1. My Journey to Mindful Weight Loss
Welcome to the first episode of Mindful Weight Loss. I am Emily Erekuff and I am so excited to get this podcast up and running to share some of the Mindful Weight Loss tools and concepts with you.
I want to make sure you know up front that Mindful Weight Loss is not just about meditation. To quote one of my favorite books called Your Brain at Work, by David Rock, "“By understanding your brain, you increase your capacity to change your brain.” And that’s what mindful weight loss is here to do, understand your brain when it comes to overeating and weight loss.
I decided to become a weight loss coach, because it’s been the struggle of my life and because none of the programs I tried — whether they be focused more on diet & exercise or the psychology around overeating — none of them did it for me. I always felt like something was missing and it wasn’t until I created the Mindful Weight Loss program, that I really succeeded.
I’ve been anywhere from 10–40 pounds overweight probably since I was ten years old. I’m 37 now, so that’s a good 25 solid years of struggling and eating beyond my physical needs. And that’s from both overeating and binge eating. I’d overeat at meals, snack when I wasn’t hungry and I had regular episodes of binge eating — probably weekly if not more — where I knew I was eating too much, but I just felt driven and compelled to do it anyway.
In one sense I consider myself lucky because I understood pretty early on, that my struggle wasn’t just about the food. However, knowing that didn’t help me solve the problem. I still made all those failed attempts to count calories, restrict my eating, or engage in excessive exercise. I did P90X, I went Vegan, and then Paleo. I even did the Eat stop eat thing where you don’t eat for an entire day and then you do and you just keep alternating — that lasted maybe a week.
And during my 20s, the worst part is that I walked around feeling less than — feeling like those extra pounds were a badge of shame I had to wear because of that behavior that felt out of my control. It was like the extra weight on my body signaled to everyone and anyone that I was a failure upfront, that was lazy, that I lacked discipline and control, or that I simply didn’t care. It was a reason for them to write me off and a reason to write myself off. And I felt like life wasn’t fair — I felt like other people could walk around being flawed but could still look perfect from the outside. I hated so much that I couldn’t hide my main imperfection.
In my 30’s I gained more confidence in myself and the struggle became less about my image and more about being in control of my body and my actions. The way I describe binge eating to someone else is feeling like you’re a rat in a maze or a box. You’re trying to get out but the only thing available to you is the food button and you keep pushing it and eating. And you know that the food button isn’t the solution to get out of the maze. But it’s all that you have and you keep pushing it and hoping (and somehow still thinking that it might) it might solve your problem, even when you know it won’t, even when you know it will just cause you more pain. But you literally don’t see any other solution. That is the part that is truly maddening and the thoughts we can think about that, on top of that — that we’re flawed, broken, or even crazy — can cause so much suffering.
Over the years I learned to be more compassionate with myself and I started really paying attention to my thoughts. One day, I had a really perfect day. It was the weekend. The weather was gorgeous. It was warm but not too hot, and I got to spend time outside on my back deck reading a book. And the kids were occupying themselves and getting along. It was nothing special, but it was peaceful and so lovely. And later that evening, I realized that I still wanted to push that food button.
And so I asked myself what turned out to be a great question. Why wasn’t this all enough? How is it possible that I could have the perfect day and still not be satisfied, still want something more to top off? And it was like being in a movie where the camera zooms out from a close-up to the 10,000 ft perspective. I suddenly saw the pattern of my thinking.
My house wasn’t clean enough. I didn’t give my dogs enough attention. I don’t have enough money. I’m not successful enough. And of course, where my body and food is concerned, I’m not disciplined or focused enough. I don’t want it badly enough.
And there are a lot of I statements in there, but I realized it ran even deeper than that. I couldn’t even pick a movie on Netflix to watch because it wouldn’t be good enough. That comedy special wasn’t going to be funny enough. And I suddenly realized that my whole experience of reality wasn’t enough.
And if you’re a fan of Byron Katie, you’ll know that she says “When you argue with reality you lose, but only 100% of the time.”
And that’s what I was doing with this thinking. I was constantly arguing and resisting reality and that was so painful. And because that’s so irrational, no wonder I tried to solve that problem with an irrational solution like food.
And yet, as pernicious as this thought pattern was, there was one aspect of this that was liberating.
And it was that I can change those thoughts.
I can decide what it means to be enough.
I can decide that doing only half the dishes is enough.
I can watch an ok movie and decide that it’s enough.
I can even have a really shitty day and decide that it’s enough.
I know it’s super corny to say, but it was then that I finally understood the wisdom of fairy tales.
You have to kiss the frog BEFORE it becomes a prince.
You have to learn to love the reality right in front of you BEFORE it becomes brilliant and beautiful.
It’s what YOU bring to this moment.
You bring the enoughness, you bring the meaning.
And you do this with your awareness. I talked about being the rat in the maze and feeling like your only lever in life is the food button, but in reality, your awareness and consciousness are your levers. You can’t see them but they are what is keeping your current reality in place and they can be changed to create a body and a life that you want, and a relationship to yourself and to the world that feels good. And I can’t tell you how good it feels to gain that control; to become aware of those levers and buttons that you can push to predictably make things happen in your life.
And that’s what I am going to share in future episodes — how to identify and change those patterns of thinking that are keeping you stuck and pushing that food button.
And Mindful Weight Loss isn’t just meditation. Meditation is an incredible tool to help us become aware, but it’s not the only one we have at our disposal and you need more than just meditation to overcome overeating.
You need the right mindset. You need the right knowledge — not about nutrition but about brain science, psychology, habit formation, and change. And you need the tools to apply that knowledge.
And that’s what Mindful Weight Loss offers.
And yes, I want you to lose weight, but my mission is bigger than your weight loss. So many of the skills you will learn are meta-skills that you can apply to every other area of your life. And having those skills will bring you so much peace of mind and confidence to change so much more.
So if this speaks to you, please join me on this journey. And welcome to Mindful Weight Loss. There is so much more coming up, so please stay tuned. I’ll see you next time.