The goal is the process, not the outcome. Enjoy the process: Self-love is the key to finding joy in the process of changing your habits which usually is the most difficult part of transforming your body. Often people want a healthy body but when it comes down to it they just don’t want to change, they aren’t willing to let go of who they used to be. The truth is you can’t stay the same person, you have to change. you cannot keep doing and thinking the same thing you’ve always thought and expect a different result. Realizing that the process is the outcome, and you will learn to enjoy your life thus you’ll never again be “on track” or “off-track” again.
So many of us have tried dieting. All too often though, many of us lose 10–20 pounds, but we end up gaining it back. Not only is yo-yo dieting unhealthy, it is also demoralizing and makes us feel like giving up. What exactly do we have to do to achieve a healthy body weight and to stick with it forever?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve A Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently” we are interviewing health and wellness professionals who can share lessons from their research and experience about how to do this.
As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Allison Woodley.
Allison Woodley is a Spiritual Fitness mentor and author of the book the Unicorn Syndrome — Stop trying to be unique. You already are. Allison’s distinct approach to creating a healthy lifestyle goes beyond diet and exercise and deep into emotional and spiritual intelligence. Before starting her business and after nearly a decade of working in the advertising industry, she felt called to start helping women create health and healing in their lives. Now she dedicates her life to helping women transform from the inside out (spirit-mind-body).
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive into the main focus of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
Thank you for this opportunity! I grew up in a small town, I was the youngest of three siblings, and I was raised in a happy home. When I was little, I always loved playing pretended and putting on a show by myself, just singing, dancing, or even acting. I was never shy in front of the camera, I loved being bold, brave, and just MYSELF!
Then somewhere along the lines, I became pretty shy, and quiet. When I was a teenager, I was self-counions of my body and always felt the need to lose weight. In my early twenties, I struggle up and down with disordered eating. There were times when I was happy and confident and then there were times when I felt angry and upset with how my body looked.
I felt upset and alone until I discovered fitness. I learned about nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness and it completely transformed my life. After just four months of lifting weights and training in the gym, I was hooked. It was NOT perfect, at all. But once I got into the habit of this new lifestyle, I didn’t only start to feel stronger physically, I felt stronger mentally. Above all the biggest lesson I learned in my fitness journey was that it’s not about doing more! It’s about taking aliened action and then just allowing the weight to release and the health to come to you.
My fitness journey wasn’t complete after only four months of it. Although I lost 20lbs and competed in my first bodybuilding competition I didn’t learn about spiritual fitness until years after. After my first competition, I gained the weight back, struggled with binge eating, and went through many highs and lows. Everyone thinks fitness is a linear journey, that you get fit and stay fit. It’s not that way for most women and I feel called to share my story so other women can know that they aren’t alone, that there it gets better and that they can do it too.
What or who inspired you to pursue your career? We’d love to hear the story.
My path to pursuing my career as a business owner and coach wasn’t linear either. After getting my degree in Creative Advertising at University, I decided I wanted to become a Personal Trainer. I got hired at a huge gym in downtown Toronto before even completing my PT certification. I just jumped and went for it. I worked as a trainer for a year before I make a shift back into advertising running million-dollar ad campaigns for some of the top brands in Canada.
Even as I built a successful and incredible career in advertising, working at award-winning agencies, I continued to pursue my passion for health and fitness. I continued to build muscle and body confidence and eventually competed again in my second natural bodybuilding competition. It was my sister-in-law, Ale Diaz, who inspired me to get into bodybuilding in the first place. One day, I went to watch her at one of her competitions. I looked up at her and with tears in my eyes and my heart full of more hope than I could ever imagine I knew that if she could do it (go from overweight/depressed to super fit!) then I could do it too. It was that moment of inspiration that I’ve never let go of since.
After working in advertising and pursuing fitness as a passion, I hit a point in my career where I wasn’t happy. I thought everything was “fine”, but I was burnout. I lived off coffee and I never got to slow down. I was always trying to catch up, trying to get in another workout or more hours at work. It was never enough. I thought that was completely normal. I thought it was the only option. I had an awakening and I started discovering that there was so much more to wellness than just the physical. I could finally see that my health was also impacted by my emotions, mindset, and spirituality. I realized that the four dimensions of health; physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual we’re the keys to creating a healthy, happy and abundant body and life.
