How to Have a Good Body Day, Every Day

To wear makeup or not wear makeup? Unrealistic and confusing beauty and body messages can make us feel like crap about our bodies. Here are some great ways to have a good body day every day!

One of the things people get completely obsessed with in our culture is the idea of having a “good” body, a “perfect” body or just meeting generic body “goals” criteria. A “good” body for women seems to be defined as one with lower body fat, at least lower body fat everywhere except for our breasts and butt (those need to be plump and round), moderate muscle (but not too much, if you have too much, you’re too “manly”), no stretch marks, stray hairs, dimples or any other imperfections. You can’t have any belly fat and certainly no skin rolls when you sit down.

A “good” body should possess tank top arms, daisy duke worthy thighs, and is synonymous with a “bikini body”. Other physical traits of a person with a “good” body should include a pretty face (but not so pretty that you look like you had work done – that’s too much!), no wrinkles, perfect skin (ew, who do you think you are with those visible pores?!) and they have to be a natural beauty (if it’s obvious that you’re wearing makeup you’re trying too hard and you’re deceiving people). Being ghostly pale is no good but you better not be too tan either. You should look like the girl next door, but also be mysterious and exotic. You need to be all of these things at the same time and you should look as good when you get up in the morning as you do when you go out to the clubs . . .but you better not have to put any effort in to look that way or you are fake AF!

I’m kidding if you can’t tell.

This is the kind of ridiculous stuff that is flung at us day by day.

The way we talk about women’s bodies and beauty ideals is completely unobtainable and trying to achieve it would drive even the most sane person to total insanity. There’s no fucking way any real human can meet all of these criteria (and anyone who can, can’t do so for more than a moment in their whole life). There’s no way you can be subjected to this stuff and not feel completely horrible about your body.

The result of living in a culture that sends out these kind of messages and values this kind of impossible beauty more than almost anything else is that women all over and of all ages wake up every morning and go to bed each night worrying about if they ate too much, if they ate the right things, if they’re working their bodies hard enough, if they should think about starting botox and fillers, if they are using the right skin care products, if they need to think about getting a breast lift or butt implants, if they really do need a nose job and when they’re going to finally achieve that thigh gap. They fear aging more than anything else, because aging takes away what little physical beauty nature gave them in the first place. That shit is cruel.

You need to know that you already have a GOOD body. In fact you have a GREAT body, an incredible, amazing body. We don’t have to go around feeling like our bodies are less than but we need to take a more active role and a different approach to feel this way.

How to Have a Good Body Day, Every Day

If you’re tired of feeling like crap about your body, read on. Here are a few ways that you can actively work to have a good body day every day

 

Clean Up Media Sources that Suck (both social and otherwise)

Check your media sources and scrub them of people and ideologies that aren’t helping. Unfollow people on social media that make you feel like terrible about yourself. This can be people you know who are negative or over sharing details about their diets that you don’t need forced in your face all the time or nonstop unattainable #bodygoals #bodyinspo type of posts – bloggers, recipe mavens, people doing fitness competitions or those promoting detox teas and stuff – if it’s making you feel terrible about your body, you don’t need it in your life.

On the reverse, start adding people who make you feel amazing and who share a message that aligns with the things you believe and the things you WANT to believe about yourself. Add people on social media of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds who live lives you want to emulate and who you also respect.

Toss out and cancel magazine subscriptions to women’s and health magazines that write nonstop articles about how you can drop two dress sizes in 14 days or who only share “skinny recipes”. If you finish reading a magazine and feel like there is something wrong with your body because of the content inside, it’s not helping. Same with TV shows, news stations, podcasts, radio, the websites you’ve been visiting for a decade – try looking at them with new eyes and ask yourself if they are filling your brain with messages that hurt or help you?

The media we consume daily has a huge effect on us and most of us don’t realize it until we start changing the way we interact with it. This will change how you feel about your body in a big way!

 

Dress Your Current Body to Feel Fabulous

The delicious meat of life doesn’t come from how we look or how the people we spend time with look. Even though that’s true, there is no denying that when you feel like you look fabulous, you act and think differently. And when we act and think well of ourselves we take more actions that affect a positive outcome on our lives. That’s why I advocate for dressing yourself and styling yourself in a way that makes you feel amazing, in your current body. Not your future body, not a past body. The body your spirit is inside of right now, at this very moment.

Have at least a few outfits in your closet that you feel fantastic in – and don’t necessarily stick to one size. A lot of women’s bodies fluctuate between a size or two or three and what happens when we get dressed and our clothes don’t fit? We feel like crap and you don’t have to feel that way. I know I tend to be a good 5-10 pounds heavier at the end of winter than I am at the end of summer so my closet (finally!!) reflects that reality and I’m a lot happier now.

High quality clothing can be expensive and we’re all tight on money, that’s for sure, but that’s no excuse to not making this happen. Chic pieces can be found at consignment stores everywhere on the cheap and if you have zero funds to spend, there is always the option of throwing a closet cleaning party with friends (like this Naked Lady Party). The real struggle with dressing the way you want to in the body you are currently in is less about money and more about the time and effort it takes to find stuff that flatters your particular shape and style. That’s where the media cleanse above can come in helpful (add fashion bloggers who have your body shape and style for inspiration) and online shopping can be a godsend of a time saver (compare your current body measurements to each retailer’s size charts ahead of time and order the size that you know will fit your now body, not just because it’s a size you usually wear. And return it if it doesn’t fit or you don’t love it.

And don’t you dare buy clothes for your future body. That body may never be a reality and those clothes will just make you feel terrible each time you check to see if they fit. Buy clothes for your now body and make them good ones!

 

Choose to Talk About Something Else

When we get together with our girlfriends, we talk about everything under the sun, but one subject that always seems to come up is what’s wrong with our bodies or what new thing we’re going to try to change our body this time. Diet talk is huge and even if you’re not on a diet, women want to talk to you about why you’re not on one or how you’re so “lucky” to be able to eat “that way”. It’s so normal we don’t even notice how much of our conversations are around this stuff! I can’t tell you how many women I “bonded” with over the years (before I was in coaching) based on weight loss tips, lighter recipes and fitness challenges and it feels kind of scary to stop talking about that stuff, because suddenly you feel like you don’t fit in. As scary and uncomfortable as it can be to not participate in this kind of talk, it’s absolutely worth doing.

