Be Your Own Best Friend and Break the Binge-Eating Cycle for Good with Azul Corajoria
“I learned that I needed to be my own best friend.”
This theme and commitment helped bring Azul out of a vicious binge-eating cycle that was robbing her of confidence, joy, and love in many aspects of her life and into a relationship with food and herself that can now be described as loving and confident – and one that she has full control over.
Azul is a Virtual Health Coach and Personal Trainer helping people improve their relationship with food, fitness, and themselves. She teaches people how to move well, eat well and live their healthiest lives with simple science-based workouts that build strength and confidence alongside easy and sustainable nutrition and lifestyle changes – no guilt-tripping, no counting, and no dieting.
On today’s episode, you’ll hear more about Azul’s story, including her rock bottom, and the steps she took to bring herself out of this dark place and into a place where she now shines brighter than ever before.
You’ll discover the foundational coaching elements she used with herself – and now her clients – to rebuild her relationship with food and herself and to make binges a thing of the past.
Start listening now!
Connect with Azul on Instagram (azulcorajoria) – click here
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More about Azul and how you can work with her – click here
Thank you for being here.
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And if you found today’s episode valuable, please share it with a friend or family member who would benefit from hearing today’s message.
Episode Highlights and Quotes:
- Learn how Azul brought herself out of a vicious binge-eating cycle and into a stable, healthy, and sustainable relationship with food and how she coaches women to improve their relationship with food, fitness, and themselves (without guilt-tripping or dieting).
- “I learned that I needed to be my own best friend.”
- “I didn’t necessarily put in the work to understand who I was. What I mean by that is that everything that I did or every compliment that I would get, or growing up, everything that was emphasized was always based on how I looked. I just started to believe that that was all … that was important about me. But when you take a step back and you start to do that self work and you start to realize, “Okay, who am I?” It’s like, I’m a good daughter, I’m a good friend, I’m a good sister, I’m funny. These are my interests, these are the things that I like to do.”
- “…this feeling of control, because that’s ultimately why we calorie count, is we think we have control. But when you think about it, that’s actually food having control over you. You no longer actually have control when you’re doing something like calorie counting all the time and getting all these anxious emotions from it.”
- “I like to think of eating well and moving well as, these are lifelong things. They’re not a six-week program, they’re not a 12-week program, they’re not a year. These are things that you should be doing literally for the rest of your life. If you don’t like it, you’re not going to do it. It’s not going to be sustainable.”
How I Can Help You:
I help women over 30 lose weight and rebuild limitless confidence so that they never have to diet again.
To date, I’ve personally coached more than 1,500 women and helped them to collectively lose 10,000+ pounds of body fat and keep it off for good, while simultaneously empowering them with the education, strategies, and accountability needed to feel and look they best.
Click here to learn more about how I can help you.
Follow me on Instagram – @paulsaltercoaching
Hey, Azul, thank you so much for joining me today. How are you?
Hi, Paul. I’m doing wonderful. I’m doing really great. Christmas is around the corner. I’ve got my tree. I love this holiday season. Everyone just seems like happier. Yeah, so I’m doing really well.
I’m glad to hear it. Your tree looks good and I just put mine up last weekend and kicked off the December tradition I’ve had for years.
There you go.
Decorate the tree, plenty of hot chocolate, may or may not have some Kahlua in there, but then always watching the movie Elf, which is one of my favorite movies of all time.
I love that. I don’t have a movie that I watch every year. But if you like Kahlua in your hot chocolate, I recommend Peppermint Schnapps. I just learned about that five years ago. Hot chocolate, some Peppermint Schnapps, and marshmallows because those are a must.
I highly recommend if you want to give that a try.
Okay, awesome. Well, we could talk all day about drinks and hot chocolate and Christmas, but I think the listeners are here for other conversation topics. I am just really excited for this conversation, and I’ll go ahead and shout you out. You reached out to make this happen at just a pristine time where I was looking to bring other like-minded individuals on the show. I commend you and celebrate you for that. But after doing a creepy deep dive into all of your content and your social media so I could best prepare, I feel like, holy shit, this is like a second version of me. We see eye to eye on so many things. I’m really looking forward to our conversation today.
Well, I’m so happy to hear that as well. First off, always have to take charge of your own life. Definitely reached out once I saw that our missions aligned, and I love all of your episodes as I’m sure all of the people that listen to you know it resonates so much, so I wanted to reach out. Then, two, I love the level of greatness. It’s, I’m here for it. I’m here for it.
Awesome, so let’s go ahead. I got a little intro that I record separately to give the listeners a little bit more of your details and your extensive list of credentials and experiences, but I want to hear from you. They want to hear from you, and I want to dive right in about one of the most potent, relatable aspects of your transformational journey has to do with how your relationship with food and yourself has evolved over the years. Tell the listeners a little bit more about that.