I became a certified Pure Coach and launched an online health & wellness business. After taking a step back I realized I had achieved a lot. I had grown a successful career in a highly competitive industry all while completely transforming my health & lifestyle. I had boundaries and healthy habits and I realized that I could use what I learned in my journey to start helping other high-performing women achieve health & love their bodies too.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Was there a particular person who you feel gave you the most help or encouragement to be who you are today? Can you share a story about that?
I agree full-heartedly! You cannot achieve success alone. I am so grateful for the many mentors I’ve had already that have helped me in fitness, spirituality, and business; Ale Diaz, Omar Arvizu, James MacNeil, Jen Szpigiel, and Rebecca Cafiero. I am so grateful for the Pitch Club Collective, the online community of female entrepreneurs which I am part of lead by Rebecca Cafiero. These women are smart, passionate, and have the biggest hearts! I’m so grateful to have each of them supporting me in my journey this year.
Above all, there is one person who has been by my side supporting me every step of the way, my husband, Rodrigo Diaz Mercado. He has always encouraged me to go for it. He brings only love and never any doubt. It’s really hard to find someone these days who has that level of support and trust in you. I am beyond grateful for him every day of my life.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting mistake that occurred to you in the course of your career? What lesson or take away did you learn from that?
I started running and doing home workouts from magazines as a teenager but didn’t start to feel confident in my body until I started lifting weights. I was never fast or very coordinated when it came to sports, but I’ve always enjoyed being active and moving my body. When I started lifting weights I learned quickly, and it felt very natural to me. I developed a strong mind-muscle connection and before I knew it I was able to lift heavy weights. I started to notice I was sometimes lifting more weight than some of the men in the gym! I felt good about that.
My husband and I joke all the time that I’m stronger than him, although you’d never be able to tell by looking at us. I am 5’3 120lbs and he’s 5’9 165lbs. But I can squat and deadlift much more than him — not to brag!
Can you share your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Why does that resonate with you so much?
“She believed she could, so she did” — I don’t know who said it or when but whenever I feel doubt I remind myself of this quote. It instantly empowers me. Belief is all we have and all we need. If you want to lose weight the first thing to change is your belief in yourself. If you don’t believe you can achieve a healthy body weight, then you never will. And the oppositive is true. If you believe that can achieve a healthy body weight, then you can and will. It’s not woo-woo, it’s science when you break it down into quantum physicals — but that’s a lesson for another day!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
The biggest and most exciting project I’m working on right now is the launch of my first book! The Unicorn Syndrome — Stop trying to be unique. You already are. We are all unique and there is only ever going to be ONE of you. The world needs to be uniquely you and not a copy of someone else.
I was a shy, introverted girl who was self-conscious in her body because I wasn’t confident in who I was. I thought I needed to lose weight, so I tried to be like everyone else. I didn’t know how to embrace who I truly was. The truth was that I didn’t need to lose weight at all, I needed to believe in myself and start telling a new story.
The Unicorn Syndrome is the spell we’re all under that makes us believe we’re not good enough. It causes us to judge and compare our bodies to someone else. When you have The Unicorn Syndrome, no matter what you do you don’t feel good in your skin because you’re striving to copy someone other Unicorn’s uniqueness.
In my book, I explain the process of spiritual weight loss and how to use the laws of the universe to release excess weight and transform your body. It takes less physical effort, a bit of mental work, and lots of spiritual work. This is also the process I teach my clients.
For the benefit of our readers, can you briefly let us know why you are an authority in the fitness and wellness field?
I am a certified personal trainer, with DTS and TRX certifications. I have also studied emotional and spiritual intelligence and metaphysics and am a Pure Coach and Pure Spiritual Intelligence Ambassador.
I have higher and worked with elite bodybuilding coaches personally and have dedicated a decade of my life to transforming my mind and body. I have competed in two body-building competitions and understand the mind and body beyond just the physical and but also in the spiritual dimension.
I dedicate my life to helping women rediscover self-love and the spark in them that they’ve lost. My purpose is to help guide you to finding all the answers that are already within you and to helping you release weight, build confidence, and lose weight and keep it off.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview about achieving a healthy body weight. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. How do you define a “Healthy Body Weight”?
You are unique. Your body is unique. Your healthy body weight is unique to you.
