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New Series: The Pro-Body Project

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I went on my first diet at age eight.

Over the years I’ve given up carbohydrates, fat, protein, fruit, certain vegetables, sugar, breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, all drinks that weren’t either water or alcoholic, and I was going to add that I didn’t do this all at once, but at one point I tried that too. I gave up eating altogether. Fortunately that didn’t last long because I woke up one day and ate like I’d never eaten before – once I started I couldn’t stop.

Here are a few ‘highlights’ of my history with food:

  • Ages 8-16 I learned the calorie count of every food known to man, and I made it through far too many days on less than 900.
  • Spent my college years discussing how fat we all were with my friends. Agreed we’d go on a strict regime and chose the date when our New Life would begin. Fell from grace on day three and still recall the overwhelming sense of failure.
  • Met my first husband. At the time I spent an enormous amount of energy avoiding eating food whilst also thinking obsessively about food. Moving in together brought some relief as we ate healthier and more consistent meals. This didn’t last long and my obsessive behavior returned.
  • I moved to London. A year later, my marriage fell apart, and I fell apart with it. I replaced food with alcohol. That and the all-night dancing meant my weight dropped again, but I was the unhappiest I’d ever been.
  • When I reached a new low of binging and purging, I got scared. I stopped whilst I still could and continued to calorie count and exercise, but it was less frenetic. Within a year I met David, who I’m now happily married to.

Began yo-yo dieting again, only more intensely this time.  It felt dangerous to be around food because I wanted to be able to eat, but I also wanted not to eat. It felt like the moment I put food in my mouth I couldn’t stop eating.

I knew my behavior wasn’t normal, so I went to my doctor and she asked me if I starved myself or threw up my food and I said, “No,” because I hadn’t done either in years. She weighed me four times because I insisted there was something wrong – but my weight was normal, so I was refused help because I did not have a Recognized Eating Disorder.

In March 2013, I heard Gabrielle Bernstein speak. She told the audience how she’d consciously chosen to see obstacles as opportunities. She had consciously chosen. Those two words caused such a physical reaction in me that I began to sob. I remember thinking, “I can choose not to diet anymore,” and in that moment, the decision was made.

Almost four years later, I can’t say it’s been easy. It’s only this year I’ve felt truly diet-free.

I’ve stopped labeling foods as good or bad, and it no longer feels dangerous to be around food. But whilst I’d love this to be the part where I tell you, “I started eating intuitively and the weight just fell off,” that isn’t what happened at all.

I’ve put on weight, and I believe my relationship with food still requires more healing.

What’s changed is I no longer care about the number on the scale, but I do care deeply about how I feel and about my health. Whilst I truly love my body and feel very protective of it now, there are still some situations when I’m not entirely comfortable with it…and I want to be.

I’ve let a false, lifelong story I’ve carried around, affect my entire relationship with my body and food.  So at the end of the summer, I decided it was time to take the next step in this incredible journey.

No, I’m not about to start the Latest Diet Craze, or whatever workout is popular. I’m taking a holistic approach that will go far beyond food and exercise. I’ll be re-visiting old thoughts and stories, consulting with experts and exploring subjects such as body trauma, breath work, intimacy and I’m going to take on a personal challenge or two. One may even involve body paint.

And I’m inviting you to join me because sadly, I don’t believe my story is an isolated one.

Twice a month I’ll share what I’ve discovered – the ups as well as the downs – and I’ll be brutally honest. What you won’t find is advice on how to drop 30 pounds in 30 days, or what you need to follow in 2017 to achieve your Best Body Ever. I’m done with diets for good.

Just to be clear… This is not a fresh start. There will be no “before” or “after” shots. This is about deeply accepting and connecting with my body and attaining optimum health and fitness in a holistic and sustainable way.

The Pro-Body Project is published fortnightly. You can read the second entry, “The First Time I Was Body Shamed” here.





  • Cathy November 7, 2016 at 6:44 am

    I am RIGHT THERE. I am so looking forward to this series and what you discovered. After just spending an insane amount of money on a trainer and gaining weight, I am SO OVER THIS. And I wrote on my blog at the beginning of the year that I was so over it and not dieting any more and here I am at the end of the year having dieted and spent money to no avail. What is wrong with us!

    • Esther Zimmer November 8, 2016 at 8:00 am

      Hi Cathy, thanks so much for your vote of support. I really hope that by sharing my journey, that I can help you and other readers too. As Brenda said though, there is nothing wrong with us, absolutely nothing! We’ve been led to believe that constantly dieting is normal – when it’s not. So of course, when we fail at it we think that there’s something wrong with us, rather than the system. Sending you strength, there is a better way! Esther xx

  • 1010ParkPlace November 7, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    Nothing’s wrong with us! Nothing! For the last two weeks I’ve had painters in my house so I haven’t been to the gym and have eaten only take out. That equals weight gain. I can stay at the weight I want with a dedicated lifestyle… there’s a story there. Esther’s inspired me to write about it. xoxox, Brenda

    • Esther Zimmer November 8, 2016 at 8:03 am

      “I can stay at the weight I want with a dedicated lifestyle” – I can’t wait to read your story, Brenda! I feel like a lot of women who struggle with their body image and food look at fit and trim women and think they don’t work at it, when most of them work at it very hard! But it’s a lifestyle choice, rather than an on and off relationship. Essie xx

  • Deb Shock November 16, 2016 at 9:58 am

    I just came upon this web site today and read your article. I can truly relate and am looking forward to this series. I remember going to see my doctor about six years ago and he was delighted to see that I had lost weight. When he asked me what I had done, I simply replied, “I quit dieting”. But I wasn’t satisfied and returned to dieting and subsequently regained the weight. Why do we think we’re broken and need fixed? Why can’t we just learn to accept ourselves with love and not let our worth be determined by the number on a scale?

    • Esther Zimmer November 17, 2016 at 5:29 am

      Dear Deb, thank you so much for commenting and for your vote of support. You – me – we’re not broken though, we don’t need fixing. The issue is that we live in a society that constantly tells us that we are – if we don’t look a certain way or weigh a certain amount. We get caught up believing that’s true and then expend a lot of time, energy and, sometimes even money trying to change rather than making our own rules. The diet industry is a machine, which is not working in our favor, it wants us to fail otherwise it would go out of business. Add to that generational body shame and a whole raft of other messages – as women we’ve been told we’re second-class for so long it got absorbed into our collective psyche. This is why it’s so hard to learn to love ourselves and not let our worth be determined by a number on a scale. It’s not your fault you feel this way – please be gentle on yourself – but you can definitely take responsibility for changing your thoughts and feelings. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy or suggesting that I have all the answers – but I truly hope that some of what I share over the coming weeks helps you! Esther xx

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