How to leave dieting in the past

How to leave dieting in the past

 

So you’ve been at this dieting thing a while eh? Maybe it started back in middle school or maybe even earlier. Sometimes you lose weight, and other times you don’t. Heck, you might even gain weight. 

I’ve dieted for over 10 years, and I’ve only lost about 2 pounds. Before you judge me and believe the lie I didn’t work hard enough or just got “lazy”. You may want to reserve those thoughts. Because if, like me, you’ve also tried diet after diet or the latest healthy lifestyle trend, you know the weight loss doesn’t always come and it doesn’t always stick around.

 I’ve lost more than 2 pounds over the years (at one point up to 40 pounds). But I’ve managed to gain almost every single pound back.  

I did all the things. I ate less and moved more. I tried calorie counting, flexible dieting via macro counting, weight watchers, and just about everything else you can think of.

 Some of those things worked, for the short term. But most of them did not.

On the surface I lacked self-esteem and confidence

I hated the way I looked. But on the inside I was even more uncomfortable because of who I saw in the mirror. Not only did I not like how I looked. I didn’t who I was.

I didn’t show up for myself. I treated my body with so much abuse. 

And Like most women, I thought weight loss was the answer. I thought if I could just lose some weight, I’d like me so much more. 

The problem was that losing the weight doesn’t actually change who you are. Sure on the outside I was different, but inside I was the same girl. The only difference was  I was in a body that was more acceptable to the world around me. 

The praise and worship that came from being in ‘such good shape’  or being so disciplined made it almost impossible to ignore. On the one hand I felt more confident because I finally felt beautiful and like I was desirable for the first time ever (big lie by the way). 

On the other hand, I was still insecure. I compared myself even more than before. I was afraid of ‘losing it’. So I locked myself in another kind of prison. This time my body wasn’t the jail cell, it was the tightly constructed rules, thoughts, and beliefs I built around food, eating, and exercise.

About a year and a half ago, as I was taking my before pictures yet again. And gearing up for my next workout program and meal plan, I realized I was getting ready to start another diet. 

It hit me like a ton of bricks: IF this was a healthy lifestyle, why was I always starting over?

I hadn’t actually created a lifestyle. Stress and rules ruled my life around food and my body. The hardest part was, I knew I wasn’t  really setting the example for my kids that I wanted. Especially my daughter. 

My identity was still wrapped up in how much weight I could lose and keep off as well as how good I looked to compared to other women. How to (2)

I said good-bye to dieting + pseudo healthy lifestyles

As scary as it was to decide not to start my next diet, I knew I had to. I was tired of feeling like a total failure every couple of weeks when I would get off track with my meal plan or fall off the wagon.

I was tired of starting over.

I knew that If I actually wanted the healthy and abundant life I was created for, I had to leave dieting behind for good.

The first step was to break the rules I’d so neatly constructed around food, eating, health, etc over the years.

Then I gave myself full permission to eat food. All the food. Carbs, fat, candy, all of it.

Remove the food rules-entirely. There were no more ‘good’ or ‘bad’ foods. Just foods that honored me and treated me right. Sometimes that is the cookie and sometimes it’s not.

I had to learn new behaviors around food. Not just someone else’s new rules to follow when it came to eating or food.

I went off the rails

I ate all the foods I had been so good about restricting. It was like my rebellious teen came out and ate every single thing she’d been denied for so long. 

I gained weight, and I felt pretty uncomfortable in my clothes. All of the old chatter came back about how bad I looked. This, by the way only made me feel like crap in my skin. 

I thought about quitting this new process. 

Even though my scale didn’t work, I knew my weight was creeping up.

Then one day…My off the rails eating subsided

My weight leveled off. I wasn’t obsessing over food for the first time in years.

Eating didn’t stress me out.

I had finally taken hold of the reigns in my life, and stopped giving away my power to someone else via another diet, workout program, and ideals about how my body should look.

I’m confident and comfortable in my skin in a way I never was before.  And it has zero to do with my weight, how much cellulite I have, or the size of my clothes. In fact, I’m the same weight now as I was when I first started dieting. My jeans might even be about the same size. But you know what?

I’m one hundred percent a new woman. My body doesn’t look the same. And I sure as heck don’t feel the same way about myself. That is something the scale can and never will deliver. How I feel about myself isn’t tied to my weight or what I look like anymore. 

My healthy lifestyle fits me and my life. It allows me to do all of the things I want to do because I’m healthy, strong, and have my energy back.

Hands down, the best part is I’m showing my daughter how to be fiercely herself. There is nothing quite like that feeling. I promise.

The question now is, what are you waiting for?

You’ve got one wild and beautiful life…there is no more time to be wasted hating your body for what it’s not. The time to join the Radical Self-Care Rebellion is now!

Sign up for weekly pep talks to your inbox! Fill out the form below, and I will add you to the inner circle of rebels 😉

xo,

Alisha

How to use habits when your motivation fails

How to use habits when your motivation fails

 

Motivation is what gets you started, habits are what keep you going. – Jim Rohn

 

Motivation. We’ve all had that sudden spike to get up and take  action at one point or another in our lives. For most of us, that surge of motivation doesn’t last more than a few days or weeks if we’re lucky.

