Thirst for Clarity: Approaching Dry January with Curiosity with The Sober Nutritionist, Teri Patterson

In this episode, I’m welcoming Teri Patterson (The Sober Nutritionist) back on the show to talk about Dry January, what it is, and how taking a mindful break from alcohol and approaching it with curiosity can lead to a new awareness about how alcohol is impacting your health and wellness.

Key Takeaways:

  • Growing Awareness: The awareness and participation in Dry January have significantly increased in recent years. In 2021, about 13% of Americans considered participating, while in 2022, this number rose to 35%, indicating a growing wellness conversation around mindful breaks from drinking.
  • Non-Alcoholic Beverage Industry: The rise of Dry January has led to an increase in non-alcoholic beverage options, with major companies introducing alcohol-free products to support the movement.
  • Mindful Break from Drinking: Dry January is not about depriving oneself but about taking a mindful break from alcohol. Shifting the mindset from deprivation to gaining new ways to honor the body is a more empowering approach.
  • Potential Benefits of Dry January:
    • Improved energy levels
    • Reduced anxiety
    • Better sleep
    • Less brain fog
    • Enhanced mood
  • Skip the goals, set Intentions: Instead of setting rigid goals, focus on setting intentions. Ask yourself why you want to participate in Dry January and how you want to feel at the end of the month.
  • Curiosity and Mindset: Approach Dry January with curiosity. Pay attention to any challenges, cravings, or shifts in mindset. Curiosity helps suspend judgment and fosters a more positive experience.
  • Common Dry January Misconceptions:
    • Some may see Dry January as a way to prove they don’t have a drinking problem. It’s essential to recognize that willpower alone may not lead to lasting change; tools and support are crucial.
    • That one must complete the full 31 days, or the effort is wasted. Each day offers valuable data points to guide the journey.
  • Benefits Beyond January: February 1st is not the end; it’s an opportunity to ease into the insights gained. Use journaling to reflect on the experience, revisit initial intentions, and design the post-January period intentionally.
  • Rediscovering Fun Sober: Challenge the myth that “sober is boring.” Reconnect with activities and experiences without relying on alcohol. Engage in hobbies, socialize, and find joy in the absence of alcohol.

Quotes:

  • “If sober is boring, you’re doing it wrong.”
  • “We have to ask ourselves, is that true? What happened when I was 10 and I was running around in the backyard playing with my friends and we were playing doorbell ditch and laughing and hoping we didn’t get caught or running through the sprinklers. Where is that person? That person is still inside of us.”
  • “February 1st is not the, you know, you don’t put the key in the lock and now I’m out of jail. Imagine February 1st as the time to just ease into the information that you’ve gained and allow yourself to say. Okay. Wow. That was really interesting.”

Resources Mentioned:

About Teri: 

Teri Patterson is a Functional Nutritionist and a This Naked Mind Senior Coach. Teri blends her knowledge of nutrition with her passion for living an alcohol-free life into a unique business as The Sober Nutritionist.

Teri’s mission is to help her clients discover how drinking less can be the key to better health. Teri is also the host of the popular podcast The Sober Edge, Inspiration for Alcohol-Free Living and the creator of the brand-new SELF Experience, a place for women after alcohol who want to build a life by design, not by default.

Connect with Teri:

 

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Episode Transcript:

Laurie: Welcome, everyone. Today, Teri Patterson, also known as the Sober Nutritionist, is back on the show, and she’s here to chat with us about Dry January, what it is, and how taking a mindful break from alcohol and approaching it with curiosity can lead to a new awareness about how alcohol is showing up in your life and impacting your health and wellness.

Welcome, Teri. 

Teri: It’s so nice to be here. I’m excited to be back on your podcast and, uh, having a conversation around dry January. You 

Laurie: are like my expert on very compassionately examining our relationship with alcohol and what it means and how it shows up and looking at all the ways that it’s impacting.

The different areas of our life. So I’m excited to dig in with you as we’re coming up to January. And a lot of people will be participating in the dry January. So I really want to get some information out there for people to help them participate successfully, however it looks for them. What we’re going to start with is in case anybody doesn’t know what is dry January and why it’s becoming more popular in recent years.

Teri: Yes, we see the roots of dry January actually from 2013 when a British organization called Alcohol Concern, they actually started a charitable fundraiser around taking a 30 day break from drinking alcohol. And the reason they picked January was of course, because traditionally people might want to make some healthy changes.

But the other interesting part is they did it because the pubs and the bars don’t get as much business during January. So they thought, Oh, this is a good time for people who aren’t necessarily going out to the pub so much. To take a mindful break from drinking. And so that’s really the roots of it. And it was done to help raise money.

And, uh, it’s been fascinating because the movement has grown since then. And now it is absolutely huge. [00:02:00] And I was looking up some statistics because what we see in the United States, it’s really interesting in these last few years as awareness. around taking a mindful break from drinking has become more popular.

We see these dry January numbers just increasing exponentially. So in 2021, we had about 13 percent of the American populations say, yes, I’m considering, or I am going to participate in dry January. And in 2022, 35 percent of Americans said they wanted to participate. So you can see that the awareness, the wellness conversation around taking a break is really growing.

And to support that, we’re seeing a lot of companies jumping into the non alcoholic beverage industry, seeing big names now like Heineken Zero, for example. Everyone is coming out with their own version of [00:03:00] an alcohol free product to support this movement. 

Laurie: I have noticed that, Teri. I’ve seen so many ads just in the last year popping up everywhere for non alcoholic versions of alcoholic drinks for people who want to feel like they’re still social or they still can have that drink, but without the alcohol impact.

I was going to say too, that In January, we tend to see a lot of, like, the pendulum swing. So, like, December is a big month for indulgence. People like to eat a lot of special foods and, and they tend to maybe not move as much. They’re out of their regular routine. And by the end of December, people are at a point they’re like, I just want to get back into doing the things that I normally do that make me feel good.

Sleeping more, moving more, eating the foods that I’m used to eating on a regular basis that make my insides feel good. We see that pendulum go from like really enjoying to [00:04:00] restriction. I’m going to start a diet. I’m going to start cutting out all these foods starting January 1st. I have a resolution. I’m not going to do X, Y, Z.

If you’ve been a big drinker over the holidays, it’s probably one of those things that people are just like, Oh, I really overdid it. Maybe I need to take a break, or maybe I need to kind of look at what this means.

Teri: Exactly. And so we often want to be like, it’s like an alcohol timeout, you know, so I’m going to take this time out and alcohol is the enemy and you know, and, and I’m, I’m deprived.

I’m sitting over here in the no fun corner, not drinking for the month of January. Right. And so. It, again, when we go back to mindset, it’s really powerful to think about what we’re gaining versus what we’re giving up because we can maybe look at it as deprivation and that’s just not going to serve us in the long term.

So it’s so much more powerful to say, Oh my gosh, I found new ways to honor my body. 

Laurie: 100 percent because when I went vegan, like 150 years ago, it feels like, at the time it was more like. I approached it with curiosity. What would happen if I took 30 days where I didn’t consume this? How would I feel? Would I feel better?

