Lily Fontas is on a mission to promote women’s wellness with intuitive eating so we can get strong, healthy and happy…. on our terms.
- Intuitive eating integrates a mind/body connection of instincts, emotion and rational thought when it comes to what you’re eating and how you take care of yourself
- The diet industry made $68 billion last year
- Diet culture negatively affects our relationship with food, our bodies, our wellness
- Hey if you’re stressed, make sure you’re drinking enough water
Meet Lily Fontas
Lily Fontas is on a mission to help women get strong, healthy and happy…. on their terms. She works with women from Boston to Tokyo as an online master health & wellness coach and has helped over 100 women reach their goals without deprivation.
Lily is known for helping busy professional women pledge to “Never Diet Again” as they gain strength and confidence. She is anti-diet and body positive and believes that everyone deserves to feel confident and strong. Her unique coaching approach and curriculum design expertise helps overwhelmed women create sustainable wellness routines that last a lifetime.
Get In Touch with Lily
Macy’s ‘diet culture’ plates (Macy’s removed them)
About Host Jen McFarland
Jen McFarland ditched her comfy C-suite tech project management job in pursuit of freedom. Jen’s goal is to help business leaders like you vet ideas, take ownership of their projects, and incorporate digital marketing from day one.
If growing your business feels like rocket science, let’s fix that with these free business resources.
Transcript: Health, Wellness and Entrepreneurship with Lily Fontas
My name is Jen McFarland. I help business owners like you lead, plan, and execute their projects for maximum impact. Women-led business receive less funding, yet our businesses are more successful. As consumers, we hold the purse strings. It’s time for us to take on the business world. Welcome to Women Conquer Business.[music]
This week, I started working out of new co-working space in Portland, Oregon. I decided to make the switch only because of location. I loved where I worked before, but this new place allows me to ride my bike to and from my house, which is huge, right?
For the last two years, I’ve been searching for the most efficient and effective ways to incorporate wellness and work-life balance as an entrepreneur. As I reflect on it though, I really need to be honest with myself, which is to say that many of the habits that I really don’t like about my work-life balance and eating on the run and things like that started well before I ever started Foster Growth, which is now Women Conquer Business.
I had developed some bad habits because I was working long hours at my last job. My priorities were all out of whack, and somehow, I thought that that would miraculously change as soon as I experienced the freedom of starting my own business. What I found was that it couldn’t be further from the truth. And I started telling myself stories about how once things calm down I’ll eat healthier and make more time for exercise. Once things calm down, I’ll spend more time with my friends and family.
And then I began to realize that waiting for things to calm down may never happen, that I was fooling myself, that I was actually perpetuating the habits that I disliked when I was working for somebody else. I was continuing to do it all the time when I was my own boss to that point that, a few times, my husband has said, “Man, your boss is super mean.”
And he’s talking about me. And so I have to ask you is that what’s going on with you too? Are you making time for yourself? Today, Lily talks about things like intuitive eating. I’ve reflected a lot on the interview since it happened, and I have to say I’m not really paying as much attention as I would like to think that I do. Are you paying attention? Are we so busy building a business and serving our customers and solving problems for other people that we aren’t solving our own problems? I talked about it a couple of weeks ago with regard to the moon landing and how sometimes, we avoid solving problems within our own business.
But sometimes, we avoid our lives. Sometimes, we avoid our health. I love that Lily talks about health without it needing to be about weight loss or necessarily loving everything about your body, but still being body positive, and how sometimes, it’s about those little changes that we can make that help us make even bigger changes down the road. I love the idea of never dieting again.. I’ve spent far too much time in my life focusing entirely too much on what my body looked like and not enough time being grateful for all the things that it can do. And that it has done, and that it will do.
This week, riding my bike back and forth to work was hard. I mean, coming down here, was easy. I live next to an inactive volcano inside the city limits of Portland called Mount Tabor. It’s a little south of there. And I can just zoom down that hill to get to the Riveter. I mean, it’s pretty easy, right? It’s cake. But then, it means I have to ride home. It means climbing a little mountain every day on ride home. It means making my heart work a little bit harder than I’ve made it work for a long time. And it isn’t easy. But its definitely worth it.
