Why I Devoted My Life to Working With Eating and Weight Issues

“To be nobody but yourself–in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else–means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting.”~E.E. Cummings

“While learning body hatred from many different sources, we absorb and adapt to the rules of what is acceptable. When we begin to break free of body hatred, we are breaking the rules. Consider if a woman said, “Yeah, I’m pretty okay with my body.” Many would eye her suspiciously. Why? Because she dares to break some very powerful rules!”

At age 12, I was told I was too fat, and no surprise, I went on my first diet – the Alpine skiers diet. I lost a chunk of weight (as many “virgin dieters” do) and of course, gained it all back. So I went on another diet. (Oh, and, like many of you, hindsight and a few pictures reveals I was not fat at all.) By age 14, my life was completely entrenched around food and the scale. I read every book about dieting and nutrition. I went on the Atkins diet (the first time it was released it didn’t work any better than it does now). When I was 16, my mother took me to meet with a Registered Dietitian. I left that meeting with new levels of hopelessness. She simply did not ‘get it.’ But that did not dissuade me from the goals I set when I was 12–to be thin, or the goal I set at 14–to be a dietitian. After all, if I had enough knowledge, I would be able to get thin. On the contrary, my struggles got worse. Why, with all the knowledge I gained, was I not able to lose weight? Why, with all the dieting, did I keep gaining weight?

I will never forget when the major professor for the program called me in to tell me I was too fat to be a dietitian**–I would be a poor role model. I don’t recall, but I bet that was worth a few binges! Possibly she thought I didn’t know that it was uncool to be fat, and that by telling me, she would get me to lose weight? Shheeesss! Well, a degree in nutrition did not help. Maybe a degree in exercise would. So, off I went to get a masters degree in exercise physiology. As you may know by now, that knowledge did not help either. I was still crazy as a bug regarding food and weight.

Over the years, I began to understand that the problem was not with me, but with the diets I kept going on, with restricting food intake. Slowly, over time, I began to devise a new way to approach food and weight, an approach with which other professionals were beginning to experiment. This phenomenal nondiet approach was the cornerstone of my recovery from food and weight issues, and has become the basis of my professional work. My life’s passion (one of them) is to help others break out of diet prison and get back to the freedom around food and body that is so rightfully theirs. And for the past 20 years, I have devoted my work to helping women and men heal from eating and weight issues, including those with eating disorders. My life and work are validated each time I help someone avoid or shorten the pain I went through. It is the most incredible experience to be a part of another’s healing journey. I appreciate the trust my clients place in me as they begin this journey. I have learned a great deal from them over the years. And watching them walk out of diet prison, knowing they will never go back, is incredible! That is why I do this work!

** I ran into this professor, a dietitian, at a major conference recently. Not only had I just presented at this conference, but I was attending a book signing for my first book, and you know what she said to me? You guessed it, “Oh it looks like you’ve lost some weight since college.” (I wish I’d had the nerve to say,”Uh, yeah, I quit doing what you taught me to do– diet and watch my weight–and began eating intuitively.”)

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