Are You Abusing Exercise?

Exercise gives us endorphins, and it’s a beautiful thing, really! 

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Having a shit day? Get that anger out, girl.

Trouble processing emotions and feel stuck? Get yo’ ass moving and see things much more clearly.

Need to transition from “part one” of your day to “part two”? Exercise is my preferred way to do it!

It’s a valid method of moving through and processing emotions. After all, emotions bring energy with them, and it needs to continue onward—lest it stay with us.

But, when do we transition from using exercise to benefit our emotional and physical well-being to using it as a scapegoat, distraction, or projection of negative emotions towards ourselves? 

When does our use of exercise turn from healthy to unhealthy?

When we’re not aware of our motivations.

Without awareness of WHY we’re exercising, we may be distracting ourselves from more deeply rooted items that need our attention.

More often than not, addressing these underlying matters is what will truly lead to contentment. Exercise is simply a band-aid.

If this sounds familiar to the use of food—either via eating or restriction—you’re right. Many women use both exercise and food as coping mechanisms, but it’s helpful to look at them in isolation. 

How do you know if your use of exercise is beneficial and healthy?

Ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?”

If the honest answer(s) is derived from a negative place, then we need another game plan. Examples include:

  • shame for food choices

  • disgust with your body as it is today

  • to build a body to please others

  • to distract yourself from issues at home, work, relationships, etc.

  • to prove your worthiness by being an athlete

  • to prove your worthiness by changing your body

  • to prove your worthiness by working harder than everyone else

  • to convince yourself that you’re moving towards greater fulfillment, when what you’re really seeking is deeper connection with yourself and/or others

  • to receive love, attention, or validation from others

Positive, healthy reasons to engage in exercise may include:

  • to challenge yourself and prove that you can do hard things. The key here is to ensure you’re doing this for yourself, not to prove anything to others

  • to build strength, endurance, or power in your body so that you’re a more capable human

  • to build parts of your body based on your own aesthetic preferences, while understanding that this has zero impact on your worth as a human

  • to calm or reset your mind

  • to get out of your head and into your body

  • because it’s enjoyable AF

 These will look different for everyone, and each list can continue in perpetuity.

The key is to be completely honest with ourselves when we look at our intentions, and oftentimes, this awareness is only heightened when we’re forced to take a break.

Health concerns, injuries, and various other life circumstances will force us to pause, to change our exercise routines, or to perhaps stop them altogether. 

This can be challenging, humbling, and frustrating as all hell.

We may even find ourselves in a full-blown identity crisis if exercise—especially of the intense of competition variety—has become part of who we are.

While this may sound miserable, we can use situations like this to our advantage. 

We can use them as opportunities to face ourselves, to show ourselves compassion and grace, and to identify what we truly need.

I found myself in this situation in during the Spring of 2018 when I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. I had been feeling terrible for months, and that diagnosis was the wakeup call I needed to finally take a step back from my intense exercise regimen and REST.

My 4-5 times per week CrossFit habit changed to leisurely walks and some weightlifting three times per week.

I didn’t become a couch potato by any means—as my body didn’t warrant that protocol—so I was shocked to discover my discomfort with zero intense exercise.

No chasing the clock.

No pushing my body to the point of complete exhaustion.

No competing with others in class.

No using exercise to get my brain to work because I was too exhausted and overworked for it to function normally on its own. 

Rather, I was forced to sit with the discomfort. 

And I pondered. 

Why is this so uncomfortable for me?

What have I been avoiding?

What am I really doing it all for?

Some of the answers that came up included:

  • avoidance & denial of feeling physically unwell when not exercising, as the endorphins made me feel better for the hours after a workout.

  • identifying with going “all out” during every workout, otherwise I felt like a wimp, pansy, and average.

  • proving my worth to the world by pushing myself harder than others.

  • an inability to show myself grace when I’m not good at something. To not push to be better was unacceptable in my eyes, even when it wasn’t making me any happier or fulfilled in the long-run.

  • making myself feel accomplished in an area I’m comfortable with—physical activity—so that I could placate my avoidance of things I’m uncomfortable with: business ventures and some areas of relationships.

