Gentle Weight Loss is something that I introduced in the winter of 2021 as a way to slowly accelerate the path to your natural weight. I built it upon the existing Psycho-Spiritual Wellness framework — aka, the Stop, Drop, & Feel takes center stage, and there is no calorie counting or deprivation.
Naturally, I was suuuper reluctant to teach anything weight loss-related because, well, the intuitive eating sphere is constantly shrieking about the need to let go of the desire to lose weight.
And this is why I intentionally separate myself from intuitive eating — and why I’ve really stuck with my weird-sounding but perfectly-fitting name, Psycho-Spiritual Wellness.
Because I think it’s perfectly fine to want to lose weight! I even made a YouTube video where I rant about why it’s perfectly OK to desire weight loss, and why it’s much worse to get mad at yourself for wanting it than to gently heed its message.
(In my YouTube video, I talk about how many of us have a low-level desire for weight loss, but when that desire spikes and we get hell-bent on losing weight, it’s a sign that something else is going on.)
(But already, I am digressing.)
Gentle Weight Loss was something that I was very reluctant to teach, but I also felt very called to share it with my community. I was living the experience and it was exciting!
As someone that wholeheartedly advocates giving up dieting (and still do!! this has not changed an is still a requirement for a healthy relationship with food and for reaching your natural weight!!!) I was worried that people would think I was a fraud.
So when I introduced AYNW last year, I was very upfront and honest that it was 1) experimental and 2) it did involve some dietary advice. That dietary advice was something that I learned through my Chinese herbalist, who I had already been working with for 3 years before something finally “clicked” in regards to weight loss.
It was gentle, it made sense, and it didn’t require any deprivation or threaten my mental health. No diet can make this claim!!!
How AYNW Loss Got Started
When I first learned these things (these very “Eastern medicine” type things), I began experimenting on myself in October of 2021. I had a gut feeling that this was going to be life-changing, and I was incredibly surprised that within 3 weeks, I had dropped some weight; and within six weeks, I had dropped an entire pant size.
I will never forget that day. I went into American Eagle (my favorite place to buy jeans) and tried on my normal size, which is a size 8. It was loose, so I went and grabbed a size 6 out of sheer willy-nilly/why-not vibes. While walking back to the fitting room to try it on, I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no way this will fit, or maybe it will but it’ll be very unflattering and tight.”
As I started to try them on… I knew something was different. They already felt good as I began pulling them on, and I was over-the-moon when I was able to button them with ease. They didn’t fit in a squeeze-me/give-me-love-handles kind of way. But they just… fit. I will never forget that day.
I Never Thought I’d Be Here
After spending my entire life struggling with my weight and yo-yo dieting like crazy… (something SO many of my clients and readers relate to)… after so many years of feeling like I lacked willpower and like I was NEVER going to be free of the struggle….
To later overcoming compulsive eating through the Stop, Drop, & Feel and other principles of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness (which I completely outline in Food Normal)…. and to GENUINELY get to a place where I rarely overeat anymore…
After all of that, I got back my LIFE.
My days stopped revolving around food. My thoughts wandered onto things that didn’t involve when and where my next meal would be. It was an enormous breakthrough in my life. And this is why I am so so passionate about the books, workbooks, and online courses that I provide, as well as the coaching that I offer!
I regained my mental health. I stopped loathing myself. And I felt free.
I was still a size 8 through all of it. I had been a size 8 or 10 for many, many years.
I Was Able to Do Something That Once Felt Impossible
To finally get to a place where I could intentionally lose weight and keep it off… to get to a place where I dropped an entire pant size, something that I had NEVER done in my entire adult life…. and to have it stick… all while maintaining my mental health and still feeling very normal around food…. it was incredible.
All of that happened within six weeks, and I kept my mouth shut because I wanted to see if it would indeed stick. So a month went by, and those jeans still fit. And another month went by, and I was still a size 6.
To some, this might not be impressive because some people can lose weight, drop a pant size, and see it stick — it’s the whole gaining it back that gets us. But I personally was never good at losing weight. I always operated on a very short timeline back when I was still yo-yo dieting. I would restrict Monday through Thursday and binge on Friday. I never really did lose much weight when I dieted, and when I binged I (thankfully) never gained crazy amounts of weight either.