I had forgotten because it had been a few years since I had been a bike commuter. How many things I can solve, how many things I can work on, from that bike saddle. How many problems I can solve by just taking my mind and putting it somewhere else. You see, being in the same environment all the time can sometimes cause you to ruminate and not really solve things. But the fresh air, doing something new moving your body. Man, that can really change things for you. I’m not going to lie, there’s a section of the ride home that I have to walk up right now, today. Because that hill, near 50t Avenue, so that I can cross up to Woodward. It’s really steep. And when I first started riding my bike, gosh, probably 10 years ago, I had to do the same walk.
And then. slowly, I had to walk a little bit less and a little bit less. And then I was able to ride the whole thing. Only this time, instead of feeling bad about walking up that hill, which I did years ago, I beat myself up pretty hard about having to walk part of it. Instead of beating myself up about it. I just tell myself, I’m doing it. I’m making time for me. It’s not easy. But I’m doing what I need to do to feel better. This isn’t about the size of my body or what it looks like. It’s about getting out there, being in the air, which I love and moving and sweating a little. I was a lifelong athlete until probably the last three or four years when I stopped making time for myself and started making time for other things. And I missed it. What are the things in your life that you haven’t been making time for? What are the things that you haven’t been doing because maybe you have to walk up that hill? What are the things that you can shift and move so that you can do that thing again, so that you can make more time for yourself.
My dad likes to say, “Nobody’s getting out of here alive.” And that may be true, but we can all choose what that life is like. I really, really can’t wait for you to hear everything Lily has to say. She’s amazing and hilarious, and we might talk about donuts a little at the end. She’s going to join us after this.[music]
I really do hope you love Women Conquer Business. Did you know that you can actually get paid just for listening to this podcast? I know it sounds insane, but it’s true. I just discovered this free new app called Pod Coin, and it literally pays you to listen to podcasts, and more than 60% of their listeners are women. Super cool, right? So here’s how it works. You listen to podcasts, and you earn pod coin while you listen. Then you turn that pod coin in for gift cards at places like Amazon or Starbucks. Or if you’re a super good person, you could even donate that pod coin to charity. The more you listen, the more you earn. So here’s what you do. Download the app right now on iPhone or Android, and I have a special code for you. Simply use our code business and you’ll get 300 pod coin just for signing up. And if you listen to enough of us on there, you can get a cappuccino at Starbucks or an Amazon gift card on us. So go ahead. Go listen to this podcast or virtually any podcast on Pod Coin and sign up with the promo code business. I swear it’ll change the way you listen to podcasts.
Hey guys. It’s Jen. As a heart-centered entrepreneur, I not only believe in holistic leadership but also in connecting with my health holistically. For me, that means yoga, movement, massage, and more. When I’m curious about things like what it means to be an empath, I listen to the Holistic Healing Connection podcast with my friend and colleague, Amber Cook. Amber provides business support and networking for the unique needs of holistic healing professionals through her organization Healing Waze. To learn more about Amber, the Holistic Healing podcast and Healing Ways go to www.healingways.com, that’s ways, spelled W-A-Z-E.
Lily Fontas is on a mission to help women get strong, healthy, and happy on their terms. She works with women from Boston to Tokyo as an online master health and wellness coach and has helped over 100 women reach their goals without deprivation. Lily is known for helping busy professional women pledge to never diet again as they gain strength and confidence. She is anti-diet and body positive and believes that everyone deserves to feel confident and strong. Her unique coaching approach and curriculum design expertise helps overwhelmed women create sustainable wellness routines that last a lifetime. Please welcome Lily Fontas to the show.
He, Lily. Welcome to the Women Conquer Business podcast.
Hey, Jen. Thanks so much for having me.
Sure. Are you ready to go?
Yeah. Let’s do this. I’m excited to be here.
Your transition from bodybuilder to teacher to health and wellness influencer and coach is fascinating to me. Can you share with us a little bit about your background and transitions?