You don’t have to be aggressive and confrontational. You don’t have to make a big deal about it or even say anything if you don’t want to. But if you make the effort to change the conversation or at least not participate, you will have an impact, not just on yourself, but on others too. Eventually people notice that you aren’t talking about your own diet or body unhappiness and they’ll specifically ask your thoughts and you can share your feelings then. If you feel more comfortable talking about this stuff, it’s helpful and usually goes over ok to just say “Hey, do you guys mind if we talk about something else? Diet talk is so boring, isn’t it?” or “Negative body talk just makes me feel worse, how about you? Let’s talk about what we do like about our bodies.”

It is hard to change the conversation but so worth doing.

Remind Yourself of All the Reasons You Have a Good Body Every day

I can list at least a dozen reasons why I have a good body. My body isn’t better than yours or more special than yours, but I take the time to recognize and acknowledge all the ways it does me right on a regular basis. Doing this makes me feel appreciation, love and generosity towards it. It makes me see less of what I don’t like and more of what I do. I have a good body because: I have legs that carry me everywhere I want to go. I have eyes that allow me to read juicy fiction and study old genealogical records. I have lungs that take in breaths while I sleep peacefully and also when I’m running outside. I have a good body that recovers from colds pretty quickly (also one that rarely gets sick). My good body takes the food I eat and digests it so that I have energy to do lots of fun things. My good body is equipped with strong muscles that make me feel like wonder woman every time I bring home groceries and have to lug them up the basement stairs. My body is a good body because it’s mine and it does so much for me.

Can you come up a with a few reasons why your body is a good body right now? It might be hard at first (especially if you’re not used to thinking nice stuff about your body) but with practice it gets much easier.

 

Move Your Body only in Ways That Feel Good

Physical fitness is really important to me. I LOVE feeling strong and capable and regular physical activity helps me do that. I like not getting too tuckered out from regular daily stuff that I have to do. I don’t want to feel winded doing basic tasks. That motivates me to do things that challenge me physically, but it doesn’t mean that I ignore what my body needs and wants. If I hate an activity, I’m not going to be able to do it for long. If an activity causes me regular pain or is total torture to get through, it’s not sustainable. If I dread an exercise, I’m not going to keep doing it. Dread, hate, pain and torture are fast tracks to both permanently avoiding exercise but also feeling bad about your body.

There is an infinite amount of ways we can move our bodies and get the activity we need. Bodies crave movement (even the most sedentary person sometimes gets a feeling of restlessness in their body) and there’s no reason why we have to put our attention on activity that isn’t enjoyable. If you don’t like going to the gym, don’t go to the gym! If you don’t like running, don’t run. If you don’t like zumba, don’t zumba! Try something else! What did you like doing as a child? I spend hours biking around town, rollerskating in my driveway and exploring the swamp in my back yard. As an adult, some of the activities I do include wheels (biking) and being out in nature (hiking, running). I can find some of the “fun” I used to find in movement as a child in the activities I choose as an adult. Don’t settle for what you are doing if you don’t dig it.

A body that enjoys moving is a body that you will appreciate and enjoy more. A body that gets it’s fill of fun activity feels good. Find activities that make you feel good about your body that you will want to continue to do and you’ll find more “good” in your body daily.

So there you go – 5 easy ways to have a good body day every day! This isn’t to make light of the challenges of feeling good in your skin. I know that stuff can be all consuming, but if we don’t feel like we have any power in changing it, where does that leave us? Miserable in the only body we have. My goal is to give you tools and ideas you can use in your own life to feel good about your body and the way you engage with food. Does this help do that? Let me know!


Have you ever wondered if you have what it takes to repair your relationship with food? Download “You Have What it Takes“, my coaching and journaling guide for beginners who want to change their relationship with food. Just click below and enter you email!

 

Change How You Talk To Yourself, Change Your Story (and Your Outcome)

Try changing how you talk to yourself when something is too hard. Can it change your story? Can it change your outcome?

On the rail trail, my feet hit the gravel covered ground one after the other.

I’m out for a run with John (who is training for his 1st 5K).

The first few minutes of a run are so hard for me. Every time. Without fail.

Doesn’t matter how much or how little I’ve been running lately.

It doesn’t matter if I’ve been eating well or living it up.

It does not matter what kind of shape I’m in or what kind of night’s sleep I’ve had, for me, the first 10 minutes or so always feel like my feet are encased in cement blocks.

But if I can just get through those first few minutes, I come out on the other side and start to feel like I’m gliding easily. One step falls in front of the other, over and over. I find the natural rhythm that comes from my body, a pace that I set. I start to feel like I could keep going like this forever (barring any foot or knee pain surfacing as it sometimes does!).

During those first 10 minutes where I just want to stop, there are countless thoughts that appear in my head and most of them have to do with “Just stop running.” “You can stop now.” “You should walk instead, this sucks.” “Why are you doing this. Let’s walk!”

Years ago, I went around saying I wasn’t a runner, because when I felt the difficulty of those first few minutes and heard those thoughts over and over again, I did stop. I took those things to mean that this wasn’t for me. The story I was telling myself about my abilities and it being hard added up to giving up.

There is massive power in the stories we tell ourselves.

If I tell myself, I’m not a runner, then I become someone who doesn’t run because I believe the story I’ve made up.

Doing something differently though brings me different results and allows a new story to form.

On some runs, as my feet hit the trail, one after the other, those first 10 minutes are still hard. And I still have thoughts about how I should stop and how it would be easier if I just started walking. But on some runs, I add some of my own thoughts. I say to myself:

You can do this.

You are amazing.

Look at how far you have come.

How incredible is it that your body can do this?!

I love that you are doing this.

I can’t wait to see how far I can go today.

This feels good.

You really are amazing.

And guess what happens? Those 10 minutes pass faster and the entire run feels better. I feel better. The story I create changes from my mind telling me “this is so hard, I shouldn’t do it”, to “this is hard but I’m totally capable of doing it and it’s going to be great”.

And the result is that it is great.

(Just to be clear, I am not advocating for ignoring your body when it warns you that something is dangerous. Sometimes our bodies tell us we should stop because we’re going to injure ourselves or that we’re not at that level of fitness yet. But you know the difference between that and the habitual negative self talk that we sometimes get into. I always recommend listening to your body (and that is not the same as ignoring the bullshit we like to tell ourselves). The mean and demoralizing chatter that comes from our brain is not the same as the warning signals our body sends. Always use your best judgement!)

The words we use to talk to ourselves are so incredibly powerful.

Most of us try to motivate ourselves with shame. It doesn’t matter if it’s to stick to some sort of goal, to make habit change or push ourselves out of our comfort zone. If there’s something we want to do but it’s really hard, shame is our go to.

You’re not good enough. You’re not smart enough. You don’t have what it takes. You just can’t do it.

Sound familiar?

