Guess who’s in the New York Post!

Hey there!

I’m thrilled to announced I was featured in a recent NY Post article about the potential harms of dieting. Click here to check it out!

I must say the article makes it all seem so easy — and it’s NOT! Giving up the pursuit of weight loss has probably been the single hardest thing I’ve ever done. Perhaps that sounds like an exaggeration, but I’ve spent the last 18 months trying to accept my body size, honor my hunger and focus on my health, and it continues to be a struggle every day. As I’ve written in the past, I sometimes cry and spend hours in bed trying to wrap my head around this new “normal.”

After all, I’ve spent my entire adult life wishing I could lose weight. Dissatisfaction with the size of my body has been so central to my identity that it’s a difficult belief to shake overnight. But after becoming so tired with the dieting process and tired of hating my body regardless of its size, tired of feeling like a failure and FINALLY coming to terms with the fact that any intentional pursuit of weight loss was only leading me gain weight, I decided to take one small step at a time in the direction of health and happiness.

The first step was to look at my body and try not to hate it. I didn’t have to love it, but I had to accept it just as it was in that present moment. I chose to be in awe of it instead of being at war with it. I chose to be grateful for the things it does for me, rather than focus purely on how I wished it looked or felt. I chose to appreciate the fact that despite my years of hatred and damage and wishing I was different, my body continues to work for me every day, trying its hardest to care for me and keep me alive.

The second step was to stop weighing myself. I knew that if I wanted an intuitive relationship with eating and a judgment-free view of my body, I had to make that number irrelevant to who I was as a person.

The third step was to stop viewing exercise as a punishment, and start to move my body in ways that felt good and had no previous association with my dieting days. Instead of going to the gym to “get in shape,” I’ve chosen walking my dog, swimming with my kids and going for leisurely bike rides. I stretch my body when its sore, and rest when I’m tired.

There are many more steps, and I could go on and on, but I’ll save those for another post. For now, be kind to your body and try step one for a week or two. Our overall health depends so much on our emotional state of being, and this can start with hating yourself a little less each day.

Listen to the negative thoughts about your body in your head and try to replace them with neutral or positive thoughts instead. (Change “I hate my belly” to “My stomach is a vital organ that keeps my body alive,” or “My thighs are monstrous” to “My legs keep me up and take me places.”)

Learning to accept ourselves without judgment is the first step in a lengthy process of healing, but it’s essential to our healthy and well-being. Just think where you’d be if you had simply accepted your body from Day 1 and never felt the need to diet in your youth.

I’d love to know what you’re struggling with in this journey of self-acceptance. It’s a really hard road, and we don’t have to do it alone!

I don’t always know if I’m doing the right thing

I don’t always know if I’m doing the right thing. I honestly don’t.

Sometimes I can’t breathe from the anxiety. Sometimes I spend the entire day in bed, paralyzed with fear over what I’ve chosen to do. I don’t know if I’m doing the right thing, but I do know that doing anything else feels wrong.


I decided to stop dieting last summer. I just didn’t have the energy anymore. I was stuck in a cycle of restriction and binge eating, and no amount of self-criticism or will power seemed to work anymore.

I didn’t necessarily want to stop losing weight, but after reading Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon, I finally realized the harm that dieting was doing to my mind and body, and I knew I had to find another way.

What came next was terrifying. Allowing all foods, eating whenever I felt like it, listening to my hunger, indulging my cravings. All of these experiences were new to me and felt like I was cheating somehow. I simultaneously felt like I’d freed myself of chains, but that I’d given up on myself, too. Self-care for me was always synonymous with weight loss.

But I gave up the war I’d waged on my body for years, and put my faith and trust in just being. I decided that I was enough just as I was. I let myself go.

If you’d told me at the outset that I would gain back the weight I’d spent my life trying to lose, I probably wouldn’t have gone ahead. I probably would have chosen to stay in the cycle of losing and gaining and losing and gaining, rather than live out my biggest fear. But once I realized I was destined to fail, there was no turning back.

All diets promise the first part, but nobody wants to talk about what happens next.

There is so much shame in gaining weight. It’s the insidious part of the dieting cycle that nobody likes to talk about. All diets promise the first part: You lose weight, which feels so good. Everyone congratulates you. Everyone compliments you. You’ve been a good person and done what you were supposed to do, and your self-confidence soars.

But nobody wants to talk about what happens next. Nobody talks about how our bodies fight back. How it gets harder and harder to maintain the food restriction and weight loss, and you start to feel betrayed. What’s wrong with me? I’m trying so hard to be good and yet I’m a failure. I have no will power. I’m a disgrace.

Breaking the addiction takes guts beyond measure.

And as the weight comes back, the compliments cease. The silence that remains is a thousand times worse because you’re left to wonder what they’re thinking instead. “So sad for her.” “She couldn’t keep it up.” “She gave up.” “She looks terrible.” “She must be so unhealthy.” It’s painful and it’s shameful. Your self-confidence is lower than ever before.

And so you vow to lose the weight again, and the dieting cycle continues.