 

Why is that? Well, as the quote above suggests, it’s a lack of habit. The motivation to create change is there, but the follow through is not. Motivation alone is not enough to keep you going when the road gets tough or when the results take longer than you expected. Habits, on the other hand make taking consistent action towards your goals not only possible, but almost easy.

 

Easy in the sense that when you’ve got habits in place, you don’t even have to think about what you’re doing.

 

Why does your brain like habits?

 

Your brain likes habits because the brain is all about efficiency and effectiveness. Habits allow your brain to turn off, and therefore, burn less calories because it doesn’t have to think about what to do next.

 

The brain always looks for ways to make things easier and more efficient. If you’ve ever had a day where you feel mentally drained, it is because your brain had to work overtime to think about what you were doing. As a result your brain was tapped in the energy department. The brain doesn’t like that.

 

Our brain likes simplicity. It likes routines. Think about the last time you drove home, you probably didn’t have to think much about the route you were going to take. In fact, you may have missed a majority of the drive home because you were essentially on auto-pilot. This is the power of habit at work.

 

The brain also likes habits, because they help you avoid decision fatigue. You are forced to make hundreds if not thousands of decisions each day-from large decisions to micro decisions. Some you may not even be aware of.

 

Most women meet that quota trying to get dressed in the morning. And if not then, they certainly do when they spend time and energy agonizing over what to eat. Especially if you’re steeped in diet culture or the diet mindset.

 

Your brain will look for every opportunity to create habits as a shortcut. This is regardless of if the routine/ habit you’ve developed is ultimately helpful or not. Hence the existence of your bad habits..

 

Do all of your habits contribute to your lifestyle love?

 

Not all habits are created equal as you’re probably aware. Think for a second about all of your habits. There is a good chance you have come up with more negative habits than good ones. That’s normal.

 

Bad, good, better, and best habits exist. Some serve you and the lifestyle you’re looking to live. Some don’t.

 

The problem lies in the habits we keep and the ones we have a hard time sticking to. If you’re wanting to create change and discover more lifestyle love in your life, then figuring out how to arrange the habits in your life is so crucial.

 

Beyond knowing how to arrange your habits, you need to get clear on which habits are serving you and your best self, and which ones are consistently sabotaging your hard work.

 

To get clear on which habits need an upgrade and which ones don’t try this exercise:

 

-Get out a piece of paper and list out  the habits you’re aware of.

 

* You may have to think about your daily routine to see if you can notice some of the sneakier habits you’ve developed. For example, do you tend to plop down in front of the couch with a bag of chips after a long day of work and mindlessly binge Netflix until the chips are gone?

 

– Next, you’ll want to decide which habits are helping you and which ones aren’t. Rank them either using a number system or with simple terms as bad, good, better, best.

 

-Lastly, decide which habits you believe will help you succeed that you don’t have in place.

 

A common mistake many women make is they focus on, and beat themselves up over their bad habits. Instead of focusing on changing your bad habits, think about which habits you want to create.

 

You don’t have to change every bad habit at once. In fact, if you try, it’s a sure fire way to make sure you fail. Just think about New Year’s resolutions. People try to change everything about their lives, and then wonder why none of it stuck.

 

The importance of keystone habits

 

Instead of overwhelming yourself  trying to change all your bad habits at once, start with one, and then go from there. Look back at the list you created, pick the one habit you know would have the most powerful impact on your life if you changed it. If you’re trying to improve your health, that one habit for you might be not using food for emotional comfort or getting in the habit of moving your body in some way each day.

 

Oftentimes when we create certain habits other ones seem to emerge out of nowhere. Sometimes all it takes is tipping over the first couple of dominos to create a cascading effect. When this happens, you know you’ve found a keystone habit. The more keystone habits you create, the quicker the results come in all other areas of your life too.

 

The problem is, you don’t always know which will be the dominos you have to start with. That is why it’s important for you to start with a habit you’re genuinely excited to create or are excited to see disappear as it’s not contributing to your overall lifestyle, and is definitely not creating a sense of lifestyle love in your life.

 

The next mistake people often make is not giving themselves enough time to practice creating the new habit. When they don’t see results in a few days or a couple of weeks, they lose steam, and go back to the behavior that wasn’t serving them at all. Be on the lookout for the quick fix mentality. Creating a sense of accountability for yourself is a smart move.

 

Look at creating new habits like a practice instead of a prescription. There will be days when no matter how hard you try, you’ll mess up. Dust yourself off and try again. Depending on how engrained the old habit is, it could take months to get the new habit to click for you.

 

Self-compassion, self-love, and grace will be huge in keeping you inspired to try again. Beating yourself up when you mess up, won’t.

 

Hacking the habit loop

 

Understanding the different parts of the habit and what you have to practice changing is helpful. This way you’re not wasting your time or energy, and can focus on what you have in your control.

 

Your habits have three parts. There is the cue, the routine, and the reward. The only thing you have to work on changing is the routine.

 

As humans, we are hardwired for pleasure. Our brains want to avoid pain because it sees pain as a threat to our survival. There was a point in time, when this was helpful, and at times still can be ie if you’re getting chased by a bear.

 

However, our brains in many ways are still pretty primal. Meaning the brain doesn’t do the best job at differentiating between an actual threat and a perceived threat. Think actual danger (chased by a bear) versus theoretical danger (being rejected).

