Done with Dieting Episode #89: An Example of What’s Possible

Stephanie's journey to self-care

Client Success Story: Stephanie’s Journey to Self-Care

Prepare to be inspired in this episode because I’m interviewing a former client. 

Stephanie came to me unsure of what she needed, but she knew that a diet or fitness program wasn’t it. She took a leap of faith & it paid off.

As a result, she not only lost the weight that she desired, but in the process discovered the missing piece that she didn’t even know that she needed.

Stephanie shares how her life has transformed and what she learned about herself as a result of coaching.

You’ll learn Stephanie’s biggest takeaways, the skills that she learned, and how her identity has shifted – that she couldn’t have achieved through simply following a diet or exercise program to lose weight.

Are you loving the podcast, but arent sure where to start? click here to get your copy of the Done with Dieting Podcast Roadmap Its a fantastic listening guide that pulls out the exact episodes that will get you moving towards optimal health.

If you want to take the work we’re doing here on the podcast and go even deeper, you need to join the Feel Good Sisterhood - my group coaching program for women in midlife who are done with dieting, but still want to feel good! The Feel Good Sisterhood is open for enrollment, so click here to discover if group coaching is a right fit for you and your goals.

I am so excited to hear what you all think about the podcast – if you have any feedback, please let me know! You can leave me a rating and review in Apple Podcasts, which helps me create an excellent show and helps other women who want to get off the diet roller coaster find it, too.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode

  • What’s the difference between coaching and therapy & how do you know which one is right for you.
  • Why the number on the scale really doesn’t matter – and what will truly make you happier.
  • Why using self-care as escaping doesn’t work.
  • What it means to truly take care of yourself.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Full Episode Transcript:

Stephani: Let’s say, something is stressful, and I think I deserve a bagel. In that exact moment, I go, no, Stephanie, what you deserve is to take care of yourself. And just in that moment, I’m in my car, do not drive to the bagel store. And by the time you get home, that feeling is gone. And if it’s not gone, then maybe you are just hungry.

But usually, no. You deserve to make good choices. You deserve to take care of yourself. You deserve something healthy that’ll make your body feel good. And I would have this switch in my brain where I probably even said it out loud if I was by myself.

Because I felt it was very powerful to say to that inner person. No, no. That sentence doesn’t actually make sense. It’s not a logical conclusion. Frustration means you deserve carbs. These are separate things.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Stephanie: And actually, not only are they separate things. I’m having epiphany right now talking to you. It’s actually the opposite. If you’re frustrated, what your body is telling you, or what your mind is telling you, your life is telling you is stop you need to do something to take care of yourself. What’s that saying, self-care is not getting a manicure or getting a massage. Self-care is cultivating a life that you don’t want to escape from.

You are listening to the done with dieting podcast. The podcast for women in midlife, who are done with dieting, but still want to lose weight and feel good in your clothes.

You know that diets don’t work long term. But you feel like there’s this secret that everyone else knows that you just haven’t figured it out yet.

I am your host, Elizabeth Sherman. And I’ve helped hundreds of women get off the diet roller coaster, change their relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies.

Through this podcast, my goal is to help you too.

Welcome. Let’s get started.

Elizabeth: Hey everyone, welcome to the done with dieting podcast. Today, episode is number 89. And I realize that I’m nearing 100 episodes, which is so super fun. I’ve started thinking about what I want to do for that big triple digit number. And I have some ideas, but I would love to hear from you. What do you think I should do to celebrate this big milestone?

I can’t believe that we are so close to a hundred. And you know, when I started this podcast, it seemed like 100 episodes was so far away. I had so much envy of those podcasts that were in triple digits already. And I was just like, oh, I’m never gonna get there. But that is so true. Like kind of like with weight loss, isn’t it?

But I guess that’s the case with any goal that we have, we just chip away at it little by little, and eventually we get there. The key is to keep going and to just not stop, whether we’re talking about podcast episodes or pounds lost. Every episode that I’ve produced has been like a pound lost. And eventually, they add up.

It’s so super exciting to look over the past almost two years and understand how each step has created this. So, awesome. And I could not be more grateful to you for listening and sharing it with your friends and family and other women who are in need of this information of this podcast. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Today, I have a former client on the show. I invited Stephanie on the show to inspire you because she has taken what we did in coaching and really applied it to all the areas in her life. So, I’d like to invite you to be inspired with what is possible for you as well.

Take a listen.

All right, everyone welcome, Stephanie to the show. Stephanie, I am so excited to have you here. Do you know why I invited you onto the show?

Stephanie: I assumed it’s because I text you all the time about how amazing you are at how much you’ve changed my life.

Elizabeth: Okay, that’s part of it. But seeing your transformation from when we first started to today or even when we ended was just astounding to me. And so, I really wanted to bring you onto the show so that other people could see the possibility of what coaching can do for them. Because I think that you are an amazing example of what is possible for anyone.

Stephanie: No, I was telling somebody at a party recently who was like, you look fantastic, what’s your secret? And I really felt that she should do it. And as soon as I said coaching, she was like, oh, is she really hard on you or something? I don’t know how she phrased it. And I said, no. And she thought I met a personal training coach.

Elizabeth: Got it.