We’re pretty great at rationalizing our choices and projecting them as healthy to the outside world.

After all, very few people—if any—truly know our motivations behind our seemingly healthy exercise habits.

WE are the ones with the answers.  We may be the only ones seeing all the cards.

Therefore, it’s our responsibility to ourselves to be honest about where we are & where we really want to go.

If any of this sounds familiar, consider taking the uncomfortable route. Consider sitting with the discomfort, rather than running (quite literally) from it.

Take a break—ideally a couple months—from the intense exercise you’re used to and allow yourself the opportunity to uncover what’s lurking beneath the surface.

You can always return to your current exercising ways if you so choose—perhaps in a different format, cadence, or intensity—and you’ll be doing so from a much more positive and life-enhancing place.

Don’t let something with so much life-promoting & enjoyment potential become your worst enemy simply because you’re replacing one form of discomfort for another.

3 Simple Steps to Keep Your Sanity With Food During the Holidays

I understand this is also a completely non-magical time for many that can be filled with painful memories, reminders of what is lost, financial stress, and complete overwhelm. However, the tips included in here will hopefully serve as a reframe of what this time can bring to you! Which can always be a time of giving to yourself, first and foremost.

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The winter holiday season has special air of magic.

Children are over the moon about the festive decorations and the thought of Santa arriving, the streets are filled with magical lights and decorations, parties are in full swing, people are putting on their holiday best, and there are more indoor social gatherings than any other time of the year.

As someone who just adores quality time with the people I care about, this time of the year is incredibly special to me! Plus, I’m a sucker for the festive decorations and seasonal foods & treats. 

While there are so many special things about this time of the year, it can also be a trigger for:

  • Emotional eating

  • Stress about losing control around food

  • Bingeing as we anticipate starting a new diet come January 1st

These completely remove us from the present moment and any potential magic.

What a shame, right?

Rather than spending all of our precious time and energy on tightly controlling our bodies and food consumption or stressing about how all hell is breaking loose, we can vow to commit to just a few practices throughout the holiday season.

These aren’t rules—they’re the building blocks to a relationship with food that is based on FREEDOM. A sense of freedom that transcends the holidays and empowers us to turn inward for the answers.

1.     Get Present

This is a non-negotiable, truly, and it’s the difference between success and struggle with my clients. This can be especially difficult during this hectic time of the year, which is why it’s even more important to give this gift to yourself!

Meditation is my preference (as you likely guessed if you follow me), but even a few minutes of deep breathing alone, journaling, or a walk outside can bring you back to yourself. Connect to your inner landscape, and you’ll instantly find yourself back in your power.

2. Ask yourself this simple question: Does this choice 1) empower me physically or 2) up-level my soul experience?

Don’t get caught up in the nuances of what “soul” means—it’s simply a term that defines the deep, meaningful desires of our mental and emotional selves.

If you’re clearly not hungry and/or don’t anticipate needing additional food energy (empowering yourself physically) and/or it’s not really lighting you up from the inside out (up-leveling your soul experience), then pause and sit with the desire for a moment.

If the desire to reach for food isn’t prompted by one of the two driving factors above, then it’s likely caused by an emotional trigger:  

  • Stress

  • To numb or distract

  • Boredom

  • Loneliness, etc.

While food is appealing in the moment, it’s a band-aid solution that will only lead to us feeling worse in most cases.

Our intentions behind our choices are the focus here.

3.     Mind Your Business

It can certainly be frustrating to find ourselves justifying our decisions to family and friends if we’re not going overboard on food, booze, and treats—or if we are. Oftentimes, we’re damned if we do and we’re damned if we don’t, so it’s important to keep your focus on you!

While it’s important to draw boundaries from the judgment and opinions of others, we also need to ensure we’re not allowing the choices of others—especially if we deem them to be “healthier” or “better” than our own—to derail us from our own intuition and responses to Number 2 above. 

Someone will always be eating more vegetables, drinking less booze, eating less dessert, or eating smaller portion sizes. Those choices have absolutely nothing to do with your own, so keep your focus inward when making your food choices—mind & body.

