Why you should seek to fail.

 STEPHEN KING. OPRAH WINFREY. JK ROWLING. BILL GATES

ALL of these mega successful people FAILED OVER AND OVER before they succeeded. 

👎🏼They had times where people didn’t believe in them. Before launching Microsoft, Bill Gates had dropped out of Harvard University and was the co-owner of a business called Traf-O-Data, which later failed.

Graphic by Alana Van Der Sluys

👎🏼They had times where they didn’t believe in themselves. JK Rowling, before the mega-famous Harry Potter series (and subsequently EVERYTHING that goes along with that franchise) was on welfare, unemployed, and trying to take care of a five-month-old baby in the wake of her divorce.

But they knew, deep down, that THEY WERE WORTHY. That sense of worthiness and that sense of place in the world were the reasons they kept trying until they ultimately succeeded…and succeeded big.

So, FAILURE IS A GOOD THING!

1. It teaches us what not to do or what doesn’t work. If we don’t try different things, we never know what actually works, and what works best. We can have ideas and do research, but until we actually try things or execute plans, we just don’t know. If you’re afraid to try intuitive eating because you’re afraid you’ll become a fat, “unlovable” mess—there’s no actual evidence that that will happen to YOU, until YOU take the leap.

2. It strengthens our character and thickens our skin. Honestly, I’m a stronger person for every loss and failure I’ve had. I had a horrible experience at the last job I had. My boss had it out for me, and no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. I never felt like I fit in there. But I took that experience and realized that not everyone will like you. That you don’t need to be a people pleaser to succeed at work. That I needed to be vulnerable and uncomfortable sometimes to make genuine connections at work.

3. It makes success that much sweeter. All the rejections I’ve received for my intuitive eating book proposal will be SO worth it once I find a publisher or literary agent willing to take a chance on me. The wellness genre is saturated right now, so if you’re not a celebrity or don’t have a massive social media presence, it’s extremely difficult to get representation. But I know my words, my strategies to recover, and my experiences could help so many women out there, so I keep plugging away.

4. It strengthens your work ethic. 

I have a folder of rejection letters for my intuitive eating book. Each one fuels my fire to find an agent and publisher that believes in my writing and ideas. I’m not just going to GIVE UP because some people don’t see my vision. It will happen if I keep trying and be patient.

So try new things. What’s really the worst thing that can happen? And follow that up with, is that a LIKELY outcome? or Would that HONESTLY be that bad? If you gained weight, would it be the worst thing in the world? If you all of a sudden didn’t get objectified by strangers for your looks, is that really going to dismantle your self-worth? If you let go of control over your weight, what you eat, the number of calories you consume, what would happen?

Be curious. Be brave.

The waitlist is filling up for my FREE FOOD FREEDOM MASTERCLASS series this spring! Send me your email below, DM me on Instagram–@FreedomwithFoodandFitness or at freedomwithfoodandfitness@gmail.com

With freedom,

Alana

How do I know my weight set range?

I know so many people, despite being ready to ditch diets, are very worried about their weight.

So, today we’re going to tackle weight set range, sometimes called weight set point. I like to refer to it as a weight set range because I don’t believe it’s a fixed point, but rather a range with wiggle room.

Your weight set range is the genetically determined weight range where your body feels the most comfortable and runs most optimally.

Graphic by Alana Van Der Sluys

The key phrase here is genetically-determined. Your DNA accounts for 80% of your body composition in terms of what we try to control–your size, your shape, your weight. Diet and exercise only contribute to 20%. They’re not the end all, be all of your size, contrary to what diet companies might tell you.

And yes, sometimes there are people who have these incredible weight loss stories–losing 50, or 100 pounds and they look happy and fit. But there are some things to consider here. First, are they restricting. Are they working out super intensely every day for hours? Are they really happy? It’s one thing to smile and look happy, it’s another thing to be happy.

And at what part of their journey are they? Are we seeing them five years after they hit their goal weight? Have they maintained this long-term? Or is this a fresh-reveal when the endorphins are high and they’re on cloud 9 from finally reaching the goal.

The thing about weight loss like this is it makes you happy for maybe a few weeks, until you realize that happiness won’t last. That the weight loss wasn’t what you were looking for. So you move the target, you create a new weight goal, and so on and so forth. But now many times can you do that before you realize: no matter what weight I’m at, THAT’S not what is going to make you happy.