Beautiful. Yeah, I like to call it, it’s a transformation story but it’s not one that people generally think about. Because I think my beginning is generally people’s ends, and so it’s reversed. I went into exercise and nutrition and I dove head first. I grew up playing sports but at one point I stopped playing sports and just got really into working out and fitness. Without going too much in depth, I basically just started to develop this really unhealthy relationship with fitness and exercise, because it was all based on that aesthetics.
I only ate and I only worked out to look a certain way. There was no health, there was no taking care of myself. There was no self love involved. It all came from this not feeling worthy of love, or care, or attention, or anything unless I looked a certain way. I think that’s why a lot of people unfortunately come into the fitness and nutrition realm. I was over-training. It came to a point where I was working out seven days a week, two hours a day. Of course, doing all the cardio, all the running, all the elliptical, all those things. I was also under-eating and had basically developed a form of orthorexia, where I was only eating the healthiest things.
I was also calorie counting. When you get to a point where you’re calorie counting how many almonds you’re eating or carrots you’re having, you know you’re probably not in the right head space. It got to a point where I’d be really anxious to eat out and I was just miserable to be around because I was on my phone tracking or then freaking out, or going to a restaurant and asking what kind of oil they used. Because I was doing Whole30, and I couldn’t have one thing or the other. I basically ended up developing a binge eating disorder. I would try and eat as healthy as I could and look a certain way in front of people.
Then, at the end of the day I would go home and basically just eat everything that I could. It was this obsessive, I think a lot of people when they think of binge eating, they think about, “Oh, I overate. I’m just eating a lot.” I’m just like, “There’s different levels of overeating.” In binge eating, you’re consuming as much as you can in a really fast amount of time until you quite literally can’t anymore, and then you keep going. You end up feeling like absolute shit physically and mentally. You do this a couple of times a week, a month, whatever it is, wherever you’re at. I had gotten to a point where I was doing it a couple of times a week.
It’s the opposite of bulimia, where you were then disposing of all of this. I sat with it because I truly deserved, like, I believed I needed to feel that way. I was like, “You’re disgusting.” If I sit with it and I feel terrible, then I won’t do it again. It was like, I just had these feelings of intense frustration but also disgust. I was ashamed of myself. Just the lowest feelings of self-worth. To wrap it up, because I do want to show the bright side of it, it’s like I eventually got to a point where I knew something was wrong, but no one took me seriously because I looked thin. I have the privilege of being in a thin body.
I wasn’t too thin to where people were like, “Oh, is she developing a problem? Is she getting anorexia?” But then, I wasn’t gaining too much weight where people were then “concerned” because I was gaining weight, so no one believed me. But I knew something was wrong. My boyfriend at the time was a med school student and he was in this class where they were learning about eating disorders and he sent me this survey. I filled it out and sent it back. He’s like, “I’m so sorry, I didn’t believe you. You have a binge eating disorder and orthorexia.” It’s the first time I’ve ever heard about orthorexia. Anyways, fast forward through doing my own research, definitely should have gone to therapy.
I recommend anyone that feels like they’re going through something like this, go to therapy because I honestly could have saved myself so much time. Podcasts, listening, making sure to follow the right creators on Instagram and stuff like that. I basically learned that the healing starts from within. I couldn’t just start restricting after a binge or I couldn’t just start … The work wasn’t external, it was internal. It was all about how I viewed myself and what I believed I deserved. My self-worth, not being attached to what I look like, but just being a human being I deserve love and care. Focusing on the things that make me me, not the way I look.
Through doing that internal healing work I was able to slowly start to do the external work. I got myself to binge eat from a couple of times a week to a couple of times a month, to every such couple of months, to not at all. Being on this side is amazing. I recognize that I got there because I was restricting, because I was dieting, because I had food morals, good versus bad foods, things like this, and because I tied a lot of my identity to my aesthetic, to what I looked like. Then, when I healed my relationship with food, I then slowly started focusing on healing my relationships with exercise. I’m sure we’ll go into that, but that’s my long story short, but still sort of long.
No, that was beautiful. I really appreciate you opening up and sharing that. I love what you said. You said you have the privilege of being in a thin body. I thought that’s really interesting because it resonates with me because I’ve been asked, or maybe it’s just this perception of my own, I am naturally lean myself. But similar to you, I like to say I was married to MyFitnessPal for six years. It consumed every ounce of my life. I had a very, very unhealthy relationship with food for so long. But similar to you, on the outside, everything looked kosher, all is well. But on the inside, I was struggling mightily.
Something that has really been a guiding light for me in my teachings over the years is the statement that the most important relationship we have is the relationship we have with ourselves. Obviously, that transfers right into our relationship with food. Going back in time to when you were struggling with the binge eating and just in this place of massive orthorexia, how would you describe your relationship with yourself at that time?
