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Why You Can Never Hate Your Body Into Leanness

Yesterday, I was talking to a good friend of mine who is also an online fitness entrepreneur and I was relaying a story from about 5 years ago, when I was deep in my obsessive physique phase — hours on cardio equipment, complete obsession with the nutrition details (how many grams of protein, does this have salt on it, does this hotel have a full gym, what if I don’t have “my food” that that event, what will I do if there’s nothing I can eat, and on and on), and most poignantly, my complete fear of not checking those boxes every day.

I was telling my friend how I was doing hours of cardio, watching every bite of food that passed my lips, BRINGING TUPPERWARES TO RESTAURANTS and … I actually look pretty freaking close to the way I look now! Yes, I am a tad softer, but I am the same size, fitting into the same clothes and probably (no joke) doing one hundredth of the exercise I was doing back then.

The difference? My mindset.

The outcome (my physical body) is relatively the same, but the difference is the extent to which I stress about all of it — my attitude, my obsession with the numbers and degree to which I feel inadequate.

You might ask, “Gee Jill, how is that possible, when you are doing that much cardio and eating tighter?” The answer is that with exercise, back then, I had reached a point of diminishing returns where the quality of my workouts suffered and the time I spent doing more and more was not producing further results. AND because I was doing so much, I was also constantly hungry and craving. And it was all I could do all day to not eat my arm off or dive headfirst into the first chocolate item I came across. It was a constant white-knuckling battle, and it didn’t work. I was depriving and then binging, and that cycle kept me struggling.

The point is that regardless of outcomes, it’s our THOUGHT PROCESS around food and exercise that becomes the difference. I can sit around thinking I’m no good and I’m not lean enough, cut enough, small enough, etc., OR I can work to find inner peace and boost my degree of self-acceptance and self-compassion. And guess what? Same outcome! Different approach, same body. And the idea that body-shaming and negative self-talk like guilt, remorse and self-disgust are sustainable motivators is simply untrue. Research shows that.

I love talking body esteem so much — you know that. So I jumped at the chance to bring my friend and author Annie Stern — who’s new book, Love More, Binge Less and Stay Fit just hit the shelves — to the JillFit blog to share her story.

Like me, Annie has lot of personal experience with body esteem struggles AND she’s got years of personal training in NYC under her belt and dozens of case studies from other women who have felt the exact same. There are truly no new stories, we are all in this together. And of course, the difficult part is working to transcend that.

But luckily, that work of learning to love yourself regardless of size, shape or body composition is an inside job. I love Annie’s journey, and I’m sure you will too. Be sure to pick up Love More, Binge Less and Stay Fit ASAP. Amazing stuff.

Take it away Annie!


I spent 20 years of my life dieting, trying to lose the same 20 pounds over and over again. I saw my physique as my guaranteed ticket to happiness.

Every morning when I saw my body in the mirror I wanted to cut out a piece of it to be skinnier so I could feel happier.

And working in the TV business for so long supported my poor body image because whenever I complained about my body, all the girls around me would join the conversation. Of course they would, it was natural to feel like it was never good enough. In fact, dissatisfaction and constant vigilance was expected.

A couple years later, I even became a professional fat loss specialist certified in holistic nutrition and personal training who specialized in permanent weight loss. After studying female hormones for years and about how they relate to weight loss, I started to see that losing weight was not the problem so much as keeping it off.

But something interesting started happening for me, spurred by my own personal experience and that of my female clients: I started asking different questions; questions about why losing weight, having the perfect body, or being in a certain size and shape seemed so dang important to all of us?

Over time, this opened up a new field of study for me, toward personal growth and self-development. Spending a couple years learning about myself and the basics of positive psychology what I found was earthshaking to me:

“It’s the self-image of your weight that determines how you see yourself and feel about your body. Not your body weight itself. What’s important is not how I look, it’s how I see. Everything starts from there.”

Women and girls all around the world feel this deep expectation to show up in this perfect aesthetic package, but the actual motivation – what gets them out of bed – goes beyond staying healthy or being fit.

We tend to feel that our character and competency “in the world” is judged based on how we look and without the awareness that we are naturally succumbing to these un-meetable expectations, we unknowingly become the victim of the weight loss, beauty, fitness and diet industry. Understandably.

Besides, I used to wake up every morning with this thought in mind: in order to be beautiful, powerful and successful I had to get thin and then I would meet the love of my life, get the right job, a nice car, house, etc. and finally I would reach ultimate happiness. I was playing the “if-then” game when it came to body change and the truth was that not only was it not motivating me to actual change, but it was keeping me mired in a misery where I was constantly trying to hate my body into leanness.

Until one day I sat back and asked myself what the hell was I doing?

I felt sadness over how much time I spent with my physical appearance. But mostly I was pissed. I got angry about how much time I was wasting feeling not good enough because I didn’t have “the perfect body.” I realized I let the world dictate what I deemed important instead of actively seeking out my personal passions and pursuing them, regardess of my body fat percentage.

Now, looking back, I am grateful. Even though all those years of struggling with weight and body image were difficult and ultimately a bunch of useless mental aerobics, in the end the struggle led me to find true happiness and peace within my body and with my life.

I feel tremendous gratitude toward my struggles because they let me to find myself again.

My struggles helped me bring my best self forward. I have pursued a deeper connection with myself. And today, I look for enjoyment in the world, both with myself and with others.

And so, as many do when it comes to personal experiences and now with hundreds of client stories under my belt, I decided to write a book: Love More, Binge Less and Stay Fit.

The book is a a roadmap for women and girls that offers powerful tools to overcome years or even decades of yo-yo dieting, weight fluctuations, crazy behavior around food infused with body shame and body image insecurity.

Aaaaah! Just writing those words gives me that feeling in my chest. That deep resonance that makes me so passionate about helping other women! This book is a culmination of all those daily struggles and shame with food and exercise and mindset and not-good-enoughness, much of which we hide where no one else can see it. I get it, I’ve been there.

Here’s what I know for sure: finding the answer for your weight struggles when you’ve “dieted” for years or even for decades and you lose and gain the same pounds over and over again will never be found by seeking out more information about nutrition or exercise. It’s about you, your mindset and how you think about this process.

“Accepting yourself as long as you look a certain way isn’t self-love. It’s self-destruction. Dieting is not self-care. Restrictions are not nourishing.”

My size isn’t a measure of my success anymore. Instead, I now measure progress by how peaceful I feel about my body no matter what happens. I can never control outcomes, but I can always control my perception of those outcomes.

I wish you the same experience, and I am here to help. Love, Annie

Grab Annie’s new book, Love More, Binge Less and Stay Fit on Amazon now! Not to be missed! Xo, Jill 

Some tweetables from Annie:


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