that song my body immediately goes to that “winner state of mind,” and it’s easier for me to visualize and feel it. That’s how you keep your present self motivated—it has to receive the rewards (from the present effort/pain) now. So, don’t be afraid to use your imagination!
Whether we’re talking about weight loss or gaining weight for those that have become overwhelmed with trying to be as thin as they can be. The struggle is real and not something everyone can understand or relate too. We’d like to speak to them collectively and separately to ensure that they know that they’re not alone.
You’ve mentioned changing your diet and trying different things to lose weight earlier on in life. Can you speak to that and what lead to it? In addition, when did you realize that it wasn’t what you needed. It wasn’t what was best for you and the version of you that you wanted to become?
The two first times I lost weight (at the age of 8 and 14), I went on a dietary re-education with a specialized doctor. It worked for a couple of years, but like any other diet, it didn’t last and I gained all the weight back (in double)!
Besides that, I’ve tried hundreds of different diets! I’m not kidding! I fought against food from 8 to 24 years old—that gives me 16 years of experiencing on dieting! So, please believe me when I say this: DIETS DON’T WORK!
If you want to change your life, you have to become a different you! You need to be able to think with a different head, and react differently when someone presses the emotional buttons that make you want to eat.
I can proudly say that my life only started to change when I promised myself I would never diet again. I hated it, and I still do! To know you can’t eat something only makes you want to eat it even more! And when you’re dieting, your focus is on food 24/7, you’re always thinking about all the things you’re “avoiding.” It feels like you’re always running away from the enemy, and it’s exhausting.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but by giving up on dieting, I was actually shifting my focus from food to other activities, like writing, making new friends, and living in my imaginary world as the best version of myself. That change in my focus alone made me lose 22lbs/10kg in 2 months! I was completely blown away, and that’s when I realized #TheBestVersionOfMyself philosophy worked and decided to live like this for the rest of my life!
Notice that I didn’t say: “I decided to keep doing it until I reached a certain weight.” I really adopted it as my lifestyle for good! I would never diet again, but I also would never treat myself the way I used to, because now I was a different person—now I was the best version of myself.
In the process, I slowly gave up on a lot of things that were bad for my health. But not because someone told me to, it was because it didn’t fit with the image I had of myself anymore. That’s what you want to do, to change your mind to the point that you WANT to give up on what’s bad for you.
What would you say to those that are struggling with the perception of they need to be a size 0 or 1 etc.?
I think our society thinks too much about food and about the way we look. And they literally raise us to be in this constant battle against ourselves, because of course we can’t ever have both! So, we’re divided since we’re little in two groups: the ones who care about their body image and give up on the pleasures of food, and the ones who claim not to care about their body image in order to enjoy the pleasures of food.
To me, we have to shift our focus. And the two key words here are pleasure and image. If you want to change your life and stop this internal war you’re living in, you have to stop associating these two key words to food and body.
Today, these four words have different meanings to me:
Pleasure, I associate with smiles—things that make me laugh. And you can’t laugh when you’re eating, I’ve already tried. LOL
Food, I associate with fuel. That’s why we eat, right? So our body can have enough energy and nutrients to keep working. Like putting gas in a car, if you want to travel far distances and keep the engine running well, you have to make sure you’re using the right fuel.
Body to me is just the car, not the driver. I don’t define myself for the way I look anymore, I think it’s never a good representation of who we are as a person. Like any vehicle, your body’s job is to take you to wherever you want to go. But once you get there, you, as the driver, must speak up and show the world who you really are. People might look at you for a while if you have a pretty car, but if you want to keep their attention, you better have something interesting to say.
So, that’s my new concept of image: “what do I have to say?” (What are my values, my strengths, my dreams? What do I want to be remembered for? How can I improve myself and contribute to other people’s growth? How can I make the world a better place?) And to my surprise, I’ve notice in the past few years that the more I work on this new self-image, the more I hear people saying I’m beautiful. LOL
What would you like to leave the readers with and convey?
The world might not be able to see everything that you are, but I know that deep down you do. So choose to become the best version of yourself. The only thing you need to do is to start seeing this new version of you in your head, and I promise you soon the world will start seeing it too.
You can find out more about Larissa and her journey on Youtube. Definitely subscribe to her channel.
“The Best Version Of Myself” has 5 episodes (Mind, Heart, Body, Soul, and Purpose), and it’ll be released entirely during the month of October (one each Monday).
Larissa can also be found on Twitter (@lalalopes) & Instagram (@lopes_lala). In addition to her very own site: http://www.LaLaLopes.com
Subscribe and follow Larissa and #TheBestVersionOfMyselfMovement on Twitter (@BestVersionMov) & Instagram (@TheBestVersionOfMyselfMovement).