Oh, my gosh, so bad, so bad. I didn’t necessarily put in the work to understand who I was. What I mean by that is that everything that I did or every compliment that I would get, or growing up, everything that was emphasized was always based on how I looked. I just started to believe that that was all … that was important about me. But when you take a step back and you start to do that self work and you start to realize, “Okay, who am I?” It’s like, I’m a good daughter, I’m a good friend, I’m a good sister, I’m funny. These are my interests, these are the things that I like to do.
You start to identify as so much more than just, I look this way. I think once you start to understand all those things, plus a little bit of it was also learning about my body and understanding what it does other than look a certain way. You can get really sciencey with it and it’s really interesting, but just on a broader level, the fact that I breathe in my heartbeats and I don’t have to do anything to do that. Or, the fact that my arms hug my friends and my family and my smile can light up someone’s day. Just understanding what a miracle it is to just have the body that I have, you start to value it more.
It’s like when you’re sick and you can’t breathe through your nose, and then you’re like, “Oh, my gosh, I wish I could breathe through my nose.” Then, I can breathe through my nose I’m going to be so happy and so appreciative. Then, two weeks later you totally forget about the blessing it is to be able to breathe through your nose. You almost don’t recognize the beauty of what you have until you don’t have it anymore. I think just that gratitude, I have a gratitude practice every single morning. Because I think it’s so important in understanding just learning to love what you have. Sorry, I know I went on a tangent there.
But all those things played into healing my internal self, because when all you think you are is what you look like, you live in fear all the time and you do develop an unhealthy relationship with all these things, because you’re doing all these things as a punishment almost. You’re doing it in spite of yourself as opposed to for yourself. Nothing is sustainable when you’re doing it in spite of yourself. But if you’re doing things out of self-love, if you’re doing things because you love yourself, like you would do acts of kindness for people that you love, then you’re more likely to be consistent. You’re more likely to develop that healthy relationship and want to do it.
Because you’re like, “Oh, this feels good. Oh, this is good for me.” As opposed to, “I have to do this HIIT class because I want to kick my ass, because I deserve it, because I hate this about myself or whatever that is. I can’t eat that brownie because then this, and I don’t deserve to because I didn’t eat salad today.” You know where I’m going.
No, it’s wonderful. I swear we’re on the same wavelength. I’m looking at my notes here. One thing I literally wrote down is, I love the specificity and the verbiage you use, reframing things to be viewed as self-care and gifts to yourself.
Because you’re absolutely right. The way we frame things in our mind has a dramatic impact on the outcome that we ultimately achieve. You can go into the HIIT class as the example you use and absolutely beat the shit out of yourself or punish yourself. Or, you can go in and celebrate your strength and what your body is capable of. Same workout, same way to spend those 60 minutes, but two drastically different outcomes on your emotional state, your physical state, and your mental wellbeing. I love that. I think that’s great.
Yeah, a hundred percent. I, a couple of years ago, really started getting into positive psychology and sports psychology, because I realize most of us know what to do, but we’re not doing it or we’re doing it again in spite of. It doesn’t matter what you do, if you’re doing it in spite of you’re never going to enjoy yourself. If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, you’re never going to do it consistently. I like to think of eating well and moving well as, these are lifelong things. They’re not a six-week program, they’re not a 12-week program, they’re not a year. These are things that you should be doing literally for the rest of your life.
If you don’t like it, you’re not going to do it. It’s not going to be sustainable. The same goes for, I lost track, the same goes for nutrition and doing diets that you don’t like or not being able to eat the foods that you love. Again, going into it with that mentality of spite as opposed to love. I think a lot of us are too focused on the destination and we don’t focus enough on the journey. The problem with that is the journey is lifelong. If you hate it, well then that’s terrible. It’s a terrible way to live.
Absolutely. I like that. You’re like, “Yeah, ourselves, our bodies, our goals aren’t just another 90-day transformation story. It’s a lifelong transformation.” That’s a wonderful way to reframe it and look at it. I’m curious, we’re very well versed now in some of the struggles you encountered for many years. There’s a quote that I have on my screen here that I took from either one of your social media posts or your blog posts, but you said, “I learned that I needed to be my own best friend.” How did that ultimately serve as the catalyst to begin making some positive changes?
What did that journey look like for you to get to the place you are now where you’re so confident, calm, in control, and at peace with food? Just really overflowing with an abundance of self-love, which is outstanding.
Yeah, everything. It had everything to do with it. That was the thing, that was the turning point, is when I was one of the last binges before I turned the corner, that was what changed instead of after the binge, sitting there and being like, “Ugh, I hate you. Why can’t you control this? What’s wrong with you? Look at you. You’re a disgust.” These are unfortunately the thoughts that I would have, and so that’s not helpful. If one of my loved ones overate or something and started talking to themselves that way, I’d be like, “No, no, no. What? Stop. Absolutely not. You are not disgusting. You are not out of control. You are not all those things. You are perfect the way you are.”