Stephanie: And as I clarified, she was like, oh no, that’s not for me. And it is for her. She just doesn’t know what it is.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Okay. So, let’s talk about that. But before we do, what I’d like to do is I’d like you to set the tone for everybody of where you were when you started coaching with me. What made you reach out to me? I think you found me on google, right?

Stephanie: Yeah, I was looking online for different. I knew I wanted a health coach like that in my head was what I was looking for. And so, yeah, I was sort of Googling and looking around and there’s different websites. I couldn’t say exactly where I found you. But yes, the general interwebs.

Elizabeth: I used that term last week and someone told me that it was an indicator of my age.

Stephanie: Yeah. Like those dieting is for women over 40, right? So, here we are.

Elizabeth: Hilarious. Okay. So, what was going on in your life? What was the struggle or the pain that you were seeking to avoid.

Stephanie: I’m so glad you started with that question because it is the hardest thing for me to describe to somebody. What brought me to you in the first place. I knew I didn’t want a personal trainer. I knew I didn’t want to go on a diet, or on weight watchers, or any of that stuff.

I thought even if that worked, which I wasn’t very confident it would get me what I was seeking, it just wasn’t what I was looking for. I knew I was looking for something else. I think that when you are singularly focused on weight loss, then it’s more likely to fail.

For me, that wasn’t a helpful goal. And I knew that if I was working on myself, that weight loss would likely be a byproduct. I knew that that couldn’t be like the singular goal of what I was trying to do. Especially, because I felt very conflicted. This, I’m sure. Well, not sure, but I believe many women could probably relate to especially, women over 40.

I felt conflicted. I was like, why can’t I just be 15 pounds overweight? I’m not obese. Why does this matter? Am I doing this for society? Am I doing this for my husband? Am I doing this, so I don’t have to buy new clothes? Like why do I feel the need to lose 15 pounds? And so, I felt very, I didn’t want to go to a trainer who was going to try and get me to lose 15 pounds because I didn’t understand what I wanted.

And I think that ultimately, I wanted to take care of myself. And I needed somebody to help me figure out how to take care of myself. And that’s what brought me to you in the long answer.

Elizabeth: Well, and what’s really interesting though is that you are or were in therapy. So, why didn’t you go to a therapist for this?

Stephanie: It’s a really good question. And I love my therapist. I’m a New Yorker for anybody listening. We all go to therapy. And have been for 20 years and it is a really great place for me to understand patterns that I repeat, feelings I have from childhood, complicated relationships with family members.

But I think that a therapist wants to take care of your mind and your emotions and your soul, maybe. And I wanted to take care of my body, which I knew was connected, but I don’t think a therapist can make that connection. It wasn’t going to fit that purpose.

I think that my therapist would’ve sat there and had that conversation with me. Why is losing weight important to you? And that might have been a nice conversation with her. But she wouldn’t have been able to say like, okay, what decisions do you want to make in your life that are going to get you where you want to be.

Elizabeth: Interesting. Okay. So, that’s actually a really interesting comparison cause I get the question a lot about what’s the difference between coaching and therapy or coaching and personal training. And clearly, because I have a background in personal training and nutrition, I can speak to that.

I’ve gone to therapy, but I can’t really make that distinguish between therapy and coaching. So, that was actually really helpful for you to clarify that.

Stephanie: And that was just my experience. It might be different for others, and it might even depend on your therapist. I think my therapist would’ve focused on self-acceptance, which is a part of what you and I worked on. But that’s not what I was looking for.

Elizabeth: Yeah. A therapist can’t necessarily talk to you about creating habits or what routines are going to work best for you in your lifestyle.

Stephanie: Yeah. I mean a cognitive behavioral therapist, maybe. There are different types of therapy, but not the kind of therapy that I do.

Elizabeth: Okay. So, what were your expectations as far as outcome comes to when working together?

Stephanie: It’s a great question. It’s hard to put my mind back in that mindset. My expectations were low. I remember having a conversation with my husband because it’s an investment first of all. And also, of time. Not just money, a time and effort. So, like you really want to be committed.

And so, I was trying to explain to him what I thought I might get out of it. And I just remember thinking, even if I get very little out of it, it will be worth it because I’m so stuck right now.

So, I think my expectations were low in the sense that I wasn’t like this is going to be life change. Like I’m going to lose all this weight and have better habits and everything’s going to be perfect. I think I was like; I need something. And for some reason, this feels like the something I need. And I think it’s going to help me.

Those were the expectations. And it’s funny, because I’m sure a lot of people have these like very specific goals of I want to run or I want to lose this number of pounds. And that’s great too. But for me I was like, I need to feel better. I think this person could help me feel better.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And I remember like your social situation, your social support situation. Your husband is actually very healthy. You have two little boys who you raise as healthy kids. And so, you have the kind of infrastructure there. Yeah?

Stephanie: Yeah, that was part of it too. You know, I was a very athletic person in my previous life. I ran triathlons, and I was an athlete in high school, and I used to do a lot of hot yoga. And so, there have been long periods of my life where I’ve been in shape. And done so happily, not forcing myself into some gym routine that didn’t make me happy.

Yes, I live in a very, very healthy household. No sugar, no processed wheat kind of household. But I couldn’t make good choices. I was not being active at all. Even though, I knew what would make me happy, how to do it, how to do it safely and effectively. How to enjoy it.

