5 steps to end emotional eating
Today is my birthday. I’m 32. And I’m in a particularly sentimental mood, so I wrote you a letter, something longer and more vulnerable than usual. So will you grab a cup of tea and just sit with me for bit?
The truth is that I’m feeling deep gratitude to “past Sarah”, a woman who has been in the fire for many years. She has found herself in the dark trenches of body hatred, the panic of addiction, the throws of love and the fight to healing. She’s cried and danced her way out of body jail, only to be thrown vigorously down on the pavement of life, her skull cracked open and the blood of her fear and shame pouring everywhere.
I have been torn apart and sewn back together more times than I can count. And not because my life is harder or more tragic than anyone else’s, but because I’m alive. And this is the journey.
My tragedy isn’t about a man or a sick child or about losing a parent too young, my epic, tortuous love story is more subtle and often misunderstood. I want to tell you about my body story.
To catch you up, I spent the majority of my childhood hating my body, feeling wrong and broken and fat. I blamed all of my shortcomings on my weight. It was the reason I didn’t have a boyfriend, get the lead in the musical or feel accepted by my peers. Supposedly my weight was something that was simple to solve with a healthy dose of willpower and the right diet, so I thought that every issue I was having growing up was an easy fix. But I couldn’t stick to a diet, and I didn’t have any “willpower”. It felt like someone was telling me, just walk to the other side of the room and your whole life will be different, but I just couldn’t move. How could something so easy be so hard for me? That question haunted me and made me feel like a huge loser most of my life.
In high school I was lucky to have two incredible boyfriends who tried their very best to help me see that I was beautiful and whole, but I just thought they were crazy and needed to get their eye glasses subscription changed.
In college I collected men like girl scout badges. Every guy who I could trick into kissing or dating me made me feel like maybe, just maybe I was worth something. Luckily, I was so embarrassed about my body that I wouldn’t ever sleep with anyone who wasn’t my boyfriend (even that took forever). Knowing my particular obsession with love and men, sleeping around would have been the disaster of the century. I’m grateful I dodged that life lesson.
Then one day in history class this hunky football player sat next to me and my whole body lit up. Up until that point, I didn’t know that my body was even paying attention to my life. She was just this dead, lumpy thing that held my clothes up that I had to drag around and deal with. But there she was – all tingly, alive and AWAKE. She wanted him.
My mind didn’t quite get what was going on. I usually went for super smart, hipster, skinny, super emotional guitar players. This guy looked like he’d been hit in the head too many times. He was too gorgeous to actually be smart and his nose was a few degrees off center giving evidence to a few concussions. And football players were all shallow anyways and only wanted one thing – sex, which was off limits because my inner thighs touched.
But my body was hooked, and she made me follow him to lunch, orchestrated run-ins and gave me the courage to actually become his friend.
Turns out that his broken nose didn’t hurt his intellect and he’s a genius, incredibly loving, passionate and very deep. He was my perfect match and if I hadn’t let my body come online during that part of my life, I would’ve missed the opportunity to spend my life with my soul mate. I ignored, or forgot about how much I loathed my body in the early days of our relationship and when I decided to go on birth control for the first time, everything fell apart again.
I lost the connection; my body stopped giving me signals because a foreign medication came in and told her how to work. I went back to being a walking head, lost my sex drive, gained weight and felt depressed.
I went into a long period of eating to simultaneously feel pleasure and numb out. I drank to feel alive and shopped to feel worthy.
One fateful day in a coffee shop the morning after drinking five Redbull vodkas, I was so low I could see what was happening. I could see that this was not an issue of willpower or sticking to a diet. I saw the very real connection of my misery and my eating. I was addicted. I was using food, alcohol and shopping to escape and create the life I thought I wanted. What if I was barking up the wrong tree? What if dieting wasn’t going to fix everything? I knew in that moment that maybe my pain was meant for something. What if my whole life had been a test kitchen, so I could help women with this issue?