I’ll give myself permission. As soon as you say, I can’t have, I can’t, like it’s off limits. Your brain goes, Oh, I have never wanted that more in my entire life than I do right now. But if you kind of approach it with here’s, you know what, I’m going to see how it feels and just keep my mind open and be aware of like what’s going on here and there and just make note.

How does that feel in my body? Right. So approaching alcohol the same way, what you’re gaining could be, you know, better digestion, better sleep, more energy, more friends, more clarity, like all of these great things can come from this that you wouldn’t experience necessarily if you don’t take that break or approach Dry January with that curiosity. I love that you mentioned that.

Teri: It’s also interesting too, as you say, we, we want to be mindful that when we go from indulgence to restriction that, you know, we need to have time for our mindset to catch up. And one of the things I really love about dry January is it’s no longer feels like something that gets sprung on us. January 1st, we now see a lot of opportunity to sort of prepare and think about it and plan and have some intention behind it.

And we’re also seeing that it’s not, uh, you’re not an outlier. Any longer when you choose to participate in dry January, I think if you pay attention, your listeners and all of us will notice more people say, Oh yeah, I’m going to take a month off.

I’m going to, um, you know, participate in dry January and it’s now seen as positive. It’s no longer like, Oh, I have a problem. I need to take a break from alcohol.  

Laurie: I love that. It’s just taking a step back and saying, I’m not the only one doing it. We’re all doing this [00:07:00] together. It’s a positive thing. It doesn’t automatically mean, you know, you have any kind of label around your alcohol consumption, but we’re being curious about how this is showing up for us.

So you talked about a couple of things that I really want to dig into. When we participate in Dry January, we go the 31 days, cutting back on alcohol and examining the impact that it’s having, what are some benefits, either mentally, physically, after the end of that experience?

Teri: So it depends on if people really are able to go 31 days not drinking, you’re going to have different effects than if you cut way back.

Like, let’s say you have your couple glasses of wine every night, which is perfect. Very common. And let’s say you decide I’m only going to drink once a week. You’re going to experience some benefits for sure. Because anytime we take what is basically a toxin out of our system, we’re going to feel better.

Uh, and if you are able to go 31 [00:08:00] days with no alcohol, you’re going to exponentially feel even better. And so one of the things I think is really powerful is just notice if it feels challenging. To not drink. That’s one of the first things that happened for me was I thought, well, I’ll take a break and cut back because I realized that, you know, I was drinking more than I wanted to.

I was feeling kind of crappy a lot of mornings. I just didn’t like that. My brain kept saying, well, when’s the next drink? When’s the next drink? So when I tried to cut back, that’s when I realized, oh, this might be a little bit more of an issue than I thought. So I think inviting people to just get really curious about, is this, A challenge for me.

Is this feel hard? Am I feeling more cravings mentally, physically? And so I think that is a really important part of this. And then once we [00:09:00] do cut back, we’re going to start seeing things like we’re going to have more energy. We’re going to have less anxiety. One thing that people don’t often realize is that alcohol creates more anxiety because of the adrenaline and cortisol releases in our body.

And so sometimes we think, well, when I drink, I feel less anxiety or I drink because I’m stressed. And initially because alcohol is both a stimulant and a depressant, we do get a little bit of that buzzy euphoric feeling. And we might feel like, Oh, I’m not so stressed, but that lasts a very short period of time.

And then the depressive. Parts of alcohol last much, much longer. So we’re actually Increasing anxiety when we drink so people often notice. Wow, my mood feels a little lighter they’re gonna notice things like potentially within a couple of weeks, you’ll have hopefully better sleep [00:10:00] and We’re going to notice less brain fog lots of different effects.

Laurie: That’s really interesting the beginning of your comment was depending on what the goal is. Is it to abstain completely? Is it to cut back? Can we talk a little bit about how to realistically set a goal for dry January and what that might look like?

Teri: Yeah, I love this question. This is so good because I like to think of rather than setting a goal, which sometimes looks like very black and white, you know, I succeeded if I made it 30 days, I failed because I only made it 10 days and then I had a drink.

I like to help people set an intention and an intention allows us to have sort of, how do I want to feel? What is my motivation behind taking a break? And so for people to be successful, I think it’s really powerful to bring in some curiosity because curiosity helps us suspend judgment. And what I love about this is, [00:11:00] like Lori, if you said, I want to participate in January.

I would ask to tell me why. And you might say, well, I hear there’s a lot of benefits to cutting out drinking and I’ve been drinking a little bit more than I want to, or I’m noticing that. I’m thinking about alcohol more than I want to. And so we can start right there and say, well, great. How do you want to feel at the end of January?

And you’d say, Oh, I want to feel proud of myself. I want to feel motivated to. Take on more health challenges. I want to sleep better. I want to be able to go to the ladies book club and say, no, thank you when they pass the wine. So I think those are all really important things to bring in. So we’ve taken it from a very black and white, I’m going to go 31 days without drinking alcohol into something that is personal to you, the individual.

And that can make a huge difference in how we follow [00:12:00] through with that stated goal. 

Laurie: I do see this too with eating and creating these food rules and things and they start out with black and white, I’m going to do this, I’m not going to do this. And then three days in, if something is such an ingrained habit that they didn’t even realize, and it’s so.

It’s hard for them to not do the thing they want to do or to do the thing they don’t want to do. It becomes a failure point and it’s completely devastating mentally and it throws off the whole experience. Then they’re quote unquote starting over, they failed. So I love that you’re saying, look at the intention.

How do you want to feel? Let’s Let’s reverse engineer this process from where you want to end up instead of trying to power through something that might not really be a good fit for you. And it might actually set you up to be worse off than maybe you are now. And, and really feeling worse about yourself, about the whole thing.

So I love that you’re, you’re reframing it as a, an intention versus a, a [00:13:00] hard and fast goal of XYZ, I’m going to do this, I’m not going to do this. So I love that. Let’s talk about some of the misconceptions that people might have about participating in Dry January.  

Teri: I think a lot of times people will have a mindset that if I can take 30 or 31 days off, that means I don’t have a drinking problem.

I’m going to prove to myself that this is not an issue. And what I find sometimes is you can go probably 30 days with just willpower. You can avoid all the usual places. You can suffer through this idea of depriving yourself. And then on February 1st, let’s bring out the cocktails because I did it. Let’s celebrate with alcohol.

This is something that. people will do because they are not building in the tools behind the taking a break. So we can change our behavior for a short period of time, but [00:14:00] willpower, as we know, will run out. And so it’s really important to have The mindset, the habit change, the intention, you know, the routines to get support in all of these areas if we want to make this more successful and we want to come out the other end, you know, saying, wow, I learned a lot about my relationship with alcohol.

I’m more curious in these ways. I have some maybe work to do over here. I felt really good. Um, and so, you know, If you’re considering dry January, I invite you to just look at the why, you know, am I trying to prove I don’t have a drinking problem? Well, anytime we ask is alcohol a problem for me, that’s a clue, right?

And so if that’s you, if you’re saying, wow, you know, maybe. This is a problem. I invite you to reverse that. Instead of asking, do I have a problem with [00:15:00] alcohol? Ask yourself, is alcohol adding anything to my life? Is alcohol serving me? Is alcohol making my life better? And that again is just an open ended curious question that allows us to say, huh, yeah.