I just realized that I needed that. All of this self-criticism and all this negative self-talk was not helping me. It was making things worse. The minute that I could turn the corner and be like … I remember very distinctly just holding myself in my car crying and being like, “You’re okay. You are okay. This means nothing. This doesn’t mean you’re a bad person. This doesn’t mean that you’re an out of control person, undisciplined, lazy, that means none of that. All you did was overate and we’re going to figure out why.” Because when you can go into it with being your own best friend, what would your best friend do? They would try and figure out what happened. They would get curious.
They wouldn’t be critical. I say that all the time, be curious, not critical. Don’t be judgmental, be a problem solver. Like, what happened? Are you okay? You did this for a reason, right? Was it emotional? Was it that you weren’t eating enough? Moving into this realm of being your own best friend or loving yourself enough to realize that you deserve empathy and compassion, all those things, opens the door for you to then do the work of, “Hey, what’s actually going on here? What’s actually happening?” Then, that’s how you can start to move into problem solving. I have this emotional eating course and one of the steps is, let’s take a step back.
Breathe, and not look at emotional eating in terms of you’re doing something bad, look at you, like blah, blah. No, no, no. What’s happening? Because there’s something triggering what’s going on. You’re acting as a result of that. At the end of the day, I was binge eating to protect myself. I didn’t know it at the time, but I was binge eating. My body was quite literally making me overeat because I wasn’t eating enough. I was restricting. I was dieting. I also had emotions I didn’t want to deal with. I was eating because of that. If you look at it from that lens, it’s like, “Oh, wow, I’m trying to protect myself. How cool. Okay, I get something’s happening. I’m going to dive a little deeper.”
But you can’t do that unless you believe you are worth the work. Self-love, I think, is everything and it’s why I based so much of my practice off of that because I don’t think you can do this work from any other place other than that place of self-love.
Yeah, I love that. Is that the final statement of the most important component is before you can change your relationship with food, you have to change your relationship with yourself.
Yes. Very well said. Perfectly said.
Yeah, I love it. At first, as I was putting my notes together, I was like, “This could be a classic chicken or the egg.” But my opinion was like, “No.” You agree, is it has to be the work on yourself first. But I think, and I love your opinion, so many people are afraid to look inward. They’re afraid to peel back that layer of the proverbial onion. With either those you work with or even from your own story, what are some of the common fears around turning the looking glass inward?
Well, change is scary. Whether it’s good change or bad change, it’s always terrifying. You ask anyone that’s done therapy for years and they’re like, “Yeah, it’s not all happy go lucky as people think therapy is. You leave crying and you leave whatever.” But it’s ultimately good work. I think the mind has a lot of processes for protecting ourselves. Anyone with trauma will tell you that, the mind does everything that it can to protect ourselves. Sometimes it’s not what we need, it’s just what the body psychologically does. You can see that come out. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the Body Keeps Score, amazing book if you haven’t.
I’m like, everyone that’s in this space at this point has read it, but it’ll come out one way or another. I think understanding that and recognizing that change is scary and no one that does this work or no one that changes … Fear is one of those things that you don’t get past, you just work with, you work through. I think a lot of the time it’s just that change is scary. When someone’s trying to make a change from, let’s say, sitting on their couch and being on their phone versus working out, that being a time to work out, in your mind you’re like, “Okay, well I should work out, obviously.” But your mind quite literally is like, “Yeah, but the couch is comfortable.” We know the couch, we know what happens if we stay here.
This is nice, this is comfortable short term, I understand this. Which is why the change to then working out, it feels so much more difficult. It’s like, you’re uncomfortable, you’re sweaty, it’s hard. Afterwards you feel great, but until you condition your mind to think long-term and not short term, it can be very difficult. I think at the end of the day, it’s just this fact that change is scary and we all have identities that we stick to. Another one for exercise, for example, is if you grew up being bullied in during recess or during physical education, or you couldn’t run the mile that you were supposed to run, your body now equates exercise to something bad. It’s something scary and something traumatic.
This is one end of the spectrum, but it’s a traumatic thing. Now, for the rest of your life, you’re like, “Exercise is bad. That’s where I get bullied and that’s where … I’m not good at that. Therefore, I shouldn’t do it because I’ll embarrass myself, whatever.” But as you grow older, you realize these identities you created to protect yourself when you were younger no longer serve you. But it’s an identity and an identity is scary to change. But identity is everything when it comes to creating an exercise and nutrition regimen that works for you.
Yeah, that was beautifully said. I love that example. It’s really powerful, because yeah, something as simple as that offhand remark by your gym teacher or a classmate when you’re seven, that sticks with you for the next 20, 30, 40, 50 years until you’re like, “Oh shit, that does not serve me anymore.” That was a great example. I always find it really interesting that when we are in a state of fear, we begin to sweat more. There is adrenaline, epinephrine, norepinephrine coursing through our veins. The exact same thing happens when we feel excited. It is just a simple reframe about changing, oh, I’m scared of or fearful of, to I am excited about or I’m excited I get to.