A healthy body weight is not a shape, size, or even a number on a scale. It’s a feeling. Healthy body weight is the feeling of lightness, freedom, love, confidence, and happiness. When you have a healthy body you mentally and physically feel well. When you are in that sweet spot that’s right for you, you actually could care less what the number on the scale says because it’s irrelevant. It’s irrelevant because that number can never give you the feeling of a good feeling body.
How can an individual learn what is a healthy body weight for them? How can we discern what is “too overweight” or what is “too underweight”?
Your body is always communicating with you. You have an internal emotional guidance system that will let you know if you’re over or underweight. To put it simply when you’re not a healthy body weight you don’t feel your best. You may get sick often (flu, colds, etc.), you might feel tired or have brain fog all the time, you might skip social events because you don’t feel good in any of your clothes, you may even feel too tired to workout.
The problem is most people have lost touch with this guidance system and then get to the point where their body becomes unhealthy. When you are in touch with your body you will listen to the early signals when something is off and be able to make changes before it’s too late. For example, let’s take stress and burnout as an example. Say you work extra-long hours one week and at the end of it you feel tired, your body is craving sleep and your mind is craving a mental break, if instead of getting some extra sleep or going for a yoga class on the weekend you drink a couple of extra glasses of wine on the weekend, and counite to run around from one activity to the next, you’ve body isn’t going to get a chance to recover. When this happens repeatedly, eventually you’ll gain weight, or if you’re someone who skips meals when stressed, you’ll lose weight and muscle. But it all could have been avoided by tunning into that emotional guidance system.
This might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons why being over your healthy body weight, or under your healthy body weight, can be harmful to your health?
A healthy body weight is not just about vanity. It’s a measure of health. I learned this the hard way in my journey.
Unfortunately, it seems that the further you are from your ideal body weight the more risks of more serious health implications.
For years I hated my body and desperately wanted to be skinny. I didn’t think about healthy at all and I was so focused on looking skinny that I didn’t realize that mentally my mind was hurting. Mentally, I was struggling with negative, self-criticizing thoughts and this hurt me in a lot of ways. When I was not a healthy weight for my body I mentally did not feel well and I experienced some negative health effects like, fatigue, acne, and constipation to name a few. Luckily, nothing that was difficult to fix with diet, exercise, and spiritual wellness.
In contrast, can you help articulate a few examples of how a person who achieves and maintains a healthy body weight will feel better and perform better in many areas of life?
I can speak from experience here. When I was not a healthy body weight, I was not a very happy person. I was living under a dark cloud of not feeling good in my skin, I wanted to hide, I felt shy, I felt lost and unsure of my purpose in life. When I learned to love and take care of my body through mindfulness, nutrition, and movement I felt good. That good feeling vibe gave me the energy to thrive in all areas of my life. Being physically fit helps me to perform better in my career, I have better relationships with those around me and my relationship with myself is strong.
Having a healthy body weight fuels, you mentally, physically, and spiritually. When your body feels good you can thrive and live an abundant life.
Ok, fantastic. Here is the main question of our discussion. Can you please share your “5 Things You Need To Do To Achieve a Healthy Body Weight And Keep It Permanently?”. If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
- Stop calling it a diet
We’re so trapped in “diet culture” that every time a new diet picks up momentum, we drop everything and try it, then when we fail at it we think we need to do it harder, or that something must be wrong with us. It’s the diet culture that’s broken, not you. Stop thinking about what you eat as a method for weight loss or weight gain. See food a fuel, learn to eat to optimize your health and fuel your body.
2. Stop comparing yourself to others.
I hear all the time that women are triggered when they see photos of other women in bikinis or looking hot in their lulus at the gym. In their heads, they feel bad about their body because it doesn’t look exactly like that other woman. I used to put myself through this emotional turmoil too until I made a significant mindset shift. I decided to start celebrating other women who I thought looked good. I realized that if they can do it I can do it too. And I realized that by the law of attraction if I am seeing strong, confident women in my awareness then that means that will soon be my reality. There is more than enough “health” to go around for everyone!
