We’re so happy to introduce you to Lana Simmons, co-creator of the #sizeHUMAN blog and podcast, in our latest “Body Trust™ Insights”. Lana recently interviewed us (click here to listen, episode 22) and we had a great time connecting and talking about all things body positive. We thought you’d all so appreciate Lana’s candor and resilience. Thank you for taking the time to share your wisdom, Lana!
Lana Simmons NASM-CPT, 200hr RYT, and Intuitive Yoga Instructor is a recovering chronic dieter who does have a long sordid past with the dieting roller coaster. In 2012, Lana decided she’d had enough calories, points, low carb, no carb, paleo, food scale drama to last her a lifetime. She practices a Health at Every Size approach concerning health and fitness. Lana also utilizes her empathic gifts to develop healing yoga routines and meditations for her clients. Stop by and check out her podcast and blog #sizeHUMAN at www.sizehuman.co
“HAES has helped me learn what freedom is from food and exercise, and that health is something personalized.”
- What led you to Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating?
Moving towards HAES® has been, and is, a process for me. I knew back in 2006 that dieting didn’t work. I had read Marilyn Wann’s book, “Fat!So?” and liked the idea of loving myself as is, but just couldn’t wrap my head around how to do it. Soon after I had my second child in 2008, I decided to have LapBand surgery. Looking back, I made that decision out of hopelessness and depression. I felt this huge pressure by the medical community, society and most importantly myself to “fit in”. The LapBand surgery was a success, I lost weight the first month I had it, but then regained all the weight lost the following month. Dr.’s kept trying to figure out why I wasn’t losing weight and I remember feeling “broken” as a human being. It sucked, and I never lost weight from the LapBand again.
Fast forward a year of LapBand struggles… I decided I just hadn’t found the right people to work with me on losing weight. What did I decide to do?? Find a team of people who would help me get the weight off once and for all. My doctor had been telling me for years that I was a metabolic time bomb of disastrous proportions (despite having excellent blood work) and was therefore willing to refer me to a Dietitian and Exercise Physiologist.
Initially, after working with the Dietitian and EP, I made some really positive changes. I was eating more veggies and taking walks with a neighbor in the morning. These changes seemed to agree with my body; however, as time went on the changes slowly became more and more dramatic. Over a period of 6 months: I went from tracking my food (with no calorie count in mind) to eating 1400 calories a day (and freaking out if I went over); I went from walking 30 minutes daily to running 2 hours a day… no….matter…. what…; I went from socializing with friends to isolating myself from get-togethers because I didn’t trust myself around food (because I was STARVING) and didn’t know the calorie count of foods served at these functions. My team of experts congratulated me for my progress. They were impressed with my endurance, stamina and weight loss. I received a great deal of praise for my shrinking body. I had entangled my self-worth in with weight loss.
I was able to maintain my full-time job of weight loss for about 2 years, then we moved thousands of miles (my husband was active duty at the time) to a new location. The stress of the move threw off my intense regiment.
Nothing worked or rather I was burning out. One day, as I was crying to my husband about gaining weight and how I sucked as a human being, my husband lost his sh*t. He had heard enough. He had been patient with all the weighing and measuring of food and my body. He had done his best to be supportive of my dieting rampages; but, he had had enough. As I stood in the kitchen sobbing about my size, my life, and food, he grabbed me by the shoulders and said “STOP!! You have to STOP this!! We have kids and they see what you are doing! YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN THE SIZE OF YOU’RE A**!!” He may have said these words before, but I never heard him. Finally, on this day, I heard him. This is what pushed me over the HAES edge.
After my husband had confronted me, I knew I was finally done with diets. I couldn’t devote that much time and energy to putting myself into what I was “supposed” to be. I began diving deeper into HAES, reading the research from Dr. Bacon, Dr. Aphramor, etc. I slowly began to realize that I wasn’t the problem, that dieting was. I think I was finally ready to absorb the HAES research and lifestyle.
It’s been 2, almost 3, years since I stopped dieting, and a lot has changed. I have regained most of the weight back, but I have also gained freedom from food and exercise obsession. I can now enjoy dinner with friends at a restaurant without worrying about calorie counts and exercise. People can bring whatever food they want in the house and I literally give zero sh*ts what the food is. Food doesn’t call to me or haunt me all day. When I see the latest exercise fad my first thought is, “will my body enjoy something like that?” rather than “that exercise will make me lose weight faster”. HAES has helped me learn what freedom is from food and exercise, and that health is something personalized.
- What has surprised you the most as you have learned to accept yourself?
That I’m not a food eating monster! No really, I thought once I stopped dieting I would never stop eating! This has been quite the opposite. Initially, I did eat all the “bad” foods I had restricted myself from; however, this phase didn’t last as long as I thought it would. I’m turning out to be a lot pickier about food than I thought I ever would be. This is surprising and a learning process. At 36 years old, I am now asking myself the question (whether its donuts or asparagus), does this taste good? Do you enjoy this food? I’ve learned that I really don’t like bacon or ice cream where before I would have craved them because I wasn’t supposed to eat them. Now I just know they don’t taste good to me.
- What are three aspects you feel are the most important to remember when moving toward radical self-acceptance?
I’m not sure I can come up with three, but my main one is curiosity. I’ve always done what is expected of me, but now I ask a LOT of questions. Why is being a certain size or looking a certain way so important? Who says? Why am I listening to that? What if I lived my life as if I was already whole??? Do I really want to spend the rest of my life on a diet? Is that why I’m on Earth, to diet??
- What is your favorite part of your body? How do you celebrate it?
I’m not sure I have a favorite body part? I’m really grateful to have been blessed genetically with strength. For a female, I am physically very strong. Before I was ashamed of my strength because it wasn’t what I thought a woman should be. Now, I am grateful for my strength and enjoy using it daily!
- What is your favorite food and how do you like to enjoy it?
I really enjoy meals from scratch. This might sound a lil’ woo woo, but I always feel like there is a lil’ bit o’ love and sparkles in a meal made from scratch. Some of my favorite meals have been while we were camping. A simple meal shared with friends and family around a campfire. I can’t think of anything more delicious.
- What inspires and renews your dedication to your process when you need it the most?
Good question. I reach out a lot to my business partner when my dieting demons kick up. She reminds me how miserable I was dieting, and how it affected me and my family. It’s real easy for me to forget how miserable I was on a diet.
I also try to spend time alone either taking a walk, attempting to garden, or reading a good book. Sometimes I just need space to figure out how I feel about things!
- Radical self-acceptance means…
Deciding how YOU feel about things… not what your parents, society, friends, social media, mentor, dog, cat, etc think and feel, but what YOU think and feel.
- What books, music or websites inspire you right now?
I’m kinda all over the place on this one… A few books I find fascinating and inspirational are:
“Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence” by Matthew Sanford
“The Religion of Thinness” by Michelle M. Lelwica
“Dietland” by Sarai Walker
and I can’t wait to read Brené Brown’s new book “Rising Strong”.
Wild Crazy Meaningful Enneagram (podcast)
Favorite quote or poem?
I love this quote because it brings a sense of coming home to your body. I don’t feel like you have to practice yoga to understand the quote. It really brought up the question for me of how do I try to overcome my body every day… and how can I work WITH and explore my body instead.
“I came to Yoga because I got tired of overcoming my body.”