Stephanie Hallett
September 15, 2016 5:10 pm

There’s nothing quite like an interview with plus-size model Ashley Graham — who regularly champions #BeautyBeyondSize and shares body-confidence inspiration on social media — to bring new insight to our toughest struggles. She recently spoke to Shape about her rocket to stardom, and also about how dating in her early 20s changed her relationship to her body.

After moving to New York from her hometown of Lincoln, Nebraska, Graham said she began to feel overwhelmed by the modeling industry and soon lost her confidence. She started to gain excess weight, let go of the athletic lifestyle she’d always led — and found herself in some not-so-great relationships.

She told Shape,

The 28-year-old adds that after one particularly bad breakup, she really started to sink lower.

“He said, ‘I’m afraid you’re going to be as fat as my mom,'” Graham recalls. “[That] was the start of how I began to look at my body and relate it to men. Like, ‘Oh, I’m not pretty or skinny enough for men.'”

Eventually she decided enough was enough — she pledged to be abstinent and change the way she was relating to men and to her body.

“I wanted to keep a level head and make sure I was dating not in a lustful way but in a logical way,” she told the magazine. “So it was like, OK, I’m an athlete. I need to move. I know that working out releases endorphins and makes me feel my best.”

Graham frequently shares her workouts on Instagram and they are no joke! Check out a sneak peek below.

Happily, Graham is now married to a wonderful man, cinematographer Justin Ervin, who totally respected her abstinence pledge and waited till marriage to have sex. On their honeymoon, though, “We had sex all the time for, like, 10 days,” Graham said.

Reflecting on her relationship and its impact on her life, she added,

The pair have been married for six years and their love shows no signs of slowing down.

We love you, Ashley, and we’re grateful for all you do!