3. It’s not about doing more, it’s about who you decide to BE in the process.
Most people solely focus on trying to get more restrictive with their diet and do more intense exercise when they want to achieve a healthy body weight. This is the opposite of what you should do. When starting a new routine you want to build of gradually up your exercise while incorporating spiritual wellness practices like mindful eating, meditation, yin yoga. When it comes to nutrition it’s more about understanding your body, for example, if you have a sensitivity to a certain kind of food, a hormone imbalance, or an unhealthy gut microbiome, if you’d don’t work around or heal these issues then you’ll find yourself getting burnout from over-exercise, under eating and feeling frustrated because you see no results and you might even feel worse. It’s a learning experience at first but it will lead to achieving a healthy body weight and keeping it for the long run.
4. Visualize what it’ll feel like to be a healthy body weight.
Spiritual Fitness is not about how much we can do/take on, it’s the process of leveraging the non-physical to manifest a metaphyseal change. To transform your body and health you need to see the result in your mind before you can see it in the mirror. Using techniques like visualization will help you align with the higher version of you and thus make new choices, choices that will help you and nourish your body so you can achieve a healthy body weight. The reason most people fail at diets is that they think if they do the work then the results will just come. That isn’t the case. The change must happen first on the non-physical level (in your mind/in who you believe yourself to be) before it can be made physical. I used this technique to help me lose 20lbs and compete in my 2nd bodybuilding show.
5. The goal is the process, not the outcome. Enjoy the process.
Self-love is the key to finding joy in the process of changing your habits which usually is the most difficult part of transforming your body. Often people want a healthy body but when it comes down to it they just don’t want to change, they aren’t willing to let go of who they used to be. The truth is you can’t stay the same person, you have to change. you cannot keep doing and thinking the same thing you’ve always thought and expect a different result. Realizing that the process is the outcome, and you will learn to enjoy your life thus you’ll never again be “on track” or “off-track” again.
The emphasis of this series is how to maintain ideal weight for the long term, and how to avoid yo-yo dieting. Specifically, how does a person who loses weight maintain that permanently and sustainably?
To break the cycle of yo-yo dieting you need to let go of who you used to be and become a new person. You cannot continue thinking, feeling, and action in the same way that you have always done, or you’ll stay stuck forever in the endless cycle of dieting.
Write a new story about yourself. Get clear on all the parts of you that you love about yourself, the parts you don’t and the parts you know you could improve. Then create a vision of who you want to become. When you can see her/him in your head and thinking about living that life where you feel and look emotional and physically healthy you will become her/him. It will happen without a doubt, as long as you continue to hold onto that feeling and make a decision that that person would make. This means being very self-aware. You need to be aware of your old self-sabotaging habits so that when they pop up you have to squash them! You can choose again and choose to be the new version of yourself.
Ask yourself this, does this new version of my yo-yo diet? Or are they just healthy and happy? Does healthy just come naturally and easily to them? If yes, then think about what thoughts would that person be thinking right now? Ask yourself these questions with time you’ll become the new person and yo-yo dieting will be a thing of your past.
What are a few of the most common mistakes you have seen people make when they try to lose weight? What errors cause people to just snap back to their old unhealthy selves? What can they do to avoid those mistakes?
One common mistake I see over and over again is that women/men cut out entire food groups when they want to “lose weight”. The problem with this is it creates a good food vs. bad food mentality which can be harmful and isn’t necessary for achieving a healthy body weight.
For example, Carb-restriction is usually an unhealthy approach for women’s health because low-carb dieting can backfire and impact hormones over time. The body’s preferred energy source comes from glucose, which you can only get from carbohydrates. When you aren’t getting enough glucose from complex carbohydrates, your cortisol levels increase, leading to weight gain. When the stress hormone, cortisol, is elevated this can suppress the thyroid, elevate estrogen, and slow down metabolism.
You can’t just copy what someone else does without understand the impact it has on your body. There is no one size fits all and in the end, the diet and workout program is only one piece of the puzzle.
What matters is the story you believe about yourself, your beliefs, values. Your emotional and mental health is so important to take care of if you want to create a transformation in your body. Once you stop thinking like your old self (the one that got you into this mess), then you can say goodbye to her and embrace the powerful women that you know you are, deep inside. You can’t do that kind of deep work on a no-carb diet.
How do we take all this information and integrate it into our actual lives? The truth is that we all know that it’s important to eat more vegetables, eat less sugar, etc. But while we know it intellectually, it’s difficult to put it into practice and make it a part of our daily habits. In your opinion what are the main blockages that prevent us from taking the information that we all know, and integrating it into our lives?