These are similar to my recent thoughts on traveling, as the holidays are also fleeting with so much potential for magic.

However, this time of the year shouldn’t be used as an opportunity to harm ourselves with the guise of celebration.

Gorging ourselves with processed foods and booze in an effort to numb or circumvent discomfort isn’t serving us in any way.  

It’s certainly not up-leveling our physical or soul experiences—it’s detracting from both of them!

Get yourself grounded in the present moment, assess the motivations and intentions behind your impulses—physically and mentally—and maintain this inward focus in the face of external influences.

We only get to experience this amazing season once per year, so don’t let the opportunity to make the most of it while feeling your best pass you by!

How to Not Lose Your Sh*t with Food While Traveling

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I just returned from a two-week vacation in New Zealand for the wedding of two wonderful humans, and it was refreshing as all hell!

It was also exhausting, but I (mostly) accepted that as part of the journey. Only some complaining about it:)

As someone who loves to travel internationally and experience new cultures, cuisines, cities, and adventures, I was forced to face my fear of losing control and going off the deep-end years ago.

In fact, when I backpacked throughout SE Asia for three months in 2014, it was the beginning of a very healing journey for me—in all aspects of my life, but especially food. 

I succumbed to the lack of routine, the unusual (to me) foods, the lack of sleep (those overnight buses were ROUGH), and the absence of gyms. I decided that if there was ever a time to release the reigns and really double down on trusting myself, that was the time.

And so I did.

I committed to honoring my body and treating it with kindness and respect—a completely foreign concept to me at that point in time.

Listening to hunger signals and eating when I needed to, not when my three girlfriends were hungry. 

Listening to fullness cues most of the time. When I decided to eat beyond the point of satisfaction, it was a very conscious choice.

Not eating to numb or distract from feelings of discomfort.

Asking myself if and when I truly wanted to consume alcohol. On that particular trip, I had maaaybe one drink every couple of days, and that was the perfect amount for me.

Developing this trust in myself around alcohol was one of the most liberating tools I acquired during that time.

Exercising when I wanted to—not due to any feelings of guilt or unworthiness. This usually meant bodyweight workouts or runs after long, overnight bus rides or when I needed to process energy.

To be clear, this wasn’t comfortable right off the bat. It was VERY uncomfortable in the beginning, and I feared that I would blow up from the lack of rigidity. To my surprise—the opposite occurred.

I lost weight—seemingly effortlessly!

While this wasn’t my intention whatsoever, it was incredibly eye opening for me.

I realized that I had it wrong all along.

My body is actually on my side, and it will settle at the weight it feels most comfortable with given my lifestyle and priorities at the time.  

My job is to let it do its thing.

My journey with food and my body endured additional ebbs and flows once I returned to the states, but that extended period of travel taught me that travel is nothing to fear and has everything to teach us.

My Recent Trip

This most recent trip to New Zealand was a very different kind of trip from the one described above. I traveled with around 15 friends for a significant portion of it, had zero alone time, was constantly on the move, drank a significant (for me) amount of booze, and ate quite a bit of processed foods.

Yet, I didn’t doubt myself, my intentions, or my actions once.

Why?

Because I’m now able to see the bigger picture, and I trust myself and my body.

I don’t follow “rules” about filling up with protein and veggies, drinking a ton of water, not standing in particular parts of the room near food. NOPE.

I focus on ensuring my mind is right, that I’m actually living—not preparing for it—and that I’m being mindful of both my body and soul.

These are my top mindset tips and approaches to keep in mind while traveling, especially this holiday season!

  • Allow Room for Change – Our bodies are ever-changing on this journey, as are our lives. If you don’t want a stagnant and boring life (I don’t), then you can’t expect your body to exemplify those traits. Essentially, loosen up a bit!

  • Play the Long Game – Trips are temporary, and healthy foods and opportunities will be more readily available once you return home. What you do the majority of the time is what matters.

Interestingly, this isn’t even comforting to me anymore. I trust my ability to adapt to these situations so much now that I look forward to the change and excitement of the new!

