Transformation Above the Neck: A Journey to Mindful Eating

Transformation Above the Neck: A Journey to Mindful Eating

Transformation. I can’t even tell you how many times in my life I have worked to change my form, my appearance. How can I alter, modify my body? What do I need to do to see a certain number on that scale? Can I transform this vessel to fit? To fit into that dress, to fit into society’s definition of beauty or even fit into my own hard lines of how I should look and feel.

It’s been a journey for sure. Years of neglect and awareness, trial and error, failure and success. Much have I discovered and much have I learned. But the greatest learning was that the transformation happens above my own neck and it is continuous. There really is no destination. So, where am I going? Well, let’s see.

The Beginning

Grade School

My awareness that my body didn’t fit began in elementary school. It was a health check in gym and everyone was getting weighed. Others were sharing their numbers and when I heard how much lower everyone’s was from mine, I chose not to participate in the sharing. It was instinctual. I knew my body looked different and every once in a while another kid would call out how big my legs or arms were. But I didn’t know what to do with this realization. Other than keep it inside.

Tween to Teen

In Jr. High I was exposed to how you could manipulate your relationship with food in an effort to transform. I joined my peers in the purge after lunch. I was lucky that this didn’t advance past a failed experiment. It was too short lived to become a deadly habit. Then I moved to diet pills and laxatives that my friends could swipe from their parents’ medicine cabinets. Again, I’m grateful this phase didn’t last long. I didn’t like feeling sick all the time.

Ready for my 7th grade Valentine’s dance! I remember that I had to have this dress. I also remember that I couldn’t sit in this dress.

In High School I started dieting. I heard that if I drank a specifically measured amount of hot water, honey and apple cider vinegar before every meal that I would have weight loss benefits. I did it for months. It was disgusting. My body didn’t transform.

Legal Adult

As I became a young adult and went off to college, the focus on my appearance lessened. The center of my attention turned to what I was capable of with my mind, rather than my body. I embraced the freshman fifteen (or twenty-five, in my experience) transformation, ate what I could microwave or toast in my dorm room and worked out to feel good or to connect with a friend. I started to fit in because I was clever, courageous, compassionate. Qualities that I continue to foster and respect to this day.

Occasionally I would employ old tactics to get my body to fit. I got down to my lowest number on the scale I had seen in years to fit into my wedding dress. But every transformation seemed temporary. My relationship with my body was still based on what others thought of it, I gave it no love.

First wedding day 2003.

The Middle

In my mid-twenties, after my first marriage ended, I woke up to the years of neglect and abuse my body had endured. I struggled to walk up the stairs to my office job without taking a break to breathe. I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize myself anymore – physically or emotionally. What did I do? I called my mom.

Transformation is Better Together

She heard me and she knew exactly how I was feeling. My birthday was coming up and she said that there was a program that had worked for her in the past and asked if I would be open to joining with her and she’d pay for my membership. I was all in.

It was a life-saving transformation. Together my mom and I lost a combined 135 lbs.! I learned the difference between a serving and a portion. It was the beginning exploration of how to cook and prepare for myself real food. I stopped fearing eating out and ordering dry salads. I fell in love with shopping for clothes. Best yet, I could bound up the stairs to my desk without having to take breaks to breathe. I even began to inspire others and became an advocate at work for more breaks to allow for movement and healthier food options. Success breeds success and I was passionate about bringing everyone I knew with me.

First weight-loss transformation. Before, 2011, and after, 2012.

Dream Job

My passion for this new lifestyle transformed into a dream career. Moving to New York pushed me to look for another publishing or editing job. I had no idea that my 60-pound weight loss would lead me to a career in the health and wellness industry. The same program that taught me so much was looking for a territory manager right in the spot where I had landed in NY.

Every year I got better at my job. It was work. It was really hard work. With long hours and a span of control that kept growing. But all I had to do was hear just one transformation story of another member starting off like me and learning to shed all the things in the background that had led to weight gain – the self-hatred, the insecurities, the fear. All I had to do was hear one story of someone being able to tie their own shoes without pain, getting off their medications, picking up their grandchildren with ease and all the work became worth it in an instant.

But as I was giving to everyone else, as I was cheering everyone on to their own version of success and transformations, I was struggling. I helped hundreds of people change their relationship with food for good, but I had to look at the cookie and decide not to eat it as a business decision and this mindset took its toll.

Mother-should

Postpartum transformation. First pregnancy, 2014, and after, 2015.

I also became a mother during this time. I watched as every pound I had lost was regained. Yes, for a good and healthy reason, but the fear returned. I never got back to that goal weight. I battled and it became a fight I was never going to win. And then one day I stopped fighting. I stopped letting my value be determined by a healthy BMI. But I still had a desire to be “normal,” to fit, to transform once and for all.

I let go of the dream job. Another cross-country move made that a necessity, but the truth is, it was time to move on. What worked for me before wasn’t working for me as a mother. Secretly I carried shame around that, so I kept trying to figure out how to make my body fit.

Never have I let go of the passion for a healthful lifestyle. I tried another program that supported me through my second pregnancy and postpartum journey. Through this I found my strength again. I started to inspire others again. It was transformation Tuesday every week!

And then sleep deprivation hit me hard. Weaning my second child became part of the solution to better sleep, but my relationship with food turned back to comfort rather than fuel. And then an unplanned pregnancy shook my world. Once again, my body was no longer mine. There was nothing I could do to make it fit. And now I was forced to see numbers on the scale I had never in my life seen. What now?

There is No End

Always the Cheerleader

When I’m at a low, it always helps me to cheer someone on. I started writing like it was my job and this lead me to a deep desire to cheer on other writers. A local mom, Keri Hanson, had launched her eBook, Mindful Eating for Weight Loss: One Month of Daily Meditations to a More Vibrant You! on Amazon and, as I do, I went all in.

Transform with Tenacity

For 31 days I read from her eBook and I journaled. I approached this guide with no less and no more commitment than any other health and wellness approach I had taken in my life, but this time something truly shifted. It triggered me to take my own advice for the first time in my life. I used to always say to my staff, my friends, my peers, “change is the one constant,” – a reminder that our lives will always be in a state of change somewhere along our path, a continuous chrysalis, always transforming.

All the shame I had been carrying – about my body, about never winning the battle, about consciously making unhealthy choices, about failing my followers – I was able to transform it into compassion for myself. It’s not about what does or doesn’t work. This body works. It is perfectly fit for me. And I will always need to transform to fit it because it is always changing. Because it is this moment, this never before, never again moment that matters. It is this moment that holds me to transform.

Third pregnancy, 2020

Nikola Reinfelds

Nikola is a Kansas native that came to Northern Colorado by way of Long Island, NY. After running a successful business in NYC she's confident that the song lyric, "if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere" is the truth. However, she faltered big time through the unknowns and isolation of becoming a stay at home mom. She re-found her passion and confidence by helping others be obsessed with the skin they're in through her writing, community, leadership and friendship. Her other passions include being an exceptional partner to her husband, Hagen, a patient parent to her precious children, reading #allththings and getting out in nature as much as possible.

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    Sonya

    Thank you for sharing your journey. Sounds much like mine and one that took a lifetime to overcome.

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