Same thing, building off of what we discussed earlier, it’s a quick word substitution or a mental reframe that has a drastically different impact on the outcome or the experience you’re about to have.
Yes. Reframe, is everything. Truly, it’s I think one of the best practices. I sometimes have my client’s journal, like what they think about exercise or nutrition. We will just go in there and try and reframe. From I have to do this to I get to do this. Simple things like that. It seems so silly as we’re talking about it and people are probably rolling their eyes. It seems so silly, but it’s so impactful if you can change your language around these things. Truly. I love that.
Yeah, I hosted our first ever 5% live event back in October and we were all sitting in a circle talking about limiting beliefs and fears. I kept asking people as they would share their stories with me, how can you reframe it? I was doing this little hand motion, it became the running joke of the entire event. Because I would just twist my hands a little bit, so I know I’m calling out one person in particular, Tanya, who never will let me forget that funny hand motion, but it’s so true. You do it through journaling or if you’re talking out with a loved one or a friend, if you get to voice your concern or your fear, okay, it’s out there, it’s a little safe.
Now that it’s out of your head, it’s more malleable, and then you can look at it differently. Whether it’s journaling, therapy, coaching, just getting it out there is such a golden opportunity to begin to change your viewpoint and relationship with whatever that fear is.
Yeah, I don’t even think most of us understand that we’re doing it. It’s also subconscious that maybe if you’re not into journal, it’s not journal, but saying it out loud sometimes, you start to realize how ridiculous certain things we say are when they’re said out loud. I think that even that, if people aren’t into journaling, I highly recommend, but if you’re not, sometimes saying it out loud like you’re saying it to someone else can sometimes really help.
Absolutely. One of the themes and some of what you just shared the last five or six minutes was this element of control. Control is a coping mechanism to run away or hide from an emotion or to avoid something altogether. You mentioned, again, my deep dive down the rabbit hole of a blog or a social media, but I love this, it stood out to me. You said, “We often look to dieting and restricting when we feel out of control because it makes us feel in control.” Tell us more about how that belief and subsequent action ultimately moves us two steps backwards rather than two steps forwards from our goal.
Yeah, so I was just talking to a client about this the other day, this feeling of control, because that’s ultimately why we calorie count, is we think we have control. But when you think about it, that’s actually food having control over you. You no longer actually have control when you’re doing something like calorie counting all the time and getting all these anxious emotions from it. We’re not in “control” as much as we think we are because most people either underestimate, overestimate. According to the FDA … The percentages could be off by 15% and it would still be fine and all these different things. We’re not even really much in control.
We think we’re in control when we look at how many calories we’ve earned on a watch, but there are so many factors the watch actually doesn’t know. One, it’s this false sense of control, ultimately, because we actually can’t know the internal processes of the body. Our bodies aren’t computers like we would like to think they are, but that’s like, humans just want to label everything and we want to control everything and make sense of it. That’s just how we are, unfortunately. But it takes us two steps back because by focusing on these external factors, the numbers and all this, you actually get unsensitized, desensitized to your body.
Our body knows. If you need to pee, you go pee. If you’re thirsty, you drink water. If you are cold, you put on a jacket. Those are all internal body cues. We come so far from that when we focus on external things, is that we start to not even realize. You ask most people like, “Okay, let’s practice hunger awareness.” Outside of my stomach is grumbling, people don’t know what hunger feels like. Or, we think about, “Hey, let’s respect our fullness. Do you understand what 80% full means in your body?” Most people don’t know what that is. It’s like, “Oh, well, I just eat until I’m really, really full and I don’t even understand what it feels like to feel the different percentages of full.”
Those are all internal processes. A child, when they’re not hungry anymore will stop eating. We’re really good at those things. But when we focus on external factors, we shy away from listening to ourselves and trusting ourselves. That’s ultimately what happens, is we no longer have a trust in our body to tell us when we’re hungry, when we’re full, what we’re craving, when we’re thirsty versus when we’re hungry. All those type of things. Once you start to understand what hunger feels like, what fullness feels like, when you’re craving, when you’ve eaten pasta two days in a row and what it feels like to crave greens afterwards because your body again knows what it needs.
I think that’s when we start to disconnect and untrust and start to think we need the calorie counting. Because, “Oh, well, my body doesn’t know when it’s full so I have to use a calorie counter.” But unfortunately, sometimes your body needs 2000 calories and sometimes it needs 22,000, and sometimes it needs 2200, sorry, not 22,000.
That would be a great day.
Sometimes it needs 1600. On any different day your body’s going to need different things, and no external thing is going to give you as much information as your body will in and of itself. Again, maybe another tangent.