I think I listened to podcast of yours where somebody was saying something about not enjoying exercise. Just that I like running. I like going to yoga. I like exercising. And yet, at this point in my life, after two years of COVID stress and two very young exhausting children. I didn’t exercise even a tiny, I didn’t even go for walks, honestly. So, I wasn’t exercising at all.

And then, eating was just such a comfort, emotional reward. There was just so much even though I had a healthy household, I would order things that nobody else in my house would even eat. You know, again, I live in New York, so you can order almost anything and burgers, pizza, nachos, pasta. I’m a big carbo’s person, I’m not necessarily a dessert sweet person. But I couldn’t live the life I knew was possible. I just felt so stuck.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, and what was amazing to me was that it really didn’t take a lot for you. It felt like you were really able to apply the coaching that we did in our sessions. And you had so many breakthroughs between our sessions.

It was always amazing to come back into a next session say, okay, what’s going on this week. And you would download all of these things that you had applied from other conversations that we have had. It was just amazing.

Stephanie: But that’s really thanks to you. I mean, that’s why I text you, and I say, you changed my life because anybody can spend three months following a diet, making better choices. Especially, women in their forties or fifties, we’ve all done this. Find me the woman who hasn’t done this already. And so, we know what could be done.

But I was coming to conclusions and discovering things about myself and my behavior and my patterns that I have never discovered before. I thought of one today, this is so silly. So again, I big order food person and now I still order sushi. I love sushi. So, I still order it maybe once or twice a week.

And I told you that I had ordered a bunch of sushi and I was full, but I kept eating because it was so delicious. And you said, don’t you get sushi every week? I don’t know what you mean by that or what you were thinking in that moment. But in that moment for me, I was like, yes, I do get sushi every week.

This is not a celebration. This is not a party. This is not a special thing. If I’m full, I can eat it tomorrow or next week. It’s not going to go away. And that sounds so silly, cuz we all know that. Of course, intellectually, when you are having a conversation, you could say that and know that about yourself.

But in that moment I realized that I found a reason in every single day to be like, well, this is so delicious, or this is so special, or I deserve this, or I haven’t been to this restaurant in so long. That restaurant’s been around for 20 years. Like, it’s not going anywhere. And that was just a big breakthrough for me.

That sounds so silly to say out loud for some reason. But in all the years of dieting and calorie counting, I never realized I was doing that. That I thought everything was a reason to indulge.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, what you’re saying is actually really common for so many of us. And I don’t know how you were brought up. But I know that for myself, you are one of three kids, right?

Stephanie: Mm-hmm.

Elizabeth: Yeah, so I’m one of six. We never went out to dinner. And so, when I finally started going out to dinner, it was like, oh, this is a special occasion. And so, therefore, we have to get all the things we have to get the appetizer. We have to get the full entree. We have to get dessert. We have to get drinks. We have to indulge in all of it.

And then, for me, a similar thing happened. I was like, wait a minute, going out to eat is no longer like a treat. That’s my normal thing. And so, therefore, why am I treating it like it’s a special occasion?

Stephanie: That is exactly how I felt. We didn’t go out very much. I don’t think it was cause we had a lot of children. I think my parents were just frugal and they like to cook and whatever else. We didn’t go out. And also, as a teenager, particularly felt very sort of self-conscious about food and my body. And I really never treated myself and treating myself was full of guilt and all this other kind of emotion.

So, I definitely feel like in the last 20 years, yeah, I would order food. I can order food, I’m an adult and my mom’s not here to tell me it’s bad for me or that it’s expensive. Okay, maybe that was true in like college or in my twenties. But like, okay you got your fill of it’s no longer special.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Oh, that’s brilliant. And you said something in there that I know that we spent a lot of time on, which was the ‘I deserve it.’

Stephanie: Oh, yeah.

Elizabeth: Yeah. So, like when your kids were acting up, you’re like, I want a bagel because I deserve it. So, using food as a reward or as an escape.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Talk more about that.

Stephanie: It’s funny, you gave that example because I was telling somebody about that recently that my kids wake up super early. So, by the time I dropped them at school, we’ve already had three hours of who knows what. Probably, fighting and yelling.

And I dropped one of my kids off. It was like 9:00 AM. And I thought, oh my God, I deserve a bagel. A bagel with cream cheese and lox, and maybe an orange juice on the side. And those orange juices are like 300 calories, you know?

And I didn’t go. You and I had been working together at that point because I was like, what? Hold on. Is that a reason? I mean, I still enjoy a good bagel. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not going to deprive myself from having a delicious New York bagel with cream cheese and lox. But not because my kids annoyed me that morning. That’s just a silly reason.

But whether it was that or a difficult work day. Again, the kids thing is hard. I hope they never listen to this podcast. You know, before you have kids, if you have a hard work day, you can do three things, or you could do a million things. But I would do three potential things to be like, I had a hard work day. What am I going to do with my evening?

I could go to the gym, work out that frustration. I could go out with friends, socialize, and let loose. Or I could sort of sit on my couch and order bad food and watch TV. And I actually think all three of those things are fine things to do when you have had a bad day.

But when you have kids, options one and two are much more difficult. I mean, unless you have a nanny or something, I don’t know. In order to arrange for me to go out with friends, I either need a babysitter, or my husband needs to be home from work early, or whatever it is. Even to go to the gym, there’s just childcare involved.

