Susan Bodiker calls herself a “recovered fat girl.”
Today, she is a health coach and the author of Fat Girl: How to Let Go of Your Weight and Get on With Your Life, but it took a while for her to get here—to a place where she’s fully embraced not only a healthier lifestyle but also self-confidence and a positive body image.
When asked about her weight loss journey and what ultimately inspired her book, Bodiker said it all started when she saw a photo of herself as a teenager, looking unhappy in her body and in her life.
“Looking at that girl from a distance of 40 years, I thought, ‘You were pretty! Sure, you were a little round, but nothing as grotesque as you were made to believe you were. What was all that agony about?’ The memory of that day and the winsome girl in the picture stayed with me,” she said.
Feeling compelled to tell the story of the girl in the photo, Bodiker set out to help other women learn from her own experience by teaching them how to avoid the “damage” that often comes along with, as she put it, “putting so much weight on weight.”
In other words, she not only wanted to help women get healthy, but also encourage them to realize that there’s no need to place a huge emphasis on how much they weigh and their outward appearance.
The biggest factor in her own success, she said, was letting go of her “fat girl mentality.”
“Let’s be honest, no matter how thin you may become, you never stop seeing the fat girl in the mirror,” Bodiker said. “I still have to remind myself to view my reflection with honest eyes, as I am, not what I fear to be. I had to let go of the weight and fat- girl mentality before I could get over my image issues and get on with my life.”
How exactly did she accomplish that?
Bodiker said it’s all about finding a purpose.
“Be a heroine in your own eyes, and advocate for your own interests and wishes. Know your strengths and leverage them,” she said.
Then, of course, there’s also the challenge of literally losing weight, but Bodiker said her approach to overcoming that obstacle was fairly simple.
“I got on speaking terms with my body and figured out an eating and living plan that would enable me to lose the weight and keep it off,” she explained. “It was all self-directed, I ate when I was hungry, I stopped when I was full, I denied myself nothing, but only ate half. I created a life beyond the plate, the weight fell off and it never came back. I did it for me, not to please others or follow some externally imposed diet of deprivation.”
She also touched upon the subject of food cravings and how to deconstruct them so they have less power over our eating habits. For this, she suggests keeping a food journal.
“I always recommend that my clients keep a food journal so they can be aware of not just what they’re eating but why. Because it’s never about the food,” Bodiker said. “A food and mood journal helps you chart your feelings and see patterns of behavior that lead to overeating. And when you can see patterns, you can create your own solutions—from crowding out less nutritious options by adding in healthy choices to reaching for your hand weights instead of a handful of chips.”
It’s exactly these types of simple but smart strategies that Bodiker now offers as advice in her book.
“Every chapter contains common-sense tips to change the way readers think about and deal with food, find more satisfying ways to nourish the body and soul, build the life they desire and deserve,” Bodiker explained. “The overall tone is actionable and positive. I want women to feel that the power to change is in their hands and that self-knowledge is the key to self-healing and living their best life.”
Perhaps her ultimate goal, though, is to serve as a reassuring role model.
“So often, we feel isolated and overwhelmed when we’re fighting the same battle over and over again—with weight or anything else,” Bodiker said. “Just knowing someone else has walked in your sling-backs and come through with her sanity and humor intact can be comforting.”