Jill Carlson, 38, Chicago
I have always had a tumultuous relationship with food and my body. Over the years, I tried every tactic I could to change my body…
A Body under Duress Speaks Up
Having spent most of my life overweight, I believed I had achieved final and lasting success when I lost sixty pounds over a two-year span. I looked great and was certain that I could keep the weight off with the rigorous exercise routine and rationed diet that I had maintained over the preceding two years.
Soon after I reached my goal weight, I began taking liberties with my diet and my exercise routine. I was exhausted by the limits I had placed on my body and wanted desperately to enjoy a few extra calories and an occasional day away from the gym. One small break in the restrictions led to another and my indulgences became larger and larger as my body finally revolted.
In the end, I did not just gain back the sixty pounds I had initially lost. I gained fifteen pounds in addition and felt worse than ever. I hated myself for gaining weight. What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I follow a diet? I tried everything to keep my weight gain at bay: Jenny Craig, Seattle Sutton, Weight Watchers, you name it. I experimented with personal trainers, boot camp, food diaries, dietitians, and more. None of them taught me the skills I needed to eat better and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
In a full battle against my body, I developed increasingly unhealthy behaviors: over-exercising twice a day, engaging in damaging self-talk, chewing and spitting out food without eating it. All these tactics did was fuel my binge eating.
The Turning Point: I Stopped Fighting with My Body and Started Listening
My life took a turn when I read “Breaking Free from Emotional Eating” by Geneen Roth. The book helped me understand that I was not flawed or incapable of living a healthy life. Dieting was causing the problem! By relying on external forces (diets) to lose weight, I was relying on elements that I had little understanding of and no control over. I was born with the ability to fuel my own body in a healthy way and the best route to weight loss and a healthy body was to follow my internal wisdom. This is called intuitive eating (aka mindful eating).
Green Mountain at Fox Run Helped Me Develop Better Intuitive Eating Skills
Exhausted and defeated from years of fighting with my body, I made the decision to stop restrictive eating and become a mindful/intuitive eater. It was a powerful decision and an important turning point, but I still needed help.
With my new understanding of intuitive weight loss, I sought out a retreat where I could learn more about the non-diet approach to weight loss. Green Mountain seemed to be the best choice and, once I arrived, I knew immediately that I had found a safe place where I could learn how to eat more mindfully.
“I found, day after day, that the more I trusted my body, the more freely and honestly it spoke to me…I am no longer at war with my body.”
Green Mountain helped me listen to my body and trust that it will guide me toward healthy foods and exercise. I did not have to starve myself. I simply had to listen to my body so that I could determine when it was truly hungry and what types of exercise would make me feel better.
Green Mountain offers a variety of exercise classes and I quickly learned that my body needs and enjoys walking, hiking, strength training, yoga, and a little bit of step class from time to time. I didn’t really think my eating habits would change as a result of my four-week stay at Green Mountain. I already had given up dieting and already had some experience with intuitive eating. However, mindful eating classes and meals helped me practice trusting my body.
I found, day after day, that the more I trusted my body, the more freely and honestly it spoke to me. It has been two years since I left Green Mountain. In that time I have become more attuned to my body and in the process I’ve lost fifty pounds. I feel confident that this time it will stay off because I am no longer at war with my body. Instead, I am able to nurture my body and keep it healthy.