If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: How you do one thing is how you do everything. And believe me when I tell you that I resisted this little nugget of wisdom hard. I really wanted to be the special snowflake who *could* confine her bad habits to one area of her life and not have it spill over into everything else.
Take for example my complicated relationship with clocks. I always used to run late because—despite loads of evidence to the contrary—I deluded myself into thinking that traffic would move swiftly and my kids would buckle themselves into their carseats without protest.
(Spoiler alert: the roads are filled with bad drivers, and those kids are ages 3 and 5 so they move with all the speed of a turtle running through honey.)
There’s a word for my unrealistic expectations surrounding time: I’m a tidsoptimist. It’s a word used to describe people who are habitually late because they think they have more time than they actually do. (The word is of Swedish origin—and so am I—so I guess it was meant to be?)
So it wasn’t just that I used to run late to meetings or dinners or daycare drop-off, my overly optimistic relationship with time meant I procrastinated things or expected other people to match my frenetic pace—only to be let down when things didn’t go to plan.
When I took an honest inventory of this behavior, I saw time troubles popping up everywhere:
>> Putting off work until the last moment, then hustling to get everything done before the (often self-imposed) deadline
>> Lusting over ways to build more efficiency and productivity in my day so I could go on pretending I’m some superhuman who can fit everything into my 24 hours if I just work smarter
>> Beating myself up when I run out of time before I finish everything I wanted to do
Ep. 23: What It Takes to Be a Boundary Queen – Start, Grow, or Pivot: Business Planning & Strategies For Women Entrepreneurs
I had to admit, my tendency to push my time to the limit and expect everything and everyone around me to get out of my way was showing up everywhere in my life. It was the sneaky hidden root under most of the stress and anxiety I felt on a daily basis, and it went virtually undetected until I learned to accept that—just like every other human—how I do one thing is how I do everything.
By now you are probably wondering what diet culture and business have to do with any of this. Like, how does what you eat have any bearing on how you run your business?!
I’m glad you asked.
If how we do one thing is how we do everything, then every habit, tendency, and behavior is inextricably linked.
And that means that when we change a habit, tendency, or behavior, those changes reverberate throughout everything we do.
For me, making a fundamental change in how I approach food sent shockwaves throughout my entire thought process. It changed how I viewed myself, what I thought about, how I made decisions, and even what things I allowed into my environment.
Changing my approach to food meant shunning any and all forms of dieting, and embracing the principles of intuitive eating instead. Intuitive eating, for those who don’t know, means trusting your body to tell you when, what, and how much to eat. It means full permission to eat any food without guilt, judgment, or shame. There is no self-discipline or restraint; there is only listening to your body and honoring its needs.
As a serial dieter, this is a totally new concept—one that would require the adoption of an entirely new mindset.
As these principles seeped in, I started seeing parallels between the “rules” I had imposed on myself regarding food with “rules” I had unwittingly been following in my business. In an instant, I could see how these old, tired patterns of thinking had been holding me back in my business.
Since implementing these new strategies, my social media presence has grown, I had my biggest month ever in terms of revenue, and—most importantly—I’m having more fun in my business than I thought possible.
Here are the top three ways ditching diet culture upleveled my biz.
#1: I went all in
I knew that if I wanted to truly embrace intuitive eating, I’d have to go all-in. I was prepared to let go of every belief I’d ever held about body size, food rules, calorie counting, carbs, and the idea that some foods were “good” and some were “bad.”
Going all-in meant putting my scale away (actually, putting both of my scales away because I have one to weigh myself and another to weigh my food!).
Going all in meant throwing out ALL of the diet books I’d accumulated throughout the years. I stacked them neatly on my desk, scooped them up, and walked them straight to the garbage bin in my garage. They made a loud thump noise when they hit the bottom of the can, and hearing that satisfying sound made it all the more real.
Going all in on intuitive eating also meant deleting my favorite calorie-counting app. I’d used it off and on for YEARS; it was a permanent fixture on my phone. Even when I wasn’t actively keeping tabs on calories or macros, I used the app to track my weight or check the calorie count of a food I wanted to eat. There is no room in intuitive eating for scrutinizing calories and carbs.
I noticed that within a matter of days, my outlook shifted. I was no longer available for diet culture. When ads or posts would pop up on social media promoting diet food, supplements, or meal plans, I’d completely ignore them without a second thought. Something in me had fundamentally changed. I began to take my power back with regard to what information I allowed to affect me.
