Carol (who prefers to keep her last name private) is one of my newest clients. She started the Academy last November after first spending some time in my Foundations for Peace program.
Recently, I spoke with her about her experience with the E-CET process so far and I wanted to share what she had to say, in case you can relate to her story and need hope that not only is change possible, but that there is a better, healthier way to go through life. You don't have to spend the rest of your life continuing to live at war with your body and food. And as she says, "the end is closer than you think."
Continue reading to discover the difference a few months of learning and practicing Embodied Cognitive Eating Training has made in her life.
Me: Can you tell me about what life was like before?
Carol: Life was a series of diets, binge eating, feeling ashamed of myself, overexercising, exhaustion, and repressed emotions. I was obsessed with food - I needed it to help me feel better, but I was afraid of it, because I knew the next binge was coming to chip away a little more at my self-esteem. I kept promising myself I would start another diet only to disappoint myself the next day. I was in constant turmoil, feeling unworthy and unlovable because I had gained so much weight, and feeling like there was something very wrong with me because I couldn’t seem to control myself for very long. I was completely detached from my body and my thoughts were full of self-blame under the surface. I was constantly trying to prove myself in all areas of life and careening toward burnout on a regular basis. Something needed to change, but I didn’t know what or how, so I read book after book and kept searching for the thing that was going to “fix” me while I ate myself sick.
Me: What had you tried in the past to solve those things?
Carol: I could fill a bookcase with all the self-help books I’ve read about substituting love for food, Intuitive Eating, being kind to your body, dieting, eating plans, and exercise programs. I’ve tried national weight loss programs, fad diets, and counting calories. I over exercised and restricted calories for months at a time. For years and years I tried so very hard to control my body and “fix” myself.
Me: Why did you join? What were you hoping to get from it and what made you decide to move up into the Academy from the Foundations program?
Carol: A few days before I turned 50, I came across an article you wrote that talked about connection to yourself, unconditional acceptance, peace of mind and how diet culture pushes us toward an unhealthy relationship with food and our bodies. I was sick and tired of failing at diets and hating how I looked. Nothing had worked long term, so I thought I might as well try something new and signed up for Foundations for Peace. I hoped that I could finally learn to eat peacefully and stop the binging and overeating for good, but I would settle for not being disgusted with myself anymore.
Through Foundations for Peace, I connected to my body for the first time since my kids were born. I was also able to tap into my very judgmental and shockingly mean inner dialog. It was like a light turned on inside and I could see all the psychological damage I had been doing to myself. My need to binge dramatically lessened and I felt so much relief in understanding why I felt so bad. But I was still overeating and still afraid of and controlled by my emotions. I was triggered often, consumed by shoulds and self-criticism and fear. I realized that I was so stuck in my patterns that I couldn’t see them clearly and needed more help. After a few of the FFP live calls with Roni, it was clear that she'd be able to help me identify how and where I was stuck and give me the tools to finally break free from a lifetime of using food to suppress difficult emotions.
Me: What's been the biggest difference between FFP and the Academy? Would you recommend the Academy to others, including FFP members? Why or why not?
Carol: Foundations for Peace teaches you all the things you need to internalize to heal your relationship with food and your body. The academy gives you the insight and tools you need to understand what stories, conditioning and unconscious beliefs are causing your thoughts and behaviors, what your particular cognitive distortions are, and how to develop a personalized plan to change these unhelpful patterns.
If you're in FFP and know what you need to do but still feel stuck and not sure how to get there, then I would recommend the academy wholeheartedly.
The academy includes weekly small-group calls with Roni. I don’t consider myself a “group” person, but getting to know other women who are having the same struggles I am has been a great support as well as a learning experience. Most importantly, having Roni’s encouragement and insight helps me to see exactly where I am stuck and what needs to shift for me to make progress.
Me: What's been the best thing about it?
Carol: Honestly, the best thing about the program has nothing to do with food. Facing my feelings from long buried trauma and realizing that I am so much stronger than I thought and that my feelings are not something to be afraid of has helped me finally feel like I am connecting with my true self. I have been healing in so many ways because I am learning to recognize the destructive thought patterns I developed in childhood and have begun to truly love, forgive and take care of myself.
Me: What value has it provided?
Carol: I was a little nervous about spending so much (on myself!) at once, but it was 100% worth it. The program is structured like a self-paced class with video lessons and workbooks that you fill out and get feedback on. There are weekly small group calls, plus Roni is available and responsive to questions in between. The exercises really help you dig deep and get clarity on what is going on inside you, plus the weekly coaching calls are amazing. Roni is able to get to the root of whatever it is that you are struggling with and help you identify the best practice to shift things going forward. Everyone in the small group gets personal attention, and we learn from each other’s successes and struggles. The mindfulness and body connection exercises have been so helpful and eye-opening too.