So, that’s really the first step to weight set range work: is realizing that it’s a range that’s largely out of your control, and even if you can beat your body into submission, it would be a life-long battle to maintain it, and it won’t actually be the thing to make you happy. You really have to divorce yourself from the idea that an ideal weight will make you happy and that the pursuit of that weight is necessary to be a worthwhile, happy human being.

A lot of clients also ask, “How do I know what I’m at my weight set range?”

There are some characteristics of weight set range.

  1. You are no longer restricting. You are listening to your hunger and fullness? If you are, you are probably at your weight set range. Are you still waiting for scripted times to eat? Are you still counting calories or macros? Are you still weighing yourself? If the answer is yes to any of these, you’re probably not at your weight set range.
  2. You feel energized. When you’re on a diet, you feel exhausted, tired, irritable, out of control of your cravings. When you’re intuitive eating, you feel energized but relaxed and more at ease.
  3. You are moving for pleasure. You’re not punishing yourself with exercise to change your body to a thin ideal. You’re not nauseated and ready to pass out. You’re not doing certain exercises because those are what you’re “supposed” to do.

It also is worth saying that everyone’s weight set range is different DESPITE HEIGHT AND AGE. Height and age play a hand in weight set range, but not everyone at age 35 or everyone who is 5’4″ will have the same weight set range. Genetically, we have more or less muscle mass, propensity for fat, bone density, etc.

BMI is BS…but that’s a different conversation for a different day.

It might really devastate some people whose weight set ranges are higher than others. You may grieve the thin body you were hoping for. But know that what you were searching for with that thin body is available to you now. Yes, diet culture and it’s thin privilege and fatphobia exist and that’s something you’ll have to acknowledge and contend with (again, a discussion for a different day), but happiness, life fulfillment, a family, great friends, kids, a kicka$$ job, whatever you’re looking for in your life…is available to you NOW. You just have to realize that and go for it.

The waitlist is filling up for my FREE FOOD FREEDOM MASTERCLASS series this spring! Send me your email below, DM me on Instagram–@FreedomwithFoodandFitness or at freedomwithfoodandfitness@gmail.com

With freedom,

Alana

Six Ways to Set Boundaries

Boundaries around diet talk are essential for healing.

Many of us don’t want to create these necessary boundaries because we don’t want to be seen as “weak” or sensitive. These are considered bad things…that we can’t just “deal with” what other people have to say.

First of all, part of this work has to do with forgetting what other people think of you. It’s irrelevant. You’re the one who has to live with you, not them. They have to live with themselves and you have to live with you. Caring about other people only serves to perpetuate their messages in our own lives. We need to move away from other people’s messages and concentrate on our own.

So boundaries are important.

Because if we keep hearing diet culture’s messages, we can never stop believing them.We never stop believing that they are fact. And so we keep following them. We need consistent repetition of new messages to create neural pathways so if we don’t put boundaries around those messages and the things and people that perpetuate them, we stay stuck in our recovery.

Who in your life do you need to create boundaries around?

How much do you want to bet that you’re thinking about the people closest to you?

And what’s most difficult, knowing that those are the people who need the most boundaries. They are close to you, they love you, and therefore, they believe they have the right to say whatever they want to you if they believe it’s in your best interest. But we know they’re usually just as steeped in diet culture as anyone else. And they will be the people who take boundaries the least. They may protest, they may tease you, they may blow you off because they only know you how they’ve always known you, as past you, not future bad ass you. so it’s hard for them to adjust.

But luckily, I’m here to teach you a few ways to help with that.

Here are six ways to set boundaries around diet talk.

Write down conversational triggers/ what you’re not willing to tolerate✨

How do you feel about compliments regarding certain body parts? Your weight? How do you feel about conversations that include numbers? Is discussing weights, calories, or macros triggering? What about diet conversations? Figure out what you can and cannot handle in terms of conversation, actually write it down so you can feel it. As you think of each kind of scenario you may come up against, see how you feel in your body. Do you get a pit in your stomach? Do your shoulders tense up? Those are the topics you want to avoid.

✨If the talk is happening as part of a larger gathering (e.g. party), walk away. ✨

Go to the bathroom, grab a drink, talk to someone else–whatever you have to do to physically remove yourself from the situation.  This strategy is for those who know they need to filter the narratives around them but aren’t necessarily ready for actual confrontations. Quietly excusing yourself is absolutely acceptable. If you’re at a dinner table and the people to your left start talking about diet-related things, physically turn your body to the right and see what those people are talking about. 