Maybe it’s not. Maybe it used to be fun. And now I find myself drinking even though I don’t want to. And so we might think that dry January is this proving to ourself that, you know, I’m okay. And the reason I started there, Laurie, about your question is because a lot of clients have shared this with me.

Like I told myself, if I could take a month off, then all bets were off. I’m fine. And so I think the other misconception is that you’re, you have to go 31 days. Or that February 1st is now the goal. And so I invite you to stay mindful throughout the 31 days. Oh, I drank [00:16:00] on day seven. Oh, I drank on day nine.

Oh, I didn’t drink again until January 27th. And pay attention to those times when you felt like I really want to drink or I must drink, you know, or it just happened that I found myself with a drink in my hand. Like these are things that we can use during the month that look very different than the myth of I’m going to get through 31 days with, you know, no problem or to prove something to myself.

And it’s also really powerful to just allow that if you have, we call them data points. So if you have a drink, it’s information. What happened? Like if you’re running a marathon and you trip on mile three, you don’t start back at mile one. You just keep going. And so it’s helpful to drop the myth that if I have a drink, oh, well, I’m like half the other population.

I drank on day 10. It’s [00:17:00] over. No. Use that information to guide you in the next 20 days. 

Laurie: That’s really helpful, Teri, and I love that you mentioned your data points, because I was just going to say, I remember from our past conversation, instead of having that all or nothing, black or white, oops, I tripped and fell, it’s over, I’m starting from the beginning, approach it with curiosity, look at the situation, what were the conditions, what was the environment, what was the mindset, and then just look at that information and see what you can pull out of there.

I love that. One of the things that might be a challenge for somebody is that They are approaching Dry January. They want to participate. They don’t know anybody else who’s doing it. They don’t have a support group. They don’t have a bunch of friends that they can hang out with. 

Teri: Well, I think what you’re mentioning here, Laurie, is really powerful is to have some support outside of ourself.

You know, one of the things that, uh, comes up when I’m working with clients around this journey is we spend a lot of [00:18:00] time beating ourselves up in our own head. And so we could start to create a lot of stories around, oh, it’s not going well, or you’re never going to be able to do this. But when we’re in a group, we have the other person saying, I believe in you, I’m cheering you on, this is going well, you’re doing it.

And so it is so helpful to be in community during dry January, and it’s not hard to find a dry January community. There are going to be lots of opportunities. So I think we just start with asking Google, you know, what is available in my area? You could do it online. You can do it maybe in person. There might be a blended atmosphere where people say, hey, We’re going to have, um, hiking every Saturday morning during dry January so that you have a reason to get up at 6 a.m. Or 7 a. m. As opposed to, oh, you know, I drank on Friday night and now I, I’m going to sleep until 11 and I didn’t make the running group. So setting up a little [00:19:00] accountability and a little companionship is really helpful. Laura McCowan has a group called the luckiest club. You can join that. I think it’s very inexpensive, $25 a month or something, and you could join that for dry January.

There’s free smart recovery groups, uh, that will be featuring some things for dry January. I did my first dry January as a leader, not an individual. And I guess I did my first dry January without even thinking about it in 2016 because I wasn’t drinking by then. But in 2020, I worked with This Naked Mind in their live alcohol experiment for January, and there was about 3, 000 individuals that came at that time who wanted to go through a 30 day program.

It’s very inexpensive, uh, to have coaching support, to see other people also experiencing this. One of the things that can happen, [00:20:00] Laurie, is when we are drinking and overdrinking or drinking more than we want to, or questioning our drinking, we often think we’re the only one. And so when we see other people say, Oh yeah, you know, somehow five o’clock is really hard, or I do great, you know, Sunday through Tuesday.

And then what is it about Wednesday? And so when we have this support, it helps us get out of our own way. And helps us, you know, again, have that accountability and that support where other people are also going through the same thing. And we don’t feel so isolated. One of the other things I’ll say about having some accountability or some support is, uh, if you Don’t tell anyone, then no one knows if you’re doing well, no one is noticing.

No one’s cheering you on. Um, for example, I just recently, um, have been going through a health challenge of my own, so I had some food sensitivity tests and I can’t eat eggs right now and I can’t have dairy. [00:21:00] And so I was talking to my daughter about a recipe to make some Christmas cookies and she was like, “Mom, You can’t make that. It has butter!” And I was like “Oh, you’re right!” But if no one knew I was trying to cut out dairy, I could just go about my business and pretend it wasn’t really happening. You know, and my brain, because we’re humans, we want to avoid discomfort, seek pleasure. I don’t make the cookies with butter and pretend I don’t have, I’m not supposed to be giving up dairy.

So some of that. External accountability is really helpful to just be like, Oh yeah, it’s like going to the gym and you’re in a group class versus going to the gym and just looking around and saying, well, I’ll do five minutes on the treadmill or I’ll lift the five pound weight. But when you’re in the group, it’s very different.

The instructor saying, pick up those 10 pound weights. You know, do this, do that. So use that as a motivation to help you through this dry January. 

Laurie: So don’t do a secret dry January, [00:22:00] make it, share it, share it with those around you so that they can help you, cheer you on, be those extra eyeballs and ears and shoulders.

Teri: And remind you of your, of your intention, like, gosh, you know, um, Let’s go for a walk. You don’t need a glass of wine right now. Let’s take a walk. And if you still want a glass of wine, have a glass of wine. But, you know, having that, I love the word secret. Yeah. Don’t, you know, save the secret Santa for December and have an out loud, public dry January. 

Laurie: Loud and proud dry January. I love that.

Teri: People want to know, like, what do I tell people about not drinking? So dry January is awesome because people just say, Oh, I’m doing dry January. And everybody’s like, Oh, okay. It’s not that you have a problem. Everybody’s doing dry January. We touched 

Laurie: on this a little bit, but maybe we can dig in a little bit more.

You said over here in the no fun corner. Right? So if we start to feel like, oh my gosh, if I take out drinking, what am I going to do? 

Teri: Yeah, there is a huge myth out there, Lori, that sober is boring. And I like to [00:23:00] say if sober is boring, you’re doing it wrong. Because what we realize is that we have. often built alcohol into all of the activities.

I mean, for example, you know, oh, we’re going to go on a picnic. Oh, get that special bottle of rosé so I can drink during the day. Oh, we’re going to baby shower. Well, we have to have mimosas, you know, oh gosh, we’re going to have pizza and watch the game. I need a beer. And so, What we’ve done is we’ve really trained ourselves to rely on alcohol, and then we see alcohol as the fun factor, but that’s not true.

Uh, I had a client who was very concerned in her mind. She thought, well, if I give up alcohol, you know, what really bothers me is I have this memory that I was in Italy and I was sitting out on the terrace with my husband and looking over the vineyards and the little old wizened old winemaker came out with this very special old bottle and he [00:24:00] poured us this drink and it was magic.

You know, the moment was magical and I, I just can’t imagine never experiencing that again. And so what I told her was, I said, okay, so let’s imagine this. Let’s look at that bottle of wine that he poured for you. And I want you to think about taking that bottle of wine into your closet. And I want you to sit in the dark and close the door and have a drink of wine.

