eating disorders

When Do Eating Habits Become An Eating Disorder? [Podcast Episode #090]

When I first became interested in "healthy eating," I felt that I needed to take everything to the extreme. 

No fat.

Absolutely no sugar.

Not a trace of any processed food.

​I felt guilty if anything passed through my lips that wasn't a plant or some sort of ultra-lean protein. I was obsessed with my so-called "clean" eating.

Sure, I looked good and physically felt great, but mentally and emotionally those stringent eating rules were taking their toll. At what point does the quest for clean eating become an eating disorder? When do we become too extreme?​

Episode Resources:

When Do Eating Habits Become An Eating Disorder? [Full Text]

Dave: Hey, thanks so much for joining me in this episode of the Make Your Body Work podcast. As you know, this show is all about helping you live a healthier and happier life. Today we're talking about something that we actually haven't specifically talked about on the show before. It all came from a question from Lindsay.

Here's what Lindsay wrote in. She said, "I've been battling my weight ever since I can remember. I remember doing my first diet when I was maybe 11 or 12 years old and I haven't really stopped since. I know that it's not helpful to stop eating, but I feel bad when I eat bad foods and the way I cope is to stop eating until I deserve to eat again."

Lindsay, I just wanna say thanks for opening up and sharing that. This is a question, I'll admit, compared to some of the other topics that I get questions about, this is something specifically about eating disorders. That idea of not deserving to eat is something that not a lot of people write about and I just wanna say kudos to you because it takes some vulnerability to say, "Hey, this is where I'm at."

As soon as I got your question ... I just got this question very recently and right away I knew who I needed to have on the show. One of my fitness besties, Jennipher Walters from Fit Bottomed Girl. She's been on the podcast, on the Make Your Body Work podcast, a couple of times and has kind of shared a little bit of her story, but when you hear her speak in response to Lindsay's email, you're gonna understand, Lindsay and to all the other listeners, how close you hit home to where Jennipher was at at one point in her life.

I know this is gonna be really helpful to you, Lindsay, and to anyone else who thinks that maybe they have an unhealthy relationship with food, that maybe feels as though food and dieting has become a little bit of a point of fixation in their life and maybe if you just wanna get out of that and rediscover where your true value comes from, Jenn's message is gonna be a really, really helpful one. I'm excited to introduce to you again, Jennipher Walters.

Re-Meet Jennipher Walters

Hey, Jenn. Thanks for joining us on the show today.

Jennipher: Thanks for having me.

Dave: I should say thanks for coming back to the show again today. You've been here, oh, at least two other times.

Jennipher: [inaudible 00:02:33]

Dave: Yeah. Maybe you can start off by telling, since the audience is already quite familiar with you and Fit Bottomed Girls, can you tell us about what are you working on right now?

Jennipher: Yeah. The cool stuff, I would say in the Fit Bottomed world, is that we always have Fit Bottomed Zen as kind of our newest property and it's very self-confidence focused and love-yourself focused and kind of find your purpose. Gets a little woo-woo-y sometimes, but in a accessible, fun way.

That's always cool and then the other two new things that we have going on are our Fit Bottomed Girls podcast. If you like to listen to podcasts or if you don't and haven't, it's a good one to start with. We get to talk to all kinds of cool people like Dave. Dave's been on our show a couple times, but we've talked to everybody from Jillian Michaels to Bob Harper to Molly Simms to Chalene Johnson.

We just had some amazing interviews and I love exactly what you do is you just having these really awesome, in-depth, authentic conversations that are really inspiring, interesting, and give you some great tips. They always just leave me feeling lighter with something new to try. They're always really cool.

Then we have the Fit Bottomed Girls retreat, which is a live event happening in the Santa Cruz area August 11th through the 13th, which is a two-night immersion into being an FBG and that is at 1440 Multiversity. If you go to 1440.org and just search for Fit Bottomed Girls, you can come up with us and get more details there.

And I guess the last thing ... I'm just gonna continue rambling. Is that we always work with you, Dave, on the 10 in 4 program, the 10 in 4 challenge, which Kristen and I, my business partner, we absolutely love, love doing. More information for that is at fitbottomedgirls.com/coaching.

Dave: Man, every time I talk to you, it makes me feel so lazy. Just 'cause you're doing so much.

