DITCHING DIETS TO FIND FOOD FREEDOM
“My Body Positive helps you examine your relationship with food and gives you the tools to change it. The workshops go beyond mindful eating, they help you see there is more to life than what you weigh.
I’ve got my life back, my relationship with food and myself is much better than it was. It’s massively down to the person Lisa is, she’s so inspiring and easy to talk to. It’s a very supportive environment. I soon realised I was wasting so much time and energy worrying about food.”
Missing out on life
Approaching 50, Christine knew she wanted to ditch diet thinking. As a mother of two and part-time nurse, she was feeling more and more invisible. Disappointed with what she saw in the mirror, Christine felt she was missing out on some aspects of life.
“Feeling self-conscious stopped me doing things with my kids. On holiday, I avoided taking them swimming. I sat on the beach fully clothed, whilst others around me, all different shapes and sizes, wore swimming costumes. I couldn’t face a swimsuit, because I felt horrible.”
Christine’s negative self-image held her back from staying fit. “Two years ago, I decided to do the Couch to 5k programme. I was running 3 miles three times a week, but felt discouraged, partly because I kept injuring myself. My main reason for training was to lose weight. But when I didn’t see any change, I didn’t carry on.”
Constantly critical of herself, Christine resolved to make a lifestyle change to tackle her weight.
“It’s bonkers when you are eating out of control. To eat when you’re not hungry, then to feel guilty about why you did that. When you’re in that diet mentality, you have a panicked, nauseous feeling when you get on the scales. I felt like I’d tried everything."
Shifting from diet mentality to healthy attitude
When she spotted Lisa’s My Body Positive workshops, Christine was intrigued by the concept of mindful eating so she signed up for the Taster workshop.
“I went along with the idea that if I could learn to eat mindfully, I would lose loads of weight."
Over eight weeks, Christine attended the Food Freedom and Body Acceptance course with women who had experiences and thoughts similar to hers.
“They were upset about their weight, but I was thinking, ‘there’s nothing wrong with them!’ It helped me realise how hard we are on ourselves and how much energy is wasted, worrying about weight.”
As the course continued, Christine learned practical tools to change her relationship with food and her perspective.
“Having that time to talk openly about it with people who know what you’re going through, you learn so much. We all get busy; our food habits can become automatic. In the sessions we looked at, “why do I want to eat what I eat?” and how to enjoy food without the negativity.”
Her My Body Positive group discussed wearing clothes to make you feel good. This made Christine see how shopping was related to her self-worth – she didn’t feel she deserved to buy anything nice for herself. “It’s always difficult when you’re a certain size. I’m becoming much more realistic. Before, I would look at things in my wardrobe that didn’t fit and feel bad about myself. Now, I’ve been taking things out of my wardrobe and getting rid of stuff that doesn’t fit. Why hold onto clothes I might never wear again? I’ve chosen a few new things instead.”
Her mindful eating breakthrough
The biggest changes for Christine happened organically, because unlearning diet thinking, improving your relationship with food and your body image is a process. She realised that the numbers on the scale don’t really matter. Then her mindset shifted to see food as one of the things in life to enjoy. She says, “When you’re out at a restaurant, it’s liberating to look at a menu and think ‘what do I want to eat?’ instead of choosing what you ‘should’ have.”
She recognises how important it is to stop and think before she automatically reaches for food. “I pause to check my appetite before starting to eat. And when eating, I notice how full I am getting. I’m more aware of my needs; I haven’t changed my diet that much, but I don’t binge as often. I try to see myself how other people see me, rather than criticising myself. I’m still a work in progress and that’s okay.”
Educating the younger generation
Since attending, Christine has ditched food anxiety in favour of her new more relaxed outlook at home. “I want to foster a healthy attitude in my kids and not pass on habits that were ingrained in me. I never talk about dieting around them or say I can’t have something. Instead, we talk about our bodies needing a variety of nutrients, I remind them it’s all about balance. Even occasional sweets aren’t ‘naughty’ food.”
Christine is also getting fitter. “I’m running again because I’m enjoying feeling strong and the mental headspace. It’s no longer about weight-loss, but about getting out and doing something for me. I feel more comfortable, self-assured and at ease with myself. I’d recommend the Food Freedom course for those who’ve reached a moment when they’re looking for an alternative to diets. It helps you examine your relationship with food and learn tools to change how you feel about your body. I admit, I did go along in the first place hoping to lose weight, but it’s helped me realise the non-stop superficial nonsense isn’t worth it, there’s more to life than what you weigh.”
FOOD FREEDOM WORKSHOPS
We meet at the same time each week for 8 weeks to talk and generally have a great time! It's very liberating when you realise you have a safe space in which to explore your issues and perspective. They offer a genuinely life changing opportunity for you to deal with your food and body image concerns in a supportive, friendly environment where change can REALLY happen. A result like Christine described above. Not by dieting or body transformation, but by changing the way you think!