No, it’s a great point. To be candid, all my listeners know this, I’m a big advocate or fan of some type of structure, never to the over-consuming part of every part of your life, but I like structure. We can look at many examples across many domains of life, relationships, finances, career, some level of structure helps the most successful get there. But I love what you’re saying about just at some point in our life it’s like we come to a fork in the road and we choose the road or the path that everybody travels and we become so desensitized to our hunger cues. Everyone is counting calories, wearing a watch, using an app to log their food.
That is related to our innate biological wiring and drive to belong, to be a part of the sense of community. But what I think is so interesting is, and a couple things that happen, is number one is when we start expending all that mental and emotional energy on counting calories, it’s just a bandaid. It’s just an excuse from redirecting that energy to look inward and to do the deeper work to understand the emotions too. But I can’t help but imagine, and maybe you can speak to this more. When we’ve been conditioned for so long to eat 1200 calories, for example, and we know we’re ravenous, but the moment we binge or we slip up, we’re met with an overwhelming amount of guilt.
Which I imagine keeps us frozen and paralyzed back in these unhealthy unsustainable behavior. For somebody listening who is glued to MyFitnessPal or maybe married is a better word and wants to start trying to listen and learn their own bodily cues again, where do they start?
Yeah. I agree with you in terms of structure, most of my health coaching clients, we start with food journal. I don’t make them track calories. It’s just simply what they’re eating and how often they’re eating and how much they’re eating, because I do think it’s important. Again, we’ve come so far off the spectrum that doing some structure I think is always important and learning, like, “Hey, what does breakfast look like? Lunch, the macro nutrients, all that kind of stuff.” I do think structure is important when it comes to at least starting to learn about food and what a serving size of something might look like.
Because especially in America, you go out and you get pasta and it’s actually a serving size for four, as opposed to one. It may be hard to go out and start like, “Okay, I’m going to eat until I’m 80%.” If you’re on that side of the spectrum of not understanding fullness or hunger or whatever, going into a restaurant looking at a plate like that and being like, “Okay, I’m just going to eat until I’m full.” That might be very difficult. I think learning things like, “Okay, this is what a serving size looks like.” But also to your point, not being married to, and that’s all you can have.
Because some days it might be too little, sometimes it might be too much, some days … Again, I think one of the first things that people can do, if you’re married to something like MyFitnessPal is, there are things you learned from doing something like MyFitnessPal. To our point, maybe what a serving size of something looks like, but maybe slowly starting to take back. I understand cold turkey is sometimes very difficult for people when it comes to something like taking the reins away from something like MyFitnessPal. Maybe not cold turkey, but allowing yourself to maybe not input every single little thing. With my clients, I do have them go cold turkey.
I want to be mindful that it might not be what everyone would do, but for my clients and I, I find deleting the app is the best thing because it’s almost like Instagram. Like, you initially go towards this.
Let’s go that direction.
It’s a hard question because there are so many different spectrums and so I am trying to figure out a very general answer for everyone. But maybe what I would start with, what I always try and start with is just awareness and observation first. When you’re going into your meals, maybe just starting with observing, “Am I hungry or am I not hungry?” Or, let’s see, yeah, that’s probably where I would start, was just observation. Trying to do some hunger scale, perhaps. Are you going into your meals and how do you feel going into your meals? Are you starving and ravenous? In which case, maybe that means you didn’t eat enough or are you going into your meal just because it’s 12:00 and it’s lunchtime and you have to eat.
That’s probably the first thing I would do because when it comes to MyFitnessPal, depending on where the spectrum you are, you might be eating just because MyFitnessPal tells you to or you might not be eating because MyFitnessPal tells you to. Perhaps observance, I don’t know if I have a general answer, honestly, for that question because everyone from my experience is so different.
Yeah, there’s no one size fit all. I can tell you, I love your answer because it’s a combination of what I would do as well, is that you have someone simply every time they eat rate their hunger on a scale of one to five, rate or write down, why are you eating right now? What emotion is present? It’s just a couple quick questions to bring awareness to the moment. Maybe we notice after three days of tracking that every day around 2:30 PM you are bored out of your fucking mind or you’re stressed and you’re eating because there’s a bag of chocolate covered pretzels there. It’s convenient. But were you hungry? No, you weren’t hungry because you ate lunch an hour ago every single one of those days.
Again, it’s patterns and then awareness, identifying and using that newfound awareness to then take action. But what I would love to know then is, let’s say with one of your clients, you have them delete the app and cut cold turkey. What are some of the common emotions or maybe forms of resistance that come up and then how do you coach them through that?
