As I have been creating my new program over the last few months, it’s really become clear how my philosophy has evolved. That’s the thing about beliefs. They are choices, they are subjective, they are not absolutes for everyone forever, and that includes you.
My individual beliefs make up my philosophy, my theory that acts as a guiding principle for how I show up in my life. It started one way, and it has expanded and shifted and changed and simplified and strengthened over time, and I’m sure as I learn and have more experiences, it will continue to change.
An untrue philosophy
Once upon a time, I learned that my body was more than just the vessel that carried me around in the world. I learned that it had moral value that there were right bodies and wrong bodies. That there were acceptable and unacceptable bodies. That bodies were to be looked at and viewed by others and ourselves and that how they looked is where their value came from.
I didn’t realize at the time it was happening. Still, my little brain that was a sponge, primed for learning and making sense of the world, picked up on those messages from my family, culture, peers, siblings, and I started to perceive that my body needed to be fixed and manipulated and fought against, and hidden.
That was the beginning of the belief that my body’s size, shape, and aesthetic was what would provide me with good feelings, like confidence, pride, and happiness.
I just knew that if I got “thin enough” or “skinny enough,” I would then be allowed to feel those feelings that I wanted to feel.
That was my philosophy for about 20 years. Unfortunately, it wreaked a lot of havoc.
It sent me on countless diet plans and bursts of exercise obsession. It caused me to feel self-conscious the majority of the time. I was always conscious of how I looked and what people would think about it, even when they weren’t there.
I stayed in at times, missing out on social experiences because my outfit didn’t look right or made my body not look right. I starved myself and then overate. I stayed away from forbidden foods and then overate them when given a chance. I thought about food in my body every waking moment.
I was fixated on my appearance, and I never felt it was good enough. After I had my last baby, I reached a fork in the road. I started to question this philosophy. I recognized that I hadn’t ever, no matter what the scale said, no matter what diet I tried and succeeded at, even that I never actually got “thin enough” to be happy.
I’ve been temporarily successful at getting to my scale goals (I say temporarily because I never stayed there for long). But even when I reached the “right number” and was showered with compliments on how my body looked after my weight loss, I didn’t feel happy.
So, my philosophy that getting my body “right” was the answer to all of life’s problems didn’t seem true.
This place where you realize that what you have been believing is true may not be, where what once drove your life and told you what rules to follow starts to seem like a lie. It’s unsettling and freeing at the same time.
If you were in this place where you are questioning long-held beliefs, you’re not alone in feeling uncomfortable or untethered even. The foundation under you starts to shift, and you feel the instability in that.
You know that the way forward is to pave a new path for yourself that you’ve never been down, and that feels scary. You can’t go back because you can’t unknow things. I wasn’t happy in any body. That was true.
That meant the scale wasn’t the solution.
So, if that was true, then how could I be happy?
A learning journey
I spent the next seven years on a mission to love myself and find happiness no matter what body I was living in.
This was pre-social media, pre-Instagram self-help gurus, pre-podcasts, so I had to old school go find answers and inspiration. I had to go to Barnes and Noble, like, drive there, and go inside and look for books, like paper ones that you have to hold and turn the pages of.
I read a lot, many, various books on lots of topics. I started to research food, like, what’s in our food, and how it affects our bodies, whole foods, and nutrition.
I remember one book that had a profound impact on me at the time was Portia De Rossi’s memoir. I was really into Ally McBeal in the 90s, and I loved her. Reading her story of her life and her eating disorder, and her healing opened my eyes in many ways.
I didn’t have an eating disorder in the clinical sense, but my eating was certainly disordered in many, many ways, and I resonated with how she felt her value was in her size and how painful it was for her to be rejecting her own body.
I remember her talking about how as she was healing, she looked down at her thighs at one point, a part of her body she’s always despised, for their size, and she felt grateful that they allowed her to move around in the world, and run and walk her dog.
That was such a foreign concept to me – to be grateful for my body instead of mad at it.
I worked so hard for nearly a decade to just accept me. I gained weight over that time, but I just kept trying to accept myself through all of it. Instead of waiting to have the right body to wear cute clothes, I just decided to dress how I wanted to dress.
Cute clothes come in all sizes, so I decided just to accept and buy the size that I was. I wore swimsuits in public and just owned how I looked. I ate what I wanted. I didn’t restrict anything. It was pretty much night and day from the past two decades of my life. There was a lot of freedom in just letting go.
Then, one day, I went to sing in my car, and I couldn’t hit any high notes. It was just air coming out, and it went on for months. I discovered that I had nodules on my vocal cords caused by severe reflux, which was a result of my diet and weight.
So, I came to another crossroads. My philosophy of accepting myself and eating whatever I wanted came into question.
In order to heal my voice and all the ways the reflux was impacting my life, I would have to focus on food again. Was I willing? Did I want to go back to paying attention to what I ate?
Well, it took me all of five seconds to decide I did, and so I did an intense elimination diet for nearly a year.
I healed my reflux. I improved my sleep, my ability to exercise, and as a side note, lost weight. It was a very different experience than any other time I had done it because this time, it was about health and quality of life, and not about how I looked.
I found it very fun to look that way. I found the weight loss very peaceful because I viewed it from a compassion and wellness standpoint rather than from punishment and chasing value standpoint.
From here, I found my way to coaching, decided to become a coach myself, and then decided I wanted to help other women lose weight with these new skills and tools that I had.
So, my philosophy in this season developed out of what I had seen in hindsight. That I had changed my body by changing my thoughts, that when I came from the belief, I want to feel better, I want to improve my health and my life rather than I want to look better and improve my body’s appearance, that the weight loss felt easier, and not like I was white-knuckling it to some magic destination.
And then, I came to a realization that the focus was still mostly on how my body looked. I mean, yes, I was super happy with how I felt, and I hadn’t started on the path to look different, but you know that was a side benefit of my healing my reflux and learning to manage it. But the way my body changed and looked became the real result.
So, my philosophy, change your thoughts to lose weight and look the way you want to started to crack a little bit. Because it’s ultimately still about how we look, and even though my body happened to be aligned with how I wanted to look or thought I should look, that wasn’t true acceptance because it was still about how I looked.
So, that’s how my philosophy has been bending and shifting over the past couple of years.
How do I truly love myself just because I am?
Not because I finally look right. Not because my body’s an acceptable size. But because I am a human in this world, waking up every morning trying to learn and grow and be myself. I am doing my best, working hard, navigating tough emotions, raising my kids, running a business, trying to help other women, making mistakes, being imperfect.
This is the work that I’m engaged in.
This is my philosophy today: humans are valuable, period.
We can accept ourselves fully AND want to focus on improving our health and longevity, which can mean working to lose weight.
There is no right body, though. There’s only the body that’s right for you. There is only what is right for your body, and only you know what that is.
We are all worthy of love, especially from ourselves, and if we can learn to love ourselves even imperfectly, that is the noblest cause we can engage in because it helps us love more fully everywhere else in our lives.
I know my philosophy will continue to evolve and change as I do. That is the beautiful thing about the opportunity to be humans with our amazing human brains. We are ever-expanding our ability to think about what we think to shift our beliefs, discard old thinking and open up to new ways of seeing the world.
If you are ready to start your permanent weight loss journey, watch my free video on how to lose the first five pounds — and keep going.