These thoughts are not just something that happens with challenging physical endeavors. It’s something that will happen when we apply for a new job, when we go out on a date, when we try something new or anytime we’re doing something unfamiliar.

Shame “speak” protects us emotionally. We know that if we feel bad enough about something we might have the motivation to change it. If we feel bad about ourselves, we’ll stay small, we won’t take risks and we are less likely to get hurt. As far as our brain is concerned, that is always the goal (to stay SAFE) so it really thinks by putting these thoughts through your head when you’re trying to do something difficult, it’s helping. It’s trying to be a buddy! This is something we subconsciously do – and there’s no way to stop those thoughts from appearing. But that doesn’t mean we have to let them be the star of the show or in control.

When these thoughts show up, if we take a minute to step in and use the part of our conscious mind that we have access to, we can add our own spin to motivate, to encourage, to inspire.

You are not your thoughts. And just because you think something doesn’t make it true.

If you have a date with a new person coming up, your go to thought might be something like: “Ug, he’s not going to be interested in me. I should cancel before he rejects me. This is going to be awful.”  When that shows up, so what? Add to it by telling yourself something like this instead: “I can’t wait to meet this person. I hope we have lots to talk about. I’m excited to see if we have chemistry. I’m a good catch and this will be fun!”

If you have a job interview, your go to thought might be something like: “I don’t know what I’m talking about. I answer every question so badly. I can’t sell my best qualities. This is a nightmare and I’m not going to get the job.” Well, when that shows up, so what? These thoughts aren’t you. Add to it by telling yourself something like this instead: “I am going to be relaxed and be myself. I know my field and I have a ton of great stuff to say about it. I am going to blow them away and if I want the job, it’ll be offered to me.”

You can even try this with the negative thoughts you have about your body, or about the food you eat. Add your own positive or neutral spin on those thoughts.

This isn’t magic. You can’t make things happen that weren’t going to happen otherwise, but you can change how you show up in life, how you interact with your world and how people perceive you. The most important thing is be more proactive with your self-talk will change how you perceive yourself and over time that will add up to a little less of the bullshit self- talk and more confidence and surety in every area of your life.

Because you ARE amazing, valuable, talented and worth it, even if sometimes you don’t believe it.

Some stuff to get your journal out for:

Where do you keep giving up on yourself when you hear negative self-talk thoughts?

What stories are you telling about yourself based on intrusive negative thoughts?

During those times, what are some more motivating things you could tell yourself?

What do you need to hear from yourself?

Just try it. I promise it will change everything for you.


Do you want to learn more about feeling confident in your relationship with food? Are you just in the beginning phases of trusting yourself? If so, click the image below and grab my copy of “You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food.

Choosing Not to Diet Doesn’t Mean that You Don’t Care About Your Health

If you decide to give up dieting it does not mean you are choosing to be unhealthy. They are not one and the same.

In this country, to be a woman and say that you’re not currently dieting is to make yourself an outlier. People will wonder what’s “wrong” with you and what “secret” you must have in order to not do this. It’s so normal to always be on a diet and always be “watching” what we eat that people who dare to say they’re not going to do it anymore are a touch weird, maybe even a little scary, right? It’s like that scene in Office Space, when Ron Livingston’s character Peter Gibbons tells Joanna, a cute waitress he’s having lunch with (played by Jennifer Anniston) that he doesn’t think he’s going to go to his job anymore. He doesn’t like it and he’s just not going to go.

Watch the scene here:

The idea that someone is just not going to go to their job (and not planning on getting another one and doesn’t seem worried about it) is such a foreign a concept in our society that Joanna asks him question after question in an effort to figure him out. You can see the confusion and shock on her face (that she hides with humor) as she tries to understand his angle. But there isn’t one. Thankfully they bond over kung fu movies and can move on from the confusing job subject.

What I think confuses people most when you say you’re not dieting is that they think that means you are going to throw all concerns of health out the window, that if you’re not intensely watching what you eat (like it’s out to get you!) based on some form of restriction, that you can’t possibly care about your health or be doing other things that contribute to being healthy.

That’s all crazily wrong. And it comes from a deeply held belief that dieting equals health. We think losing weight always means a healthier person.

That’s just not true.

Dieting does not automatically make you healthy.

Reducing your size does not always equal better health. There are plenty of people out there dropping pounds using incredibly unhealthy measures – eating crap food, over-exercising or taking dangerous speed-like supplements to reduce their appetites. And if you think there are no negative consequences to weight loss, you are misinformed. Here are just a few health consequences that can come from dieting:

  • Fast weight loss can have big health consequences like gallstones
  • Fast weight loss increases loss of muscle mass
  • the pressures weight loss ideals put on us can lead to eating disorders
  • weight loss can lead to bone loss (this is even more pronounced in women who are in early menopause)
  • yo-yo dieting increases the risk of death, heart attack, diabetes and stroke for people with heart disease.

And that’s not really touching on the mental and emotional risks that can come with dieting. A whole culture full of dieters is so concerned with what they are putting in their mouths and the size / shape of their bodies that they can’t live and enjoy their lives. They feel stressed out, depressed, anxious and alone for a huge chunk of their lives. Why?? Because they’re trying to squeeze into a socially accepted idea of what a body is supposed to look like and the only way to get there is to do the opposite of what their bodies naturally want to do – eat and be nourished. That’s a big burden to carry emotionally for years and even decades of one’s life.

If dieting doesn’t automatically give us good health, then we have to realize that the reverse is also likely true. Not dieting doesn’t mean you don’t care about your health and it doesn’t mean that you can’t be healthy. I’m not discounting the science that shows that our weight contributes to certain health conditions (or makes them worse). I’m just asking you to think about the fact that not everyone who is overweight is a couch potato who is eating nothing but twinkies all day long and that there are plenty of slender people who have a lifestyle that is unhealthy.

There are a ton of ways you can not diet and still live the healthiest life possible.

I can list some of them for you below, but to be really clear and brief as possible – it’s really simple!! You can live a healthy life by doing all the things the supposedly “healthy dieters” do but without dieting. Same stuff, minus one thing (we remove weight loss as the motivator).

Move your body. Do it frequently and choose things that bring you joy. It should feel good (and it’s ok if it’s really hard at first or is hard on some days and easy on others). Do things you enjoy doing – it doesn’t have to be exercise for the sake of exercise. It can be play (outside with the kids, playing frisbee, rollerskating, dancing, charades etc). It can be meditation (walking, hiking, yoga. It can be competitive (sports, races etc). It can be high intensity (like HIIT, running, boxing etc) or it can low intensity (pilates, yoga, tai chi etc). It can be the stuff you just have to get done (gardening, yard work, house work etc). It can be restorative (stretching, yin yoga, foam rolling etc). Don’t think too much about whether you’re doing the right stuff. Work your body hard when it wants to be worked hard, be gentle when it asks for gentle. The important thing is moving frequently and safely for your particular body and choosing things that will keep you able to be as active as you want to be for your whole life.

