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Here’s a personal story from many years ago: I looked in the mirror. There I stood – me and my extra fat. What had happened? How did this happen? I was 75 pounds over my natural weight. My once healthy and slender frame, was now buried beneath a coat of lard. I melted into tears. Then, I did what most women do with their extra flesh.

I began to obsess over my weight.

I made up stories in my head :

…about how I was now worthless
…about how I couldn’t be happy
…about how I was out of control
…about how I now had a “weight problem.”

Over the next decade I focused on “solving the problem.”

I’m the type of woman that has always been able to make things happen.

So I attacked this problem much like I had everything else in my life: hard work!

I am an intelligent, resourceful woman. Why couldn’t I figure this out?

My life mission became losing weight.

I went after my extra tissue like a ninja, except – unlike the movies – I never won.

I fought, struggled, cursed, and tried to beat the fat off.

Some of my tactics included

  • Food deprivation
  • Overexercising
  • Diet pills that made my pulse race
    (despite the fact that I have a heart condition)
  • Various diet programs.
  • I read every book on the market about dieting and nutrition.
  • I spent hours watching those stupid infomercials that promised 6 pack abs in 6 days.
  • I joined Weight Watchers

But, the more I focused on my “problem,” the bigger it became (quite literally).

As the toxic cycle went, I would lose weight and then gain it back.

At one point, I became “Kate Moss skinny.” And I cried.

You know, that malnourished, bones protruding, “only eating lettuce” look.

Through my battle with weight, I developed an eating disorder. This is when the real darkness of a weight struggle began to cloud my once happy life.

Where was the happiness I had planned for? Where was the promise of confidence and excitement for life that I was assured I’d have when I lost the weight?

Fat. Skinny. I was still miserable.

Instead, I was afraid, confused and exhausted.

What if it comes back?
What if I can’t keep this up?
Is this my life forever?

After white knuckling it for too long, I’d eventually turn to chocolate chip cookie dough.  Especially while watching Golden Girls (they seemed to go hand in hand for some reason)

And, of course, there were the Cheetos.

…..And many episodes of ER fantasizing about George Clooney.

Weight isn’t the key to your happiness.

Do you ever think that if you could just lose weight, everything in your life would be amazing?

What I eventually figured out is that despite what’s on the scale, your life is pretty much the same, except you just weigh less.

That’s why lasting weight loss (and joy) is an inside job.

What matters is that you find peace of mind.

When you do that, you’ll reach your “happy weight” with ease.

Fat is not the enemy. It is simply the messenger delivering the message

With each diet and binge, I was rudely ignoring what it was trying to tell me.

Throughout my journey, I slowly began to discover that the extra tissue was not the enemy. It was simply a symptom of something much deeper.

One day, I made a decision to stop the dieting. Believe it or not, it was not an easy decision. I was addicted to dieting, and I couldn’t imagine my life without the highs that I would feel when I thought I had found the next new miracle.

Yet, I was sick of the lows.

When you give up something that has been a huge part of your life, even when it’s unhealthy, there is a huge void. You’ve taken away your crutch and you must learn to walk on your own.

I replaced dieting with introspection.

I wanted to discover the cause of my abnormal eating behavior instead of addressing the symptom.

Turns out, my extra fat was never the problem. In fact, fat is neutral.

Extra flesh on your body means nothing more than what you make it mean.

Far too many women make it mean that they are failures, not good enough and hopeless.

That’s where the true problem lies.

When I took away the dieting, I realized that the struggle had always been the beliefs and thoughts in my own head.

So, I had a conversation with my extra weight.

Here’s what my fat had to say:

“I’m not the problem.”

The fat on your body is not the cause of your problem. It’s the effect.

When you go after excess weight without treating the cause, it’s like treating a fever with Tylenol without addressing the bacteria causing it. As soon as you stop the Tylenol, the fever comes back, and so will the weight.

Some key deeper issues I needed to start addressing was why I was using food to cope with my life, eating without even thinking or numbing out with donuts.

Here’s what my fat had to say:

“I don’t thrive in happy environments.”

Many people have it wrong. They believe that losing weight will make them happy, so they make themselves miserable trying to rid their bodies of fat. But, as Abraham Hicks says, “You can’t have a happy ending to an unhappy journey.”

For me, fat thrived in my misery. Negative emotion was like a petri dish for extra flesh. Why? Because I would eat to not feel it.

