Hi Hayley,
I hope you can help me with my fitness goals. I don't have a huge amount of weight I'd like to lose. I mostly need to tone up a bit. I'd ideally like to lose about 10 pounds in two months or so. But here's the kicker, I'm struggling with disordered eating. It's probably a mild form of yo-yo, where I eat very little for as long as I can until I snap and binge and then purge. When I initially lost weight, about five years ago (and that was a significant amount, about thirty pounds within a few short months) I did it completely unhealthily; I over-exercised and under ate and threw up even the little I was eating. I'd really want to stop this awful cycle but it's a tough one to break. Can you suggest a diet that is wholesome but doesn't deprive me of my precious chocolate that I can follow while also giving me a workout that will help me blast as many calories in a short workout? I actually tend to lose weight pretty quickly but lately I've put on about four pounds of muscle and plateaued. I'm 24 and weight about 128 pounds on a 5 foot 3 frame. Thanks! N

I don’t believe in diets and I believe when you deprive yourself of foods you enjoy it is unhealthy and it almost always ends in binge eating. I want you to ask yourself why you think you binge and purge because that is a more important issue right now than losing 10 pounds.  Until you deal with what is causing you to continue along this path you will always be trying to lose 10 lbs for the rest of your life and you will never be happy. I see this all the time with women who come into my life.  And I hear “I’ll be happy when I lose 10 pounds” every single day from so many women and when they finally lose those 10 pounds they are still unhappy and want to lose more weight or perhaps take other extreme measures to make change in their bodies.

I want to share something personal with you and with the rest of Lainey’s readers.  I have suffered from binging and purging myself and as I wrote in another article I also suffered (and continue to battle with) disordered eating (I call it exercise bulimia). I have been good for a long time but when I feel that there are things in my life that I am trying to avoid or run away from or cannot control I turn to food as it is one thing that I can always control, whether it be putting a lot of it into my body or none at all.  What helped me to move away from this cycle was dealing with what was making me feel this way.  For example, when I feel anxious about something in my life, instead of turning to food or exercise as a distraction I accept the feeling of being anxious and then figure out why I am feeling that way and make a plan to fix it.

I think with where you are in your life the last thing that you need to do is go on a diet and start a crazy and intense exercise program.  What you need to do is work on creating a healthy relationship with food.  I read a book a few years back called Women, Food and God (it’s not a religious book) and it focuses on exactly that.

To me, health and fitness is not about being skinny (as you can probably tell from most of my posts) as it encompasses so much more.  It is about challenging yourself to be better, to be stronger, to be consistent, to wake up every morning and eat a healthy breakfast because it is good for you, and to snack on vegetables because your body needs them to thrive, not because if you live off salad you can finally fit into your skinny jeans.  Health is about being able to have a piece of chocolate cake at a party and enjoy it without feeling guilty or the urge to have 10 pieces of it. Health is about waking up on a Sunday morning and being excited to get outside and go for a walk or a hike or a bike ride and beginning a workout excited for the challenge.  It is looking forward to cooking a delicious dinner with your partner or your best friend or simply by yourself after a stressful day at work.

The 10 pounds will come off, if you really feel that you need to lose them, but 128 pounds at 5 foot 3 is a very healthy weight.  We live in a society where women put so much of their self worth on how they look and what size they are and I don’t blame them.  We are surrounded by false images in the media, images that are air brushed and computer generated.  We continually strive to look like women in Hollywood and consider someone who is deathly skinny to be beautiful.  Have you heard of the IV diet? It is the big fad right now in Hollywood and with women who are desperate to get thin.  Women are actually being hooked up to an IV that feeds them 800 calories a day, through a tube in their nose.  We are THAT desperate to be thin!

I would love for you to set another goal and look at it long term, not short term. Go find something that you love to do each time you are doing it, an activity that doesn’t feel like a chore and start to make small changes in your life that over time will add up.  Like I have said many times – 1 change a week equals 52 changes a year.

I am sorry that I cannot give you the magic answer because unfortunately there is not one.  There are a lot of programs and plans out there that will give you the quick result that you are looking for but I fear in a month you will find yourself right back at the start.  So, start filling your body with the delicious and healthy foods it deserves and start exercising, not to burn mega calories, but because you love to be healthy.  If you adopt an attitude like that, anything is possible.

Attached - Vanessa Hudgens and mom hit the gym together.