Eat trusting your body and it’s knowledge. Your body knows exactly how much to eat for it’s needs. It also knows what foods make it feels great and what makes it feel terrible. It knows how to take the foods we eat and use it to nourish, repair and replenish our body so we can live another day. Dieting removes our ability to feel this trust and intuition (so if you’re in a place where you think you need dieting because you can’t trust yourself – you are not alone!) but it is something that we are born with and you can get back there with a bit of work and time (contact me if you need some help with this).

This doesn’t mean we discount nutrition. Just because you’re choosing to walk away from the dieting lifestyle and mentality, doesn’t mean you don’t eat with some awareness of nutrition. Choosing to listen to your body means just that – listening to your body. You may think your body is telling you that it wants to eat cupcakes all day, every day but that’s really your mind telling you that. It’s the mind of someone who’s been told their whole lives that cupcakes are bad, fat is bad and that they’re bad if they eat them. When you’re not dieting and no food group is off limits or “bad”, those foods that previously made you feel out of control, now feel much more neutral. When you know you CAN have something if you want it, it’s got a bit less appeal and power than something you CAN’T have. Eating from a more trusting and intuitive place means eating a wide variety of foods, prepared various ways. It means enjoying food but also not letting that enjoyment override the nutritional needs of your body.

I LOVE chocolate, tortilla chips, cheese and ice cream but I also LOVE fresh and cooked vegetables and in general I prefer how whole foods make me feel for the majority of my diet. I can only say that because I have given myself full permission to eat whatever I truly want. Ironically, what I want most days are the foods that make me feel great (and the foods that make me feel great are primarily nutritious). I figure out what’s right for me meal by meal, by asking “What would make me feel best in this moment?”. It’s always changing.

As much as eating too much of any one type of food can be unhealthy, try to remember that being afraid to eat entire categories of food all the time is equally unhealthy (on a mental and emotional level). Trust that your body does know what it needs (the real question is: Are you listening?).

Make managing stress a priority. Stress is one of the biggest causes of health issues in this country and yet we choose to brush it under the rug and ignore it unless we hit crisis mode. Because it’s a tangible thing to do, it’s much easier to manipulate our food intake under the guise of “health” through weight loss than it is to regularly take part in self-care activities that reduce stress. Stress is a part of everyone’s life – there is no getting around it – but we’ve come to see it as badge of honor to brag about how we can keep soldiering on despite how stressful our lives are. This is not healthy, sexy or something to be proud of. It’s way healthier to find a handful of things that bring you real stress relief and make them a priority. You don’t need to lose weight to do that.

Commit to loving and accepting yourself as you are. Not the person you were 10 years ago (though you should love her too). Not the person you’d be if you got that promotion or if you do finally fit into those jeans. Not the person you wish you were more like. You. As you are. In the body you are in right now with all her flaws, beauty, stretch marks, strong muscles, cellulite, freckles, acne, unmanageable hair, imperfect teeth or whatever else you think is a problem. It’s way healthier to be in a larger body that you love and care for than in a smaller body that is hated, distrusted and shamed. Do whatever you can to be more accepting, loving and tolerant of the body you are in and the person you are. She’s all you have (this is something we can work on together too) and if you’re good to her she will repay you back tenfold.

A few others healthy things that will contribute to your health that have nothing to do with the size of your body . . . Take supplements if needed (a nutritious and varied diet helps but sometimes we need a little help). Get regular check ups. Work on your thinking (if everything is negative? Why? What role could you be playing in that?). Have sex regularly (you don’t need a partner) and work to make it more fulfilling if you’re not happy with it right now. Give and receive human touch (even more important if you are single – make room for massage and be a hugger! We all need the physical connection. Reflect on your life with gratitude. Foster social connections that nourish and make your life feel balanced.

The healthiest people in this world are healthy because of a variety of factors, not just due to the size of their body.

I’m not writing this to make you feel bad about a history of dieting, your current diet or even your desire to seek out another diet (God knows that I have been on as many as the next person). Instead, I just want you to think about some stuff:

  • What problem dieting is actually, truly solving for you? And has it been able to solve that problem in the past?
  • Might there possibly be other things you can do to be healthy that are separate from intentionally manipulating your size?
  • What would your life look like if you weren’t always watching what you ate?
  • Can you have the life you want without changing your weight? Why or why not?

Hey I know it’s tough to change your relationship to food on your own. That’s why I created You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food using different qualities you already have. Download your copy at the link here.

How Health Coaches Are Contributing to A Diet Culture Full of Fear and Confusion

If you go to the market and have these thoughts: “Oh, those tomatoes look so good. Thank goodness, they’re organic! Oh, wait, tomatoes are nightshades. I probably shouldn’t eat them. Oh and they’re so acidic, should I be eating more alkaline foods? And I better not eat them raw, aren’t tomatoes better for you when you eat them cooked? But cooking destroys so many nutrients, I should probably invest in a dehydrator. Screw it, I’ll just not get them.” then diet culture and the coaches you follow may be failing you.


Two weeks ago I talked about how dieting shouldn’t be our normal state and some of the normalized things that go on in our culture that contribute to entire generations of women being obsessed with getting and staying “small”. This is a huge subject and one that I’ve only scratched the surface of. In this post, I want to talk about another aspect of it and something that may seem a little strange considering my job title.

I think some health coaches are unintentionally contributing to diet culture and might be doing more harm than good.

Before I get stoned by my peers, I want to say that not all coaches are doing this and of those that are doing it, I know it’s mostly with good intentions and in all honesty, I fell into this category when I first started out too.

 

A little bit of backstory.

Several years ago, I gave up traditional dieting in favor of a healthy “lifestyle” because after a decade plus of dieting I just couldn’t do it anymore. Dieting had turned me into someone who had frequent binges and a lot of shame around my body and food. Embracing a whole foods healthy lifestyle meant I lost weight and had an easier time keeping it off without feeling crazy or deprived. I felt much better eating “cleanly” and I really came to believe that a whole foods based diet and eating as little processed food as possible was the way to health. My health coaching practice and social media reflected this.  I still eat this way for the most part but I have become much more flexible as to what I view as “healthy” and it has more to do with where my head is at than what specifics I’m eating.

