I Was Wrong
I thought I was a good coach. But it turned out I was wrong. My clients were happy though. They got the weight loss results they hired me for. So I had no reason to believe I wasn’t doing a good job. But my clients and I were both so caught up in Diet Culture that we didn’t know any better.
The cycle always unfolded the same. They’d hire me to lose weight. I’d create a custom meal plan for them to follow based on their food likes and dislikes, their body stats, and their activity levels. And I’d create a custom workout program for them to follow that was one part strength training and one part cardio. Then we’d work together to make sure they adhered to the plan, and I’d make adjustments along the way to ensure they kept dropping weight at 1-2 pounds per week.
You might be wondering what the problem is here. I certainly never thought there was a problem. I had a full client list. I had all kinds of testimonials and before and after pictures proving hiring me as a coach works. My clients left our 3 months together thrilled. And they’d keep coming back to me again and again whenever they needed to lose weight again.
And there was the problem. They kept coming back to me. On the surface it might seem like I was the solution to their problem. They needed to lose weight, so they’d hire me and I’d help them lose it. When we were done working together they’d head off on their own and slowly start to gain the weight back. So later down the road, months or even years later, they’d send me an email asking to work together again.
What I didn’t realize at the time was that I wasn’t the solution to their problem – I was the person keeping their problem going. We only saw the weight loss. I never understood at the time that my coaching philosophy was actually keeping them stuck in a perpetual cycle of weight loss and weight gain, food and body obsession, and a diminished life experience – all while ensuring that their self-worth and confidence remained tied to the size of their body.
I was using weight loss as the sole determining factor of success. Well, that and my clients’ happiness. But that happiness was simply tied to whether they lost weight or not.
It took a lot of time and a lot of soul searching before I admitted to myself that the approach I was taking, the same approach 99% of all fitness coaches take, was actually causing more harm than good. What we were all doing was keeping people stuck in Diet Culture and keeping people dependent on using their bodies to gain a sense of worth in society.
I started my company in September of 2011. At the time, the name of my company was Coach Calorie. Many of you reading this book have been with me from the very beginning, back when I was writing articles on weight loss. I was science-based, citing study after study showing what was best when it came to nutrition and exercise. And people loved my content. In a matter of a few months my Facebook page went from 0 to over 100,000 followers. My articles were always at the top of Google search results. And I was making good money writing about what I loved.
So all signs were pointing to success. I had a working business and happy clients. Why would I ever think otherwise? It wasn’t until years later when I realized I was experiencing the same weight loss and gain struggles as my clients were – the same struggles that most people stuck in the diet cycle experience.
I learned this the hard way after years of trying every dieting trick you can imagine. I got really big into meal timing. I’d make sure that most of my carb intake was eaten around my workouts so that they wouldn’t be stored as fat. Because in my mind, if I ate carbs at night, I would never be able to lose weight. And then there was the phase when I thought I couldn’t lose weight because I was putting a teaspoon of sugar in my oatmeal. Because sugar makes you fat, right?
The list of things I blamed for my weight loss struggles goes on and on. I was eating too much fruit. I needed to work out on an empty stomach so I can burn more fat. I wasn’t eating enough protein. My thyroid hormone was too low. My testosterone was too low. I was eating too many grains. I was eating too many carbs. I wasn’t eating enough carbs. I was eating carbs and fat in the same meal. There was too much fructose in my diet. I wasn’t eating enough meals. I was eating too many meals.
What was interesting was most of these things all had science to back them up. But what I later realized is that none of the science or so-called proven studies really mattered if they couldn’t be applied to my own life. This is when I understood that there was more to the story. What you do of course matters, but your own unique psychology is what determines the application of your desired behaviors. After all, most of us already know what to do and what’s good for us. We just struggle understanding why we have trouble doing these things.
As I worked towards understanding why this was happening to me, I realized my entire approach to health and fitness was built on the wrong premise. This entire time I had been so focused on weight loss as the answer to all of my problems, when in reality, it was the focus on weight loss that was keeping me stuck in life.
What was I supposed to do? I felt stuck. My business was solely built around losing weight, calories, macros, fat loss exercise, and any other weight loss strategies that had science to back them up. I couldn’t just stop pushing my philosophy. My family’s financial security was dependent on keeping the status quo going.
But that all came to an end one random day. I kept getting question after question from followers about calories, carbs, sugar, weight loss, fat burning workouts, diets, fasts, meal timing, and all the other topics that have become normalized in Diet Culture. I had no problem with these questions before, but once you realize that Diet Culture is the source of all your problems, it’s hard to surround yourself with that stuff anymore.
So that day I shut down my website, Coach Calorie. The same website that had made me hundreds of thousands of dollars, supported my family for years, and had over 20 million different people visit it. Overnight, gone. No explanation to anyone. Nothing.