Making my life about weight loss was keeping me focused on what I didn’t want, and the more I focused in that direction, the less happy I was. When I began to focus creating joy in my life versus losing weight, the fat lost its medium for growth. It had no reason to stay.

Now, please remember that I am talking about my personal journey. I know people who are over their ideal weight and extremely joyful. However, for me, I noticed that when I focused on managing my emotional life and feeling my feelings, I started to feel happier.

And, my ideal weight was the result.

Here’s what my fat had to say:

“I can’t protect you.”

People gain weight for many reasons, but for many women, it’s often a subconscious way of protecting themselves from getting hurt or attention. They view it like a coat of armor.

But, fat is not steel. It’s not impermeable.

Fat is just extra tissue. It’s neutral. It can’t protect. It can’t not protect.

I realized that fat was what I made it mean, and I didn’t want to use it as an excuse to not live my life fully anymore.

Here’s what my fat had to say:

“I don’t want to fight.”

Fat is innocent. It’s just extra tissue.

Yet, when I looked in the mirror and saw my thighs rubbing together or the muffin top “spillage” over my jeans, I saw war.

So, I fought, resisted and declared war on my own body. These are the very actions that led to a dark battle for over a decade with my weight constantly fluctuating.

This is why I’m not a fan of shows like The Biggest Loser. We treat our bodies like the enemy, torturing them with unrealistic diets and obscene workouts that aren’t sustainable for a lifetime.

When I stopped fighting my fat and started honoring my body, the extra flesh disappeared.

Here’s what my fat had to say:

“I am your body’s ‘junk drawer’.”

Fat is where the overflow is kept.

When you overfeed your body more than it needs, fat is simply the system that was designed to hold your extra stuff.

That’s all.

When I started eating to the point of elegant satisfaction, my junk drawer began to clear out.

Here’s what my fat had to say:

“When you connect, I’ll leave.”

Contrary to what many people believe, our bodies are not designed to be overweight. While we come in all shapes and sizes and have different genetic blueprints, an extreme amount of extra fat is not your destiny.

As a coach, I hear all the reasons that a person blames his/her weight issue – genetics, hormones, menopause, etc. (My first excuse was my pregancy) As a nurse, I know that these do play a part in our biochemical processes, and as a woman approaching menopause, I do know that adjustments must be made. Yet, we weren’t destined to be fat. When you learn to listen to your body and honor her needs instead of fighting with her, it’s relatively easy to maintain your ideal weight.

In other words, excess fat doesn’t live in a place of connection.

Here’s what my fat had to say:

“I can’t store feelings.”

The vast majority of women I work with are overweight because they don’t want to feel their emotional life. That was me. With a new baby, working night shift as a nurse, plus all the responsibilities of life, I was overwhelmed. I didn’t see a way out, so I ate to avoid dealing with the intense pain that I was feeling. It was my one source of pleasure that was always there.

The hardest part of connecting with myself was the intense emotions I felt, the emotions I had avoided for years by reaching for a Klondike bar or stuffing myself with mac-n-cheese.

It all came up, and I won’t lie, it was hell to sit with.

I am so clear that I ate to numb. I didn’t want to feel the pain, sadness and overwhelm.

But, fat cells don’t store feelings. The fat is often just evidence of not allowing yourself to feel.

The feelings are still there, even if you’re able to numb them for awhile.

But, there’s this immense beauty in finally feeling — as you experience the painful feelings, you also open yourself up to feeling more joy, self-pride and excitement than ever before.

You begin to unravel all the beliefs in your head that keep you powerless. And, then you start to gain your power back.

A woman who isn’t afraid to feel her emotions is a woman open to the most amazing life.

When I listened to what my fat was saying, I became a new woman.

On the other side of my struggles with weight, it’s so obvious to me now.

If you want to achieve lasting weight loss and live an incredible life, you must become a different woman {Click to tweet}. 

You can’t continue being the same person, thinking the same thoughts and doing the same things and expect different results.

Just last week, one of my students emailed me:

Tonya, I have lost 20 pounds since working with you. For the first time in fifteen years, I finally understand how to manage my weight, and it’s all because I’ve learned how to feel my life and manage my mind. I’ve become a new woman — one who honors and listens to her body and is no longer afraid to feel. What’s fascinating is the more I allow negative emotion, the happier I’m becoming.



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