In this special 2-part episode I’m speaking to 4 incredible untamed women who will set you on fire…
These are 4 of my clients who worked with me during the You, On Fire program and they are here to show you that it is possible to go from obsessing over food and hating your body, to no longer fretting about your reflection and having so much more confidence in who you are outside of how you look.
You, On Fire is the 12-week online group coaching program that gives you a step-by-step way of building up self-worth beyond your jean size with personalized coaching from me and lifetime access to the program—so you can break out of the diet culture cage, get free from body shame and live your fiery, free, untamed life.
Or get the episode here:
In this episode, you’ll meet:
Sam, 33, Auckland, New Zealand
Sam had done a lot of work around healing her relationship with food, but she still struggled with her body image. She felt a lot of shame when she looked at photos so she would avoid them. She disliked the way certain parts looked so she didn’t wear certain clothes she wanted to wear and she was afraid of her body changing.
She says, “it takes a lot of energy to not like your body and it was taking up a lot of my mental energy.”
Since doing the program the changes she notices are:
“I’m so much kinder to myself now and have found that I’m naturally more compassionate than critical.”
“I feel neutral when I see myself in photos now.”
“I don’t think about my body very much and I’m a lot kinder and more gentler towards it.”
“It’s quite amazing how it can be such a big part of your life and then it’s minimized.”
Some of the things she’s done are:
“I wore a strappy dress on my birthday and felt pretty.”
“I’ve spoken up a lot more at work and expressed myself more. I’ve found my voice.” She’s been able to claim overtime, share her ideas and feel confident doing so.
Overall she says:
“It’s liberating. I feel like I can go out and create a life for me based on my terms.”
“I can wear what I want. I can put my time and energy into things that are important to me. I’m not trying to people please as much. It’s created this whole space for me to leave my mark on the world because I’m not spending so much time thinking about my body or what others will think of me. I’ve got my energy back.”
Jyll, Ontario, Canada
Jyll did the course 2 years ago and is a mom of 2 kids who had dieted her whole life and even when she got thinner, she still wasn’t happy. She couldn’t remember a single day where she’d been happy with her body.
Since doing the program the changes she notices are:
“When I have the thought of being thin, I remind myself that, “The pursuit of thinness is no longer one that I choose and is not healthy for me.””
“When I used to look in the mirror, I was really mean. I would think, “you’re so gross, how did you let this happen, you’re disgusting” and I don’t do that anymore. That’s a huge change.”
One of her biggest struggles was with her husband because he struggled with how she was changing at first and he worried about whether this was the right path for her. He now says, “you’re so different. You should never go back to dieting. That program was so good for you.” He is committed to her journey now too.
Some of the things she’s done are:
She finally got a coat altered that she adored and no longer fit her.
“I dress for my body and don’t hide it.”
“I notice the beauty in other women.”
She’s taking a burlesque class now and she never would have done that before. She says, “Fuck it. I’m owning this.”
Overall she says:
“It feels amazing. It feels like freedom – it feels like being free of those chains that bound me for so long. I’ve lifted that weight. Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve lifted that weight and how long it’s been. It feels really good. It feels like freedom.”
Miriam, 56, London, Ontario, Canada
Miriam never felt her body was good enough and that spiralled into her thinking that her life wasn’t good enough. She felt that if she could “just make it perfect, lose the last 10 pounds and have the floors cleaned, it would be better. I thought that the tighter controls I had, the happier I’d be.”
She felt tired and defeated from the energy spent on thinking about food and her body.
Since doing the program the changes she notices are:
She was really able to separate herself from her inner critic and says, “I feel like I have the ability to steer my own boat.”
“Now I feel much more complete and I feel like I’m in control of my life. There’s less baggage. I make decisions based on what I want to do…but not in a selfish way.”
She cares so much less about what people think and doesn’t fear rejection.
I have so much more room to explore my creativity.
Some of the things she’s done are:
She always wanted to be an artist, but had been holding herself back because she didn’t feel confident. She didn’t even want to paint sometimes because she was afraid of being judged and her inner critic was so loud.
She signed up for an art course that she never would have signed up for before and is sharing her art with professionals that she never would have done before.
She initiating things with friends and not taking everything so personally.
Overall she says:
“I feel like I’m on fire. I feel this anticipation of what’s around the corner. What possibilities are out there for me now. I spent so much time and energy dieting. Now I’m energized. I’m on fire. I have room in my life for so many other things.”
Delaney, Atlanta, Georgia
Delaney developed an ED in college and after recovering, was really self-conscious about her body, which impacted her ability to hang out with friends.
She had done an intuitive eating program, but realized that it wasn’t really about the food, but about her body image and how she felt about herself.
Since doing the program the changes she notices are:
She learned how to own parts of herself that she previously felt ashamed about.
She is much more aware of her thoughts and able to interrupt negative thinking and go on with her day.
“I really noticed that I can see myself (in a picture or reflection) and it doesn’t impact my whole day. I can look at it and be like, “I don’t love it, but OK bye.”
Some of the things she’s done are:
She’s worn bold things that she wouldn’t have worn before, like cheetah print, shorter shorts and more form fitting tops.
She’s released shame she had around a food that she was really struggling with eating.
She went to a NYE party and wasn’t in her head the whole time. “It wasn’t that constant chatter. There were moments of silence where I could enjoy myself and I wasn’t thinking about what others were thinking of me.
“I posted a picture of myself wearing a 2-piece bathing suit on social media.”
Overall she says:
“To not be in my head all the time is really nice. It’s not consuming 25% of my life, which is wild compared to where I was. It’s a really big difference.”
Ready to cultivate your inner, rampant untameability (YES!!!) so you can wear, say and do what you want? Let’s discover You, On Fire>>
Episode Transcript – Part 1
Episode 164, part I: What My Clients Are Saying (You, On Fire Spotlights)
INTRO: This is Fearless Rebelle Radio, a podcast about body positivity, self-worth, anti-dieting, and Feminism. I am your host, Summer Innanen, a professionally trained coach specialising in body image, self-worth, and confidence, and the best-selling author of Body Image Remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place! Welcome to the show.
This part I of Episode 164, and it’s a special episode because I’m speaking to four incredible women whose stories I know are going to resonate with you. These are four of my clients who worked with me during the You on Fire program. You can find all the links mentioned in this podcast at summerinnanen.com/164. In case you’re wondering what You on Fire is, You on Fire is my flagship program. It’s a 12-week online group coaching program that gives you a step-by step way of building up self-worth beyond your jean size, with personalized coaching from me, and lifetime access, so that you can get free of body shame and live life on your own terms.
I love to share these stories because I know you can relate to them. They show you that it doesn’t matter your age or your size, it is possible to feel more neutral in your body, and no longer fret about your reflection.
You know, I don’t share my story a lot on here, I know I have on other podcasts, and it’s in my book, but I know that sometimes people can say, like, “Well, Summer, it was easier for you because you’re in a smaller-sized body,” or “It’s easier for you, because you’re already in a relationship,” and so, that’s why I like to share these stories, because they show that it really doesn’t matter your situation, your age, your size. It’s possible for everyone to do this work, and to feel better about themselves and not let the size of their body rule their emotions or their decisions.
There can be so much fear when we stop dieting, and the idea of accepting your body can feel like giving up. You know, you might be thinking things like, “I can’t accept this body,” or “I can’t do this because I’m afraid I’ll gain weight,” or “I’m not ready to take this leap,” or “I’ll never be able to trust myself.”
And I share these stories with you to show you that everyone has those fears to some degree before we start working together. It’s totally normal. No one ever feels ready to do this work. And the reason why is because anytime we’re outside of our comfort zone, which it is when you do something like this. Accepting your body means being outside of your comfort zone in the beginning. Our voice of fear comes in and is like, “No, no, no, no, no! We gotta stay here!”
So you will never feel ready to do this work. And so, those fears that I mentioned: “I can’t accept this body, I can’t trust myself, I’m not ready to take this leap…” Everyone I’ve ever worked with has felt that way to some degree when I start working with them.
And then, they are so much freer and more comfortable in their skin after a few short months, and they do not regret taking that leap at all. As you’ll hear one of the women say, “You will never go back to day zero. You will never go back to day zero.” And I think that that is a really important thing to keep in mind, is that, yes, the journey has ups and downs, it’s not linear, but you will never go back to day zero.
And I share these stories because I want to show you that it’s possible to learn to be kinder to yourself, and to quiet that judgmental voice in your head that is often so loud, maybe whenever you see a reflection or a picture, or whenever you get up in the morning and start feeling like you’re not productive enough, or all that other stuff. It is possible to stop caring so much about what others think, and be able to speak up or enjoy social occasions more. It is possible to find out who you are in your core, and know that your value is so much more than your appearance.
It’s possible to experience life differently, because you have more agency over yourself, your opinions, your choices, and you’re more present in your everyday interactions. And it is possible to look in the mirror and maybe like what you see, or not, but be able to go on with your day and live your life without fretting about it. That’s a big one.
And what I know for sure is that it is possible to have so much more mental space to just be and fully experience the life that is in front of you. And that’s what these stories show, they show you that you can learn to do these things. And it’s an honor for me to witness these changes that happen in the people I work with. They really do become free. And they feel more liberated and what’s so great is that it’s not just the individual impact, it’s not just about them wearing a bikini or showing up in a picture on social media.
It’s about them having an influence on other people in their life, and changing this culture. There’s no going back for them. And with all the changes they experience, they start to leave a different kind of mark on this world by no longer hiding. And I believe that’s how we change this culture. You know, when we open our eyes to the ways in which we’ve been influenced by society’s standards and diet culture, and we say, “You know what? I’m not going to take this anymore. I’m going to reclaim my power.”
It can really result in some incredible things, and it has a ripple effect, whether that’s to your kids, to your partner, to your coworkers, or to other people in your community, that’s how we take down diet culture, and I honestly believe that this work will help to make the world a better place for the next generation.
And I do this because I know that it’s possible, and I know that you’re all inherently worth and it’s possible for you to know that you’re good enough, and to be able to experience life without letting your body hold you back. I ask you to really just imagine what life could be like for you in three months from now, or six months from now, if you took the leap and decided to work on accepting your body and believing you’re good enough.
And the stories that I’m going to share today are going to show you what is possible after a few short months, and that’s why I love to share them. They’re examples of how it is possible to go from letting your body rule your emotions, to not fretting about your reflection, and getting on with your life, and living your life unapologetically on your terms.
So if you are nodding your head, thinking, like, “Wow, this sounds really great, please help me,” which I would love to do, the next cycle of You on Fire will be starting mid-April 2020, if you’re listening to this. If you’re listening to this in a different year, let’s hope we all get out of this pandemic…
If you are listening to this at a different time, you can get details on the next cycle, just go to summerinnanen.com/youonfire. Go to summerinnanen.com/youonfire to get details on the program, to sign up for the April cycle, and if this is a different month or year, then you can go and get your name on the wait-list and find out when the next cycle’s going to run.
