Ditch The Diet (Part One) | Advice From A Life And Wellness Coach

Sarah Tamburrini is a bubbly Aussie currently living in Bangkok. She has had her fair share of difficulties loving and accepting her body and came to recognise that we’re constantly sold a war against food (whether the enemy be fat, gluten, dairy or SUGAR). She changed her life around and is now all for ditching diets, finding freedom around food and encouraging others to accept the skin they’re in rather than when they ‘lose weight.’ Sarah is a certified wellness coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a Beautiful You Life Coach with a degree in psychology and professional expertise as a senior Occupational Therapist.  Sarah is the creator of Practice Glow where she fulfils her big ‘why’ in life by supporting women to regain their sanity around food, health and their bodies.

Sarah Tamburrini

Sarah kindly answered a few questions and shared her personal views on healthy living, sugar and some pearls of wisdom.

What does healthy living mean to you?

This is such a good question because you can probably guess that healthy living for me and my clients is a whole lot more than food, exercise, meditation and green smoothies (and anything else that is ‘hot right’ now to be doing). To me normal living is not necessarily what you do per se (e.g. exercise, food), it’s all about how you feel about yourself. It’s the way you think and feel about yourself when you’re going about life, doing what it is you do that I think really matters and separates those who are ‘surface level’ healthy and those who are ‘deeply and internally’ healthy.

So….in my definition of ‘healthy’ if you’re ok eating that slice of cake then eating that slice of cake is ok. If you aren’t bothered about the fact you’ve skipped a gym class then skipping the gym class is no worries at all. If you didn’t get a chance to mediate today and simply go “That’s ok”, then not meditating today is ok.

I see it all too often that living life has become about playing to a set of ‘rules’. And because of these rules we start to label what’s ‘good’ and what’s ‘bad’- a little like how many people view food. Which might result in people wanting to meditate and eat kale because it’s so called ‘good’, while it’s so called ‘bad’ to eat sugar and dairy. These values will only influence how you then feel about yourself and won’t be all that ‘healthy’ in the long run (e.g. if you eat something you think is ‘bad’ then you will very likely feel ‘bad’ about it).

So my tip: Avoid labelling, shaming and judging within life so that you ultimately have far less of a chance of wearing shame, guilt and self loathing when you do something outside of the ‘status quo’.

Do you think quitting certain foods is a good way to get healthy?

Absolutely not…with the only exception being if you are advised to do so by a qualified professional in the context of a medical condition. I have written many posts about how restriction- which can be emotional (how you feel when you eat something e.g. shame, guilt, self loathing) AND physical (what you’re actually doing e.g. avoiding/ abstaining from sugar).

I’m seeing a HUGE and SCARY rise in the type of emotional restriction that lends itself to a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way of eating. For example let’s talk about all the press stating sugar is WRONG, POISON and the DEVIL. This can then lead us to feel guilt, shame, self loathing and obsessive preoccupation when we eat the food in question, which then often leads people to restrict.

BUT ironically this will lead to a rebellious mindset and THEN rebellious behaviour around the food. As a general rule of thumb restriction will inevitably lead to binge eating at some point (which is why diets- which are based on restriction- NEVER ever work…and many people gain the weight right back- if not MORE of it).

Read more about Sarah’s views on restriction.

How do you maintain a healthy lifestyle?

Quite simply everything I do in life- whether it is buying clothes, eating, exercising, socialising my big aim is to feel both emotionally and physically good and well. Living like this comes back to being really aware of our mindset, which I have discussed above as being more important, in my opinion, than what it is we actually do. So for me this looks a little like: I eat chocolate if I want it and don’t get hung up about it, I do exercise that makes me feel good and if I don’t get around to it when I intend it’s not a big deal, I don’t meditate every day because I don’t want to…and that’s perfectly ok!

I spent so so long, following my days of disordered eating, learning to change the way I viewed the world. I was riddled with shame, judgment, fear and ultimately self loathing which was never going to help me to make truly healthy choices in life right? Everything I did was about protecting me from my deep fear of ‘getting fat’….and I’d rather have broken a bone than get fat in those days.

Step one in changing my life was about identifying my rationalisations for body shame (e.g. ‘but it’s all for my health’ or ‘loving myself as is will make me fat’ or ‘but no one will love me if I’m bigger’)…. and challenging the validity of those beliefs. Essentially it was time to getting deeply honest with myself about what was holding me back from seeing the world in another way and challenging those beliefs, judgments, values. Which then saw me ditch dieting and I then started to really do the work towards accepting my body as it was right then and there (and also should it get bigger…it started to become a non issue which is VERY hard for a lot of women to understand- especially when they are riding the diet cycle).

So to me life is about a healthy mindset over doing healthy things, ditching diets and learning to accept yourself just as you are, right here, right now. And that’s how I stay healthy- I am constantly doing the work in these areas to ensure I can stay as mentally healthy and wealthy as I can (note: I’m not perfect and of course I have days where I can certainly start to go hard on my body- but- those days, the amount of time I engage in that behaviour is certainly less frequent and less intense).

This is part one of a two part interview with Sarah Tamburrini. Read part two HERE!

Stay Sweet! CD

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