Transformation happens when you become willing to go deep and do the emotional work that’s required, but often that’s the scariest place to go. It’s tempting to use food to numb out and stay stuck.
But if you stay stuck you also stay miserable…so, although facing your pain can be hard it’s easier than wasting years of your life and so much emotional energy hiding from what you’re truly hungry for in life.
Join me and my special guest, Samantha Skelly, founder of Hungry for Happiness, as we dive deep into topics that impact all women – topics like loving the parts of you that you don’t want to put on Facebook, finding the courage to deal with your emotional pain, troubling belief systems that don’t serve you, questioning where you get your worth from and so much more.
In this episode you will…
- Understand how critical it is to begin any kind of health journey with loving yourself (opposed to hating or judging yourself) and how to actually do this
- Learn how to build up self-trust again by making “micro-decisions”
- Hear the 3 big lies women tell themselves and what you need to say to yourself instead
- Hear a real + raw interview between two women who have both overcome their food and body issues
- Find out more about Samantha Skelly here: HungryforHappiness.com (You can also get access to her 3-part video series.)
- Get my free e-book here: 5 Ways to Outsmart Your Fat Cells & Lose Weight Today
Hungry For Happiness [Full Text]
Jen: I am beyond excited to introduce you to my guest today. Samantha Skelly is here with me. What I know already is that you are going to love what she is going to share. Not only is she Canada’s leading emotional eating expert and founder of the Hungry for Happiness movement, she is also an international speaker. She’s an award winning everything.
Not only are you beautiful, you’re super smart and super nice. Sam is creating transformations for women all over the world when it comes to breaking the yo-yo diet cycle, as well as the binge eating.
We’re going to get pretty deep in where we’re going today, in terms of some of the stuff that we talk about. We speak the language in terms of our philosophy around what is this really about when we’re trying to lose weight but really what we need to do is get healthy and what blocks that.
Sam, thanks for being a guest today here with me. I’m super excited.
Sam: Thanks. Me too. Thank you so much for having me.
Jen: I want to just jump right in. We had a chance to connect just before the show started. Maybe share a little bit about why you are so deeply passionate about this work. I think that’s always great for listeners to hear. Somebody could look at you and think, “You’re thin. You’re beautiful. You have no idea what I’m going through,” and yet that is so not the case.
Sam: Absolutely. Taking it back, I grew up from 3-years-old as a child actress and a dancer. I was either on a stage or in front of the camera. My whole life was body was looked at under a microscope. I was either too skinny or too big, or not the right size. There was always this constant pressure on my body.
Looking back on it, I just powered through it and that’s just how I experienced life, because I was in the industry from such a young age. When I was 18-years-old I was thinking I need to figure out who I am outside of being an actress, outside of being a dancer, I want to go actually find who I am in the world. So I went travelling, I went to go find myself, like most 18-year-olds, “I’m going to go find my life purpose. What am I here for?”
I traveled to Australia and I was there for a few weeks. I hit this really interesting time where I felt this deep loss of significance and identity. I was no longer an actress, I was no longer an award winning dancer, I was just this girl travelling with a backpack trying to find herself.
My identity, my significance, came from trying to look good and be skinny. I can remember so clearly I was in Australia in a place called Manly Beach, and I remember looking at my body and just thinking, “Oh my gosh, I don’t have that defined six-pack,” I could feel myself gaining weight. I went into a little bit of a shock.
I remember someone talking about the cabbage soup diet. Maybe some of the listeners have done that diet. That was the first diet that I went on. I remember leaving the beach and going to grocery store, buying a shitload of cabbage, going home and Googling the recipe and making cabbage soup, and just eating it until I wanted to puke.
That was the first of many diets. I was on over 50 diets in less than four years. It was ridiculous. Multiple times of the same diet.
This cycle went on for four years. When I was in Australia I can remember being so obsessed with calories. I couldn’t look at food without thinking, “Where is this going to end up on my body? How many calories are in this?” It was a constant obsession. I was in one of the most beautiful places in the world with my best friend travelling and all I could think about was my body, calories, and food. It was pretty bad.
I was so obsessed to the point where if I ate 100 calories over I would do an obscene amount of jumping jacks before bed so I could feel good about myself.
Jen: It takes an emotional toll. You have this physical stuff that you’re doing, but then the emotional toll and the chatter that is starting to develop at such a young age.
Jen: Honestly, so many of my clients, probably like yours, they’ve been dieting or their moms would put them on diet sometimes since they were 10 or even younger.
Sam: Exactly. I hear that all the time, “I started a diet when I was 10 years old.” It’s just crazy.