And then I want you to come out of the closet metaphorically and imagine being on this terrace in Italy. And. You can smell the flowers, you’re experiencing the warm afternoon sun, it’s a beautiful vista, you are sitting across from your husband who you are just gazing into his eyes thinking this moment is so magical, and the little old wizened man comes out and he pours you this special juice that they make from these old apples.

And you toast each other and you think, [00:25:00] I’m, this moment is magical. So tell me, Lori, in that moment, was it the wine? Or was it the experience? So when we think about, you know, well, I have to have alcohol to have fun. We have to ask ourselves, is that true? What happened when I was 10 and I was running around in the backyard playing with my friends and we were playing doorbell ditch and laughing and hoping we didn’t get caught or running through the sprinklers.

Where is that person? That person is still inside of us. We just decided that we needed alcohol. So we had fun at some point in our life without alcohol and we can get there again and much of it is a mindset shift. 

Laurie: Absolutely true. I love that. February 1st, Dry January is over. 

Teri: Now what? First of all, February 1st is not the, you know, you don’t put the key in the lock and now I’m out of jail.

Imagine February 1st as the time to just ease [00:26:00] into the information that you’ve gained and allow yourself to say. Okay. Wow. You know, that was really interesting. And now I’m at a new place. Now I have more information. I have new experiences and I really want to see what this means moving forward. And for many people, it will be a place of new awareness around the impact that alcohol has been having.

And, you know, I have lots of clients that come to me and they say, well, you know, I’m here at this place where I’m drinking more than I want to, that, you know, things are happening that I don’t like, I don’t feel as good. Now that I’m older, perhaps, you know, alcohol is having more of an impact. But they say, I don’t want to stop drinking forever.

And so, you know, this is a really important awareness when we say, well, what are the benefits of alcohol? If we took alcohol out for a month and we felt better [00:27:00] and we found socializing wasn’t as hard and we enjoyed the community aspect. that. Do we really want to go back to putting a toxin in our body on a regular basis or every day?

So, you know, I invite people on February 1st to explore. Well, what does it mean? And one of the best ways I think to do this is to journal and to really write down like, okay, here’s how I felt during this month. Here is the good, the bad, the ugly. And what do I want to do with this information? Uh, you know, really design Your February rather than just default into the old patterns.

And that again, takes some intention. And so while dry January, it might be like, uh, people think, well, it’s a month without alcohol. What if it’s a month exploring your relationship with alcohol? And then there’s more to do maybe in February and March and April.  

Laurie: I love that Teri, because you said January doesn’t have to just be a month without alcohol.

It could actually be a month [00:28:00] with …Whatever we’ve been not doing because of alcohol, what are some activities or, or things have you been putting off or not interested in doing or not had time for because you’ve been doing all of these events or activities that are based on alcohol, what can you kind of fill in and explore and try?

And maybe that becomes things that you do in February. And I like that you were talking about journaling because then it gives you a chance to revisit who you were on January 1st, why you started it, what were you thinking, how are you feeling, and be able to look back and revisit. Each of these different points, maybe you did have a drink, what was going on, it’s so much, it’s so much easier to recall and go back to that when you’ve written it down.

Ask me how I know. Instead of trying to like remember and just kind of think at the end, like, Hmm, how did that go? Well, guess what? 

Teri: I don’t remember. You know, Annie Grace does have [00:29:00] the 30 Day Alcohol Experiment as a book. So that’s a good resource as well. It’s not a journal, but there’s questions and there’s, you know, a 30 days, like each day it talks about something different, like alcohol and socializing, alcohol and anger.

Laurie: That’s a great resource. I’m glad you mentioned it. I will put the link to that in the show notes as well. Terry, we’re going to wrap up and I was hoping that you could give us your top three tips for participating in Dry January. 

Teri: Tip # 1, I’m going to take a page from your playbook and say, write down your intention.

What do I want to experience during the month of January? Why? How will I know if I was successful? And I invite you to redefine success. So I’ll know because I was I was paying attention. I brought in awareness. I asked questions. I made new choices like those types of things. So I invite people to really explore Their [00:30:00] intention and their why behind taking a 30 day break and then write that down.

And that can be the very first tip is to set that intention in writing. How do I want to feel? What is my motivation for doing dry January? And then the second tip would be, ask some questions when you feel like drinking. What am I thinking alcohol will provide in this moment? Am I thinking that, oh, I’m feeling a little social anxiety and alcohol will help, or I’m bored, or I’m lonely, or I feel sad? stressed?

All of these things are going to be really powerful to start to untangle where alcohol started to become our go to.

And then the third thing that we touched on is that community aspect. Don’t do this. In secret share with someone you maybe you’re not a joiner. You don’t want to join a big group although I invite you to consider it but have some support somewhere [00:31:00] so that you have someone cheering you on someone to help keep you accountable And someone to share some of these thoughts with because if this is brand new for you, there’s going to be a lot going on because our brain has defaulted to alcohol perhaps for a long time.

And so you deserve to have that support You know, the NA beverage, the non alcoholic beverage industry is really growing. So have some fun with maybe some mocktails or some special hop water or some kombucha or some teas. Enjoy having an adult beverage. If you had a ritual of pouring a drink every night, just change what’s in the glass and allow yourself to just say, wow, it feels really different when I have that sparkling tea versus my, you know, my, uh, hard cider and enjoy that. There’s so many resources out there and you’re going to find a lot more popping up [00:32:00] as we get closer to January. So have fun with that.

Laurie: That’s a really good tip to have something prepared, have a plan for when you normally would have something, swap it in with something else, try it out.

Those are great tips, Teri. 

Teri: I don’t have something specific to Dry January, but I do have a program that I’ve recently created called Stop Drinking in Your 50s and Beyond. And it is a six week program. And in that program, it’s a self paced program. And so, uh, it, what it is, is for Every week you have five days of activities and then two days of application.

So on three days a week, you have a short video, no more than 10 minutes. And then one day a week, you have a journal prompt. And one day a week, you have kind of a tactic to work on. And so I really believe that to make this a journey that is successful, you need to have knowledge, application and some tools.

Laurie: Teri, I’m going to be putting all of your links into the show notes and I really do appreciate that you shared your new program information with us and I’m going to be putting the link to that if anybody wants to learn more. You’re on social? Yes. Okay, perfect. I’ll be putting those in the show notes with all of your information so our listeners can connect with you in all of the different places where you are.

Thank you, Teri. 

Teri: Yes. Thank you, Lori. And good luck to all of your listeners if you decide to try Dry January. I’m cheering you on.

The Healing Power of Yoga with Tashya Knight

In this episode, I’m welcoming Tashya Knight, a certified health educator, health coach, and yoga instructor, back to the show. Tashya shares her journey into yoga, emphasizing its role in her wellness and the surprising benefits she experienced.

The discussion covers the physical and mental health benefits of a regular yoga practice, busting yoga myths and highlighting its impact on physical, mental and emotional health.

Tashya elaborates on the importance of self-acceptance, self-confidence, and spending time with yourself in yoga. We dive into Tashya’s approach to yoga as a healing practice, particularly in addressing trauma and promoting breath awareness and how finding the right yoga style, teacher, and studio are important to create a positive and welcoming experience.