It honestly, really didn’t make any sense to me when it first started happening, but looking back on things, I’m like okay, I kind of see the flow of this. Growing up, I always loved being an athlete, I loved to move. I was never really like a superstar athlete though. I wasn’t the one shooting all the hoops or getting all the scores. I just was kind of like a team player, so I jumped around. I did volleyball, soccer, horseback riding, cheerleading. So I always had that feeling of I loved being an athlete and moving my body, so I’m really grateful for that. Unfortunately, growing up, I also started to get some control issues around food in my body when I was a teenager, which happens to a lot of people, especially young women. And for me, there were body image issues in there, but it really started with I wanted to control how I felt. I wanted to control how I looked, and it was really a control thing for me. And that dissipated a little bit as I went to college just because some of my external stressors of living at home and just growing up went away, but unfortunately, that kind of reared its ugly head again when I joined Teach for America. I always kind of look back on this and laugh. I was like okay, you decided to leave. I was in corporate sales at the time because I graduated during the recession, and I was like I have an anthropology degree. What am I going to do? I have student loans. Help me. So I was in corporate sales, and I was like I hate this. I want to do something better with my life. Joined Teach for America. I also subsequently got engaged during that time and decided to go back to graduate school. So I did all those three things because I had my adult checklist out, and I was going to be a big girl and do all the things that was expected of me. I mean I kind of lost myself honestly. So that’s where my kind of wellness 2.0 came in. I wasn’t exercising for the first time in my life. I’d had a binge eating problem as a teen. It came back, and I really felt like I needed to take better care of myself. That’s when I decided to start strength training. Something within me was like listen, going on the elliptical, counting calories, this isn’t working. Cardio sucks, you hate it. Why don’t we go into the “boy’s section” of the gym, throw some weight around, and see if we can build ourselves up? And I saw really great results very quickly. I was working with a coach, an online nutrition coach who did bodybuilding competitions too, and she and I were talking, and I was like, “Hey, I think I want to try competition.” Just see what happens. I made up all my own workouts for it. I didn’t really know what I was doing. I just printed stuff offline. I bought my horribly expensive sparkly bikini and my [inaudible] heels on Amazon, and yeah, I just started competing. And I realized very quickly hey, I kind of have an aptitude for this. I did really well my first competition, brought home a bunch of trophies, got first place. Yeah, it was an interesting kind of thing to be doing when I was teaching kindergarten. People are like what? This makes no sense. But I realized through that process too just by the fact that I was successful, being “perfect” or looking the way that I thought I wanted to look didn’t really make me feel any better about myself. That was a really big let down. I was almost really angry when that happened because I thought my whole life if I looked a certain way I’d be happy. And from there, that’s where I kind of started going down the rabbit hole of intuitive eating and learning what diet culture was and opening my own health and wellness practice. So it was a big eye-opener to look the way I thought I needed to and win trophies for your body and still be like this doesn’t feel good, it’s not right, too obsessive, what do I do from here?
Absolutely. And then you’re no longer a teacher either, right?
Nope. I have been out of the classroom for, let’s see, three years now. Again, big transition. I left my teaching job. I worked at a charter school, then I worked at a public school. My husband and I moved across the country from Boston to the Bay Area. Clearly, I like to just throw everything in a bucket and just clean house, we’re making lifestyle changes. And when I moved out here, I started my own business, and I kind of started as a personal trainer, then I was doing online coaching. I worked at a really big box fancy gym that everyone knows for one day. I hated it. I was like nope, didn’t go to grad school to work for $5 an hour, whatever you wanted me to work for. So that kind of pushed me to go into full entrepreneur mode and be like, okay, how can I have the lifestyle that I want, be healthy – because that’s what I’m trying to teach other people to do – and then also have a good quality of life. So I feel like a couple years in, I’m finally hitting my stride there, so that feels good.
Right on. No, that’s so amazing and quintessentially, a woman thing to do. Thrown everything and say we’re changing everything all at once.We’re doing all the things all of the things [laughter].
So one of the things that you mentioned how you wanted to help people and how that’s kind of evolved over time.
The name of your Facebook group is Never Diet Again, how do you define diet?