So, I do think that it’s also the easiest of the three, whether you have kids or not. And so, yeah, I definitely got to the end of the day and was like, I deserve a big pile of carbohydrates. I talked to a friend of mine about this, and she said that she can relate. She’s hasn’t no body image issues, amazingly. I mean, maybe she has some, but anyway.

I was talking to a friend about this, and she said that she uses that term as well. Like I deserve this. But she’s like the way that you are using it, I know we’re using it differently. It’s like a real reward or comfort. It fills up something that you feel you need in that moment.

She’s like, when I say I deserve this, I think I had an exhausting day, and this is yummy. Or I worked out really hard, I can replace on my calories. And when you say I deserve this, it’s like my emotional self needs this. And that’s how I felt. And still sometimes feel.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well, and those stories that we have in our heads are really hard to reprogram. It’s probably something that you will always have going on in the back of your mind that ‘I deserve this,’ when you’re feeling stressed or when you’re feeling like you just want to escape out of whatever situation that you’re in. Yeah.

Stephanie: I remember feeling with you that one strategy that I was using was just replacing the thought and replacing the behavior. And how powerful that actually can be, even when it feels sort of silly.

So, let’s say, something is stressful, and I think I deserve a bagel. In that exact moment, I go, no, Stephanie, what you deserve is to take care of yourself. And just in that moment, I’m in my car, do not drive to the bagel store. And by the time you get home, that feeling is gone. And if it’s not gone, then maybe you are just hungry.

But usually, no. You deserve to make good choices. You deserve to take care of yourself. You deserve something healthy that’ll make your body feel good. And I would have this switch in my brain where I probably even said it out loud if I was by myself.

Because I felt it was very powerful to say to that inner person. No, no, that sentence doesn’t actually make sense. It’s not a logical conclusion. Frustration means you deserve carbs. These are separate things.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Stephanie: And actually, not only are they separate things. I’m having epiphany right now talking to you. It’s actually the opposite. If you’re frustrated, what your body is telling you, or what your mind is telling you, your life is telling you is stop you need to do something to take care of yourself. What’s that saying, self-care is not getting a manicure or getting a massage. Self-care is cultivating a life that you don’t want to escape from.

Elizabeth: Yes. I love that. I love that. We’re going to put it at the beginning of the episode.

Stephanie: Yeah. It’s not me. I take zero credit. I did not make that up.

Elizabeth: Well, no, but it’s absolutely true. Like, why do we need to escape from the life that we have? That how self-care has typically been marketed to us is like escape from your problems. And the idea is to cultivate a life that you don’t need to escape from so that you can deal with your problems better.

Stephanie: You mentioned my husband and how healthy he is. He happens to for better or for worse, maybe he’s lucky deal with his frustration by going to the gym. So, it seems like a healthy outlet. I’m sure it is. But all of us are looking for an escape or I shouldn’t say all of us.

Many of us are looking for an escape and for some, it’s the gym. And for some, it’s binge watching silly TV. And for some, it’s eating or whatever it is. And we’ve decided that some of those are healthier outlets than others, but they’re all serving the same purpose.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, it depends on what it is. Like exercise can actually be really helpful. Like for myself, when I feel anxious, that is now a trigger for me that I need to go for a run. That running is the one thing that will alleviate anxiety from my body.

Stephanie: No. And saying, even just going for a walk. I mean of course, there is a physical benefit that exercise has on your mental health. I guess I just mean the behavior, there’s just meaning attached at least in my house.

Elizabeth: Well, yeah, yeah, yeah. And it depends on the energy why you’re doing whatever it is that you’re doing. And I’ve done this where I have used exercise in an unhealthy way. And so, yeah, it really depends on the energy that you’re using to fuel that activity. Whether it’s social media, or eating, or drinking, or massages, or working out. Yeah.

But I think that what I go back to is; are you using it as an escape? Are you using it to avoid work, avoid your kids, avoid a family stress? It’s avoidance and escape, I think for some people.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Well, it’s numbing and buffering. And trying to avoid feeling a specific emotion, whatever that is. And using it some other means. Absolutely. Yeah. Cool. All right, tell us about the messages that you received growing up about your body and food.

Do you want to talk about that?

Stephanie: Sure.

Elizabeth: You don’t have to.

Stephanie: I’m just not going to have my parents listen to this podcast.

Elizabeth: We don’t have to talk about it if you don’t want to.

Stephanie: No, no, we can. I was actually with my mother today. And I said to her, there are two different philosophies. Neither is right or wrong, but you went with one and I wanted the other. And that is you believed the world is a harsh place. And so, I need to prepare you for the harsh world.

And other people might say, the world is a harsh place. So, this home is the one place where you can always feel safe. And again, I make no judgements about parents who choose either path. But for me, the message was looks matter, weight matters. That’s how you get friends, and boyfriends, and jobs even.

I remember having a conversation as like a 16 year old that, well, you know, if you are well dressed and thin, you’re more likely to get hired in the job interview. That’s probably, true. That’s the world she was trying to prepare me for.

But I would have liked and planned to be the kind of mother whose probably doesn’t even say that sentence. But even if that came up, I’d be like, and if they make that choice and it’s not you, they’re loss. You know, that would be the message I would send.