A quick google search lead me to enroll in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which lead me to the work of Geneen Roth and eventually to meeting Jena LaFlamme at an IIN cocktail party. She was fierce, sexy and successful – everything I wanted, so I gave her every penny I had and she schooled me. She schooled me on pleasure, joy, self-care, intuition, nutrition, cooking and introduced me to my body. Everything changed. I felt alive, powerful, sexy and in my body. I lost weight, quit my job, started Breathtaking Bride (an emotional eating program for brides) got married and moved to San Francisco. It was two years of growth in life and shrinking in my waist line. It was fun, hot and exciting.
When I moved to San Francisco the day after I got married and Jonathan went all-in to his surgical residency, I started gaining weight. The very normal fear and loneliness of moving across the country and never seeing my new husband was reflected in my eating, but after a few months of friend dates, finding a new therapist and going to dance class, I lost weight again.
I launched Live More Weigh Less for the first time, dedicated myself to being a badass entrepreneur and worked my ass off. Somewhere along the line I started gaining weight again. I can’t remember if it was about a disconnection from my soul or too many wine tastings but I had already had some success with Live More Weigh Less, and here I was, gaining weight. Fuck.
I was living a very public life online talking about weight loss, and here I was gaining weight. I felt so ashamed. I was embarrassed to leave the house, cancelled public speaking gigs and put off photoshoots. I was convinced that my whole business was going to fall apart.
With the help of my therapist, I saw that the thing that was supposed to bring women freedom, was putting me in body jail. My happiness couldn’t be beholden to this philosophy that I had created somewhere in my early twenties. I couldn’t be a prisoner to my own business.
So I came out. I told and showed the world I had gained weight and started to shift and grow my message and my program. Just releasing that pressure and stress triggered another weight loss. I was really seeing first hand the connection between how my life was going and my body.
Then I got pregnant out of the blue, and I experienced a deeper level of self-love and acceptance of my body than ever before, but my entire body changed. I went from being size 8 to a size 16. And I didn’t lose any weight after I had Marshall, in fact, I just kept gaining weight.
At that point, I had been doing this work long enough to see what was going on. My body was trying to tell me something. In fact, my body was screaming at the top of her lungs, getting louder and louder, bigger and bigger so I would pay attention. Instead of getting pissed at her for “betraying me” I knew she was trying to help me, so I listened.
The hard truth was, I hated being a mom. I loved my son as a human and a soul, but I hated the responsibility, the hormones and the isolation. I felt dead. Not just like a part of me died, but all of me died. So I was faced with a real dilemma. I had to learn how to LIVE full out in a body I was disgusted by.
I had to learn how to…
Make friends in a body I hated.
Run a business in a body I hated.
Have sex in a body I hated.
Get dressed in a body I hated.
But this time it wasn’t to lose weight, it was to survive. It was to find my happiness and crawl out of my depression.
In just a few short months I built a new life. We moved into a large, old, character-filled victorian, I made some incredible mom friends, deepened my spiritual practice, sunk into motherhood and put every ounce of energy I had into my business (this is a whole other tale I will tell another time).
I went from a size 16 to a size 12 in less than three months without deliberately changing how I ate or moved my body. I loved my new body. She was curvy and stretched out and sexy and mine. I got really comfortable that my body was never going to be the size 6 it was at my wedding. I was older, a mother and have bigger fish to fry.
I was feeling pretty great, like I had my shit together, and then I found out I was two months pregnant when Marshall was just 10 months old. In that moment, I refused to fall apart, even though it was probably what I needed to do, so I lived like I was preparing for battle. I pushed and worked hard and spread myself thin. This time I didn’t gain a lot of weight during my pregnancy, and just after I had Annabelle, I felt amazing. I felt deeply connected to my mission, to motherhood and to my life. But after a month I started gaining weight. I started feeling angry that I wasn’t one of those women who lost weight by breastfeeding. I watched my friends who have kids Marshall’s age get in better and better shape, and get their groove back.
This place of body hatred, of jealousy, of feeling stuck… was now a welcomed friend leading me back to my wholeness, so without missing a beat, I looked at my life to see what was causing my body and my eating to be out of balance.
So many things were wrong…
I felt like a terrible mother.
