Does food impact your self-esteem?
In this article Melissa from Karma Chow shares lessons from her inspiring journey of self-worth.
- How to build more confidence by removing your limiting beliefs
- How to be more confident and get out of a negative mindset
- How you started letting go of food rules to live in freedom
- Can you give some how to be more confident tips
- What are your biggest eating enlightenment moments
Notable quote from Melissa: It’s okay. Just trust yourself, trust the process, stay connected to your body. Your body’s always going to tell you what it needs and what it doesn’t.
My Definition of Confidence: Back when I lived as a zen monk, my teacher told me confidence means “with faith””. Con, meaning with. And fidence, meaning faith. True confidence is about learning to be with faith.
Melissa is a Transformational Eating Coach and Holistic Nutritionist.
Melissa lived in the thick of 30+ years battling food and her body, but she’s come out the other side. She’s a Certified Nutritionist and has written two best-selling cookbooks.
Melissa also prides herself in working with people holistically, means that she sees you as a whole person and not someone to give a cookie-cutter plan to. In addition, Melissa is a Certified Wellness Coach + Certified in Counseling Spiritual Psychology.
Perhaps most importantly, Melissa has stayed at her natural body weight for over 8 years without dieting, deprivation or restriction. Her teaching and coaching style is one where she’ll “give you the perfect dose of heart, accountability and a little tough love when you need it.”
Melissa has a great website presence at https://karmachow.com where you can learn more about:
- working with Melissa
- latest blog articles
- what people have to say
Below is our conversation with video and podcast links!
Afterwards are some questions I asked in the interview along with Melissa’s answers. I’ve lightly edited our dialogue for readability and context.
How to build self self esteem by removing your limiting beliefs?
- Lack of self-worth
- How only lovable if body looked a certain way
- Falsely believed magazine models were perfect and happy
The number one limiting belief blocking my confidence was believing the way I looked determined my value. I thought if I look a certain way I’ll be lovable, I’ll get others attention. You know like it was just about feeling more lovable. And I linked those two concepts up – to feel good about myself I needed looks – and falsely believed that if my body looks a certain way, then I’ll be lovable. Because I saw all the attention that the beautiful skinny confident modeling people get. Right? But, but ultimately this was my number one belief, was a lack of my own self worth and feeling lovable.
The origin of Melissa’s limiting belief
- how family idolized swimsuit models
- unconsciously made a decision to try to look like that in order to find self-worth
- then body dysmorphia started followed by struggles with food
Question For Reflection: did your family model certain behaviors around food or body standards that you picked up and believe subconsciously today?
Entertainment was much different growing up in a household with two older brothers and a father before the internet. The awaited annual event of the year – cause I grew up in a time of no computers and no phones and no internet – was magazines. That’s where we and many others got all of our entertainment from. And so the sports illustrated swimsuit edition was the awaited thing of the year and literally like “Who’s going to be on the cover?” My brothers were so excited. I even was excited to a certain point because I love looking at these magazines and just like imagining that these women’s lives, these models striking a power pose, that their lives were perfect and amazing because they looked and made eye contact a certain way.
So I would see my brothers and my father and others talking about these confident people and giving it a lot of attention and I unconsciously took that in and made a decision that I need to make sure I look something like that because then my life would be perfect. I had this very skewed idea and that’s kind of where my body dysmorphia started. And then from that struggles with food. So I turned into just a crazy yo-yo dieter and over exerciser-eater, something other than myself, all of that.
Can you describe your emotional eating?
- Working out 7 days a week for 2 hours at young age
- 30 years of obsession
- Then got nutrition degree & certification
- Yet still missing piece of mind puzzle
- Would still binge (on healthy food)
So the body dysmorphia started around the age of about 13. I was always an athlete growing up striving for achievements and I definitely was not overweight, but I saw myself that way. I joined the gym at age 14. I was teaching aerobics to others by age 16. I would exercise seven days a week, sometimes two hours a day.
So I just became really obsessive and that went on for over 30 years to be honest. Like it’s only in the last decade or so that I’ve really come to the other side of the mind to develop real confidence. So there were years of mind and body hatred, yo-yo ing and my weight struggles. Just kind of always restricting my food. And then when I moved to California in the 90s, I got really privy to the raw food diet and veganism books and I started to learn about nutrition.
I started to really learn a lot more and I put myself through nutrition school. I got a certification, became more confident in nutrition and that kind of changed my world. But then I started to a different type of restricting but only eating healthy foods. So when I would binge or when I would emotional eat, I would eat healthy food, but I’d overeat it to the point of like being sick.
How to be more confident and get out of a negative mindset
- Dirty little secret of being a nutritionist but still binge eating
- Realized binge eating wasn’t about food
- How Melissa realized she had to heal on a deeper level
I knew that it wasn’t the dieting that was going to make me be happier or confident. It wasn’t changing my food. It wasn’t any of that. Because I was already a healthy eater and had a nutrition degree. But I kind of had this dirty little secret. I was emotional eating and people didn’t really knew what was going on and I was 30 pounds heavier (than I am now).