Jennipher: Oh, my gosh. No, no. You are definitely not the definition of lazy.

Excited! The Fit Bottomed Girls Retreat is Coming Soon

Dave: I'm interested to talk a little more about your retreat. Is this your first ever face-to-face live event for Fit Bottomed Girls?

Jennipher: Yeah. It's like a multi-day thing. We've done a few things here in Kansas City, I live in Kansas City, that have been kind of like a half-day or a couple hours, like a workout, an educational component.

But this is the first time we're going somewhere else and it's in the California Redwoods. It's in a beautiful, semi-remote area. It looks like it's beautiful. Yeah, we will be in a classroom and we'll be doing workouts together with people, having a really good time.

But really focusing on not a one-size-fits-all approach to people getting healthy, but really helping people to figure out what's gonna work for them in their life and then breaking through their own barriers that maybe they have around yo-yo dieting or emotional eating or just they can't quite seem to get healthy.

There is no one-size-fits-all diet. Learn to listen to your body. It knows what it wants and needs

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Getting to the root of that and then giving them solutions that work for them and then connecting as a group. That's kind of what I'm most excited about as we spend, Kristen and I spend so much time online, on social media, on our websites, and I think it'll be just really cool to be face to face and have those moments.

I think Kristen and I will probably actually get out of it as much as the people coming get out of it, but that's that cool group dynamic that I think is amazing to see. I'm so excited.

Dave: That's so cool. I'm excited for you because by nature of being online, it's so rare that we get to meet our followers or people who listen to the podcast, whoever it is, face to face so I'm jealous. This inspires me. I feel like I need to do a Make Your Body Work retreat at some point as well.

Jennipher: You should. And if ours goes well, maybe well do a little combo one.

The Guilt and Shame That Comes With Food Choices

Dave: I really like that idea, definitely. It's interesting the whole purpose of your retreat here is kind of that emotional side or the psychological side of healthy living and fitness and just ties so well into this question that we're tackling today, which is kind of a heavy-duty question.

Lindsay wrote in and talks about how basically ever since she remembers, she's been dieting and just has never really been able to get off this diet rollercoaster. She just says she has a tough time coping and is just feeling like she doesn't deserve to eat again. Using some of this really heavy language.

Jenn, I feel ... I've learned so much from talking to you about this psychological side. When you read Lindsay's question, first of all, did that resonate at all with you personally?

Jennipher: Oh, my gosh, yeah. My heart just went out to her and I feel like her experience and what she said was just so common for so many girls, for so many women, guys too, but especially for women. If you have been ... Gosh, I feel like if you started dieting at any age, it kind of jacks you up, like hormonally and mentally, but if you do it when you're so young, like 11 or 12, that just becomes so ingrained in your experience and your self-confidence.

I know for me, I got in a really bad place. I was a little bit older and actually no one ever told me like, "You need to lose weight or you need to do this." I kind of clearly picked up social cues or culturally felt like I needed to be a different size, but a lot of that started happening around when I went to prom, is kind of when I started to have the first instances where I was like, "Oh, well I need to make sure I'm ready for prom so I'm not gonna eat for like a day or two before so I'm ready." That's when my first crash dieting thing happened.

Then, for some reason that was cool and I still think that is culturally sometimes it's kind of cool to be like, "Oh, I'm gonna fine-tune or I'm really gonna clean up my diet for the short amount of time for the special event or something." That's just culturally accepted. I kind of started to get into that situation and then very soon after started to have a very clear idea of "good foods" and "bad foods" and then started associating a lot of guilt and shame.

I think this is akin to Lindsay's experience, too, of eating ... Whenever I would eat a bad food, then I would experience guilt and shame about that, about having a bad food. And that continued on with me off and on resulting in under-eating and then, consequently, over-eating and also over-exercising.

This is very common, gross yo-yo diet cycle that I think a lot of people get into. That followed me up until ... And I loved fitness. I was teaching group exercise classes in college and I was under-eating, over-exercising so I was starving.

I was so hungry and then I would binge on all of these bad, shameful, guilty foods that I thought and then internalize all those feelings, feel really crappy about myself and then get this renewed motivation to be like, "Now I'm gonna do it for real." And do the next diet crash thing.