I started a new website and rebranded my company Built Daily. I removed all those sleazy ads from my website that preyed on people’s body insecurities. I changed my entire coaching approach, stopped creating meal plans, and stopped using all those Diet Culture tactics that previously lead to “success”. I focused more and more on what truly transformed people for good.
Nowadays Built Daily is stronger than ever. My own life is in alignment. The food and body obsession is gone, and I’m at my own unique Ideal Body. My weight doesn’t cycle over and over again, nor does my clients’. We have a strong community of like minded people who want to ditch Diet Culture and achieve the NEW Ideal Body. And in this book I’m going to show you exactly how we’re doing that.
Ditch Diet Culture
What exactly is Diet Culture anyways? I use a very simple definition. It’s the never-ending pursuit to achieve society’s universal beauty standard by any means necessary. And why would we do that? Because we’ve collectively decided to condition each other to believe that looking a certain way will make you more valuable in society. We’ve all decided that the way we are right now isn’t good enough and that we should be striving to be one of the lucky few who can change their body and come out on top.
But that rarely happens. Instead, nearly everyone who is part of Diet Culture spends their entire life feeling less-than. They obsess over their food, body, and exercise constantly. They devote huge sums of money, time, and energy to changing their body so that they can feel more worthy as a human being. They track calories, fight through hunger, deprive themselves of enjoyable foods and experiences, do exercise they hate, and think about their bodies all the time. And for what? A chance to be one of the lucky 1% who succeed?
I can’t think of anything else in life that so many people devote so much of their resources to for such an abysmal chance of success. We go on diet after diet hoping things will be different this time. By the way, a diet, in this sense, is simply eating to control your body. It doesn’t need a fancy label to be considered a diet. It’s any strategy that attempts to get you to eat less without directly addressing the root causes of the upward pressures on your eating. And studies will show you that 95% of these diets fail, yet we keep thinking we’re going to be part of the 5% success rate. Personally, I think the chances are way less – like less than 1%.
Think about it. For a diet to work it needs to go beyond just helping you lose weight. It has to be sustainable for life. If you make dietary and activity changes and you lose weight but are still struggling to this day, then it didn’t work. In fact, what most people don’t realize is that these Diet Culture tactics are the very things that cause the continued failure.
But let’s also consider all the tomorrows and Mondays you’ve started over. Maybe it wasn’t an official diet you were starting, but you were certainly trying to be better on those days after a night, weekend, or day of bad eating. In that case, I’d venture to say most people are starting over with their diets at least once a week if not every single day. But let’s just say that it’s only once per month you start over. Well… if you’re currently still struggling with your body and it’s been more than 10 years since you’ve tried to change it, then you’ve started over and failed 120 times. And you still haven’t succeeded! If you had succeeded just once, that is still less than a 1% success rate. And the more likely scenario is people spend their entire adult lifetimes starting over. They end up on the perpetual dieting roller coaster – alternating periods of increased exercise and calorie budgeting with periods of less activity and less focused eating.
It’s not structured diets that are failing us. Everyone knows that diets don’t work. It’s Diet Culture that is the culprit. Diet Culture is sneaky. It’s really good at selling you a diet that doesn’t make you think you’re on one. Nowadays weight loss attempts are repackaged and rebranded as lifestyle changes, or even getting healthy. This makes people feel like they are undertaking a noble cause. It gives them hope. Yet it still ends in failure. Why? Because noble cause or not, they still all use Diet Culture tactics. People still approach their health and fitness journey from the place of hating their bodies and feeling like they need to change them to feel more worthy in society.
It’s this belief that your body is your worth that pushes you into behaviors that are out of alignment with your needs. Everything you do is for the purpose of looking a certain way. Better health, more confidence, improved happiness, and a better life experience all become dependent on what the scale or the mirror shows.
Diet Culture is not the solution to your problems. If it was, it would’ve worked by now. You have to stop confusing the possible with the probable. We will always know someone who succeeded with Diet Culture. When there are a quarter billion adults in the United States, and half those people tried to lose weight in the last year alone, you’re bound to see some success – maybe even a lot in sheer numbers.
If 1,000,000 people have succeeded at a low carb diet, you’re going to notice it. There will be pictures everywhere. There will be testimonials. There will be celebrities talking about them. You will have a friend that lost weight using one. But if 100 million adults have tried a low carb diet just once in their life, then that’s still just a 1% success rate. And most people have tried one of these diets more than once. People are too willing to see a random person’s success as proof something works, while completely ignoring their own 20 years of dieting history as proof it doesn’t. Remember, the success rate of something that has never worked for you is 0%.
But it doesn’t really matter, because all this is just referring to weight loss. True transformation is what we really want, and that is even more fleeting when you’re participating in Diet Culture. Weight loss and transformation are not the same thing. Plenty of people lose weight but don’t experience transformation. They just weigh less (temporarily, if it happens at all) but still experience insecurity, food obsession, and a constant focus on their body.
