I've been dying to share this interview with you because Summer Innanen because it's she's a body image rockstar. Instead of saying the same old "just love your body" words and actually gives readers clear and practical tips to help you really change your body image. I've learned a ton from her myself, and I did her 21-Day Body Image Remix, which was awesome.
She has a new video training series out now - the Rock Your Body free training series that you can grab at the bottom of this post!
Every woman has their own unique story. Can you tell us 'your story' with food or body image?
I can’t remember ever feeling good in my body. I was a pretty shy and self-conscious kid and always one of the ‘bigger’ girls in my class (even though I probably wasn't overweight). Gym class was hell and I never played any sports (except horseback riding). I was called fat every single day for 15 years by my brother (we have a really good relationship now and all is forgiven).
I grew up in a really good home, but my mom was always on a diet or struggling with her weight. She would make comments about her body. I remember her taking me to her weight watcher’s weigh-ins when I was very little, which probably seemed harmless to her.
We weren’t allowed to eat ANY sugar… not even Cheerio’s because they had sugar. This was in the early 80’s, so you can imagine how weird that was. We were allowed ‘treats’, but only during certain times and we could eat as much as we wanted, so I would binge. Looking back on it now, I learned to binge and restrict as a child. Side note: My mother is amazing and I love her so much…she didn’t know any better.
As I grew older, I started to really hate my body and at age 13 I was diagnosed with depression. I began to diet as soon as I learned what a fat gram was and loved the validation I got when my weight would go down.
Progressively over the course of my teens and 20’s I became more and more concerned with dieting and exercise and my weight. I would step on the scale every time I went to the bathroom…often before and after I went (and I have a really small bladder!). I openly shamed my body in front of all my skinny friends for years and just never felt comfortable in my own skin.
I was introduced to CrossFit and Paleo in my late 20’s…because I wanted to lose weight, obviously. This is when things were taken to a whole new level.
During this time I left the corporate world to become a Certified Nutritional Practitioner. Because I thought I knew it all.
Little did everyone know, I was pretty disordered.
While I was able to go off my anti-depressants due to the change in the foods I was eating, I became obsessed with food and exercise. OBSESSED. I had spreadsheets that counted Zone blocks and an online tracker where I logged my food. I was eating 1,100 calories a day and working out 7 times a week. I tried intermittent fasting. I never ate fruit or starches. I thought I was so ‘healthy’ because I was doing what the internet told me to do to ‘get lean’.
Every weekend was filled with overeating every single thing I had deprived myself of. I once gained 7 pounds on a 10-day vacation from eating everything in sight. I was at my thinnest and people complimented me all the time. But, I still craved more…
Until I broke. I couldn’t keep it up anymore. My body started to shut down. I lost my period. I got sick all the time. I had zero libido. I was gaining weight. I was exhausted and had lost my spark.
A Naturopath diagnosed me with Adrenal Fatigue. My estrogen levels were the same as a post-menopausal woman. My thyroid was low. My testosterone was low. She said, “I’m surprised you’re awake and functioning”. I was an old broken woman in a 30 year old body.
That was my huge wake-up call. All dieting and exercise had to stop. I need to chill the F out.
That was the catalyst that sent me on an epic journey of self-improvement… I started to work on my head and my mindset instead of my body. I worked on my self-esteem and focused on understanding the source of my body woes and relationship with food.
I gained about 20 pounds because that was where my body needed to be to be healthy and sane.
Now I can honestly say that I eat whatever I want, feel awesome in my body and no longer obsess over food and exercise at all. I live life and it’s amazing.
I help women like that today. Who are over dieting, obsessing over food and ready to be that confident woman they have always wanted to be…in whatever body they have.
What are the two biggest lessons you learned in order to heal disordered eating and body shame?
1) Eat what you really want, when you want it and know you can always have more. Food is just food. It’s really not that big of a deal. Trust your body knows best.
2) Your issues with food exist because of your relationship with yourself. If we made over our mindset instead of our body, we'd be so much better off. You have permission to unleash your messy, discombobulated, weird, uncool self. This is what makes you human. It’s what makes you awesome. Embrace who you are and own it. Not everyone is going to like you and that’s OK. And no one can make you feel validated except yourself.
If you could write a letter to your former self, what would you want her to know?
Keep having fun and breaking rules...you'll make a business out of it in the future. Don’t change who you are for anyone. It's OK to be you. There is more to life than being skinny. You can eat whatever you damn well please. Trust that it will be OK and work out just fine. Oh yeah, and stop tanning…. Seriously, you are going to regret that!
Let's chat tools. What are your favorite books, tools, apps, coaches, etc. that have helped you along your journey.
One of the biggest things that helped me was getting rid of many apps, books, tools and coaches. I got rid of everything that fed that negative voice in my head (what I call your evil doppelganger). The scale, clothes that didn’t fit, nutrition guru’s in my newsfeed and anything that made me think diet and exercise were 'the answer'. Getting away from that and starting to have a life and identity outside diet and exercise was key. (yes!!!)
Books that helped me: Breaking Free From Emotional Eating by Geneen Roth. When Women Stop Hating Their Bodies by Jane Hirschmann and Carol Munter. The Gifts Of Imperfection by Brene Brown. There are so many more, but these are my top 3.
Women that inspire me: Any female comedian… Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, Mindy Kaling. I love these women and they inspire me to just be my sarcastic, weird, crude, silly self and kick ass.
What keeps you inspired, alive, and vibrant these days?
My clients. And the emails, tweets and facebook comments I get from 'my fans' continually inspires me. I wake up every day with a burning fire to end this body image BS that exists in our world. I want all women to feel and know they are enough and stop dieting.
Being near natural beauty feeds my soul. I just uprooted my entire life to move across the country to be close to mountains and the ocean. It’s something my soul has craved for most of my life and we finally made it happen.
Favorite place...Haena, Kauai
Bucket list travel location... New Zealand
Favorite way to stay active... Hiking, Stand Up Paddle Board, CrossFit (in a non-competitive ‘don’t care if I’m last and fall on my ass’ fun way!!)
Quote you love? "If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: Who cares." ~ Tina Fey
Because self-worth doesn't have a size!
Everywhere we look we’re bombarded with messages telling us that we’re not enough – not thin enough, smart enough, stylish enough, accomplished enough, enlightened enough. The pressure for a woman to live up to these ideals is insane!
Our self-worth and happiness becomes reliant on whether or not we live up to these standards and it's ridiculous. I used to believe this too, but now I know that feeling good in your body (and owning who you are!) happens from the inside-out because it's not about changing your body, it's about changing your mindset.
She just released her free Rock Your Body video training to help women stick it to societal standards and stop living behind the numbers on their scales.
All About Summer
Summer Innanen is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Body Image Coach, specializing in emotional eating. I roll with straight-talk, tough love and wicked humor to empower women all over the world to ditch their diet demons, amp up their confidence, and break free of deprivation and guilt. If you’re ready to break free of diet shackles and feel hot-damn fearless in your body, then come get my rockstar management!
- Website: Summer Innanen
- 21 Step Body Image Remix
- Free starter to kit to rockin' your bod'
- Fearless Rebelle Radio (podcast) --> one of my favorite podcasts!
We'd love to hear from you in the comments below (+ go give Summer some love!)
- How can you look at your MINDSET to change your relationship with food and your body?
- What is the biggest 'a-ha' moment you took from this interview? (go share it here or with Summer at her site/social media!)
Disclaimer: I am a proud affiliate of Summer's program.