  • Prioritize Your Mental Energy – Using mental energy on the unhealthy choices or the calories you’re consuming will instantly take you out of the present moment. What a tragedy it is to miss out on creating memories for such trivial matters!

I experienced this on a trip to Machu Picchu in 2015, and I vowed to never make that mistake again. 

  • Weigh the Balance of Body & Soul This is the big kicker, right here. Listen to what your body is telling you, and weigh that against what your soul is craving.  

Does your body want rest and a night off from alcohol, but your soul is calling for another night out on the town with friends and a couple drinks? Which is more important to you in the moment, and is the payoff the next day worth it?

You won’t always get this answer right (you’ll know the next morning), but keep asking yourself these questions, and you’ll hone the skill of balancing these competing priorities.

The only “rule” I tend to follow is the last one, where I listen to both my body and soul, consider the action that will balance both of them (although they’re usually aligned), and act accordingly.

It’s tempting to cling to rigid rules that make us feel safe and in control, but the experience of travel should feel anything but. It’s the whole point!

If you’re fortunate enough to be able to travel to various parts of the state, country, or world, then don’t let the amazing opportunity to go waste by playing small.

You already have everything you need within you. 

How Ditching the Dogma and Embracing the Evidence Helped Me Overcome My Food Obsession

My initial exposure to the world of dieting came in 2004 at the age of 16. After receiving a few comments about my weight and my ability to eat as much as my brothers, I asked a personal trainer about diet and nutrition.

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As you may recall, Atkins was all the rage throughout the first decade of this century, and my trainer had eagerly jumped on board.

“Eat 4-5 times per day, and don’t have more than 15g of carbs per meal.”

These were his explicit instructions to me.

As was expected, I dropped 10-15 pounds fairly quickly, and I instantly assumed the decrease in carbohydrates was the cause of my weight loss. To be fair, this decrease did cause the weight loss indirectly, but it wasn’t the true cause—it was simply correlation.

What was the cause of the change in body composition and scale weight?

1.     Overall decrease in calories

Fast food after school and before volleyball practice was a consistent part of my routine, so removing the extra bread, tater tots, and soda removed a large chunk of calories right off the bat.

The quality of my food choices increased dramatically as a result of restricting carbs, as most processed foods were now off the table, and I didn’t consciously increase my fat or protein intake either.

Overall, I was consuming less food and calories across the board, which was the true cause of the fat loss.

2.     Water Loss

For every 1g of carbohydrate consumed, our bodies hold 3-4g of water. When we decrease our carb intake, it’s very common to experience fast weight loss within the first two weeks. This is largely a loss of water, not fat.

Do you think I had any clue that these two factors were the true causes of my weight and fat loss? That would be a resounding NOPE.

I relied on the opinions of “experts” at the time, and I didn’t have any clue that the information being touted wasn’t based on sound evidence. Embarrassingly, I was regurgitating this information to others left and right.

I truly thought carbohydrates were the source of all illness and fat gain, so the removal of them from one’s diet was the holy grail.

I was flat out wrong, yet I believed this vehemently for almost a decade.

The Carb Mind F*CK

As a result of believing inaccurate information, in addition to being unwilling to having my opinion changed, I wasn’t open to the notion that my overall food intake was the cause of my weight fluctuations.

Rather than take a high-level, holistic view of my diet, I narrowly focused on the number of carbs I consumed.

I believed it was impossible to gain weight without carbs and that the only way to lose fat was to decrease them, so I doubled down. It fewer carbs was good, none must be better, right?

At this point, my view of food was so distorted that I was obsessively eating avocado, eggs, bacon, and any form of additional fat while keeping my carbs extremely low. The new narrative at the time was (and still is with keto), “you have to eat fat to lose fat”, so I didn’t mess around.

Butter in my coffee? Sure!

The fattiest steak on the menu? I need it.

Extra avocado on my already fat dense meal? It’s not a meal without it.

Note that there isn’t anything wrong with these choices, but rather the false information I believed that was governing them. It had nothing to do with what made my body feel good, so I couldn’t even tell you how my body responded.

