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Episode 71: How To Reclaim Your Life From Orthorexia With Maddy Moon

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Thanks for joining us for episode 71 of The Ancestral RDs podcast. If you want to keep up with our podcasts, subscribe in iTunes and never miss an episode! Remember, please send us your question if you’d like us to answer it on the show!

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Today we are thrilled to be interviewing freedom mindset coach Maddy Moon.

After hiding behind fear, perfection, and a risk aversion for many years, Maddy knows what it’s like to play small, downplay your own existence, and only hope that one day it will all be worth it. Today Maddy’s mission is to help you realize the heart pounding fact that you’ve only been giving one life and every day you’re faced with a choice to either to make the most of it unapologetically, or fight against who you’re really meant to be.

Her work and story has been featured in The Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, The Daily Mail, Vice, and ABC News Nightline. Maddy is the host of a top ranked podcast, “Mind Body Musings” and can be found passionately exclaiming her love for taking life by it’s golden, glittery reigns on her online space MaddyMoon.com.

With the explosion of diet plans and gurus proclaiming their way of eating to be the only acceptable one, our sense of identity and value as a person can become entangled with the way we eat. Maddy Moon has lived through the exhausting fight to eat and look a certain way instead of be the person she’s really meant to be.

Today hear Maddy share her personal story of orthorexia and how she overcame it to live a bold life of true purpose and power. You’ll learn tools to overcome orthorexic mindset and hear insightful tips on how to begin to reclaim your true sense of self-worth and discover innate passion in life.

Here are some of the questions we discussed with Maddy: 

  • Did you have a hard time getting on board with the idea that recovering from orthorexia was something important to do?
  • What were some of the most powerful tools you used to overcome your orthorexia behaviors and mindset?
  • Where do you feel like it came from for you to get that internal motivation and clarity?
  • What would you recommend to people who just aren’t feeling aligned with what their working toward quite yet, but they know it’s the right direction to move in?
  • Is there anything that you feel tends to be one of the more common issues that come up that people are not dealing with appropriately that is driving their disordered behavior?
  • Do you have any tips for people about how to start to build that self-worth that is not related to the state of their body?
  • Do you have any recommendations or tips for people who want to discover what lights them up, but they don’t even know even know where to start?
  • If you had to tell someone who’s struggling with orthorexic behaviors and obsession with diet and exercise what they should look forward to on the other side of that, what would you say?
  • What has it been like traveling around the world, and living in other countries, and pursuing that part of your passion?
  • Where do you see your business going in the next couple months or years?

Links Discussed:

TRANSCRIPT:

Kelsey: Hi everyone. Welcome to episode 71 of The Ancestral RDs. For the first time today, I’m going to be going by my new married name, which is Kelsey Kinney. I kind of was just like okay, I probably should just change everything over, even though my new website’s not ready. I changed things on my website, I’ll be changing my Facebook page soon. I’m kind of getting everything all together. It’s surprising how much of a process that is. But, I’m Kelsey Kinney and with me as always is Laura Schoenfeld.

Laura: I don’t even know who you are anymore.

Kelsey: I know, I’m a new person.

Laura: I feel like it’s been at this point almost 5 years that we’ve been working together.

Kelsey: Yes.

Laura: Just now you’re name is changing. It’s going to be quite the experience. But I’m really excited that you’re making that name change, so that’s awesome.

We have really great guest today, so we’ll just get into the interview. But before we get started, here is a quick word from our sponsor.

Today we have a really awesome guest. Our guest today is freedom mindset coach Maddy Moon. After hiding behind fear, perfection, and a risk aversion for many years, Maddy knows what it’s like to play small, downplay your own existence, and only hope that one day it will all be worth it.

Today Maddy’s mission is to help you realize the heart pounding fact that you’ve only been given one life and every day you’re faced with a choice to either to make the most of it unapologetically, or fight against who you’re really meant to be.

Her work and story has been featured in The Huffington Post, Teen Vogue, The Daily Mail, Vice, and ABC News Nightline. Maddy is the host of a top ranked podcast, “Mind Body Musings” and can be found passionately exclaiming her love for taking life by it’s golden, glittery reigns on her online space MaddyMoon.com.

Laura: Wow, that sounds really exciting to take life by its golden, glittery reigns. Thanks for coming on with us today, Maddy.

Maddy: Thank you so much for having me. This is so exciting. I just really enjoy both of y’all’s work, so thanks for having me on your show.

Laura: I’ve always enjoyed seeing your work progress over the last couple years. One of my favorite things was participating in an online program that you did called Scripture, Food, and Healing. I believe that’s what it was called. That was how I think you and I really got hooked up. I really, really enjoyed participating in that program. I had some of my own clients go through that program and say how much they enjoyed it.

It’s been really cool to see the progress that you’ve made over the last couple months and even the last couple years, just seeing your business evolve and the message that you share with your audience just change and grow.

But let’s have a little bit about where you came from. Tell us about your journey from being a hardcore fitness competitor obsessed with the way your body looked, to a world traveling mindset coach who eats whatever she wants.