Yeah, so fear, a lot of fear, because you go from control to, I don’t know what the hell is happening. There’s that lack of trust. I generally like to say, again, you’re learn something from MyFitnessPal. Unfortunately and fortunately, not everything is deleted from your mind. I’ve worked with people that are like, “Yeah, I can still count even though I’m not using MyFitnessPal.” It’s like, that’s a good thing and not a good thing, because at the end of the day, again, I try and come from it as stance. The numbers don’t count as long as, or don’t matter as long as you’re listening to what you need. Maybe going back, perhaps what I would do is going from MyFitnessPal to maybe just writing everything down and just writing down times.
That’s something we do in the food journaling, is writing down what time you’re eating and what you’re eating. Taking the focus away from the calories first and maybe not limiting all of that control, but just writing down what you ate. That way you can still observe your patterns. Maybe that would be a good step. That’s my answer. That would be a good first step, is maybe just shifting away from calories and macro counting to just writing it down to observe patterns. Then, to your point, when you’re sitting down you’re like, “Oh, I’m not hungry, I’m just eating this for emotional reasons.” Then, all of a sudden the judgment starts coming up.
Learning how to just sift through the judgment, because I think food has control over us only if we give it control. We give it control by ruminating, by stressing over it, by all these things. That’s ultimately one of the reasons why things like brownies or cookies or whatever have so much control, is because we put them on a pedestal. The minute a cookie holds just as much mental space as broccoli, it doesn’t diminish all of it because we know these things are made to be craved, but it eliminates some of the control it has over you mentally because now you’re not thinking about it all the time. It’s like, don’t think of a pink elephant, what are you thinking of sort of thing.
It’s like, we’re always thinking about it. The control thing is big with a lot of my clients and just rebuilding trust with self. There will be months that clients will be like, “Oh, I overate my cookies. I don’t know how many calories was in it, but it must have been a lot.” It’s all about just like, “Relax, calm down. You are probably overeating these things because you’ve restricted them for so long. We just need to move through.” A lot of my practice is nutrition science-based, psychology based, but also intuitive eating. I do have an intuitive eating. It’s not all intuitive eating because there are some things in there where I’m like … I just try and cherry pick the things that I find really work.
But what I do through the intuitive eating space is moving through the emotions that come up when you’re eating and recognizing this is long term. You may overeat the first couple of times and it may freak you the hell out, but eventually you’ll get, with a lot of my clients at least, a couple weeks or a couple months, there will come a point where you’re like, “Oh, I was able to just have one cookie and not eat the whole bag.” Because I’ve done that work of moving through the emotion, allowing myself to maybe have it and recognizing everything’s okay. But a lot of people, when they come out of something like MyFitnessPal, they all of a sudden feel like they’re out of control and they’re eating everything.
It’s like, “Because you were in control. You’re out of control because you were trying too hard to control.” You may have this period of feeling really out of control, but eventually, if you’re working with the right person or if you’re all this stuff, eventually you’ll move past that to your body just settling. It’s hard to describe. I wish I could describe it a little better, but that’s the way I see it, is your body just settles and you start to make peace with these things. It’s not until you do that settling period that I feel like you can then start to be like, “Okay, let’s actually start to focus on what are macros.” It’s always the how before or the why before the what. It’s like, “Why are we doing the things that we’re doing?”
Before we start to focus on, “Okay, how much protein? What is carbs?” I don’t know if that’s making any sense, but that’s generally how I do it with my clients, is there’s a lot of emotions, letting go of some of the control, which means being out of control for a little bit, and trying to be okay with that. Then, coming back up for air nice and slowly and then learning, like, “Okay.” I do believe the more people know about nutrition, the easier it’ll be for people to be like, “Okay, screw that diet, screw that. Carbs are good for us, fats are good for us, proteins aren’t good for us.” But we’ve demonized these things because we don’t know.
I feel like most people, if they knew why fats were good for us or why carbs are good for us, they wouldn’t be so scared or feel the need to control. Does that make any sense?
Yeah, it was very well said. Absolutely. Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. Knowledge is power so long as we take action with that knowledge.
Yeah, exactly. Exactly. I think the diet really uses the fact that a lot of people aren’t knowledgeable to their advantage, and it’s sad. It’s really frustrating and annoying, but that’s why people like you have the podcast and have these spaces, to have these conversations and to learn more and to equip people with … Yeah, I’ll end there.
No, I agree. I think we both share the same sentiment that the diet industry is far more concerned about money and dollars in their pockets than people’s wellbeing. Yeah, that’s a whole discussion and conversation in and of itself, which should be had. We should have that in a separate episode because ultimately I have many more questions I would love to ask you, but for the sake of being respectful to our listener’s time.
I want to end on this one though because I think this is really important, because I know without a doubt there are many, many people listening right now who can relate strongly to where you were years ago. They’re obsessing over everything they eat, and maybe they don’t have the binge eating disorder, but they have some type of disordered eating patterns and an unhealthy relationship with food that is consuming every aspect of their life. I want you to answer this question as if you were going back to speak to your younger self to give the listeners advice. But what is one thing you wish you started doing significantly sooner to catalyze the transformation that you’ve now had?
