Candid Conversations at Bodymass

Over the weekend, I hosted a "Meet the Author Q+A" at Bodymass gym. We encouraged attendees to read Squats and Margaritas- a Journey to Finding Balance" in advance and then come and ask me anything.

It was owner, Virginia Kinkel Petersen's, idea to just have an honest conversation about some of the issues I discuss battling in my book- the things a lot of women (and men!) go through-disordered eating, anxiety, self-body shaming.

It was awesome.

My intention in writing my book was to share everything in the hopes that it would encourage someone else to share their own story. On this day, my intention was realized.

We laughed. We cried. We drank margaritas.

Each woman gave their testimony and it was so refreshing to learn that we were all going through the same struggles, but no one was openly talking about them, so we all felt alone in it.

And then Virginia dropped some knowledge that hit me like a lightning bolt.

You see, I always catch myself telling people, "when I finally stopped obsessing and stressing out over losing weight, the weight came off naturally- I know that doesn't make sense!"

Virginia explained why that does make sense. "When our body is under stress (a state that I lived in for a decade while I counted calories and worked out seven days a week) it produces cortisol, a stress hormone that causes our bodies to hold onto weight." Whoa.

Of course I was heavier! My body was always under stress when I lived a life of deprivation and obsession about getting in workouts.

Virginia's body is insane. I asked her to tell the group how much cardio she does consistently. She held up her hands, forming a big fat ZERO.

Silence from the crowd.

Virginia talked about how we make excuses for ourselves like "I ate bad so I ruined everything, so I may as well eat bad for the rest of the week and start over on Monday."

"If you fall asleep on the couch one night and go to bed without brushing your teeth, do you tell yourself, 'well, I didn't brush them last night so I may as well not brush them tonight either?' " she asked. Of course you don't. You just fix it that next opportunity you have to brush your teeth.

She asked the group, "What if I rigged your scale and it read 10 pounds less than you actually weigh? How would you feel about yourself that day? Now what if I made it show that you had gained 10 pounds? Now, how are you feeling? You're the same person-you weigh the same, yet you allow that number to either make or ruin your day. Get off the scale."

This is Kelley. We went to grade school and high school together in Ohio. She's currently a Professor at The Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University and her presence at this event was invaluable.

Kelley shared her struggle with disordered eating and obsessive exercise and how at one point she just decided that she wasn't going to stress it anymore and didn’t work out for a month. She lost 10 pounds.

Now, she refuses to do meal planning for her clients because she doesn’t want them to fall into that restrictive, obsessive lifestyle that she lived for so long.

She talked about investing in your health like a 401k. "Your health is a 401k and it compounds daily. Invest in it now with exercise and good (actual) food so that you won't pay for it in the future with medical bills,"she explained.

Both Kelley and Virginia are professionals and their testimonies supported the ideas that I share in my book. They're both figure competitors and both overcame all kinds of disordered eating. When they finally just relaxed and stopped all of the obsessing about food and exercise, the weight came off naturally. That's me now! When I trained obsessively and restricted calories, I was heavier.

You have to stop obsessing and just listen to your body. Eat when you're hungry. Stop when you're feeling full. Get out and get some exercise. Live with balance.

You, ladies, make my heart happy. Thank you for trusting me with your stories. You are strong. You are brave. You're all going to reach your goals. Keep going.

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