The answer to this problem is simple – ditch Diet Culture. When you decide to put that toxic culture behind you, that will be the moment in your life that things start to improve. That was the big inflection point in my life, and it’s the same moment our community members experience too. That’s when you get your first hints of real freedom and break free from the food and body prison you’re currently in.
But you can’t just ditch Diet Culture and assume everything is going to fall into place. That’s just the start. The real work is just beginning. Over the years Deanna, my wife and business partner, and I have worked with thousands of clients and have spoken to and heard the struggles of countless more. We took our own experiences overcoming Diet Culture and laid out a new process to follow. And this is the process we use to this day to help others get their life back. It’s called the Ideal Body Formula.
The Ideal Body Formula™
Throughout our years of coaching and personal experiences we were able to recognize a series of patterns among the people who truly succeeded in transforming themselves. And I don’t mean just their bodies. Sometimes their bodies didn’t change, but THEY changed. Independent of body change, people were improving their overall life experience. They were happier, healthier, more confident, and finally living life on their terms.
Sure… lots of people lost weight too. But that wasn’t their primary goal. It’s something that happened naturally when they focused on following the right process. It happened after they decided to ditch Diet Culture and all its surface level weight loss tactics promising big life changes that never materialized (and were never going to). Instead, they all succeeded once they turned inwards and worked through the real struggles that had been keeping them stuck and frustrated for a lifetime.
Here’s what we realized – by focusing your attention away from weight loss and instead turning it towards healing your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind, you could achieve your own unique Ideal Body. You shift your health and fitness journey away from a weight loss focus, and make it into one of healing. Because true change and transformation happen from the inside out. Your outside world becomes a function of the healing that’s going on inside of you.
That’s when we developed the Ideal Body Formula and started teaching it to others. The formula is simple. Your Ideal Body is the natural side effect of four core relationships – food, body, exercise, and mind. When those relationships are healed and in alignment, your Ideal Body is the natural side effect.
But make no mistake, the Ideal Body we’re talking about here has nothing to do with society’s Ideal Body. It has nothing to do with society’s beauty standards. We’re talking about the NEW Ideal Body. This body is about you.
Your Ideal Body isn’t even a what – it’s a when. It’s the body you’re in when you’ve healed your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind. This is where you’ll find your healthiest weight. Your unique Ideal Body might be smaller than your current body, or it might be the same or even bigger. That all depends on where you’re starting from and the state of your four core relationships. But regardless of the similarities or differences to your current external appearance, you will be a better, healthier, more confident version of yourself, and will be living a more fulfilling life.
If you’re struggling right now it’s because you have dysfunction in one or all of these four relationships. Your current life situation and the state of your health and fitness is simply the byproduct of those relationships. To change your life, you don’t need to keep trying to lose weight – you just need to heal. Your healthiest weight will be a natural byproduct of that healing process.
The weight you’ve gained over these years or decades isn’t something you tried to do – it’s something that happened to you as a result of the struggles you were experiencing that stemmed from that dysfunction. To reverse that process you have to get to the root of the struggles and overcome them. This healing leads to a healthier, happier, and more empowered person.
Diet Culture doesn’t do that. It just slaps a bandage on the wounds, aka your underlying struggles. In time, those bandages fall off. The wound never heals. And you get stuck in weight and diet cycles all your life. The only way to stop this cycle is to dig down and figure out what’s going on in each of these four relationships and fix them.
Think about it. If you feel out of control with your eating, or if you’re emotionally eating, or if you binge on the weekends, or if you mindlessly eat at night – how is following a diet or a calorie budget going to fix these things? It’s not. It’s going to arbitrarily restrict your food intake and force you to rely on willpower to override your dysfunctional relationship with food. And as anyone who has been stuck in the diet cycle can attest to – this never lasts.
But when you focus on healing your relationship with food and get down to the root causes of your eating struggles – your distrust around food, your struggle to meet your body’s needs, and the disempowering association you have with food that is creating unnecessary restriction and deprivation – you eliminate these problems. You remove the upward pressures on your eating. Forced calorie restriction isn’t necessary anymore. Your food intake naturally changes.
The same goes for your relationships with body, exercise, and mind. We have associations with our body that influence the way we see ourselves. And this impacts the way you eat and exercise. Diet Culture strategies can’t heal your relationship with your body. In fact, they make it worse. They make everything worse.
The only way out of this vicious cycle of food obsession and body hate is to ditch Diet Culture and plug yourself into the Ideal Body Formula. You have to unsubscribe from society’s conditioning that your body is your worth. You have to let go of all the shiny little diets, fat loss workouts, tips, tricks, tactics, and strategies that give everyone false hope. And then you have to start a new journey – one of personal discovery, development, and empowerment. One of healing.
