We were making them the way we liked to make them: plenty of butter in the pan, and lots of cheese sprinkled on top.
My dad walked in, noticeably pissed off and proceeded to call off the omelette party. The next thing I knew I was at my first Weight Watchers meeting.
A lady from our Temple was the meeting leader and my dad was there walking his talk…weight watching with me.
Even though I felt safe and supported, it didn't change the inevitable: I started judging myself based on how much I weighed and how much I ate.
It was the day I stepped into a world where food shame and fat shame would play a big part of my life.
Four dozen Weight Watchers meetings later...I was a college sophomore off to a party.
My shapewear (the Spanx of the early 2000s) was successfully hiding as much of my curvy body as possible, and my black cardigan covered up my arms and stomach.
I was at my heaviest—topping the scales at 240 lbs— about 100 pounds more than most of my friends weighed.
But with a couple of Coors lights in me, I wasn’t thinking about that—so much so that when I couldn’t find a seat, I planted myself on the coffee table.
After all, I had seen people doing it all night long.
I reached across to grab my red solo cup of beer, and I heard a crack. Then another one....then another one.
"Oh my God!" I thought. "My fat ass cracked the glass…."
My heart was racing. I was sweating. I thought I might throw up.
To this day, I don't even know if anyone even noticed. Within seconds I was up, bolting towards the door, and in my car driving home (don't worry, I was below the legal limit to drive).
Clearly things had to change—and they did.
All I wanted to do was help other women feel the way I felt— like my life finally belonged to ME.
I was running my 'semi-famous' Not Your Average Boot Camp program.
In walks Laura.
She's 42. Overfed, undernourished, and totally desperate to change.
She was the 'perfect' client.
Enthusiastic. Never missed a workout. Followed my nutrition plan to the Tee.
Day 42 of bootcamp comes around, and she is beyond thrilled about the woman she has become.
She almost didn't recognize herself in her 'after' pictures.
She's confident, walking differently, talking differently, looking differently!
But little by little that twinkle in her eye fizzled.
4 workouts a week turned into 1.
Following the nutrition plan turned into "sort of" following it.
It wasn’t long before she came in to talk to me.
"Leanne I NEED another 6 week challenge! I can't do this without it! When is it? I need it!"
I felt myself getting defensive and irritated.
I knew that If I put her through another challenge, 6 weeks later, we'd be standing right here all over again!
I took it as a sign that I wasn't doing enough to help her.
I took responsibility for her situation, and set up the next 6 week challenge.
Until one day I walked in to check on my challengers — now training with a team I’ve hired to work for me—I noticed Laura limping!
I vividly remember her justifications ...
"Oh it's no big deal"
"I felt a bit of a twinge during some lunges last week, so it's probably from that. I'm taking it easy though today...gonna go a bit lighter.” (As she looks over at her pair of 20 lb dumbbells compared to the pair of 25s she had been using. That was her idea of "taking it easy")
In that moment I had a flashback...
My anesthesiologist has me counting backwards from 100 as the surgical team gets ready to go in microscopically and remove the calcified, hardened disc fluid that had been sitting on my nerves for the past 8 months.
A procedure I endearingly call, the Cost of Skinny...
I was so focused on getting 'skinny' or 'lean' or 'toned' or 'hot' or whatever words ruled my brain at the time, that I didn't pay attention or tune in to what my body needed and what my body was screaming at me to do.
If only I had listened to the screams from my body to "slow down!", "chill out!", "and while you're at it, go eat a friggen sandwich Leanne!", maybe it could have all been avoided.
But I didn't care! I just wanted to be skinny and beautiful. And no back pain or injury or pesky flare-up was gonna stop me!
Until it finally did stop me.
It didn't just stop me—it landed me on an operating table at the Cleveland Clinic for major spine surgery at the ripe ol' age of 25.
There I was watching Laura hobble to her water bottle during her 1 min rest interval, and I knew...
If I don't do something about what I'm seeing, pretty soon my clients will be paying their own "Cost of Skinny" too.
Right then and there, I decided to change everything—to go from the business of body to the business of the brain.
Here’s me at a bikini shoot back in 2010. I finally had a body that I loved, but how I felt about myself on the inside did NOT match.
Here I am FINALLY able to eat a delicious cheeseburger without the shame and without the guilt. I call it Food Freedom.
This picture was taken of me in 2014 at the Dead Sea in Israel. I'd been there about 5 times before this, but was always too ashamed to get it. Not this time.