I understand your struggle with food and your body because I have been in exactly the same place…
Frustrated by diets that seem to work at first but only result in weight gain in the end; the constant cycle of deprivation, weight loss and bingeing; dissatisfaction with your body; waking up every day searching for the magic bullet that will help you shed pounds so you can really start living your life; constantly measuring yourself and your body against all those perfect women you encounter every day.
And I’m here to tell you that it is within your power to find health and happiness, while saying goodbye to diets for good.
I started my first diet at the age of 8. Well-meaning family members sought to protect me from weight gain by limiting my food intake and choices. Tab was a regular beverage (yuck!) and I learned to count calories and read food labels then too. But I rebelled against all the rules being imposed upon me. I became expert in trading my ‘diet food’ in the school cafeteria in exchange for cookies and candy.
Of course, knowing what I know now, I could have predicted what I would go through for the next 20+ years: food obsession, weight loss, certainty that lost weight would remain lost, weight regain, feelings of worthlessness and shame….. The list goes on and on.
I was a serious competitive swimmer in my youth. When I was 13, my coach became focused on weight and subjected our team to frequent weigh-ins. Even though this was more than 30 years ago, I can still remember stepping on a large mechanical scale in front of my team. I can’t remember the exact weight, but I knew that I was going to be officially a member of the ‘fat club’ before I even stepped on that scale.
Even though I was a strong competitive athlete, my coach prescribed a restrictive diet to get my body “lean,” as he called it. In the end, I lost weight quickly. But what my coach failed to consider is that I had also lost much of the muscle that gave me the strength to compete in swimming. I felt so weak that I could cry. Even though I swore I’d find a way to maintain this lower weight while competing and building up my muscle mass again, the weight slowly crept back up which made me feel even more shame.
In the ensuing years, I continued in my unhealthy obsession with food, counting calories and exercise. I measured and weighed, experienced anxiety in social situations about what I would eat or drink, learned to ignore my hunger and fullness signals, and alternated avoiding or bingeing on my forbidden foods. All of these unhealthy preoccupations continued while I was pursuing my Masters degree in Nutrition.
As a new dietitian, I found that so many of my clients had similar experiences with dieting, restrictive food intake and negative body image. I knew there had to be a better way. I delved into researching non-diet approaches like Intuitive Eating and mindful eating. I read the incredible book Health at Every Size, in which author and researcher Linda Bacon PhD, dispels many of the ‘facts’ that we know about weight and health. I also trained with the Wellcoaches coach training school to help shift the way I work with my clients.
In the end, I healed my relationship with food and changed the focus of my nutrition practice. I believe that each one of my clients is the expert on themselves and their bodies. Perhaps they have tuned out that small inner voice that can serve as their North Star. Together, we work to move past diets and restriction to a life where eating is a source of joy, nourishment and satisfaction. I help clients uncover the places where they are stuck. We laugh, and sometimes along the way, we cry.
It is my mission to tell you that there is life after dieting, and it is a life full of delicious food, joy, self-nurturance, family, friends, hobbies, and health. It is the life you were meant to live!
If you want to hear me talk more about my history and journey, check out my guest appearance on the Eating Enlightenment podcast by clicking here.