I am SO excited for what I'm sharing with you all today. If you haven't heard of Lu, be prepared to fall in love. Seriously, this woman is one of my biggest role models and inspirations. She's a force to be reckoned with and has one of the sweetest souls I've ever met. Not to mention, bangin' tattoos that I am forever envying!
She's an eating psychology coach and body image mentor who, in her words, helps women be who they are and eat what they want in a body they love. Check out her amazing insights below... and then head to her website and follow her on Instagram because this girl knows what's up.
Amanda: What has been your personal experience with body image and eating issues?
Lu: For the first 26 years of my life I didn’t have body image and eating issues. I grew up confident in who I was as a person and that translated to confidence in the body that I called “home.” I had a love for food and an ease around it. I never ate something and wondered what it would do to me or how it would change my body. I simply ate what I wanted when I wanted it - without hesitation. I felt beautiful and safe in my body. I was tall and bigger than most of my friends and yet, it suited me. My body served me well. In my preteen and teenage years I was a dancer, cheerleader and sprinter. I moved my body in ways that I enjoyed but never thought to manipulate its shape or size through food and exercise.
This healthy relationship with my body carried on through puberty and college and marriage. I didn’t experience the infamous freshman fifteen nor the pre-wedding diet and boot camp mania. And when I got pregnant and gained a bunch of weight I can’t remember ever worrying about it. My body naturally slimmed down after childbirth and breastfeeding. Although it changed, I continue to feel like myself in my body. She still felt like home.
It wasn’t until I committed to my first fitness program, a popular 3 month workout and meal plan, that I became restrictive around food, obsessive around exercise and hateful towards myself. I originally decided to do the program to support my man, get “fit” and try for a six pack. And, by popular standards I was “successful.” But, that success came at the loss of not only weight but my period, my ass, my hormones, my hair AND MY SANITY.
I then spent several years bouncing between dieting and bingeing. I would under eat and over exercise until my body and mind broke down. Then, I’d find myself standing at the kitchen counter consuming any and everything in sight. I would experience such shame and guilt for the binges that they were almost always followed by punishing rounds of restriction or rigorous workouts. Which led to even more binges in a cycle that left me physically and emotionally exhausted.
Eventually, I got the help I needed through hiring an amazing coach who partnered with me to stop hiding behind my food and body struggles and start living a soulful, honest and passionate life. Because of our work together I was able to fully recover from yo-yo dieting and binge eating disorder and was inspired to study and become certified in Mind Body Nutrition and Eating Psychology. Now, I coach and mentor other women on the journey towards food and body freedom using both my personal experience and professional training.
"Women don't have to earn the right to eat. We don't need permission to rest or to play or to celebrate with confetti cake."
Amanda: How can someone separate their worth from their weight? AKA how can we realize that being thin doesn't make us better?
Lu: Really, the only way for us to separate our worth from our weight is to change our belief systems around weight and body size. As long as we buy into the cultural ideals and media messaging that skinny is synonymous with holy, healthy and attractive and fat is synonymous with lazy, sick and ugly – we’re obviously going to conclude that “thin is better” and “less weight equals more worth.”
To separate worth from weight we have to do the work of discovering and valuing the diversity of beautiful body shapes and sizes in this world. We have to immerse ourselves in body positive literature, learn from the activists and study the resources. We have to invite bodies of all sizes into our world (both IRL and online) and get to know the women who rock them. We need to hear the voices and stories of our sisters all along the weight spectrum in order to acknowledge their struggles, their victories and their undeniable human beauty. And we absolutely have to get the facts straight on health, weight and dieting.
On top of all of that, we have to start honoring our insides as much as our outsides. Meaning we must prioritize mental, emotional and spiritual health rather than simply focusing on looking "good" in a crop top or taking up less space.
Amanda: What makes you feel truly beautiful?
There is nothing that makes me feel more myself and more at peace in the present moment than being silly, giggling my heart out and letting my dimples show.
Joy makes me feel truly beautiful.
"I feel prettiest when I'm bent at the waist, gasping for breath and crying funny tears with my loved ones."
Amanda: Why are you so passionate about promoting positive body image and freedom from disordered eating?
Lu: Because every woman, every person, deserves to feel respected in their bodies no matter their weight and size. And everyone is inherently worthy of love and respect - from themselves and others. Women don’t have to earn the right to eat. We don’t need permission to rest or play or celebrate with confetti cake.
My coaching and mentoring is a personal act of rebellion against an ideal that says there is only one right way to exist in a body and one right way to be a woman. I don’t buy it and so I spread a different kind of message – one that is inclusive and uplifting and empowering. I’m not interested in complaining about cultural influences and misinformation without also being the change and creating a beautiful counter-culture of body love, self-acceptance and food freedom. So that’s what I do EVERY SINGLE DAY.
And I love it!
Amanda: If you could give your 14 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Lu: Be boldly and unapologetically you.