 

Generally speaking, if something feels good or provides pleasure the brain perceives it as being good for us. While on the other end of the spectrum, if it causes pain (even if it’s emotional or mental) our brain wants to get us back to feeling good, at any cost. This means even if the habit is harmful, but provides an immediate sense of pleasure, your brain will seek that out.

 

Basically the brain is always looking for the reward part of the habit loop.

 

Let’s say you’ve got the habit of stress eating. Anytime you’re stressed, you eat. Regardless of if you’re hungry or not.

 

The cue might be you’ve just gotten out of a stressful client meeting at work or had a fight with your best friend. You feel anxious, on edge, upset, and end up migrating to the nearest cupboard or secret stash of your ‘feel good food’.

 

Looking at the scenario above the habit goes like this:

 

  • Cue: stressful meeting or fight with best friend, boyfriend, mom, etc.

 

  • Routine: find nearest source of ‘feel good food’

 

  • Reward: feelings of anxiety, edginess, anger temporarily subside.

 

You can’t change the circumstance, and you can’t change what you’re brain is seeking (pain relief). What you can control and change is the action you take after the cue.

 

In the scenario above it’s easy to see that the ‘feel good food’ will only provide  temporary relief. The pain will still be there after you’ve eaten your feel good food. That routine may even present other problems that you’re left to deal with down the road.

 

Now that you know on a basic level how habits work, you can take the habits you want to change from your list above, and break them down into the three parts that make up the habit loop. Decide what routine you want to swap in place of the current one. Then get to work practicing the new routine when the cue hits.

 

Focus on one or two habits to change at a time. Keep it simple, make it fun.

 

The power of habits will make or break you. It’s that simple. You are the sum of every habit you’ve ever had, every thought you’ve ever believed, and every belief you’ve ever held. If you don’t like what you see when you look at your life, it’s time to give some of your habits an upgrade, it’s time to give your mindset a makeover.

 

Hacking your habits is the first step.

 

How Ditching the Diet Changed My Life + How It Can Change Yours Too

How Ditching the Diet Changed My Life + How It Can Change Yours Too

Non-Diet Lifestyle Coaching

I’m not going to hand you a meal plan or protocol for how, what, or how much you should eat. I’m also not going to tell you how you should move your body. Additionally, you won’t find me cheering you on to just keep grinding to get the weight off. I’m not here to sell you on the next 12 week bootcamp or total body transformation. You definitely won’t find me promoting 21 day diets, detoxes, or other programs helping you create a more dysfunctional relationship with food, exercise, or yourself.

However, that wasn’t always the case.

My life before fitness

When I think back on my childhood, I remember being active as a kid. Whether it was riding my bike up and down my street with childhood friends, or throwing myself around in the field at recess pretending I would be the next world famous gymnast, I was a mover. As I got older though, I became less and less active. Most of my friends were busy with sports, but not me. My family couldn’t really afford to enroll me. Not to mention, my parents never emphasized the importance sports played in the lives of young girls. I’m guessing the latter is because they themselves didn’t know how much sports positively impact girls.

Instead of playing soccer or volleyball I pursued boys, drinking, and drugs. At that time in my life those things seemed to provide what I was looking for most. In the midst of partying I found pain relief, a place to belong, and even though ironic, confidence too. No matter how damaging those behaviors actually were. I needed to fit in. I wanted so bad to belong somewhere, to feel wanted.

I wanted so bad to belong somewhere, to feel wanted.

Not ironically though, the less active I became, the worse my lifestyle habits and my self-image were. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually I was broken, empty, and unhappy. When I looked in the mirror I hated what I saw. I hated how I felt about myself in my own body. I hated that I didn’t feel beautiful because my body didn’t resemble what society told me was beautiful.

This self-hatred spiraled into other dangerous and damaging behaviors around food and exercise.

Unhealthy role-models

Growing up I lacked positive role-models when it came to many areas of my life. Especially on the lifestyle front. On one hand I saw my mom using food as a way to cope with her own pain (a behavior I later discovered she learned from her mom). On the other hand, I saw a woman (my aunt) who was so afraid of being fat she would go to extreme measures to ensure that never happened.

During my early adolescent years I spent many days with my aunt. Her behavior became the standard by which I judged all others. Her standards for what was beautiful or acceptable became my standards. Because my aunt was so fearful of creeping over 112 pounds, I always thought that was the golden number I myself needed to reach. Dieting was normal behavior at her house. It still is, but today it looks more like mainstream health and fitness.

I found myself in my early twenties without a clue as to what a healthy lifestyle actually looked like. Left to try to figure it out myself, I dabbled with all sorts of supposedly ‘healthy’ behaviors. I tried gyms and diets. Detoxes and eating disorders. Nothing seemed to work… at least not permanently.

Success as a dieter

After trying and failing more diets than I care to admit; I stumbled on one that did seem to provide a temporary reprieve from the body I was living in.

Weight Watchers at the time seemed like a true God-send. Through the meetings (which I now see were a blend of community and fear based accountability) I learned a little bit about how to eat in a way to lose weight. Weight Watchers taught me how to manipulate and manage my caloric intake, even if it was just in favor of losing weight no matter the cost. However, unhealthy it was, it worked. I dropped about 15 pounds within the first few months. The scale continued to move slowly, and I saw the weight loss results I was desperate for. It was everything I thought I wanted.