Key Takeaways:

• Yoga as a Holistic Wellness Practice – it’s not just as a physical activity but a holistic practice affecting mental and emotional well-being.

• A regular yoga practice has diverse health benefits including stress management, anxiety reduction, improved sleep, lower cortisol levels, enhanced cardiovascular health, and even potential relief from migraines

• It’s important to approach yoga with an open mind and curiosity. Each person’s body is unique, and yoga should be personalized to meet individual needs. Modifications and variations are encouraged, promoting a sense of self-acceptance and self-confidence

• Restorative yoga is a practice focused on rest and relaxation. The poses involve the use of props and aim to calm the nervous system, providing an opportunity for deep relaxation and self-care

Quotes:

  • “I can’t imagine my life without yoga. I can’t imagine not sharing this with other people and helping them to calm their anxiety. It’s helped me with my depression. It has helped me with stress.”
  • “Yes, it is slow because it’s asking you to slow down. You’ve lived your life in a form of, you know, whatever goes on in your daily life, taking some time to yourself.”
  • “[Your practice] is all about you, and it’s yours. So finding ways to use breath allows you to find ways to get quiet, to slow down, to take a minute that’s just yours.”
  • “Restorative yoga is it’s just really a time to rest your mind and rest your body, which I think is something we all need in our time right now where we’re constantly on the go.”

Resources Mentioned:

Join Tashya for a free class

Tashya hosts a virtual Saturday morning restorative yoga class, so no matter where you are, you can join Tashya at 10am Eastern for an hour of self-care as you start your weekend.

Want to join Tashya for a free class?

CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP use the code RWRCLASS to try the class out for free

About Tashya: 

Tashya is a former educator with a Bachelor’s in Education and a Master’s in Health Promotion.
After finishing her degree, she became a certified health education specialist (CHES). Combining this with her health coaching certification she has created programs, curriculums, lessons, and experiences on the subject matters of mindfulness, yoga, wellness, SEL, self-care, and empowerment.

Enrolling in a yoga teacher training allowed Tashya to do the hard work of healing herself by applying yoga philosophy, meditation, and aspects of her wellness coaching. She removed herself from toxic behaviors and relationships. Using her own experiences, she has been able to create programs that empower women to thrive as their best selves.

After leaving the classroom, Tashya worked for several different non-profit organizations teaching kids cooking classes, nutrition education, social emotional learning skills, girl’s empowerment, yoga, mindfulness, and self-care practices. She is a professionally trained and certified health coach and yoga instructor.

Tashya is a passionate advocate for promoting wellness and empowering young people and adults to know their worth and practice self-care on a daily basis. She currently resides in Brooklyn, NY where she continues to teach yoga, coach clients, and write about various wellness topics.

Connect with Tashya:

 

In this episode, I’m welcoming Tashya Knight, a certified health educator, health coach, and yoga instructor, back to the show. Tashya shares her journey into yoga, emphasizing its role in her wellness and the surprising benefits she experienced.

Episode Transcript:

Laurie: Welcome everyone. Today I am talking to Tasha Knight, who you may recall has been a guest on the show already, but this time she’s back to talk to us about the benefits of a regular yoga practice. Now you might also remember that Tasha is a former teacher turned certified health educator, health coach, and yoga instructor. And she discovered yoga while she was working on her master’s degree in health promotion. And now she’s on a mission to empower individuals who are interested in taking a more holistic approach to their wellness journey. Welcome back, Tasha.

Tashya: Thank you, Laurie.

Laurie: What I would like to do is start with kind of like your backstory and how you got into yoga and definitely like your journey to becoming a yoga teacher. Can you tell us about that?

Tashya: Yes, absolutely. I actually came to yoga through meditation first. People usually come to yoga first and then find their way to meditation. But I was in grad school and my master’s is in health promotion. And I had one semester, we had an entire class on meditation. So we were learning the philosophy.

We were learning background and all of that. And we had to practice different types of meditation. So I started practicing the meditations. This is not about meditation, but the usual thoughts, I can’t do meditation. I can’t say it and had a lot of misconceptions about it. really began to understand and dive into it a little bit more.

And then from that started a meditation practice and then thought, Hey, maybe I should do a yoga class. So I took a couple of yoga classes and I actually wrote a blog post about this on my website. I didn’t like yoga and I didn’t think that I could do yoga. And I thought like, I can’t slow down. I can’t sit still. I can’t get quiet. I’d rather do a different type of movement, something a little more hardcore. Because I had been practicing the meditation, I found that when I showed up to the yoga class, it, I was able to practice it. I was able to connect to the breath and find that because I had learned how to slow down in the meditation.

Did I ever think I was going to be a yoga teacher? No. If you had asked me ten years ago, that wouldn’t even have been on my list of goals or aspirations. For some reason, I just felt like that was the next step for me. I was already a health coach. I had already gotten the degree in health promotion. I was already, you know, helping people and being of service in that way.

And then I started getting ads for this yoga program that was specifically for educators. And as you know, Laurie, I used to be a teacher. And so I thought, of course, I’ll go learn how to be a yoga teacher around my people, around other educators. And that’s what I found myself doing. So I ended up taking a yoga teacher training that was specifically for educators, very social, emotional learning based learning, how to incorporate that into your classes.

And I loved it. And I started to dive more into the philosophy and more into deepening my yoga practice, deepening my meditation practice, learning how to breathe better and all of that. And now I can’t imagine my life without yoga. I can’t imagine not sharing this. with other people and helping them to calm their anxiety.

It’s helped me with my depression. It has helped me with stress. It has helped me to just calm down in a world where I am constantly busy, busy, go, go, go. And this has just given me another tool for self care and to feel better in my life.

Laurie: Okay, so you already dipped your toe here into my next question, which is how can a yoga practice contribute to overall better health? And you mentioned some things that have been helpful for you. People may have a like a preconception about yoga, which is you go, you do some stretches, you lay on a mat. How does this help? But some very specific studies have been done on how yoga can help you physically and mentally. I just want to make sure people are aware of that.

Yoga has been shown to help lower cortisol levels, which is a stress hormone. So it helps with stress management, which is a huge factor in improving mental health. It’s also been shown to reduce anxiety and depression symptoms. It has been shown to help reduce chronic pain, reducing chronic inflammation.

It’s also been shown that it can help with your cardiovascular health, and this is amazing that it actually can impact your heart rate, your blood pressure, your cholesterol. It’s also been shown to help you sleep better, and because a lot of yoga practices incorporate breathing, it can actually make your lungs stronger.

So it might help if you have any kind of chronic lung conditions. And then the last thing I’ll note is that it has been shown to help with migraines. So if migraines are something that you struggle with, there’s a study that has shown that yoga may help to reduce the number of migraine headaches that you are experiencing. I think that’s amazing that all of this can be done through yoga. What are some other ways that yoga can really improve physical and mental health when you have a regular practice?

Tashya: Well, I think that it, um, allows you to spend time with yourself, right? So it improves your self acceptance. I think it improves your self confidence, right? Because your. listening to yourself, right? Like when I say, I say often at the beginning of a class is I’m just your guide, you know, your body and your mind’s better than I do. So what you need to do to make yoga, it’s all about you and it’s yours. So finding ways to use breath, right? Connecting your breath to your movement It allows you to find ways to get quiet, to slow down, to take a minute, right? That’s just yours. It also allows you to move your body in certain ways.