Jen: It is. So what happened?
Sam: I ended up in the hospital, because I was so deprived of nutrients. I still didn’t learn my lesson. That cycle kept going for another four years until I hit a wall and realized if I keep doing this I’m going to ruin my life.
I got real with that reality and realized that I needed to go inward and really figure out, like we were saying, what are you actually hungry for, what is really going on at a core level that is perpetuating all of these behaviors. I got super clear with that for about three years, just really digging into the pain and figuring out what was really there.
Jen: Let’s stop there for a second. What do you think was the pivotal moment when you knew you needed to do that as opposed to exercise more? That emotional work is where the transformation happens and yet it’s the scariest place to go.
Sam: Absolutely. I’m a very logical person, so most things in my life I’m like A + B = C, and it works like that. In this area I was like, “It’s not working.” I was externalizing an internal problem. I was smacking restrictive diets, exercise plans, and shakes and pills, and a tea that makes you shit yourself, I was doing all of that stuff and it still was not helping with the core internal problem, because it’s all emotional. Physical weight on our body is a representation of the emotional weight that we’re carrying. It wasn’t computing with my logical brain and I thought, “Something has to give here. There’s a shift that needs to happen.”
Jen: Can we talk about that? I think the emotional aspect of what we’re hanging onto and, I don’t know if the word is manifest or the symptom, is often our external form. I know it’s true. We know it’s true. When you’ve been through it and you’ve been able to lose weight successfully, you’ve never just exercised your way out of it. You’re doing deeper work. That deeper work is where so much gets released.
Jen: I think that’s something we were chatting just before we started. You were talking about the difference between forced action versus inspired action, and about accepting and loving yourself and how that doesn’t mean you’re complacent with where you’re at. Let’s go there for a second, around what that means.
Sam: Absolutely. I think the weight loss is like a $100 billion industry. I was at a dinner last night and I said it was a $60 billion industry and one of the gentlemen at the dinner said it was more like $100 billion.
Jen: I’ve heard that same stat. I think I researched and saw $60 billion. Maybe it’s outdated data. But, not surprising, multibillion.
Sam: So the whole philosophy of that is band-aids on bullet wounds. The big corporations are marketing to our insecurities, which are making us buy into a corrupted system that doesn’t work, which leads to this diet-binge cycle, because we’re not actually looking at the core emotional reason as to why we’re overweight and overwhelmed. We’re just saying, “Let me try this.” The story that we create is, “I have no willpower. I’m a failure. I suck at life.”
Jen: “I’m not disciplined. I can’t do it.” Exactly.
Sam: That’s such a load of crap. It’s not that at all. The danger with that mindset is you develop that mindset with food and body, but it percolates into every area of your life. The “I have no willpower and I’m a failure,” that’s not going to be localized and exclusive to just dieting, you’re going to believe that in your career, your relationships, your relationship with money, all of the other things.
It’s extremely important that we start using inspired action, we start from a place of acceptance and love, accepting what is, loving what is, in the moment while having an intention of transformation. This is where people miss the plot. They’re so fearful of accepting, because they think if they accept themselves,…
Jen: “I’m not going to change. I’m going to keep gaining weight.”
Sam: “I’m going to be 300 pounds, I’m going to own 65 cats, and I’m never going to leave my house.” That’s not it at all.
This is one of the biggest mental blocks that we have to inspire the world to take is how can you love what is in the moment while having an intention of sustainable transformation. It’s absolutely critical that we start there or else we’re going to be caught up in this cycle that we’re all so familiar with, and that is how we are educated by the weight loss industry, “Let’s run away from what is. Let’s take action out of fear. Let’s deny what is and just go on this crazy diet and try to get to this goal.” Then when we get to the goal we think, “I’m here,” we relax, we settle back into our old patterns and gain all the weight back.
Jen: I always say that there is this culturally acceptable narrative for women. I’m a mom, I go to the school and I’ll hear women talking, especially when the kids were younger, you’d hear this banter back and forth and it would be, “I still haven’t lost my baby weight. I’m trying to lose it. I’m going to have to exercise more.” There are sort of all of these masked conversations where everybody says they’re fine. I joke for me there was kind of figuring out who I was after becoming a mom. My identity had changed, who I was had changed, and I had a really hard time finding people who were willing to listen, they didn’t have the skill set to really cope with my truth.
That’s where I think women get lost. They feel like if they can’t do it on their own that they suck. Yet we’ll see a financial planner, we’ll see a hairstylist, we’ll see somebody to do our nails, but we often won’t feel comfortable sharing or talking about our struggles with our health. It’s so crazy to me.