I always like to start out with defining what diet culture is. And some people are familiar with that term, some people aren’t. And it’s basically that there’s a moral value assigned to your health, and that thinness and being a certain size is a pinnacle of health, diet culture is everywhere, it exalts one body type over others, it’s used to justify discrimination against people fatphobia in business settings, personal settings, medical settings. It’s really evolved not just into like Atkins, or South Beach, or cabbage soup diets, it can be clean eating, it can be portion control, it can be a “healthy lifestyle.” Basically, what dieting is, and how I define it is, it’s any artificial interventions that you’re trying to impose upon yourself to create new dietary and wellness habits to kind of change the way that you live in a way, like from an outside perspective. So it could be counting calories, it could be doing weight watchers, it could be doing anything like that. But it could also just be like, “Oh, I’m going to do clean eating.” This clean eating can also be a diet, right? And I think for me, realizing that dieting is something that takes up so much of people’s brains, especially women. And I never blame the individual, so if you’re feeling like, oh my gosh, like, this is me right now– The diet wellness industry in America made $68 billion in 2018. Talk about a really big lobbying force in our lives, right? It can be everywhere, everything from media to what pops up on Facebook, Instagram. So to me dieting is really taking your life and saying like, “Okay, I’m going to control my health and wellness, and really going to focus on weight loss,” right? “I’m really going to focus on bettering, “bettering” myself, which I would argue that losing weight is not necessarily bettering yourself, and that this is going to be like a driving force in my life.
And so often, we don’t think about diet culture as being a lobbying force and yet it is, the images are everywhere. I think that what you’re saying then is I just get to eat whatever I want. Right? So what does it mean to never diet again?
So never dining again, there is like, I’m a big fan of intuitive eating, and I know, hopefully, we’ll get to chat about that more. But yeah, people always kind of villainize eating whatever you want. And people have a conception of it, like, it’s like eating donuts and, and pizza, and cheeseburgers, and hamburgers. And it’s been shown that intuitive eating, actually people eat healthier, more nutrient-dense, nutritional profiles when you are allowed to have those options. But for me, never diet, again, is deciding you’re going to ditch the mentality that dieting is fixed for you, that it’s going to work for you, that it’s your fault that you can’t stick to the plan. One in four chronic dieters ends up with a disordered relationship with food. And when I found that out, I was like, “That’s a lot of people.” And then even more so than that, there was a study done by the National Institute of Health that showed between 95 and 97% of diets end up failing. So that means that people within five years or more end up gaining back more weight, having less muscle mass. I always like to use the little bit hyperbolic but, if 97% of Honda Civics exploded when you drove them 10,000 miles, would you blame Honda? Or would you blame the driver [laughter]? I would blame Honda, and no shade to Honda, I have a Honda Civic and I love it. But it’s just interesting to me that we have so many outside cultural forces that are telling us that you’re wrong, that you failed, that we take that on, right? We’re like, it’s a personal failure that I couldn’t eat cucumbers for 91 days or whatever the crazy fat is, of the moment. So to me never diet again, is just galvanizing yourself and saying like, “Listen, this is not the way that I want to live. This is not sustainable. This is not desirable. And I want to focus on things like joyful movement, I focus a lot on strength training, positive self-talk,” and setting boundaries to really take care of your health, as opposed to just focusing on weight loss and dieting, decoupling those things.That sounds so great. Thank you so much.
You’re welcome [laughter].
I mean, seriously, it’s very freeing to hear that those things can actually be decoupled.
So there are a lot of us here, who are women business owners, women conquer business, so we were a lot of hats. I mean, you talked about it earlier, when you were talking about your own journey. What do you suggest for those of us who struggle with balancing business family and then personal health, because for so many of us personal health kind of goes last?
