This last video shoot for Cyberobics was incredibly different than the last for many reasons. Perhaps the most groundbreaking of which was the way I accepted the job.
When I was offered the video, I said yes… as long as they understood that I wouldn’t be dieting for it.
You may have noticed that things have changed around here at SIO. I don’t talk about what to eat or what not to eat anymore. I don’t talk about the 90% Principle or any other kind of structured moderation.
I don’t talk about how to “fix” our imperfections because I no longer believe in or condone the need to change the way you look to be worthy.
I have grown over the past year in ways I look forward to telling you about in more detail. This growth led me to a core-deep realization: we are all perfectly imperfect. The obsession over “fixing” ourselves by changing our exterior – the very idea that it must be our body’s fault that we are unhappy – suddenly rang insane to me.
I recognized that by changing my body with dieting before shooting, I was telling everyone who would watch that video that they needed to change themselves, too. I was furthering the problem if I adhered to the stigma that to be a fitness star you have to look like the 3% of body types deemed ideal by the media.
So I determined to take a stand against the stigma.
I would show up in my truth without dieting. I would show girls and boys all around the world that they could be strong and healthy by eating when they’re hungry and sticking to a balanced exercise regimen. I would show them that just being a human being can be the ideal.
The course of the shoot preparation and shoot itself lasted about 6 weeks. Here are my biggest takeaways:
When I first sent back the email declaring that they’d have to take me as I am, I was terrified that they’d say no.
“What have you done?!” Fear repeated in my head. “You’re throwing away your dream because you want to prove a point?!”
Being rejected for what my body looks like is one of my greatest fears, and it’s an intensely real one with the industry I’ve chosen. It’s one of the reasons that I had dieted for so long.
Over the past year, I haven’t gone on one diet. For me, that’s crazy! I used to diet all. the. time. Every other month, I’d be on some new plan trying to lose that last 5 pounds. It tore me apart.
I’d obsess nonstop about what exactly I’d need to do to look perfect, what parts of my body would have to change, the foods I couldn’t eat, and then sit in panicky anticipation for my next regimented meal. I was ruled by my need to be different than I am. I was sure that when I got to that body type I was after, THEN I would be happy. Then, the world couldn’t touch me.
Similarly, I believed that all negative things in my life were because of my body. I’d have more confidence when I reached a lower body fat percentage. I’d be happier because I’d have more confidence. I’d fear less and risk more.
Fear was another element altogether. I was in a state of fear all the time because I never faced any of my fears. I kept pushing them down to deal with “later” (aka “never”). I focused all my efforts on my body, convincing myself that if I solved this one riddle of the perfect form, everything I feared would disappear.
All the work over the past year has showed me that none of that was true. When I did finally achieve the body type I was after for so long, I felt confident, yes, but then the moment I went off my super strict food plan, my confidence plummeted. Even though my body hadn’t physically changed, I convinced myself that I was way heavier and because of that, I was a failure.
I wrapped my entire worth into how I looked.
After I stopped dieting and started focusing on more mindfulness around my meals, and releasing the need to be perfect, I finally found the peace I’d been looking for.
I started feeling more confident because I was working on the deeper beliefs and habits that told me I needed to change to be worthy.
I became happier because I wasn’t numbing out the shame I had over the way my body looked and so I was able to actually experience happiness as it came.
I stopped accepting my body image thoughts as “The Truth,” and started countering them with love and gentleness just like I would for anyone else who said those things to herself.
Fear was no longer a constant; it came and it went, moving through me as I look at and work through what I was so scared of.
If they had said, “No,” I know I would have dealt with it. It would have sucked hardcore, but I would have gotten through it, and I know that because I faced that fear when it occurred, just like I have for other fears over and over throughout this past year.
When they came back and said, “Yes,” I was relieved and also eager to show the world who I truly am for the very first time.
Align with your health and wellbeing, and a healthy body weight finds you
While I didn’t diet or overtrain (I had to pull myself back from rehearsing too often), I ate what my body needed for fuel. That meant carbs every day. It meant ice cream sometimes. And it meant that I never went hungry.
By simply aligning with my true health and wellbeing, my body responded gloriously. I truly felt stronger inside and out without the faintness and obsessive thinking that dieting causes.
Throughout the entire process, Mega Mace (the production team) was incredibly supportive, telling me I looked great and healthy the entire time. Their love and support served as extra fuel on my mission’s fire. With the whole team behind me, it made committing to the cause much easier… but Fear did make an appearance a few times.
Talking about it helped me stay accountable to my mission
I have to admit that there were a few moments when my resolve waned.
Maybe I can do a lighter version of carb cycling, I’d think. Or maybe I could cut out my snacks.
Whenever I felt this way, I called a friend who always has my true health and wellbeing in mind. She’d listen to what I was considering, then calmly and lovingly remind me why I decided not to diet at all.
She’d remind me of my commitment to you, the people who would be watching me as a teacher modeling the possibilities of strength and happiness without shame.
She’d remind me of what dieting did to my psyche, wrapping it up in fear and panic.
And she’d remind me that I am worthy as I am right now, no “fixing” necessary.
“This is an opportunity,” she said. “To show up as yourself and have the most fun you can possibly have with this. What if you just leaned into the enjoyment of being yourself through this experience?”
Talking to her always brought me back to what’s really important: the truth. Of who I am and who you are. Of our worth not depending on how we look.
Having someone on my side to bring me back to the truth was a lifesaver. With her support, I stuck to my guns and showed up on the shoot day aligned, clear-headed and ready to be human in front of the camera.
Because of all the fun I had during the preparation process, the balance I found in my rehearsal schedule (up to 1 hour a day, 5 days a week and no more), and the support I received from Mega Mace Production Company and The Cyberobics team, I rocked the shoot.
Both the director from Mega Mace and the head of Cyberobics came up to me afterwards asking me what I did differently to improve my performance so much. I just told them that my confidence was much better and that I’m more committed to the truth of who I am.
I have never been so proud of myself. I have never felt so at home in my own skin.
It took me years of not feeling like I was enough and slaving over an ideal that ended up not solving anything to open up to this new way of living.
It is with all my heart that I hope you, too, can find freedom from food and body obsession.
Over the last 2 months, I’ve been leading a pilot group of women and men to heal their relationships with food through the renovated
TPM Intentional Eating. The new course gets down and dirty with your belief systems that lead you to diet or binge, and then helps you heal them with practical tools and loving support.
I’ll be working on it for a little while before releasing it to the public, but if you’re interested in waking up to your worth, sign up here to be notified first.
You are so very worthy as you are, my fellow human being. I hope the actions I’ve taken will help prove that to you.
Wishing you freedom in your humanity.