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More extreme, work out harder, restrict myself more, and then it was just that process over and over and over and over again. What happened in that whole process that I think Lindsay's also probably feeling as well is that then I started to feel really crappy about myself.

I never stopped and thought, "Oh, this diet is stupid. This diet sucks. This cultural norm sucks." It was always, "I suck. I don't have any willpower. I don't have any control. Why can't I do this? What's wrong with me?"

There's so much guilt and shame and hidden feelings, 'cause it's not like this was something I was talking about at that time, that went along with it and it was an obsession for me. Counting calories was an obsession and it was a way for ... I spent so much time and so much energy and so much of those years of my life focused only on that. It's almost like I had blinders on for like the whole rest of my life.

I think that's what a lot of women, you get into this pattern. Obviously, there's also the physiological component of a lot of the foods that you typically, when you're so starved and then you binge, there's that high-fat, high-sugar, high-salt, drug-like reaction in your brain that goes on.

I feel like it's a really emotional, but also there is a body science side to it that makes it really difficult to sort out from in a lot of ways and it's also habitual. I don't think I began starting out as an emotional eater, but I think I ended up as an emotional eater because I got in the habit and then I was like, "Okay, that's how I cope with things."

Starting From a Place of Love

Dave: You used so many interesting sayings or pieces of language there. One that I wanna touch on is you used the word shame many times in what you just described there. It's interesting. I'm reading a book right now. I don't know if you've heard Daring Greatly?

Jennipher: Yeah. Brené Brown. She's awesome.

Dave: Yeah, okay. So you're familiar. You probably remember that she does a huge section talking about shame and I thought she did such a great job of describing what shame really is. Comparing shame versus embarrassment. Shame being where we actually take on a negative characteristic and attribute that to ourselves as a person as opposed to the action. You used it in such a perfect context there.

You talked about binging and instead of identifying the binge as being a negative action, you said, "Well, it's me. I'm such a bad person." Or, "How could I do that? I'm not worthy." And when we start to attribute those negative qualities to ourself, that's where our confidence gets shot and then we look to food for comfort and you can just understand, as you're talking, I just saw that vicious cycle being drawn out so clearly.

Jennipher: Yeah. Brené Brown has some Ted Talks, too, that are all on shame that really lay out exactly what you're talking about that she says in Daring Greatly. Anyone, just Google Ted Talk, Brené Brown, shame and you'll find it.

I very much internalized not what I did was bad, but that I am bad. And I think that's, once you get in there, it's kind of hard to get out unless you're really committed or I think if you're far enough habitualized into it. I got help from a registered dietician who specialized in emotional eating and intuitive eating. That's what really helped me.

I started becoming more mindful. I had accountability, I had support from her, I had someone that I could go and be completely vulnerable with, which I was not comfortable with at the time, but I had a really safe place to discover and go through all that.

That was before FBG started and actually all of that process, me kind of having the a-ha that realized, "Oh, my god. I'm more than the number on the scale. Oh, my god. Everything that I read in magazines says the complete opposite." Everything that you see everywhere. Nowadays, the landscape is better, but there's still plenty of it that says, "You will be a better person if you lose 10 pounds." That really just fuel the fire consciously and unconsciously.

That's why actually Fit Bottomed Girls was created was so that we could get a different message out there that was like, "Oh, no, honey. You are good as you are. You are perfectly deserving to be healthy and feel awesome. You do not need to lose 10 pounds, 100 pounds, however many pounds to be a value, to be worthy, to be beautiful.

You cannot hate yourself healthy." That is the bottom line. You cannot hate yourself healthy. Instead, you have to start from a place of self love, awareness, consciousness, and then now I feel, looking back, I am ...

I know this seems kind of crazy to say, but I am so grateful. I am so grateful for that experience because it taught me so much about myself and it opened up ... That process allowed me to realize that I was put on the planet to do more than worry about my weight and obsess about foods or calories or any of that. That my purpose was greater.

That was a really great entryway for me building my self-confidence and then also just kind of having a place in the world that was of more significance and value. None of us, none of us were put on the planet to worry about our weight. That's not why we're here.