Over the next few years I continued working on my “healthy lifestyle” through exercise and dieting. I picked up running and kicked my clean eating into high gear. I was smaller than I’d ever been. In some ways I felt more confident, in many I was still so insecure. You would have thought living in the thin ideal body would have had me on cloud nine.

The thing I feel compelled to point out, is that even at my smallest weight and/or size, I was still unhappy. I was still self-conscious. I still compared myself to other women and often still felt inferior.

The thing I feel compelled to point out, is that even at my smallest weight and/or size, I was still unhappy. I was still self-conscious. I still compared myself to other women and often still felt inferior. Here’s the thing about diets and all the healthy lifestyles we see on social media, yet, no one is talking about–there will never be a weight, size, or shape that will give you the confidence you desire. That kind of confidence has to come from within, and is available long before you ever reach your goals.

An up-side to diet culture?

However, messy my relationship with fitness and myself was, on the one side, I could see ways adopting healthier behaviors had helped me. Fitness had given me confidence and courage, not because of the size or the weight loss goals reached. Learning to live a fit life taught me to  believe in myself. Fitness taught me discipline and self-control. It taught me to persevere, set goals, and believe in myself in a way I needed. Pursuing fitness goals gave me the courage to try other things I never thought I’d do.

In 2011, I enrolled in my local university to get a degree in Exercise Science. This was one of those very things I never thought I’d do prior to getting into fitness. Though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do with my degree; I knew on some level it was going to be helping other women find confidence in themselves through fitness. The ultimate goal then, as it is now is to help them show up in the world around them as they were created to.

I graduated at the top of my class (another personal shocker). Full of excitement, I was ready to get out there and begin ‘helping’ women shed their body weight, body fat, and their insecurities. At the time, I didn’t realize you could shed your insecurities independent of body weight or fat. Looking back, I feel a bit naive in believing the lie that your confidence and worth comes from what your body looks like.

Healthy habits or diet culture?

Shortly after graduating I started a coaching business through a large and well known ‘fitness’ company. I got to work building my clientele. Running boot camps, and giving out meal plans like candy on Halloween; business was off to a great start. Every woman was put on a strict caloric deficit in order for them to lose the most weight in the shortest time frame possible. This is after all the standard set by the fitness industry.

Some of those women had success early on. Others didn’t. My solution at the time, was they needed to try harder. They needed to push themselves in their workouts more, they needed to be more compliant with the diet. Unfortunately, that is the same kind of narrow, diseased thinking that’s perverted what true health and fitness are. It’s important for me to mention this way of thinking wasn’t what I had learned in college. Rather it was what had been taught to me early on through cultural norms and media exposure.

I honestly thought I was helping these women create a healthier lifestyle. They were exercising more, more aware of their food choices, and how much they were eating. At the very root, I was only teaching them how to diet better thus promoting a more disordered relationship with food as well as themselves.

Leaving diet-culture behind for me and my clients

A couple of short  years into my coaching business I started to feel defeated in my work. My client’s results stalled or were non-existent all together. The method of try harder wasn’t cutting it. Not to mention, I was miserable on the diet hamster wheel myself. The final straw was when some of my own old food habits started to creep back in.

My obsession and food fantasies started back up. I’d ‘be good’ following my strict meal plan for a certain number of days. Then over indulge and call it balance.

You probably don’t need me to tell you this, but I felt like a fraud. In a moment, I realized not only was the life I was living personally a diet fueled by disordered eating behaviors, but was a lifestyle I was selling too.

Writing those words and reading them back to myself even now, I have to fight feelings of shame and guilt. The hard part is, so many fitness professionals or health coaches believe they are helping people with the same kind of tactics.

Mainstream health and fitness is really only selling diets and delusional ideas about what wellness, health, and fitness look like. Sadly, no matter how disordered or damaging the behaviors are, consumers of the health and fitness industry continue to clamor to it because it’s what they know.

Diet mentality and fitness pros

I’d be lying if I said I thought everything I did was horrible in those earlier years of coaching. In many ways, I was helping these women create some healthy habits, but from the wrong place. The intention was all wrong, and so was the methodology behind it. Unfortunately, I’m not the only health coach out there pedaling diets on their clients, and passing it off as a healthy lifestyle.

The demand is high for this kind of coaching. We still live in a world that sees being skinnier or smaller (no matter the cost) as the ultimate goal. Until we make a radical shift away from current diet minded approaches, we will always be fighting the same battle of food obsession and negative body image issues.

In order to make the shift, we need more practitioners of the non-diet approach to link arms and start working together. Just to be clear, non-diet isn’t synonymous with anti-health or unhealthy. It just means we don’t focus on weight loss or physical appearance as the primary goal. Instead, the focus is on cultivating healthy lifestyles through habit change, and a more holistic approach making fitness a thing every woman can achieve regardless of the shape of her body.

Just to be clear, non-diet isn’t synonymous with anti-health or unhealthy. It just means we don’t focus on weight loss or physical appearance as the primary goal.

Being smaller doesn’t automatically mean you’re healthier or happier. I found I was just as unhappy in my smaller body as I was in my larger body. The only thing that changed was the source of my unhappiness. Instead of being so consumed with trying to get skinny or shredded, the thoughts that occupied much of my mental, emotional, and physical energy was now focused on staying skinny and ripped. Either way I felt trapped.