My marriage was tense and explosive.
My business became so expensive to run.
Our life was so expensive.
I was resentful that I was the primary breadwinner and primary parent since Jonathan was still in residency.
I needed to go deeper into my spiritual practice but wasn’t making the time.
I needed to take better care of myself but wasn’t making the time.
I had become good, actually really great about putting on a big ole life bandaid and a happy face, but I knew my body wasn’t going to tolerate that, so I did the hard work to building a new life again.
First I let myself unravel. I got angry and sad and mad and beat up pillows and punched the wall. I got the emotions that had been building up since I got pregnant with Marshall out of my body (I know that this is still in process, always in process, but it was a great start).
Then I made some big and hard decisions.
I reduced my monthly operating expenses to a fraction of what they were before. Letting many people and projects go – focusing all of my energy on what was most important to me – Live More Weigh Less Mastery.
Jonathan and I went to therapy to work on our marriage.
I saw a parenting coach to learn more about parenting skills and explore what kind of mother I want to be.
I looked at my resentment square in the face and owned that I was not a prisoner in my life and fully stepped into my role.
I planned trips and retreats that nourished my soul and said no to things that didn’t.
I got up every morning before the kids to make time for me.
And, my body still felt like crap.
I know, not what you wanted to hear.
So I tuned into my body and asked what was up. She was drained. Empty. She grew two beings and nursed them in a very short period of time and needed a big boost.
And this is when I finally got it. My body matters. My health matters. Even though my weight has always been an issue, I always had energy and good digestion. And now that I was older and through two pregnancies, I couldn’t take that for granted anymore.
I started taking care of my body not because I wanted to look amazing, but because I wanted to FEEL amazing. I went to acupuncture, cleaned up my diet, got to dance class, took herbs and supplements, did strength training and got regular massages.
WHOA. Game changer. Just a month earlier I was in this space of, “The pressure to run a business, pay for our lives, mother two children and be a happy, sensual woman is KILLING me” to “I LOVE having a company, financially fueling our lives, raising two incredible souls and cultivating a juicy, sensual feminine existence. What a GIFT!”
My self and body care is not another thing I have to do, it is the FUEL for what I do. And I do a lot. I want to do a lot. I want to have a huge impact in the world and at home. I want to feel financially free and deeply feminine. I want to be a great friend and present wife. And the only way to do this is to take care of my body – my home for my mind, my soul and my dreams.
And the only way to get excited about taking care of my body is to love my mind, connect with my soul and have big dreams.
It’s a beautiful marriage – our life and our body. They need each other. Over and over again.
I’m at a great place with my life and body right now, but it could all fall apart again tomorrow. Because that’s life! Always changing, always hard, always beautiful, always devastating, always magic.
But because I get this marriage of my life and my body, I’m not caught in a cycle, I’m growing – there’s a difference. Every time there is an undoing in my life, I go deeper, I’m showing up.
I’m not repeating the same mistakes over and over. I am on a wild rafting trip down the Amazon, not a merry-go-round.
Live More Weigh Less Mastery takes you off your merry-go-round of overeating, dieting and body hatred and puts you on the river of your life. It’s a container and guide to learn what in your life is out of whack that is causing your body to be out of balance, and it’s a space for you to discover what you really want out of life so that you have a better reason to take care of your body than looking good in your clothes.
This lie that so many of us have been living by, that once we lose weight then everything we’ve ever wanted and everything we dream we can be will just show up, is stealing the life you are meant to have.
You are already the woman you think you will be when you lose thirty pounds. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Life as a woman is a journey of falling apart, rebuilding, falling apart, rebuilding over and over and your body expanding, shrinking, expanding, shrinking over and over. But each time brings more clarity, depth and beauty. It would be an honor to hold you through this journey in Live More Weigh Less Mastery, a two-month immersion followed by a lifetime container and community.
Our work is never done, and we can never do it alone. If you’re feeling called, I would love to welcome you into our fold.
Simple actions to take your life back, know your worth & feel alive no matter how drained, overwhelmed and far gone you feel.