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Have you ever tried so hard to achieve something that you made yourself completely miserable in the process? Perhaps so miserable that the entire journey didn’t even feel worth it by the end?

Five steps for retraining your brain and making weight loss about ease, love, and compassion.This is how I felt the first time I had some pretty big weight loss. I starved myself down to a size two, but it was such an unhappy process that I didn’t even enjoy it when I got there.

I’d lost weight, but I still felt the same inside: discontented, scared, and destined to struggle with my weight forever.

It’s no surprise I put the weight back on – by making myself miserable with my thinking, I wanted to comfort myself with food just as much as ever. (You might be familiar with this cycle.)

It wasn’t until I visited Paris for the first time and started to observe a different approach toward food & eating that I experienced the beginnings of a mindset shift.

I realized that shaming myself into losing weight and dieting out of fear and disgust were never going to create the sustainable change I wanted. Instead, I had to bring elegance, self-compassion, and more ease to my weight loss journey.

In this episode, I’m sharing five steps you can take to retrain your brain and take a new approach to weight loss. Retraining your mind and thinking new thoughts isn’t an easy undertaking, but it’s one of the most worthwhile things you’ll ever do in your life.

What You Will Discover:

  • How we can bring greater elegance (simplicity + effectiveness) to weight loss.
  • Why weight loss begins with your mind, not your body.
  • How I finally ended the struggle with my own weight (and even more so with my own mind!).
  • Five steps for retraining your brain and making weight loss about ease, love, and compassion.
  • Why losing weight should be fueled by love and excitement for your future self, rather than fear and dislike of your current self.

Featured on the Show:

Episode Transcript:

Abraham Hicks says, “There is no happy ending to an unhappy journey.” And this applies to everything, from making more money, to growing your business, to creating better relationships. And it especially applies to weight loss.

Bonjour, and welcome to the French Kiss Life podcast, where personal development meets style. I’m Tonya Leigh, certified master life coach, and the hostess of this party where we explore how to live artfully and well. Each week, I’ll be sharing inspiring stories, practical tips, and timeless wisdom on how to elevate the quality of your everyday and celebrate along the way. Let’s dive into today’s episode.

Well hello, hello, beautiful people. Welcome to this week’s podcast. What a fun week. So in case you did not join the Week of Joie de Vivre, you have to know, it is going on right now. And I am just so inspired and so happy when I go onto my social media feeds and see all of you sharing your challenges and how you’re adding more joy into your everyday. So if you haven’t joined us, head over to frenchkisslife.com/joy - it’s not too late. It’s never too late, my friends, never.

So, now it is time for a community spotlight. This is the part of the show where I get to highlight someone in the community who has benefitted from French Kiss Life. And today’s spotlight is on the beautiful Sarah Vossler, who also happens to be one of my Slim, Chic, and Savvy students. But Sarah left a five-star review on iTunes and here’s what she said.

“Changed my life… Like Tonya, I was the best dieter ever. Unfortunately, the changes never stuck. I joined her Slim, Chic, and Savvy program after listening to her podcast. My life is changing for the better. I even went for a jog today and I have not enjoyed running in the past. Thank you for what you do and for convincing me to invest in myself.”

Well, thank you, Sarah. Thank you for this review and thank you so much for being a part of the SCS community. You all know I love you and it always is so rewarding for me to see when you are making changes from a place of love, from a place of joy, from a place of abundance, which is the best way to make changes. And as someone who used to diet all of the time and, just like you, Sarah, it never stuck, I know that the work that needs to happen in order for us to lose weight and to keep the weight off is not going to be found in a diet. It’s found within us. It’s found by letting go of all the BS that’s holding us down and weighing us down quite literally. And so, girl, you keep running and keep enjoying those runs. I’m super, super proud of you.

Let’s talk about elegant weight loss. Yes, weight loss can be elegant. So, the definition of elegance is simplicity and effectiveness. And I want to talk about how to apply elegance to losing weight.

I know that this is something that many women in the community struggle with. And maybe you’re here because you know about my story. I used to weigh over 200 pounds. I was, at one point, a size 20, and then I literally starved myself down to a size two. And at a size two, guess what, I was still miserable, but just in a smaller body. And I started to come to this realization that what I was really seeking was peace of mind. I was really seeking having a loving relationship with my body, which, I hate to break it to y’all, weight loss does not guarantee that.