The large quantity of fat in my diet led to an overall increase in calories that far exceeded the decrease in carbs, so I started to gain weight. WTF?

I must not be low enough on carbs.

Maybe I need to eat more fat to burn the fat. 

Everyone is saying that undereating can lead to weight gain, so maybe I need to eat more.

And so I took it even further by decreasing my carb intake, increasing my fat intake, and eat more in general. Not surprisingly, my weight continued to climb.

I felt like an utter failure, and my neurosis around food was at an all-time high.

Luckily, IIFYM (if it fits your macros) began to make its way onto the dieting scene at this time, and the premise essentially states that we can eat whatever we want, as long as we hit a specific number of carbs, protein, and fat every day.

This was also gaining popularity amongst the Crossfit community due to the higher carbohydrate content of most of the plans, which led to improved performance outcomes.

This illustrated a few things:

  • The three macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat), in addition to alcohol, comprise our overall calorie intake.

  • We can adjust our macros up and down and transfer between the three-four, as long as the calorie target remains the same.

  • There is room for processed foods in a diet, so long as the overall calorie and macro targets are met.

  • Carbs often aid in athletic performance, especially of the anaerobic variety.

  • Carbs are not the enemy, more fat doesn’t lead to fat loss, and calories are king.

  • I WAS SO WRONG. Like, dead wrong.

  • I anticipated that tracking and counting my food wasn’t a good idea for me mentally, but I was so curious about this concept of eating that I decided to partake. 

I quickly realized that my fat consumption was through the roof, my protein was decent, and my carb intake was far too low for the amount of Crossfit I was doing. Additionally, my calorie intake was certainly over maintenance (the amount needed to maintain my weight).

My dogmatic nutrition world was shattered!

I started enjoying rice, tons of potatoes, and processed foods, and I reduced my intake of added fats, like the butter in my coffee, avocado on everything, and fatty cuts of meat.

To be clear, I didn’t go crazy with decreasing my fat intake, but it was now within a moderate range.

I began to realize that I don’t need the additional fat to feel satisfied as I once thought I did.

My plates started to look balanced—my version of balance—with a serving of protein, carbs, and vegetables at most meals, and the fat came from cooking oils and whatever was in the leaner meats. 

Damn—I started to feel great! My performance in the gym improved, I slept better, my hormones started to level out, and I started dropping some fat.

Do I advocate for counting macros?

No, I don’t. At least not long-term.

I quickly realized that counting and tracking my food wasn’t healthy for me mentally (nor worth it), and it isn’t for many. However, I am grateful for some of the lessons I learned:

  • Science and evidence-based approaches reign supreme when it comes nutrition and changes to body composition. I.e. calories absolutely do matter.

  • People on the internet will often claim that the method that worked for them (n=1) will work for everyone. This can greatly harm their followers.

  • Having blinders on about the basics of calories in vs. calories out spun me in circles for years and only furthered my food obsession.

  • Carbs are beautiful creates, and I love them.

  • Most of us eat a lot more fat than we think we do, which is not a bad thing in isolation, but it is often hindering fat loss. And may not be great for our health, either.

  • By knowing what actually works via science, we’re empowered to make changes accordingly if we wish.

  • If a nutrition plan or diet makes claims that sound too good to be true—i.e. “eat as much fat and protein as you want and lose weight!”—it is.

  • Tracking and counting food can be useful for short periods of time to bring awareness to our skewed perceptions of our intake.

  • Tracking and counting food can further neurosis if we attach moral value to the outcome and we can’t eat comfortably without it.

After years of trying almost every diet under the sun, I’m finally content with a moderate approach that is tailored to me based on my lifestyle, preferences, and activity levels.

Opening my mind to scientific evidence was tremendously helpful in getting me here.

Dietary dogma served me in the opposite way.

Science and evidence-based nutrition is only a small piece of the puzzle when it comes to developing a healthy relationship with food, but it’s an important one.

And it’s a great way to start embracing the concept that food is just: food!

Binge Eating - What's Really Causing Yours?

Binge eating is a common struggle for many, but the root cause isn’t always the same.