And I know that we have spoken before about trauma, and it allows you to move some of that through your body. It builds a more, um, stable foundation for yourself, helping you with balance, helping you with flexibility, with mobility.

And as we start to get older, um, we, some of that gets a little lost, right? So helping to build that strength and helping to build that balance and flexibility and mobility for yourself is really important for physical health. And it’s important for emotional and mental health because you’re doing that check in.

You’re taking time to listen to what’s coming up for you. And then hopefully not brushing that aside or stepping it down, hopefully taking some time to, um, bring that in. There’s more aspects of yoga than just the movement, right? There’s the meditation, there’s the breath work, there’s the learning to sit.

There’s also the living in your values. How are you showing up off the mat? And that’s a whole nother class in itself. So I won’t dive into that. So maybe that’s a, uh, another interview, but, um, I just think that it helps you in so many different ways in showing up for your life and connecting to who you truly are.

Laurie: I love that.

Tashya: I just really want to use yoga as a healing practice more so than a workout. Thinking from a trauma informed lens, how can we use yoga as a way to move our trauma through our body? Because we store it, I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book, The Body Keeps Score, by Bessel Van Der Kolk. And talks a lot about how we are not able to process the trauma.
Whether it is repressed memories, and sometimes it’s not even that. We know the trauma happened, we remember the trauma happened, but we don’t allow ourselves to deal with it. It’s more of a like, okay, that happened, stuff it down, move on. We wonder why our bodies are sick, our minds are sick. And so we wonder why that is.

And it’s because we’ve allowed that all to be trapped in. So my goal with yoga is finding a way to use it into connecting to your breath, moving your body. Yes, it stretches you, which is very important, but also using that just to learn how to breathe better, how to, you know, cause meditation is part of yoga and how to calm our nervous system down.
How to find a way to cope with our stressors. That’s a little bit more healthier than some other avenues. That is really how I approach yoga. A lot of people are like, Oh, it’s too slow. So I don’t want it as my workout. Yes, it is slow because it’s asking you to slow down. You’ve lived your life in a form of, you know, whatever goes on in your daily life, taking some time to yourself.

So, you know one of my big things is about finding self care for us. And it doesn’t just mean. Put on a sheet face mask and take a bubble bath or, um, it can be, I mean, I do those things. Not right now. It’s a little hot these days, but you know, once it becomes colder and winter, that’s definitely something I enjoy.

But finding one hour in your day where You sit with yourself, or you have that gentle movement, or you are working on your breath, or you’re thinking about some of the topics or, um, statements that maybe I bring up during the class as you’re moving, that is you taking care of yourself. That is you giving yourself self care.

That is you giving yourself love by allowing that one hour of slow down in that one hour of just you. We focus more on the movement of the body in yoga and the breath is really what’s so important. Something that I say to folks who are runners or cyclists, or they do something a little bit more of a high intensity workout rather than yoga, working on your breath helps you to have endurance for that. It allows you to stay in those workouts longer because you can recover your breath quicker because you’ve learned how to deepen that inhale and exhale so you can stay in that exercise a little bit longer than if you were breathing more shallow.

So that’s also another point that I like to bring up to people who tell me that they, you know “I can’t do yoga” or “I don’t like yoga and I don’t want to do it” and I’m like “Do you do others sports or other movement? because this breath alone will help you to feel stronger in that as well.”

Laurie: That’s a really good point.

Tashya: I think that’s something people don’t realize that, that breathing is such a big part of a yoga practice. When you’re talking to people about yoga and they tell you “Oh, I can’t do yoga. I tried it. I don’t like it.”

Laurie: What’s kind of like your number one tip for getting into a consistent yoga practice?

Tashya: The different styles are very important for yoga. And I also think a yoga studio and yoga teacher is really important because, um, If you go to a class and you already have those preconceived notions, right, of not wanting to do the yoga or having something about yoga already in your mind and not being for you or you’re not good at it, when you go and you find a teacher that is really welcoming or a teacher that makes yoga accessible, right, that normalizes using props, or normalizes you listening to your body and you figuring out what works for you.
Nobody shows up to a class of any kind and knows everything the first day. When I used to teach, I would say to students, like, you all didn’t show up to kindergarten, knowing everything. You all didn’t show up to third grade knowing all the answers, right? That’s why you’re here. The same applies to yoga, right?

So when I hear people say, “Oh, I’m not good at yoga”. Oh, neither was I. And you don’t have to be good at yoga. That’s not what it is. And something I like to say often is it’s a practice. So you’re always going to be evolving, you’re always going to be learning something new in yoga if you have an open mind.

And I think that’s really one of the most important things, is showing up with an open mind. Taking all of these other misconceptions or myths about yoga and placing them to the side. And just allowing yourself to be open minded on, how could this help me? What could I learn from this? Going in with that beginner’s mind and what is my mind saying to me?
What is my body saying? How is my breath helping?

Keeping that open mind as you go in and finding a teacher who you vibe with. You are not going to walk into every yoga studio and vibe with every single teacher there. You can walk into a studio and only find one teacher you like. You could walk into a studio and not find any teacher you like.

And the style of class also matters. My tip is play around. Go to a few classes, try a few different teachers out, try a few different styles out, and have that open mind, and allow yourself to absorb what is being said, what is being done, what is being taught, and then make your decision from there.

Laurie: I’m going to share my, my experience with yoga, which is kind of like what you just described in that, you know, I tried it when it was really popular. I went with friends to a class and I was really intimidated. I am not bendy. I am not flexible. I was just really embarrassed because I couldn’t do. any of the moves. Like you said, you don’t go, you don’t show up on the first day knowing everything or being, being able to do everything. But that’s kind of how I felt that not being able to do any of that made me feel like I shouldn’t be there. So I went to yoga. I wasn’t good at it. So I stopped doing yoga. So when you don’t do yoga, you’re not good at yoga. So, you can’t expect to be good at yoga when you don’t do it. That math doesn’t math, right?

So, I love your advice of being willing to approach this with curiosity, like, how could this work for me? What styles appeal to me? What is it that I like about yoga and what is it that I want to get out of it?

And then, I think it was probably about five or six years ago, I went with a friend to a beer yoga class. It was just supposed to be fun. I like beer. I like my friend. I’ll go. I’ll hang out on my mat while whatever. It was a really big class in the brewery and It was this teacher said something to me that flipped the switch. We’re doing something I’m over here. Like, I don’t know, maybe it was triangle or it was a warrior pose. And I was sucking at it, hardcore. And she said “listen to your body, do this If it feels good in your body” And I was like “Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, Whoa, wait a second….

Because I had gone in with a very black or white “here’s how you do a move. If it looks like this, you’re doing it right. If it doesn’t look like this, you’re doing it wrong.”
But she’s telling me, I can modify this for what works with my body. And that was like a light bulb went off over my head. I was like, I can do yoga for my body. I can approach this in a way that, that works for me. And after that, I was hooked. I was like, okay, I can now give myself the space and allow myself to be a beginner and to be, and to learn and to, to grow in a practice.