So I’m going to give you four simple steps to losing weight. Now, I say they’re simple because when you hear them they are, but the practice of them is not so simple. It’s hard because what you’re really doing is you’re retraining your brain to think in a very different way, and that takes staying curious with yourself, it takes watching how you think and constantly redirecting your thoughts.

The way I like to describe it to clients, I’m like, it’s like having a puppy. I don’t know if any of you all have ever had a puppy, but when you’re training them, you constantly have to take them outside. And then they come back in the house, and inevitably, they’re going to pee or poop on the floor again. But you do that over time and it becomes their norm just to go outside to go to the bathroom.

Now, occasionally they’re still going to pee or poop in the house when they’re sick and they’ve been left in the house too long or what have you. And our brains are the same way. We just need to keep taking our brains outside where we want them to go and train our brains how we want to think.

Because here’s the problem with the way a lot of people are going about weight loss – and trust me, I did all of this. We focus on the action without focusing on the thinking. And so we go on diets, we try all these crazy supplements, we start working out and doing these crazy workout plans, all the while still thinking like an overweight person. And you will always act out who you think you are.

You may be able to white knuckle it for a while, but inevitably, we are who we believe ourselves to be. So if you believe yourself to be an overweight person, you will always come back to that. And that was my problem. I had this story that I would always struggle with my weight, that something was wrong with me. And so I tried really, really hard to lose weight. And I could lose weight. But inevitably, the weight would come back on, until I learned the steps that I’m going to teach you in this podcast. So, are you all ready?

But before I give them to you, I just want to give you a little bit of context as to how I woke up to this. So, you all know by now that my story originated in Paris; the story of French Kiss Life. And on that first trip, I was just mesmerized by how I saw people eating.  So I would watch these slim women sitting at a table for two hours really enjoying their food. And at the end, they would maybe have a little bit of dessert.

And I was like, how is this possible? How can they eat these rich delicious foods and still not be overweight? And I realized that it was about so much more than what you eat. That is a part of the puzzle, but it’s also about how you think. It’s also about how you eat.

And so I started to really dive into the psychology of naturally slim people. I began to discover that we have this thing called a brain that’s really powerful. And when we use it for us instead of against us, we can create so many things in our lives, including weight loss. And with that said, I also know, because I was a nurse for almost 15 years, that there is a biochemical element to weight loss that I’m not going to go into in this podcast because that’s a whole other program within my Slim, Chic, and Savvy program that walks you through the nitty-gritty of weight loss. And with that said, what I’m going to share with you in this podcast, it all falls under this umbrella.

So, here are the four simple steps to elegant weight loss. So, step number one is the hardest. And I know this from my own experience. But step number one is to accept where you are. And the reason why this is so hard for almost all of us, especially when it comes to weight loss, is that we have this belief that, in order to change, we have to fight with what is. Because if we accept what is, we believe that we will not change it. But the opposite is actually true.

When we accept ourselves as we are, then we have the power to change it. So here’s how I want you to think about it, because, in life, everything is energy.

So, imagine that you want to go left but you’ve got your back faced to the left and you are fighting with your right. You’re looking to the right and you’re fighting with it. Your energy is being channeled towards what you don’t want. Your energy is moving in the opposite direction of where you want to go.

And I’ll share with you what this looked like for me, because it looks different for all of us. But it would be me getting on the scale and looking at a number and just cursing the scale, fighting with my body, telling my body it looked disgusting, telling myself I was such a failure and such a loser.

I was channeling my energy away from what I wanted and towards everything I didn’t want. And because what you focus on grows, that was all that was growing in my life. That’s all I could see. And guess what – I felt miserable. And guess what I wanted to do when I felt miserable – yep, eat. That was my cycle; tell myself how I was disgusting, how I was a failure, feel miserable, and then go eat my bag of Cheetos.

But, here’s the good news, you all; when I started to focus on my internal more than my external, that is when my external changed. And this is the problem – and this doesn’t just apply to weight loss. This applies to everything. We’re so focused on our outer worlds and trying to control it and manipulate it and we are abandoning where the real change happens, which is within us. When you change inside, everything outside of you changes.