The NEW Ideal Body – YOUR unique Ideal Body is the natural side effect.
How To Use This Book
This book exists for three reasons. The first is to get people to stop being victims of Diet Culture and all its disempowering beliefs. The second reason is to help you build confidence and belief that there is a new way and hope for getting you out from a lifetime of food and body struggles – that you can and will achieve your healthiest weight and full life experience if you follow the concepts I talk about. And finally, so that you’ll consider joining our community so you can be supported and personally coached through the process of healing your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind, so that you can achieve your Ideal Body.
This book is broken down into four main parts, each focused on one of the four relationships – food, body, exercise, and mind. Each relationship section is then further broken down into what we’ve found are key components to healing that particular relationship. These components are the most important parts of your journey. Most people understand they need to heal their relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind to finally succeed, yet they don’t know how to do it. These components are what show you how.
You aren’t going to find a bunch of little tips and tricks to implement with your eating and exercise in this book. If that’s the kind of information you’re looking for, you’re going to be very disappointed. You’re better off going to the diet section of your local bookstore and picking something from there. Diet Culture has plenty of that content for your consumption. There’s no shortage of surface level tactics getting people surface level results.
But my guess is you’re tired of that kind of stuff. It doesn’t work. There’s no one little trick that’s going to change your life. Your problems are not the result of not knowing the exact calorie intake to eat. Your struggles aren’t because you don’t have the right magical macronutrient ratio. You haven’t spent the last 10+ years struggling with your food and body because you haven’t tried fasting, cleansing, cutting carbs, or some other gimmicky strategy.
Your struggles go deeper. And this book helps you go deeper. To some it might even feel like a form of therapy. It’s focus is on helping you change the way you think about your food, body, exercise, and mind. Because the meaning you have attached to those things right now is what is causing so much of your frustrations and failures. So if you want to get out of the downward spiral, you have to start looking at things differently. You need new perspectives, beliefs, and meaning attached to your health and fitness journey.
Some of the things in this book might be things you already know. Others will be huge epiphanies for you. Yet other parts will be worded in a way that you’ve never heard before, and that will complete the connection and finally help the concepts sink in.
It’s also worth noting that this book isn’t for people with extreme views. There are extreme views in both the Diet Culture and even the anti-Diet Culture communities. While the extremes in one community might push weight loss at all costs, the extremes in the other community might even shame you for having any desire to lose weight. Either way, you end up losing your body autonomy.
When I first broke free of Diet Culture, the vocal minorities in these groups made it feel like I didn’t have a place to call home. So I created my own community of like-minded people. I see my views as more moderate in nature, but depending on where you are on the Diet Culture / anti-Diet Culture spectrum, they might even seem extreme to you. But there is something to learn from both communities, and I’ve done my best to find the common ground and add to it.
Go into this book with an open mind. You will quite possibly have a lot of objections to the things I say. There will be a lot of “yeah buts”. This is normal. It happens anytime someone is challenging your beliefs. But understand if you hold onto your limiting beliefs of the past, you will continue to get the same outcomes in your future. Only by healing your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind will you be able to break free of the food and body prison you’re in. And to do that will require an open mind and an adoption of new more empowering beliefs.
All that said, I consider myself a very down to earth person. So most of what I write is grounded in common sense and proven application in our coaching practice. If it made it into this book, it’s because it has been tested countless times on both Deanna and me, as well as the thousands of people who are part of our community and programs. Point being – these things work. They heal you. And they transform you. So you can be confident that I’m not just speaking in theoretical or ideological tones. I’m in the trenches putting these concepts to work with proven success.
While there is plenty of behavioral advice in this book, you’re also going to notice that I approach health and fitness with the understanding that your behaviors naturally change as your relationships with food, body, exercise, and mind change. That’s because as you heal, you see your journey through a different lens. Your beliefs and perspectives around food and body change. YOU change. You transform into a different identity. And that identity naturally brings with it new behaviors and outcomes. That’s what happens when you go deep and heal.
As a coach my goal is to not just get you results while you work with me. It’s not even my goal to have you maintain your results. I want you to continue growing and transforming – for life. If I’m the same person 10 years from now, I’d consider that a failure. I want my clients to develop a growth mindset – not a maintenance existence. I want to empower them to see their full potential.
I can’t do this focusing on body change and weight loss. I can only do this through transformation. Transformation is about changing who you are – not what you look like. Again, your physical appearance will very likely change as a result of changing who you are and how you interact with food, your body, exercise, and your mind. But that’s just one of the many potential side effects you’ll experience in your life as a result of healing and transformation.
So get out a highlighter and mark any parts that really resonate with you. Read through the entire book from start to finish. Then go back to any sections you feel like you need the most work with. Make this journey your own. Heal the parts that need the healing. Continue nurturing the parts that don’t. Your Ideal Body will be the natural side effect.