It can be caused by physiological or emotional factors, but it’s often a combination of both.

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Physiological Drivers

Excessive dieting and restriction, via overall caloric density or a specific macronutrient, can lead to the body’s physiological response to counter this deprivation—bingeing.

As we know, our bodies are smart, and they’re going to find a way to get what they need to survive. We tend to resent this quality and perceive our bodies as the enemy, but this is a gift! We literally wouldn’t be here today without this.

Furthermore, restriction elicits a mental battle.

This often comes back to the discussion about Moderators vs. Abstainers—those who can enjoy all foods without going off the rails, and those who believe they have to follow strict rules or they’ll go off the deep end (i.e. binge).

I have witnessed many self-proclaimed Abstainers—even those with very addictive personalities—become Moderators by simply easing up on their rules and restrictive behaviors.

With a newly developed self-trust and relaxation around food, the urge to binge on “bad” foods lessens significantly.

As someone who formerly subscribed to the label of Abstainer, I can attest to this personally as well.

If you’re struggling with binge eating, and you believe it’s due to excessive restriction, slowly add more foods into your diet. This might be overall food quantity (i.e. calories), a specific macronutrient (i.e. carbs), or allowing yourself to enjoy more processed or “bad” foods.

I completely understand the fear this process invokes if you’re in this situation.  

Leveraging a coach can be extremely helpful, and commitment is essential. You may find yourself continuing to binge throughout the healing process, so it will be tempting to throw in the towel and accept that you’re destined to live a life of deprivation and bingeing.

I promise this urge will dissipate as you get more wins under your belt and your confidence grows. It’s a practice, just like anything else.

Emotional Drivers

The emotional component can be more complex, as there are often several factors at play, but it’s often driven by the need to fill a void or to serve as a distraction for something deeper.

  • Loneliness and lack of deep connection in relationships.

  • Feeling trapped in a relationship that’s no longer serving us.

  • Lacking inspiration in our careers and/or being on a career path that stifles our souls.

  • Pretending to be someone we’re not in front of others due to a lack of acceptance of ourselves or fear of the outcome.

  • Not speaking our minds or setting boundaries with others, so we’re left feeling like shells of our true selves.

  • Making choices in life rooted in fear.

  • Not trusting our intuition.

  • And the list goes on.

There is no shortage of reasons why we use food to circumvent addressing a deeper concern.  

We’ve become so accustomed to deflecting our emotions and believing that anything that resembles discomfort or pain doesn’t have a seat at the table.

That happiness and exhilaration are the only acceptable ways to show up in the world.

As a result, we use food to numb these feelings rather than address them—similarly to using drugs, alcohol, attention, or shopping.

Furthermore, many of us may find ourselves living our lives from a place of fear. 

  • Fear of being unlovable if we show our true selves.

  • Fear of failure if we decide to quit the jobs we hate and try something new.

  • Fear of saying something that may upset someone else.

  • Fear of rejection if we make the first move.

This fear leads to playing small, becoming condensed versions of our true selves, and living lives that are completely unfulfilling.

Eventually, discontentment becomes our standard mode of operation.

This discontentment leads us to self-medication via food, as we believe this to be our only “escape” from our misery. For some, it’s the only source of happiness experienced throughout the day.

As I noted previously, you can apply this concept to some of society’s more widely accepted forms of distraction and superficial medication—booze, drugs, sex, attention from others, gambling, shopping—as they provide a quick hit of exhilaration that distracts us from everything else.

The same level of understanding and acceptance is not usually applied to food.

There are additional layers of complexity with food, too.

We HAVE to eat to survive—there’s no getting around this fact. We can go “cold turkey” with the others, but we have to engage with food on a regular basis.

Additionally, in most Western cultures and societies, food is widely available, making it incredibly difficult to avoid. If food is a person’s “drug of choice”, they’re fighting an uphill battle right out of the gate.

These challenges don’t mean it’s impossible to overcome them, but I do believe they (hopefully) foster additional understanding for those using food as a coping mechanism.  It’s complicated.