When you become a woman who is naturally slim inside, your outside will begin to match it. When you become a wealthy woman on the inside, your outside will begin to match it. When you become a woman in love on the inside, love is going to start showing up everywhere. But you have to accept where you are first. And it’s hard.

Now, I want to be really clear, because again, I’ve been there.  And I know what it’s like to look at your body and focus on all the things that you don’t like and to focus on your fat. And I’m going to be really honest with you all – I was never able to get to that point where I loved my fat.

And I’ve been thinking about that, like, why was I never able to get to that point? And I think, for me, it was because I know that love didn’t put it there. It was put there out of fear.

So even though I couldn’t get to a place where I looked at my body and could be like, “Oh I love all this extra weight on me,” I was able to get to a place of acceptance and really learning to focus on other things that felt a little bit better. So basically, I stopped fighting with it and I accepted it because I began to understand, if I wanted to change it, me fighting with it was not working.

What is the quote? “The definition of insanity if doing the same thing over and over again and expecting it to change.” I had fought my body for so long and that approach was not working. And so I knew I needed a different approach. And so I know some of you are listening to this and you’re thinking, “But Tonya, I don’t like this extra weight.” And I’m not suggesting that you learn to love it, but I am strongly encouraging you to figure out how you can accept it in order to change it.

So that’s step number one; accept where you are. And then step number two is to decide where you want to be, to decide what kind of body you want for yourself, how much you want to weigh, get very clear. And this is actually where I see women selling themselves short on both ends. So on one hand, there are women who want to be so super skinny that when they tell me their ideal weight, I’m like, tell me why you want to be that way. Like, what’s going on here?

Because to maintain that weight considering how tall they are and their age and all of those things, it’s almost unrealistic. So I feel like they’re setting themselves up for a life of struggle to maintain such an extreme weight.

But on the other hand, there are women who will tell me a weight and I’m like, “Really? If you could create the body you wanted, that’s what you’d want to weigh?”

So, for example, I was coaching a woman not too long ago who, her entire adult life, she has weighed about 190 pounds and she has this story that this is just the way it is. And she’s around 5’5. And so when I asked her, I said, “Tell me, if you could weigh anything, what would you want to weight?” And she was like, “If I could just get down to 170.”

And I said, “That’s what you would choose? If you could weigh anything, that’s what you would choose?” And she was like, “No, if I could choose any weight, I would choose to weigh 150 pounds.” And the reason why she was not choosing that number for herself, the reason why she was not choosing that body for herself is because she had a story that it was impossible, only because she’s never experienced it before.

But what I told her, I said, “You know what, there’s always a first time of experiencing something.”  It’s the same thing as saying, “You know what, I’ve never made six figures a year so it’s just not possible.” Yeah it is. It is possible. Go out there and see how possible it is. And so for my client, she decided she wants to weigh 150 pounds, even though right now it feels impossible, only because she’s never done it before, also, when she thinks about her living in that body, it’s exciting and it feels very healthy.

And so for you, like, really think about what kind of body you want to create for yourself. And that leads me to the next step; commit to that decision. And, y’all, there is a big difference between wanting something and committing to it.

I have clients who will come to me and they’ll be like, yeah, I really want to lose weight, or I really want to grow my business, or I really want to find the love of my life. But the truth is, they’re in a stage of wanting. They’re not in a stage of commitment.

I can tell the difference when a woman comes to me and she’s like, “I’m committed to making six figures this year.” There’s a different energy to it. It’s like it’s done, now she just needs to figure out how to do it, right? She’s committed to the result that she wants to create. And so the same goes for weight loss.

I remember, for me, sitting in Paris and there was a shift within me and I was like, I am committed to figuring this out. I am committed to creating a healthy body from the inside out. I am committed to a new way of being.

Now, the rest was a little sloppy. It’s not just like I woke up the next morning and I’m like, it’s done, right? I had to constantly work on my commitment. I had to constantly know when I was out of my sweet spot and get back into it, which, by the way, the sweet spot is something we use in Slim, Chic, and Savvy. It’s you really getting clear on what that future is for you, and then we work through a process to get you there.

But the thing I want you to know about commitment is that you’re going to fail. You’re going to have missteps. That’s all part of the process. That’s all part of living, right? But are you committed to your goal? Are you committed to your decision when it comes to weight loss and your body?