Shifting to a non-diet approach

My strategy has very little to do with weight loss and fitness goals. Yes, my clients are still getting results. Yes, they are still reaching their goals, but they aren’t doing it using traditional methods. Instead of a complete lifestyle overhaul, we work on slow, sustainable changes to habits and routines.

We also do a ton of work around mindset. Because we’ve been drilled with diet BS for so long, we have a lot to unlearn. Instead of focusing so much on the outcomes (you know, the things we can’t control anyway), we focus our energy more on building daily, doable behaviors that promote holistic health.

Taking a non-diet approach means you reach your goals with more ease, and the results are truly more of a lifestyle with compassion, flexibility, and fit around the rest of your life instead of the other way around. You can absolutely reach your goals. And as a coach, it’s my job to help you do so. It doesn’t have to be painful or super restrictive. Your mindset around weight loss, your body, food, etc will have to change a little.

I’m fairly certain my former clients will not see this. I feel it’s important to apologize for perpetuating and promoting unhealthy behaviors and calling it health. I’m sorry for selling disordered eating and calling it a lifestyle. And I’m sorry for not being the coach they needed. The coach who would have pointed them to the research that says 95% of diets aka “healthy” lifestyles fail, and learning to adopt healthy behaviors regardless of weight changes is where it’s at. Most importantly I’d tell them they were beautiful just the way they were, and that they didn’t need the scale or a six-pack to tell them that.

Struggling to eat healthy? Here’s how to make it easier

Struggling to eat healthy? Here’s how to make it easier

 The struggle is real y’all when it comes to learning how to eat healthy…at least at first, right? It can feel so dang difficult and like you have to give up every delicious food you’ve ever eaten. This method actually might be what is keeping you stuck. Keep reading if you’re ready to make healthy eating a natural part of your life without deprivation. 

Here’s the deal, I had a horrible relationship with food growing up. Food was either used to soothe a deeper inner pain or it was an enemy to be avoided at all costs, replaced with diet pills and weight loss shakes. They sound like two extremes, and they are. Growing up, I bounced between different houses, and therefore saw different behaviors around food modeled for me. 

Confusion around food started in middle school. As if life isn’t messy enough when you’re hitting puberty, food was one more thing to be worrying about. It felt like I was  more focused and self-conscious around food and my body than the rest of my friends, but looking back now, I’m pretty sure we all had our own baggage we were trying to deal with.

Overeating became the norm, and sadly so did the guilt or shame that followed. I would eat because I was bored. I’d eat when I wanted to celebrate and I’d eat if my day was crappy. There was always some sort of food fight happening between my ears.

Don’t be fooled by the lie that getting ‘healthier’ or eating ‘better’ will somehow make all of these disordered behaviors around food disappear. It doesn’t work like that. Changing what you eat, but not getting to the root of the why or the how is like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound.

Until you really change your relationship with food, you’ll carry the same disordered eating patterns around from one diet to another.

In fact, the ‘cleaner’ I ate or the more health conscious I got, new disordered eating thoughts developed around food.

Eating healthy shouldn’t feel hard

One of the biggest problems I see across the health and fitness space is the idea that eating healthy should be hard and only those blessed with iron-clad willpower can succeed. It really ticks me off to see women feeling guilt, shame, or like they have to ‘cheat’ on their diets. Eating healthy should be just as natural as breathing, and when done intuitively, it will be.

Honestly, that kind of thinking is some of the most damaging. And it’s keeping you stuck. A healthy diet is full of variety. It includes both fruits + veggies and your favorite dessert on occasion. Most of us don’t feel like we have enough time as it is in every day. So why are we giving food so much real estate in our minds?

I’m not at all advocating you should eat anything and everything you want, or that you should give into your every craving. What I am advocating for is that you get in touch with yourself and figure out what a healthy diet looks like for you.

This means tuning out the noise from the diet industry. Instead create your own core values around food, and develop healthy habits, thoughts, and behaviors around food. Which is way easier said than done. I get it.

But the more reps you put in, the easier and the more natural it will become. I promise.

Eating healthy should be a part of everyday, normal life. As much so as eating an unhealthy diet.

 It’s time to establish a new normal around food. And here is where that journey begins for you.

Tune out the noise of the diet industry

There is so much noise about how we should eat, what we should eat, and what we should look like. Being bombarded with these messages make it hard to tune into what will actually work for you over a long period of time. 

One of the best ways you can start to drown out the noise, is to tune into yourself instead.

Self-awareness is the key to all change. I truly believe that. You can’t change what you don’t know isn’t working for you.

If you want to resist the external messages that don’t align with you, you’ve got to look inside and be willing to make some changes.

 Messages about willpower seem to be the common theme of mainstream fitness, but what happens when willpower fails? Relying only on your willpower to reach your goals is a sure fire way to set yourself up for disaster…as most of us have experienced at one point or another in the battle of the bulge.

Let’s be real for a minute–there is NO shortage of information out there. In, fact I believer there is too much diet information out there. As a result, we have forgotten how to eat.

Eating intuitively used to be, well, intuitive. Meaning we just knew how to do it. We didn’t rely on experts to tell us we needed veggies and fruits. Or to limit sweets and other processed foods. We naturally just knew what to eat, when, and how much of it. But somewhere along the line, we’ve given that inner power over and have silenced our inner wisdom about food. 