Absolutely. That’s something that happens to a lot of people. And all the studies show that even if equal partners are working women end up doing more in the home for their families, just being more in service in general, knowing that those aren’t necessarily bad things that we have to leverage that care and kindness towards ourselves, too. So the first thing that I always talk to clients about is boundaries, right? If you’re a woman conquering business, you’ve got your own thing going on, I guarantee you have a calendar, you have some priorities, things like that. You need to just find a way to make yourself a priority, even if it’s just for one minute, a day, right? And even if it’s just thinking about it, and thinking about ways that you can say no to other people, so that you can say yes to yourself. This isn’t something that happens overnight, it doesn’t mean you have to walk around with like a big red placard and just go around like, “No, no of course, I said no. It can just simply be like, “Okay, I don’t need to be Superwoman. I don’t need to go in and try to save everything. I don’t need to say yes to volunteering at everything at my kid’s school.” And also understanding that taking care of yourself does not mean waking up at 5:00 AM killing yourself for an hour workout every single day for the rest of your life. Because honestly, if that is the way that we’re going to go, I wouldn’t even want to do that, right? So it’s like opening up your mind to think about health and wellness in a way that doesn’t involve punishment. And I always like to start with clients with sleep, hydration, and stress. A lot of times we’re like, “Okay, when can I go to the gym? What’s my meal plan? What’s this, this?” It’s like, “Well, honey, are you sleeping enough? Are you sleeping like at least seven to nine hours a night? Because if you’re not, exercise might do more harm than good, honestly, are you drinking enough water, right?” Like everyone, luckily, most people in America have the privilege of being able to drink. You take a sip now. I’ve got mine right here, hydration. And then stress too, like realizing, “Hey, stress really impacts our health as well.” So I would say the first thing would be it just kind of looking at health and wellness more holistically and saying, “It’s not about beating yourself up, it’s not about buying supplements or starting a diet.” It’s just saying like, “How can I make myself feel better? How can I care for myself a little bit better?” And then starting to work up that diet rebel mentality where you’re like, “All right, I’m going to have a little boundary around my time, because if this was a sales meeting, or if I had to lead my team right now, I would be on time, right? I would be showing up the way that I’m supposed to.” So it’s just kind of transferring those skills you already have to your own personal self-care as well.
So I have some work to do.
We all do.
Especially around those first three things that you mentioned, but so simple, and yet, when you’re not making even those basic things a priority, it’s easy to understand how even working out would seem stressful.
Exactly. For sure. And also, a lot of times when women exercise they remember times when they’re really active, they tend to– maybe they were dieting at the same time, right? And what’s worse than pushing yourself to your physical limits when you’re under-eating, right? You feel terrible. No wonder you’re going to have negative associations with it.Totally.
What do you tell women who are feeling hopeless about losing weight?So the first thing I would say is that it’s really important to be compassionate with yourself around a lot of these issues because they don’t come out of anywhere. They don’t just pop up and say, “Oh, you’re going to feel miserable about this.” Oftentimes, it’s a snowball effect that, I shared my own personal story like this happened probably started happening when I was like 10, and I’m relatively young, and that’s still like over 20 years. So be nice to yourself. And then the other thing too is if you’re truly invested in wanting to feel healthier, and having a better relationship with food and yourself, you need to let go of weight loss as a goal because I have found that focusing on weight loss and focusing on healing yourself at the same time, are not necessarily going to be possible, it doesn’t mean weight loss won’t come. It doesn’t mean you know, weight loss this is something that you’re capable of. But focusing instead on other ways you can care for yourself and heal your relationship with not only your body, your food, your activity, your health because the problem is when you focus just on weight loss, you’re really quantifying the goal, right? Because I’ve talked to people, “Oh, well, my sleep better, my stress is better. I go to the doctor, I don’t have– not pre-diabetic wherever.” But all but the scale still reads this, and I want it to weigh this, right? So we use it kind of is like a kegel on ourselves. It’s like, “Okay, I can be doing all these great things, but the number is an X, and I’m still a failure, right?” The first thing I would definitely say is like compassion and then kind of moving away from weight loss, even as a goal. And then also giving yourself some time to mourn, right, mourning the idea that diet and weight loss is going to cure you because it’s something that we oftentimes think like, “Oh, well, I’ll talk to people in a consultation.” They’ll say, “Okay, what do you want?” “Okay, I want to lose 30 pounds. I want to be this size I want to do this” It’s like, “Well, what does that really mean? What does that mean to you? and it can be really hard and can be kind of devastating. Like I shared in my own story, oh, I weighed the amount I thought. I looked the way I thought. But I still wasn’t happy, right? So we kind of have to mourn that idea that dieting is going to soothe us and it’s going to fix us. And then the other thing you can do too is if you’re really struggling with like, “Okay, I want to lose weight. This is something I really need to do,” kind of pulling away from any of those sources in your life that are pro-diet, right? Whether it’s Instagram accounts you’re following, television shows you’re watching, magazines, even people in your life that constantly are yammering on about how many sweet potatoes they ate because it’s part of their new cleanse, whatever. I think that that is something that’s really important, right? And that’s another boundary thing too. What goes in your ears and what you immerse yourself with is important. But I know it’s a tender issue and I know it’s not something that’s just like a switch, but I feel like if you kind of come at it from a multiple places, it’s definitely possible to feel better about that.I love it. I think it’s great. How do you encourage women to begin loving their bodies?
