Since it seems like everyone is upping their workout regime and modifying their eating habitats for 2018, I wanted to have the food addiction counselor and author of Why I can’t stick to my diet, Erin Boardman Wathen, on the blog to chat about wellness goals and her health journey. In Erin’s book, she discusses the scientific reason why you can’t stick to your diet and how to conquer your weight loss goals. And while I am a firm believer that you should not be worried about the number on the scale and rather more so how you FEEL, I do think it is important to know how the body works and how it can actually be addicted to sugar.
I also wanted to note that Erin’s book, Why I can’t stick to my diet, is on amazon for $3.99. So inexpensive and accessible to everyone. I think it’s definitely worth the read as you head into the new year with some weightloss goals. As always, grab a booch and read my Q&A with author, personal trainer, and food addiction counselor Erin Boardman Wathen.
Hi Erin! Can you give the readers a short background about you and your expertise?
Sure, I am originally from California, went to College at the University of Oregon GO DUCKS! Didn’t really know what to do with my Sociology degree, and I wanted to break up with my college boyfriend and didn’t know how, so I did what seemed like a genius move, I went to graduate school in Hawaii! It seemed brilliant at 23. After a few years in Waikiki and a Masters in Human Resource Management, I came back to the Mainland as Hawaiians call it, got married and ended up in the Tri-State area where I have been ever since.
My husband worked 80-100 hours a week in finance, and since I did not know many people in NYC, I began taking Road Runners classes in Central Park to learn how to properly run. Sure, everyone can run. To run a race is a different skill entirely. That was the first time since high school athletic teams I had proper instruction in a physical modality. That lead me to taking exercise to the next level with Team in Training. When my daughter was born in 2005, and we moved to the suburbs I began looking for what I would do next. I could only talk to other Moms about Rice Cereal for so long. I saw a sign at my local gym advertising for a certification class the upcoming Saturday. That was the first step in my official Health and Wellness career. It started with Spinning, then I became a Vinyasa Yoga teacher, Classical Pilates, Barre and TRX.
I had personal trainer back in my running days, and she had been one of the first students of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. I was on their email list for years, by years it had to have been 8 or 9. After a particularly rough time in my family life, I decided the time was NOW. I was going to finally say YES to going outside my current comfort zone of teaching in my community, volunteering at my kids school, shopping and gossiping at pick up.
IIN lead me to becoming a Food Addiction Counselor, which opened up my world even more. I went to Iceland and met amazing experts from all over the world. It was a long way from Whole Foods in Connecticut! The crazy thing to me at the time was, they didn’t view me as “just a housewife”.
I love the diversity of your background and how you are an expert on both the food and exercise spectrum. Why did you decide to write your book, Why can’t I stick to my diet?
Erin: Being one of the first Food Addiction Counselors in the world was the perfect segue into writing “Why Can’t I Stick to My Diet”. Pre IIN, I had read at least 100 diet books, and been on just as many diets, and even worked for a major diet company (rhymes with Meight Matchers). I worked out 6-7 times a week and yet I was 15 pounds heavier than I was this morning. It was crazy making. I would start so many Mondays with the best intentions in the world, but by Tuesday or hell lunch on Monday have blown it. It was so awful. What was going on?
Once I learned the brain chemistry, everything clicked. Keep in mind, everyone is different. Some people, they finally find a mantra, or intuitive eating. For me, knowing how my brain worked made all the difference. Understanding I was a nice person, even with the occasional F bomb, but that with all the Diet Coke and Sugar, my brain wasn’t my own. It was not a matter of morality or willpower, it was Science. That was the game changer for me. I assumed it would be for others. Now, how to get that information to her in a way she understand. I looked at myself as a translator. I could speak nerd, so she didn’t have to.
I actually feel a sigh of relief knowing my chocolate cravings are actually backed by science. So can you tell us why we can’t stick to our diets (without giving your book away lol!).
Erin: First of all, because we diet.
The concept is flawed. Why should it work? We eat baldy for an extended period of time, then restrict for the high school reunion or spring break, then go back to how we want to eat. Why should our body not go back to how it was in the beginning? Why would anything have truly changed, if nothing changed?
