“So what did you do?”
At least a few times a week, I get that question from people who want to know how I lost weight. I give a different version of the same answer each time: I changed the way I ate and took better care of myself. That’s my short, social answer for what has been a revolution in how I live every facet of my life; not just how I inhabit my body.
Maybe I wasn’t what some people might judge as visibly overweight; in fact, I hear “well, I thought you looked just fine” quite a lot. I may have looked “just fine” but I didn’t feel that way. Over a span of almost four years, I adopted a baby, bought and sold a house, entered a second round of graduate school and a road to clinical licensure.
In June 2011, I was approaching 40, exhausted, kind of pissed off, and generally disconnected from myself and my body. I knew I was about 25 lbs. above my “feel good” weight and I couldn’t figure out how I got there. I was a smart woman: I knew what good food choices were and I tried to exercise consistently, but I was continually stuck.
So what did I do?
I didn’t do it alone. I asked for help and and I found her in Evansville, Indiana. Susan Hyatt is weight loss coach I began following online in early 2011 and by the late spring, I knew I wanted to enlist her help.
We entered a coaching relationship for four months and my body and mind woke up in ways I never imagined. What did it come down to? We examined the inhibiting thoughts I had and how those informed behaviors that lead to my weight gain. She had very little interest in my calorie consumption or food choices; it was all about the power of my mind.
And to borrow a phrase from Susan, learning this was like winning the lottery. The weight was a distraction that kept me from setting other areas of my life on fire with my energy and passion.
As time passed and I shed four or five pounds each month, my relationships changed in a beautiful way. There was a deeper sense of connection to my husband and my children. I became more clear on what the mission of my work was. A steady relationship with a girlfriend completely blossomed into one of the most significant friendships of my life.
Most of all, I entered a very loving relationship with myself. I decided how I wanted to feel every day and what I needed to think to get there. I learned to really lean in and listen to what my body needed for energy and made choices accordingly. I found exercise that I loved and couldn’t wait to get to throughout the week. I didn’t “give up” any foods, but I did change when, how much and why I ate them. They weren’t rewards for a day of dealing with distressed clients. I didn’t eat because I was bored.
I stopped telling myself the lie that I ate because I was hungry. I was hungry, alright, but it wasn’t for food. And hear this: when I did have days where I turned to food as a salve for stress or boredom, I didn’t self-flagellate and say I’d failed or I would never get it right. I became a scientist in my life and was more curious about my actions and less punitive.
I still go to Stevens and Stevens and get a BLT (no mayo) and don’t label it as “good” or “bad.” I don’t eat them every single day, but I make sure I know why I want it (I’m hungry and I love bacon) and then I enjoy it. I shared a bottle of Moscato with my best friend at dinner when we were out of town last month and enjoyed every bit of it. It was to celebrate one another and enjoy our time together; I wasn’t hoping it would drown out pain or wash uncomfortable feelings away.
Everything has changed. And I can’t help but let that spill over onto everyone I touch who wants to know how or why because they — you — need to know it’s not too good to be true. It is accessible, healthy and joyful; there is no punishment. There are no “bad” foods; there are only painful thoughts to question.
Want to know more or how I could help you on that journey back to yourself? There’s so much more to tell than these 800 words. I’d be overjoyed to be a partner in that work. You know where to find me.