Yes, the way you look influences the way you feel, BUT the way you feel is the first step to changing how you look

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Dave: I don't know if it was you that told me this or if I read it somewhere, but the idea that ... It was speaking directly to women and said if you took all of the brain power and the emotional power and the time and the energy and the money that women spend focusing, fixating on their weight needlessly, and invested that in whatever it is. Healing the world, caring for the poor, doing whatever. Man, our world would just be completely changed.

Jennipher: Totally changed. Totally changed. Because women are beasts, man. We are awesome organizers and multi-taskers and we put our mind to something and we do it. It's kind of the most feminist thing you can do to take your power back is to be like, "I'm not playing that game. I'm not doing it."

Dave: I love that quote. "Women are beasts."

Jennipher: Yes. We raise babies. We run companies. Yes, yeah.

Jennifer's "Aha!" Moment

Dave: Jenn, then for your story, personally then. What was it, you said an a-ha moment. How did you all the sudden realize that all this time, all this energy, all these thoughts, these aren't right? What was it?

Jennipher: I had been pretty sick of myself, if that makes sense. I was having this weird mix of both being like crazy obsessed with calories and all the yo-yo dieting, all that kinds of stuff, but also realizing like, "Dude, I am really unhappy and I don't wanna be unhappy anymore." I had an inner desire to want to find peace. I would say at that point I still probably wanted to weigh less. I still wanted ... My [inaudible 00:16:42] number was always 135. I still wanted to weight 135, but I still wanted some sort of peace.

I wanted some of the obsession in my head to quiet down and my now husband, then boyfriend, had proposed and I was planning my wedding. I thought, this was back in ... We got married in 2007 so this was obviously just a little bit before then.

I remember sitting there planning the wedding, going through stuff and I started doing some kind of yoga and meditation, was starting to pay more attention to my thoughts and then I thought, "Oh, my god. I am going to walk down the aisle and if I stay the way I am, I'm gonna walk down the aisle and I'm not gonna be present in that moment at all. I'm not gonna feel good about myself. It doesn't matter what I weigh or what I look like."

And I also didn't believe, like, there's no way I can hit 135. I've been trying at this for years and years and years. This is stupid. But I'm gonna just not focus on the meaning of the day, which is oh, my god. I'm getting married. I'm confessing my love in front of 200 of my closest friends and family to my husband.

No, I'm gonna think about, "Oh, god. Are the pictures gonna come back where my arms look fat or am I gonna fit in my dress?" It was just all this crap in my head. I was like, "That's not how I wanna walk down the aisle. That's not how I'm gonna spend that day. It's not gonna happen."

For me, that was my point where I was like, "You know what? I'm not doing this on my own. Yoga and meditation is not helping me out right now. I need the help of someone else," and then that's when I found the registered dietician who specialized in intuitive eating and emotional eating and I went in and saw her.

She's the one that dropped the bombshell on me. She was the one that was like, "Can you imagine what the women of this world would do if they stopped worrying about the number on the scale?" And I was like, "Oh, my god. I'm such an a-hole. I am such a self-centered ..."

I really felt like it was just so self-centered. I have everything in the world to be grateful for like food on the table, went to college, all this stuff. Completely. Life is set up for me. Life is not set up like this for a majority of people. And here I am making myself miserable for no damn good reason. It all just came to a head then and I was like, "Okay. Yeah."

Dave: Which is really ... It's neat to be able to say that, but it is such a fine line between walking and saying, "Okay, I'm not gonna let it dictate me. I'm not gonna let this be my purpose or let this dictate who I am," but at the same time striving to be your best version of yourself and to be fit and to be healthy.

In the 10 in 4 challenge we see this all the time, women struggling with that balance and I know in a lot of the content you guys have on your website, as well on mine, we talk about this. What would you say is kind of like ... Do have a mantra or do you have something that helps you navigate those two extremes?

The Art of Practicing Mindfulness

Jennipher: For me, it really is all about being mindful and taking the focus off of weight and size and physical attributes and putting it on how I feel and my performance.

That has always been ... I always know. And even now ... Even sometimes ... Especially, after I had my daughter, and obviously I gained like 30 pounds when I had Gwen, so that didn't come off immediately.

I remember after I had her and still had weight on where I was larger than I was used to and I started to kind of almost mentally I kind of went back to some other places and I was like, "Woah, what is happening?" I had to remind myself like, "No, you're a fit bottomed girl. This is our mission and everything."