To make the leap off that cycle, to say enough is enough, is scary. It’s lonely and you’re filled with self-doubt. Breaking the addiction takes guts beyond measure. Facing your inner critic, silencing the voice that shouts at you to get your act together and keep working toward the body you’ve always desired, takes a kind of strength and courage I never thought I had.

Most days I doubt I have what it takes. Sometimes the inner turmoil is so overwhelming that I can’t stop crying. I avoid people for fear of what they might think of my larger body. I chastise myself for needing new, bigger clothes. An addict in detox, a part of me cries out that I’m making a huge mistake and need to run back to what’s safe. I wonder if I’ll ever feel good about myself again.

I imagine telling her all the things I say to myself.

And just when I’m about to give in, I look over at my 10-year-old daughter and I’m snapped back to reality.

I imagine telling her all the things I say to myself. I imagine her living in a world where she believes that she’s not enough just as she is. I wonder how long till she doubts her own self-worth because she’s not the thinnest girl in the room. I wonder if it’s already too late.

And when I hear that voice in me, the one that wants to control the critics so she can avoid any hurt and shame, I realize that this thought-cycle needs to end with me.

I want my little girl to believe that she’s perfect just as she is. She doesn’t need to change. She is loved and accepted. She is enough. And that belief needs to start with me. I need to be brave for her.

I think back to my own adolescent self, and the decades I spent desperately fighting my body size and wishing I looked a certain way, convinced I’d be happier and more accepted if only I was thinner.

And I realize I was the one who never accepted me for who I was. And so I am ending that. I am saying no to the voices, the demons, the self-loathing, the shame. I’m untangling a lifetime of negative self-image and self-criticism. I’m saying no to fear, and I’m moving forward the only way I know how.


I’m writing this for me, because I don’t always know if I’m doing the right thing. But for now, doing anything else feels wrong. So I’ve chosen to trust that feeling simply because I’m out of options and I need to keep going.

I’m writing this for you, wherever you are on your journey. It’s slow and it’s hard. It’s really hard. And if you feel scared, know that you’re not alone. You’ll get through this.

And I’m writing this for her. Because when I look at her and see her future and all that she will accomplish no matter what her size, I know that it’s worth it.

An open letter to my GOTR girls

My daughter crossing the finish line during the fall season of Girls on the Run.

Today marks the first day of our spring season of Girls on the Run. This program has changed my life in so many ways, and I’m just so proud to volunteer for this amazing organization!

Last night, I was lying in bed thinking about today and anticipating meeting new young faces and greeting familiar young faces. I was thinking about how to best introduce them to the program, which is about so much more than running a 5K. I was thinking about what I want these girls to discover about themselves, and how I want them to treat themselves and each other. I wrote down my thoughts in this open letter to girls in grades 3 through 5.

An open letter to my Girls on the Run girls,

This is a safe space. That means you can always count on this group to treat you with care and respect, and you can trust that all thoughts and statements shared here will be kept confidential.

We are so often told that we are either too much of something or not enough. Lots of companies make millions of dollars telling us that there is something wrong with us. They want to convince us that we are broken, so we will buy whatever they’re offering that will fix us. We get these messages everywhere — in magazines, on television, on social media, on our computers.

After a while, we start to internalize these messages. We start to believe something is wrong with us and that we need to be fixed. This chips away at our self-confidence and makes us feel bad about ourselves. And when we look around at others, we believe there is something wrong with them. Sometimes we even tell them something is wrong with them, because we think it might make us feel better about ourselves. But it doesn’t work. Do you know why?

Because you are not broken. You don’t need to be fixed.

You are not too tall.
You are not too short.

You are not too fat.
You are not too thin.

You are not too loud.
You are not too quiet.

You are not too silly.
You are not too serious.

You are not too smart.
You are not too dumb.

You are not too shy.
You are not too confident.

You are not too lazy.
You are not too busy.

You are not too girly.
You are not not girly enough.

You are not too fast.
You are not too slow.

You are perfect just as you are.

So repeat after me:

“There is nothing wrong with me. I am exactly who I am supposed to be. And I am capable of great things. I am worthy of respect simply because I’m me.”

And when you look at the girls around you, remember they are exactly who they are supposed to be. They are capable of great things, they are perfect, and they are worthy of respect.

With love and gratitude,

Coach Katy

Dieting vs. healthy eating

Happy Spring!

As the weather starts to turn, many of us start to panic about shorts and tank tops and, gasp, bathing suits. Our New Year’s resolutions to lose weight haven’t amounted to much, and now it’s time to get real and gain control and get healthy, right?

I know this time of year is when it hits me the most. In fact, five years ago on St. Patrick’s Day I walked into my first Weight Watchers meeting. And while I lost a large amount of weight in a short amount of time, all I learned from that program was how to control my hunger, ignore my health and measure my self-worth entirely by the number on the scale.

Along with the accolades and new smaller wardrobe, I also ended up with a nasty binge eating disorder and a crippling fear that all the weight would return.

“If only I could stop binge eating,” I thought, “I could keep this weight off for good!”