What To Do

As we can see, the emotional layers associated with food run deep for many, so the healing or unraveling process is equally as nuanced. There’s no “one size fits all” approach.

However, every single person benefits from introspection, honesty with themselves, and a willingness to address the root cause. 

1.     Introspection—meditation and journaling are widely available to almost everyone, so this is a great place to start. Dedicate yourself to becoming familiar with your internal landscape to better confront and understand what’s going on beneath the hood.

2.     Honesty—when following Step 1 above, you may find yourself wanting to justify or neglect whatever bubbles to the surface. This is common! And very understandable. However, it doesn’t serve any of us in the long-run. Commit to being radically honest with yourself, but ensure you’re being equally as compassionate with yourself too.

3.     Address the Root Cause—it might take several iterations of the first two steps to arrive at the root cause, or there may be several (which is common). The awareness itself is a huge help, but action also needs to be taken to address it (them). Don’t let yourself off the hook by telling yourself, “I don’t know how or what to change though”, or some other fear-based narrative. The faster you begin to take action, the faster you’ll uncover what does or doesn’t work for you!

Binge eating isn’t a surface level issue, and it certainly isn’t one derived from a lack of willpower.

The causes are layered and nuanced, so the remedy is equally so.

The introspective path may not sound as sexy as a cookie-cutter program that promises to teach you how to finally stick to its diet rules, but it’s the only way to experience lasting change that will actually improve—not only your relationship with food—but the way you interact with life, too. 

Behaviors Over Outcomes

Outcomes are fun to fantasize about.

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We envision ourselves with the bodies we want, the money we’ll have, the relationships we’ll be a part of, and the freedom we’ll experience when we’re no longer obsessing about food and exercise.

Honing in on our visions is important—absolutely. We won’t know how to get “there” if we don’t know where we’re going.

However, we also need to focus on the action that will lead to those goals. And, more often than not, these are actions that we apply consistently over time.

Otherwise known as habits.

The foundation of a healthy relationship with food, fitness, and mindset is determined by our behaviors.

Yet, the vast majority of people are spending all of their time obsessing about the outcome. 

It’s a colossal waste of time, and it makes us feel like we’re making progress, when in reality, we’re often not moving the dial at all. 

We’re caught up in the fantasies and vision boards in our minds, and it’s easy—tempting even—to believe that one day, our vision will magically become a reality.

This is a common misconception associated with manifestation, which is a very popular concept these days.

I adore this concept when it’s fully encapsulated, as it involves getting crystal clear on what we want to call into our lives and then taking aligned action towards those visions.

Doesn’t sounds like rocket science, but it can be incredibly impactful.

However, most of us spend our time shooting fish in a barrel and hope our dreams will magically come to fruition, but that’s not how it works.

Our actions and behaviors—aligned with a clear vision—make our dreams a reality.

 Developing a sound foundation based on impactful and consistent behaviors doesn’t sounds as sexy as the dream body or the relationship with food you envision in your head, but it’s the only way “there”.  

I know it sounds overwhelming—and like a shit-ton of work—to start from scratch and completely rebuild your relationship with food and exercise, but there truly isn’t another way.

The process, the behaviors, and the consistently applied actions are what dictate our future outcomes.

Once we accept this truth and settle into the process, the outcome we’re seeking will arrive with significantly less stress.

Every single time I’ve lost weight in the last several years, my focus was never the outcome, but rather my behaviors and mindset associated with food and exercise.

Conversely, whenever I gain weight, it’s because I’m not grounded in my mindset and behaviors.

And this is the case with my clients, too.

While it’s important to understand where we’re going, we can’t neglect the process of getting there. It is EVERYTHING!

It’s the key to making these changes last long-term, to loving ourselves along the way, and to actually enjoying the process.

Try shifting your focus to the process rather than your goals, and see how that changes the game for you!

Afraid of Freedom? You're Lacking Self-Trust

The look I give when I’m feeling skeptical AF. Can I really trust myself?

The look I give when I’m feeling skeptical AF. Can I really trust myself?

Freedom can be a really scary concept for people, and not just when it comes to food.

As I’ve mentioned before, the rest of our lives are VERY intertwined with our relationships to both food and our bodies. 