But for a lot of it, it is where is the focus? What do I want? When I stopped thinking, "I wanna look like this," and I started thinking, "I wanna feel like this. I wanna feel good." When I started realizing, "Oh, the only reason I've been focused, I put all my focus on this special number on the scale was really just because I wanted to feel confident in my own skin. I wanted to feel comfortable in my own skin."

Once I kind of dropped the story and just focused on that, and didn't expect immediate results, was like okay, cool. I'm gonna take all that energy that I was spending on calorie counting and hating myself and instead I'm gonna start to slowly shift my thoughts to loving myself and then figure out what feels good for me. Does that mean that this food in the morning feels good for me or does this food in the morning feel better for me?

What does it feel like to order a burger and have fries and fully enjoy it without any guilt or shame and stop eating when I'm full? And know that if I have a craving for a burger and a fries later, I can have it later. How does that change how I feel? How does that change how I feel about my self-confidence and my body?

Then when I focus on all of that, I just kept fine-tuning it and I still fine-tune. How does something make me feel and if something's not making me feel good, okay, well, let's go change something. Let's tighten up things.

I think in 10 in 4 there's a lot of fine-tuning, there's a lot of here's general guidelines on what to do, but then you really get to choose your own adventure, is kind of how I like to say it, and pick what's working for you and what's not. And sometimes it's also just taking a beat to say, "You know what? I'm actually not hungry right now." My hunger cues were completely out of whack. Me just being more mindful and checking in.

In the beginning I would check in every hour. Jenn, how you feeling? Take a breath. How hungry are you? How full are you? Okay. Next hour. How hungry are you? Before you eat, how hungry are you? How full are you? After. How hungry are you? How full are you? Until I just figured out what hunger level felt good to eat at and what fullness level felt good to stop at. And then that just becomes a practice of that.

Dave: I know some of the women who are listening to this, they're probably thinking, "Oh, that sounds so easy. There's no way that that would be that revealing." Just the idea of stopping and thinking, but it is huge. This is, I'd say, one of the most common comments we see in the 10-4 challenge is women after that first week that say, "Oh, my gosh. I was eating for all the wrong reasons before.

It wasn't that they were bad people. It wasn't that they were necessarily addicted to food. It wasn't that they were completely unhealthy. It was just the fact that they weren't paying attention to it and when we do pay attention to it, our body, it really does give us a lot of signals and a lot of signs of what feels good. Like you said, when we need to eat, how much we need to eat, all those things are pretty pre-programmed into us.

Jennipher: Yep. And if you really stop ... And I know it's hard like if you're on a cycle of binge eating and you feel the anxiety that you need to eat, it can be hard to get a second, even a second, in between there, but if you can get a second to just think, "What am I really hungry for?" And then try to have the space to allow yourself to answer that question, you might be surprised.

I know I was that I was just like, "Oh, dude. I don't need a chocolate bar. I don't need anything like that. I need a hug. I need a massage. I need a nap. I need sunshine." You just get in the habit of reaching for food when you have any emotion.

Sometimes it's just like, "I need to feel my feelings." As corny as that sounds, I need to sit there and I need to feel my feelings because doesn't matter how much ... And I think we all know this, but it's hard in the moment. It doesn't matter how much ice cream I eat, it's not gonna make me not feel lonely.

Food is meant to be enjoyed, but remember it's true purpose: Eat to be strong and healthy. Use food to thrive!

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Live A Life Of Purpose

Dave: Then the bigger picture thing, like you talked about purpose. Man, the topic of purpose, that's something that's always on my mind. What are we here for and what are we doing with our lives and I think a lot about ... As you were speaking I was thinking about my mom because she's not a big lady by any means.

Actually, she's quite a tiny lady, but she'll talk about all through her teens and young adulthood, being on diets. Just diet after diet after diet, like crazy ones. I remember her telling me that she would go for like a week just eating saltine crackers and grapefruit and I just like ... Jeez.

You probably lost some weight and probably felt awful, but she'll talk about how, in that less mature state of life where she didn't really know her personal purpose, as you said, it was very easy to become fixated on herself and her value was derived from how she looked and she needed to look a certain way in order to, again, have value.