And so, I definitely was given a message that looks are very important. I’m still given that message. I try to be really careful about what I say in front of my children who are seven and three. Because as an adult, I don’t remember any specific thing that my mother said.

But I know that hearing these kinds of things over and over again, affected the way I developed and thought about myself. And comments about, Ooh, what is that person wearing or that doesn’t fit, or she can’t pull that off. Or a lot of comments about weight.

And I just thought that it was very, very important. And I was a very average sized kid, you know. I was probably in high school, five, six, a hundred and thirty five pounds. I mean, I don’t know if that seems average to me. And a lot of girls were very thin in high school. You know, it’s a time when a lot of girls are 120 pounds.

And so, I always felt I needed to lose weight and I always felt not pretty. And we used to just make a lot of weird choices. It was the eighties or nineties. So, there was like the cabbage soup diet. And there was it olestra, that stuff that like fake fat stuff. So, there was like the fake fat chips. And then, there was that really chemically frozen yogurt that was called like only eight. Cause it was eight calories, an ounce or something.

Anyway, we ate all this really gross stuff. And actually, you can’t put this one part. I remember one time my mom and I went to the store, do the cabbage soup diet. So, we bought all the stuff you need. Remember, the cabbage soup diet so well. And we got home, and my dad got bagels. I was like, never mind. Never mind, I’m just going to have one of these. Oh, my God.

Anyway. So yes, that was the message. I think women in this country I can’t speak for elsewhere, certainly are all getting a very similar message.

But particularly, if you grow up in a part of the country that you’re not just trying to get by, that the priority is not ‘let’s get food on the table.’ The priority is how can we buy the most expensive organic groceries, which is the part of the country where I grew up.

Yeah. Weight and appearance and the right clothes are just oh, it’s so unfortunately emphasized.

Elizabeth: Well, it’s part of how we’ve been cultivated, that’s part of society. Diet culture has been around for centuries. And so, to say that about our parents, again, you mentioned it before that your mom was doing the best that she could. Right?

Because that was the society that she grew up in and she didn’t know any better. Like until we can actually look at diet culture and see the harmful effects of it and understand what it is. We don’t really know the difference between the forest and the trees at that point. Right? We don’t know that we’re living in water and that like fish and water and that there’s air available.

Stephanie: Yeah. I was very loved. That was the way of expressing love is. You know, protect. And this is what it means to be successful. And I want you to be happy. And in order for you to be happy, you have to be skinny because you can’t be happy if you’re not skinny. And that’s really what I want for you. So, it came from a place of love.

But I think this does go back to what I was saying at the beginning of our conversation, which is it was very hard for me to figure out what I needed and what I wanted in finding a coach. Because I was kind of bitter about even feeling like I needed to lose weight. I didn’t like that feeling. It felt put upon me.

And I thought I can climb a flight of stairs without wheezing, like I’m fine. I am by all definitions healthy and loved. Why do I need to lose weight?

And so, I think that that is very complicated, and it really goes back to some of these ideas that we have from childhood about how we want to see ourselves and what we want to prioritize and what health means and what beauty means. And it becomes very complicated when you consider all of that.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. And so, I think that this actually segue beautifully into the next question, what are some of the skills that you’ve actually taken away from coaching? And I have a few that I’ve observed from you, but let’s see what you answer first.

Stephanie: Some of them are so little. You do a great job putting these resources together, but it’s the kind of thing that anybody working with you from the very beginning. What was it, those eight, the eight checklist like, am I drinking a lot of water? Am I eating my vegetables? Did I go for a walk today? Did I sleep well?

And it was a really great place to start, but I still do it. I don’t take out the checklist and actually physically check them like I did when we started working together. But those are important habits that I just neglected. Again, I think when we are so knowledgeable and used to being healthy in our previous life, it’s almost the curse of knowledge you’ve forgotten how important some of these little things are like drinking a lot of water and going for walks.

So, I would say those are some of the little habits. Awareness was a big one that you and I talked about. And we’ve talked about this a little bit in this conversation. Maybe, I did eat that extra sushi even though, I wasn’t hungry. And maybe, I did get the bagel even though, it was just because my kids were annoying. That’s also okay. But just kind of look at it and go. That’s what I did.

I am aware that I overate because it was yummy. And I am aware that I ate the carb because I was in a bad mood. And you would think, oh, if I just do that every day, what progress will I make? But you won’t do it every day. You recognize that it happened, and it is what it is not good or bad, it just is. And then, you move on. So, I think that was a big one. Awareness.

Elizabeth: Well, and wrapped up in that, it sounds like you’ve also dropped some of your judgments around food.

Stephanie: Yeah. Oh, here’s a big one sort of related.

Elizabeth: Okay.

Stephanie: You told me, it’s okay to half-ass it. And I don’t think anybody’s ever said that before. Especially, you had me take that like sort of personality test. People pleasers and perfectionists will never believe that you can half-ass anything. And I think it was Voltaire said that perfection is the enemy of good or something.

And that is so true when it comes to taking care of yourself that hearing you say, ‘you can half-ass it’ was such an eye-opening thing to say. Because you think to yourself, oh no, I made a bad choice, now it’s over. Where does that come from? No, it’s not. Maybe you made a choice you didn’t want to make and also, who says it’s a bad choice? You know, that’s where the nonjudgment piece comes in.