To know and not to do is not to know.
I’ve told that to myself many times in the past too. I thought I knew everything I was supposed to do to be a healthy weight but yet I couldn’t maintain it — I had to be very honest with myself and admit that I didn’t actually know it if I couldn’t do it and therefore, I needed help. If this, is you it’s time to face the truth. Often this is when people need to unlearn all the “bad diet culture” advice and relearn how to connect with and understand their bodies.
Dealing with the mental blockage that prevents us from taking the information and integrating it is a two-person job. We are often blind to our blocks until we develop a super high level of self-awareness which can come with time and practice. But to get started I highly recommend getting support from a coach that can help you work on changing your mindset and removing the subconscious blocks. This must be done before a new habit can form and sink in.
On the flip side, how can we prevent these ideas from just being trapped in a rarified, theoretical ideal that never gets put into practice? What specific habits can we develop to take these intellectual ideas and integrate them into our normal routine?
If you want something bad enough you will do it. Get clear on what this goal means to you and why it’s important. If you have a deep enough reason, then you’ll learn to commit to it. Often, we Chase goals that aren’t ours. We chase a dream that is society’s ideal and the desire of our heart.
The most powerful habit you can develop to take these intellectual ideas and integrate them into our normal routine is creating a morning routine.
My morning routine includes a healthy habit from each of the four areas. To create one of your own try my signature method The Daily-80. Daily-80 includes a balance of all four dimensions broken out into 20-minute power intervals. Imagine if you took just 80 minutes a day and spent it on time to cultivate wellness?
To do the Daily-80 break your morning into 4 20-minute intervals. Each interval will be devoted to one of the four dimensions of health; Physical, Mental/Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual. The order is up to you, my preference is to work from the inside out.
Starting with spiritual health devote 20 minutes to spiritual practice. This can be whatever feels good to you. It can be transcendental meditation, breathwork, reading scripture, pray, or visualization. Then for your emotional health, you can try journaling. Use a journal prompt to get into it or allow yourself to free write two full pages of whatever is on your heart. There are many ways in which we can take care of our mental health every day. I love to read and listen to podcasts, but I don’t read or listen to fiction, or the news I try my best to consume content that teaches me something new or inspires me. An easy and powerful way to create a new mental health habit is by taking 20 minutes in the morning to consume something of interest to you that will help you learn and grow. For the last 20 minutes get moving for physical health. After you work on your spiritual, emotional, and mental health then you are in a place to take proper care of your body. Do a type of activity you enjoy.
Ok, we are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I’d love to help inspire and motivate a generation of women to embrace self-love and to understand how to transform from the inside out through spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical wellness. I’d love to see a world where the headlines on the magazines and social media aren’t about the perfect diet or exercise plan or how to lose 20lbs in 10 days, or even “how to beat the bloat!” But instead, they are about how to tune into your inner being to cultivate power, strength, and optimal wellness.
Imagine a tribe of women who celebrate when they see another woman living in her truth and embracing her beauty rather than feeling insecure because of it. I see a world where women don’t need to wear a mask of false identity. They are free from the illusion of the Unicorn Syndrome. They are free to be who they truly are inside and out. They embrace their unique inner and outer beauty and in doing so they inspire others to do the same. I can see this creating such a powerful energy that it changes the world and makes it a more beautiful and loving place to live.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or the US, whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we both tag them 🙂
Buttermore @stephanie_buttermore. I’ve been following her journey on social media for a few years now. She does things differently and goes against the grain of what typical fitness influencers do. I love how real, vulnerable and authentic she is. I watched her document her “all-in” journey for a whole year, and it inspired and amazed me in so many ways. I’d love to talk with her and pick her brain on all thing’s fitness, body image, self-love, and building a brand with influence on social media.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Thank you for reading. If anything resonated with you I’d love to hear from you get to know you over on Instagram! Follow me @allison.woodley
I have a special surprise for you over at allisonwoodley.com/ebook there you can download a free copy of my ebook; Healing Through Self-Love.
You can get more goodies and weekly videos inside my Healthy & Happy Facebook Community, everyone is welcome: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1396070730783154
Lastly, you can find free resources and ways to work with me at allisonwoodley.com
Thank you for these excellent insights, and we greatly appreciate the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success.