And if you want to know more about the program, I’ll just quickly tell you. In You on Fire, you learn how to have confidence in who you are, and no longer have those temptations to diet and to be able to challenge the thoughts that you have around wanting to be thinner, and to let go of all the ‘shoulds,’ so, all the things that you think you ‘should’ be, in order to just be who you are.
You learn how to believe that you’re good enough, and turn down the criticizing, all-or-nothing perfectionist voice in your head that criticizes you when you see a picture, or when you look in the mirror. You learn how to accept and feel comfortable in your body, and be okay with a full body photo, wearing your bathing suit, and seeing your reflection without doing a body scan. You learn how to give way less fucks about what other people think, and to rid yourself of comparisons.
And you learn how to figure out who you really are. You get to know who you are on a soul level. And what’s truly important to you in this life. And start to live your life in alignment with those values and that purpose. And be able to say and do and wear what you want. So, you can find out more about that, and check out the other links that are mentioned in this podcast, at summerinnanen.com/164, because this is Episode 164, and it’s part I because I have broken this into two episodes,so I’m going to do two interviews in this episode, and then there will be two other interviews that happen in part II.
So, let’s get started with this show.
The first woman that you’re going to meet is Sam, and Sam had done a lot of work around healing her relationship with food, but she still struggled with her body image, and she knew that that was the last piece of the puzzle that she really had to dive into in order to feel better overall, because she still felt a lot of shame when she looked at photos, so she would avoid them. And she disliked how certain parts of herself looked, so she didn’t wear certain clothes, and she just says, overall, that it was taking up so much energy to not like her body, and it’s amazing to see where Sam is now. So, without further ado, this is Sam’s spotlight.
SUMMER: Hi, Sam! Welcome to the show.
SAM: Hi, Summer!
SUMMER: I’m so happy to have you here. And I really appreciate you taking the time right now.
SAM: You’re welcome!
SUMMER: So why don’t you start out by telling everyone just a little bit about who you are, and where you live.
SAM: Sure, so, yeah, my name’s Sam and I’m 33 years old, and I live in the Southern Hemisphere. I’m from New Zealand, Auckland, New Zealand, and I am a nurse.
SUMMER: Yeah, which is a really interesting time to be a nurse, I’m sure.
SAM: Yeah, it is an interesting time to be a nurse. It’s nice to have a day off and to have some time off from that!
SUMMER: Good, good! We could do a whole other episode on that.
SAM: (Can’t hear what she said!)
SUMMER: Yeah, seriously. Well, why don’t you talk about what some of your struggles were with your body, and if it was impacting your relationship with food, then you can talk to that too. Before we started working together.
SAM: Okay, cool. So, I’d done quite a bit of work around the food side of things before I came into your course. And for me, it was definitely the body issues I still had. I struggled to see myself in photos. They were a real challenge that could really trigger me. And I had specific body parts that I would hone in on and not like. Quite a few of them. Like my arms and my boobs and my legs. So definitely had a relationship with those which wasn’t the healthiest. And I just felt that my body didn’t have enough energy. I wasn’t sexy enough. And a fear of it changing as I got older too.
SUMMER: How was that impacting your life?
SAM: Well, for the photos thing, I was really not present in photos. I wasn’t present in the moment if I knew photos were going to be taken. I feared getting my photo taken because of the fallout once I saw that photo later. I think in terms of not having body parts that I liked really restricted what I would wear. I didn’t wear strapless tops, so there was that, and I was dressing to cover those parts up and make myself small.
SUMMER: Mm-hmm, yeah. So what made you decide that you wanted to get support around this?
SAM: I think similar to when I reached out for support around the diet mentality, it was taking up a lot of head space. It requires a lot of energy to not like your body and all the thoughts that go on on a daily basis about what was wrong with my body, so it was taking up a lot of my mental energy.
And I could feel that me feeling I was needing to make myself small with the way I dressed was also impacting on other areas of my life where I was making myself small. So I really wanted to express myself and find my voice, and I knew that it was the next piece of the liberation puzzle from diet mentality. I’d done the work around the food,and I knew the next piece to being free was that body image work.
SUMMER: That’s awesome, and I’m so glad that you found me! How did you find me, out of curiosity?
SAM: I found you, gosh, that would’ve been quite a few years ago. Probably through another podcast. I was doing work with Isabel Foxen Duke, who is another coach, Stop Fighting Food, and I’m sure it was a shared podcast for that. And then, I listened to your podcast, and I was like, Ah-ha! This is someone who is focused on the body image side of things so much more, and I wanted to get on your program.
And then you went and had a baby, how rude! So it was a couple of years of waiting for you to come back from maternity leave. And so staying in the loop with your emails and things, for when you came back.
SUMMER: Cool! I always like asking people that. So when you think about your journey and what we’ve done together along the way, were there any key moments or stepping stones that you feel really helped you move forward?
SAM: Yeah. The first thing that comes to mind is definitely turning down the voice of your doppelganger, or it might be known as your inner critic, and cranking up the voice of self-compassion.
When you do the course, Summer gives you tools to be able to do that. But I think definitely realizing that the voice inside your head can be a real pain in the ass sometimes and be really mean, and learning how to turn that down and then just turning up the voice of self-compassion is so important. And not about being happy all the time, or loving your body all the time, but just being compassionate towards yourself.
So that was a really big step for me. And then I think also doing the photo work with you was really important for me, and moving to a place of body neutrality when I saw myself in photos was huge.
SUMMER: Yeah, so, for both of those things, I’d be curious to know, and we can just loop back to the compassion piece… What’s the impact been on you now that you had that or that you learned those tools and have applied them?
SAM: I think it gives me a space to realize, to recognize that those voices is happening is the first step. So it’s just sort of unhinging from those negative thoughts and realizing actually, while they’re a part of me, they’re trying to protect me from something deeper, and it’s really given me the ability to just, when those voices are cranking on, saying, “Oh, you shouldn’t wear that,” or “You shouldn’t say that,” …. Just stop, and realize that I have a choice whether to engage with that or not. And I can just turn the volume down on that and then, it just offers a sense of peace.
SUMMER: Yeah, beautiful. Because I know you said that you were feeling a lot softer towards yourself, and just kinder overall. I think you mentioned that.
SAM: Yeah, and it comes quite naturally now as well. I mean, it is a practice. You give us the tools, and it’s like an A, B, C, D process. But then after a period of time, you find yourself doing it quite naturally, or voices of compassion will pop up out of nowhere. So instead of that voice of criticism, you get a voice of compassion. You’re like, “Wow! Where did that come from?” And it’s really nice.
SUMMER: That’s awesome! Oh, that’s so great to hear. I love that. And with pictures, would you say when you look at those things now, you feel a lot more neutral when you see a picture of yourself?
SAM: Yes. I thought I was going to get to a place where I was like, “Yeah, I look so hot in these photos,” but it’s not like that. It is neutral. And I think the more I see myself in photos, and the more photos that are taken, I realize that it’s just one snapshot, one moment in time on a particular angle, on a particular day, and it’s just a very tiny part of who I am and even how I look. And I can see them and some of them I like, some of them I don’t like. And then my reaction is more like, “Ehh!” I don’t get pulled into it, and it doesn’t then dictate the rest of my day or my week. I just see the photo and move on with my life.
SUMMER: Brilliant. I love it! That’s so powerful. So are there any other specific things that you’ve noticed about how you feel about your body or yourself since we’ve worked together?
SAM: I think about my body a lot less. We did some work around mirror-checking. I was a chronic mirror-checker. And that was dictating a lot about how I felt about my body and about my day, really. And now I just don’t think about my body very much. I think about it, but it’s within a healthy space, and also, I try to practice gratitude towards my body and see it from a place of more what it can do for me, rather than being at war against it. I’m a lot kinder and gentler towards it.
But to be honest, I just don’t think about it as much. And coming into the program, again, similar to the photos, I was thinking, “Okay, I need to get to this place where I’m like, yeah, I’m so sexy!” And really like get off on like, “My body’s so hot!” And I do sometimes when I dress up and I put on a nice dress and I think I look cute, but I don’t need to feel that every day to be okay.
SUMMER: Yeah. But that’s a huge change from when we started, and you were really upset looking at a photo of yourself, and constantly checking, to just be like, “I don’t think about my body as much anymore so much.” That’s amazing.
SAM: I know. It’s quite amazing how it can be such a big part of your life, and then it can be minimized. I mean, I still do have days when I do not like the way my body looks, but I know that’s generally when there’s other things going on, and your course teaches us that when that voice is firing up and wanting to criticize, then I know that it’s usually because of other things, that I’m run down, or tired, and it just makes me think about, “Oh, what else is going on here?” rather than thinking about how I can fix my body.
SUMMER: Yeah, yeah. So good! And so, what were some of the highlight moments for you?
SAM: I have written them down. I’m just going to take a second. Okay, so ??? little things, like, on my birthday, I wore a strappy dress showing my arms. My arms were a thing for me. And just being able to go in and decide it was my birthday, and pick a dress that I wanted to wear, not based on what looked flattering, but actually I love the color, I love the style, and it wasn’t all about trying to hide my arms.
So just being able to wear something that I felt comfortable in, and feel pretty, that was really cool. I think the other part is that I’ve spoken up a lot more at work. So there’s the body image stuff, but I was talking before about how keeping ourselves small, it’s not just about our body, it’s about keeping ourselves small in our life. And I find that I’m able to express myself a lot more at work, and I’ve found my voice, which has been amazing.
SUMMER: Yeah, that’s so cool! And so, when you say that, do you mean like being able to set boundaries, or how has that played out? Just out of curiosity.
SAM: Yeah, there’s been a few things in my workplace. I would never claim my overtime before. But now I know that I’m worth it, and yes, it’s scary when it’s not being offered up, but I’ve been able to advocate for myself there. And also, when I’m in meetings with my managers, I feel more confident to share my ideas. And that’s quite freeing, because I had all these ideas before, but I felt like they were stupid or someone was going to laugh at me, or what if it wasn’t received? So it’s given me the confidence to feel the fear and do it anyway.
SUMMER: Yeah, I love that! That’s so great. And that’s how the impact is so much bigger than your body. It’s like, you, showing up, and reaping these benefits. And also just like leaving your mark on the world. If you have things to offer at your job to improve stuff, it’s great that you’re able to share those ideas now. It’s going to make the whole system better, especially knowing that you work in healthcare and everything else.
SAM: Definitely. And one thing that you taught was that not everyone’s going to like me. And I think, my body isn’t going to be acceptable to everyone, and my thoughts and opinions aren’t going to be acceptable to everyone, but that’s okay, because the people that I want in my life, and to be on my side, are the people who want to support my ideas and accept me for me.
SUMMER: Yeah. Nice. Love it. And so, how does all that feel for you?
