Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Celebrating a birthday...and 10 years of a life Beyond Chocolate

As I write this post I am getting ready to fly off to Rome and celebrate my 40th birthday which will include lots of good food, cake and old friends. Forty years old - wow! It's funny, I still feel like a teenager (and sometimes like a toddler!) and yet I can also see how I've changed over the years, especially the last decade.

One of the biggest changes over the past 10 years has been my relationship with food and my body. It was around my 30th birthday that I decided to stop dieting for ever and embark on a journey which has touched every part of my life. I never imagined back then just how far reaching this decision would be. At the time, it was just the only possible answer to years of frustrated and failed dieting, to constantly worrying about food and my weight, to the despairingly predictable yo-yoing between deprivation and bingeing. And it was. It was, and still is, the only way I know to feel in control and in balance around food and how I feel about my body. 

And yet it goes so much further than that because Beyond Chocolate is about so much more than simply feeling happy with the way I eat and comfortable in my body. Living a life Beyond Chocolate has shaped so many other aspects of my life...

I am kinder, more tolerant and generally 'softer' these days and I know that this is mostly due to being kinder, more tolerant and 'softer' with myself.  I used to be so hard on myself. I would spend the whole time berating myself for being fat and out of control, for failing at diets, for being weak and lacking willpower. And I was hard on others too. I was quick to judge, impatient with weaknesses and unforgiving of faults. These days the kindness and compassion I show to myself, I also show to others. The more I like myself, the more I seem to like everyone else.

I have also become much better at setting boundaries, at protecting myself and generally at saying 'no'. Overeating and being overweight went hand in hand with desperately wanting to be loved,  needed and appreciated. The more I squashed and moulded myself to fit in with other people's expectations, the more I ate to deal with the feelings of anger, resentment and frustration that often came with it. I buried those feelings under a mountain of food and let my fat say 'no' for me. I am much better today at dealing with the demands of a relationship, at taking care of myself and making sure that my needs are met. Learning how to say 'no' to myself and others has been life changing and, ironically, I believe it has made me a more lovable, supportive and appreciated person.

There are many other changes that I can see as a direct result of transforming my relationship with food and my body: I don't compare myself to other women and put myself in competition with them all the time anymore. I don't do it with the women I know and I don't do it with the women I see on TV or in the magazines (in fact, I don't really read magazines anymore). I like the way I look (on most days) and follow my own instinctive brand of fashion. It's affected the way I deal with illness, the way I parent and, of course, it has shaped my career!

I have developed a real passion for cooking. Once the diet foods were out of the equation and I could truly eat whatever I wanted, a whole new world of ingredients and dishes opened up to me and I have embraced this love affair with the kitchen whole heartedly. I'm thrilled that this passion has also become part of my job as being the 'Kitchen Fairy' and passing it on is hugely gratifying.

There are so many other things I could talk about. So many other areas of my life which have been touched by this wonderful journey...by living my life Beyond Chocolate but I really must go and dig out my strappy heels and paint my toenails. 

So I'll leave you with a question. How has Beyond Chocolate changed your life beyond food and body confidence, or if you're a newbie, how do you think it could?


  1. I am a relative newbie so it took a bit of thought to identify the ways in which BC is changing me. I have come up with something, however.

    I will also be celebrating my 40th this year - in July - and, unlike most of my friends, I'm quite happy about it; I see it as a milestone - I have overcome quite a lot of difficulties over the years and have lasted a lot longer than was originally predicted! So I have decided to have a party - quite a big deal for the child who always sat in the corner at her birthday parties, sulking because she thought people had only come for the cake and not because they liked her. My party is to have a Dickens / Victorian theme and people are invited to dress up.

    I was in turmoil for a while after I made this idea public and people started to get enthusiastic about it. What would I wear? Would I look awful and fat? Would everyone else look better than me? Then I hit upon the perfect costume - something very Nancy-esque and flattering, for someone who has been blessed with big boobs and a curvy bum! I got the costume sorted and have now begun to see the whole thing in a new light. I have thrown myself into planning this party - the food (Mrs Miggins -style pies, cakes(!)), the venue, the music - and am absolutely determined to enjoy myself fully and not sulk in the corner, not even for a minute.

    So far, this has definitely been the biggest change that I have seen since I started working with the BC principles. I don't always manage to harness that confidence but it's happening more often than it used to.

  2. Happy 40th - I hope you enjoy the sun, food and fun of celebrating.
    My biggest change is that I no longer feel compelled to eat whenever food is available and that's freedom for me!

  3. Happy Birthday, Audrey! I hope your weekend is everything you hope for.
    My 40th birthday was last month, and the beginning of a slow dawning - I had friends take me out for lunch, my in-laws extended their visit to be with me, my Facebook page was full of greetings from all over the world. Finally, I realised that I am loved, as I am, not when I am at my goal weight. It's given me the strength to really embrace the philosophy, and I'm just over a week into the overeating e-course, and feeling much happier. I know it won't be plain sailing, but I'm happier in my skin, and that's a big step... Best birthday present ever, to be free of the craziness around food, no matter if it takes me till I'm 50.

    It's too early to tell how it will change me in other areas, but I'm optimistic...

  4. I read Beyond Chocolate a few years ago and gave up dieting. I have not whole heartedly embraced all of the principles but I am still cultivating a sense of self acceptance. I have not weighed myself for years now and my days are no longer controlled by the scales. I have no idea what I weigh but know that I am healthy and now quite like much of what I see when I look in the mirror. This has been the biggest sense of freedom.

    I see BC as a mini revolution against the stereotyped images of women that the media portray. BC philosophy is filtered through to the girls (age 9-16) in the youth group that I run.

    I am training to be a psychotherapist and when my training is complete would love to train to be a Chocolate Fairy too. BC helped me come back to myself and whilst I am still finding who I am it is a wonderful journey.

    Love, light and blessings,

    Natalie x


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