A recent theme with clients, myself, and my social circle is the concept of self-trust when it comes to freedom.  

Oftentimes, we have either convinced ourselves or have been convinced by others that we don’t have the capacity or ability to self-regulate.

That we aren’t to be trusted.

That we need rigid rules and guidelines to dictate our behavior.

That we’ll go off the deep end and find ourselves in a dark hole of destructive behavior if we’re not ruled by an iron fist (or list of dietary rules).

But will we?

The short answer is no.

We have the capacity to tune into our own intuition, to reflect on our behavior and motivations, to be honest with ourselves, and to adjust our actions and decisions based on the outcomes of previous ones.

In order to accomplish this, we first have to be open to the idea that we can, in fact, trust ourselves.

Note that this doesn’t mean we immediately trust ourselves, but we start by accepting the idea that we can trust ourselves.

You know, that whole “open mind” thing.

Sure, the beginning is rocky, and self-awareness is absolutely essential, but the end result is a solid understanding of:

  • our own motivations

  • our own hierarchy of values

  • what we’re willing to sacrifice (or not)

  • what we’re willing to accept for ourselves

  • if the goals we believe to be ours are truly our goals

  • and much more

In order to be open to the idea of regulating our own behavior and trusting ourselves, despite our primal instincts and ego-driven thoughts, we have to reject the notion that we should fear ourselves.

Many of us have been told from every angle that we must defer to others to make important decisions for ourselves, so it’s no great surprise that our faith in our own decision-making has eroded.

As you read this, you may not be thinking of rigid diet and food rules—at least not in isolation.

Perhaps you’re thinking of how you’ve outsourced your decision-making related to:

  • The path and timing of major life events (marriage, children, buying a house, etc.)

  • Your religious or political values

  • Your sexual preferences

  • Where you live

  • Your career path

  • How you choose to spend your free time

  • What your relationship looks like to others

This is all valuable information!

As I stated above, our relationships to food are often a reflection of other areas of our lives.

In order to develop greater trust with food, we need to develop greater trust with ourselves everywhere in life.

It all works in tandem.

So—let’s say this this hits home for you, you realize that you have a pattern of deferring to others when it comes to making decisions in your life, and you realize that you’ve subscribed to the false notion that you can’t trust yourself to make the best decision for yourself.

How do you start unraveling this narrative? 

By purposefully and intentionally granting yourself more freedom.  

The only way to develop self-trust is to throw ourselves into the arena, gather feedback and data, self-reflect, come up with another strategy, and go back in with another attempt.

We just need one small win to get the ball rolling—we need inertia to begin the process of believing that we’re capable.

Examples of Turning into Your Own Intuition

If you typically read articles, magazines, Instagram, or ask others what foods are best to eat, commit to answering this question for yourself.

What feels best to YOU in this moment? How much of this food does my body truly want?

 If you typically ask your family what you should do when it comes to your career, tune into what your own intuition is telling you.

Which decision feels the most light and peaceful in your own body?

If you don’t believe you’re capable of choosing the right relationships in your life, ask yourself how you feel when you’re around this person/people.

Are you having to convince yourself they’re right for you, despite feeling uneasy or insecure? Or do they feel aligned with who you are and where you’re going on a deeper level?

If everyone in your social circle is drinking alcohol at an upcoming event, you don’t want to partake (or at least not heavily), and you doubt your ability to practice moderation or abstain—challenge yourself to make the best choice for your own well-being.

Am I making this choice to please myself or to please others? Will this cause myself harm in order to mitigate some brief discomfort? Which decision puts my well-being at the forefront?

These may seem small, or they may seem like monumental challenges.

Either way, they’re proof that you can trust yourself to make decisions about your own life and your own body.

And if you “fail” your first few attempts, commit to stepping up to the plate again and again.

Every single one of us is capable of developing trust within ourselves, and the importance of this can’t be overstated.

There is absolutely a time and place for expert and external advice, but this should be coupled with a strong sense of self and personal intuition as our foundation.

Trust that you know so much more about what’s best for you than you think you do.