SAM: It’s liberating! You know, it’s just, I almost feel like I can just go out and create a life for me now based on my terms. I feel I can wear what I want, I can put my time and energy into things that are important to me, I’m not trying to people-please as much. So it’s just created this whole space for me to now wonder, well, “How do I want to leave my mark on the world?” Because I’m not spending so much time focusing on my body or what other people think of me. You get all this energy and time back, and that’s really cool.
SUMMER: Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s so good. Because I know, one thing you said at the beginning was that you were low energy, which a lot of people think, “Oh, I have to fix my diet to fix my energy,” but a lot of times, our mental health is really impacting our energy. And the time that we spend fixating on our body or thinking about food just depletes so much energy.
SAM: Yeah, definitely.
SUMMER: Cool! So do you have a piece of advice that you want to offer to our listeners?
SAM: I think the piece of advice would be that you’re not abnormal. Unfortunately, we live in a society where hating on our bodies and being self-conscious and trying to people-please is just a product of the society that we live in, and it’s not your fault, and that there are ways to change your life for the better, and that I just want to give a shout-out to your program and say that the course will give you the tools that you need to be able to create a life freer and on your terms.
And what’s really great about Summer’s course is that there’s the ideas, but then there’s the toolkit. And the toolkit is what you can just take away and use in your day-to-day life, and it will really make a difference. So if anyone’s wondering whether it’s going to work, or it’s going to help you feel better in your body, then definitely, yes.
SAM: And you’ll meet great women along the way. And you learn from each other as well.
SUMMER: Yeah! I was talking to Miriam earlier, and she was saying that it felt like such a safe space to share what you were really thinking and feeling, whereas having those things and speaking to them in a different situation, you’d almost feel hesitant or ashamed to say the things that you were feeling, but that she felt totally comfortable to do that around you and everybody else.
SAM: I think, I don’t know, Summer, I didn’t take a tally, but I’ve cried more with you than I have cried with anyone else. And it’s quite liberating to be able to be in a space where you can work through some of that deeper stuff and have you and a whole bunch of women behind you that are going through the same thing, in a very supporting and loving environment.
SUMMER: Thank you! And crying isn’t scary, for those of you listening. I always just say, it’s just your eyes having an orgasm. It’s not a scary thing. It’s just, we welcome it, and it’s okay. Because I know that can kind of scare people.
SAM: Yeah, yeah, I know. “I’m going to cry on this course?” And it just comes up and it’s okay, and you feel so much better afterwards, it’s like, woohoo! Okay! Cleared the air.
SUMMER: Totally, totally. Before we wrap things up here, is there anything else that you wanted to add?
SAM: No, I just wanted to say a big thank you to Summer, and to the group. And I just hope that more women also find peace with their bodies, so we can go out and do the more important things that are important to us, and create a life on our terms.
SUMMER: Yeah. Amazing! Well, thank you so much. It’s been amazing working with you. You were always so receptive and open and willing to be challenged and I know you definitely worked through some tough stuff during our time together, and I really admire how you trusted the process and trusted me, and were able to go really deep on some things and reap the benefits of doing so.
And you’re an inspiration, and I especially admire you as a healthcare worker right now. Well, I would anyways before, but especially right now. And you were just always so caring to everyone else, too, everyone in the group. You genuinely just care about everyone and wanted to know how things turned out, and so it’s just been such a pleasure and I’m so glad that you came into my life too.
SAM: Awww, thank you Summer. I really appreciate that.
SUMMER: You’re welcome! Thank you so much, Sam.
SAM: Thank you.
SUMMER: Rock on.
SUMMER: Sam is a perfect example of how this stuff goes beyond your body. How she talked about being able to speak up at work,and share her ideas, and actually get compensated for her overtime. That stuff is amazing. It goes so much far beyond your body.
The next story that I’m going to share with you today is Jyll, and Jyll is a mom of two, and she actually did the program a couple years ago. I was super excited when she wanted to loop back around, because she’s come such a long way. And it’s a really good example of how the tools that you learn are applicable forever. And how coming back to them just keeps helping you get stronger and more resilient and more compassionate towards yourself.
And I think the thing that might really resonate with some of you in Jyll’s interview, she talks about it a little bit later, spoiler alert, but just how concerned her husband was when she first started doing this, because they were both really into diet culture together. And he thought she was giving up. And she was really concerned about the impact that that would have on their relationship. That was a big thing that we were trying to work through together in our time together, and it was a huge fear that she had. And so I won’t tell you the ending,you can hear it for yourself. This is Jyll’s spotlight.
SUMMER: Hi, Jyll! Welcome to the show!
JYLL: Thank you, Summer! It’s good to be here.
SUMMER: Yeah! I’m so excited to see you and to catch up with you. You were just talking about how long it’s been, and you did the program in Fall of 2017, so it was like, just over two years ago. Two and a bit years ago.
JYLL: Which seems crazy. Seems crazy that it’s been that long, but yeah.
SUMMER: That’s great! Well, why don’t you tell our listeners a little bit about yourself, what you do, where you live.
JYLL: So, my name’s Jyll. I live in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. And I work in communications at the University here. I have two young kids, and a lovely family. And I’m good, I’ve got a good set-up. I’ve got a great family and a lovely life.
SUMMER: Good! So why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about what your frustrations were with your body or if you had frustrations with food and dieting before we started working together. Tell everyone a little bit about what those were.
JYLL: So I had dieted my whole life. I remember it kind of starting in earnest at about grade 8, and I just dieted with my friends. I remember being young and thinking, “Oh my gosh, I have to be thin.” And that kind of stayed with me my whole life. I just kind of always wanted to be thin, and as thin as I got, because I dieted a lot, I dieted hard, it was never thin enough. And I can’t remember a single day where I actually felt happy with my body. No matter what, how much weight I’d lost, or whatever.
And I kind of just assumed that dieting and this kind of obsessive pursuit of thinness was the norm. Because everybody I knew was doing it too. It was just what we did, it was what we talked about. We dieted together, we binged together, we felt awful about it together, and then we got right back on the wagon again. My friends were doing it, and the messages are everywhere too, and so it was just an assumption I made, and it didn’t feel like there was any kind of choice in it.
And then I would say, you know, probably a year or so before I started this course, I can’t remember all the timing of it, but I kind of was in this, I would say, agony, where I didn’t know what to do. I felt like I actually couldn’t diet anymore. I couldn’t make it last. I would do it for like a few days, maybe a week, then I would fall off the wagon, and binge horribly. And I started to get scared.
And I was like, “Oh god, I don’t know how to eat anymore, and I don’t know what to do.” I was so scared and I was looking for help, and I couldn’t find it. I was like, “Do I go to Overeaters Anonymous?” I’m like, “What is happening?” And it didn’t feel like any of my friends who I had dieted with my whole life had reached this kind of breaking point. And they were like, “Jyll, you’re fine. Just get your–” can I swear?–
SUMMER: Yes, absolutely.
JYLL: “You know, get your shit together, it’s fine.” And then what ended up happening, well actually, I’m going to wait because the next question asks that. But I would say the diets were more and more restrictive, and the binges got so much worse, and I just needed help. I felt quite desperate and scared for my health, and for just… it’s weird. Food is tied to your survival, and it felt like this really weird place to be in.
SUMMER: Yeah. It sounds so similar to my experience for sure as well.
JYLL: Yeah, yeah.
SUMMER: Just when it stopped working. And I think a lot of people get to that point where it just, nothing works anymore. And it is really scary.
JYLL: It was.
SUMMER: Yeah, so obviously, that led to you deciding to make a change. So was there any kind of moment that made you do that, or what led you to my work or to the world of Intuitive Eating and everything else?
JYLL: Yeah, there was a moment. So it was, as I said, I was in this pretty uncomfortable place for a while. I can’t remember how long. But this man at work sent around this email and said, “Oh, there’s a seminar today on mindful eating.” And I was like, “Huh! I wonder what that is. I’ll go check it out.” And I went, and it was this dietitian who was talking about eating according to intuition, versus eating according to science.
And I was like, “What?!” Because I also have a healthcare background, so food was like a primary, you know, “I have to eat clean, no fat,” you know, it was just this health-related, all this health-related that I had too.
So eating was according to science, to me. Not a lot of fat, not a lot of carbs, all this stuff. And it was this idea of making this shift into eating intuitively, and I was like, it literally blew my mind. I was like, “Oh my god,” and I knew right then, that I was like, “This is my path. This is what I have to do.”
And so I talked to the dietitian and I said, “Can I get your card? I’d love to talk to you.” So we ended up having a call. She was so lovely. And so I said, “What do I do? How do I start? How do I start this?” And she said, “What I would recommend is start listening to a few podcasts, read Intuitive Eating.
She recommended the book, and so I did that, and I just kind of dove headfirst into this world. I started listening to podcasts, I found your podcast, I was listening to a few other podcasts, and I was reading the book, and I was like, “Oh my god! This is my road.” Even though it was terrifying, too, this is what I need to do to find some peace. SO that was my light bulb moment.
SUMMER: Yeah. And perfect timing, right? You got that right when you needed it?
JYLL: Oh my god, I did.
SUMMER: Because if you had seen that a couple years before, you might not have been ready.
JYLL: That’s true. That’s really true.
SUMMER: Yeah. So what were some of the things that really helped you move forward, that you can recall?
JYLL: So, there were so many things. One that stands out for sure… the first thing that comes to mind for me for sure was cleaning out your closet. I can’t remember if that was actually part of the course, or if you had put that on one of your blogs or a podcast that I listened to. And I was like, “I’m gonna do that.” And it was one of the first things I ever did. And it was monumental for me.
SUMMER: It is.
JYLL: Right? Because I was like, to get rid of the clothes that didn’t fit, that I had held onto for my whole existence, and I feel like it was the first time, it just kind of showed me that I actually have a choice here. I can keep fighting this fight, or I can actually choose to live where I am and not keep trying to change. And it was amazing. That was an amazing exercise for me. So, thank you. I’m going to say thank you a million times.
Another thing that I loved, and I think it was one of the first modules, was defining your own values. And that is something that I think about all the time. I feel like I’m getting emotional, I might cry, but I love that so much, because I feel like it’s just that idea of making decisions based on your values, and that is totally how I want to live my life. And I felt like that really solidified it for me. I was like, “Yes,” defining that, and then saying “This is me.”
When I look at this, this is me. And this is how I want to make decisions and guide my life, and so I think about that all the time. I think about it with my kids, I think about it with my family, I say, “I want to make a list of family values, so when we’re having conflict, we can draw on those too!”
SUMMER: That’s awesome, that’s awesome! I love it.
JYLL: Yeah. So that was another big thing. Another thing I really remember was mourning the loss of my dream body. And we had done that in one of the modules as well. And I still think about that, because certainly, I still absolutely have times where, as I said to you in our earlier conversation, I think I will always live in that space of still wanting to be thin, right, but then having to make this conscious choice of that pursuit is no longer one that I choose, and it’s not healthy for me. There is no health attached to that for me.
