7 years ago, Mary walked into my office. After years of caring for her own children and everyone around her, her physical and emotional health had taken the last seat on the bus. She was tired, wrung out and emotionally eating and drinking her way through her days on sugar, low fat carbs and diet drinks. I cannot remember the catalyst for her to pick up the phone and schedule an initial consultation with me but I do know she wanted to lose 25 pounds and make some sense out of the decades of chronic dieting that had sent her on a wild roller coaster ride of counting, depriving, weighing, approving and disapproving of her body. She wanted help sifting through the confusing and frustrating messages about how to lose weight healthfully and be happy in her body.
She shared openly how desperately she needed a break from the layers of responsibilities she had physically and mentally piled on herself because she always felt guilty saying “No” to anyone who asked for something from her.
I was immediately drawn to her feisty inner fire. She knew what she was doing was no longer working and something needed to change. There was an inner spark. An openness. Her heart and mind were ready and willing to do what it takes because she was at the end of her rope. And because of this, she came to me for guidance + accountability, and there began our 7-year journey together.
Fast forward to present, I now see Mary once a month. We’ve taken some time off here and there. Some seasons we worked on really heavy, hard, deep and painful things and other times we combed through the light-hearted but stubborn process of consistent meal planning to keep herself in a healthy rhythm amidst a full life. What she desires at this juncture is mainly accountability and considers me one of her people for that.
This week, she was in my office. While I listened to her speak about things, my insides welled up with so much joy for her. Over the years, she’s peeled back the layers of her false sense of responsibility for and to others; she’s reframed and owned her story and created new meaning about painful events and loss in her life; she eats with pleasure and has relaxed into herself in truly beautiful ways. She’s rediscovered her voice, something lost in childhood, and she’s taken risks and released the guilt when saying “no”, if it wasn’t truly in her heart to say “yes”. I witnessed a woman who is more relaxed than I’d ever seen her. She’s humming along in her body (25 pounds lost withOUT dieting!), found the weekly exercise routine that truly fits her needs and desires in this season of life; she’s more confident in her decision-making and she’s become her own advocate in health and life.
What’s not to love?
Sitting in front of me was a transformation I had to share with you. Why? Because she’s an inspiration for every woman that after years - even decades - of chronic dieting, chronic busy and chronic fatigue, putting yourself last - it's possible to break those cycles. And maybe you need a dose of that inspiration today. Because it's going to take some work. Notice I said 7 years! WHAT?! Does anyone talk about this in the health and nutrition world? Not really. These days it's all about the quick fix, but in reality, doing the hard work does take time and intentionality. Mary created time and she was intentional about finding the support to get to this place. The results speak for themselves. With respect to her entire story, I won't go into detail, but know that she put in the time, found the right support and it paid off.
With that said, here are a few things I’ve witnessed as powerful transformers in Mary’s journey that might inspire you too:
There Are No Quick Fixes
This is a marathon, not a sprint. Anyone who says you can get where you need to go in just 30 days is misleading you. Mary had decades of thoughts, feelings and beliefs that together we unpacked layer-by-layer, season-by-season. Slow & steady. This is helpful to know so you can reevaluate your expectations especially when things don’t shift as quickly as you think they should. In a time where everything around us happens in an instant (i.e. electronic everything, messaging, texts, emails, transactions), it’s helpful to remember that we are not machines and we operate on a much different plane. Healing is holistic. You can change your diet to lose weight but don't expect your triggered relationship with your mother to improve simply because you started eating kale. The day will come when you're on the phone with your mother and she triggers you deep inside, and the first thing you want to grab is ice cream or chocolate. In other words, healthy eating is a superb place to start but it isn't everything.
Which is why our two programs, the 14-day Fall Reset (opening in a couple weeks!) and a 28-days to Calm Your Cravings Self Study course help jumpstart the journey for you. These programs don't do it all for you but certainly get you moving in the right direction. And when the 14 day Reset is over, we give a number of ways to continue the accountability for yourself. We also invite our women back every season to Reset with us. Mary has enjoyed these two programs with us and continues to come back to the Reset again and again. Why? Because we never “arrive”. Our journeys are constantly evolving.
