Myjanne Jensen interviews Jenn Hand—food coach, creator of Healing From Within and founder of www.jennhand.com – a full-service boutique that offers coaching and an online program that enables women to transform their relationship with food, weight, body, and eating. Jenn knows from first-hand experience what it is like to think being thin will solve everything.
Q: You are a holistic health advocate, tell me what exactly it is you do in your work?
A: I’m a food coach who helps women find freedom around food and weight. I work with women of all ages, coaching them through the relentless battle they have around eating and the war on their bodies. So many women in our culture have spent their entire lives either on or off a diet, so I help them learn to how find a “normal” way of eating, accept their bodies, and be free from thinking about food 24/7!
Q: What lead you to do this work?
A: I spent almost 12 years battling all-over-the-place eating. It began back in high school. I would binge to deal with my emotions and things that a high-schooler deals with: parental expectations, peer pressure, wanting to fit in, and any situation that came up that I didn’t know how handle.
On a whim, I decided I wanted to buy diet pills and lose weight for the upcoming school prom. I lost about 25 pounds in two months and everyone complimented me on how great I looked. And so began the diet pill addiction, the binging and dieting cycle, and the spiral down into the depths of revolving my life around food.
I lived almost half my life in either the binge or restrict mode, and I didn’t know it was possible to eat “normally”. I repeatedly gained and lost weight, each time more drastic than the last. I went off to college and struggled with depression, anxiety, disordered eating, and body issues. Towards the end of college, I was taking almost half a bottle of diet pills a day. I hated my body and myself. I thought all of my problems would be fixed if I was thinner.
My whole life revolved around food: thinking about not eating, debating what I was going to eat, struggling with what I couldn’t eat, and deciding how I would then exercise to work off the food I did eat. These thoughts were consuming my entire life. It was something I hid well from others. On the outside, I appeared to be thriving. I was a straight-A student, played varsity sports, grew up in a loving family environment, and had lots of close friends. Yet, inside, I was miserable – no amount of weight loss was ever good enough.
Thankfully, my life is completely different now. I’m happy, healthy, and am free around food. My passion is to help other women find that same freedom. I one-hundred per cent believe that every woman can make peace with food and body, and I guide them to that place!
Q: What is the most common issue your clients struggle with regarding their bodies?
A: The two biggest struggles I see are:
- Women knowing intellectually what they need to be eating to be healthy but not being able to do it; and,
- The desperate struggle with needing to lose weight before they accept their body.We live in a society where we’re surrounded by this incredible paradox: at no other time in history have we had more access to knowledge around nutrition and healthy food, yet, we’re desperately caught in this obesity crisis. The women I work with know SO MUCH about nutrition, vitamins, portions, health food, calorie and fat content and other nutritional info. Yet, they battle this info with the desire to eat sweets, cakes, cookies, and candies.
I also know that women are conditioned to think we have to be a certain size before we can “accept” our bodies. The women I work with have spent so much time in the diet cycle, hating their bodies, and beating themselves up to lose weight, that they are desperate to learn self-acceptance.
Q: Do you mainly work with women or do you also have male clientele?
A: I only work with women. I naturally gravitated towards working with women because I felt like I could completely understand the struggle from a female perspective.
Q: Do you think it’s possible for us, as a society, to be able to let go of what is seen as the “ideal body” and to be able to accept ourselves as we are?
A: I do think it’s possible. I also think that it will require a huge shift in our way of thinking and our culture. If you look at ideal body types in the past (even going back to the 1960s), every decade has a “type”. Whether it’s long and long, athletic, toned, curvy and voluptuous, it’s always changing. It’s important to see this so we can create our OWN version of beauty and not let ourselves be defined by society.
There is a current shift beginning in the diet and weight loss industry. More and more people are getting tired of begin fed the same old BS and wanting a different way to live. Diets are becoming less satisfying as people realize it’s not how they truly want to live. I think this momentum needs to continue to shift.
Women (especially) need to teach their daughters about a healthy body image and the importance of seeing our own brilliance and beauty. As we continue to get stronger ourselves and pass this along to the next generation, we create an even bigger part of society that shuns the diet/one size fits all model of living.
Q: For anyone wanting to develop a more positive image of their bodies, what’s the best piece of advice you can give them?
A: I would say it’s not about hating or loving your body, it’s about finding that place within you that knows you are MORE than your body. We’re all born with it. And somewhere along the way, we lose our connection to that.
We learn we have to fit in, become someone we’re not, and adhere to a certain size/look. It’s about unlearning all of that and understanding that we are more than our bodies.
Knowing we’re enough just as we are—we all have beautiful qualities and quirks we bring to this world, and there’s no other person that will ever bring that same combination of characteristics to this earth, Celebrate that, love that, and find the place where you can appreciate all of the unique things you offer to the world.