JYLL: Right? So I certainly still have the thoughts of being thin, and then I feel like I go through that again. I’m like “Okay, this is your body. This is your body now.” And I try to mourn a little bit. I had a thin body for a while, at times. And that felt good sometimes. It was always a really hellish experience getting there and maintaining it. But so, that still comes up for me a lot, and I think it’s a really important idea , that it’s not just like you say, “Well, I’m going to stop dieting! Maybe your body’s going to change, maybe it’s not, but if it does, ehh! Just deal with it.” It’s like, no, no, there’s a lot of sadness associated with that.
JYLL: And it’s this life-long pursuit, this pursuit of thinness, that we’ve all done our whole lives, so to just let go of that and assume you’re going to be okay is not realistic. So to actually name it, and say, “This is sad and I have to mourn that,” I think was really a good thing for me.
JYLL: I have lots of things. The other thing was ‘should-ing’ myself. You know, we went through the list of all the things we say to ourselves about all the things we ‘should’ be doing. So that was my first awareness around that, and now I notice it all the time, and I point it out with friends, just kind of saying, “Okay, stop putting that on yourself all the time.” And just, I loved how this course also brought in what it means to be a woman, and the role that we play in society, and the pressure we put on ourselves, and all that stuff.
So, that was things??? and then, the idea of normalizing, I remember on one of the calls, there was someone who was saying she just couldn’t get past her belly. She just couldn’t deal with it. She hated it. And you had said, you kind of put her through this exercise while we were on the call, and you were like, “Pull up your shirt, look at your belly right now. Put your hands on it, and try to be loving towards it.” Or it was something like that.
SUMMER: Yeah, yeah.
JYLL: And I was doing it at the same time. And it was like, I kept asking myself, “Can I give this part of my body love?” But then I kept reminding myself, as you reminded us often, it’s a choice. You have to be intentional about it. And so I still do it. I literally, when I wake up in the night and I go to the washroom, the first thing I notice is my stomach. For whatever reason, I don’t know why, I put my hands on my stomach right away. And my first thought is like, “Ughh,” right? But then I’m like, “No,” I’m like, “Hello, darling,” and I rub my tummy and I’m like, “Hi, sweetie! You’re still there!” And I try to actually give my stomach some love.
SUMMER: That’s good!
JYLL; And one other thing I would say, is that you recommended, so on one of the calls, I was talking about how I was so sad about this coat that I had. I had this winter coat that I spent a lot of money on years ago, and I still loved it so much, and it didn’t fit anymore. And I was devastated by it. I was like, “I just want to wear that coat! I just want to lose weight just to wear that coat!”
SUMMER: Right, I remember that, yeah.
JYLL: And you were like, “Get it altered!” And I was like, the thought then, I was like, “I can’t do that.” I couldn’t accept that idea, because I still, I guess, had hope that maybe I would fit into it or whatever. And I held onto it, and I think it wasn’t until last winter, and I got it altered, and it was like, “I am so happy!” Like, I’m so happy.
SUMMER: Oh, good! Oh I’m so glad you did that! That’s awesome! And that you could do that.
JYLL: It’s my coat! She added this big panel down the sides, and also added more space in the arms, so it fits me so well, and I was just so happy about that. And the last thing I would say is that you had said that you’re never going to go back to day zero. I don’t know if you remember saying that. But just saying, “You’ll have bad days, we’re all going to have bad days. We’re going to feel like maybe we’re falling back into old patterns sometimes.” But you said, “but you’ll never go back to zero.You have to mark your journey from where you’ve come from, not where you’re going.”
SUMMER: Right, yes.
JYLL: Right. And so it’s all just new information for the road ahead.
SUMMER: Yeah. Amazing. So, how, having been through all that, what are some of the things that you’ve noticed, especially now that it’s been a couple years later, how are you feeling in your body? How are you feeling about yourself?
JYLL: Yeah. So, I’ll say, as I said before, I think I’ll always live in that space. I’ll always live in that space of wanting to be thinner. But I feel like that has shifted. It’s a lot less. It’s actually a lot less than it was back then, and there’s so much more acceptance around it. And some of the changes that I would say, one of the biggest changes, is that I dress for my body. I don’t hide it. I tuck my clothes in, and I don’t try to wear big baggy clothes because I feel like I shouldn’t show it. I think it looks so much better, and cuter, and more stylish.
And that’s important to me. That has been a huge thing. To kind of change the way I dress a little bit, to not hide it. To just wear what I like, and things that I think look flattering, and I notice it so much more on other people. I notice women in larger bodies and I’m just like, “Gosh, she looks so good,” and I feel like I never thought those things before, and now I look at them and think, “She’s super sexy,” or “She looks amazing. She’s just owning her shit.” And that’s kind of what I’m going for.
JYLL: And another big thing that I’ve noticed is that kind of self-compassion piece. So I know when I used to look in the mirror, I was really, really mean. Even when I was however much smaller. Just mean. So cruel. “You’re so gross, how did you let this happen, you’re so disgusting,” just awful. And I don’t do that at all anymore. And I will never do that myself again, and that was a huge change.
I now look in the mirror, and it doesn’t mean I look in the mirror every time and I’m like, “Oh! You’re so beautiful!” But sometimes I’ll look in the mirror and I’ll be like, “Okay. I’m not loving this. I’m not loving how I look today, but I’m still going to go to work. I’m probably going to share some laughs with friends at work. And I’m going to be productive towards some goal that I’m trying to accomplish. Then I’m going to come home and share a meal with my family, and I’m going to love them, and they’re going to love me. And the way I look today has nothing to do with any of that.” Right? It won’t have any impact if I don’t look good, all those things will still stay the same. I think those are some big things that I noticed.
SUMMER: And that’s so huge. Just being able to live your life and be present in it.
JYLL: It’s huge.
SUMMER: Even if it’s the same life, but to appreciate that, because when you’re feeling so negatively, or just, you’re not even there appreciating the things that you have, and especially, you talk about your family and enjoying a meal with your kids. How wonderful that you can do that now, and not be worried about what you’re eating, or anything else.
JYLL: Yeah. It’s so funny, because, I’m sure it’s impossible for you to remember everything, but one of my biggest struggles when we were on the calls, was with my husband, who’s a wonderful person, but has been… it was a shared value of ours, the pursuit of an amazing body, or health. It was always health-related, but it was like, we both wanted to be super fit.
SUMMER: Yeah, it was “health-related,” in quotation marks.
JYLL: Exactly, yeah. Exactly. But what we thought was the pursuit of health. So that was something, so he was really struggling with how I was changing and that he felt that I was “giving up,” right? And that was really hard for him to see. So that was one of my biggest struggles during these coaching calls.
SUMMER: Yes, I totally remember that. Yeah.
JYLL: It was really, really hard. And it’s just funny, because he now is like, “You’re so different.” He notices it and he’s just been like, “You should never go back.” He’s committed to this journey.
SUMMER: That’s amazing to hear!
JYLL: And that’s been amazing too. Because he saw… It was like I felt like I had to take this dive into, I had to trust, to take this big leap and trust that I was going to be okay, even though it was really scary when you let go of all the rules around food and all that stuff is terrifying. But also terrifying for him, for me to do it.
JYLL: Right/ So now I think we both got through it and realized, okay, now it’s actually okay, and he’s saying, “Thank god you did that.”
SUMMER: Yeah! That gives me goosebumps. That’s so good to hear.
JYLL: Thank goodness.
SUMMER: Yeah. Yes! Yes. So, how does all of that feel for you?
JYLL: It feels amazing. It feels amazing! As I said, it’s all kind of grounded in reality. I’m still a woman in the world with all these messages that are coming at us all the time, and I internalized all of them, for my whole life. So there’s still a lot of undoing, but I think I’ve done a lot of that work, and it feels like freedom. It just feels like being free of those chains that bound me for so long.
And that it’s a choice, right? That it’s a choice, and I’ve lifted that weight. Sometimes I can’t believe that I’ve lifted that weight, and I can’t believe how long it’s been, like when we just said, “Oh my gosh, it’s been two-and-a-half-ish years since I finished this course.” And I’m like, “Oh my god, how has that happened so fast?”
But yeah, it feels really good. It just feels like freedom.
JYLL. Yeah. Yeah.
SUMMER: That’s amazing. Is there anything else that you want to add in terms of moments that you wanted to share, or anything like that?
JYLL: I would say, one fun thing is that I’m taking a burlesque class right now.
SUMMER: Right on, that’s amazing!
JYLL: And that’s something I would never have done!
JYLL; I would never have done it. When I was much smaller, I would never have done it, but it’s just like, “No, fuck it! Owning this.” Everybody is beautiful, every body is good. And I’m just going, mine is too! And I’m just going and doing it. So it’s really fun.
SUMMER: That’s awesome! That’s so cool. And like real empowering experience, too.
JYLL: Super empowering. And the only other thing I would say, is for people who are listening and thinking about taking this course, I would say it’s so worthwhile. And I would also say that it’s scary. The process for me was scary, because being thin is something that so many of us have thought, “it just has to be. It’s just the way it has to be. We have to keep pursuing this.”
And so to let go of all of those rules, and as I said, take this leap into the abyss and just trust that it’s going to be okay, and I kept reading, and I kept hearing, it’s going to level out. I don’t know when. It’s different for everybody. It’s going to level out, and you’re going to land somewhere and things are going to start to change. And that’s what happened. So I would just say to people who are thinking about it, that it’s so worthwhile.
SUMMER: Yeah, and I really thank you for trusting me and the process. I know it was really hard for you. There were some really hard times. Some really hard moments, especially as it relates to your relationship and what that meant. And being on a different path. Yeah, just seeing where you are now, it’s just amazing to hear and see how those tools have stayed with you, and those changes have stayed with you, and amplified. And yeah, you just seem so calm and comfortable, and it’s awesome! it’s amazing. So I’m so, so happy for you.
JYLL: Thank you. Thank you so much.
SUMMER: I usually ask people, if there’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to anyone else, but I know you just kind of gave one. Is there anything else that you wanted to give?
JYLL: There was one other thing, and I think it was you that said it. But it’s something that I always remind myself, and that is that the mark you leave on this world is not your appearance.
JYLL: Right? And I just think that, to me, is that the beauty is on the inside. It’s like, when I die, what do I want people to remember me for? Tight thighs? You know, I was so disciplined? No! I want them to remember me as, “She really loved the people in her life. She was kind. She cared about the world.” So I just remind myself, okay, that’s my value. Those are my values.
JYLL: And the other things are night. And I always just have that choice.
SUMMER: Amazing. I love it! So good! Anything else you want to add before we wrap it up?
JYLL I don’t think so, but thank you!
SUMMER: Thank you!
JYLL: That was amazing, and you’re helping so many people. It’s amazing work that you do.
SUMMER: Aww, thank you. It’s been so awesome to catch up with you and hear about how you’re doing. Thanks, Jyll! Rock on!
