Anne-Sophie's story is incredibly inspiring, and you can feel how passionate she is about helping others recover, as she did. Plus, her story is a testament to how resilient the human body is when you commit to healing and cultivating the self-trust along the way.
EVERY WOMAN HAS THEIR OWN UNIQUE STORY. CAN YOU TELL US ‘YOUR STORY’ WITH FOOD OR BODY IMAGE?
My relationship with food has always been weird. My parents often tell me that even when I was 4 years old, I'd have rules or scream that I was "starving" when, really, I couldn't have been. I was always concerned with what I ate, when I ate and how much I ate.
I remember my parents hosting barbecues and other parties that solely revolved around food and eating. When someone cooked, it was with lots of fat, grease or sugar. I never felt as unconcerned as others during those "festivities" - even as a really, really young girl.
When I was 9 or 10 years old I started my first diet. It all began with a “little restriction” of food and more exercise, then I created rules that I had to follow to a T and slowly, over time, my dieting turned into a full-blown eating disorder: anorexia.
At that time, eating disorders weren't as prominent as they're now and nobody was really worried about me. Sure, my parents were confused and often angry at my strict planning and my lack of fun and spontaneity around food, but their alarm clocks didn't go off until my body was a mere skeleton and my disorder could no longer be ignored.
There were many vacations where I insisted on taking my scale - my measurement of self-worth - with me to be sure not to gain a gram. As I got thinner and thinner, my life force left me. I lost my friends, my creativity, my love for dancing, playing the piano and doing anything but exercising and calorie counting. For 14 years, I lived in my own little world that revolved around measuring my thighs, hips, arms and losing more and more and more weight.
I "woke up" when I was 23 years old, married, but still super unhappy and just physically at the bottom. My exercise regime was too much for my body, I couldn't concentrate in university, follow any classes or even read a book. I was just done.
Now, 4 years later, I've recovered fully, have changed my relationship with food completely and am happy with my flawed, but amazing body that enabled me to grow a child, deliver it and play with it every day.
It's been a long journey and I've had to completely re-imagine who I am, who I want to be and what my self-worth is really all about. I've said goodbye to daily weighing, to dieting, to restricting and to over-exercising and hello to listening to my body’s needs and messages.
Today, I can eat what I want without having a bad conscience or going into a mental freak-out. My weight fluctuates with the seasons and I accept that as part of life and being a woman. Most important of all, my body shape doesn't correlate with my happiness anymore.
I love helping others create that ease around food and their bodies that I experience and I hope that with my work I can help transform the pain that women in this world feel around these issues.
WHAT ARE THE TWO BIGGEST LESSONS YOU LEARNED IN ORDER TO HEAL DISORDERED EATING AND BODY SHAME?
The first lesson I learned is that you've got to make a choice: either you want to hang on to shaping your body and continue to believe that a diet will save you OR you walk into the unknown and trust that there's a different way. You can't continue to weigh yourself daily and want to break free from your obsession with food and your body. You can't continue to count calories and think that it'll help you to create more happiness in your life. You can't continue to believe that losing just 5 more pounds will solve your problems and help you to accept your body once and for all.
You've got to make that choice: do you really want to be free or not? It's not easy, but quite simple.
The second lesson is that you've got to cultivate a lot of trust: trust in yourself, trust in your body, trust in your counselors/coaches/therapists/friends/loved ones/etc., trust in the advice you get and trust that your future can be different if you let go and surrender. It’s not easy to “just eat whatever it is you want” and let go of the belief that you will lose control. It’s not easy to stop exercising for 4 hours a day and trust that your body won’t blow up. It’s not easy to listen to your body’s cues. But it will get easier the more you practice. The first step, that step that takes you over the edge, is the hardest. But once you’ve taken that, trust will carry you along the way.
These are the two most important, but there are soo many others I could share here.
IF YOU COULD WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR FORMER SELF, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT HER TO KNOW?
I would want her to know that it'll get better. Life won't always feel this hard, this bleak, this scary. It’s OK to eat spaghetti at night and to go to a party and have a cocktail. She won’t lose control over life if she just lets go a little bit. I’d love her to know that there are people who love her for who she is and not for how her body looks. I’d tell her to have more fun, loosen up, continue to cultivate her creativity, and trust her gut.