If you’ve been following me from the start of my coaching career, you may have noticed that I’ve posted very little about actual food specifics the last few years. Gone are the whole food based detox programs, I rarely post photos of food I eat and it’s only on the odd occasion that I share a recipe, whole foods or otherwise. I don’t share much information about pesticides in our foods, how to sprout your own lentils and which health conditions need to avoid cruciferous vegetables. I now push intuition, body and self trust / knowledge, joyful movement and other things that sound really wishy-washy but really matter to someone who wants more peace with food.

 

Hypocrite or Evolving?

As my own relationship with food has evolved over time, I realized that some of what I was teaching and recommending in my early days of coaching conflicted with where I really want to take people – and where I wanted to be myself. I want and I want others to feel confident in themselves as their only guide to making food choices. I want people to feel less fearful about food and more relaxed around it (and just so you know this does not necessarily mean disregarding nutrition or health). I feel a little hypocritical when I look back at some of my early work but Marie Forleo says that if you don’t look back at your early work and cringe a little, it means you’re not growing (so at least I’m growing)! Growth is good.

 

Diet culture wants you to feel scared and confused so you keep buying.

One of the things diet culture thrives upon is keeping people confused, keeping them scared of making choices and teaching us that we can’t trust our bodies. If we’re scared and confused, fearful about our health and our bodies, we will run out to buy whatever it is they’re selling – shakes, exercise programs, food plans, supplements etc. If we’re not scared and confused, if we trust ourselves as smart creatures who have always known how to feed themselves, there won’t be much we have to buy.

A lot of well meaning coaches are constantly sharing information that the general public may not be aware of that the coach believes we need to know in order to feel motivated to make better decisions about health (how bad sugar is for us, how glyphosate increases gut permeability, how animal products cause cancer, how our phones are causing brain tumors and increasing ADD etc). The problem is that when we share so much of this kind of scary health information we are making people afraid of food and adding to the confusion that is already out there. After a while, this kind of information sharing creates a feeling that we can’t trust anything and we end up in a food choice paralysis.

 

More confusion and fear around food is not helping people make better choices.

Feeling afraid of food helps you develop eating disorders (fyi – aiming to eat perfectly clean and healthy all of the time and feeling ashamed and stressed when you can’t or don’t is called “orthorexia“). Feeling confused around food makes us dependent on diets and diet gurus to tell us what to eat when really we should be dialing down into listening to our bodies hunger and satiety signals, paying attention to the way individual foods make us feel, learning about what foods our ancestors ate (it’s in our DNA) and being flexible to change.

In the world of emotional eaters and chronic dieters (where my viewpoint is), fear and confusion is the last thing health coaches should promote. Two of the main lessons we learned in coaching school was that the client has their own answers inside of them and that we have to respect something called “bioindividuality” – the idea that people know what’s best for their bodies and the way of eating that works for one person may not be right for another. I see a ton of coaches instilling fear in people because they believe one specific way of eating is correct. I know it has to be hard to coach people towards their own needs when you are a die-hard vegan or strict paleo, but being that rigid about what people should be eating is moving away from coaching territory and into something different (and depending on your state you may need additional certifications to do that). It’s really not our jobs to tell people what to eat in such strict terms.

I’m not knocking all coaches – I’m still a health coach and I have a lot of health coach friends who I respect and I know they are sincerely doing work that is going to change the world. Health coaching has been incredibly helpful for tackling my eating struggles and I have a lot of tools that have helped me make peace with food (and helped me teach my clients the same). As a whole I believe the profession’s goals are to help people live healthier so that they can do more amazing things in their lives. This is a good thing but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some big problems! The intent in the health coaching community is good but sometimes the way we go about encouraging change is diametrically opposed to actually being healthy.

 

Health Coaches with Strict and Extreme Views

There is a faction of coaches who practice extreme vigilance about food and the ideas some these folks teach contribute to deeper entrenchment into diet culture. In addition to sharing lots of scary and over complicated info, they promote products and programs that perpetuate us not trusting our bodies to tell us what to eat (powdered shakes, special containers and super specific and rigid meal plans etc) and others that have such high and restrictive standards of what constitutes healthy eating / healthy lifestyle (for example, raw food only, vegan only, paleo only, organic, local, non-irradiated, soaked and sprouted etc) that by the pure challenges of following everything they recommend, we are set up to fail and become more confused and scared of food.

Let me illustrate how insanely difficult and impossible the way we seem to expect people to eat is (according to the things coaches share on social media). I personally have every opportunity to make this unrealistic healthy food movement come to life in my American home.

I have the knowledge to prepare food the “healthiest” way possible.

I have the time and ability.

I work from home, love to cook and I’m a good cook.

I also have the financial means to buy organic, free range, local, grass-fed etc foods.

We prioritize food in my house over many other things.

And I don’t have children who pull at my pant legs and beg to have heavily processed chicken nuggets and hot dogs for dinner (just a cat who is a finicky eater).

This is not a brag, this is to show you how my life and I am well suited to make this inaccessible and perfect food stuff work. I legit have all the means necessary to make foods the way people are preaching we need to if we want to be healthy and yet even I find I get fucking tired of it, overwhelmed, apathetic and annoyed and sometimes I wish there were take out places nearby. I’ve sometimes thrown all my food edicts out the window and eaten a frozen pizza (yes, even dairy and full of gluten and processed) because I can’t deal with checking all the damn boxes for another day and I want it easy. This is coming from someone who dearly loves food and nutrition.

If I can’t do “it” every day of my life and I’m the perfect candidate, then how can we expect people in other more complicated situations to get in line?

This is not really working guys!

Having a zillion rules about food, how it’s sourced, how to prep it properly and more causes stress, panic and eating disorders. It does not actually make someone healthy. How can you not fall into some type of eating disorder when you no longer know what is SAFE to eat? And if we have to depend on another person more educated than us on food to give us guidelines (that change constantly), then we will never be free and never be healthy.

An overly puritanical “healthy lifestyle” can lead you down an unhealthy path of being overly restrictive with food just as much as the average diet can and all in the name of health, energy and clear skin.

If you’ve had any food struggles in your life, learning to trust yourself and re-engage with the wisdom and intuition we had as babies and toddlers is a better path to health.

Worrying about food all the time is not healthy.

Worrying if you’re making the right choices is not healthy.

Still feeling like crap even when you’re doing all the “right” things is not the picture of health.

It is much better to trust your body, feel safe with your own knowledge and listen to your body to tell you what it needs. This leads to better mental health – and when we’re well on an emotional and mental level, we make physical choices we can feel good about too.

I’m not saying that health coaches need to throw out everything they’ve learned about nutrition, health and how food is produced in this country, but we really need to start asking ourselves if what we’re sharing and recommending is helping people to feel empowered? Is it helping them to feel secure, relaxed and confident? Is it truly making people feel well on an emotional level?

Let’s ease up and help people get back in touch with those answers we know they have inside of themselves.


How did you like that rant? Do you want to learn more about feeling confident in your relationship with food? Do you want to learn to trust yourself and discount the confusing messages in our media? If so, click the image below and grab my copy of “You Have What it Takes“, a guide full of questions to help you improve your relationship to food.

Dieting Shouldn’t be Our Normal State

Diet culture teaches us to tell ourselves that this plate is too much food before we even take a bite.

Everyone is on a diet, always, or thinking about their next diet, or thinking about going back to the diet that they lost 30 lbs on ten years ago. The amount of brain energy we use to think about better ways we can restrict food is absolutely insane.

Dieting shouldn’t be our “normal” state in life yet for most adult women, it’s something they are frequently thinking about.  It’s rare to meet a woman who has never been on a diet or who doesn’t desire to be smaller. It’s disarming to be in a room with a woman who seems to eat freely, without concern for calories, carbs or how other people will perceive her for eating whatever she desires. Try going to the average exercise class full of women and I will bet you $100 that the instructor will say something about working harder so you can wear a bikini in a few months (the assumption being your current body isn’t fit to wear a bikini). Try watching TV for an hour and not see a commercial that promotes either a device that will help melt off fat, a procedure that will make you slimmer or an exercise program or medication that will help you finally lose weight.

Women grow up knowing what dieting is, long before their bodies are done growing. We understand the need to manage and manipulate our bodies in order to receive approval. At a young age we don’t understand why dieting is so important but we learn that it’s just part of being a woman and we really want to be adult women.

We hear our Moms and their friends, or other women in our family talk about how they need to stop eating carbs, or how they just can’t control themselves around sweets or bread. They pinch their stomachs and say “Look at this! Can you believe how fat I’ve gotten?” and laugh. They order diet cokes and salads with fat free dressing when the family goes out to eat. They comment on other people’s bodies too. They say things like “She’s too big to wear that” or “She’s totally let herself go.” We also hear “Have you lost weight? You look so beautiful!” or “Wow, that’s a very slimming dress on her.”

We take it all in. Just as we learn everything else. Big = bad. Fat = bad. Pretty = good. Thin = good.

We grow up watching the women around us push food around their plates instead of putting it in their mouths. We watch the women we love hold onto clothing hanging in their closets that are 3 sizes too small but they keep because of a dream body that still lives in their seams. We learn that dieting is just what women do and because we are desperate to be a grown woman long before our bodies and minds are ready, we too start to regulate our food intake.

We tell our own girlfriends that we’re no longer eating cookies or that we’re watching the carbs. We tell them how we’re going to start exercising so we can lose a few pounds. We aren’t even sure what a pound is or how many of them is enough, but we know that we should have less of them.

We say all of this so proudly and we wait for their eyes to light up with envy, with awe, with approval and love. We know how grown up “dieting” makes us appear and that idea makes an electric tingle go through our bodies starting from the glittery headbands on our heads down to the suede ballet flats on our feet. We feel more bonded to our friends and other women in our lives when they share their diet plans or secrets. We bond over vilifying fat and celebrate our accomplishments when we can squeeze into a dress that was too small a few weeks ago. Food becomes an enemy to never relax around and being willing and able to go hungry for long periods of time becomes a badge of honor.

Little girls learning that they have to be small, pretty and perfect to be loved is not ok.

It’s not ok because they grow up to be women who accidentally teach the same ideas to the next generation.

It’s not ok because all of these women limit their potential because they’re so bogged down by the issues attached to weight, size and controlling their bodies.

It’s all so crazy and sad. And we have to start changing it.

We should be outraged that this has become the normal. That it’s completely accepted that we should all be vying to be as small as possible and that anything else is wrong.

I just want to say for a second that there’s no one to blame here. I’m not blaming mom’s for their daughter’s learning this stuff and you’re not a bad person if you say, think and do the things I’m talking about here. You learned this stuff somewhere too. My own mother constantly told me that I was capable of anything and also that I’d look beautiful even in a burlap sack. But her own words about her own body was a different story and I absorbed all of it as just something women did.

This is a bigger cultural issue (diet culture) we have that goes so deep and is supported by every single one of us taking part in it. I still find myself occasionally thinking or saying things (especially as a joke about myself) that support diet culture even though it goes against everything I believe and teach today. Some things are so ingrained, it’s hard to realized how far, except when they seem to appear out of nowhere. I’m still working on my own deep beliefs about my body and food. It’s a process and one that will take years to undo the damage our diet culture does to all of us.

Diet culture teaches us that we can’t trust our own bodies to tell us how much to eat. It teaches us that we are wrong and sneaky. It teaches us that we need calorie counts, points or portion sizes spelled out for us in order to know how much to eat. Diet culture teaches us to silence the signals that are already available to us in our own bodies, until they’re so faint we can’t hear them anymore.

I can’t stress enough that we don’t need diets or meal plans to tell us how much and what to eat. Unless you have a medical condition that requires careful policing of certain nutrients or food categories (diabetes, celiac, kidney disease etc), you probably don’t need some other authority to tell you what and how much to eat. And if you feel so far removed from trusting your own hunger cues, I can help you get back in touch with them. The best authority to check in with to determine how much food your body needs is you. Your body. Your knowledge of yourself. If you feel good and you’re healthy, if you have ample energy to do all the things you want to do, then odds are you are eating the right amount of food that you need. You don’t need to follow a diet.

This might mean that your body is meant to be a little or a lot larger than you want it to be. This also doesn’t mean you have to be unhealthy. You can eat well, exercise, get good sleep, manage stress and do all sorts of other things in the name of health. You don’t have to necessarily manipulate your size or weight to be healthy. Being slender does not equate health and being heavier does not equal being unhealthy.

Constant dieting is like being at war with yourself and you can’t make peace with food if you are at war.