All that to say: I’ve never been able to lose weight and keep it off for more than a week my entire life.
So, once I dropped an entire freaking pant size using the principles of AYNW and I kept it off for two months, that’s when I decided to speak up and share it with all of you.
The Day I Went “Public” with AYNW
In the winter of 2021, I held a live workshop where I introduced the principles of AYNW and answered any questions that anyone had. (I actually released the principles a week before the workshop so that people could practice them and come with even better questions.)
The feedback I got was positive, but people did say that they couldn’t immediately practice it because they were still in the stages of giving up dieting and it didn’t feel right. And OMG was I so so proud of them for listening to their bodies on that one!!! (That was a point that I hammered in the AYNW guidelines: if at any point you feel triggered to restrict or binge, stop and go back to the basics: aka, the Stop, Drop, & Feel and the PSW eating guidelines.)
It was after that feedback that I realized that I was only successful with AYNW because I had already spent a long time going through the stages of giving up dieting, and I was VERY well-practiced with the Stop, Drop, & Feel. (I mean, hello, I created an entire masterclass on the Stop, Drop, & Feel based on years of personal experience and answering questions from all you lovelies.)
Deciding the Best Way to Teach AYNW
Over the next year, I sat on this idea, unsure of what to do with it. I knew that it worked because I had witnessed it first-hand (and witnessed it as a person that used to compulsively eat, too!!), but I wasn’t sure how to teach it because it does require intensive work with the other tools of Psycho-Spiritual Wellness.
Then, during 2022, I spent six full months creating Food Normal, my comprehensive online course on the path to stopping compulsive eating the psycho-spiritual way. It was my dream to make this course (I had been procrastinating on it for way too long) and I knew in my heart that I needed to make it.
Perhaps my intuition was telling me that I needed to create a comprehensive one-stop-shop that contains all the information I have learned, so that other people can build their own foundation, just like I did. Whether someone is interested in AYNW or not, I am very proud of the content inside Food Normal and think it will help anyone build a healthy relationship with food and body.
One Year Later
I’m happy to say that a little over a year has passed since I first started experimenting with AYNW, and I still fit into those size 6 jeans.
During 2022, I’ve also been living my life to the fullest. Recently, I went on a week-long trip to Italy and was thrilled to watch my behavior around food there. I was able to listen to my body, eat when I was hungry, stop when I was full, and overeating was a non-issue. I mention this because I was in the land of the most heavenly food on earth!
Sure, there were a couple meals where I ate past fullness because Italian cuisine is BOMB. But there were also times where I ran waaay too long without eating because of siesta (i.e. restaurants were closed when your girl was hungry) and I wasn’t planning my days very well around that. This, to me, is actually progress!
Old Kari would have been doing allll the research to make sure I knew when and where I was eating so that I could avoid hunger like the plague. It was so nice to feel relaxed and balanced around food. Although I’ve been at this for the last 6 years, it never gets old. It really doesn’t.
Also while I was in Italy, I never once thought about how much I weighed. Although I had been keeping an eye on all things AYNW (to make sure it actually does work) my size was completely off my mind. I still had all the benefits of giving up dieting, and I was still able to keep my size stable without thinking about it, all while on vacation (a time that many of us have heightened behaviors around food).
(Actually, some people naturally overeat less on vacation, while some of us struggle with it more. I used to fall into the ‘struggle with it more‘ camp, thankyouverymuch.)
Never never never did I think I could ever do this, and I am so excited to somehow teach AYNW (carefully!) to you guys soon. I am pretty sure that I will be offering it again in 2023, likely to students of Food Normal and/or to coaching clients.
My Rambling Is Almost Over!
Pretty much, I wrote this post because I wanted to share my excitement and explain what I’ve been up to, especially for anyone that heard me talk about AYNW last year and hasn’t heard me talk about it since.
If any of this intrigues you, feel free to leave me a comment below or reply to any of my emails. You know I looove to hear from you!