I was 11 when I first weighed-in at Weight Watchers. Up. Down. Up. Up. Enter college: my eating unraveled.
My freshman dining hall had these massive (even for the 90s!) M&M cookies. If you were lucky, you got there when they came out of the oven, with the steam swirling as the M&M would melt and relax into the cookie like it had found the perfect home. That’s how it felt eating them.
Relief. Safe. Comfortable.
At least in the moment.
My friend and I would each take three or four back to our dorm for the week. Two days later after finishing them and getting more cookies, Diet starts tomorrow! became our joke.
Yet we were both in incredible pain over our weight struggles. Our best intentions to support each other like “go easy on yourself” or “your weight won’t matter to people who really love you.”
I stayed gridlocked in relying on this type of girlfriend “non-diet” advice – treat yourself to a massage and one bagel never hurt anyone – unsuccessfully for years.
Unable to get out of my all or nothing diet mentality, I gained 30 pounds and diagnoses like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and depression.
I lost all trust in myself.
This same girlfriend-like advice offered by popular emotional eating bloggers and coaches is well-intentioned. It’s in reaction to the deprivation and shame that cause diets to fail. But, it swings the pendulum to the other extreme.
And it doesn’t work.
It stays on the (expensive) surface.
The advice and “coaching” always boils down to an external change of circumstance: hire a house cleaner, call a girlfriend or buy clothes you can feel great in now.
None of this will solve the underlying reality that your weight is weighing you down.
There’s a time and a place to listen to your girlfriends. It feels amazing when you have a friend who listens. Who you can relate to. It’s an incredible gift when friends and family are supportive.
Friends and family are going to give you the same advice you’ve already listened to. They want to help yet they don’t know you the way you know yourself.
If you want to get off the weight loss merry-go-round, you have to be willing to look at what’s actually true.
Too often, we’d rather feel good than look at what’s true. That’s why we often turn to these girlfriends like blogs and programs: it feels good. But in the end, these are band aids.
The truth is it’s not healthy to eat the wrong foods for your body.
The truth is you have to look inward at how you’re creating the very emotions you’re eating to avoid.
The truth is you do deserve to make your mark on the world and live the life you were meant to live.
But you’re never going to even have a taste of that life if you’re not willing to stop doing the thing that’s probably making you feel good.
Feeling comfortable is not working.
Feeling good is not the goal.
Getting healthy is the goal.
14 years ago, I gave up dieting and girlfriend like dieting advice.
Instead, I learned a medical approach to nutrition. The result was losing 15 pounds and clearing up my acne, asthma, allergies, IBS and depression.
By learning what foods work best for my body, I discovered what was true about being healthy.
This sense of confidence emboldened me.
What I’m passionate about is results that come from this approach because they create a spiral upwards, instead of getting caught in the guilt and shame cycles.
I lost another 10 pounds as a side-effect of becoming more emotionally resilient and rebuilding self-trust. I found deeper truths that were wiser and bolder than I thought myself to be.
With four years of nutrition education under my belt and a successful nutrition counseling practice, I went back to school to get my Masters in Coaching to learn how I healed my wounds so my clients could do the same.
Here’s what I discovered:
There is no formula. It’s about the food and it’s not about the food.
Buying yourself flowers will not get at the underlying reasons you don’t know how to eat or don’t do what you know you should.
Loving yourself comes from being devoted to being on your own side to rebuild the trust you’ve lost from dieting and listening to everyone else.
Are you ready to look at your path towards healthy weight loss and a Truce with Food?
When you seek the truth, you discover self-acceptance is an internal journey to:
- Learn what foods works for to support your body
- How to get underneath and transform what’s causing your bad eating
Here’s what self-love looks like:
From Linda Gilbert, a client in my signature program, Truce with Food:
Prior to meeting Ali, I had tried everything from Weight Watchers to Shakeology/work outs 7 days per week. Each plan worked for a short period of time until it didn’t work and eventually, broke my self-trust.
Truce with Food has given me the tools to understand what foods work best for me. I now trust myself to rely on my intuition to know what to eat. It’s much easier sticking to a “diet” when it is not just for long term/weight loss goals but rather noticing the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) differences that various foods impact my energy, cravings, and mood. This was such a huge breakthrough for me; once I started to trust myself, eating the “right” foods for me was easy. It’s now what I want to do, not what I feel like I have to do to be “good.”
Truce With Food also gave me the tools to understand why I tend to eat or drink to comfort myself (or numb from emotions, get an energy boost, reward myself… the list goes on). Ali’s approach helps me help myself by digging in to get to the root of what’s triggering my behaviors.
The process wasn’t easy – Ali didn’t think for me or tell me what to do. She helped me to rediscover my natural sense of curiosity and adventure about being healthy. I needed to recognize and work through some emotions that I’ve avoided for sometime. This process wasn’t fun. But through it, I learned how to manage difficult emotions rather than use food or alcohol to numb out and ignore them.
So here I am, on the other side of the six months and feeling incredible – feeling LIKE A BOSS! I would not have believed that I would be feeling this way if you told me in the beginning of the program the physical and mental impact would be this broad.
I’ve dropped a dress size, my body (and face) are less bloated, and my energy is probably the best in my life.
Here’s a spreadsheet (because that’s how some of us roll!), Linda created to capture the external ways her life is different from getting out of her comfort zone:
In this evolution, she redefined loving herself as being devoted to loving her truth. Even when it’s uncomfortable. The payoff? Living a life true and fulfilling to you. Weight loss is a side-effect of this challenge.
If you’re battling with food, there’s a time when you want to get really real with yourself and you want to make a change. And we all know it’s hard.
The word coach has been watered down to mean someone who you can relate to and will cheer-lead you. Or help you stay accountable.
That’s not coaching. That’s being a girlfriend.
Coaching makes you accountable to yourself. It assumes you’re brilliant and have your answers. You need the right food experiments and coaching questions to clear out the overwhelm. Then you’ll remember the truth: you always had the power to live out your best life. And this reclamation is part of your story.
It took me 10 years to come to a complete Truce with Food (and lose 25 pounds). My clients can cover the same territory in a fraction of the time. They’re eager to get through this “food thing” and make their mark on the world.
The first step to discovering your truth is to figure out what diet (noun, not verb) works best for weight loss. For you. You can begin to learn what is best for you by subscribing here.
To surprising yourself.