You may not be ready to give up dieting or know how to stop taking part in diet culture the first time you are introduced to it (whether through a blog post like mine or somewhere else) but what you can do is try to become more aware of your thoughts and beliefs and ask yourself where that came from. Here are a few questions to ask yourself or use for journaling to bring up your beliefs about your body and food:

  • What do you believe about your body? Is it too big, too small, just right? Why? Why is it one of those things? How do you know?
  • Think back to your childhood and teen years. What types of things did the people around you say about their bodies, your body or other’s bodies? How do you think their viewpoints affected you?
  • What do you believe if the right way to eat? What foods do you eat regularly and which do you never eat? Why? Why do you think you choose the ones you do or don’t?
  • What thoughts and feelings do you have about other women’s bodies? Are there certain attributes you are aspiring to? Are there attributes or features that you are trying to change? Why?
  • When do you feel your physical best? Why do you think that is?
  • Do you have judgemental thoughts about food? Do you believe some foods are good or bad? Or that you are good or bad for eating them? Why do you think this is?
  • What do you admire and appreciate about your body as it is right now?
  • When was the last time you ate a meal and received pleasure from eating it (without judgements)? Can you try to receive pleasure from food more often?

I have so much to say on this but I don’t want to bog you down with yet another 2500 word blog post (haha) so keep an eye out for my next blog post which will be on how health coaches are contributing to diet culture and how I’m trying to do things differently!


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

 

What Does Being “Fit” Mean to You?

What does being fit mean to you? Try to remember that fit doesn’t always look like what we think it should look like. Try focusing on function and the joy you get from activity.

If you were an alien visiting this planet for the first time and taking in all the different sources of information we have available to us (TV, internet, magazines/newspapers, books etc) to learn about your new planet and it’s people, you’d quickly form opinions and ideas about our society.

Some of these would be absolutely and hysterically incorrect but others would be very accurate.

For example, an alien might come to believe that “Twitter” is a God who doles out important edicts in 140 characters or less, all day long.

They may determine that our primary food source is french fries and burgers from McDonald’s (and don’t forget the Coke!).

They may wonder why some people on this planet are starving and yet other parts of the world have grocery stores that are so overflowing with food that some of it gets tossed in the trash every day. They may come to believe that every American swallows a small white circle called a “pill” that has a funny name that gives them a dog, a spacious back yard with luscious green grass and a smiling husband and kids but also has to watch out for side effects like diarrhea, skin rashes, leukemia and even death.

This would look like a really strange place to someone who’s never seen any of it before.

Let’s say this alien’s job was to understand what being “fit” meant to humans, in particular, people in America.

I know you know where I’m going here, but just for a minute try to view this stuff through the lens of totally fresh eyes.

What would you see?

What would you learn?

Using the same sources of readily available information, much of it coming from heavily available advertisements and articles, this alien would soon create an idea in their head that being FIT equals:

  • being tan skinned
  • having no visible body fat other than in female breasts and booties (which may or may not be enhanced by implants or injectables)
  • being tall
  • usually being caucasian
  • having well developed and very visible muscles
  • wearing very little clothing but whatever clothing fit people do have is tight fitting
  • spending hours upon hours in an enclosed space called a “gym”
  • eating lots of fruits and vegetables, low fat foods and also powdery substances called “protein shakes”
  • working so hard that your body cries visible tears (sweat)
  • demonstrating amazing feats of strength and endurance by completing competitions like marathons, powerlifting, triathlons etc.
  • moving fast

I’m sure you can think of a few other things that would seem to be typical of a “fit person” in America if viewed through the eyes of an alien. That list is a little tongue in cheek but how much of it do you agree with?

What is being fit? What does it mean to you?

In our real “human” lives we take this same information and internalize it, some of it consciously, and some not so consciously and we kind of develop a similar impression of what it means to be fit.

I have spent many years being frustrated that my body physically didn’t look the way it was “supposed to” despite all the things I did to be “fit”.

I wasn’t the right size, body type or height. My body has and had plenty of visible body fat.

To someone just looking at my outside at most points in my life, and possibly even today, I may not appear fit . . .to them. I know I’m fit regardless of what I may look like to someone else.

Fitness and “being fit” is not a one size fits all definition and it certainly doesn’t have one single look or body type. Being fit doesn’t always look like what we think it looks like.

Here is what being fit means to me.

It is feeling and being strong and capable. Having the energy to do all the things I need to do and not be completely spent afterwards. Or being spent afterwards (sometimes that’s the goal!) but recovering quickly enough to be excited to do it again.

Being fit is being able to carry my snow tires on their rims from my basement to the back of my car without needing to ask anyone for help.

Being fit to me is being able to bike 30 miles on one day and still have the energy to meet up with friends afterwards.

Being fit to me is being able to help a friend move without being totally sore the next day or being sore but not having it destroy me.

Being fit to me is being able to climb several flights of stairs and not be out of breath for very long.

For me, being fit is so much about function than aesthetics.

It’s about feeling powerful, experiencing joy, having good health (something else with more than one definition), pushing oneself and pulling back as needed, and being able to adjust to a change in course.

I’m not planning to ever be a marathon runner or a powerlifter (but props to those who are).

I’m not fast. I’m also not that flexible. And I have some foot injuries that pop up occasionally that slow me down a little and even cause me to modify some things.

However, I also have a lot of strength and endurance that doesn’t quit at the end of a long day.

I know when to rest my body, when to give her the time and care she needs. I know when to push myself and when to back off. I know what I’m capable of, what I’m not and when it’s possible that I might entirely be wrong about myself.

My hard workouts are still hard. Even though I’m physically fit, I get out of breath, muscles cramp, and aches and pains sometimes make me stop before I want to. I sweat. I pant. I get rosy cheeks.

But I’m willing to adapt, modify and change my view if it means being able to continue moving forward, making progress and smashing my own goals. Being fit is accepting where you’re at right now, but also being interested in doing at least one of the following: maintaining, growing, challenging or changing. You decide what, how and how much. You decide what’s enough.

I urge you to question what you believe “being fit” means. If your beliefs about what “fit” looks like don’t match up with what you look like, despite your effort, energy and capabilities, throw it out the window and build your own definition from scratch.

What are you capable of?

What incredible stuff does your body do?

What sort of activity makes you feel incredible? What brings you joy?

What do you wish you were even better at?


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

Should You Count Calories to Manage Your Weight?

Is calorie counting a good tool to use to manage your weight? It depends on your relationship with food.

Is calorie counting a good tool to use to manage your weight? It depends on your relationship with food.

Today I’m going to answer another question that often gets asked as women want to have less struggle in their lives with food:  Should I count calories to manage my weight?

If someone came to me and their goal was to lose weight quickly and they had a normal relationship with food, then yes, I would recommend calorie counting as the easiest and most reliable way to reach their fast weight loss goal (in this scenario, I’m going to define “fast” as safe [.5 lbs – 1lb a week], consistent, and doable).

