Before and after: Sandra Schneider, on uncovering her true beauty
Before and after: Sandra Schneider, on uncovering her true beauty
Using your body as a vehicle of expression
How we live and use our bodies has a big effect on us and others. This level of responsibility and honesty can be confronting – but it would also make for a more harmonious society.
“Sometimes when I travel and look at my 20kg suitcase and find it hard to imagine that at one time I carried almost two of those on my body! ... Today, I do not shy away from showing the amazing woman that I am.”
Sandra Schneider was a very thin little girl, this was a cause of concern to her parents, but by the time she was 10 or 11 she started to be overweight. This may have been as a reaction to the problems that she was having with her teacher at school and at this time she developed a habit of eating a lot of chocolate spread and drinking cola.
Popularity was not what she truly wanted.
At 13, with a change of teachers, she stopped drinking cola and eating the spread and found that she became "really thin and sexy". Even though this meant that she became popular this did not really feel like it was ‘enough’ and popularity was not what she imagined it to be – it did not give her what she truly wanted.
As a teenager she found life hard – she wanted to be part of a group but felt like she did not fit in anywhere.
”Looking back I can see that already as a girl I felt lost and frustrated with the world. I felt I was never enough and was looking for happiness outside of myself. I did not trust people or really feel safe with them. I would adapt myself to others and be nice and pleasing, in the hope that I would be accepted and appreciated. If others were not the same way I would get hurt and frustrated and would blame them for my unhappiness.”
Even with a beautiful body and looking as if it was all great on the surface, something was not quite right ...
As a young adult Sandra went on to study sociology and psychology. On the surface she felt great about herself and felt beautiful in her body. But a couple of years into the study, at the time where there were exams coming up, Sandra started to drop out and developed a depression.
Sandra: “I was in a lot of self-doubt and started to question everything – my study, my life, myself. I lost any impulse to do anything and felt continuously anxious. I had given up on myself and felt caught and lost.”
Eventually Sandra went to psychotherapy for a year and then commenced study to become a Dance and Expression therapist.
The good life
During this two year study Sandra was already in a relationship with her now-husband, Michael, and together they lived ‘the good life’. Food was important and it was all about getting the best:
“Food was a reward for me, something to make me feel better and so we would always buy the best. We loved to cook and make great meals together full of rich sauces and ingredients. We would drink alcohol every day and I developed a very comforting relationship with my friend the Pizza with salami, aubergine and mozzarella, who would always be there to offer solace when I felt a bit down! Oh! And then there was Belgian Chocolate Ice-cream ...”
The new study was very physical and even though Sandra attended a five hour dance class, three times a week, she started to gain weight again.
“We had to do an apprenticeship and I was confronted with going out into the world and felt I had to protect myself and did not want to feel the people and, really, I did not want to go to work.
I did not change my diet and I can now see how the diet, even though it was not the lightest, was not the only cause of the weight gain. I never really tried dieting as I never felt it would make a difference. I did not choose to fight, which I felt dieting to be, but I went to the other side of the scales which was giving up and retreating from life. So really it was about me using my weight to protect myself from getting hurt.”
After an allergic reaction, Sandra developed serious asthma and had to take cortisone every day. This made her weight increase even more and the effects of the medication made her feel as if she was living in a fog.
Making the change
After a few years of living like this and reaching a weight of over 100 kg, Sandra really felt the need to change her life around and went searching for help.
"I did a lot of alternative healing but nothing really worked. Then in 2007 I came across the work of Universal Medicine and Serge Benhayon. When I heard him speak for the first time I felt like I finally belonged, as if someone was talking about all the things I always knew but no one else seemed to know. It helped me come back to myself and this was the start of changing my way of living. I came to realize that I had never felt enough self worth to take care of myself and recognised how I had never taken responsibility for my own life and wellbeing.”
“This initiated a change for me. I started to connect to how I really felt and realised I was holding a lot of sadness in my body and had not been really honest with myself. I attended courses of Universal Medicine and started doing the Gentle Breath Meditation. This meditation was a great support in re-connecting with myself and I realised I could be gentle with me.”
“At this time the focus was still on getting rid of the asthma but nonetheless I was healing and shedding the old hurts I had carried for so long. I worked on developing a loving relationship with myself and from that I changed my diet. I started with eliminating gluten and stopped drinking alcohol. This made me lose a lot of weight, about 15 kilos, which was great already, but I somehow plateaued. After a while I got to clearly see how it was not just about changing my diet, but much more importantly, about clearing the issues I was holding in my body. Every time I cleared an issue or emotion through the Sacred Esoteric Healing sessions I had, I would lose more weight!”
Sandra now weighs a beautiful 65 kilos and is looking and feeling amazing. Looking back, she recognises that she ate to numb and distract herself from feeling the pain of her unresolved issues.
“I am still developing my relationship with food but it has become so much more playful. Now, when I feel tempted by something that I know my body is not asking for, I realise I am wanting to protect myself or that there is something I do not want to feel. I then stop and look at what this is and allow myself to feel it. I am no longer hard and judgmental on myself.”
When we ask Sandra what has changed for her she has a lot to say, and none of it is about how she looks!
“I feel I have a much more loving and honest relationship with myself now. This directly reflects on my relationship with my partner, and everyone else. My relationship with Michael has changed a lot as it has deepened and become much more intimate and tender. I feel very alive and vital. I have a lot of joy in my life, especially with others. I am lighter in every way and my asthma went completely a couple of years ago. I am much more calm and I like myself. I AM ME NOW. There is no more numbing or distracting. I accepted that it is always my choice how I am with me and that those choices are what I am living every day.”
Sandra now works three jobs and loves it:
“I truly enjoy meeting people every day. I enjoy feeling my body and taking loving care of myself. I get up early every morning and do gentle exercises. I am aware that all my movements are loving, not against my body. After exercising I feel in my body (my ankles, my knees, my hips, my wrists, my elbows, my shoulders) and then the whole body. I keep on doing this until I feel my presence in my body. This is my start of my day, setting a marker for myself that I can connect with throughout the day.”
“I finish off with sitting with myself for a moment to check in how my night or day before has been, as I can now clearly feel from my body how I lived and what choices I made. I have developed a self-honouring day rhythm and have brought focus to a self-nurturing way of being. All of this allows me to live a full life.”
“Before I changed my life around I used my evening time to check out, watch TV and eat. Now I go to bed early and have this time in the morning to nurture myself, confirm my connection with myself and start my day without anxiousness.”
“In the past I ate 4 – 5 smaller meals a day and my blood sugar would drop regularly.” Smiling: “I would get rather aggressive when this happened. Now I do not need so much food anymore, and generally eat two good meals a day. My blood sugar has become very balanced and stable. I am not strict, I just eat what my body needs.”
On reflecting, Sandra says: “Sometimes when I travel and look at my 20kg suitcase, I find it hard to imagine that at one time I carried almost two of those on my body!
Today I live my life knowing I am beautiful and I really am honouring my worth. I am so comfortable with my new body that I now go on stage and perform, inspiring others with my playfulness and love for myself. I have taken responsibility for my life and I do not shy away from showing the amazing woman that I am.”