Ditch the Diet
In my 14 years of doing this work, I have not discovered one woman who has found peace within herself and joy in her journey while counting calories, points, fat grams, weighing, playing food games or exercising solely to burn off their meals. And isn’t that what we’re truly looking for when we want to lose weight? Peace within ourselves and joy in the life journey? I’d rather have peace & joy over an ideal number on the scale any day. For Mary, it was a slow but steady process of reframing the idea of dieting. In my experience, most women diet because they think that’s the only way to lose weight. It’s simply not true. In fact, 98% of all people who lose weight on a traditional diet will gain the weight back (and more) within 2 years. It’s why I love the 14-day Reset. It is a perfect foundational combo of education and to learn a way of healthy eating without dieting. In the process, you'll see that you can lose weight eating delicious food and having pleasure doing it, no dieting, no counting necessary. Can I get an "Amen"?
Mary amped up the quality of her food, adding in delicious balanced meals with real food. Fruits, vegetables, clean meats, friendly fats. Instead of opting for low-cal salads and diet soda at a restaurant, Mary learned to ask the questions: “What sounds good to me?" and "Does this option nourish me?” Instead of “How many calories does this food have?” And I work with so many clients who, when they begin to do this, have a much more pleasurable dining experience every time.
Mary learned how to truly trust herself when it comes to food and eating. Many women diet and use calorie counting to manage weight simply because they don’t trust themselves. They don’t trust their “will” and their urges and their desires to communicate fullness in a nourishing way. It all feels edgy and cut loose (i.e. I’ll eat that whole pan of brownies if you give it to me.) But over time if you can sit with your body and listen to her, re-develop a relationship with her, you don’t need calories to tell you when to be full or be at a healthy weight; your body will tell you when she’s satisfied and had enough. Besides, if you simply focus on dieting to lose weight, you might miss a valuable opportunity to listen in and connect with a deeper part of you that desires to release stored emotional energy that no diet will ever successfully release. Give it time and listen to your body. She’s your ally and she’ll communicate needs and desires in a beautiful and healthy way if you give her a chance. When you can relax into this process, true magic happens and you'll never want to diet again. Ask Mary, she doesn't diet anymore and she lost 25 pounds and has kept it off.
This was a big one for Mary. Isn’t it for all of us? She was having a stubborn time getting moving, so she hired a personal trainer and kept that going for years (and also felt very guilty about it at first but did it anyway!). If she didn’t have that accountability, I honestly don’t think she would have been doing much exercise at all and I know she would agree. That said, after getting in a rhythm and meeting many of her health goals, while she loved her trainer, she was growing antsy for something new. She mustered up the courage to try some new activities and found some things she loved. It’s certainly hard to break that mental belief that you have to sweat it out and burn a certain amount of calories to be fit and/or lose weight. Now she no longer meets with a personal trainer, but instead enjoys Pilates several times a week. It’s a group activity, still with the same level of accountability, that she enjoys very much. What I love here is that she took empowered action and made something happen. She didn’t wait for her motivation to kick in to “do it all herself”. She called the trainer and got started. Which brings me to my next point.
Owner vs Victim
A huge cornerstone in the work that Angelle and I do is the distinction between being an owner (creator) and a victim. It’s basically a paradigm for the way you view yourself, the world and others. Victims use blame, shame, resentment, old stories for why they don’t get results. They find excuses and reasons for why things aren’t going the way they intended and see themselves as a victim in any situation. The kids, the job, the husband, the finances, the sports schedule, the past…
In contrast, an owner is a creator. An owner embraces change (even if it's not ideal change and sees opportunities. An owner chooses to be filled with gratitude. (These are really big concepts which is another reason to remember that it’s a marathon, not a sprint.) Owners choose responses based on their values and vision regardless of how they feel.
“How can I nourish myself amidst this full season of life?”
“When will I sit down for lunch during this very busy day?”
“How I can enlist help and delegate because I can’t do it all myself?”
"What time will I grocery shop and cook around my full time job and/or busy after-school schedules?"
They exercise ownership by taking empowered action. I challenged Mary's belief system around being a victim at nearly every session and she seized it like a ladyboss and did the work to reframe her experiences.
There are so many other things we worked on during our 7 years together, but these are the ones coming to me today, so I trust there is a dose of inspiration in here that you really needed to read today. Put on your "owner" hat and be inspired in your journey.
If there's anything that resonates with you, Angelle and I always love hearing from you. Simply reply to this email and tell us. If you have feel a deep resounding YES to nourishing yourself from the inside out; to discovering more ease, calm and confidence in your food and body journey, we'd love the opportunity to support you. Our programs are linked on our website here and for one-on-one private sessions, you can find me at jilltanis.com and Angelle at angellebatten.com.