I used to really push like, “You need to love your body. Your body’s a temple.” Like, “Bla, bla, bla.” But I actually read a great book and I love that her name is Linda Bacon, Dr Linda Bacon, and she writes about food and nutrition and women’s bodies and stuff. So she has a great book called Body Respect. I like to have people start with respect, right? Respecting your vessel for what it can do. Because sometimes you’re not going to love your body, right? And especially if you’ve been hating on yourself for years, again, flipping the switch, “Oh, I hated you. Now I’m going to love you.” It can feel fake. It can feel forced. And most people, especially women, have a complicated relationship with our vessel, right? So I like to focus on respect. For me, I happen to be seven months pregnant right now, so obviously weight gain. Your capabiliteis are different. So what does your body do for you? Does it allow you to go on an amazing trip to Italy? Does it allow you to go on a hike? Can you go for a swim? Walk with your dog? Even getting up in the morning and not having pain in a certain area, right? You can really break it down to just very simple things. And then also, just if you’re really invested in liking yourself and getting to that point, I find that simple things like purging old clothes that don’t fit you anymore, getting rid of that stuff, maybe putting it away, not trying it on, really working on negative self-talk when it comes to yourself. So if you’re like, “Oh, I hate this,” or holding onto a body part and saying, “Oh, this is terrible. It’s ugly,” just being really self-soothing and just saying, “Okay, we’re going to move away from that.” Check your body moralizing. Like, “Okay, this body part’s good but this one’s bad.” Judging other people. That’s a big one. And yeah, I think just starting with the respect point and being like, “Okay. I might not feel amazing about myself, but am I able to drink this glass of water unassisted? Am I able to go see my mom and have a cup of coffee with her?” Like, “Yeah.” So that’s worth celebrating. Those are in the plus column, I’d say.
I think that’s beautiful. Yeah. It’s kind of mind-bowing actually [laughter] because it’s just refreshing. It’s a lot different.
So now we’re getting to the part that you’re most excited about, I think.Oh my goodness.
Because I know you’ve been working with intuitive eating, so let’s just start with what is that and then we’ll talk about more stuff.
Cool. Yeah. Intuitive eating has been one those things that kind of just blew my life open in the most amazing way possible. And so there’s a difference between when people just passively say eating intuitively versus intuitive eating, and intuitive eating is a system that was created by two registered dieticians, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, and I believe the book has been out for 10 to 15 years now. They’ve just had some new additions, things like that. But what it really is is it’s not a diet, first of all. There are no rules to follow. You can’t do it wrong and the goal of intuitive eating is not to lose weight. The goal of inuititve eating is to really integrate a mind-body connection of instinct, emotion, and rational thought when it comes to what you’re eating and how you take care of yourself. It also really takes you through a lot of personal growth exercises. I believe both of the authors have counseling backgrounds as well. And they work with clients who’ve had eating disorders and disordered relationship with food. And it helps you really listen to what you need, not only physically, but also emotionally. So it helps with a lot of issues around emotional eating, which personally I had. It helps you also gain attunement to your body and hear your body’s cues, right, when you’re full, when you’re hungry. Because a lot of times for dieters– I know for me, when I was body building, I felt hungry all the time. Let’s be real. But I had all my food planned out for the day. And that’s what I was eating, right? So I didn’t really listen to what Lily’s stomach wanted or what I needed. It was like, “Oh, I planned these meals. I plugged them into MyFitnessPal. This is what I’m eating.” And it also really helps you remove those obstacles that block physical and emotional experiences, right? A lot of times we kind of use food to kind of numb ourselves or as a pacifier. And it helps you understand, okay, what are appropriate coping mechanisms, and how can you learn to enjoy food again? Because food is delicious. And food is part of life. We’re not going to all walk around eating like Soylent Green, right? Ew. So yeah. I think it’s one of those things that really just changed my life. And there are 10 steps to it that talk a lot about honoring your hunger, rejecting diet mentality. I would highly recommend the intuitive eating book or the workbook to anyone who’s just like, “What is this?” And you want to get it straight from the source.
I think that’s great. And you mentioned a little bit about emotional eating. How could an emotional eater transition into intuitive eating?
Yeah. That’s a great question. So I think the first thing I will say is that often times we say emotional eater, and we just assume that it’s a bad thing. And we also assume emotional eating is when you’re stressed out, and you’re coping. So I mean, in my estimation, food is emotional. That will never change. We go out. We have tacos with our friends. We have birthday parties. Food is celebratory. It’s sensual. It’s something that tastes delicious. Thinking like, “Okay. I’m never going to have an emotional connection to food.” Personally, I don’t want to live that kind of life. I don’t want to be that person. So taking away the blame from that. And honestly, I personally believe that a little bit of emotional eating– and emotional eating is not necessarily the worst thing that you can be doing. However, it is something that can be incredibly detrimental when it’s your only coping mechanism for stress, frustration, things like that. So it is something that I feel that can be part of the healthy balanced life. But if it’s the only thing that’s your go-to, using myself as an example, when I was in grad school, I would eat tons of hot wings and lots of popcorn. And then I’d buy the biggest bottle of white wine I could find. And Fiber One brownies just because I could buy them at Target, right? A, that made me feel terrible, really hurt my stomach. B, it was just kind of a pacifier, right? It didn’t really solve any of my problems. It didn’t help me sleep more, do anything like that. So I think if you are really struggling with emotional eating, and for me, I do have a personal background at working with clients with binge eating, figuring out what’s your self-care toolkit? What else can you do for yourself that doesn’t just involve eating? That will allow you to check in with yourself, whether that’s music, whether it’s connection tools like talking with a friend, journaling, going for a walk. And ways to release energy and anger too. Beating up a pillow, screaming. There are a lot of different things that you can do besides just eat yourself sick, basically.
So yeah, those are tactics that I’ve used. And also just knowing like, hey, a little emotional eating. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. Having a nice cupcake with your cappuccino on a beautiful day, I want to go do that right now. Just to kind of celebrate and just have something yummy.
Totally. I love it. So how do you encourage people who maybe haven’t been getting moving for a while to make that change? To kind of start on that side of the journey? Because I can see how something to do instead of emotional eating, for example, would be taking a walk or yeah, any sort of movement.
Yeah. So getting to a point where movement feels good and movement is something that you want to do can be hard, especially if you’re re-starting those habits or beginning them for the first time. But the good news is that most of the time, there are at least a few options that you like to do. It can be dancing. It can be walking. It can be water aerobics. I really think outside the box. I know for me, I have suggested to a lot of clients if you have a community center whether the run all the sports programs, recreation, whatever, there are classes that are run there and 9 times out of 10 they’re usually pretty good. And sometimes you go to them and you don’t even know anyone who’s there. It’s like, “I want to learn ballroom dancing at the community center.” It’s pretty low stakes. Usually, most people are there tend to be seniors and why not just go for it, right? I worked with one client who really likes badminton. She’s like, “Does that count as exercise?” I’m like, “Yeah. It counts as exercise. Of course, it does.” So I think it helps to not just look at typical gyms or classes or things like that but kind of opening up your mind, and then also thinking about when you were a kid. Did have anything that you really liked to do? Or even a few years ago did you have parts of something? Because sometimes you reactivate like, “Okay. I really loved powerlifting but I’m not really wanting to go there but how can I find a community of people that are maybe a little bit competitive, are going to be supportive of me.” And also, just starting really small, right? I’ve had clients who I was like, “All right. Our goal is five minutes today.” And most people will say, “Ah, five minutes. That’s not going to do anything.” But guess what? It will do something. Every single little thing that you do adds up, and you’re going to feel like a super badass if you’ve been able to move for 5 to 10 minutes for the week when you haven’t really done anything for a long time. So jsut opening your mind up and jsut starting small. There’s no crime in just being like, “I’m not going to be a hero today. I’m just going to go out and shake it.” Zumba on YouTube. You can just like be– I know I took Zumba one time and the poor instructor was trying so hard to help me and I just like shaking it. You can do that at home. You don’t have to embarrass yourself.
totally. I think I would have to Zumba at home. I would be way too [distracted?].
It’s hard when there’s a mirror, too, because then I’m like, “Okay. I feel a little bit–” then I look at myself and I’m like, “You look like a rubber chicken flailing around.” I’m like, “What’s happening here?” I mean, she’s [feeling?] good but I’m distracted [laughter].
Totally. Totally. So I’ve seen some of your posts on fAcebook and I just love the way that you call out some of the products that further this insidious diet culture. I think the one that I am thinking about are the plates they had at Macy’s that it was different portions on the plate were drawn on there and it was like mom jeans or all these different things.
Like skinny jeans, it’s like two tablespoons of quinoa. You’re like, “This should burn in a fire.” Like, “No.”
I’ll put the picture in the show notes so you can [crosstalk].
Yeah. That visual’s just enraging.
It was terrible. And the question is what can all of us do to combat diet culture?
Love it. So first thing you can do is if you’re listening to this right now, a couple of things might have just popped in your mind like, “Oh. I didn’t realize that was diet culture.” Right? And this is the type of thing like once you know it, you can’t unring the bell. So once you have that awareness, jsut start observing your environment. Like an anthropologist of your own life be like, “Hmm. What am I allowing into my life experience that aligns with this?” Right? So I always like to look at social media and be like, “What am I allowing into my feed?” Because your feed can be super passive. Right? You scroll through it and you see the images that impact you, and just either unfollowing people or pages or whatever that are not in alignment that make you feel bad. And also realizing anything that’s focusing on weight loss. Like I know Biggest Loser is gone now but there’s shows like Revenge Body or anything like that. If youre watching these things just kind of start to disengage for a minute. Also, a big step that a lot of people find to be frightening but it’s incredibly impactful. It’s like letting people that are closest in your life know that this is something that you’re doing and telling them why. I know it’s a little hard for me since I work in health and wellness. Sometimes people literally come up to me and be like, “I’m on this diet. What do you think?” And I’m like, “Oh, no. I don’t want to hear about this.” But telling your friends, telling family members, your partner, saying, “Listen. My goal right now is I am disengaging from any type of diet talk and setting a boundary with them.” And if people don’t respect it, walking away, changing the subject, talking about something else. There was a great article on The New York Times called Smash the Wellness Industry, which I highly recommend everyone read because it talked about how crazy and how terrible it is that most women spend so much of our times talking about these issues and the author opens it up with she was at a fancy dinner or lunch or something with a bunch of other businesswomen and literally for the first like 10 to 15 minutes all they talked about was like, “I’m eating this and I’m not eating this. And I’m on that.” And then she looked over at the businessmen across the table. Everybody’s eating cheeseburgers or ribs or something and talking about negotiations. So realizing that we can stop this and if that resonates with you. If youre like, “Oh, my gosh. I’m either a passive player or maybe I’m doing it too.” And then another one that has been really big in my life is moralizing food. Like I’m good for eating a salad but I’m bad for having a brownie. And those playdates you mentioned, that’s food moralizing, right? What’s an acceptable portion? Maybe one piece of pizza is okay but four pieces is naughty. Evelyn Tribole who wrote Intuitive Eating, she’s like, “Unless you killed someone for that doughnut, you are not a bad person for having that doughnut.” So I think that’s another way to kind of self-monitor too. And even for myself, sometimes I’ll realize like, “Oh, I can have this much and I’ll have this much.” And I’m like, “Is that really true?” And it’s like, no. Just kind of let that go, right?
I mean a little bloodshed for a doughnut.
I mean if you’ve murdered someone for a doughnut, raise your hand. No, I’m just kidding [laughter].
It was worth it. It was the last one. He had to die. No. I mean, I didn’t think we’d go there but we did. Can’t ring that bell either so.
No, you really can’t.
So I think this has been amazing. I am so grateful that you have been here. And I’m sure that there are a lot of people out there, including myself who want to hear more. So where can people find you?
I would love to connect with you on my Instagram. My handle is lilybirdlifts. I also have a really great facebook group on facebook called Never Diet Again where I just kind of host just information and things like that. And then my information is lilyfontas.com and I’ve got a great blog there and a newsletter that goes out a couple of times a month just with free resources and ways to connect with other likeminded people.
That is so great. Thank you so much for being on this show.
Yeah. Thank you so much. It was my pleasure.
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