The story of transformation that I’m sharing today is my own. While my clients have had unbelievable breakthroughs, Eating Psychology is very personal, and I feel I can share in the most deeply personal way about my own journey.
In 2012 I heard about the Institute for the Psychology of Eating when I was at the end of my rope. I fell to my knees and I prayed, to a God I barely knew, asking for help. Asking for a sign to help me follow my calling; to stop feeling the empty monotony of a desk job that just seemed to miss the mark. There had to be more, I thought. I received an email the very next morning about the Eating Psychology Certification coaching program. It was a full-body yes.
I question a lot of things, but I don’t question the call!
I wasn’t “ready” to take the leap in business, so I took the leap in my own healing. I applied every single thing I learned to myself. After years of studying, reading and listening to audios, quizzes, and speaking with my peers in the course, I learned that the eating disorder I developed in high school and the disordered eating that continued after my collegiate athletic career ended, carried a message that was asking for deeper healing. My inner self was begging.
“Maybe my food issues were based on more than the social pressures I faced in high school,” I thought. Maybe my dependencies on certain foods and my overeating were things asking to be healed instead of something I needed to hate about myself or something I needed to hide and feel ashamed about. Hmm. Why did I have this complicated relationship with food? What was that relationship supposed to be like? I wondered.
I dug in deeper.
As I started to become more curious, I learned about the messages in my symptoms and “body wisdom” in particular, as described in the course. This was a game-changer! As I explored more, my shame lessened. I was on a mission. The part of me that wanted to feel called, that wanted to feel alive, was activated. I listened to the various case studies in the course and I started to think maybe I wasn’t the only one struggling. I wasn’t alone, I thought. A weight was lifted.
The beautiful thing about this program and this work is that we cover both the nutrition side as well as the psychology and behavioral side. For me, both needed attention. My hunger levels were crazy because of my erratic eating patterns. I hadn’t ever heard of an “eating rhythm” before, and I certainly needed one. My poor blood sugar levels (and liver and pancreas)! My eating was a reflection of my inability to really care for myself well and to understand my needs, but I didn’t know what I didn’t know, of course. A snack here, a pizza there, maybe just chips and salsa for lunch, coffees (of course), a block of cheese, ice cream, and then a coffee-fasted work out in the morning.. and I wondered why I was so tired.
Once I “bonked” during a run from low blood sugar and physically fell off the trail. I tore most of the skin off my leg, but I still didn’t get the message – or the call for help – from my body. I didn’t like to slow down, I was someone who just kept pushing. “Bandage it up and keep going,” I thought. I didn’t understand how to have balance with or without food, and the macro-nutrient balances we covered in the course almost immediately helped me start caring for myself properly with how much food to eat and what types. What a relief!
With my energy levels beginning to stabilize, I was better positioned to do some of the deeper, personal work that takes place in Eating Psychology. That’s why I also have my clients focus on food first — then we go deeper.
They say that Eating Psychology introduces food habits a doorway, and that’s exactly what it created for me. I peeled open that door and started to ask some bigger questions, some areas that were covered in the course and some that went beyond its parameters, as I think everyone’s healing journey does in one way or another. We don’t know where it leads until we get there! Eating Psychology helped me connect the dots with my self-soothing around food, and tied that back to having an unstable home environment growing up. It highlighted how I wasn’t comfortable talking about my pain or struggles at home because I had learned to not rock the boat. So when I felt sad, or lonely, or upset, or tired, I turned to food. I eventually learned how growing up with an alcoholic parent didn’t set a good example of self-care, boundaries, or a relationship with feelings and emotions in particular. It wasn’t because I was broken! It wasn’t because I just needed to just stop eating carbs (eye roll for all the diets that said that)… and all those diet-lies became very clearly not the answer. This was a relief because they never worked anyway. In fact, they just made me feel worse! It brought me to the root of what was happening, which is what eating psychology does.
Upon further discovery, wanting to keep the peace at home and earn my parents’ love through my achievements had developed into perfectionism. Big time. Thankfully this was also introduced to me in the course. I will remember hearing that perfectionism is one step away from self-abuse. That got my attention.
It was time for me to get in touch with my imperfections, and love myself for those, too. I needed to recognize that I am loved without having to earn it, and practice loving and accepting myself fully. I had no idea how to do that, but I dove right into trying! I read several books a month (as I still do). Lovability by Robert Holden was a game-changer. I deepened my relationship with Spirit during that time, and have only gone deeper with the more research has come out around faith and healing — and that is now what helps me define holistic health; mind, body and spiritual alignment and fulfillment. My company is named Feed Your Spirit, Incorporated for that reason.
One of the most incredible things that happened (although all of this is miraculous) was that I did decide to launch my business because how could I not after what I discovered. As my personal healing deepened, so did the work I was doing in helping guide others toward their healing. Still, my opportunities are almost always evolving and deepening, as I do.
Over the years and the personal work, my shame melted away. I don’t have to carry it anymore — and in discovering that, my desire for overeating and disordered eating melted away as well. I have a higher standard for self-love now, and I am not interested in self-harm in any way, shape or form. Last year I co-authored a book and shared my struggles involved with having a suicidal parent and my journey through that. Healing my broken heart from that experience became something I was willing to talk about. It was something I had to talk about to heal.
Now women come to me, courageous and brave in their healing, and willing to open up, willing to release the weight they are carrying in their hearts. It’s a dream that I could not have ever dreamt of myself.
I am so grateful for this program that it is really hard to put into words. Sometimes I feel like it saved me. Either way, I am so glad I answered the call because this is the work that I was born to do. It’s food for my Spirit!
If you’d like to speak with Vanessa about Eating Psychology, reserve a free phone consultation, here.
Check out Vanessa’s recommended reading list, here.