And then that leads me to step number four, and that is to practice living as if you’re already there. This one is huge because so many of you think that once I get there, then I’ll be able to be the woman that I imagine myself to be. You work on the doing and the having first before working on the beingness. But it’s who you are being that’s creating your entire life.

And so that step must come first. Being the woman at your goal – and again, this applies to so much more than weight loss. It applies to everything. But specifically, when it comes to weight loss, I want you to think about that version of you, who’s lost the weight.

She feels great in her body. She is loving life. She’s wearing the clothes she wants to wear. She’s feeling great. She’s confident, all of those things. And I want you to really imagine how she thinks, how she feels, how she speaks to herself, how she eats, what she eats. And the process to practice living in that place now, not one day when.

So here was my pattern; I don’t know why we do this to ourselves because I know I’m not the only one. But I had this belief, like, when I finally lose the weight, then I’ll eat like everybody else. And too me, everybody else was like, you just eat what you want to eat.

So I would lose the weight, and next thing you know, I’m eating whatever I want and then the weight is coming back on. And I started to realize, no, the future me, the one who has lost the weight and keeps it off, she is very mindful about what she puts in her body. She loves herself so much, she wants to put only the best in her body. She doesn’t want to stuff herself. She loves herself too much to do that.

And so I had to start acting as if I was already there. I had to start changing my thoughts slowly but surely because, again, this is not an overnight transformation. It took me probably two years, maybe even more, to get to that place where I finally felt like I was her. I looked in the mirror and I’m like, “Oh my gosh, there you are. I’ve been practicing you for so long and now here you are.”

And this is also where I see you all tripping yourself up. You’re saying things like, “Well that’s not me, Tonya.” No, it’s not you yet because you’re so busy practicing the old you; the old you that’s created the life you have today. The new you, you have to practice. You have to think like her. You have to feel like her. You have to do things like her and eventually you become her.

So I remember thinking that my ideal self, like the woman in my future, the woman I wanted to create, she just had no drama about food. In fact, she rarely thought about food. But who I was, was someone that thought about food 24/7, right?

And so I had to catch myself in those moments where I’m sitting at a table with friends and all I’m thinking about is, “Did I order the right thing? Is that a good food or is that a bad food?” I had to constantly redirect my attention because the version of me sitting at that table that I wanted to be, she doesn’t think about food. If you think about it, naturally slim people don’t sit around and obsess about food all of the time.

They just eat when they’re hungry and they stop when they’re elegantly satisfied. And so I had to practice redirecting my attention, thinking a little bit different, feeling a little bit different until, one day, I realized, oh wow, I don’t even think about food unless I’m eating. And that, you all, is a miracle. It truly is because I was so obsessed with food. I was obsessed with not eating it and eating it.

I was obsessed. I would be sitting there having breakfast thinking about what I was going to have for lunch. And then I would be thinking what I was going to have for dinner while I was having lunch. It was a constant obsession. And now I think about all of the time that I spent thinking about food, I could have learned several new languages. I could have learned all kinds of things.

But I had my energy going towards everything I didn’t want. And so this process was about me redirecting my energy towards what I did want. And it is a practice, which leads me to step number five, fail and start again.

And this is where you all have a hard time. You all are falling off that wagon. I hear that all of the time, “I fell off the wagon.” Like, you’re so dramatic about it. And then that makes you feel terrible, and then you start running these thoughts of, like, why even bother? This isn’t going to work for me. I’m never going to figure this out. And you spiral into your familiar patterns.

I tell my clients all of the time, “Hey, listen, there is no wagon.” There is no wagon to fall off of. You’re constantly learning. You’re constantly growing. When you fail, quote en quote, which I don’t even like that word but I think I use it just for the context because we can all understand what that means. But you’re just learning. And what if you had that same grace with yourself?

Like, okay, I overate, let’s figure out why, and you stop making it a big deal and then you just recommit. You start again. But that’s not how most of us treat ourselves, right? We’re so mean to ourselves. We’re so hard on ourselves.

Can you imagine if your kid fell down, you just kick them? Like, “Get up, you’re such a loser.” No, you’re like, “Oh, honey, are you okay? What happened? Let’s figure it out. Okay, let’s get up and start again. Let’s walk again.” But we don’t treat ourselves like that.