Tashya: So I love that that is your advice to kind of, you know, approach it with a curiosity and a willingness to, to just do what works for your body. I love that you had that experience with that teacher, because that means that teacher was. welcoming, made it accessible, spoke to you as a person rather than, I’m at the front of the room, I know what’s going on, and this is how yoga is supposed to be.

That teacher made it about you, and that is what yoga is. The truth is, all of our bodies are built differently. All of our flexibility is different. Our mobility is different. Just our bodies in general, our bone structure, it’s all different. I’m really glad that even though you gave up on it for a little bit, that you still had an open mind and you went to another class and you found a teacher who embodied what yoga actually is.

Kindness, compassion, letting people be themselves, and tapping into who they are, rather than being at the front of the room telling you how you are supposed to be.

Laurie: Maybe the beer helped, right? It kind of loosened me up.

Tashya: Also that, sure. Yeah, it probably did.

Laurie: Um, but it was just like, I just felt like I finally had permission to just do yoga for me.

Tashya:I have a yoga client who comes every Saturday morning to my virtual class and for the past few years. And when I first, a few years ago before she came to the first class, when we were messaging about it and she said “I can’t do yoga. I’m not good at yoga.” I said to her “well, you don’t have to be good. Just show up.”

She now comes every week, if she took a vacation or, you know, during holidays when we don’t have class, she’ll say the following week, you know, I missed it. My body can feel that I didn’t do it. She can feel that she missed a class and she doesn’t want to miss a class. So I just think back to, and I’ve watched her also improve, in how she approaches the poses and how her flexibility has grown and her willingness to evolve her practice has grown and I’ve watched all of that and I just think back to the first initial speaking with her.” I’m not good at it I don’t think I can do it” and then now too It is part of her weekly routine and she she is there and I love that Improvement for her.

I just love watching that and one of my other favorite stories that I like to talk about is I started teaching restorative back in January, and at first I said, “no,  I don’t know how to teach restorative. I can’t do that.”  And I also was like, “and that’s too slow. We’re just laying here in restorative. That’s not my bag.” And the more I started teaching it, I’m hearing from the students at the end of class, thank you so much for that. That’s exactly what I needed. I feel so good now I’m going to go home and get some rest.

Like, and I could see the change in their posture and in their body and I could see it in their faces that at the end of class that was exactly what they needed. And that also changed my view of restorative and and allowing myself touse restorative as a healing practice. So I was already versed in a flow.

I already had my own practice, but even as a yoga teacher, I still had some type of misconception and I had to come in with an open mind and curiosity, as you said before, and so I love seeing that evolving as the more people practice. Can you talk a little bit more about restorative yoga? Just kind of like a description of what it is.

Restorative yoga, you’re only going to do about five or six poses throughout the whole class and you’re using props. So you’re using a bolster, blanket, blocks, a strap, whatever it is. And you’re using that as a support. So restorative is rest. You are using these, and you’re holding a pose for six or seven minutes, and you’re just allowing that prop to support you.

You’re allowing your mind to really relax. And you talked about something earlier when you were, uh, um, citing those studies. And with restorative, it is really calming your heart. It is calming your nervous system because you are sinking into this. You are deepening your inhale and exhale. There’s no stress being put on your body.

There’s no stress being put on your mind. It’s just allowing you that freedom to just slow down to come to a full stop and to just rest. And so then when you’re learning to breathe and you’re learning to find that support, when you go into a stressful situation, you can pull those tools back out.

Restorative yoga is it’s just really a time to rest your mind and rest your body, which I think is something we all need in our time right now where we’re constantly on the go and just giving ourselves that time to just really rest. So Tasha, right now you teach a virtual class on Saturday mornings, which is a gentle flow.

Laurie: Talk to us a little bit about your virtual classes.

Tashya: I had first started that it was going to be for beginners, people who are new to yoga. But then as I started to teach, I evolved my virtual class to be more of a gentle flow rather than just for beginners. We’re not going to be doing any handstands.
It’s really just starting your Saturday morning very gently, breathing, doing some gentle movement, waking up your body, right, because we all know by Saturday morning, it’s really hard to get up and it’s really hard to get the day going. And so how can you just. Find that time to ease into the day. Also giving yourself an hour of self care at the end of the week.

Maybe Saturday is the start of your week. I don’t know. What is it that you can do that’s just for an hour on a Saturday morning, very gentle to wake yourself up. The reason why I like it being virtual is that it’s very accessible to everyone. You could roll out of bed at 9 45 and click on the Zoom link at 10 a.m. and you’re there. No one’s looking at you. You don’t have to show up in a certain way, wearing certain leggings. It doesn’t matter. You can be in your pajamas in, uh, in sweatpants. Just coming there and just finding that nice way to wake up. You could be anywhere. A lot of my clients who come on Saturdays have not been in New York City. They’ve been in other states. But it’s easy because it’s on Zoom and there’s no stress or pressure to leave your house, to get dressed, to go somewhere when you can just do it right from your own home and feel comfortable. Right now, Saturday morning is the only virtual that I have, but I have been wanting to add some evening classes.

Tashya: So an evening virtual flow, you know, gently after work, and then also a restorative. So now I’m kind of putting feelers out to see if there’s some interest in those. As my business expands and so hoping that eventually that those will be some offerings and I can also put in the evening because not everyone can come to a Saturday morning class and sometimes people prefer something in the evening, especially midweek with everything they have going on.

Laurie: Very good point. What I’m going to do, Tasha, and you’re going to be giving our listeners a coupon code for a free class so they can join you, try it out, see how they like it. I’m also going to be putting all of your information, like your website and your social links in the show notes so that our listeners can get in touch with you and follow you.

Laurie: Thank you so much for being with us today.

Tashya: I always enjoy talking to you and happy to come on again and talk about lots more wellness topics.

Celebrating Recovery from Eating Disorder Using Intuitive Eating

CW: as the title implies, this episode describes a guest’s lifelong struggle with eating disorders

 

In this episode I chat with Debbie Lesko, an anti-diet and eating disorder awareness activist, who shares her personal journey of recovery from an eating disorder and how she became an advocate for body positivity and intuitive eating. She emphasizes the importance of rejecting diet culture and the harmful effects of intentional weight loss. Debbie also discusses the benefits of embracing an anti-diet mindset, such as freedom from food restrictions, improved self-esteem, and a healthier relationship with your body. She provides practical tips for transitioning away from dieting, including changing language around food, cleaning up social media feeds, and finding joyful movement.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Reject diet culture and the labeling of food as “good” or “bad.”
  2. Clean up your social media by unfollowing accounts that promote dieting or weight loss.
  3. Get rid of clothes that don’t fit and buy clothes that make you feel comfortable and confident in your current body.

Quotes:

  • “Anti-diet means rejecting the idea that a diet is going to cure your self-esteem, your body image, your health.”
  • “All food has nutritional value, no matter what it is, and your body knows what to do with it.”
  • “Give up the fight for making your body a shape that you think is acceptable.”

Resources Mentioned:

Need help?

Looking to speak with someone about eating disorders concerns for yourself or a loved one?