But no, I definitely have this feeling of every choice that you make around what you’re going to drink, what you’re going to eat, how you’re going to move, how you’re going to spend your day is unique to that hour. In the next hour, you can make a different choice.

Elizabeth: Oh, I love that. Yeah. That is so good.

Stephanie: So, yeah. I do think guilt is also a big one. A lot of people I’m sure who are listening can relate to the guilt thing. And I don’t think I feel that anymore. And it’s funny because we were talking about some of the things that I still will experience, you know. Like I deserve this cause I had a bad day. I don’t think that’ll ever go away.

But I used to feel guilty for not exercising, or guilty for ordering an unhealthy meal, or guilty for overeating. It was this feeling of Ugh, what is wrong with you? Why can’t you have better self-control? Why can’t you make better choices? I just was so hard on myself. And now, cause I actually just went on vacation, and I definitely ate in a way that I don’t typically want to eat.

But there was no guilt. There was okay, this is vacation. I don’t know it just I don’t like to even do that thing where you go diet starts Monday. Because I said that to you once before and you said, what do you want to replace it with? And I wanted to replace it with diet starts right now.

But I don’t even mean diet. I mean, I’m on vacation. My mother-in-law makes the most amazing carrot cake in the history of carrot cake. And I’m going to eat it because I see her twice a year and it’s delicious. And next week, I won’t have the carrot cake. And yeah, I just don’t have any guilt about eating the carrot cake because why would I have guilt?

Like what a funny emotion to have about cake. I can just have the emotion of maybe you ate a little too much, now your tummy hurts. And that also is a good message to send yourself.

Elizabeth: Yeah. I love that. Well, the reason that we find guilt in eating desirable foods is because we’ve always been taught that they’re off limits. And so, even if we’re on vacation, we’re like, oh, but I still see this food guacamole, carrot cake, pasta, whatever it is as being bad for me or being off limits. And all foods fit into a perfectly healthy diet.

Stephanie: Well, and it’s funny because you said, what’s bad for me or what’s good for me. And that’s what I was telling my husband. The last time I sent you a text and I said, and I was trying to explain to him what working with you has meant to me. And it was that sentence, what’s good for you.

And you could ask a million people and depending on the context. If you’re having a conversation about food, they’d probably say, oh, well, good for you is vegetables. But if it was in the context of relationships, they might say connecting with others or whatever it is. And so, I feel like working with you, I daily would go, what’s good for me.

Today, what’s good for me is going out with friends and having some wine. Tomorrow, what’s good for me is putting the kids in front of the TV so I can get an extra hour of sleep. And the next day, what’s good for me is having a lot of vegetables because I didn’t eat enough vegetable this weekend. And I think they’re all can be good for you or bad for you depending on the context.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Oh, that is so beautiful. Yeah, because some days you’re going to want the broccoli but other days you’re going to want the brownie.

Stephanie: It’s funny you say that because broccoli’s my favorite vegetable. I do always love broccoli.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Stephanie: And I never want brownies. It’s carbs. Sweets.

Elizabeth: Okay, that’s right, you’re not sweet.

Stephanie: French fries.

Elizabeth: Okay, broccoli and bagels. How about that?

Stephanie: Bagels.

Elizabeth: One of the skills that I wrote down that you have cultivated in our work together was boundary setting.

Stephanie: It is so funny you say that because I had not thought of that. And I was thinking about it today. I didn’t even know that I got that from you. Like I was thinking today about how now compared to six months ago. I am not bending over backwards for people who don’t do the same for me. And I’m not making choices or plans based on other people’s conveniences.

And I guess I didn’t realize that that’s what we had worked on together. But it’s definitely a change in the last six months. And I had this little moment today where I thought, am I being more selfish? Maybe the answer is yes. I don’t really know. Maybe it’s selfish bad. But I definitely notice that yeah, I’m not making decisions.

They’re still my nuclear family. I saw something recently where it was like a meme where this woman said, my therapist said that I’m not responsible for everybody else’s happiness. And that just sounds like a lie. And I think that that’s how I lived my life. And now, I still do it with my husband and children, but it’s a lot of progress. Maybe, eventually I won’t do it with them, but that still feels okay to me.

Elizabeth: Well, and the other thing that I was thinking about was one of the stories that you were telling me when we were working together about just feeling like a bad mom. And really, getting over that self-judgment of I’m a bad mom.

Stephanie: Yeah. That goes back to what I was just saying about what’s good for me on any given day. And that’s a huge change in my life. I’m so much more willing to leave the kids with my husband and go to a yoga class.

That even sounds silly to see out loud that I wouldn’t have done that before. I’m sure plenty people are like, if I wanted to go, it’s more that I lack the motivation whereas I had this like, can I leave my kids with their perfectly capable father. I don’t know.

Even our gym has this like daycare that they like. They like it. They ask to go to it. And yet, when my older one was a little younger, every time I dropped him off. Every time, I walked away, and I felt like a terrible mom, he’s happy. He’s happy, healthy, taken care of and I’m going to a yoga class. Bonkers. Bonkers.

Elizabeth: Well, it’s just the way that we’re socialized as women as to what constitutes a good mom or not, right?