Learning to listen to your inner intuitive eater

You’re probably wondering if you can actually make intuitive eating work for you. That’s totally understandable, and I don’t blame you. If you’re like me, and have a ton of nutritiional baggage you’ve been carrying around, its normal to have doubts, fear, and anxiety. Heck, with all I’ve been through with food, I’ve often wondered if I have what it takes to teach other women how to health their relationship with food. But I’ve seen first hand how the process works. 

No matter where you are coming from on your food journey, you have what it takes to eat intuitively.

 Currently, it is quite normal to be food and body obsessed, but that is not how it’s supposed to be. We should be taking care of ourselves through food and exercise. Not making it one more thing to worry about doing “right” or being good at.

Being in the health industry I’ve questioned whether or not I’d be leading women astray by empowering them to question the health info out there. One of my beliefs as a coach is each woman should be confident and capable of making the best choices for herself. If I told you to play by our cultural rules and follow the leader without wondering where they’re leading, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a coach. 

Unhealthy food obsession

Deep down I sensed that obsessing over food and health wasn’t actually healthy. For so long though I went along with it because it’s a normal part of our culture.

I knew it was time to do things differently if I really wanted to step into my full power as the woman I was created to be. And if there’s a small part of you that truly believes you were made for more, then it’s time for you to do things differently too when it comes to how you approach eating.

Contrary to popular belief, people haven’t always been so food obsessed and body conscious. It’s time to establish a new normal around food and to stop normalizing disordered eating behaviors.

Eating healthy doesn’t have to be hard. Your body was made to help you eat in a way that nourishes you and gives your body the nutrients it needs. To move away from the diet noise, we’ve got to move closer to eating intuitively, building healthy habits around food, and establish our core values around food. 

Establish a new norm..here’s how I did it.

Ditching your beliefs around food can be overwhelming. I started questioning everything about food and how I interacted with it. One of the first steps in this process  was to look at my relationship with food–both now and in the past.

I had to get really honest about my behaviors when it came to eating. Where did the behaviors and beliefs come from? Slowly a food story started to emerge. I realized my beliefs and feelings about food weren’t really my own, but rather those of my family and diet culture.

After identifying my food story, I was able to start rewriting it bit by bit. I could take the information I had about my beliefs and behaviors around food up to that point and choose which ones I wanted to keep and which ones needed an upgrade.

Instead of listening to the noise and following someone else’s rules about what was healthy, I decided I needed to do what I’ve never done before:

Create a healthy relationship with food. Ditch the food rules and beliefs. And start from scratch. The first order of business was to rebuild the foundation with habits. 

Nobody said it was going to be easy

Not too far into this journey, it became clear just how much I’d internalized ‘healthisms’ and cultural norms around food as truth and the only way to be healthy.

Being mindful is hard at first, and it doesn’t deliver the sexy promises of main diet culture with quick fixes. In fact, the changes will happen on the inside long before they do on the outside. 

This way of doing things is still a bit radical, and is just a whisper in the noisy diet/ health world. That is changing though. With books like Health at Every Size  and Intuitive Eating,  there’s a wave of change on the horizon. 

As with anything, there are extremes on both ends (HAES and traditional diet culture). In my opinion neither are right. Both ultimately leave you powerless and in an unhealthy place with food and yourself. Ultimately, I believe you need to step up and take ownership of your health. Part of that is creating the system and the beliefs that truly serve you and your higher purpose in life.

AHA moments

Throughout this journey, I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve also realized I don’t have to accept what others have said or taught me about food just like in every other area of life.

I’m much more relaxed about and around food. Eating doesn’t feel like a chore or another thing I’ve got to worry about succeeding at. With healthy habits in place and being in touch with what I believe about food, healthy eating feels natural and so much easier.

You can still be healthy even if you’re not consuming all of the health information out there. In fact, I’d say you might even be healthier because there is less anxiety and worry. 

Learning to eat this way has given me freedom in ways I never imagined. I’m able to be more present at meal times and enjoy the company and the experiences because I don’t have the diet ticker running in the back of my mind. I’m not counting macros or points. I can just be in the moment, confidently.

 

 

Want to learn more about how I can help you ditch the diet mentality and actually start enjoying exercise? Get started here by clicking the link to set up your free consult call.

 

 

Learning how to love my body dimples and all

Learning how to love my body dimples and all

The pressure to be everything to everyone and look good while doing it was suffocating.
I felt like I always had to have weight loss goals, goals to get leaner, stronger. There was never a time I could enjoy or love my body as it was. It never seemed good enough even at my leanest or my lightest.
 
If only someone would have told me sooner..
You can love your bodies as it is.There is magic in learning to enjoy what your body can do NOW without waiting on the scale or the six pack to come through. It’s ok if you are happy ‘being’ who you are.
 
Society makes it seem so normal to always have a health and fitness goal to be working on. Often, this leads us to feeling external pressure to add one more thing to an already full plate.
 

Rejecting society’s message to fix yourself

With this messaging we forget it’s ok to be at peace with our bodies. There doesn’t have to be a struggle between taking care of yourself and doing all the other things you love to do. Living a healthy lifestyle should feel as natural as an unhealthy lifestyle. But that is not the message we get bombarded with.
 
