Monday, 26 March 2012

How I talk about Beyond Chocolate

I am training to be a Chocolate Fairy. At a recent session, one of the more memorable discussions for me was that of honesty and testimony: how we remain authentic in our work spreading the Beyond Chocolate message.

Now, I really struggle with the prospect of being a Chocolate Fairy who tells people about how wonderful Beyond Chocolate and how much it’s changed my life, because I am still overweight.  I find it hard to believe that anyone would appreciate the changes that have occurred in my life over the past 3 years.  This may be true for some people I will speak to, they simply won’t be able to see the differences as my fat will be all they can see.  However, this assumption is largely based on my own insecurities and on my unsuccessful attempts to talk to people about Beyond Chocolate and elicit a positive response.

It occurred to me over the course of the training weekend why that was.  I always consider myself an honest and open person, I love to talk, especially when the subject is “me”.  At least that’s what I tell myself.  However, on closer examination I realise I don’t give people the details so I don’t really get the point across.  I talk about Beyond Chocolate in a more general sense.  I dabble in a bit of diet-bashing and make some very obvious comments to the detriment of the fashion industry, but I never really talk about my experiences or my relationship with food.  In fact when we were asked to think about this I realised I had blocked a lot of the pain from my memory.  

I had forgotten about the almost permanent feeling of guilt I had when I thought about food, which was pretty much all of the time.  The anxiety that I felt around eating food in restaurants or in friend’s homes, how I made choices based on whatever diet I was “on” at any one time instead of what I wanted or what my body was telling me that I needed.  I remember asking my friend on several occasions to fry onions in water instead of oil, she always accommodated but the shame I feel looking back at those times because I would binge on my own later.

The lack of guilt around food is the most significant change.  I don’t feel guilty eating food I enjoy anymore.  I feel unpleasant and experience regret when I eat food that feels wrong in my body.  What that food is depends on what day or time of day it is and what kind of mood I’m in and what I have been doing.  

Before I was constantly sneaking food and eating it in secret.  The boxes of chocolates I have bought under the guise of them being a gift then taking them home and guiltily consuming them at speed until the sticky chocolate clags up my mouth and I feel so thirsty and sick I swear I’ll never do it again.

I can’t say that I never binge now but I can say that I sometimes go very long periods of time without doing so.  I am going through a difficult stage at the moment and my episodes of overeating and bingeing have increased.  But I have something that I never had before… awareness.  I am not halfway through the box of chocolates before I realise it.   I know what I’m doing and I know why, most of the time, and I have tools to help me explore what I’m really stuffing down – usually anger.  Or what I am replacing with the food - usually love.

I know things about myself now that I simply had no idea about before my work with Beyond Chocolate.  I know that I overeat instead of living because it’s safer, nothing will change and I won’t have to face up to the fact that I create my destiny and things don’t just happen to those who are fortunate enough.  This is my work in progress and it won’t end.  I always want to be working to better myself but I also want to appreciate how far I have come, and it’s only by being honest and recalling what my life was like when I was endlessly dieting with no real hope of success, in any form, that I can truly see that.

I hope that I will run workshops one day, if I want to, because I do want to shout about it.  I want to scream that you are not alone and that it doesn’t have to be like this, to all of the women who feel that there is no hope and who are so tired they simply cannot go on in this battle with themselves over their bodies.   I want to do this because it’s true for me and my work with Beyond Chocolate is one of the most authentic things in my life.

Abbi Welch is training to be a Chocolate Fairy. If you would like to join our team, get an intensive dose of Beyond Chocolate for yourself as well as learn how to offer support to other women who want to stop dieting and have a healthy relationship with food and their body, read more about our Professional Training Programme.


  1. Absolutely hit the nail on the head Abi and thank you for your honesty. I have also experienced so many benefits from Beyond Chocolate that aren't the weight loss I joined Beyond Chocolate to achieve. I have identified a chorus of sneaky Gremlins, I have freed myself from the compulsion to eat when I'm not hungry, I can leave food I don't want, I don't eat in secret any more ... there are just so many different benefits to Beyond Chocolate and I'm sure you'll be a great Chocolate Fairy once you're running your own courses.

  2. What a moving and honest post. Thanks so much for sharing, and wishing you all the best on your journey.

  3. Wow, this stirred something deep inside me. The honesty. The awareness. It seems to me that you are already doing stirling work as a Chocolate Fairy. I wish you the very best of success for you future.

