As soon as I could feed myself, I ate and weighed too much. Growing up as a “morbidly obese” child, I was told countless times what I was “supposed” to do about my weight issue: eat less and exercise more. I was forced on diets by doctors, nutritionists, and dieticians all throughout my childhood — the first time I went to Weight Watchers I was 9 years old — but nothing ever lasted more than a couple of weeks. To me, giving up the freedom and control of what I put in my mouth was simply not worth any weight loss. During my sophomore year of college, I finally committed to getting the weight off as fast as possible, and proceeded through the process like a warrior in battle. I cut calories, eliminated foods, tracked everything I ate, and exercised intensely for a year. Everything worked the way I wanted it to, and the weight fell off fast.
I was ten pounds shy of my goal weight when a nutritionist explained to me that I hit a plateau because my body was in starvation mode. She told me that’s why I was losing my hair, freezing all the time, constantly dizzy and nauseous, unable to sleep, and lost my menstrual cycle. She saw what four doctors had missed: this new set of physical symptoms was a result of extreme undereating. No one ever warned me at 300+ pounds that it was even possible to eat too little, but now I was instructed to eat more and exercise less. Totally mind blowing!
I tried my best to follow these instructions, but my body took over and was the one in control now. My conscious decision to eat a little bit more turned into an uncontrollable experience of eating way too much over and over again. Then, every time I tried to diet or detox or meal-plan my weight back down, my body would retaliate against me, relentlessly and uncontrollably. The yoyo dieting went on for more than a year and my weight continued to climb each time. I was panicking about being 300 pounds again, growing closer and closer to that number as the months passed.
I didn’t understand. How is it possible that I just had all this discipline and determination to rapidly lose 150 pounds while living in a sorority house, and now all of a sudden I couldn’t get myself to stop eating? I knew that despite what the diet industry may say, I didn’t just wake up one day having suddenly lost all my willpower. I got down to work and began a very serious investigation process that would change the course of my life and my health forever.
I began seeking answers and was able to uncover this truth: what most people just see as a “weight issue” was actually an intricate biological, psychological, physiological, emotional, mental, spiritual, environmental, cultural, and social problem to unpack. There were so many reasons, both simple and complex, that explained to me how and why 95-98% of people who lose weight on a diet end up heavier than they started. I also made sure to get the lowdown on that lingering 2-5%, too. Here’s a hint: it’s not that diets don’t work – they do – it’s that diets can’t ever end. I personally didn’t have or want that option for myself, so I had to figure out an alternative route. How am I supposed to eat and live for health in this body without gaining all the weight back for the rest of my life?
While I battled my body to stay thin on the physical dimension, I simultaneously went through the unexpected struggle of facing a lifetime of suppressed emotion. Similar to the experience of any recovering addict, without being able to use eating or dieting to cope with my feelings, I was left with no option but to actually feel them. I had zero awareness that my eating habits had kept me feeling safe, numb, and protected for the first 20 years of my life, but I couldn’t deny how sad, scared, vulnerable, and unsafe I now felt in my own skin. At the same time, I was finding tons of literature on how deeply connected my obesity and eating habits were to my emotions, stress and childhood trauma. I began to step back from the process and observe myself. I didn’t feel my feelings, I ate (or starved) them. Everything started making sense. If the biggest problem you have with food is that you’re an emotional eater, it’s not a problem you have with food; it’s a question about how you’re coping – or not – with your emotions.
I applied everything I learned to conduct an experiment on myself. I learned how to prioritize my holistic health – especially my mental and emotional health – over my weight. I acquired skills, tools, practices, and resources to connect and strengthen the bond between my mind, body, and soul. With guidance from experts in this area, I learned how to rewire my mind, change my belief systems, listen to my body, and evolve into a place of self-love. I stopped dieting, and I stopped getting on the scale. I began to see and understand myself as a complex and multidimensional human being rather than a mere body. I grew happier, I grew healthier, and I grew freer. To my absolute amazement, it all worked. Without any form of dieting, restriction, controlling, or forcing, my weight naturally decreased and stabilized. Now that I knew how to cope with my emotions and stress in healthy ways, I also felt better, lighter, and freer emotionally and spiritually. It has now been more than seven years of effortless weight maintenance and I’m happy to say I will never own a scale again!
I am now a Licensed Social Worker (NYU), Integrative Nutrition Holistic Health Coach (IIN), and Certified Personal Trainer (ACE). I offer trauma-informed online coaching services to help people of all genders integrate body, mind, and soul for holistic weight loss and lifelong health. Using the knowledge and insight I’ve collected through my personal, professional, academic, and spiritual experiences, I have been fortunate enough to help others awaken from the war against themselves, break through into freedom, and find peace in their bodies and lives. I have five years of experience working one on one with clients, and I am ecstatic to finally move into the virtual space for online coaching. It’s time to make health accessible for everyone.