Good question. I want to try to give you a different answer than I gave you earlier, which was the self-love. Let’s see. The self one is big. I think the knowledge one is big. Even the control one is big, but I think … Oh, my gosh, so many things are going through my mind right now. I’m like, what would I tell younger Azul? It almost makes you emotional thinking about it, because just thinking about where I was at that point in time and head space and just wanting to be like, everything’s going to be okay, but how, how is everything going to be okay? I know that’s what I would tell myself or I’d ask myself now.
But I think I’m probably frustratingly going to go back to my original answer, which is self-love and just going back and telling myself, “Look, ultimately you … ” I’ve always been people driven and a little bit of a people pleaser. But I think ultimately understanding that I am not changing anyone’s life by looking a certain way. Ultimately, the way I show up in this world and the way people remember me is always by who I am and how I make them feel. The people that I remember in my life, the people that made the biggest impact on me in my life, it wasn’t because they looked a certain way, it’s because they made me feel a certain way or they taught me something.
I think that’s something for people to remember, because I think most people come into this space wanting to change because they’re looking for love or they think they need to look a certain way to gain respect or anything like that, or to be happy. We equate being thinner to being happy. But you ask most people that are honest, at least, when we were at our smallest we were not our happiest. You think everything’s going to be answered if you hit a certain size, and it’s unfortunately not a lot of the times. Especially if you did it in unhealthy ways. I think that’s the problem, is that we try and achieve a size in an unhealthy way and therefore mentally and physically we’re unhealthy, unwell.
I think that would be the biggest thing, is just understanding that none of my friends are my friends because I look a certain way. My family doesn’t love me because I look a certain way. My partners haven’t been with me because I look a certain way. I didn’t get the job I got because I looked a certain way. I am much more than my body and in the same token I only have one body. I need to treat that body with respect and I need to treat that body with love. Sometimes that means eating a cookie because I want a cookie. Sometimes that means maybe not eating a cookie because I’ve already had five and that’s not so kind either.
I think that’s something to ask yourself, like, is it kind of me to restrict myself of having all the things that I enjoy? But in the other token, is it kind of me to always be eating out and eating fast food? You can ask yourself both of those questions and get to the same result of, balance is key, and always treating yourself with respect. That means with what you eat, with how much you move, with why you do those things. Understanding health is much more than nutrition and the way you move. Like, are you in a relationship that you are happy in? Do you have friends or do you have a community? Are you sleeping well? Are you managing your stress?
There’s so much that goes into it, but ultimately you need to be happy with yourself. If not self-love, at least self-respect. If not loving your body, at least respecting your body. If loving your body feels like too far away and feels like fake, then at least being like, “No matter what my body looks like, it deserves respect no matter what.” I don’t need to love it, if love feels really far away, but I at least know that I need to respect it because I have this one body and it’s the vehicle to which I explore the world. If I want to live a long, healthy, happy life, I need to take care of it. That means eating well, eating enough, moving, managing stress, sleeping, all those things.
Yeah, beautiful answer. Where can listeners go to connect with you, learn more about you, and to consume your journals, your courses, and get in touch with you about coaching?
Yeah, so there’s my website that has the bulk of knowledge and info. I put a lot into my blogs and my newsletter so they can go there. That’s azulcorawellness.com. Then, I am on my Instagram for better or for worse every single day. That’s my first and my last name, Azul Corajoria. I’m sure you’ll put in the show notes or something because that’s going to be a difficult one for people.
I will, and I can vouch you have phenomenal reels, your content is funny, but most importantly educational and impactful, and your blog is great. Like I said, I went down the rabbit hole on dozens of blog posts to prepare for this. I think you do a great job. Your analogies too, I’ll specifically shout them out, are really, really good, so awesome work there.
Oh, thank you.
Well, Azul, thank you so much for joining me today. I appreciate it.
Thank you so much. This was such a fruitful conversation. I love to talk to people that have very similar views, and I love to hopefully shift the health and wellness space a little bit more towards self-care and self-love as opposed to insecurities and punishment. Thank you for hosting this podcast, having the conversations that you do, and I’m so happy that we met.
Yeah, likewise. I’m looking at my notes. We have many more questions to discuss, but we’ll save that for another episode. Ladies and gentlemen listening, thank you so much for listening. Please go follow Azul, go subscribe to her email newsletter, get in contact with her in some way, shape, or form. She has so many nuggets of gold to share with you as you just tasted here, the last 45 or 50 minutes or so. If you found this episode valuable, take 30 seconds to share it with a friend or loved one who you know will also find tremendous value in this episode.
Of course, if you have not done so already, an honest rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen to the show is greatly appreciated by me. Thank you so much for listening. Have a wonderful rest of the day, and as always, screw the scale.
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