My interview guest today has quite the story - it's incredible to hear her journey of healing from her whole focus being around her body with bikini/fitness competitions to finding body freedom. Now, food and fitness is intuitive, only one part of her life, and she makes gratitude and compassion a regular part of her life (I love this - so powerful!).
EVERY WOMAN HAS THEIR OWN UNIQUE STORY. CAN YOU TELL US ‘YOUR STORY’ WITH FOOD OR BODY IMAGE?
Absolutely! I was first introduced to the concept of using food as a coping mechanism when I was young, but I didn’t act on it until I was much older. My best friend in high school was a diehard vegan and she influenced me (with the power of shocking documentaries) to adopt the ethical veganism lifestyle, but as time went on, the pounds flew off and the comments rolled in.
“You look so awesome! How did you lose so much weight?” people would ask. I didn’t need to lose weight, but yet the comments of admiration and recognition felt good.
In my three years of being a vegetarian/vegan, I went through a lot. I started counting calories, running nine miles on a treadmill per day, starving myself, researching diets, and even began to develop food fears. My habits were extremely unhealthy, mentally and physically.
Eventually, I was told that I was “skinny fat” and needed to tone up. I dropped veganism, and began bodybuilding. I signed up for my first bikini/fitness competition, and trained rigorously for 18 weeks, sticking to one meal plan for the entirety of the prep. I ended up losing my period and 15 unnecessary pounds; I also created a ton of other problems, including bloat, gas, anxiety, stress, isolation, frustration and more.
I didn’t have many relationships because I didn’t understand how to balance my social life with my body image and diet. I became hooked on Advil PM for sleep, fiber supplements for going to the bathroom, and even laxatives. On the outside, people assumed I was fit and healthy (because I had abs and muscle tone) but I was on the completely opposite side of the spectrum. I was literally destroying my body.
After a couple years of this, I couldn’t handle it anymore.
I realized that I would never be “enough” unless my standards for myself changed.
I knew that I needed to put more emphasis and value on who I was as a person and not what I looked like. And so, my journey for self-acceptance and exploration began. I dropped the meal plans, the fitness competitions, the fitness blog, the “health coach” title, and everything else that was feeding my desire to look a certain way.
As I began to change my mindset, my entire life changed. I started to eat intuitively, move my body in a way that makes me feel amazing, open myself up to relationships, flourish in my spirituality, read more fiction, have more fun, laugh more, and love (myself) more.
My body is no longer my life. It is merely a vehicle for living, exploring and enjoying everything life has to offer. My body serves ME, and I serve it back by accepting it unconditionally.
WHAT ARE THE TWO BIGGEST LESSONS YOU LEARNED IN ORDER TO HEAL DISORDERED EATING AND BODY SHAME?
First, I learned that it’s very important to be picky about whom you spend your time with, what you watch, what you read, what you do, and what you think about.
If you’re consciously filling your mind with diet articles, fitness magazines, and friends that find pleasure in diet camaraderie, then that’s the kind of life you’re going to live: one that’s filled with external emphasis and pressures to maintain an aesthetically pleasing, socially-acceptable body.
If you distance yourself from that lifestyle, and instead fill your time, mind, and life with uplifting messages, music, love and non-fitness or diet related things, then you’ll feel much more free to find your passion and purpose in life. I had to consciously make the decision to hang out with new people and enjoy new things in order to finally stop thinking about food and exercise all day.
Secondly, I learned the importance of gratitude. For so long, I thought the grass was always greener (this is why I could never seem to lose enough weight for my standards). I began to practice gratitude each and every day, finding beauty in the journey and the MOMENT, and not just the end result, or some made up standard. I appreciate where I am in life, and I’m grateful for all that I have.
Gratitude has helped me to create compassion for myself as a human, and for other human beings as well.
IF YOU COULD WRITE A LETTER TO YOUR FORMER SELF, WHAT WOULD YOU WANT HER TO KNOW?
Oh boy, this is a great question. Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing about my past because it is what’s led me to where I am today and it’s the reason why I have the life that I do. So I wouldn’t write her a letter telling her to stop dieting and over-exercising, but instead, I would want her to know that it’s okay.
It’s all okay. It’s okay that life feels hard, it’s okay that I’m unhappy, it’s okay that I don’t feel perfect. I think knowing that everything is “okay” is crucial to becoming vulnerable and opening up yourself to other people, to change and to self-acceptance.
When I was younger, I wanted to constantly be moving forward in everything, whether it was my body, diet, school, or blog, I couldn’t sit still. I wish that I could have learned to take some weight off my shoulders by knowing I don’t have to always be running. I can sit still and everything would be okay.
LET’S CHAT TOOLS. WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS, TOOLS, APPS, COACHES, ETC. THAT HAVE HELPED YOU ALONG YOUR JOURNEY.
Podcasts: Well, I’ve gotta say it- mine! The Mind Body Musings Podcast (Seriously, the guests on it helped me through so much!). The Model Health Show.Finding Our Hunger. Fearless Rebelle Radio. The Recovery Warrior Show. The Wellness Wonderland Radio.Rebooted Body
WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED, ALIVE, AND VIBRANT THESE DAYS?
Exploration. My entire world has opened up since ending my obsession with dieting, and I want to soak in all of the opportunities.
To be more specific, I take morning walks, read books of all different types, listen to podcasts, record interviews for my podcast, coach clients online, take hikes in the beautiful Colorado mountains, eat curry, vision board, write articles and books, practice handstands, and connect with amazing entrepreneur female friends online (probably my biggest passion).
I’m constantly evolving, so it’s very important for me to be okay with that and to allow myself to find new hobbies and interests. Change is good!
Favorite place… Boulder, Colorado
Bucket list travel location… Thailand, New Zealand and Australia
Favorite way to move your body… CrossFit and gymnastics
Quote you love? It's a scripture…. “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?” –Matthew 6:25 It’s a great reminder for me to not get too caught up with my body or worries when there’s so much more to life.
WE’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU. WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON THESE DAYS?
I have a group coaching program called Body Freedom, which is the focus of the majority of my time. Anybody that is looking to end their obsession with food and exercise, but would love accountability and personalized coaching along the way, is welcome to join. More can be found here: http://maddymoon.com/bf/
All About Maddy Moon
- Website: Maddy Moon
- Podcast: Mind-Body Musings
- I also have a free gift for your readers called 10 Proven Steps for Ending Any Diet Obsession. You can get that here:http://maddymoon.com/newsletter
WE’D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU IN THE COMMENTS BELOW (+ GO GIVE MADDY SOME LOVE!)
- What would it be like for you to have body freedom? How would that feel or look like for you?