SUMMER: As you heard me say in the interview, I was so happy to hear that Jyll’s husband got on board with everything, and noticed the changes, and that it’s been so much better for them collectively. because I know that’s a huge fear that people have when they’re in a relationship, and it was just so cool to hear that. So, I’m so glad she shared that, and it was such an honor to work with her.
You can find all the links mentioned in this podcast, including details on You on Fire, and the video version of these interviews, and a link to watch the entire Spotlight Series, which includes women from past cycles, at summerinnanen.com/164.
part II is going to be coming at you very soon. And you’ll hear two more interviews there.
And on a final note, I just want to say, I’ve been running You on Fire for five years now, and every year, I’m blown away by the transformations that take place, and as you can hear, it’s not about liking the way you look. It’s about transforming the way you see yourself and your outlook on life. So, if you’re curious about it, then definitely don’t wait. Now is your time. Imagine where you could be three months from now if you take this leap.
And, yeah! That’s all I want to say. Let’s do this! Okay, I’ll talk to you next time. Rock on.
OUTRO: I’m Summer Innanen and I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, @SummerInnanen. If you haven’t yet, go to Apple Podcasts and subscribe, rate, and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on!
Episode Transcript – Part 2
Episode 164, part 2: What My Clients Are Saying (You, On Fire Spotlights)
INTRO: This is Fearless Rebelle Radio, a podcast about body positivity, self-worth, anti-dieting, and Feminism. I am your host, Summer Innanen, a professionally trained coach specialising in body image, self-worth, and confidence, and the best-selling author of Body Image Remix. If you’re ready to break free of societal standards and stop living behind the number on your scale, then you have come to the right place! Welcome to the show.
This is part two of episode 164, and I’m back with two more interviews with incredible women who, people who worked with me during the You on Fire program. And I know their stories are going to resonate with you. You can find all the links mentioned in this episode at summerinnanen.com/164.
In case you were wondering, You on Fire is the twelve-week online group coaching program that gives you a step by step way of building up self-worth beyond your jean size, with personalized coaching from me and lifetime access to the program. So you can get free from body shame and live life on your own terms.
I had quite a long intro in part one, so I don’t really want to repeat myself. I was thinking about it. I was like, “should I repeat myself? Should I say the same thing? Should I use the same intro?” And then I thought, probably not, because people might be like, “okay… I heard you.”
But anyways, I guess what I will say is, I think that sharing these stories is so important because I want to give you hope that it is possible, no matter your situation, to feel more neutral in your body, and not let the size of your body dictate your emotions. And to really be able to be kinder to yourself, just to not be an asshole to yourself. Imagine, you could not be an asshole to yourself. How great would that feel?
And I share these stories because I think that these women share a lot of the same fears that you probably have about doing the work around accepting your body, just in terms of, “What’s going to happen? I can’t trust myself. I’m not ready for this.”
And so I talked about a bit in part one, and you can circle back and re-listen to that if you need to, but what I will say is that these stories show you that everyone really feels that way to some degree before we start working together. They all have these big fears, and I’m always so proud of them when they actually pull the trigger and decide to do this work, because I know that they’re going to feel so much better in a few short months, and they do, which is awesome.
And it’s not just in those short months. This is a long-term game, and that’s what I love about the work that I do, is that the tools that I teach are things that you can revisit and reuse in all these different life situations, because it’s not about your body. So much of the program is actually not doing work around your body specifically. It’s so much bigger than that. Because this is really about you believing that you’re good enough, and you being an advocate of your own needs, and you being able to turn the volume down on your inner critic and that judgmental voice in your head, to actually be able to fully experience life.
And so, it’s a long-term thing. I use these tools on myself still all the time, and that’s what’s so great about it, is that you can make a lot of change in a few short months, and then you come back a couple years later, and it’s like, you’re so much further in this process, and it’s amazing. And it’s an honor for me to really witness those changes that happen with the people I work with.
And so, if you are curious to learn more, then definitely check out You on Fire. The next cycle’s going to be starting mid-April. You can get the details at summerinannen.com/youonfire. Get on the waitlist if you are listening to this on the day that it’s released. The waitlist is there, because enrollment is going to open on April 8th, and so, get your name on the waitlist so you can have a super-special bonus and get one of the spots before they fill up.
And if you’re listening to this post-April, then get your name on the wait-list for the next cycle. And if you’re listening to this when enrollment is open, then you’ll actually be able to get into the program when you go to the You on Fire page. Is that confusing? Anyways, just go to summerinnanen.com/youonfire, and you can get all the details and get yourself registered or get on the wait-list for the next cycle, secure your spot.
And I’m excited to share these stories with you today.
SUMMER: Let’s get started! Last time we met Sam and Jyll, and today we’re going to meet Miriam and Delaney. And so, first, we’re actually going to talk to Delaney. For some reason I thought it was Miriam, but nope, we’re talking to Delaney first.
So Delaney had an eating disorder in college, and after recovering, she was really self-conscious about her body, which had impacted her ability to hang out with friends. And she had done an Intuitive Eating program but realized it wasn’t really about the food, but it was about her body image and how she felt about herself.
And so she took that next step to really complete the healing circle by working with me, and what I love about Delaney is that she’s come really far in the time that we’ve worked together. She says now that it’s not consuming, it’s maybe consuming 25% of her life instead of 100% of her life. Which is really, really incredible. And you’ll hear the rest of her story here, so, without further ado, this is Delaney’s spotlight.
SUMMER: Hi, Delaney! Welcome to the show!
DELANEY: Hi, thank you so much for having me!
SUMMER: Thanks so much for being here. It’s so nice to see you. So, why don’t you start by telling our listeners just a little bit about who you are, where you live, what you do.
DELANEY: Sure! I live in Atlanta. I grew up here. I was working as an event planner for awhile, but I am a nanny now, and really loving it. It’s a good change of pace. And I have been married to my husband for four years.
SUMMER: Nice! Very good. How did you find me, just out of curiosity? I know I threw that question in there as a rogue question.
DELANEY: So I actually did a different program before this. I’m going to sound like a program junkie, but I swear, it was only these two. But I did a program for Intuitive Eating, and one of the things that she really highly recommended for me to do was follow body positive people, or people that looked more like me on Instagram, which, you don’t look particularly like me, but within that whole following of new people, I found you. And I started listening to your podcast, which is how I heard about You on Fire.
SUMMER: Cool, yeah! That’s awesome! I always like to know how people found me. So why don’t you tell everyone just a little bit about what your frustrations were with your body before we started working together.
DELANEY: Yeah, so I actually developed an eating disorder when I went to college, and had a lot of restriction issues, and a major unhealthy relationship with exercise. So when I got over that restriction bit, and eased up on the exercise, I gained a lot, a lot of weight, which was my body retaliating for all of the shit that I put it through.
So I end up carrying a lot of weight in my stomach, which is my biggest thing that I’m self-conscious about, and really affected, when I would go out with people and all of my friends are pretty thin, so it was a really big comparison game, even between people that I loved and cared for, and knew that they felt the same way about me. It was really hard for me to do things in public, or even with close friends, but then outside of that circle, it was just really difficult, specifically because I could never stop thinking about what I looked like.
SUMMER: Yeah. And it had a big impact on your life then.
DELANEY: Oh yeah. Yeah.
SUMMER: Yeah. And so it sounds like you kind of healed your relationship with food, but then this was still kicking around?
DELANEY: I had not healed my relationship with food, which is why I started the Intuitive Eating program. So I developed the worst part of my eating disorder when I was a freshman in college. So at that point, oh my gosh, it’s been almost 8 years, which is crazy. So that was about 8, maybe even 9 years ago. I didn’t even hear about Intuitive Eating until after I graduated.
So during that time, I was still struggling and kind of trying to fix the problem on my own. But I found out about Intuitive Eating through a counsellor at the school, and read the book, adn started trying to do it for almost two years by myself, which I definitely needed that time with how severe of a problem I was having. I really needed that time to ease in, and understand the concepts, but I was definitely not at a place where I was healthy or truly eating intuitively.
And so then, I kind of picked it up again, and I was like, “I know this is going to work for me, I just need someone to help me.” Which is why I did that other program. But then when I was going through that program, I realized, “Hey, this is great, I’m so glad I did this. But I’m realizing a lot of the underlying issues are not about food, it’s about my body image, and how I feel about myself. And I have really low self esteem. I really need someone who’s going to help me work through that side of it, because it’s all kind of coming back to this, and that’s not what this program is about.”
DELANEY: The groundwork I needed, like, the food and getting over that part, but You on Fire was much, it was more a niche of, “Hey, we’re going to talk about food for a minute, but that’s not what this is about.”
SUMMER: Yeah, for sure. Body dissatisfaction is really what puts you into that place of having that bad relationship with food, and disordered relationship with food, and so if you don’t deal with that, then it keeps popping up. And it’s just going to be a continued problem.
DELANEY: All the time!
SUMMER: Yeah, for sure. Was there anything else that happened that made you decide you wanted to change?
DELANEY: It was really more of a slow build. I didn’t have a lightbulb moment or anything like that, but it was just kind of one thing led to another, that snowballed, in a good way, of, “Okay, I see that this is a problem, and I am mentally capable of fixing that right now. So let’s focus on that. Okay, wait, now I’m seeing it’s actually more of the self-confidence and body image. Let’s work on that.” And so, it was a long and slow wind, but I’m getting there.
SUMMER: Yeah! And it is. I think a lot of people have to understand that, that it is a long process. And I think your path is so similar to a lot of other people, a lot of people come into the program who have done some kind of Intuitive Eating work, and then kind of realized, “Oh, this other stuff is really happening and at the forefront that I need to deal with.” And it takes some time. So, good for you for sticking with it, and recognizing that, and getting support.
DELANEY: For me, in hindsight, that was a big part of the first one or two modules, and if I would not have done the Intuitive Eating work that I did before, just with this specific problem I was having and the severity of where my mental state was with food, I would’ve had a difficult time continuing on in the program. I really needed that groundwork first, and I know that’s not true for everybody, but I’m very glad that I did that in the roder that I did.
SUMMER: Yeah! That’s good. That’s very good. I’m glad that worked for you. So what were some of the things that really helped you along the way, some of the things that helped you move forward?
DELANEY: Things in the program?
DELANEY: I think that one of the things that really helped me, and you might have even said this to me before I started the program, but that the end goal is not necessarily to love your body. That would be amazing, but just not caring about it so much.
DELANEY: I never realized that was an option, which is a big trend, and I learned, “Wow, I can’t believe that I can just not care about this. I never… that never occurred to me.”
DELANEY: So that was really big. I think the best module in terms of helping me move along was the core values, and figuring out what your core values are. And if you don’t get along with someone, or if something happens, you don’t have to take it personally. It’s not necessarily about you. It’s much more about your core values and the other person’s core values, that are just not matching up. So it’s like, you can still appreciate people and you can still be okay with yourself, even if you’re not best friends with every person.
SUMMER: Yeah, that can be so helpful with people-pleasing and overcoming fear of judgment. I think that that’s where I see that framework and those tools being really helpful, is giving that totally different perspective, that you’re you, and they’re them, and it’s okay for people not to get along or not to like you.