  4. Me too, fat on the outside, but so, so light on the inside!

  5. What a refreshing piece of honesty! I have been struggling so much recently. I am so grateful to read of a Beyond Chocolate fairy-in-training who is still overweight. It just makes Beyond Chocolate real for me. I recently commented on the video series- 'The moment when I knew I had to stop dieting'. My comment was that all of the contributors looked to be slim. Where are the people who are still overweight who have come to the conclusion that diets don't work? I am overweight, and determined never to diet again. But I'm desperately in need of progress in the Beyond Chocolate principles and ethos. I've put a lot of weight on in the last few years, even though I read the Beyond Chocolate book way back then, follow the Beyond Chocolate blogs, and even applied to be a Beyond Chocolate Fairy, (when I was fitter and healthier than I am now). Oh well. I just have to keep trying. But your blog post has really helped me. Sorry for rambling on!

    1. Thanks so much Abbi, truly that was just what I need! You are certainly well on the way to being a good Chocolate Fairy, well done! Its the honesty and your own experiences which are so encouraging. Real women need real experiences to help with real experience in their own lives. I too am struggling somewhat at present. Not sure quite why, I usually have a bit of a struggle in the new year, but this year I sailed through Jan and Feb with no problems. When my son announced he was on a weight watchers diet I sadly smiled inwardly with awareness and interest. Not at all surprised when a few weeks ago I asked his progress only to hear he had abandoned it, and "really should try and get started again." Just what I had expected! But back to myself, I have fallen into the trap just a little of beating myself up when I don't tune in, even asked my husband to make me some new laminated "tune in" cards for the kitchen, as I realised I just did not notice the gentle reminders any more, they were part of the kitchen! Yesterday I got up feeling hungry and felt I needed food constantly through the day, I felt weak and unwell, I still feel unwell this morning, but have accepted it. Not got up and gone without breakfast because I ate too much yesterday! Just got up and quietly ate my usual breakfast, leaving a little as I felt satisfied. Your blog was just the inspiration I needed to carry on quietly tuning in, looking back and realising, although yesterday was a bad day, I have come so, so, so far with beyond chocolate principles, I have simply forgotten the fear and quilt that food used to give me. No, I am not pencil thin, just a normal, slightly cuddly body, but at mid 50s, who wants to be a scrawny size 8 anyway? Usually, I feel healthy and well and am able to enjoy eating what I want, (limitations because I am dairy intolerant, which does make for difficulties) but on the whole, content to have food I love in the cupboards or frig, and knowing that |I can trust myself not to eat the whole lot in one go, or restrict myself to nothing! If I really feel like that food, ie, peanut butter, which I could not have in the house before, or I would eat the whole jar and then be sick :( Now, once in a blue mood I eat a thick sandwich with thick spread peanut butter. Maybe not for months, maybe again next week. But I am no longer scared to have it in the house! Yes, I am still learning all the time, and there are bad days, weeks, months, but oh, what a long, long, long way I have come since reading beyond chocolate 4 years ago. Thanks. Annon!

  6. Having attending one of the small group workshops I really think your honesty and reflections would be helpful and important.

    I've done a lot of training and group work in my time, including lecturing to big groupsl. The first principle is you must address the thing everyone in the room is thinking about. So if I was speaking on a subject that was currently in the news for example, I would mention the news story straight away, and deal with it, otherwise I know I don't have the full attention of the room. If you feel you are still overweight and running a group, it really does matter because those participants may well just be focusing on that. Of course they might not, but unless you talk about it, you'll never know.

    One of the things that strikes me about BC is when I read the forums it's clear that some people get fed up and often give up if they feel they've not lost weight. Sometimes go back to their old slimming clubs. I really feel it's essential to address this issue, otherwise you would be out of step with the members, (I mean you in terms of BC as an entity by the way). Personally I'm sure people have different goals and for some it will be having a better relationship with food, that's fine, but whatever it is, it needs to be honestly discussed.

  7. Thanks for your fantastic post, Abbi! I really recognise my own feelings about food in what you've said. Brings home to me what wonderful connection and support there is to be found in the community of Beyond Chocolaters!

  8. Abbi thank you for your honesty and sharing your awareness. Don't worry about people judging you for your size when you undertake workshops. The ones I attended I found there were women of all different sizes. Be honest about your story and where you are and the attendees will relate to you and no doubt you will relate to them.

  9. Abbi what wonderful thought provoking post. Thank you for being so honest as this really was inspiring. BC is so about so much more than weight loss. I really believe that the weight is a symptom of what is going on for us and when we address those symptoms the weight does go until we get to what is right for our bodies.


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