It just so happened that around this time, I was also going through a major inflection point in my business. I love being a virtual life coach and small business consultant. It’s my jam. But the marketing side of things has been a struggle for me because I’m just not built for in-your-face marketing tactics and I feel completely out of integrity when I’m focused more on selling than serving.
Because of the anxiety I felt around marketing, I’d fallen into the trap of overanalyzing all my Instagram posts and shying away from making the kind of content I really wanted to make because some of it didn’t fit neatly into my “niche.” I felt torn because on one hand, I had a desire to create from a playful, authentic place, but on the other hand I wanted to market “the right way” according to “the experts.”
My solution to this internal struggle? Going all in on my vision. Letting my content be an expression of my whole self—even if it means veering off the path of least resistance—because my coaching practice is built on the belief that each of my clients is brilliantly unique, and what better way to illustrate that than to embody it myself?
#2: Instead of following someone else’s rules, I made my own
Diet culture is teeming with rules. The industry has come at us from every angle, whether it’s telling us what time to eat, or what to eat, or how often to eat, or how much to eat.
Paradoxically, each diet claims to be better than the rest. And each one promises some kind of freedom that other diets don’t offer. For example, counting calories means you can eat any kind of food you want as long as you don’t go over a certain number of calories. Keto means you can eat as many calories as you want as long as you don’t eat carbs. Intermittent fasting means you can eat a variety of foods as long as you do it in a restrained amount of time.
The one thing all diets do is strip us of our sovereignty. Diet culture teaches us to place our trust everywhere BUT our own minds and bodies.
Ditching diet culture meant reclaiming power and authority over food and allowing my body to decide what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat.
Because (again) how we do one thing is how we do everything, I realized that by training my mind to give away my body’s autonomy over its own nourishment, I had trained it to submit to other externally-imposed rules in other other areas of my life, too.
And one of those areas was my business.
As a coach, I help entrepreneurs find their own unique style and voice so they can run their businesses the way that feels best to them. And by and large, I run my business that way, too.
But I noticed that from time to time, I would let my coaches or colleagues influence me a little too much. Even if I ultimately made a choice that was in full alignment with my authenticity, I wouldn’t feel as “hell yes” about it as I wanted to because I was quietly wondering what they would have done, or whether they would agree with my decision.
I decided to completely let go of rules. Just like I had dropped all those dieting rules, I stopped questioning whether I was “breaking” any rules by carving my own path in the industry. Now, I make decisions that feel fully aligned and I get to feel the freedom that comes with trusting myself so much that I don’t even care what other coaches are doing.
#3: I stopped doing things that didn’t feel good to me
Have you ever gotten on the low-carb bandwagon? For a while there, diet culture was promoting this one as the word of god. Even fruit was on the no-no list. It was bananas (but don’t eat actual bananas because of the carbs)!
When the human body is deprived of carbohydrates—its preferred source of fuel—it’s forced to find less convenient ways to keep itself going. And this process of switching from carbs to other sources of energy makes you feel like absolute shit. Chills, headaches, and nausea are common.
Now, if you can make it through this initial period, your body will fully switch to a new method of energy and you’ll feel normal again. But watch out, because if you slip up and eat some bread, your body will get all excited and go back to using carbs for fuel and then you’ll have to go through the whole process again!
No part of this eating plan feels good to me. Neither does fasting, counting calories, weight obsession, thin privilege, fat bias, or food morality.
Do you know what does feel good? Listening to my body. Feeding it what it needs, when it needs it, and in an amount that fuels it.
In terms of my business, I didn’t just stop listening to other people altogether. But I did begin running everything I heard through my own internal filter and asking myself whether it sounded good to me.
Even more importantly: Did it feel good? Did it create a feeling of peace and calm in my body, or was there tightness and resistance? (Ya’ll, the body is so smart… we are fools if we don’t listen.)
I decided to apply this “does it feel good?” filter not just to food but to every piece of information that came my way. As a result of this change, I stopped doing anything in my business that didn’t feel good to me no matter who suggested it or what their rationale was.
The bottom line
The bottom line is that once you understand that how you do one thing is how you do everything, everything you do becomes a way to learn more about yourself. Every “bad habit” becomes a learning opportunity because you know that whatever belief (or set of beliefs) is at the root of that behavior is showing up in other places, too.
This was my journey. Drawing parallels between my relationship with food and the way I approach my business was the key that unlocked more of my potential. For you, it might be something completely different, and that’s okay. No matter what, you can use this concept to tear down the roadblocks that hold you back from more success in your business.