Me: What specific results have you experienced since joining a few months ago?
Carol: Before the Academy, I was binging 2-3 times a week, more if I was stressed. It seemed like I was either just getting over a binge or trying to keep the next one from happening. Now, I’ve completely lost the desire to binge. My body very clearly says “no” to the idea, so there’s no willpower whatsoever involved. It’s incredibly liberating!
I no longer feel afraid of food. I love to bake, but I didn’t love the dread I felt when the leftovers called to me and I had to wrestle with my self-control. Now it feels simple. I eat whatever I want, whenever I want, not in a frenzied, stressed, out-of-control way, but as a choice that maximizes my enjoyment, which includes feeling good in my body. If I eat more than is comfortable, I don’t go down a shame spiral and speak horribly to myself like I used to. Instead, I notice how I’m feeling and take it as information for next time. And that is ok, because perfection is not a goal anymore - being myself in each moment and enjoying life is.
I used to wake up every morning in a panic, imagining some horrible thing happening to me or one of my kids. It took a lot of mental energy to shake it off and I would still take a sense of worry into my day. Now, it only happens once or twice a week at most, and when it does, I recognize that I’m catastrophizing and I’m able to immediately release that energy and feel a sense of wellbeing again. This is just one of several ways that I’ve been able to change my thought patterns and let go of the negativity I had been holding onto. Waking up cheerful most days feels like a miracle.
Me: What's life like now?
Carol: Sometimes I leave a box of cookies next to where I sit because it reminds me of how amazing it feels not to be afraid of them. If I want a cookie, I will have one, but there is no longer the constant emotional push and pull of need and shame. I have learned to connect to my body and am beginning to understand its signals and wisdom. I take care of myself based on what I need in the moment instead of following so many rules in an effort to keep afloat. And when I make a mistake, I learn from it or just forgive it and move on. More importantly, I have learned to have compassion for myself and feel my feelings instead of stuffing them down. I feel a sense of freedom and lightness that has expanded into my relationships and other areas of my life. I feel a sense of well being and clarity that I have not had for decades.
Me: What would you say to others (about the process, the program and/or group) who are currently still stuck where you were a few months ago?
Carol: It actually takes a lot of courage to give yourself permission to eat whatever you want, so don’t think that you’re “getting away with something” when you begin. You are being brave for choosing to trust yourself and allowing your body the space to communicate with you. There were a few days early in the program when I ate A LOT of cake. I stayed grounded in my body and didn’t try to escape the resulting headaches and stomach aches. As I spoke kindly to myself (which takes a lot of energy and practice too!), I realized that I deserved to enjoy food and feel good too, and am now FINALLY happy with a serving size that leaves me feeling good. Another thing that plagued me with “shoulds” was eating vegetables. With a little encouragement from Roni, I suspended my skepticism and completely stopped eating veggies. By the 5th day, my digestion was unhappy and broccoli suddenly sounded really good. It felt absolutely bonkers - I had never craved a vegetable before in my life! I think I needed that reset to let my body tell me what was good for it. Now, if something is not appealing, I don’t eat it. I think it’s really hard for a lot of us to hold on to our agency when it comes to food because we are bombarded with so many messages. But by choosing every single time I eat, I am free.
You deserve to heal and feel better, and to do that, you have to prioritize yourself.
There will be times when it feels so scary to feel your feelings, when connecting to your body brings up so much repressed negativity, when it feels so darn hard to pay attention to your eating, when looking at your thought patterns and conditioning is like pulling teeth. Don’t give up! The feeling of peace, freedom and self-love that will come is so worth it. You have to bring things to light to be able to understand and shift them. If I can make it through the tunnel, so can you. The end is closer than you think.
Embodied Cognitive Eating Training Can Help You
E-CET combines a wide range of scientifically proven, evidence-based modalities into an easy-to-follow step-by-step process that helps you understand why you can't stop eating in ways that don't serve your best interests and how to stop. It has been meticulously crafted and tested for over three years with one goal in mind - helping you move past all the things that are keeping you stuck repeating the same self-destructive patterns so you can find peace and start living and feeling better.
Award-winning coach, speaker, podcaster and author with a passion for helping women redefine healthy eating and living through wholehearted being: being present, connected, curious and intentional. As a former fitness and nutrition professional, she writes about weight, food and body image along with health, healthy eating, self-love and more. Learn more about her work with her free Why We Eatvideo series.
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