by Heather Davey, F + F Nutrition Coach

I have always wanted to become a nutrition coach on some level or another. Growing up I
have had my own struggles with food and body image. I have been told that I eat too much. I eat
too fast. I wasn’t allowed to leave the table until all the food on my plate was gone even if I wasn’t
hungry and I didn’t want it. I was told that I should be aware of how my body looks. Kids told me I
was fat and would make fun of me. There is a quote that resonates with me that goes, “Did you
not like that part of your body before someone told you not to?”

In 2013/14 I struggled to find that proverbial magic pill and started down the road of slim
teas and supplements that were supposed to suppress my appetite. I always thought that I did a
good job with what I was eating and didn’t really think I was overeating, but the truth in the matter
is I probably was. Because of the way I grew up I never wanted to throw out any food. I would
have to finish what was on my plate regardless of how full I felt. If I went out to eat, I would
always have to finish what was on my plate. I never ate until just full, never pushing my plate away
to say “No, thank you. I am done”. This was because I had trained myself at an early age to stop
listening to the internal voice that was telling me it was full, to tell me that it was ok and that I
didn’t need to finish whatever it was that I was eating.

One day I was having a conversation with a close girlfriend who was about to enter her
first bodybuilding competition. I have always had this dream to compete in a fitness competition. I
would watch TSN as a young girl and see these women with all these beautiful muscles tuck
jump, high kick, do push-ups, on one hand, run and flip into a handstand and land in the splits.
This was something that I had wanted to do but my love and struggles with food were just too
dominating that I couldn’t mentally get myself there. My girlfriend challenged me to do one month
on her diet. She said to just do my best and follow this diet as best I could. Since I was already in
the headspace of needing a change, I decided what the heck! I mean if she could do it why
couldn’t I? I started on this “bro-diet” journey of egg whites, chicken breast, tilapia and broccoli
and never really looked back. I followed that diet pretty much to a T. I had a cheat meal every
Friday where I would basically go off the rails and eat a meal that I wouldn’t allow myself to have
during the week. I did so well at this and was quite pleased with myself. I then decided that I
too wanted to live out my lifelong dream and enter a fitness competition.

I did a lot of research and hired a great local coach with a great background and
reputation in contest prep. I went into this prep with laser focus, giving it 110%. I had heard
about reverse dieting and would read countless articles as I went through prep but honestly,
nothing I read could set me up for the aftermath. After my competition was all said and done, I
struggled so hard reversing out of that diet that I had spent 16 weeks (or more) getting into.

Immediately after the show, I travelled to the states to celebrate all my hard work and to hit up TJ’s and Target to buy all the junk food I wasn’t allowed to eat. When I got home, I hid all the
food in my spare bedroom and away from my boyfriend at the time. I didn’t want to share any of
this food with him. I would sneakily binge eat the food then sneak the wrappers into the recycling
and garbage so he wouldn’t see them and call me out on not sharing things with him (do you see
the red flags?). I would often have breakdowns; I am talking full tears thinking that I was going to
become morbidly obese as my body returned to its normal state. Nothing I read nor any plan I tried to
put in place could ever prepare me for this aftermath. I am not saying all contest preps are like
this. There are some really great coaches out there and people that don’t have this issue but then
there are also a lot of people who do.

After that prep and that road, it took me close to three years to really start changing the
narrative in my head about my body image. Just over a year out of the contest, I hired a new
coach to help me learn how to track my macros and train me to lift heavy. I wanted to gain
muscle and be strong AF!! But also wanted to develop a better relationship with food. I learned to track
food and be aware of what I was eating. I started really simple and basic until I got the hang of it
before I branched out to more “complex” meals. I also started to talk to my counsellor about my
relationship with food and how it made me feel. How I felt so guilty for eating certain things and
always thinking that I was binge eating. I started to tune in to my body more and teach myself that
it is ok to not finish what is on my plate if I am no longer hungry. I would allow myself to
indulge in a doughnut sampler pack with my sister, which is one of my favourite things to do, but
I also knew that we did not have to finish all of those doughnuts and it was okay to throw them away. I
started to unfollow “fitspo” accounts on social media that played into my unhealthy relationship
with my body image.

This journey that I am on is a long one. I have years of conditioning that I am working on
changing. It takes time. It took me years to think this way, and it is going to take me a few to stop thinking
this way. In the process though I realized that I wasn’t alone. That there are people out there like me
that need the help and guidance that I was looking for and could have found with a good nutrition
coach. There is so much false information out there, from grocery store magazines to websites telling you
lies. Not to mention the uprising of people on social media telling you that you can’t eat
bread because it will stick to your stomach!!! It just makes me so mad and sad. Carbs are not bad ok!!! I
don’t know how many times I need to tell you this. I really just want to help people live a healthy and
balanced lifestyle while feeling good about themselves and reminding them that they are human, and it is
ok to eat that doughnut!


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