About Debbie: 

Debbie Lesko is a 67-year-old grandmother and an eating disorder awareness and anti-diet fat liberation activist. She has been on a journey of recovery from her own eating disorder since she was eight years old. Debbie is the host of the “Diets Don’t Work” Facebook page, which is a community that supports and educates people looking to ditch the diet mindset and approach health without a harmful focus on weight.

headshot of Debbie Lesko

Connect with Debbie

In a world obsessed with weight loss and diet culture, it can be challenging to find a path to true health and well-being. But there is hope. Debbie Lesko, an anti-diet activist and eating disorder awareness advocate, is on a mission to help others break free from the harmful cycle of dieting and embrace a new way of approaching health. In our conversation, Debbie shares her personal journey to recovery and offers valuable insights into the benefits of ditching the diet mindset.

Finding Recovery: A Personal Journey

Debbie’s story is one of resilience and determination. From a young age, she was subjected to the harmful messages of diet culture, constantly being told that she needed to lose weight to be accepted and valued. This led to a lifelong battle with an eating disorder, with multiple hospitalizations and treatment centers along the way. But it wasn’t until 2017, when her job threatened her employment if she didn’t seek treatment, that Debbie realized she needed to make a change.

“I can’t leave my granddaughter,” Debbie recalls. “I can’t die. That would just hurt tremendously.” This realization became the turning point in her recovery journey. She sought treatment at Rosewood Eating Disorder Centers and immersed herself in various modalities, including intuitive eating and the Health at Every Size (HAES) approach. Through this process, Debbie discovered a new way of approaching food, movement, and self-acceptance.

The Anti-Diet Movement: Rejecting Diet Culture

Being anti-diet means rejecting the harmful messages of diet culture and embracing a new approach to health and well-being. It means letting go of the idea that weight loss is the key to happiness and self-worth. As Debbie explains, “Anti-diet does not mean anti-health. It’s pro-health.” It’s about focusing on nourishing your body and finding joy in movement, rather than obsessing over numbers on a scale or restrictive eating patterns.

One of the biggest pitfalls people face when trying to leave the diet mindset behind is the language they use around food. Debbie emphasizes the importance of eliminating labels like “good” or “bad” when it comes to food. “All food has nutritional value,” she says. “Your body knows what to do with it.” By reframing our thoughts and language around food, we can begin to develop a healthier relationship with eating and nourishing our bodies.

The Power of Community and Support

Recovering from an eating disorder and embracing an anti-diet mindset can be challenging, but Debbie emphasizes the importance of finding a supportive community. Through her Facebook page, “Diets Don’t Work,” Debbie curates a collection of posts and resources that promote body positivity, intuitive eating, and eating disorder awareness. The page has grown into a thriving community of over 4,500 members who share their experiences, ask questions, and support one another on their journeys to recovery.

Debbie also highlights the importance of cleaning up our social media feeds and surrounding ourselves with accounts that promote body positivity and reject diet culture. By curating our online spaces, we can create a more positive and supportive environment that aligns with our values and goals.

The Benefits of Ditching the Diet Mindset

So, what are the benefits of embracing an anti-diet mindset and rejecting the harmful messages of diet culture?
Debbie shares three key benefits:

  • Freedom: By letting go of restrictive eating patterns and the obsession with weight loss, we can experience a newfound sense of freedom. No longer bound by the numbers on a scale or the rules of a diet, we can eat what we want when we want it, without guilt or shame.
  • Increased Brain Space: When we’re constantly focused on diets and weight loss, our minds become consumed by numbers and restrictions. By embracing an anti-diet mindset, we free up valuable brain space to focus on more important things, like spending time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies, and engaging in activities that bring us joy.
  • Improved Self-Esteem: Diet culture often leads to a negative body image and a constant battle with our own self-worth. By rejecting the idea that our bodies need to conform to a certain standard, we can develop a healthier and more positive relationship with ourselves. Respecting our bodies for what they are and what they can do, rather than how they look, can lead to a significant boost in self-esteem and overall well-being.

Looking ahead…

Ditching the diet mindset and embracing an anti-diet approach to health and well-being is a journey that requires commitment and self-compassion. But as Debbie’s story demonstrates, it is possible to find recovery and live a life free from the harmful cycle of dieting. By rejecting diet culture, reframing our thoughts and language around food, and surrounding ourselves with a supportive community, we can begin to embrace a new way of approaching health that focuses on nourishment, self-acceptance, and joy.

As the anti-diet movement continues to gain momentum, it is important that we challenge the harmful messages of diet culture and promote a more inclusive and compassionate approach to health. By sharing our stories, supporting one another, and advocating for change, we can create a world where everyone can embrace their bodies and live their lives to the fullest, free from the constraints of diet culture.

Let’s Debbie in her mission to spread awareness about eating disorders, promote body positivity, and empower others to embrace an anti-diet mindset. Together, we can create a future where health is not defined by weight, but by the joy, nourishment, and self-acceptance that comes from living a life free from diet culture.

Best of Results Without Restriction 2023

The results are in!

 

We asked, you answered!

 

We’ve wrapped up our first ever community poll to find out who are your favorite members of the anti-diet and body positive community.

Here’s who you told us inspires you to ditch the diet mindset and show up in the world, unapologetically…

 

    • Favorite guest on the Results Without Restriction podcast:
      Shanique Allen
    • Favorite anti-diet health coach/nutritionist:
      Coach Tiffany
    • Favorite body positive social media influencer:
      Sarah Nicole Landry
    • Favorite anti-diet activist:
      Debbie Lesko (Diets Don’t Work)
    • Favorite anti-diet/body positive podcast:
      Maintenance Phase
    • Favorite anti-diet book:
      Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating by Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CEDS
    • Favorite size inclusive/fitness-focused social media profile:
      Healthy with Kelsey
    • Favorite Results Without Restriction podcast episode:
      Get off the Diet Rollercoaster with Certified IE Coach, Brooke Spendlove
    • Favorite food-positive cookbook author:
      Leanne Brown Good Enough: A Cookbook: Embracing the Joys of Imperfection and Practicing Self-Care in the Kitchen
    • Favorite certified Intuitive Eating counselor:
      Christy Harrison
    • Favorite size inclusive/anti-diet personal trainer:
      Ragen Chastain
    • Favorite Intuitive Eating-based or anti-diet self-paced course:
      The Anti-Diet Plan – Dr. Alexis Conason
    • Favorite Intuitive Eating-based or anti-diet coaching program:
      Undiet Your Life with Stephanie Dodier

Holistic Wellness that’s Realistic with Megan Caldwell

 

VIEW THE TRANSCRIPT

In this episode I chat with  Megan Caldwell, a personal trainer and health coach who helps busy moms prioritize self-care,  move past overwhelm and exhaustion to find strength and confidence in both mind and body.

Megan shares her journey of transitioning from a stay-at-home mom to an entrepreneur, running a fitness franchise for moms. Despite the success she found, she was burnt out, putting her own wellness on the back burner.

Recognizing that wellness is more than just fitness, she now focuses on five pillars of health: movement, hydration, nutrition, sleep, and stress management, because taking care of yourself, creating habits, and finding systems that work with you and the season of life that you’re in are critical to maintaining your physical, mental, and emotional health.

 

Connect with Megan: