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How gaining weight helped this plus-size model find happiness

She shared her "transformation to happiness."
/ Source: TODAY

Plus-size model Alyssa Alexander is a charismatic, natural beauty who exudes confidence on the catwalk, in front of the camera and in real life.

But what you might not know from looking at her is that she wasn’t always so accepting or loving of her own body.

On Nov. 23, she posted before-and-after photos of herself on Instagram. “This is not a weight loss transformation picture, but a transformation to happiness picture,” she wrote in the caption.

The 29-year-old admits she spent the majority of her life fixating on her figure.

“The goal of the girl on the left was solely to lose weight. She compulsively counted calories — eating close to nothing at times — and spent hours upon hours in the gym trying to get the body she thought would make her happy and others more accepting of her. But even at her smallest, she was still disappointed with herself and obsessed with being thinner, and her mental health suffered,” she told TODAY Style.

So what changed from then to now?

“I realized that by hating my body and torturing myself to lose weight to satisfy other people, I was letting others and their opinions control my health and happiness, so I decided to do something about it. I dropped the negative influences in my life and realized that I am great and deserve love no matter my size.”

She also credits seeing more curvy women in fashion industry and the media to helping open her eyes. “That’s where a lot of their influences come from. I’m so glad that they are are starting to show a variety of body types, so little girls don't have to grow up thinking they aren't good enough or need to look a certain way.”

These days, Alexander focuses on how she feels and how her clothes fit, versus the numbers on the scale. And says she was inspired to post her transformation to help others.

“So many women, and even men, let a number — either on the scale or clothing size — define their worth or happiness. I was victim to it just a few years ago. I felt I needed to tell my story to help others who are struggling with body image could relate, draw strength and know they’re not alone.”

As to how she deals with haters or those who criticize her message: “I just try not to let it get to me and move on with my day.”

Wise words from a woman who truly embodies what it means to be beautiful inside and out.