As she got older, she'll talk about finding purpose in helping other people and getting involved in different types of organizations that do all kinds of work for those in need and as she started to derive her purpose from helping others, there wasn't that temptation to just fixate on herself anymore.

Jennipher: Yeah, yeah. When you can get in touch ... I think we all kind of think like, "Oh, my purpose has to be this huge, grandiose thing." It can be just volunteering, helping other people, being a really good parent. You know what I mean? Doing a really good job. Just being, honestly, just being conscious.

I think we find so many ways to become unconscious whether it's being on your phone all the time or eating or mindlessly watching TV. It's almost like, humans we're programmed to disconnect when really, if we do just connect in, we feel a lot better and realize we don't need as much fixing as we think that we do.

It's Time to Share Your Story Because You're Not Alone

Dave: Going back to the whole book Daring Greatly, and I'm not trying to make plugs for everyone to buy this book, but it's an awesome book. Talking about the idea of vulnerability, one of the chapters I just read talked about how it's contagious. And someone like Lindsay ... Lindsay, if you're listening.

When you open up and make yourself a little bit vulnerable, sharing this story, there's a high likelihood that those people who you're vulnerable with will be able to say, "Oh, yeah. I felt like as well," or, "I remember a time when ... " And as we start to share our vulnerability, others become more vulnerable and then solutions arise out of that, but it takes that one person who is willing to dare greatly, to put themselves out there.

Jennipher: Totally. And I feel like with a lot of "bad food, good food," yo-yo dieting kind of stuff, with that, part of the shame is always secretive. It was for me. It was just like people didn't know that I was overeating, that I was binging. That wasn't like a thing. I wasn't telling that, I wasn't sharing that.

And that was part of my recovery was that when I did go to the registered dietician and I was able to tell her in a safe place, it was like oh, my gosh, because so many of us do fall into kind of perfectionist or to seem like we have everything together. I think that's even heightened now that it's on social media 'cause everyone on social media feeds a highlight reel of their life so you don't see any of the behind the scenes stuff.

But that vulnerability ... If you're going through ... Lindsay, not alone. Anyone else relating to Lindsay's story who maybe hasn't said, "Oh, I have all these feelings around food. I think about food or weight all the time.

I feel really crappy about myself." That's really common and if you can be vulnerable and I think Brené Brown was pretty big on also being mindful of who hears your story, who earns your story is kind of a piece, too.

But people that you feel comfortable with. Speak your truth. You're not alone. None of us are perfect. There's beauty in that and you don't even know who else you can be helping actually when you do share your story.

Dave: It's interesting because, like you said, we wanna keep it a secret, but it really is present. On my website right now I have this assessment and basically it's trying to determine what's the reason why people aren't able to lose weight and one of the questions on it asks, "In the past five years, how many diets can you specifically remember going on?"

So I get, basically, I can't see everyone's individual answers like, Jenn, if you took it, I wouldn't know what you said, but I get the overall results and I don't know what it's like. Something like 80% of women who go through this answer the highest number, whatever the highest number, like, "In the past five years I've been on 10+ diets."

I forget exactly what the numbers are, but I remember being really shocked at that, that women can recall, "Okay, I've been on all of these diets before," and they're willing to say it in a survey like that because it's completely anonymous and completely private, but then when it comes to social media or just relationships, it's really not a topic that a lot of people wanna broach.

Jennipher: Yeah, 'cause it's like I failed. Almost everyone fails at every single diet. Everyone fails. For some reason we think that we suck. Diets fail so it's not like we wanna broadcast our failures like, "Oh, hey. By the way, I did this diet. It was awesome for like three days and then I totally fell off the wagon and let's have this conversation."

You know what I mean? I think people are really shy because they wanna share their ... It's natural that we wanna share our success, we wanna share the things that we do well at. There's that...

Believe It: You Can't Fail!

Dave: It's funny that you say that because, I don't know if you saw, I posted on Facebook actually again about this topic of vulnerability and the question posed in the book is, "Vulnerability is blank."

Jennipher: I did see that.

Dave: I thought about it a lot and I posted almost exactly what you just said. For me, vulnerability is saying, "I'm gonna put 100% effort into this thing, whatever it is, and this is my goal." Putting that out there before I actually do it because then there's a chance that I'm gonna fail and everyone's gonna know that I said I was gonna give my best, and I didn't do it.

