The first thing you lose on a diet is your sense of humor.
Women often ask: “Tonya, how did you lose the weight?” I think the better question is: “How did you finally find peace?” Here’s the thing: I’ve lived in The Zone, been to South Beach, tried to become a “Skinny Bitch”, nearly killed myself taking phen-phen, been a raw foodie (in turn, screwing up my digestive system), went on the Master Cleanse and went to such extremes as developing an eating disorder.
Yes, I lost weight. In fact, I went from a size 20 to a 2.
The end result? I was still miserable.
What? I thought that the weight loss would dramatically change my life. Wrong!
Honestly, I felt more upset and personally dejected than when I began my obsession with losing weight– which came back, inviting the vicious, soul-sucking cycle to repeat itself again and again.
That was my life for over 10 years.
My life (and body) is very different now.
A month ago, I contemplated on how long it had been since every waking moment wasn’t devoted to my body image, food or weight anxiety.
I was in my kitchen cooking a beautiful meal for a dinner party using fabulous ingredients like butter and cream, and I didn’t once think: “I shouldn’t be eating this,” or “I’ll start my diet tomorrow.”
I went out for a brisk 15-minute stroll before my guests arrived without feeling guilty that I should have gone to the gym or that my little walk didn’t result is a calorie deficit.
I went to bed elegantly satisfied from an amazing evening of food, wine and conversation without feeling bloated or full of self-hatred.
I got dressed and didn’t curse my body, cellulite and curves, but enjoyed putting on my most beautiful outfit.
There’s only one way to describe how I felt: I was at peace.
In that moment, I discovered something:
It wasn’t my body or weight that I was unsatisfied with. It was my internal world – my self-worth, confidence and emotional maturity that really needed the work.
I’m not here to brag about my extravagant and peaceful evening. No, I’m telling you this because if you are a woman who struggles with food, weight and body issues, I want you to know that I understand more than you realize.
I know the pain of not wanting to go buy clothes because you hate to see yourself in the dressing room mirror.
I understand what it’s like to walk into a room full of seemingly perfect bodies and immediately want to shrink and hide.
I know the mind chatter that can take over and spoil a delicious meal with friends.
I understand what it’s like to avoid beaches, pools or any occasion that requires a swimsuit.
I know the shame of eating an entire bag of cookies and then beating yourself up about it.
And, I also know that this is no way for a woman to live.
So, if any part of my story resonates with you, let me offer you some advice:
1. Get rid of every diet book you own.
Seriously. Diets keep you stuck in lack and deprivation, inviting in the perfect storm for weight gain and self-loathing. I threw out every single one of them and bought beautiful cookbooks instead.
2. Stop waiting to lose weight.
I tell my clients “Wait = Weight.” When you deny yourself the experiences you desire, you’ll most likely fill that void with food. Can you see how this creates a never-ending cycle? Want to break it? Pick something you’ve been putting off doing until “one day” and commit to doing it within the next three days.
3. Develop a true love and appreciation for food.
I used to think that because of my love for food, I’d never be slim. How wrong I was. When I started channeling my inner Julia Child, I understood what a true love affair with food was all about. You don’t abuse something you truly appreciate. You slow down and savor it. Yes, I am living proof that you can eat delicious food, enjoy wine and chocolate AND create a body you love.
4. Live as the woman you desire to BE as if she were already here.
This is one of the most powerful tools I teach. I lead women through the School of Self-image to help them uncover their ideal self. Instead of waiting until weight loss, I offer tools to begin embodying your ideal woman now. Think this doesn’t work? One of my clients lost four pounds effortlessly during the first week.
5. Develop your own personal style.
I’m a huge believer that a woman’s self-expression is critical to her life success. Your personal style isn’t just about what you wear but how you show up in your own life. When you begin to feel that what you present is representative of the woman you desire to be, confidence grows. And, where there’s confidence, there’s power.
6. Practice the Art of Self-Adoration.
I thought that I could love my body after I had whipped it into a certain size. Then, I got to that size, and the self-loathing was still there. The lesson: you can’t love something that you’ve abused. What I’ve learned is that self-love is a choice. It’s one that you make every moment. A woman who adores herself wants to take immaculate care of herself. So…
7. Diversify your Pleasure Portfolio.
Human nature is to follow pleasure and avoid pain. So, if your main source of pleasure is food, then it’s understandable why you overeat. A lack of pleasure in a woman’s life is a modern-day epidemic that is leading to depression, lack of vitality and low life returns. So, just like a sound investment portfolio, diversifying your pleasures will yield greater rewards. And, if you are a part of my world, you can betcha bottom dollar that this will be huge focus!
8. Become the connoisseur of your body.
Since most of us live in our heads, most of my work with clients is around teaching them how to listen to their body. Within it lies a wisdom that is far more intelligent than any diet you’ll ever find. I found my happy weight when I stopped following insane diets and became the connoisseur of my body and life.
9. Create rituals and routines.
In today’s society, women are so scattered, there doesn’t seem to be anything to ground them. French women taught me the importance of rituals and routines in a woman’s life. Whether it’s sitting down to have three beautiful meals a day, morning journaling, or a decadent nighttime routine, create something that brings you a sense of home.
10. Infuse your life with quality.
One of my core philosophies is the importance of quality in a woman’s life. When I refer to quality, it’s not just what you eat. It’s about the thoughts you groom, the people you surround yourself with, the clothes you wear, the books you read, what you watch, and basically anything in your life.
11. Get the support you need to develop the emotional maturity (or savoir-faire) to deal with your life.
Diets treat the symptom of weight. If you want to create lasting results, you must be willing to heal the deeper issues that drive you to overeat and battle against your own body. It was only when I hired a coach that I finally was able to break through old beliefs and patterns that I couldn’t do alone.
Think this doesn’t work?
Well, at almost 40 years old, people often say that I look better than ever. The reason is that I feel the best I’ve ever felt in my body. No, I’m not a size 2. I have stretch marks for days. And, there are occasions when I still overindulge.
You know why I feel great?
Because, when it comes to food and my body, I finally found a way to peace. And, that is much more important than a number on a scale.
And, tell me in the comments below: Do you struggle with body stuff? What has helped you? Can you imagine a life of peace around it?
Peace and Love,
Live Your Life With Style, Flare, and Elegance
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