DELANEY: Yeah. And that’s definitely consistent. People-pleasing has been my whole life since birth. So that’s one of the biggest things that I’ve been trying to work through. And that was also one of the biggest moments, was, I don’t know exactly how you worded it, but basically, owning the things about yourself. So like, even if it’s not something that you would necessarily say is positive, but you know that it’s a part of you, just, don’t be ashamed of it. Just own it. And then it won’t be shameful. Once it’s spoken, you’re not going to be embarrassed about it, if you just really own it and know it, and kind of move on.
DELANEY: And that’s really big for me too.
SUMMER: Yes. Yeah, yeah. That can really give you your power back, I guess, is a way of saying it. It’s like, to own something about yourself. Do you want to give any specifics around that, or–?
DELANEY: Yeah, so, it’s kind of a silly example, but one of the biggest problems… no, that’s not the right word… One of the biggest foods that I just kept on getting hung up on, and I felt a lot of shame around, I just love a Coke. I love it.
And in my Intuitive Eating program, I did that, where you focus on the one food thing, multiple times, with Coke, and I would be like, “Okay, great, I feel great about it!” And then a couple weeks later, I would just notice, “Uh oh, this is happening again.” Turns out it was not about my permission with it, it was more about my shame around it, and when I brought it up in one of the conversations, you were like, “Honestly, the amount of soda that you drink sounds super normal and fine,” and you made me say, “Okay, repeat this after me. Hi, my name is Delaney, and I drink soda every day.”
And I was like, it was really hard for me to repeat it. I was just, there’s so much shame around it, and after I said that, I think I was being really weird on the call, too. I was just like, laughing, and trying to brush it off, because I was so mortified to say that out loud. But then throughout the whole week, I just kept on saying, “You know what? I’m going to drink this soda every day,” and I don’t think I even did, but it was just like, it really made it less shameful, which is, again, that’s a very silly example, but–
SUMMER: It’s not! I was hoping you would share that. I didn’t want to insert that example in there without your permission, but that’s what I thought you were referring to when you said that, because it was a major lightbulb moment. And sometimes we can do fun ridiculous things, and it actually really works.
DELANEY: And I mean, even since I said that, “Hi, my name’s Delaney, I drink soda every day,” it’s kind of made me think of not food-related things, but, these are things that I’m embarrassed about myself, but what if I just wasn’t embarrassed about it, and it was just like a quirky thing that people could know about me, rather than being embarrassed about, you know, being a control freak. If I just say, “Yeah, y’all know me, I’m a control freak, just move along. Go about your day.” If I just owned it, then I wouldn’t have to be worried about it.
SUMMER: That’s awesome. I love it. So good. That’s so good. I love that that had such an impact on you. So what were some of the specific things you’ve noticed about how you feel about your body since doing the program?
DELANEY: Definitely, I notice what I’m thinking a lot more. So instead of just having a constant negative feedback loop of information, there are some times when I can actually say, “Oh wait, I am belittling myself for no reason. Let’s just pause, take a breath, and keep going with my day.” And just more awareness of, “Wow, why am I being terrible to myself right now?” Nothing even happened. Just a little pause. And more of like a tangible thing, I’ve, not all the time, but sometimes, worn things that were… I was definitely still uncomfortable in them, but the fact that I wore them at all was a big step. So I wore shirts that were a little tighter or kind of clinged to my stomach, which is the part of my body that I’m really self-conscious about, and bolder prints, you can’t see this, I’m wearing a cheetah-print top right now.
SUMMER: I love it!
DELANEY: Which I would never wear, but I just bought it on Friday, and decided to wear it this weekend. So just a little more bold than I normally would be, which is not bold.
SUMMER: That’s awesome! That’s amazing. And so, I know you talked about the soda thing, you mentioned wearing the clothes and stuff. Were there any other highlight moments for you, that you wanted to share?
DELANEY: I was saying a little bit earlier, just how the frustrations I had with my body really took me out of social situations, and I was just really in my head about it. And on New Year’s Eve, we went to a big get-together with a lot my husband’s friends that are newer acquaintances to me, and it was the first time in awhile that I actually went out and kind of mingled with people, and wasn’t completely losing my mind the whole time. And I enjoyed myself, and obviously I was still, there were still moments of, “Oh god, what are you doing?” But it wasn’t that constant 100% of the time. There were moments of silence, where I actually could just enjoy myself, and I wasn’t thinking about everything that other people could possibly be thinking about me, which was really nice. And I posted a picture of myself wearing a two-piece bathing suit onto my social media, which is wild.
DELANEY: And I wrote a poem.
SUMMER: Oh, yeah!
SUMMER: That’s right, that’s right. And so how–
DELANEY: Which I haven’t done anything with yet.
SUMMER: Well, it’s really good!
DELANEY: Thank you.
SUMMER: Really good, really good. How did all that feel?
DELANEY: I’m keeping the ball rolling. Slow progress. Just kind of chipping away, one thing after the next. But it was all scary, for sure. But I was proud of myself for each one after.
SUMMER: Yeah. It’s amazing. Good job.
SUMMER: Yeah! But you did it. you did the thing, and to go from being so stressed out in social situations, to having moments where you’re able to just be present and enjoy, that’s a huge change.
DELANEY: Yeah, it is. I just found my consistent thing is that I’m always in my head. So to not be in my head, especially with something like that, was really nice.
SUMMER: Yeah. Brilliant. So how does it feel to work through some of these things and get that baggage off your shoulders and be where you are now?
DELANEY: It feels good! I definitely am going to redo a lot of the activities and keep on revisiting and rethinking some of the things. And I’m going to get in my head about it again, but I think it’s all things that yes, valuable to do the first time, but you could always revisit and learn something new.
DELANEY: So I think I’m going to redo several of them. Some of them were really difficult the first time, it would be easier to do again, now that I’m past where I was.
SUMMER: And that’s the way it’s set up, so that you can do that, and that the tools remain relevant no matter where you are in this process. And that you get something new out of it every time you revisit it, or you can lean on it when you’re going through a situation where you’re starting to feel body shame again, or you’re getting in your head.
So yeah, that’s awesome. I commend you for doing that, for committing to it and putting in the work, and continuing to put in the work. Because a year from now, it’ll be amazing to see where you are and what you’ve done, and how far you’ve come. Because you did the benchmark score, right?
DELANEY: Yeah. And I’m really glad that you had that in there. So it was this little quiz that you filled out before, then filled out at the last module, and I think I had like thirty or something points difference, which, it was on a scale of 100, so it was a pretty big difference.
SUMMER: Yeah, I feel like your score almost doubled or something. It was really good.
DELANEY: I have my little journal here. Let me see if I can find it. The first one was like 53 or something, and the other one was in the 80s, I think.
SUMMER: Yeah, that’s amazing. My head goes right to calculating percentages because of my history of work?? analyst, so I was trying to calculate your percentage. That’s a 50% increase or something.
DELANEY: Okay, I don’t see it right away.
SUMMER: Don’t worry about it. It was a significant increase. It was either 50% or more.
DELANEY: Oh I just found it! It was 57 to 84.
SUMMER: Yeah! That’s amazing. That’s awesome.
DELANEY: And I was kind of feeling when I did the quiz, that week, I was feeling kind of, “Ah, I don’t know if I really made that much progress. I don’t feel that different,” but then when I actually, let’s see, I guess I do feel that different, because that’s a huge change.
SUMMER: Yeah, that’s great. Because it’s one of those things, that it’s not a tangible change. It’s not like, we’re so used to weight loss programs, where, okay, you lose weight. That’s the goal. You can physically see it. But with mental stuff, you don’t physically see it. It just shows up differently in your life, and it’s hard to account for that, and so that’s why I do have you take stock of that in the beginning, to make sure that you’re acknowledging your progress, and also if things aren’t changing, then we’ll change things up and do it differently. So I’m so glad you did that.
So yeah! So how are you feeling now? Do you feel like you’re able to be a little more present, or you’re less in your head a bit? What’s it like to be where you are now, versus when you started?
DELANEY: I’m feeling… one of the things that you were saying is that the goal isn’t to love your body. And I’ve just really noticed that I can kind of see myself or see pictures of myself, or walk by a reflection, and doesn’t impact my whole day. It doesn’t, no. I can just look at it and be like, “Well, I don’t love it, but okay, bye.” It’s just not consuming 100% of my life. I would even say it’s not even consuming 25% of my life, which is absolutely wild, from where I was freshman year of college. And hardly even surviving. It’s a really big difference.
SUMMER: Yeah, that’s amazing. Awesome! What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone who’s listening?
DELANEY: I would say, ask for help if you need it. I want to say two pieces.
SUMMER: Yeah, that’s fine! That was really short, so–
DELANEY: Seriously ask for help, especially professional help, because it’s really hard to navigate everything on your own. But I think, and I don’t think that I specifically heard this from you, but I heard this or found this or something along this process, and it’s like, really been a good reminder for me throughout, is that: treat yourself like your best friend.
For me, it’s really hard to just be nice to myself and have compassion for myself, and so, thinking about why, why are you talking to yourself like this? Why are you judging yourself? Why do you have these low standards? And then even, “Is this how you would want your best friend to eat? Do you want your best friend to eat shitty boxed diet food every day, and be sad? No.” If your friend is coming over for dinner, what are you going to make them?
DELANEY: Why don’t you make that for yourself? Just, if you have a hard time, which I definitely do, with just respecting yourself on your own, picture your best friend, and just be like that to you.
SUMMER: Yeah. Brilliant. So good. So true, too. That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much. Is there anything else that you want to share before we wrap it up?
DELANEY: It’s really hard work, but you’re strong as hell, and you can do it.
SUMMER: Yes! I agree. Well, thank you. I’m so proud of you. Like really, really proud.
DELANEY: Thank you.
SUMMER: It’s been awesome to see you show up every week and do the work, and you always had such thoughtful questions. You’d always thought through.
DELANEY: Thank you for always answering thirty minutes of questions for me.
SUMMER: They were always really thoughtful, and just being so honest and vulnerable through the process. You just have so much to be proud of. Like I said, I can’t wait to see where you are in like a year. I think it’s going to be even more amazing. Just seeing you in the leopard top right now, I’m like, Oh yeah, she’s here, she’s doin’ it.
DELANEY: Well I really appreciate it, and I loved the program and I love being in the group. And I’ll post updates. But I had a great time, and just for people listening, I am a huge fan of your podcast, I binged all of the episodes, they’re great, you should definitely… and the Body Image Series is amazing.
SUMMER: Good. Super fan! That’s awesome. Thank you so much, Delaney.
DELANEY: Thank you!
SUMMER: I’m so proud of how far Delaney has come in our time together. It’s just really really amazing to see. And I just know she’s going to be in an even more amazing position in like a year from now.