Instead, what I like to do is wait until I'm halfway or fully complete through whatever it is my goal is and then say, "Hey, guys, check out what my goal is and I did it. Look at me. I'm a superstar." But, man, it's vulnerable to say, "I'm gonna give this a shot."

Jennipher: It is and that's why I think ... And I know we do this in the 10 to 4 challenge a lot where I was like, "You can't fail. You cannot fail at this stuff." If you change your thinking, and that's what I like the choose your own adventure thing.

Tweak and tweak and tweak, see your whole life as an experiment. What makes you feel good? If you're not like ... You didn't fail at it except unless you don't learn from it so as long as you can take something like, "Okay. That didn't work out so well. Why was that?"

And then, okay. How can I make it different next time? What am I gonna do? How am I gonna set myself up? Did I put myself in a position where I was too hungry or was I having a bad day, I need to take a nap and instead I fell back into old habits or what was it?

Just switching that failure mechanism in your brain and just immediately be like, "How can I see this differently? What can I learn from this?" I think is huge for having a healthier mindset that can help you to really better get of the whole yo-yo, on and off again thing.

Dave: And that's just another reason why it's so important to do it with other people because in 10 in 4 you and Kristen are so awesome when women will do their daily check-in and they'll say, quite often they'll say something like, "Today I ate pretty well and I did my exercise and I made some time for de-stressing, but I only drank six cups of water." Whatever it is.

It's like they'll harp on that one thing that they just weren't quite perfect on and you girls are so good because almost instantaneously, as soon as I see those comments, I'm like, "Jenn and Kristen, they'll comment on this." And you girls are right on it. You're like, "Don't fixate on that thing that you've messed up on. Look at all these awesome things you did," and it's true. We need someone to point those out to us.

Jennipher: Right. 'Cause it's so easy where we just don't ... We're so quick to focus in on the thing we think we messed up on, but all of the things we do right ... The littlest things need to be celebrated.

Especially when you're trying to make a lifestyle change that you ... If you've been eating and thinking about yourself a certain way since you were 11 or 12, any positive step in the right direction, even if it's little as just like, "I ate my vegetables today," needs to be a full out high five party. Feel good about that. Any step in the right direction is a step.

Make Your Body Work Takeaway

Dave: Yeah. You know, Jenn. You know how we do things around here. We like to wrap things up with what's called a Make Your Body Work take away. Just something really actionable, that kind of one step that Lindsay could do or that anyone like Lindsay could do.

I'm gonna make this a little bit broader and just speak to women who could honestly say, "I'm on that diet rollercoaster. If I look back over the last couple years. I'm on and off diets all the time." What would you say to women like that? What's the thing that they can do right now today to get off that train?

Jennipher: I would say if someone's really struggling with it, definitely go see a professional, without a doubt 'cause this kind of stuff can really result in full out eating disorders, which can kill you. It's important. Don't hesitate in getting help and reaching out, and the National Eating Disorders Association, if you go there, you can look at resources.

I recommend, if you are on the emotional side, try to find someone who specializes in emotional eating and can speak to ... Not just give you a meal plan or something, but will speak to the broader issues that you're going through.

But besides that, I would say really ... Something that I wish that I had done that I think would have been really beneficial for me would be, if it's something you've been struggling with since you were particularly young like Lindsay, is to get out a piece of paper ... Even if you're older you can do this. Just write yourself a note.

At some point someone probably told you you weren't good enough, you needed to lose weight, maybe you were bullied. Write your younger self a note. Like, "Dear, Self. When you were eight, it wasn't appropriate for someone to say this to you. It wasn't true."

And then if you also want to say all the things that you wish you'd said or you wish someone else had said to you, write that down. Play that scenario out 'cause it can be extremely healing.

Dave: Writing a letter as a third person to your younger self?

Jennipher: Yes. Yes. Sit down and be like, "Self, I know that right now your mom has put you on the fourth diet of your life or something. That's not okay. You have value as you are. You have worth as you are." Write yourself the letter that you wish that you had had when you were younger and then whenever you start to fall back into old patterns, bring that letter out and read it to yourself.

Dave: You and I, we've talked about that idea before that we'll often say mean things to ourselves that never in a million years would we ever say to someone else so this is kind of like flipping over the other side of that coin. Let's say some of those wonderful, encouraging things to ourselves that we try and say to other people.