As I started to grow restless with the never-ending pursuit of building the perfect body, doubts swirled in my mind. Was something wrong with me if I’m content with where my body is in spite of the fact it’s softer and bigger than it used to be?
 
Had I given up on myself because I wasn’t trying to lose weight or fat? Would I stop caring about myself?
So many false beliefs fill our heads when it comes to health and weight loss. It’s not your fault though. These are the same messages we get from health experts, fitness gurus, and even our medical doctors.
 
When I realized even at my lightest weight or my leanest I still wasn’t happy, something had to change. The truth that being more fit didn’t make me a better wife or mom was a blow, and I was exhausted from trying to micro manage every bite I ate. 
 
I started to question everything. So if it wasn’t about my weight, my body, or having/not having a goal, what was it about then? Could I be confident and content and present even if I let my foot off the gas a bit in my fitness area?
 

Ditch the dieting mindset

It’s the dieting mindset makes you feel like:
  • You’ve always got to be working on a goal.
  •  Fixing yourself in some way to fit the ideal body is normal.
  • Somehow you’re not as good of a person if you’re not 100% committed to your fitness.
 
There’s a false belief that you should  look like the fit ideal body no matter the cost. For most women, it’s literally killing them to reach this ideal of ‘healthy’ or ‘fit’. We’re told If you cave to society’s idea about what your body should look like, you’ll be golden. NOT true.
 
The further into the fitness world I got, the more black and white things seemed to be.
 
I lost sight of the fact I started working out and eating healthier to add value to my life. Not take it away.
 

Create a healthy lifestyle with ease

With a busy schedule like mine, I decided to do a little experiment. Instead of doing the nutrition thing and the fitness thing full out, I’d do the bare minimum and see how I felt.
 
I wondered how I would feel if I did the shortest workouts and stopped tracking my food. This was scary and totally opposite to the way I’d been living for several years.  
Would I lose strength? Would I gain a bunch of weight? Would I stop working out all together?
 
Here’s what I did…
Step one: decide on your minimum baseline. What things would I do everyday? And what would I stop doing? For sure I was done feeling guilty or like I should be doing more (this one topped the list). 
 
I felt anxious about throwing out the beliefs I had about how my body should look.
 
I  found myself body checking to see if I was still ‘good enough’, because I equated being lean with being worthy. Old diet minded thoughts would come back about my body. But I had to keep going. I had to remember I didn’t exactly feel better about myself even in my leanest body.
 

Worth the struggle

In letting my nutrition and fitness go a little, I realized I had more energy and time to go after bigger goals.
There was more time to be present with my kids and my husband.
I could enjoy life’s daily experiences more without being so self-conscious.
That seems counter-intuitive, I know. One thing people neglect to mention about living in the ‘fit ideal’ body, is there is a ton of pressure to maintain. Heaven forbid you gain weight or get softer in any way.
 
The pivotal moment for me was when I realized that I was still loved, I was still a successful lifestyle coach, and I could still be a good wife and mom even if I was overweight.  Most importantly, I was happier.
 
Even if I was doing the least possible in my workouts, I was still strong, still taking care of myself, and still as good of a person as before. Only now, with more energy, time, and freedom to enjoy this one, wild and precious life.
You’re not a failure if you decide you want to rewrite your story with your body. You’re brave.
With love and belief,
Alisha
PS. There are a couple of steps I need you to take if you’re serious about ditching the diet mindset.
1) You  can grab your free guide below. True transformation happens from the mind, and this guide is full of tools to help you ditch the diet mindset for good.
2) Schedule a free consult if you want to learn more about what working with a lifestyle coach can do for you.
How to get healthy if you can’t lose weight

How to get healthy if you can’t lose weight

Health at every size. Is that really a thing? I will be the first to admit I was skeptical about HAES  because I (like so many women) had a very narrow image of what healthy looked like.
 I thought health looked lean, strong, and thin. I thought that being obese was a disease.
And that if you’re overweight you’re also unhealthy.
 
Moment of truth, I’ve spent most of my life in the overweight borderline obese category.
 
Not because I’ve been unhealthy, but because I’m short relative to my weight. So why it was so hard for me to grasp the concept of HAES baffles me. 
The BMI, which our health seems to be determined by doesn’t take into account your lifestyle choices, your gender, or your lean mass. Both the medical community and the fitness industry seem to have forgotten is that your weight and your height don’t tell you anything else about the person or they lifestyle choices.
The terms overweight and obese used to wreck me. We’re taught that being either of those things is not beautiful, it’s not worthy, it means you’re lazy, and you don’t care about yourself.
 
The aha moment for me, and the moment those terms seemed to lose their power was when realized they were nothing more than arbitrary numbers.
 
You can be healthy no matter what the BMI says about you, and you can be healthy even if you don’t look like society’s narrow minded view. Your health isn’t determined by what you look like, but rather the habits, behaviors, and the lifestyle you choose. 
 
Your happiness and fulfillment does not hang on what you look like. It’s time we stop believing it does. 
 
 

Where many who follow HAES miss the mark..