Don’t get defensive ✨

If people feel attacked, the logical part of their brain shuts down and the, quite literally, can’t hear what you’re saying. Sometimes, especially if someone is being critical, you want to come back with fighting words. What does THAT mean? Why would you say that? We won’t want to be defensive because that puts people’s guards up, too, and then no one is really hearing what anyone is saying. It shuts down meaningful, productive conversation instead of facilitating it. Part of the reason we can get defensive is because, deep down, we still believe diet culture’s lies, too. Still, it’s not exactly fair to go into attack mode. For one, they’re also a casualty of diet culture’s messages; and two, the fact you still believe diet culture’s messages is not their problem–it’s yours. 

Write down responses ahead of time

This may feel silly but if you know what you’d say in certain situations, you’ll feel more confident sticking up for yourself and you’ll say them with more conviction, instead of stumbling on your words.  Write down what you think future disordered conversations will be like based on what they’ve said in the past. What will they say and what will you say back?

✨Be “punny” (lighthearted with your request for boundaries)✨

Although setting boundaries is a serious matter in terms of setting yourself up for recovery success, you don’t have to sound so serious. Laughter and humor are great ways to disengage the offending party and have them be more open to heeding your requests.

UNWELCOME COMMENT: “You’re going to eat all that?”

RESPONSE: “Yup, can’t topple the patriarchy on an empty stomach!”

UNWELCOME COMMENT: “Have you lost weight?”

RESPONSE: “Yup, the weight of other people’s opinions on my weight.” 

Anti-diet registered dietician and intuitive eating coach Jessi Jean has a really great “Dear Body” podcast episode with a few more similar responses that are truly hilarious, yet effective.

✨Be ready to let go of relationships✨

Some people are so wrapped up in their own thoughts, beliefs and wants (and diet culture), that they won’t want to or be able to fulfill your request. You’ll have to learn to let these people go. We only want people in our lives that will support what makes us our best selves, and we know that people pleasing (keeping people around even if they’re toxic) doesn’t serve us. We may fear we are being “oversensitive,” that we should just be able to let things go, that it’s not that big of a deal; but it is. Your mental health and happiness are huge deals, and you have every right to safeguard them, while asking others who supposedly care about you to do the same. They might not understand your journey, your requests, or how they themselves are wrapped up in diet culture, but they should still be willing to respect your requests. If they can’t do that for you, they’re not meant to be in your lives in the first place.

There are no actual guarantees…

SEXY SELLS. Tan skin, thin bodies, shiny hair, big smiles.

Even if you’re not in marketing, you know this to be true. 

“In 21 days, your body will be transformed!” 

“With three shakes a day, you’ll see dramatic results!”

If it’s not going to get you concrete, visual results in a finite and short amount of time, we don’t want to do it. That’s human nature, I suppose. We want the direct route. The quick fix. The guarantee that if we put the work in, we’ll get the desired outcome.

First, let me debunk that in terms of dieting. We’re told if we follow the diet or exercise program, we’ll look like the before and after photo successes on the ads. We’ll also be smiling and successful in our lives; but we tend to ignore the fine print on those ads: Results not typical.

There’s a famous statistic that says 95% of diets fail, and most gain the weight back (and then some) in 1-5 years. Those “after” photos are taken right after the program is completed. They don’t show the full picture of what actually happens years after. The struggle to maintain the results. The mental and physical drain on that person. The fear and anxiety of what people will think if they don’t keep that appear up, the appearance that definitely got them a lot of praise.

Is that really how you want to live your life? With anxiety that you have to “keep up appearances”? The pressure to do so? The mental and physical exhaustion just to make yourself seem a certain way in other people’s eyes?

And we haven’t even touched upon the idea that thin doesn’t equal healthy. Just because you’re thin from a diet, doesn’t mean you’re healthier.

The harsh reality is what’s quick and sexy isn’t typically what’s most healthful to you in the long run. From my experience, intuitive eating isn’t quick or sexy in terms of what it promises you, and it cannot guarantee a conventionally sexy body; but it IS the best thing you can do for authentic health, body-mind-spirit.

Instead of promising anything, this is what intuitive eating promotes:

Graphic by Alana Van Der Sluys

I suggest journaling your “why” for wanting to lose weight. If it’s health reasons, I would challenge that reason with the following questions:

❓What is your definition of health? 

