Today's featured “kick-ass woman” is Sui Solitaire. Sui Solitaire is passionate about helping people empower and love themselves so they can have the awesome, happy lives they deserve. If you want to love yourself more, let go of fear and perfectionism, love your body, and change your life, click here to check out her e-course on loving yourself more and finding happiness within! ♥ Click here to get inspirational posts via RSS or email, follow her on Twitter, Google+, & Facebook. Get on the list to get exclusive updates + a free guide to mindful, loving eating!

1. What is the biggest thing you’ve overcome in your life that has led you to living your own kick-ass life?

My eating disorder. Even when I developed depression as an early teenager, I did not know that the worst was actually yet ahead of me in my struggles with eating and body image. It was an obsession, a compulsion, an addiction. I hated myself more than ever, and this time, I hated my body to boot.

Of course, I eventually recovered, but recovery took all I had, and I still struggle with emotional eating sometimes. How I let my body love stick, though, is through determination and perseverance. I can be quite stubborn and in my self-love and body-love journey, that’s been a really good thing, haha. I told myself one day that I would not act in a way that hurt myself anymore, and that I would love myself. And every time I made a mistake, I came back at it with full force. I was determined– determined to love my body, to love myself, to prove to myself that I could be kind and good to myself. I knew that I had to or I would literally hate myself to death.

2. What has been your biggest struggle in self-love and what steps have you taken to remedy it?

Perfectionism. It still comes up once in a while, especially when I’m overconfident and I think I’m done with it. In my opinion, perfectionism is not a positive trait, but, like all things, it’s here to help us grow. I use perfectionism to remind myself that I need to be more vulnerable, to just put stuff out there without trying to perfect it to death, to realize that our real inner perfection is in our unique external imperfections.

So when I notice myself becoming a little too anal (hehe) or too closed up or trying too hard, I breathe. I stay present with it. And just for fun, I challenge myself to do things imperfectly just to screw with my own perfectionism.

3. What do you think are some big misconceptions about self-love?

A couple:

  • That it’s self-indulgent (and to that extent, unnecessary). You really can’t love anyone else before you love yourself, because how can you fill their cup when you have nothing in your own cup?
  • That it’s all about how you feel about yourself, rather than what you do for yourself. Affirmations and positive thinking are great– and necessary– but it’s far from the whole story. You need to be able to depend on yourself and stay with yourself when things get hard, too.

True self-love is not about going on endless shopping sprees or stuffing yourself with food. In fact, it’s the opposite. True self-love is not only about feeling good about yourself and literally expressing love to yourself, but being there for yourself when it’s not easy. True self-love is doing what’s difficult even when you really don’t want to, because it’ll be a lot better for you later on. True self-love is about eating what makes you FEEL good, inside and out, not just what tastes good.

4. Can you tell us your favorite tool for overcoming self-sabotage?

Presence and mindfulness. I’m definitely not perfect at this and subconscious self-sabotage is still a struggle for me sometimes (like recently), but self-awareness is really important to me– which is why I’m always experiencing realizations and always feel like I’m on the edge of another epiphany. You can’t let go of self-sabotage until you actually realize that what you’re doing (binging so you have an excuse to cancel on people, leaving your house 5 minutes before a meeting, staying up until 4 in the morning right before an exam) is self-sabotage.

So I do my best to be mindful, to be present, to be aware of how I’m feeling. Read: do my best. I’m getting better at it all the time, progressing, growing. It’s a journey just like everything else.

5. Show us your human side: What are your biggest fears?

My fears are usually about the smallest stuff. Jumping out of planes doesn’t faze me, but doing the smallest thing like calling up a friend I don’t know very well and asking them to dinner can be terrifying. Hanging out with new people. Being honest about myself and who I am– I try to be honest, but I know that sometimes I hide the weirdest things about myself because I’m scared of being vulnerable.

Vulnerability. My fear and my strength.

6. What are 3 things women with body image struggles can do to learn to love themselves and their bodies?

  1. Feed yourself well and learn to eat mindfully! You can’t love your body if you don’t take care of it and nourish its hungers. So stop depriving and start listening to your body, and actually pay attention to your food when you eat, and feel grateful for the nourishment! (I wrote a free e-book on this, which you can get automatically when you get on the cynosure list.)
  2. Find a way of moving your body that you ENJOY. Do not force yourself to work out or slave away at the gym to lose weight. Move because you love it and it makes you feel good about your body and yourself. It’s supposed to be fun; if you feel guilty about missing a walk with your dog or a game of tennis with a friend, I’m sorry to say but YEWR DOIN’ IT WRONG. Enjoy the way you’re moving, or try something else!
  3. Stop listening to diet books and “health” magazines. Most health magazines just perpetuate this idea that we have to be ridiculously skinny/toned, five foot eleven, and have blonde hair. The perfect body is whatever body you have right now, because otherwise you wouldn’t even be able to read this or eat or laugh or smile or move around! So really this tip is twofold: Let go of all the external messages, and feel grateful for the body you have. No matter how you feel about your body, you can find at least a few things to appreciate about your body: the fact that you have eyes so you can read, the fact that you have a voicebox to communicate, the fact that you have a working digestive system. The list goes on and on.