I was listening to a voice message from a client I’d been working with for about a month, and she was sort of laugh/crying as she explained her life-changing realization to me – “IT’S NOT ACTUALLY ABOUT THE FOOD AND EXERCISE!”
All this time, she’d been looking for the right diet, the right workout, the right trainer, the right program, the right meal plan. Each time she thought she’d found it, and it might even work for a bit – a few weeks, a few months, even a year. But inevitably, she’d “get off track”…looking for the next fix or trying to re-start one she’d already tried.
She thought that one of these would be the answer she’d been looking for, and even though this pattern never seemed to end, she was still on the lookout because she didn’t know any alternative.
And in reality, when she first signed up for my program after having her baby, she thought I was going to give her the perfect amount of calories and macros to eat for breastfeeding and fat loss. Soooo she was a little confused after our first phone call. After reading through her history, I knew right away that a strict calorie budget was not going to work for her:
- She was struggling with the restrict/binge cycle
- She was chronically on and off programs with no long-term adherence or permanent lifestyle change
- She was always ravenous at night and out of touch with her own hunger signals
- Her restrictive behavior was negatively affecting her life, her relationship with her husband, and her family, as was her obsession with having a perfect body
These are all signs of a dieting mindset and the mentally and physically unhealthy eating patterns that result from it. The worst thing for someone in this pattern is to take them through another diet or any kind of restriction, and the best thing is to a) take some time to improve their relationship with food and their body and b) help them develop their own eating habits that work best for THEM – leading them to find their own ideal body.
She was willing to give my method a chance. I told her I knew it was different than anything she’d ever done, and that’s exactly why it was going to work.
After all – I know how to assign macros and calories to force weight off your body. I was that kind of coach for years and I lived that life for years. But it never actually changed anything. I kept having to start over, my clients kept having to start over. They were always apologizing to me for “failing”, but I was beginning to see that it wasn’t them failing, it was the system. That wasn’t acceptable to me.
I’m much more interested in creating the kind of transformation that yes – can be intense, uncomfortable, and takes work and commitment and trust, but is PERMANENT, healthy, and sustainable forever.
And so she took the leap with me, and it was about a month into it that I was listening to her voicemail proclaiming this massive shift in her thinking:
“It’s not actually about what I eat, what I don’t eat, and how I work out. I just wasted more than 20 years of my life spending time and money running on a hamster wheel, thinking it was all about what I was doing and not exploring WHY I WAS DOING IT.
My relationship with food and exercise was a direct reflection of my relationship with my body and myself. And I have wasted so much time hating it and trying to “fix” it when all I ever really had to do was slow down and LISTEN TO IT. Trust it. Trust myself!
And while I’m so sad at all the time and money I have wasted, I am so relieved and GRATEFUL to know I won’t be spending the next 20 years in the dark!”
I call this moment the awakening: the moment we realize we’ve been chasing something that didn’t actually exist, being sold a lie by the diet and fitness industry that if we just eat the “right” thing (it’s so weird how that thing is always changing over the decades, isn’t it?) or move in the right way (again, always changing) that it will be the answer to our happiness…
…but it never really is.
(Someone always likes to email me at this point and say KETO IS WORKING GREAT FOR ME I’VE LOST 20 POUNDS IN 20 DAYS to which I reply, if you’re in the 2% of the population that a restrictive diet works on for more than 2 years AND you’re not miserable and socially isolated, then I will congratulate you in 2 years and truly be amazed.)
The answer is to turn the focus inward, not keep looking outward for answers. And until you stop looking for the perfect diet or the perfect program to follow and learn how to create your own perfect eating and exercise style, you’ll keep starting over.
Are you sick and tired enough of the hamster wheel, especially at this phase of your #momlife, to finally turn your focus inward and feel free? Here’s the process I use with my clients:
1-Heal your relationship with food, if necessary (for most women and many men living in our society, it is). This must be the first step, and you must do whatever it takes to do this before moving on. This requires learning not to label food as good or bad, and recognizing the binge/restrict cycle and stabilizing binge behavior with permission and learning good energy management.
2-Once that happens, gently make the tweaks to your nutrition that you can sustain without feeling restricted, will give you the quality of life that you want, and make you feel your best. If this brings up diet feelings, start over at step 1.
3-Tweak and balance…for the rest of your life! This is not a temporary thing, this is a combination of developing normal, HEALTHY eating habits that sustain you forever. You won’t feel restricted, and you won’t “let yourself go” because this is a love thing, not a fear thing.
What do you think? Does your current relationship with food reflect your relationship with yourself and your body? How can you improve it?
PS- If you need help and guidance through the process, I have one opening left in my 1:1 coaching program for this month. I’m looking for women who are fed up with the hamster wheel and ready to give it their all to feel free and transform their entire lives. Is that you? Apply to work with me here.