But the majority of people looking to lose weight don’t actually have a normal relationship with food or their body and to them I can’t recommend calorie counting, for reasons I will outline below.  In real practice, I don’t recommend calorie counting to my clients (or to anyone who feels overwhelmed by food) and that is because I believe calorie counting conflicts with their long term goals. Most of the women I’ve worked with are trying to learn how to have less stress and worry around food and they are learning to trust their bodies to tell them what to eat. Calorie counting prevents them from doing that and for me to support goals of just weight loss can set these types of women up for a long painful struggle that is way too familiar to me. I’d like to prevent others from having to spend so many years beating themselves up physically and emotionally the way I did.

I lost 90 lbs between 2003 – 2007 by strict calorie counting and lots of punishing exercise. This was still in the low fat days so I also cut fat way down in order to keep my calories low. This meant I ate lots of refined foods just because they were low calorie and I almost always felt hungry. I had been “fat” for as long as I could remember and felt so proud that I finally found the self-discipline to stick to something that was working. The reason it took 4 years to lose the weight was because every so often I’d go off of calorie counting (because it was exhausting to have to calculate and track every single day) and decide that I could handle eating on my own without it. And each time I did that it resulted in a bit of weight gain. I’d drop 25 lbs, gain 10, drop 15 lbs, gain 7 back, drop another 25 lbs etc.  When I finally hit my low weight (about 137 lbs), I was thrilled and was determined to maintain it.

I tried to maintain it by running, a lot and of course continued calorie counting. Eventually I injured myself and couldn’t run anymore and had to do less vigorous exercise. I also took a desk job that meant I was less active than normal 5 days a week. And then I decided again, that my food issues were totally fine now and I could stop calorie counting – because REALLY WHO CAN DO THIS FOREVER?? IT’S MAKING ME FEEL INSANE.

And the yo-yo-ing started again. But it was going in the opposite direction.

Instead of gaining a little weight and then losing more than that again and again, I started to gain back lots of weight. Between 2008 and 2013 I gained 60 lbs of that 90 lb loss back. It’s not like I shut my eyes and just “gave up” on weight loss during this period – I was constantly and actively looking and thinking of ways I could lose the weight again. I’d go back to calorie counting for a bit, drop a few pounds, feel better and then let go of calorie counting again. I was so burnt out on calorie counting that I couldn’t sustain doing it for more than long enough to just drop a couple of pounds.

It was a rough couple of years. I felt terrible about my body and ashamed, sad, embarrassed about myself. Even though I still weighed less than when I started this journey, I felt even worse than I had felt at my heaviest weight. I felt like I was wearing a sign on my body that said “I’m a failure!” to everyone who had known me while I was losing weight.

Calorie counting does work. It can absolutely help you lose weight and it’s a far safer method of losing weight (especially if you choose to eat whole foods) than taking pills, powders, shakes or having to resort to surgeries. It can be done in a way that isn’t extreme (by eating just a 100 or 200 less calories each day than you normally would) and leads to slow weight loss, rather than in a way that is dangerous (such as eating under 1200 calories a day).

It works – But, again, I wouldn’t recommend it if you have any issues eating “normally.

Calorie counting is a tool that reinforces the need to listen to something else other than our bodies. I used it as a guide to tell me when to stop eating, when I had enough, when I must be full. Serving sizes didn’t matter because I had my calorie count to guide me. Fullness signals in my body didn’t register because the calories I ate told me I hadn’t had enough. Whether or not I was hungry didn’t matter, if it was 7pm and I had only had 800 calories so far, that meant I could eat a massive dinner. Even when I was hungry, if I had eaten a certain number of calories, I had to ignore my hunger signals and stick to my calorie goals.

All physical sensations, trust and knowing in my body went out the window for 10 years. Calorie counting got me more lost in my body than I was at the outset of my weight loss journey.

I weighed 225 in college because I had trouble listening to my body in the first place. I had gained so much weight because I used food as comfort instead of dealing with feelings I didn’t want to feel. And then when I found calorie counting, it was GREAT because it made it possible for me to both lose weight (my biggest aspiration at this point in life) and continue numbing and distrusting my body. I could ignore everything my body told me because calorie counting would lead me to where I wanted to be.

None of this would be a problem if calorie counting every day for the rest of my life was possible or reasonable. Well, technically it’s possible, but it’s not something I’m willing or really emotionally able to do. Even though I still have calorie counts for everything under the sun still memorized in my brain (can’t shake it no matter how hard I try!), the act of tallying up every bite I eat and the emotional imprint it has on me if it’s a “good” or “bad” number is exhausting on a deep soul level. It saps my energy, my creativity and my focus. There’s so much more interesting and important sh*t for me to do than that.

Because I couldn’t and wouldn’t calorie count for the rest of my life, when I stopped it became glaringly obvious that I didn’t know how to eat in a way that my body needed. I had lost touch with all intuitive knowledge my body had and because of that every meal was a gargantuan battle between should and shouldn’t, want and need, desire and punishment. I was so f*%king confused!

I’ve had to spend the last 3.5 years reteaching myself how and how much to eat, how to listen to my body, how to trust what it tells me and how to know if a food I’m eating is adding value to my life. All because I clutched too tightly to a tool like calorie counting. It’s still a learning process and I still make some goofs and poor decisions sometimes but I am so crazily happy that my choices are now based on the trust I have built with my own body and it’s needs now, instead of trusting an external tool.

Should you count calories to manage your weight?

My answer is it’s ok only if you don’t have any issues with food. If you already only eat when you are hungry. If you only eat to fuel your body (and minimally for fun). If you already know when you’ve had enough to eat based on signals inside your body, then you can probably use calorie counting for the short term to lose a few pounds. But before you do, ask yourself this:

Why do you need to lose weight in the first place?

Why did you gain weight that needs to be lost?

And how many solutions have you sought that are outside of yourself?

Most of us gain weight because we are eating too much. We don’t eat too much because our bodies need it. We eat too much for a myriad of reasons and most of them have to do with not dealing with our feelings or being deprogrammed from feeling our hunger signals. If you have weight to lose because of these things, then calorie counting may only exacerbate your struggle in the long term.

If I knew then what I know now and could do things over, I would not choose to lose the weight with calorie counting.  I would have paid more attention to why I gained weight the first time and why it was so hard for me to eat without something or someone telling me what / how much to eat. I would have learned how to decode the needs of my body and how to stay with myself when uncomfortable craptastic feelings came up. It took me years to lose the weight in the first place – learning to eat more normally would have saved me a ton of time and pain. Moral of the story: think about why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place before choosing how to move forward.


Have you gotten my newest free guide You Have What it Takes? If you’re an emotional eater, overeater or longtime dieter who wonders if she has what it takes to change her relationship with food, then this for you. And it’s free. Click on the image below, then enter your name and email and it’s yours!

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