We often say mean things to ourselves that we would never say to others. Lovingly talk to yourself as you would others.

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Jennipher: Yeah, 'cause a lot of that stuff from your past, especially when you're a kid, you just internalize it so much in ways you're not aware. If you stop to put yourself in your younger self's shoes and then try to go back in that moment and hear the things that you should have heard that you didn't hear, it really ... It can be like wow.

I had no idea that I was seeing the world in so many crazy, messed up ways. Just from those few interactions around your body and safety and worth and value and all of that. Not to get too psychoanalysis.

Dave: Too psycho.

Jennipher: But it's big. Yeah, psycho. Not to get too psycho. But, yeah. Go back in time and give yourself the love that you deserve, that you should have had, that maybe you didn't have that you should have had.

Dave: Lindsay, again, if you're listening and anyone else who's in a similar position, it's really cool just to see that you've already identified it because I know that there are so many women and men who don't even realize that they're stuck in a unhealthy behavior pattern.

Lindsay, I just wanna encourage you and say awesome for you to be able to recognize that what you're doing right now is not what you wanna continue to do and hopefully ... Jenn just gave some awesome advice so hopefully that's really helpful to you.

Jenn, if Lindsay wants to reach out to you or any other listeners, how can they best get in touch with you?

Getting In Touch with Jennifer

Jennipher: Yeah, and, Lindsay, I'm just giving you a big virtual hug right now, okay? Big virtual hug. If anyone wants to get in touch with us, Lindsay, @fitbottomedgirl on Twitter, Instagram, and the Snapchat. Fit Bottomed Girls on Facebook and then you can go to fitbottomedgirls.com is our main site. You can also go to Fit Bottomed World and that actually pulls content from Fit Bottomed Girls, Fit Bottomed Eats, Fit Bottomed Mamas, and Fit Bottomed Zen, all there. Then the podcast, too. You can also email me at contact@fitbottomedgirls.com. So many options no matter how you like to engage on the internet.

Dave: I'll put all that for all the listeners out there. Go to makeyourbodywork.com/90. I'll put all the Fit Bottomed sites as well as some info about the retreat that's coming up, about their podcast, and then both the Ted Talks we talked about. Just about everything that Jenn shared today. Check that out. Makeurbodywork.com/90. Jenn, as always, honestly you're just wonderful to talk to. I always feel so inspired after having you on the show so thanks for being with us today.

Jennipher: Ditto. Thanks for letting me talk.

Dave: Anytime, anytime. We'll definitely have you back. Thanks again.

Jennipher: Thank you.

Dave: Thanks again, Jenn, for joining us on the show today and just for being real with us, sharing your own experience with eating and with eating disorders and overcoming them and how you got support and what you're doing today to make sure that you stay on that healthy path that you wanna be on. To you, Lindsay, again, I just wanna say thanks for writing in because writing a message like that is something that's pretty vulnerable so thank you for that.

Thank you to everyone who tuned in and listened to this week's episode. If you know someone who maybe would be going through a similar struggle to the one that Lindsay wrote about, pass this along. Send them the link. Just say, "Hey, I was thinking of you. Thought you might resonate with some of the messages here."

This is the type of message that so many people need to hear, but as we talked about, it's kind of like a secret. No one really wants to talk about it because it is personal, it opens up some vulnerability. Pass it along. Show people that you love them. Show people that you care and let's get this word out.

Get Your Copy Of My Book "Can't Lose"

Before we go, I just wanna say that my new book, Can't Lose, is still available. I still have some free copies. You can go to makeyourbodywork.com/book to get yours. And something really exciting, our guest from the podcast today, Jennipher Walters, she is one of the guests that I interviewed for one of the chapters in the book and actually we discuss some similar sorts of messaging to what we discussed today. She gives some really great insights into how to focus on getting fitter, getting healthier, how to focus on improving your life, but without going overboard, just like we talked about today.

Again, you can check that out at makeyourbodywork.com/book. You can get your free copy. Just chip in a couple bucks for covering my cost to ship it to you and I think you're gonna love it. That's it for today. Next week I'll be back with another great question and another great guest to share some more insights. Can't wait to see you here again next week.

Thanks for joining me today!

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