I was miserable in my body and I just thought like, “Something has to change cause I don’t want this monkey on my back anymore, no one can do this but me, I need more courage” in terms of food. I felt like this food monkey followed me around every day everywhere I went and I couldn’t enjoy my life with people.
I look back now at pictures and I have such a fake smile. It looks like I’m confident around many people, but I can see there was so much pain – like I was in so much more pain. So I really had to do more of the deep inner work for true confidence. I had to change my belief system and my body language. I had to change my confidence mindset about health, I had to face my self-doubt, and do some more healing on a deeper level.
Why is accountability important?
- Able to call a friend after a binge
- Friend gave Melissa some “tough love”
- How Melissa started volunteering
- How Melissa got some help and accountability to build her confidence more
I woke up one morning after a binge and I called my friend in tears. She gave me a lot of tough love and basically said “Listen, you know, number one, you’re being so self centered right now. You’re totally full of yourself. Because I was like, ‘Oh, I’m so fat and I’m this and I’m that LA LA LA’. And she was like, “So many people have it way worse than you. And like, you’re not fat. You’re not obese, you’re not sick. You have a good life. ” And then she said, “I want you to get up off the couch, get out of your comfort zone. I want you to go be of service to someone today. Right now. Go outside, go do something, be of service to someone in a great way.”
And then she said, “And the next day I want you to do is get help, reach out to others. Go get a coach, go get a therapist, someone something to help you feel good.”
So that was an incredible wake up call for me. Essentially it was hard to hear, but yes, I thank her to this day and her confidence tips were what I needed. I thought I could do it on my own because I thought I knew nutrition. Right? But I couldn’t do it on my own because there was something bigger than my self-image. I didn’t know how to access this inner part of me, and I didn’t know how to heal it.
How you started letting go of food rules to live in freedom
- At first felt fearful and afraid before confidence
- But learned to trust herself and be more confident by staying connected to her body
- how to build more confidence and have weight regulate effortlessly
Once I started giving myself permission to eat without rules, I would get this fear that I was getting a little out of control. I just felt like, “Oh my God, this feels so scary for me. And I think I did initially put on like five pounds, but then my eating habits all normalized once I started to integrate these practices.”
Now this didn’t happen overnight by any means. It happened over a year. But then my body confidence just got to a certain point and stayed there. And I was reaching my natural set point, and could be confident in my body no matter what I was eating. And even when I still had a little bit of fear and I would be able to catch myself and calm down.
And I’d be like, “It’s okay. Just like trust yourself, trust the process, like stay connected to your body. Your body’s always going to tell you what it needs and what it doesn’t.”
I got to a place where I respected myself so much that I have no desire to stuff my body full of food and feel like crap anymore. I got to a place of such deep self respect that it wasn’t even an option to do that anymore. And that happened through the internal confidence work, not through doing anything with food.
Can you give some how to be more confident tips?
- First step is getting honest
- Where are you lying to yourself?
- Look at past patterns
The very first step was getting honest with myself. Where was I lying to myself and other people about food, about my body, all that stuff? Like I had to put it all out on the table, I had to share it with someone. I had to get really honest about what I was doing right.
Cause I was hiding and eating which I wasn’t admitting to myself. I’d be at parties or at a networking event standing in the corner and I’d be eating but no one knew what I was doing. And I’d leave there just feeling sick and full and bloated and all this stuff. So I had to get really honest with myself – (cognitive behavioral therapy is great for this).
I also went back into my past a little bit and I started to look at the patterns in my life. Like in my relationships and in what I do with food, my confidence and what I do with money. Because how we do one thing is the way we do every thing every day. And so I had to really start to look at those patterns and what belief system was driving those patterns and blocking my confidence. Right?
Like just really being number one, honesty, was a huge part of it. And so I think having support, one it’s so powerful because when we can start to uncover this stuff, we need to have people there to support us through it, people who know what to do with it, you know?
What are your biggest Eating Enlightenment moments?
- Would no longer have major binge eating episodes
- No guilt or fears
- Change food relationship to no obsession
Like, so if I would eat ice cream, I wouldn’t go back two or three or four times. I would eat it and then put the bowl in the sink and move on and I wouldn’t have the guilt. So it was these moments where I was like, “Oh, I did that differently.”
Where in the past I would have eaten this huge amount of popcorn and I would have gone to the ice cream. Now I can eat a bowl of popcorn and be totally satisfied and not be triggered into that place of like trying to experience something that could not be filled with food.
It’s just like being able to be in a relationship with food where it’s just about nourishment, it’s about fuel, energy, it’s about enjoyment and no guilt or negative self-talk, passion, like no more obsession.
For another article on mainstream intuitive eating read here.