Secondly, the food most people eat is full of chemicals designed to undermine our efforts. I went to a Big Food Conference in November. It was fascinating and disturbing all at the same time. They talked about how much sugar they put into juice for the “taste”. JUICE DOES NOT NEED SUGAR, as it is sugar. Someone without a lot of knowledge as to what they should be eating might pick up this particular juice and look at the label and see something about how many servings of fruits and vegetables are in it and think they are doing the right thing. Drink it all, not realizing it is actually 3 servings, and it has their days amount of carbohydrates all of which happen to be fast acting. Within 20 minutes, they do not feel great. They are still hungry as there was not any fiber in the juice to slow down the absorption into their blood stream. They are now looking at the doughnuts in the staff room because they are still “hungry”.
Lastly, we do not put our health in front of a number. It is the craziest thing, but when I decided I was done with sugar. I know you have read my book, but I always use the analogy of breaking up with a guy. When you are done with a relationship and you give back all of the stuff, take him out of your phone, and you are truly done, you know it in your bones. This time was different because I was different. I did not care if I ever lost the weight that was tormenting me, or if I ever got to the magical number where life would be nothing but unicorns and fairies, where I would never get parking tickets and my dog would never pee on the rug, I just need the food noise in my head to STOP.
This was when my body started cooperating, the weight fell off. Don’t misunderstand me, I am glad I no longer wince when the doctor needs to weigh me and knowing everything in my closet will fit all the time is amazing. Nothing trumps the mental clarity and the space I have in my head for other things now that I am not longer obsessing about how much I need to work out to “undo” all the crap I ate last night.
SO SO SO interesting. It actually makes alot of sense. So the next step would be implementing your recommendations. How do you advise your clients to combat their diet?
Erin: Every client is different, but I always start by looking at their current diet and I spend a good hour talking to them. Getting to know them, what are their goals, what is getting in their way. I ask them to imagine what success looks like to them. Who will they be this time next year, who will she be? What is she like? How does she carry herself?
A lifestyle change takes time, which is why I give a lot of myself to my private clients. They check in with me everyday, and everyday I give feedback on what they ate and I know their Mother in Law is in town. Every week they have a spiritual, physical and emotional goal. It can be things such as start mediating, up your exercise from 30-45 minutes 4 days week and schedule indulgent for yourself.
Remember, I look at Health Holistically. Yes, my speciality is weight loss. However, when my girls are with me, they are changing on a weekly basis and they are on fire! I can barely keep up with the positive feedback they are getting and it is the perfect time for them to explore whey they have never gotten contacts, and always hidden behind glasses for example.
What do you want people to take away from your book?
Erin: If I can get off of Sugar and Diet Coke anyone can! It doesn’t need to be expensive and you do not need to live in Manhattan to do it. You do not need to buy funky green shakes from me or obscure ingredients. A regular grocery store will do it, just read labels and be an advocate for your own health.
I was an emotional eater, which I am going to tackle in my follow up book. I barely scratched the surface on it but the phrase I often think of “is Food cannot fix an emotion, it can only distract from it”. Would it really be the worst thing in the world if I sat with how awful my day had been instead of eating bag of gummy worms one day after work? Who knows, I never gave myself the chance when I was in my 20s.
Kate Moss famously said “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels” I am not implying we should all go heroine chic ala Calvin Klein in the 90s, but I agree with her sentiment. Health feels amazing.
What are some of your resources, besides your experience, that you follow?
Brooke Castillo, she has the best podcasts when it comes to weight loss I have ever listened to. Her life coach ones are amazing as well.
Jillian Michaels, as my clients always said I was her clone when I was teaching and I love her podcast. She admits when she is tired, or depressed or angry as hell.
Bethenny Frankel because she is 1000% who she was 10 years ago on Martha Stewart Apprentice and never apologizes for it. She made a fortune over a simple concept, well executed and has one of the best logos ever. Her daughter is life, but can turn that off if needed and go back to business. The work she did in Puerto Rico showed the world, who I knew she always was.
Genenn Roth is the Queen of Emotional Eating, I have read and reread her books countless times. Seen her in person and always love her
Brene Brown when I am feeling scared, her quote about Teddy Roosevelt helps me when someone posts something negative about me or a well meaning “friend” tells me something crappy at the grocery store about my latest blog.
Glennon Doyle for when I want to run away from a bad feeling, also she and I were in the same sorority only 1000s of miles away at the same time. So, she must be cool
Gary Vee the king of the motivational one liners
Oprah Winfrey because she is Oprah and changed the world for women forever.
What do you hope to accomplish in 2018?
Erin: Take my business to the next level, stop asking my 12 year old daughter for Instagram help and get my message to as many as possible women so they can feel as great as my clients do.
Thank you SO much for reading this interview. What are YOUR weight loss goals in 2018?