So next up, we are chatting with Miriam. Miriam is 56 years old and felt like her body was never good enough, through the majority of her life. And that spiralled into her thinking that her life wasn’t good enough, and feeling like she had to get everything perfect and controlled and if she did that, then she would finally be happy.
And she felt tired and defeated from all that energy that she was expending on thinking about these things and criticizing herself. And she’s come such a long way, and I’m really really proud of what she’s been able to accomplish. She was able to take a huge leap and do something that was a big dream of hers, which you will hear about, so this is Miriam’s spotlight.
SUMMER: Hi, Miriam, welcome to the show!
MIRIAM: Hi, Summer. Thanks for having me.
SUMMER: Thanks! It’s so nice to see you. So before we get into things, I’d love you to just tell our listeners just a little bit about who you are, what you do, where you live.
MIRIAM: I live in a rural burg north of London, Ontario. I grew up in Haliburton, and came to London to university, met the love of my life, and the rest is kind of history. We put down roots here, and have lived here ever since.
SUMMER: And how many kids do you have?
MIRIAM: I have three children. I have one who is doing her residency, her medical residency, right now. IT’s quite an interesting time for her, and she’s pretty nervous with this, with the Covid that’s coming through, and what that might mean to her and her life, and her preparedness. And then I have twins, who are in their 4th year of university.
MIRIAM: Yeah, a little bit busy at times. Not as much now that they’re older but still busy.
SUMMER: Still busy. So why don’t you tell everyone a little bit about your frustrations were with your body or with your relationship with food before we started working together.
MIRIAM: My frustration was that it just wasn’t good enough. And if my body wasn’t good enough, that spiraled to my life wasn’t good enough. Things just weren’t good enough.
And I felt, if I could just make it perfect, if I could just change the way I looked, and lost ten pounds, had my windows washed and my floor cleaned, if I could just do it and have the perfect controls in life, the happier I would become and finally feel good enough.
SUMMER: And how long was that going on for you?
MIRIAM: You know, I don’t know when it started. It’s not like all of the sudden you go, “Oh, today, I’m going to become a mess.” It likely just continued to creep, like as something, it kind of started when I was eight, with a situation, comments, that wasn’t solely to me, but when I look back, I go, “Okay, for the next person, it wouldn’t have defined them,” but for me, that became my defining moment.
Then, there’s just, as life goes on, you interpret comments, or you interpret gestures, that reinforce that feeling, and it just continues to grow. I think you look for it. I don’t know whether you look for it, but you see it. You see things and you kind of make that part of the package, and so the package becomes bigger and bigger, and at some point in your life, maybe for some people it doesn’t, but for me, it was when my kids left. All three of them left in the same year, for university, moving out, and my daughter getting married.
And that, all of the sudden, I was really lost. And I was really tired, and became unhappy. When the doctor was like, I was physically not feeling well, for medical testing there were some things that were weird, but then they didn’t really lead to anything, and then his answer was, “I think you’re depressed.”
And I thought, “I am NOT depressed. I won’t fall into that.” and I was like, “Okay, got to find a solution, you have to do something. Because you don’t want to live your life this way.” I didn’t know what I was going to find, and I actually was looking for the answer again in, “Okay, I’ll just look for another diet.”
MIRIAM: “…Look for another program. I’ll look for something that’s going to give me the perfect answer. Because there’s got to be an answer out there, that’s going to click for me.” But you keep trying and failing and trying and giving up and starting again, and that was kind of my impetus. For January 1st, I was going to find another kick-ass nutritional program.
SUMMER: Yeah. And so, what prompted you to make the change and start to work on accepting your body as it is?
MIRIAM: Well, I did join a nutritional program, and within that structure, it was also about, within their recipe of losing weight, and photos, and all of that stuff, it was also about finding out who you were, learning to love yourself, what’s your mission statement, what are you why’s in your life, what makes you happy, what makes you sad, how do you dial more into things that make you happy, how do you say not ot the things that don’t fulfill you?
And I was 56, I’d never answered those questions in my life. I just kind of went through life. Maybe on a certain level you do, because you tend to gravitate to what makes you happy and you tend to leave what doesn’t make you happy, but when you really think about it, when somebody asked me what my mission statement was, I was like, “Dude, I don’t know. I don’t know what my mission in my life is. Raise my children? I guess, I don’t know. Now they’re gone, is that why I’m sad?” So it was quite an eye-opener, to start peeling the layers back, and some of the layers I peeled back, and I didn’t like, I put the layer back up, like “Oh god, I don’t know how to deal with that Pandora’s Box.”
Because I knew there was a Pandora’s Box there, but I didn’t know what was inside the box. And then, that led me to you. Because I was talking with my coach about my body image issues, and she suggested to follow you in your blogs, which I did, and I followed you for a year, a little bit for a year, and then joined You, On Fire.
SUMMER: Yeah. And I’m so glad you found me.
MIRIAM: I am too!
SUMMER: So in terms of moving forward, what were some of the things that you felt really helped you along the way?
MIRIAM: The structure of your program, for me, was so good. Because I would look at the first question, how you had, almost like an essay, you’d have this generalized introduction statement about what we were going to be doing in this module, and I’d kind of go, “I don’t know if that really relates to me.” And, or, “Oh yeah, maybe, but I’m not quite sure what she’s asking.” But a lot of it was I think a little bit of denial. I was like, “Oh, I’m not sure if that really relates to me.”
And then, the questions just kept dialing down and dialing down, and I took the time, I really took the time to write my answers out, and by the time I got to the last question, which usually had, what, ten or fifteen, something like that, I’d have this major epiphany, and kind of go, “Oh! Oh my goodness! That’s what that’s about! Oh, well now I have clear insight as to why I do some of the things I do.” Good and bad. And so, I would say that was really great for me.
And the other was that I felt it was a very contained and safe environment. And I could be brutally honest with myself. And other people were brutally honest, and I was like, “Wow, they’ve got some big warts, and I’ve got some big warts. That’s okay.” Right? And I can verbalize my warts and not pretend they’re not there, and that was really helpful, because I’d lied to myself. I realized how much I’d lied to myself in my life, wasn’t honest.
SUMMER: I’m really curious to know, because you mentioned drilling down. Was there any, is there an example you can share, that you can think of, that might give it a little bit more context?
MIRIAM: I should’ve read one of the modules through. I didn’t.
SUMMER: I’m trying to think of something too.
MIRIAM: I guess one of them was the doppelganger. I was like, “Oh, who’s that? What is that? What’s that all about?” And I kind of went, “I don’t know. Do I have somebody on my shoulder kind of talking to me? I don’t know.” I know I have this voice in my head every once in a while that seems to talk back to me.
And it was just kind of, I guess the question was, do you have a doppelganger? Well, I don’t know. And then it was, well, when you close your eyes and visualize, when you have that voice speaking to you, what could you visualize it as? Mine became a snake. Okay, well, now, what does your snake do? And it was just answering all of those questions, and then realizing that the doppelganger was not there to be Satan in my head, that it was there to be, or I guess I shouldn’t use a religious connotation, but it was there to protect me from what I had been hurt from in the past.
And it was working through those questions and to see that connection to the lonely girl with the doppelganger, and the doppelganger is saying mean things to me because it’s trying to protect me from putting myself out there, so I can’t be hurt again. And to understand that cycle and that you then can start breaking it. That’s where I kind of dialed down. I can’t think of all the questions that were asked–
SUMMER: Yeah, no, you don’t need to. I’m just curious to know, even from that, and for people that are listening and are like, “What is she talking about in terms of a doppelganger?” it’s really just like our inner critic, the negative voice in our head. What was the impact of having that knowledge, on your life and what you were able to then do after having that information?
MIRIAM: For me, knowledge is power. I always knew that there was a reason why, and I wanted to know what the reason why I became the way I did, did the destructive things, because I didn’t think it was just willpower. So I went down the path of, “Well, maybe if I had B12, I won’t do it, or maybe if I diet, or maybe if I lose 10 pounds,” whatever. I thought that would give me my answer.
MIRIAM: Those whys and that insight. So that connection of this doppelganger, this inner critic, and really understanding that it really is like a force in my life, and to recognize it and to understand why it’s there, took away that feeling that my life was out of control because it was under the control of some other force that I didn’t know.
SUMMER: Yeah, wow .Super powerful.
MIRIAM: And now I don’t feel that anymore. I feel like I have my own ability to steer my own boat. Yes, I’m not perfect. There’s still so many things to learn, and as we discussed last night on our last follow-up call, it will always be there. It’s just learning how to interact with it, to interact with your critic, will be whether you’re going to be a victim of it, or whether it’s going to be just somebody that’s in your life.
SUMMER: Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. Super powerful to have that impact how you show up. And I know, in our conversations together, what I noticed was how you were able to then stop taking the direction of it, and to take action from a place of what you truly want, and really showing up as who you are, versus sort of conforming to the direction of that voice inside of you. That’s what I noticed.
MIRIAM: Yeah, yeah. I would say so.
SUMMER: So what are some of the specific things that you feel about yourself now, since doing this work together?
MIRIAM: Much happier. But I was happy before too, so I wouldn’t say I had an unhappy life, but now, I feel much more complete. I feel like I’m in control of my life. I don’t understand how my friends and my family don’t say, “Wow, what happened to you?” Because I think I look completely different, that they would say, “Wow, you’re just such a different person!”
But I guess it’s an internal thing,and it doesn’t show completely on the outside. But there’s less baggage. I make decisions now because that’s something I would like to do, not in a selfish way, not like, “Well, I want to go to Bali,” it’s not that kind of “I want to,” but it’s like, for an example, one of my things was I love to be connected to people. That was one of the things that I worked through, and I discovered it about myself with you.
And belonging and being connected to people was very, very important to me. And I would always say, “Oh Summer, do you want to go for coffee?” and Summer would say, “Oh yes, of course I do.” But Summer wouldn’t ask me back. And that would be like, “What’s the use? Why do I have to keep asking?” I would spin it in such a negative way. And now, I’m like, I’ll just ask Summer again. Because I don’t care whether Summer asks me that, because I’m doing it because I want to connect with her. And if she says yes, then she obviously wants to connect with me, but if she doesn’t ask me, that’s okay. She might be too busy, it might not be important to her to ask. She’s a different person, and maybe her need for connection is totally different than mine, and mine I know is very large. And I’m okay with that now.
So it takes away that whole spin of all the negative crap that it was in my life. And it makes you so tired, right? Like, comparing yourself to others and finding yourself needing something, whatever that need is, because you’re never good enough. There’s always somebody that’s got a better purse or pair of shoes, or a cleaner house, or better hair, or nicer eyebrows. It never ever ends. And when we’re in that cycle, it just sucks the life right out of you. And the biggest change is that I have room in my life for so many other things.
SUMMER: Yeah. That gives me goosebumps hearing you say that.
MIRIAM: Yeah, I do.
SUMMER: Yeah, so what were some of the highlights for you, or what are some of those other things that you’ve been able to make space for?
