Hilaria Baldwin Feels Empowered Without Photoshop: 'I Spent Way Too Many Years of My Life Worried About How I Looked'

The mom of two – with a third on the way! – learned to love her body

Photo: Amanda Marsalis

Hilaria Baldwin is done obsessing about her body.

The fitness instructor and mom of two – with a third on the way! – says she used to spend too much time focusing on her perceived imperfections.

Baldwin, 32, who was shot for PEOPLE’s “Not a Drop of Photoshop” spread, said going without retouching made it “the most empowering shoot I’ve ever done.”

“You know what is so funny? I put up untouched photos all the time on Instagram, but it felt completely different when I went to this shoot and I didn’t see the photo before,” Baldwin posted on Instagram. “Obviously I’m picking and choosing which photos I put up on my page, even if they are not altered. At this shoot, they put my nearly 6 month pregnant body in this cute little @hm bikini, shot the photos and then I saw it today when you do. I was a bit nervous…But you know what? I loved it.”

“Because why hide? I spent way too many years of my life worried about how I looked and obsessing about imperfections. It is a waste of life and energy. So here I am, trying to spread the message to just be yourself – because this is the most powerful and wonderful life.”

For more from Hilaria Baldwin and our gorgeous photoshop-free women, pick up the new issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Baldwin says she used to spend too much time worrying about being the “perfect” weight.

“I definitely struggled with my idea of what a healthy weight was – or not even healthy, healthy didn’t matter – of what the ‘right’ weight was,” she tells PEOPLE. “I obsessed about it and I focused on it and I put through myself through very bad places to get myself to a place where I was too skinny. It was never worth it.”

“Everything is about how you feel and your energy level. Your body is a machine and you should be fueling it properly.”

RELATED VIDEO: WATCH: Hilaria Baldwin Shows Off Her Baby Bump

Instead, Baldwin says she’s learned to value her body – self-perceived flaws and all.

“I don’t know if anyone is ever totally comfortable in their skin, but you put everything into perspective,” she says. “Do I look in the mirror and say, ‘Oh my god, you are perfect, perfect, perfect’ – absolutely not. But at the same time, I have respect for myself, and I love myself, and I have appreciation for what my body can do.”

One of those many powerful roles her body plays is carrying children, and now Baldwin is trying to pass on a healthy body image to her kids.

“I’m very careful not to put myself down in front of [her daughter, Carmen, 2], like, ‘Oh my god, I don’t feel good today,’ or the typical, ‘Oh I feel so fat’ or, ‘Oh look at me, I look terrible’ kind of stuff,” Baldwin says. “I’ve learned that that can be very damaging to children. I try to be very positive to the people around me. Like, ‘Oh wow, doesn’t she look beautiful?’ Or ‘He’s so sweet,’ or, ‘That was such a nice thing that he did.’ ”

“It’s about looking at the more important things in life.”

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