I’d also like her to know that her body will change a million times over her lifetime and that she’ll survive every one of these changes.
LET’S CHAT TOOLS. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS, TOOLS, APPS, COACHES, ETC. THAT HAVE HELPED YOU ALONG YOUR JOURNEY.
The tool that has helped me (and my clients) along the way was writing, writing and more writing. I just wrote about my fears, my successes, my future, my past, my history, my anger, my pain. Everything. The more I wrote the better and freer I felt and the more I was able to let go. Writing opens up a world that you never knew was there. Even if you're scared, try it. It'll change your life.
Books that inspired me greatly were those of Gabby Bernstein, Louise Hay, Brene Brown, Geneen Roth, but also The Gift of Our Compulsions by Mary O’Malley, Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, Ph.D., Loving What Is by Byron Katie and Nourishing Wisdom by Marc David.
WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED, ALIVE, AND VIBRANT THESE DAYS?
I was never supposed to have children because I had ruined my body so massively, but obviously Johann (my son) had his own plan. His energy, laughter, gorgeous blue and oh so curious eyes make me melt and motivate me to help as many people as I can to make his future (and the future of all children in this world) a little bit easier.
The knowledge that there are girls out there who are suffering the way I did is another huge source of inspiration. It’s just not acceptable to me to have young people die because of the sick beauty ideal we have. That's why I do what I do.
My work definitely keeps me vibrant. There's nothing more inspiring to me than doing what I love AND helping people along the way. I am very lucky to be in the position I’m in.
Food, really good food, and hazelnut lattes keep me going all the time.
Favorite place… NYC
Bucket list travel location… India, New Zealand, Japan, Patagonia, South Africa - just to a name a few
Favorite way to move your body… I love to walk with my son, just be outside. I also love to dance Zumba and occasionally, I long for a hardcore workout that takes me to my limits.
Quote you love? To love yourself as you are is a miracle, and to see yourself is to have found yourself, for now. And now is all we have, and love is who we are. ~ Anne Lamott
WE’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON THESE DAYS?
Right now, I'm concentrating on coaching women one-on-one. The transformation that takes place when you work on such an intimate level is breathtaking and so inspiring. My clients are the best and I admire their willingness to go so deep and be so vulnerable. The results we've been getting are often seemingly "miraculous", but really, obviously, they're not. Just taking the brave step to work on yourself changes you so deeply that your issues and problems shift in a major way.
If you want to work with me, you can schedule a 30-minute free discovery session here: http://www.meetme.so/Anne-SophieReinhardt
Also, I LOVE my meditation album: Finally Free - Guided Meditations For Freedom From Emotional Eating. It has helped hundreds of women to change their relationship with food and their bodies in a gentle, loving way.
You can purchase it here: http://www.annesophie.us/finallyfreemeditations
And last but certainly not least, I'm working on a free 12 Days of Kindness Challenge where we'll have tons of giveaways from super inspiring women like Geneen Roth, Martha Beck, Mary O'Malley, Erin Stutland and more. So, if you are yearning to show yourself and others more kindness, you need a break from life and you win to win cool prizes, sign up now:
All About Anne-Sophie
Anne-Sophie Reinhardt is the founder of the award-winning blog Make Peace with Food, Your Body & Yourself. She's an Eating Psychology Coach, Martha Beck Life Coach, speaker, workshop leader and the author o fLove Your Body The Way It Is.
After a 14-year long battle with food and her body, she successfully healed her relationship with herself and is now passionate about helping others find the peace, freedom and happiness she lives every day. She loves her baby son, her daily Hazelnut Latte, practicing yoga and meditation. Other than that, she writes, vlogs and podcasts, travels the world, reads books on any subject there is and hangs out on social media.
Her story and message have been the focus of a national Swiss documentary and she has been a guest on Swiss and German TV. Her work has been published on sites such as the Huffington Post, Copyblogger, Problogger and She Takes on the World. Join her Body Love Notes and receive bi-weekly nuggets of inspiration, motivation and compassion that will help you to make peace with food, your body and yourself.
- Website: http://annesophie.us
WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU IN THE COMMENTS BELOW (+ GO GIVE ANNE-SOPHIE SOME LOVE!)
- What would it be like for you to cultivate trust with yourself?