Shauna Reid is a dear friend who I first met as a personal training client. She is from Australia but lives in Scotland. Two years ago she found me through a Google search – it turned out we lived five minutes walk from each other – I’m so glad. She’s a wonderful person possessing a rare combination of talents – she’s a deep thinker, very creative, a writer and author, and she is highly IT literate! She helps me with all my online work.
Shauna is also a member of my current 8 Week Kick Start programme. I’m delighted that Shauna has agreed to do this interview with me about life, health and her Kick Start experience!
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Hi Shauna! Let’s start with a wee bit of background. Where do you live? What do you do? What makes you tick!?
I recently moved back to Dunfermline, Fife after two great years living in Inverness. I miss the Highlands, especially our training sessions, Shona!
I’ve been living in Scotland for 13 years now. I’m a freelance copywriter working mostly with coaches and trainers – I like helping people who help people.
What keeps me ticking? Writing, flat whites, weight training, reading and re-learning to play the piano (think: Twinkle Twinkle Little Star levels of rocking out).
Way back in 2001 you started a blog called The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, where you documented a big weight loss journey and even scored a book deal! How did you lose the weight? What did you learn through your weight loss journey?
I lost 12.5 stone slooooowly over six years. I started with Weight Watchers then after much experimentation settled on calorie counting. I began exercising by walking to the end of the block and back, then after a few months I joined a gym and got hooked on weights.
The biggest lesson was one I’ve been unlearning and relearning ever since! It was that you don’t have to do crazy things to get fitter, you just have to do small things, consistently. I’ve learned way more since then, but more on that later *spooky foreshadowing music*.
You were very open about your life in your book – did you find it scary ‘revealing all’?
Yes! The first draft was quite wussy, but the test reader feedback (friends and family) was basically, BORING! Where’s the real story? So I let it all out.
Sometimes my older self cringes at the honesty – all that twenty-something angst, loathing and harsh self-talk is forever trapped in print! Also, the obsession with weight as a measure of self-worth… I feel very differently now about this topic.
But I think when you write, all you can do is tell the truth about where you are at the time – so it’s an accurate snapshot of that period.
From the emails I get it seems it connected with a lot of people, some of whom have become great friends. So overall, nae regrets.
You came to see me in Inverness because you had put half of the weight back on. I know this isn’t an easy thing to talk about but do you feel able to say more about why this happened?
It’s been a ride I tell ya. I could fill another book but I don’t think anyone else would find it interesting! It’s taken me a good few years to unravel it.
When I was losing all that weight, it was my life’s mission. I had it in my head that I was broken and unacceptable, that I had fix myself. I was so single-minded that I didn’t think too much about what would happened afterwards, or why I had gained so much weight in the first place.
When I hit my chosen goal I didn’t feel too different on the inside, as cliche as that is. That old voice of you’re not good enough, you’re not small enough kept piping up.
I managed to cling on to that goal weight for a couple of years but found whenever tricky life events happened, I reached for food again. And again and again. I’d have long periods of major binging followed by restriction. The more I scrambled to get back “in control” the more the scale crept up.
So what did you do next?
I’ve spent a few years working on my mind. I stopped focusing on weight loss. I figured I’d spent three decades eating in a disordered way, so it was worth taking time to address on a deep level.
I’ve done a lot of different things! I saw a counsellor. I read a gazillion books on binge eating, emotional eating, intuitive eating, mindfulness, compassion, the complete works of Brené Brown etc etc etc 😉 I’m working with a brilliant coach. And of course a certain fabulous personal trainer in Inverness.
I also stepped back from blogging about my journey. While the folks who read my blog were awesome and supportive, I felt a lot of shame; like I’d let them down for failing to be the perfect After photo. And the more I wrote about what was happening, the more I tangled myself up in knots.
So as much as I missed the blog, it was important to quiet the imaginary pressure I’d created and turn inward. I had to figure out why I so often eat for non-hunger reasons, deal with those reasons, then start creating healthier coping mechanisms.
Where would you say you are now on your journey with this stuff?
You’ll remember from my occasional meltdowns at our PT sessions that I’m forever a work in progress. But I’m in a really positive place. I’m actually taking kind and sustainable action! I’m more consistent with eating well and exercising, and my binges are few and far between. The extremes have been ironed out.
While I don’t miss the obsession with the scale of my younger days, when I tied my self worth to my size – there are practical discomforts from having gained so much weight. Such as, my knees aren’t happy with me.
But I’ve stopped beating myself up; I am where I am. While I miss the smaller jeans, I don’t miss that unhappy mindset. I’m putting realistic habits in place that I’ll carry with me ‘til I’m a creaky old lady.
Speaking of habits! 😉 This past six week you’ve been in my 8 Week Kick Start Programme. What prompted you to sign up?
I thought about people I know who are fit and/or don’t seem to have such a wild relationship with food. I realised what they had in common was that they do small, healthy things, consistently. In other words, habits! I tried another habits-based programme last year, but I really wanted to do your Kickstart because it was a small group setting, with daily support.
How are you finding the programme? What do you like about it?
I like that you were upfront that it’s all about the long haul – no quick fixes here! So there’s a real calm and relaxed feel to the group. I don’t feel pressure to lose X kilos by Y date, it’s all about our daily actions.
I like that we spent two weeks on a habit, so it never feels overwhelming. And I like that you check in with us every day. I tend to hide if I have a shitty day, but knowing you’re going to be asking after us means I’ll check in more often than not!
Also, I really like that you challenge us, in your kind and gentle way. I was totally freaking out last week and wondering out loud if I was too screwed up for this habits approach. Maybe I just NEED to be on a diet to get RESULTS! Then you gently reminded me how long a habit takes to form. I’m not broken, I just need more time, patience and practice!
What do you like about a habits based approach?
I like that we focus on actions rather than the outcomes. It takes the emotion and drama out of it! Simplicity is a great thing. You get a sense of achievement from ticking off these small daily steps, instead of letting a scale decide how you feel.
What advice would you give to someone who has lost a lot of weight and notices that they are putting it back on?
Don’t hide away. Don’t feel like it’s a moral failing. Reach out if you’re feeling overwhelmed – the humans are helpful!
What advice would you give the younger Shauna if you could time travel?
Be kind and compassionate with yourself, no matter what. Your worth in this world is not related to your clothing size. You don’t have to look a certain way to go after what you want, or to have a voice. You’re all right… right now!