Stephanie: And intellectually, I don’t even believe that because what actually makes a good mom is making sure that they can be in the presence of others. That they’re resilient so that they can navigate social relationships without their mommy, all these other kinds of things.

But there’s this lizard brain going protect, protect, protect under all circumstances. And it’s wrong. That lizard brain is wrong. But no, I’ve been so much better about being like, Nope, I’m going to go out with friends. I’m going to go read for an hour in the backyard. That’s good for me.

And also, everybody’s relationships are different that you have maybe with your spouse or whoever helps out. But this was not a big ask. My husband was like, yes, please go outside and read for an hour. They’re fine. That sounds wonderful. Go. And yeah, I definitely take better care of myself in every way.

If someone said like, oh, what did you get from your coaching with Elizabeth when I said, well, now I read for an hour in the backyard. They’d be like, what does that have to do with dieting? I can’t explain it. It just does.

Elizabeth: Oh, that’s so awesome. So, you had a weight loss goal when we started and initially, you did not lose weight. And I remember having a conversation with you about this. Talk a little bit about that.

Stephanie: After the first month of us working together, I hadn’t lost any weight. And although, that was frustrating, like I’m not going to lie and say that I sat here and be like, oh, well, no big deal, it’s not important. I was way less frustrated than I thought I was going to be.

And I think I said this out loud. If I didn’t, I certainly was thinking it. That even if I didn’t lose any weight, I already felt that I had learned so much and that I was in a better place. I was walking my son to school every morning over a mile in each direction. I was drinking more water. I hadn’t realized how few vegetables I was eating, because I like vegetables. And then, all of a sudden, I look at my day and I’m like, I didn’t have any vegetables. I just was making better choices.

And now that I’m talking, I’m realizing a big part of it was control. That I felt so out of control. I felt not only not taking care of myself, but not even in control of my decisions. That’s something I could discuss with my therapist. You know, why did I feel that way? It was probably the pandemic or whatever, but we all felt so out of control.

But in that first month of working together, the biggest change was I felt I am making choices every day for myself, and I am following through with them. I am being aware of what I do, and what I eat, and what I say, and who I hang out with. Mindfulness is not something that you and I worked together explicitly on. But that’s what it means to have this awareness every day to be present.

And there was a lot of escape. There was a lot of watching that I don’t even watch TV anymore. That was a huge one. I would sit and watch TV shows I’d watched a million times. Rewatch alias, rewatch, Felicity. Rewatch, nineties girl power TV. And usually, do it with food or after food. And now, I barely watch TV. I read a lot and I don’t know where this started.

Elizabeth: Yeah. And as far as the mindfulness goes, yeah, I just call it awareness. It’s mindfulness awareness. It’s the same thing. I don’t like the term mindfulness just because I think it got a really bad rap.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Like when it first came out, everyone was like, oh, mindfulness. It’s like, what does that mean?

Stephanie: Yeah, no, no, you’re right. You’re right. Yeah. Here’s what I will say. I remember listening to a podcast where you interviewed some other clients. There’re three clients. And there were pieces of each of their story that I could relate to and other pieces of their story that I could not relate to. There are people who could listen to this and think that would not be what I need.

But I can imagine that coaching with you looks different for everybody. I mean, that’s what I think coaching is. It’s somebody figuring out how to help you with what you need and what you are looking for. If you go to a personal trainer, or go to a dietician, or follow some prescribed routine. It may work because especially if it’s based in good health.

But working with a coach is someone saying, what are your sticking points? What are you struggling with? What do you want to fix? You said to me at the beginning. You said, what do you want your relationship with alcohol to be? Because I told you I was drinking way too much. You did not say this is how many calories are in a glass of wine. You did not say don’t have more than one glass a day. You did not say anything like that.

You said, what do you want your relationship with alcohol to be? And I have a much, much better relationship with it now. And that’s coaching. Because someone else might sit here and say, I always have sweets after dinner. That’s not something I do; I don’t relate to that. That’s not a thing for me. And for a lot of people, that’s their big thing. Night time eating, night time sweets eating.

We never talked about that. You remember you asking me, what do you do after dinner? And I was like, I crochet and watch TV. You’re like, what else do you do? And I’m like, that’s it. I go to bed. I don’t late night eat. Anyway, I’m babbling.

Elizabeth: No. No, no. This is all really good because what I’m getting from you, even though you haven’t said it. Everything that you’re saying basically is your relationship with yourself has changed. And as a result, it’s impacted all of these other areas like with your food, and with your body, and with your relationships. Your other areas of your life.

And so, what we’re talking about is changing the relationship with yourself in order to create this other result.

Stephanie: Yeah. I definitely think that’s true. I think it is. It was about changing my relationship with myself. You are saying that brings me back to the question of how is it different than therapy. Because that feels very connected to therapy. And yet, I still think that in working with you, in doing your type of coaching, it’s in the context of body image and health. And that just feels different.

There are lots of ways to take care of yourself. And I really applied so much of what I learned from you to many areas of my life. But it was always rooted in body image, self-image, female empowerment. At the beginning of this conversation talking about like, what am I doing this for? Who is this for? You know, having that lens, that’s not something you do in therapy or at least in the therapy I’ve done.