MIRIAM: Well, my biggest thing is my art. So I always wanted to, I was always creative. I’ve designed, I’ve done things, I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I’ve always wanted to be, and never had the confidence to do it, didn’t know where to start. And so, in my journey kind of finding myself, I had a challenge a couple years ago to do something, what’s the biggest desire that you would want to do, and that you’re afraid to do? It was painting.
So I went, okay, I put the phone down, found a painting lesson in London and went to it. But I want to go to the next level. I want to call myself an artist, I want to take it seriously, I want it to be part of my life. It’s a passion that pulls me, and so I think that’s where I have the biggest opening of my life, is to be able to start exploring my creativity.
Because if you don’t have confidence, if you don’t have that open space in yourself, you can’t create art, if you’re a critic of who you are. You judge every brushstroke you put down, every color. It’ll look like we’ve been thinking along the way, looks like we’ve been judging oureself, because it becomes this stiff black box in the middle of the white page, so to speak. And yeah, that would be my biggest thing of where my life has gone.
SUMMER: And you signed up for a course. That was a big move for you. Well, I don’t know, you can tell me, whether or not you would’ve done that before, or if that was something that you feel this gave you the real courage to sign up for that course.
MIRIAM: Yeah. So I signed up for “Art of Life’ which is a very phenomenal program that has so many fundamental beliefs to it, even though it’s an art course, that’s so similar to yours. It’s about that whole growth of accepting where you are in your. path. Where you are right now in your path is where you need to be. Don’t envy people that are ahead of you, and don’t pity the people who are behind you.
You can help the people behind you, and the people ahead of you will help you. So I wouldn’t have signed up for this. It’s a big investment and it’s a big investment in time, so it was me being able to be in the place to say, “No, this is important to me and my family. This 12 weeks, this is what I’m doing.” And I’m taking myself serious. And you have to, too, because this is what I’m doing.
And so I had that mental place to be able to make that decision. And also, I think what really gave me that spark and the decision that I knew I could do it, was when we did that visualization, and we visualized meeting our future self, and saying hello, and talking to them. And I was like, that’s me! That’s who I’m going to be. And I was like, “Okay, she’s a kick-ass artist. I am going to be a kick-ass artist. That’s me.”
And so, it just gave me, I just lost doubt that this program was not for me. At times, I still have pretty big hiccups, because some of the artists that are in this group, they’ve been coming back for four or five years, and they are international artists. They’re incredible. They’re just incredibly talented or successful. Because I think everybody can learn to be creative, so I don’t want to say talented in the sense that you’re born with it or not born with it, I don’t believe that at all, I think people just have a passion and when you follow your passion, you just become really good at what you do, when you follow your passion.
But anyway, I’m definitely on a different place on the path than these other individuals are, and it is a little big, I have to swallow sometimes posting my work up besides somebody else’s, but that’s okay. This is where I am today, and tomorrow I’ll be on a different place in the path. In five years from now, I’ll be on a different place in the path. And so, I’m just going to learn what I can today, with what I have.
SUMMER: And that’s what I really admire about you, is that that takes a lot of bravery and courage. Because what I remember is, when we first started this together, you didn’t even want to paint sometimes, because your inner critic was so loud, and you were just afraid of people judging you, or it not being good enough, and so to see you come to this place where you’re in this course, you’re sharing your work with all these other people, and people who have more experience and things like that.
I’m just, I think it’s so cool, and I love the way that you coming into this program has kind of evolved into you now having, well, you already had the passion, but you being able to really express it and invest your time in it. And connect with it from a real purposeful place, and share that with others. And so, yeah, it just shows that it’s so much more than just the body. You know? If people are listening to this, you know, yes, You on Fire is really a body image program, but ultimately, it’s so much bigger than that, and you’re just an example of how that can play out in someone’s life, and I just really admire what you’ve been able to do with that, and how you’ve been able to take action from everything that you’ve learned.
MIRIAM: Thanks, Summer! Because in the end, it isn’t about your body. It is, that’s what society leads you to, it’s an easy thing. It’s an easy thing for our critic, our inner critic, to make you fixate on, because it’s around us everywhere, so it’s the easiest thing to use to punish yourself in a way.
MIRIAM: But in the end, it’s not about your body. And I guess that’s the biggest epiphany I had. It’s just not about my body.
MIRIAM: I didn’t need to love it.
MIRIAM: I didn’t love it. That actually was one of the biggest things for me, is that I always was like, “Well, you’ve got to love it! You’ve got to love yourself!” And you were like, “No, why do you have to love it? Why do you have to say you love everything about yourself?” You know, I don’t love everything about my husband. And he doesn’t love everything about me. So why do I have to love everything about my body? I don’t.
MIRIAM: And as soon as I kind of went, “Oh, so I can say I hate my fluffy middle? Perfect!” And I still don’t like it, but I don’t need to change it.
MIRIAM: And that’s where the difference is. So I always felt I had to change it to love it, and now, I don’t have to love it. I can just say, “Oh, yeah, looks pretty shitty today, but whatever.”
SUMMER: And go on with your day, and still do stuff, and not let it eat away at you and change your decisions and anything else like that.
MIRIAM: It’s just, in the end, it’s not about my body, it’s about who I am.
SUMMER: Yeah. Brilliant. So how does all that feel, then? To be where you are now, and not have that dictating everything?
MIRIAM: I hate to say empowering, because that just to me is such a trite term in some ways. Because it’s always used, “I’m so empowered, I’m so empowered.” I guess… I feel like I’m on fire. I feel this anticipation of what’s around the corner, what possibilities are out there for me. Because I spent so much time, and you don’t realize how much time you spend, and how much mental energy you spend, counting your calories, and wondering, are carrots okay? Because they have sugar. So then, do I eat an apple? Because that has sugar. You know, what’s a palm size of chicken? Is that before you cook it or after you cook it? So then you’re on the internet for three days about whether the palm size is pre-cooked or post-cooked, and it’s so ridiculous! You do. Well, I did.
SUMMER: I hear you. Yes. I had an Excel spreadsheet. I get it.MIRIAM: You’re counting, so much of your time and energy is just spent on that. And I was tired. SO I’m not tired anymore. Now I’m energized. I’m on fire. So, I remember our first call, you said, “You look so defeated. You look so tired.” And I’m like, “Yeah, because if this isn’t going to get me to the next point in my life, I don’t know what is, because I’m tired of it all. I am pretty defeated about it.” So–
SUMMER: I don’t remember telling you that. I feel like, “Oh did I really say that?” But I suppose I am honest, I say what I see, so.
MIRIAM: You could see it, so you said that. I can see that. I looked like tired… so.
SUMMER: Yes, yes. yeah. And you know, I recall, the last time we talked, not the last time we talked but the time before that, when you were like, “I feel like Freddie Mercury. I feel so free.” And so, yeah, big change, and that’s amazing that we are where we are now. And I’m super proud of you. So that’s amazing.
MIRIAM: Thanks. Yeah, I’m super happy.
SUMMER: Good, good. Is there any piece of advice you want to give to people listening, before we wrap up?
MIRIAM: I would say, I wish I had the wisdom or the vision when I was younger, to start following this, to want to end it, to realizing that your body is not the answer. You think it is, and you’re so focused on that. I just hope that somebody hearing me would say, “Okay, maybe she’s right, maybe there’s another answer that I can find to find happiness and to get out of this cycle.” Because even when I first started with you, sometimes, I was like, “That’s bullshit, that doesn’t have anything to do with me.” I’d be like, and then it was like, no, she’s right. Really, it is right. It isn’t about the body, and you’ve got to get over that.
I thought I could kind of have all of it. I could still make myself tiny, I could still do this, I could still do that, because Summer didn’t know what she was talking about. And so, I just hope somebody realizes that, you know what? In your eulogy, you don’t want somebody to say, “Man! She knew how to diet and had clean windows!” That’s a sad eulogy. You want to be known for something else. You don’t want to be wasting so much of our precious time in life worrying about whether you got leopard skin shoes and a tight pair of jeans. It doesn’t matter.
MIRIAM: It doesn’t matter anymore.
SUMMER: So good. So well said. So well said. Well, thank you so much for that. Is there anything you want to add before we wrap it up?
MIRIAM: No! You’ve got a great program, and I super appreciate everything that you’ve done for me, and you had such a great way of using words to give me a bit of an answer but then make me look and answer it myself. And then when I get a little bit down, you kind of just have the right way of, or if I get stuck, of just rewording something, and then I kind of go “Oh! Here’s another way of looking at that!” And just, twisting that thought pattern just a little bit, that you can get yourself out of that hole, and get back to moving forward and moving forward. So I do super appreciate it.
SUMMER: Oh, thank you. That’s such a nice compliment. I really appreciate that. Well it’s been such a pleasure, I just love seeing how far you’ve gotten in our short time together. And I can’t wait to see where you are a year from now, and just what you’re up to and what you’re doing. You’re truly an inspiration for, like, especially people who are kind of feeling like, “Okay, I’ve been doing this for so long. What is the point?” And that it’s never too late to do this work. Not that you’re like old or anything like that, but just, I know that–
MIRIAM: Even if you’re seventy, you’re never too late. Even if you’re eighty, you’re never too late. If you’re still alive, it’s never too late.
MIRIAM: Because you still have life ahead of you, and why waste what you have?
SUMMER: Yeah, awesome. And I just have so much respect for you and for trusting me with this process, so thank you.
MIRIAM: Thanks, Summer.
SUMMER: Thanks, rock on!
SUMMER: Okay, I’m so proud of Miriam. It’s really really cool to see how far she’s gotten, and I know she made that comment about me saying she looked tired, and how she just feels so much more energized now, and it’s really amazing to hear the difference in people’s voices and see that in their demeanor once they’ve done this work.
And so, I hope that you feel inspired, and that this is possible for you. That it is possible for you to go from fretting about your body, to just not really thinking about it that much anymore. Not having it consume your life. And to start to see you for who you are, and really really experience life to its fullest.
So if you want to learn more, then go to summerinnanen.com/youonfire. You can also find the video version of these spotlights, and a link to watch the entire spotlight series, which has I think over 20 interviews from people who have done this program with me over the years, at summerinnanen.com/164. I’ve been running this program for almost five years, and I am always blown away by the transformations that take place.
And it’s just so much more than liking the way that you look. It’s not even about that, as you heard a lot of them say. Sometimes they don’t like the way they look. It’s about not caring about the way that they look, and it’s about really knowing their value is in who they are, and not how they look, and freeing up that mental space so that they can just be, and be more present, and enjoy life. So if you’re curious to do that with me, take that leap, let’s do this. Now is the time. Think about how far you could be in three months from now. Why wait any longer? This is your time. Let’s do this.
Okay, thank you so much for listening today. Rock on.
OUTRO: I’m Summer Innanen and I want to thank you for listening today. You can follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, @SummerInnanen. If you haven’t yet, go to Apple Podcasts and subscribe, rate, and review this show. I would be so grateful. Until next time, rock on!