 
 When I first started researching the health at every size movement, I was shocked to see some of the information out there. 
The messaging of some who follow HAES and its closely related Intuitive Eating spew about all discipline and self-control being bad is crazy. In fact, in the book Healthy at Every Size, the author Linda Bacon, PhD never says anything of the sort. She does warn against the dangers of continuing to believe dieting will work for you.
She also emphasized the importance of eating whole foods as much as possible, moving your body in a way that brings joy, and being intentional about the food choices you’re making. Which to some degree will require both self-control and discipline. Especially if you know certain foods don’t nourish you, but you still crave them.
Other harmful messages I’ve seen HAES leading ladies sharing is there are no such things as healthy or unhealthy foods, and essentially all foods are health producing. Again, I did not find this to be the message in the Health at Every Size nor to be true from a true health standpoint as a certified nutrition coach or my years of study in exercise and sport science.
I’ve even seen some supporters of the HAES movement encourage their followers to disregard healthy habits or behaviors. calling them restrictive or diet-y. Huh? 
Again, not the message I’ve seen from Linda Bacon or from the creators of the intuitive eating movement.
This is your superpower..
I am not one to believe we will be most happy or at peace if we just give into every whim and go for instant gratification. In fact, it’s been those times in my life where I end up being the least happy or at peace.
 
Just to be clear, I don’t think you can eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and however much you want without having to also make peace and accept the consequences of those actions. You wouldn’t act this way in any other area of your life, like your finances or in your marriage. So why would it be ok to act that way towards food?
I do think you are responsible for making mindful and the best choices in the moment when it comes to food. And sometimes it’s mindfully eating a slice of chocolate cake and enjoying it. Other times it might be skipping the cake and going for a walk instead.
 
 Your superpower lies in making mindful and informed decisions. Once you realize this, you can step into the role of expert of your life with confidence. 
No doubt, discipline used as punishment or as a measure of your worth is harmful. As is wearing it like a badge of honor or using it to judge yourself or others.
However, discipline and self-control used with compassion, grace, and love is powerful. Learn to harness that power, you will  make the best decisions for yourself.
 
 

It’s ok to be scared

Of course, leaning into the idea of health at every size is a little scary. If you’re anything like me, you might be wondering if you will be able to love yourself at any size. The decision to reject society’s idea of what your healthy body *should* look like is filled with doubt and anxiety. 
The fear of judgement or rejection based on what your body looks like is also a very real fear. Will your friends, family, and co-workers think you’ve  ‘let yourself go’ ?
My solution to these fears was to get crystal clear on my own definition of success, and my own healthy body. I believe that solution will work for you too.
We have a tendency to categorize everything as black and white. Good or bad. it seems when it comes to what a healthy lifestyle looks like, it is no different.
On the one hand you have people who have taken the HAES idea and have gone to the extreme of giving the middle finger to any sort of structure or discipline. While on the other hand you have diet culture supporting the idea that health looks a certain way.
Often we are uncomfortable in our ability to navigate and manage the gray area between the two sides, so we end up swinging from one end of the pendulum to the other.
Surely, it’s easier to just go from hardcore rules and restriction to binge eating on the weekends. It takes more work upfront to figure out how to listen to our bodies, how to care for them inside and out, and how to handle being uncomfortable.

 Is health at every size for you?

 
Like many women, I was doing all the “healthy things” and my body was revolting against me. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why all of a sudden I wasn’t losing weight or getting the results I once had.
Old disordered eating behaviors like food obsession started coming back. Monday through Friday I tried my hardest to be good on my diet, but the weekends were a pass for me. Saturday and Sunday were my days to eat without abandon and just start the diet back up on Monday.
 
I felt softer and fatter than ever. 
 
 Tired of trying so hard without anything to show for it, I knew it was time for a change, whatever that looked like.
 
You shouldn’t feel defeated because you’re not losing weight. 
 Almost as if a light bulb went off, it hit me. I’d been dieting again. This time though, it was more subtle and still looked healthy for the most part. This realization sparked questions in my head:
Could you be healthy and not look like it? Is it possible to do the same things (exercise, monitor food choices) and still get different results? Does the diet mindset exist?
 
I decided to suspend my idea about what healthy looked like for a moment. My focus shifted to effort and the consistency of behaviors over outcomes. Instead of tracking pounds lost, I celebrated the way I felt in my body.
This one mindset shift changed everything. At the end of the day, we can’t control whether our body will lose weight or not. Wee can control our effort, our attitude, and our outlook though. So why not focus on those things instead?
 
The thing that’s been the most surprising  I’ve found is I’m as happy now as I ever was when I was 9% body fat. I may even be happier. It’s easier to be more engaged in life. Meal time is more enjoyable too. 
 
Without the pressure of constantly micro-managing calories eaten and calories burned, I’m able to be more present when we sit down to eat as a family. And choosing what to eat has even become easier. 

Living a healthy lifestyle should be easy

Food is not meant to be a sin or punishment. Exercise shouldn’t be a way to purge yourself from an evening of indulgent eating.
As a culture we’ve lost sight of that. We’ve normalized the idea that living a healthy lifestyle is either only for the select few who happen to be disciplined enough to follow a diet or should feel tough all the time.
I believe there is a happy medium, and it’s up to you to find it for yourself. The good news is you won’t have to do that by yourself. I’ve opened up a few spots in my program, and would love to see if it is the right fit for you. Click here to schedule your FREE consult.
I can’t wait to see what you can accomplish when you step into your purpose in the healthy body you’re meant to have.
xo,
Alisha