Today’s post is a really special one and I feel so honored that I’m able to share it. I’m passionate about a few things: food, travel, my family and my strong desire to help others improve their relationship with food. As I’ve shared in previous posts, I know all too well the powerful hold that food can have. I spent most of my early twenties in this unhealthy pattern; obsessively counting calories, allowing a treat only if spent an hour at the gym and never being satisfied with my body. I feel so much compassion for my former self; never realizing how damaging my habits were.
It took me a long time to find a better path. Ironically, I was in school to become a dietitian- I thought what I was doing was normal, healthy even. I lived off praise from others commenting on how good I was, how skinny I looked and how much willpower I had. I can’t pinpoint the exact moment where I snapped back to life, but I’m forever grateful for that moment. Maybe I got tired of living that way, maybe I was seeing myself in my weight loss clients and was terrified that I was counseling them on my bad habits; whatever the reason- thank you.
I believe that every experience is a teacher- for either what to do or what not to do. I’m grateful for living in that space if only so that I am a more empathetic dietitian today. Now, my crusade is to help others get out of the holding pattern, to reawaken a healthy, happy relationship with food and their bodies. This past summer, I teamed up with my friends and RD colleagues, Anne and Rachael, to launch our six-week program, Joyful Eating, Nourished Life. Of all the projects I’ve been part of, this is what I’m most proud of. I strongly believe that my life’s work is to share my story, to help others get out of those moments to love food again, find their happy weight and become intuitive eaters.
We had 1oo+ attendees for our first program and the feedback has been overwhelming. I know how scary the idea of intuitive eating can be, especially for those who have dieted or followed programs their whole lives. Taking back the control can feel very scary and out of place, which is why we’ve designed a comprehensive program based off of our private practice models.
At the end of the June’s class, we asked participants to share their before and after stories. Of course, these aren’t traditional before and after stories- no side by side photos or numbers here. Just a real, candid response to how their relationship with food has changed. Below is an inspiring before and after story from one of our participants, Cindy.
Tell me more about your history with food and dieting.
I have battled weight and food issues as far back as I can remember. I was raised by my Grandmother and food was a part of every event and was used to help with every emotion. We even baked when we were bored! Almost all of our family had weight issues but my mother was extremely fashion conscious so there was always that shame of being heavy. The biggest thing I remember is that I used food when I was angry or disappointed, I basically used food to shut myself up. In my mid-20’s, after having children and wanting them to be healthy, I lost 100+ pounds with Weight Watchers; through that experience I started expressing my emotional needs more and my marriage ended. Although everyday was judged either good or bad based on food choices, I discovered running and for 9 years my weight stayed stable.
How did you try to control your eating in the past, before joining Joyful Eating? What was the outcome?
What motivated you to join Joyful Eating, Nourished Life?
What’s the greatest lesson you learned from the program?
What was your first “aha moment” in Joyful Eating?
Looking back, how have you changed since completing Joyful Eating?
The habits I have formed over the years have been really hard to change. Being mindful takes a lot of effort for me, it seems ‘going with the flow’ causes a lot less conflict. Maybe it’s the lifestyle I live but I would imagine that is true for most people. Giving up the good vs bad judgement of food has been especially challenging – even allowing myself to feel satisfied feels like ‘bad’ some days. Since starting JENL I am slowly letting go of these habits. Most days I have to talk myself there and that in itself is steps towards being more mindful.