❓Is there another way to heal your ailments without focusing on the weight itself? 

❓What about focusing on your RELATIONSHIP with food and your body instead? 

The waitlist is filling up for my FREE FOOD FREEDOM MASTERCLASS series this spring! Send me your email below, DM me on Instagram–@FreedomwithFoodandFitness or at freedomwithfoodandfitness@gmail.com

With freedom,

Alana

It’s okay to be where you are

For some, this may make sense, if you believe in God or some sort of cosmic being.

For others, this may anger you.

For those who have been through traumatic childhoods or traumatic events, you may think, “How could that have been meant for me?”

I’ve been listening a lot to Brooke Castillo and what she says about the past really helped me make peace with my own.

If what happened to you in the past was meant to happen any other way, it would have. When I was in my teens and 20s I went through an on and off again relationship that never got great closure; and I always wondered what could’ve been.

Graphic by Alana Van Der Sluys

But I have to take solace in knowing that I made the best decisions I could, in those moments. Those events were meant to happen based on the circumstances and beliefs of everyone at that moment. It couldn’t have happened any other way, because it DID happen that way.

That’s not to say that we don’t have control over our lives, because I absolutely think we do. 

But what’s happened to us in our past has happened to us. There’s no changing those events. The ONLY thing we can do is CHOOSE how we will let it affect us NOW, in this moment.

We also have to keep in mind that everything that happens to us is neutral. A breakup, weight gain, a lost friendship, a lost job… it’s all neutral until we assign an emotion to those thing or until we make them mean something; and usually we make it mean something about us.

I lost that job because I’m not talented enough.

He left me because I’m not thin/pretty enough.

When something happens to you, take a pause and think, “What am I making this mean?”

What’s happened to you thus far is now neutral because it’s in the past. It already happened. There’s nothing that can be done about it. What can be done, now, is what you make it mean in your present.

Will you let your past events define who you are and how you show up in this world? Or will you CHOOSE to say that you are more than those moments and you ARE the captain of your own ship?

The waitlist is filling up for my FREE FOOD FREEDOM MASTERCLASS series this spring! Send me your email below, DM me on Instagram–@FreedomwithFoodandFitness or at freedomwithfoodandfitness@gmail.com

With freedom,

Alana

Should you experiment with intuitive eating?

Many people are afraid to totally let go of dieting, of the control of it all. We’re afraid to let go of the possibility of being thin, and by extension, desired and accepted.

It’s totally understandable; and while I would highly recommend jumping into intuitive eating with both feet in order to maximize the chances of success in severing ties with diet culture, I think there’s lessons to be learned by dipping a toe in, as well.

Still, there are some caveats I have to warn you of first. 

Intuitive eating is a long-term process with certain steps toward healing that should be done one by one, in sequential order. There are 10 principles that should be implemented one by one.

Graphic by Alana Van Der Sluys

The principles of honoring your fullness and satiety come before honoring gentle nutrition. In other words, you need to go through the steps of allowing all foods and experiencing fullness before you can implement more “traditional” nutrition practices. If you practice gentle nutrition too soon in the process, you will be too worried about what foods are “healthy” which defeats the purpose. We need to stop restriction and demonization of any foods first, stop any fears of foods first. 

I warn you, though: That means there is a period where you definitely eat more “junk” foods or foods you didn’t normally allow yourself. This is COMPLETELY NORMAL and this brief period will not harm your actual health. We’re made to believe even one food item with added sugar will surely shave five years off our lives, but it’s just not true. 

I experienced this phase just like everyone else. I ate more ice cream, more carbs, more sugar, more fat…because those were the kinds of foods I had been depriving myself of. I had to expose myself to them and create habituation and routine with them in order for them to “lose their luster” and their desire in my mind. 

After you do this for a while, you start craving more nutrient dense foods and you can incorporate gentle nutrition and consider the nutrition in the foods you eat and how you will feel after eating them. 

Here are FOUR ways , though, that you can simply try it out short term. I’d rather have you try this journey than not try to all!

Graphic by Alana Van Der Sluys

Let me know which one you plan to try. It only takes one day, one step toward food freedom progress!

The waitlist is filling up for my FREE FOOD FREEDOM MASTERCLASS series this spring! Send me your email below, DM me on Instagram–@FreedomwithFoodandFitness or at freedomwithfoodandfitness@gmail.com

With freedom,

Alana