What I discovered next completely changed my outlook on life. As I began my journey to end this pesky binge eating problem of mine, I realized something profound. When it comes to ending binge eating, the first step is to understand that binge eating isn’t the problem. It’s simply the symptom of a much bigger problem: restriction from dieting. As long as I was actively restricting my food intake, I would eventually lash out and binge.

“If only I could stop binge eating,” I thought, “I could keep this weight off for good!”

So the next step is to stop restriction. Seems easy enough in writing, right? But this is probably the most difficult thing you’ll ever have to do in the food freedom journey (and this is the step I fought hardest and for the longest time).

After all, we want to lose the weight and dieting is the only method we’ve ever known how to do this. Our doctors have told us that we need to diet, and society has told us the same. Our friends and family have recommended it to us, and whenever we’ve tried it, we’ve seen weight-loss results. So, when the weight inevitably comes back, it seems natural that the food restriction is never to blame. Instead we blame ourselves for our lack of will power and out-of-control binge eating.

But think for a moment what is actually happening to your body when you’re dieting.

No matter what you think your body should weigh, your body has its own ideas about what size you should be and it does everything it can to keep you within that range. This is popularly known as your “set point range,” and its pre-determined by genetics. When you reduce your food intake, your body tries to stop you from starving.

The hypothalamus, the part of your brain that controls your hunger and fullness cues, will begin to increase production of ghrelin, the hormone that signals your body is hungry, and it begins to reduce production of leptin, that hormone that signals you are full. So regardless of what or how much you’re eating, your body increases your hunger in order to get you to eat more, and reduces your fullness cues, in order to get you to store up more food than you need (in case you’re ever found to be starving again).

In order to make the most of the reduced energy from your limited food intake, your body slows your metabolism and reduces your desire for activity, all in an effort to try to keep your weight stable (think of it like an internal thermostat).

This is where the war against your body gets heated. The less you eat, the harder your body works to make the most of the food you consume in order to get you back to that set point weight. And it gets very good at fighting back, which explains why each time we diet, we lose less weight than before, and tend to “fall off the wagon” even faster. We blame ourselves, not the diet, for failing to be successful at weight loss, and vow to work harder the next time — the never-ending merry-go-round of yo-yo dieting and binge eating.

Restricting your eating through sheer will power means you are more likely to overeat and even binge. In addition, every time you relax your rules and eat a bit more, you body gains more weight than it would have before dieting.

Focusing on your health means ditching the scale altogether and measuring your self-worth by how you feel.

So, what’s the solution? Well first, it’s important to shift your focus away from weight loss and toward healthy eating and living. It can be really difficult to disentangle these concepts, especially if you feel like you have a lot of weight to lose. Focusing on your health means ditching the scale altogether and measuring your self-worth by how you feel. It means introducing more vegetables, cooking at home more and skipping the drive-thru. It means choosing activities you love that get your body moving to rev up your metabolism. It means eating meals and snacks that are wholesome and nutritious without looking at the label for calories or fat content. It means listening to your cravings and hunger, and not being afraid of butter or nuts or chocolate chips. It also means enjoying food guilt-free, like french fries and ice cream. It means allowing your body all the food it wants, so you can end the war on your set point range, and allow your body to tell you once again when it’s hungry and when it’s full.

Have you ever marveled at a young child’s ability to eat half a cupcake and then announce he’s done? That’s intuitive eating, and just as we unlearn it through years of dieting and frustration, restricting and binge eating, it can be re-learned over time.

Continuing to diet will only keep the war going, destroying your metabolism and causing you to gain more weight over time. It’s time to make peace and trust your body again. When you start to honor your hunger and trust your body’s hunger cues, you will eat what your body needs, when it needs it, in the amount it needs.

No more worrying about calories, portions or points. No more fear of losing control, because control is not what we’re after. No more late-night shame eating. No more falling off the wagon or getting back on. That, my friends, is what food freedom feels like.

Want to know if you’re a “normal eater”? Click here for Ellyn Satter’s excellent definition.

Repeat after me: There is nothing wrong with you

Congratulations! National Diet Month is officially over and we survived! Let’s hope this means less annoying commercials to contend with as people wise up, ditch their miserable restrictive diets, and focus instead on improving the quality of their lives!
There is so much we don’t have control over these days, and it’s depressing! If you’re like me, you turn to food when you’re depressed. First you overindulge, then you get angry with yourself and turn to restriction in order to feel like you’re getting control back. This is super common, especially during stressful times in our lives — adolescence, pre-wedding, post-baby, illness, menopause, just to name a few. 
And while there is a lot wrong in the world right now, my mantra lately has been “There is nothing wrong with YOU.”
This starts with the understanding that I’m not supposed to be eating a certain way right now, and my body isn’t supposed to look a certain way, it just is. I don’t have to love it, but I have the power to stop hating it. Once I declare that the war on my body is over, I can focus on real nourishment and positive energy and LET GO of the desperate need for control.
I’d love to hear from you! What ways are you ditching diets and focusing on improving your life?