And so we continue to spiral in these very self-destructive patterns that don’t lead us towards what we want. What if, the next time you overate, you’re like, “Oh that’s fascinating, let’s see what’s going on? You’re still amazing. You’re still a beautiful person. You’re still going to get there, this is all part of the process. It’s no big deal. Let’s just figure out why.”

Imagine how much quicker you would get to the place you want to be, because when I think about my future self, she’s so kind to me. She knows that when I fell, she’s like, “Oh yeah, babe, that’s part of the process. Let’s get up and let’s go again.” That is elegant weight loss because it’s filled with love, it’s filled with grace, it’s filled with grit and gumption. And to me, that is at the core of elegant weight loss. It’s the energy in which you are creating the weight loss because, again, as Abraham Hicks says, there is no happy ending to an unhappy journey.

This process is fueled by love and joy and excitement for the woman you’re becoming, not out of fear and scarcity and self-loathing, because you can lose weight through fear and scarcity and self-loathing, and what I can tell you from someone who knows is that when you look in the mirror, you’re still the same you, just with a smaller body because wherever you go, there you are.

But when you approach your weight loss from the inside out, it is sustainable. It’s full of love. You stop trying to rush to get there and you just focus on who you’re being in the here and now. And inevitably, I see it with my clients.

I had one gal in the last Slim, Chic, and Savvy who lost 20 pounds during the program. And she did it form a place of love. And she was talking about how it felt full of ease and full of grace. And she was still able to create the result that she wanted.

And I see it being applied not only to weight loss but creating more money, finding the loves of our lives, I mean, all the things. Because at the end of the day, the reason why you want anything is because of the feeling you think having that thing will give you. And so start from that place. And that, my friends, is how you create elegant weight loss.

It is time for a J’adore, the part of the show where I get to share something I love with you. And, you all, I love sharing the things that I discover, the things that are making my life easier or more beautiful or just help me French Kiss Life even more. So, the upcoming J’adores are going to be some of my fall favorites because, in case you haven’t noticed, at least where I am, it’s getting a little bit more crisp, a little chill in the air.

Fall is almost here, and so it’s that time of the year where I start to think about being more cozy.  I think about fabrics that feel warm, I think about scents, just all the cozy things. And for this J’adore, I have to share something that I recently bought and I have to just tell all the people about it.

It is an investment and – I try not to use but that often – it’s definitely a worthwhile investment because I believe in investing in classic pieces; pieces that you can wear year after year and it never goes out of style. And this J’adore is definitely going to be a staple in my fall wardrobe.

So here’s what it is. I just bought a new Burberry cape that is stunning. It’s called the Icon Cape. And I like it because it’s reversible. On the front is the typical Burberry pattern and then, on the flipside, it’s black. So I can switch it up. I can get many looks out of this cape.

And I just have to give a shout-out to Burberry because I find that the brand was really starting to feel stale. It was very stuffy and I just felt like it was time for an evolution. I basically wasn’t really interested in Burberry unless I was looking for a trench coat.

And they brought on a new designer, I think in 2018, Riccardo Tisci, who is this Italian guy, young Italian, who was actually the designer at Givenchy and then he left and went to Celine for a year, and then he ended up at Burberry. And I don’t know if you’ve checked out their latest collection, but wow. Like, stunning stuff.

And it’s still feels like Burberry. It’s still classic, but it definitely has more of an edge to it. And so, with all of that said, if you want to see the cape that I’m talking about, just head to frenchkisslife.com/cape. And if you’re looking for one of those investment pieces to add to your wardrobe this fall, I highly recommend it. It truly is beautiful and so versatile. You can wear it with a dress, you can wear it with jeans. You can get a lot of use out of this and those, to me, are the best investments.

Okay, my friends. That’s it for today. I hope you have a lovely, lovely week. Go out there and French Kiss Life and I will see you in the next podcast.

If you enjoyed this episode and you want to dive even deeper into the French Kiss lifestyle, let’s start with a makeover; a mindset makeover. You can download my free training, The 3 Mindset Makeovers Every Woman Needs by visiting www.FrenchKissLife.com/mindset – because after all, mindset is the new black.

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