Sam: Absolutely. There’s a lot of shame around it, there’s a lot of guilt around it.
Jen: What’s the entry point for women? If somebody is listening right now who is feeling like, “I don’t love myself. I can’t accept myself at 180 pounds.” What is the new narrative or the new story that they need to grab onto to start to shift so that this change really can become possible?
Sam: It’s about loving the shadow parts of you, loving the “broken” parts of you. When we shame them, and we hate them, and we try to disconnect from them, we create separation within our body, which creates a lot of anxiety and stress and disconnect.
We have to look at the parts of us that we don’t want to put on Facebook and love them in order to heal them. Something I say all the time is we need to feel in order to heal. For women who have been caught up in a diet-binge cycle they’ve been all up in their heads, their minds have been running the show, that’s where all of this overwhelm and mental anguish is coming from, and they’re so disconnected from their bodies that they can’t actually feel what they want.
First of all, they can’t feel what they should be eating according to their body, because they’re so reliant and dependent on the weight loss industry. It’s absolutely essential that we reconnect mind and body, head and heart, get women back into their bodies, get them feeling. Using that pain in their body as a catalyst for growth, rather than being like, “It’s painful down there, I’m not going to go there,” lean into it. Pain is there for a reason. Pain is a divine teacher.
When we discount the pain, when we stuff it away, when we numb it with food we’re doing ourselves a massive disservice because we’re not putting ourselves into a place where we can actually grow and expand from that pain. We’re limiting our ability to grow. That at the end of the day is the saddest thing, because we are designed to expand. We’re a part of the universe, the universe is expanding, we need to expand.
That pain is there for a reason, but we shame it and we think it’s bad, we think we’re weak, etcetera.
Jen: I don’t know if anybody has said it better, actually. That pain is. For me, I didn’t want to feel my pain. For me, admitting what was really going on at that point in my life would mean that I was going to lose out on my hopes and my dreams. There was all of this stuff that if I truly admitted it then what. That was hard. It is scary stuff, but it’s also worse to stay. That stagnancy, you can think of a pond or something that just gets stagnant and gross and filled with awful things, or a clean fresh waterfall. Which one do you want to go to?
I think it takes courage. I think people like you in the world who share this message are so important because all of a sudden if somebody says it the right way you realize that your pain is not something to be embarrassed of, you’re human.
Sam: So human, yes.
Jen: We don’t often let our humanness have space in our real world.
Sam: That’s exactly it. Being human feels so good when we can embrace all parts of being human. The amount that we’re willing to go into our darkness is the amount that we have access to our life.
Jen: That’s so good. Say that again.
Sam: What did I say?
Jen: The amount you’re willing to go into your darkness is the amount that you have…
Sam: The amount that you have access to your life.
Jen: If you just stay at a 5 out of 5 all the time and never go to a 1, you can’t get to a 10, life is flat lined.
Sam: Exactly. Look at children. Children have such a range of emotion because they don’t give a shit. They’ll cry, they’ll scream, they’ll get angry, they’ll get frustrated, they’ll tell everybody how angry they are. Then two minutes later they’re like, “Life is amazing.”
Jen: They’re through it.
Sam: Right. We start off with this beautiful range when we’re younger and then eventually it’s like we kind of flat line and we’re told not to cry.
Jen: We’re being told to flat line.
Sam: Don’t cry. Don’t get angry. What are you crying for? Why are you so upset?
Jen: You’re fine.
Sam: For me, I love expressing anger. Not aggression, but anger. Anger is such a beautiful, powerful, creative energy. When I’m angry I can create the best stuff. I can go into my car and just scream my head off and release the anger and the energy that flows through my body while doing that is so powerful. Suppressing it, however, gets me into this chaotic state where I feel like I need to numb with food or wine or whatever it is. Not allowing myself to really let that emotion flow traps it and then the repercussions of that are just heavy.
Jen: So many women have been taught to not feel anger. So many women in my life, and my clients, have been given the message that it’s not appropriate to be angry, you can be sad.
Jen: So often I find that so many women bundle anger as sadness, because they don’t have any other way to express it. Yet from emotional intelligence research we know that there is a gift with every emotion. Anger is motivating. Anger is your cue that something is not working for you, something is out of balance in your life, there’s something that is crossing a boundary and there’s something that is not working for you. You have a choice there about what you choose to do and how you shift.
Sam: That’s exactly it. On my retreats I create safe containers for women just to go mental and go nuts and get super angry and release it. The thing is you don’t need to create meaning around why you’re getting angry. If you feel that emotion, let it out.
That’s why road rage is so common, because you’re in this safe container, no one is going to hurt you, no one is going to judge you, you don’t even know the people around you, and you can just go mental. Your body is looking for that release.
If we can be proactive about releasing that anger it’s so much more powerful. When you feel it be like, “I’m going to give myself a time out and I’m going to go release this anger.” Scream, punch, do whatever, provided that it’s not aggression towards someone else. That feels so good after. Our bodies are literally craving that. You don’t need a reason, just do it anyway.
Jen: A lot of my listeners are moms too, and I’ve got kids, and I can see them go through that wild emotional experience. Sometimes it will be like something really intense happening and then we get through it. They’re fine, I’m the one left with the feeling hangover, I’m the one that is totally spent from it and worried about it still. “Is everything okay?” Then I have to check myself.
It’s okay. Those are all just feelings. They had them, they felt them, they let them go. That’s the cycle of how we want to feel things.
Sam: That’s it.
Jen: I want to jump someplace else. We were chatting before and I have some notes here. Can we talk about what happens when we deny the shadow parts of ourselves? I think we’ve sort of been touching on that, but to get really explicit about it. Some people don’t even know what that means, that don’t even know what a shadow part of themselves is, or they think that the little bitchy voice inside their head that is so vile to them is just who they are, that’s a part of them.
I think it will be really interesting to shed some light. Sometimes these are new concepts, especially if you haven’t done therapy or you’ve never worked with a coach, or if you’re just slowly immersing yourself into any kind of transformative work. I’d love to hear your take on what you see that as.
Sam: Absolutely. To speak to what the shadow is, what the dark part us; it’s the part of us that we deny. It’s the part of us that we don’t want to fully own and take responsibility for. It’s certain judgments, it’s certain thoughts, it’s the way you feel about yourself, worthiness issues or lack of self-worth, “I am not lovable,” all of those kind of stories are a part of it and they’re a beautiful part of you.
The issue lies in separation, a segregation. Anything in the world that is separated creates tension. Look at religion, race, things that are divided and creating division that creates animosity, that creates tension, that creates chaos. We create that same environment in our bodies and within ourselves when we do not own the shadow dark parts of us. That’s what makes you whole. We’re not all these beings of light and love, that’s not what it is.
The totality of who we are encompasses the dark parts of us, the light parts of us, all parts of us together. When we can truly own that and use that for our growth and for our healing, it’s beautiful.
Jen: How is that different from somebody who might say, “I’m just a little bit insecure about that. Shadow, whatever, I just have a few insecurities.” When we talk about shadow self, it’s probably only in the last 10 years for me when I got really familiar with understanding what that is and how to work with that part of me, how does that differ, or does it differ from when a woman is aware or can be intellectually aware that she has some insecurities but would never consider those insecurities to be directly tied to or connected to that shadow part of herself? Thoughts or comments on that?
Sam: The shadow part of us, that dark part of us that we want to hide from the world is like those deep core beliefs of, “I’m not lovable. People are going to abandon me,” those really dark thoughts. For most people those are rooted in childhood. You felt unlovable, you craved love from a parent, you’ve been holding on and reinforcing those core beliefs. They’re super uncomfortable to have and they create pain in the body, so we kind of want to push them away. That’s what creates that separation and segregation. Anything in the world that is divided – race, religion – that creates tension, that creates animosity. We create that same environment in our body when we don’t own and take responsibility and love the shadow parts of us.
Feeling unlovable, for instance. We have to love up on that insecurity and on that pain so we can alkalize it, so we can amalgamate it with the wholeness of who we are. That’s what creates the wholeness of us, the light, the dark, the everything, and owning that.
Jen: Do you think every woman has that as a core thing? Is there an element in all of us of that, that unworthiness, unlovableness? I’m curious. The women I work with there is definitely a theme of unworthiness and either striving to get love from somebody that they can’t attain it from or the love that they need or so desperately want to feel, they’ll either put themselves in relations or pick men who are unavailable, unresponsive, distant, so the pattern will repeat, or they’ll create friendships with frienemies. I see that when we start to dissect or really take a microscope and go into their life you see it in so many other areas. Do you find that?
Sam: I wouldn’t say that all women suffer from the core belief of “I am unlovable,” however worthiness comes up with every single person that I work with. Every single one. “I am not worthy. I am not worthy enough. I am not deserving.” Those core beliefs and those ways of operating come up all the time, which affect literally every facet of her life. It’s very common.
Fear of abandonment, that’s not as common. That happens if a father left or a mother left, so they have that fear of becoming attached to someone, so they’ll have more avoidance of personalities when it comes to relationships and so forth. Worthiness comes up with the majority of the women that I work with.
Jen: Mine too. I have a lot of women who try to get their worth from doing, from their achievements, from their accomplishments. It’s such an addictive cycle, you get praise or recognition, money, prestige, or whatever, so they think, “The more I do the better I am.” What I do becomes who I am, as opposed to who you are is who you are and you’re worthy anyway regardless of what you do.
Sam: Absolutely. We hustle for our worth and we externalize our worth. We’re worthy. You’re worthy just because you are.
Think about your babies. You don’t love them because they did something or achieved something. You just love them because they’re your baby. Why is it different for us? It’s not. It’s not different at all.
It needs to be you are worthy just because, it doesn’t matter what you do, it doesn’t matter how much money you make, who you are, who you’re dating, what you look like. You’re worthy because you are.
Jen: Well said. I think what I want to give listeners today, from somebody like you who has so much experience in breadth and depth of working with so many different clients, what are your top three to five key takeaways that somebody listening might go, “This has really resonated. Everything resonated. I want to take some action. I want to start to see some real transformation. I’m tired of what I was doing. I know I need to do something different.” Where do they start?
Sam: I’ll talk about three concepts and then I’ll give a resource as well.
Number one, trust is a huge thing. If you are really committed to creating transformation in your mind and body, you need to develop trust. For me, I had zero trust with my body, with everything in life. I always relied on other people. Finding things that you can be in integrity with, saying something and then doing something, to build up that trust agreement with yourself.
It could be as simple as, “I trust myself to wake up every morning and have a glass of water with lemon in it.” That’s something little that we can do that allows us to rebuild that trust. I trust myself to do my affirmations in the morning. I trust myself to speak nicely to myself. Whatever it is.
When we can build up trust on a micro level it’s so much easier for us to use it on a macro level. Trusting ourselves is super important.
Listening to our bodies, beginning to really figure out what a visceral yes and what a visceral no is in our body. We have this internal beautiful guidance, this wisdom that truly can guide our human experience if we choose to allow it. Logic is valued of intuition these days, so we think we need to over-think things. When we can really tap into our bodies and figure out what is a yes and what is a no, it relieves so much stress, anxiety, and overwhelm because we’re trusting something bigger than ourselves.
Jen: That’s such a good one.
Sam: Number one, trusting yourself. Number two, distinguishing between a yes or a no. It’s as simple as literally ask yourself a definite yes question. “Is my name Samantha? Am I in San Diego? Am I on a podcast?” Your body will say yes, yes, yes. Then when you ask yourself no questions, we all know that feeling, that sinking, that heaviness feeling. We all know what that feels like. If we can really get clear on how that feels in our bodies, we can start asking questions.
Number three, using curiosity to explore your shadow. I wonder why I feel like that? I wonder where that came from? The self inquiry piece is super important for healing. Rather than judging or wronging, own it, take responsibility for it. Observe it. You’re just an observer, “I wonder why I feel like that? Interesting. If I chose to not feel like that, what would that be like? What would that look like? Who do I need to become to not feel that?” That would be the third thing.
Jen: Awesome. I think anybody who is sort of curious about how to begin creating true change in their life those are the best places to start. We build up trust with – what did you call it?
Sam: Micro decisions.
Jen: That’s how we erode trust in the first place. “I’m going to get up early,” then we hit snooze. “I’m going to go to the gym today,” then don’t go. We lie to ourselves throughout the day and that’s what erodes our faith in our abilities. Doing this consciously can’t help but do the opposite. I think that’s so beautiful.
What’s the resource that you were going to share? I think that people are going to really want it.
Sam: Just pop onto HungryforHappiness.com, I have a free video series. Hop on there and absorb all that information. If you have questions about anything, just reach out to me. I’m very active on Facebook and email, so if you have any questions or want to go deeper, let me know. I’m here to support and help.
Jen: We’ll have all of your links in our show notes. For everybody listening, if you want to find out more about Samantha Skelly, which I think you should, just make sure you pop down to find out where to go. HungryforHappiness.com is your main website, right?
Jen: Awesome. Thank you so much for joining me today. It’s been so awesome to talk. I think that you’re up to a world of good and so many women need this, people like us in this space to combat that $100 billion crappy diet industry and affect true change.
Sam: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me. It was totally great.
Jen: Thanks to everybody for tuning in and listening to another episode of the Energy to Thrive Podcast. We’ll be back again next week with another amazing guest. That’s all for now. Bye.