And so, yes, it was a better relationship with judgements I had. Preconceived ideas of what I thought it meant to be a good mom, a good woman, a good wife, an attractive woman. What it means to be sexy or beautiful. We talked about that in one of our sessions.

And I listened to a podcast that you did on that, and it was really meaningful for me. And so, I think that the work that we did in me, having a different relationship with myself was always in the context of my body, my womanhood, and my health as those things are considered.

Elizabeth: Yeah. Yeah. And so, to wrap this up, after we finished working together, you had not lost all of your weight. And I started getting texts from you of pictures which I love. You put on your wedding dress.

Stephanie: I did.

Elizabeth: And took a picture.

Stephanie: I did. Yeah. I don’t even think about the weight that much. I mean, to be fair it’s because I’m in a more comfortable weight right now.

Elizabeth: Sure.

Stephanie: But I did put on a few pounds since that picture from the wedding dress. Like I said, I just went on vacation and ate a lot of carrot cake. I don’t wanna say, I don’t care. That’s the wrong word. I don’t even think about it because I know that I take care of myself now. And I know that by doing the habits that I’ve incorporated into my life seamlessly without even any effort anymore.

I will be back to where I want to be. I do sometimes think about pushing further, maybe making other goals. That’s not where I am today. I’m just happy to fit into the vast majority of clothes in my closet and feel good when I look in the mirror. And you know, what? A lot of people have made comments like, oh, you look great.

And honestly, we’re talking about between let’s say, 12 pounds. Okay. So, I started let’s say, I was 5, 6, 162. Now, I’m 5, 6, 1 50. Okay. This is not a drastic change. And I get a lot of comments and what my several girlfriends have said is it’s not the weight you are shining. You look happier. You are exuding confidence. You are noticeably happier.

And I look a little better. But there’s a different, especially it’s summer. So, I was in bathing suits a lot. And I’m sure I don’t look that different in a bathing suit. But you walk around a bathing suit, feeling fat and ugly, and you walk around in the same bathing suit feeling good about yourself. Even though, you lost five pounds, people notice that.

Elizabeth: Even if you’re the same weight.

Stephanie: Yeah.

Elizabeth: Like I love those movies where women don’t know that they have or have not lost weight and they’re so confident. Because it’s true. It’s all about, I don’t want to say how you carry it because it’s not about the body itself. But how you feel about yourself at that weight?

Stephanie: Yeah. I feel better in every way. I really do. I feel cuter and sexier. And again, like those comments that I’m making now are something else we worked on or talked about I should say. I have nothing to do with weight. Not nothing but very little to do with weight.

Elizabeth: Ugh, my heart. I love you.

Stephanie: I love you.

Elizabeth: So, is there anything else that you want to leave the folks with?

Stephanie: Oh, Hmm. I think that people who want to lose weight, should go on a diet. I think people who want to change their lives should work with Elizabeth. I think that for most women, not all, but for most. The weight is a symptom of so many other things that need to be worked on.

And when you unpack those things, the weight will come off. When you unpack why you’re not motivated, why you’re not disciplined, why you’re escaping, why you’re indulging. That’s what Elizabeth and I talked about.

She didn’t set any hard rules. It was just how to take better care of myself. The title of the podcast is perfect, ‘done with dieting.’ Cause that is not what it is. It’s not dieting. It is changing your life and losing weight will probably happen because you changed your life.

Elizabeth: I was going to name the podcast, ‘the cherry on top,’ but I thought that that would be to I don’t know, obscure. Because when you do these things, the weight loss just becomes the cherry on top. It’s no longer the goal. It’s just, yeah.

Stephanie: It’s so true. I think my only hesitation in saying that is it sounds fake or cliche. You know, when I try to tell people I know about working with you and I try to encourage them to. I think I sound like an infomercial.

I think I sound like I’m using these lines that are scripted and I can’t seem to get out of it because it’s real. Like when I’m like, no, no, no. It really changed my life where I say, working with this coach allowed me to make lifestyle changes that are permanent and meaningful and lead to the results that I’m looking for. That sounds like something on the side of a billboard.

Elizabeth: Yeah.

Stephanie: But it’s just true.

Elizabeth: Awesome.

Stephanie: That’s it? I think.

Elizabeth: You have no idea how much I appreciate you being here today. So, thank you for sharing everything.

Stephanie: Are you kidding? You changed my life. This much payback.

Elizabeth: Awesome. Thank you.

Stephanie: Yeah. Okay.

Now, as Stephanie said, there are parts of her journey that probably don’t resonate with you. But there are probably a lot of her stories that do resonate with you. The insights that she took from coaching really blew me away, which is why I had to share her story with you.

If you would like to try coaching because you want to change your life and not just lose weight, I’m going to invite you to schedule a call with me to figure out if coaching is right for you and which program fits best with you.

Stephanie and I did one on one private coaching, but not everyone wants that. So, I also have group coaching available as well.

To learn more about my coaching programs, you can head over to, that’s G R O U P dash coaching. Or you can go to Or just head over to the show notes where I’ll put the links for both group and private coaching in the show notes.

Have a great week, everyone. And I will talk to you next week. Bye-bye.

Hey, Thanks for listening. If you’re done with dieting and would like to work with me as your coach, I’d like to invite you to reach out to myself and my team to ask about programs and pricing. Go to to get started today. I can’t wait to hear from you. See you next week.

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