Monday 3 January 2011

Journey to a life Beyond Chocolate

Sarah Layton is a psychotherapist and has been a Chocolate Fairy since 2007. She runs very popular workshops and groups in London. Her next workshop is on 22 January. Meet Sarah.  

FROM: Stressed, over-working, insecure Garden Designer
TO:  Happier, sometimes still stressed but much better at knowing what I want and need Psychotherapist/Chocolate Fairy!

What a journey!

I first experienced a Beyond Chocolate weekend in February 2005 after impatiently waiting nine months for a date I could attend. It was a worthwhile wait as when I finally got there I was bowled over; my days of waking up daily thinking about what I should and shouldn’t eat; hating my body; dieting for half a day and then giving up; binging and depriving myself without knowing it, were on their way out.

I had discovered another way and I wanted it for myself but had no idea how to ‘do’ it. I had no sense then of what I now know - that discovering the ‘how’ is actually the journey itself - the journey is the answer not the destination and there is actually no simple way to ‘do’ it.

It has been quite journey as my mother, who had been gravely ill, actually passed away on Sunday night that same weekend and I went into a grieving, confused haze. For a while I didn’t care about changing let alone know how to do it I had had a difficult relationship with my Mum - she had put me on my first diet and our relationship had been conducted through the medium of my weight and her ‘helping’ me to diet and now she was dead.

It was a sad, angry time for me and I remember thinking that I couldn’t ‘do’ Beyond Chocolate when I was experiencing such strong feelings. I spoke to Sophie about it and her wise suggestion was to keep tuning in and doing what I could even if I felt like I wasn’t ‘doing’ much.

So that’s what I did and, looking back now, I see that that moment in 2005, when I discovered Beyond Chocolate the same weekend as I lost my mother was truly a trigger. I realised how short life could be (my mother was just 61 when she died) and that I wasn’t willing to waste any more of my precious life hating myself, being miserable and stressed and horrid to my family.

I began to experiment more fully with the principles and working with ‘Eat Whatever you Want’, and the idea of legalising forbidden foods, introduced M & S Chocolate Cheesecake into my life; I bought six packs of two slices at a time, kept them piled one on top of another in the fridge and bought more when the supply began to dwindle. I tuned in, sat down and noticed as I ate and soon discovered that when I allowed myself to eat what I was hungry for attentively, and legalised my previously forbidden foods, I no longer binged.

I had been using the gym three times a week whether or not I wanted to and now I tuned in to find out how I did want to move. I realised I didn’t like the gym, we got a dog and I began to walk outside daily, in the fresh air with the trees and sunshine. It was so satisfying for me and Twiglet loves it!

Tuning in helped me to take notice of myself, both physically and emotionally and what I began to notice, over and over, was that I was unhappy. I was tired, stressed by the pressure of my work and out of touch with myself. I began to support myself; attending whatever Beyond Chocolate events there were, doing weekly therapy with Sophie and, a little later training as a Fairy and beginning my training as a psychotherapist.

Over the next couple of years I changed my life dramatically using tuning in, my feelings and my physical sensations as my guide. I reduced my garden design workload by accepting only the clients I really liked; people who valued my contribution and were willing to pay me properly for it. That made a huge difference and my lessened workload left space for me to enjoy life in a new, exciting way.

Now I generally live my life at a slower pace and I love what I am doing. As a psychotherapist ( and Beyond Chocolate Fairy I see clients one to one and run workshops and am privileged to work with other women who are consciously making the most of their lives.

And what about my relationship with food and my body these days? Well, I generally eat when I am hungry, except when I haven’t made sure that there is home-made, delicious, nourishing food easily available, or when I’m tired and don’t take myself to bed. On these occasions I sometimes still reach for quick, easy things and I notice that they don’t satisfy or comfort me the way they used to. When I give myself time to pause I remember this, am able to notice my feelings, mostly let myself feel them and choose to gently move away from food towards whatever is truly nourishing.

My weight is stable and I am fit and comfortable in my body. I wear the same clothes size from year to year, dress in a way that pleases me and speak kindly to myself most of the time. I’d love to lose some weight and know that some day I will allow myself to; it was such a currency between my mother and me that I haven’t yet, and I know I will. I am just so thankful that it isn’t the be-all or end-all of my life any more! 


  1. Thank you for sharing that with us, Sarah, it was very moving and I find it fascinating the different ways we come to Beyond Chocolate and the different reasons behind our issues with food.
    My mother didn't mention my weight to me until I was post-natal, but I'd got the idea that I was over-weight from somewhere long before that and was already embarked on 20 long years of dieting/bingeing until I found Beyond Chocolate.
    I'm really glad that you have found the way through your issues with food and have reached a comfortable place - most reassuring!

  2. A beautifully touching story - good for you. And thank you for sharing it. x

  3. your article gives me hope. i read the BC book and started to apply the principles over a year ago. i havn't lost any weight yet (i have even put some on ) but when i look back i have gained so much more. my only gripe is that my yearly medical is coming up and i know that my weight will be a major issue for them. apart from that, after dieting since the age of 13 (i am now 55 ) i too am in a more comfortable place. thankyou sooooo much BC


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