Maddy: Absolutely. My journey with food and body started when I was quite young, like many girls. I was in I would say about second grade and I was watching this television show. It was a very popular show, but it was an episode about eating disorders or girls who don’t eat in order to feel like they’re in control of life. Of course this show was on the Disney Channel and it was warning against it. And to me, I was like, wow this main character, she stops eating because she feels out of control with life? Okay, what? That’s a new concept. Okay, that’s interesting.

I didn’t really act on it then, I was quite young. But I remembered that show and I just kind of put it in my brain bank for later that if you don’t eat, you get attention from your friends, everyone notices you, and it’s just a really good way to cope with what’s going on.

As I got older, I started to play around with different diets and I just joined circles of friends who were obsessed with weight loss. I stopped eating. I would go five days without eating and then get a whole bunch of attention from my friends whenever I fainted. Right? Like all of this ridiculous stuff.

I was extremely unhealthy, but no one was really speaking up in my family or saying much about it. It was kind of like this awkward thing that everyone was just trying to tiptoe around, like pretend it’s not there. Even when I would bring up, oh my gosh, I need to lose weight, blah, blah, blah, no one really supported me in the opposite idea of no you don’t. It was more like, well like then stop eating bread, like just put the bread away.

I progressively became more obsessive with working out harder and eating less. I would spend an hour on the treadmill, look at the amount of calories I burned, try to eat less than that. And this is where the disordered pattern started. This is when I started dabbling around with I wouldn’t say anorexia, but those kinds of tendencies.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Maddy: And tendencies of bulimia, I never really would do that for long periods of time, but it would be when I felt the most out of control or stressed with life, that’s when I chose to do it. As I got a little bit older, I went into college and started just terrible habits there, just partying and drinking. And I got to a point to where I just became so stressed and insecure with who I was as a person that instead of cleaning up my act and putting away the drinking for the sake of this isn’t really helping me as a human being, I put it away to do my first fitness competition.

I joined an upcoming NPC show and I hired my first diet coach and trainer. I went down this journey, it ended up being 3 years of training for these shows and leaning down. In my first show, I ended losing just so much weight. I was very thin and frail, a ridiculous body fat percentage. I was isolated, I lost my period, I was depressed, I was afraid of all foods that weren’t on my six food meal plan. That’s right, I had about six foods I could eat.

Kelsey: Wow.

Maddy: Maybe on some days seven if I added one tablespoon of peanut butter. But I was only allowed to eat these foods on this white sheet of paper that completely controlled my life. I just missed out on all parties, so much anxiety when someone would ask me on a date or if my parents invited me to dinner. I was terrified so I’d just bring my little Tupperware over and I’d have that.

My mind was just completely enthralled with how do I get leaner? How do I get leaner? How do I get leaner, smaller? How do I look like her? I had screenshots of other women all over my phone, just like of their bodies, their arms, or this, or that. I would look through them at night. I’d Instagram my abs in the morning so everyone would complement me and it would fuel me for the day. This happened for a while until…I only did two shows. It was over the course of probably three years of leaning out, bulking, leaning out, bulking, and then realizing that it wasn’t worth it.

At my second show is when I had this moment of clarity of just geez, I spent so much time and work obsessing over my body, so many tears. How am I going to feel doing this in five years, in ten years? Can I keep this up tormenting my body? More like hating my body, can I keep hating my body? Because it hurts and it’s hard. It takes constant effort to fight against the body you’re naturally given and I was tired of being on top of it.

That was just a huge moment of clarity. And from there, I made all these changes in my life, which together they made me who I am now. All these steps I had to take to get out of that place, that very dark place, which I’m sure we can go over. But I basically self-coached, I was a self-coach for myself. I ended up making my podcast to share my journey of recovery, and I created a course and a program, and then I started coaching people, doing videos, writing books. And now I’m just kind of a speaker for the topics of using your body as a control mechanism, and specifically orthorexia, which is what I had and I know we’ll get into that as well.

Laura: Yeah. That’s a great nutshell version of everything that you went through, which I know was a multiyear journey. You said that you had this realization, you said you were on stage when the realization hit you? Was that kind of like a 180 degree turn that you made? Or did you have a hard time getting really on board with the idea that recovering from orthorexia was something important to do?

Maddy: It was actually not on stage. On the stage, I was more embarrassed on stage because…this is interesting. Everyone thinks when you go into these competitions you’re going to be put in your right height class, right? You trust the coordinators to put you in the right place because there are height classes. My height class, which was around the 5’5”, 5’6” girls, well it was too full. So on my height card, they put 5’6 ½”, which I’m totally not, I’m 5’5”. They put me on 5’6 ½” so that I went with the extremely tall girls, like 5’61/2” upwards of 5’9”.

Kelsey: Wow.

Maddy: I was the shortest one there. Of course automatically my body is going to look quite different from all the rest of the girls. And that made me very mad, but it just goes to show you’re not in control, even when you work so hard to get people to think your perfect, that you look a certain way. When the moment comes where people are out there judging you, which will always happen unfortunately, you’re not in control of those certain circumstances. I was so powerless of the fact that I was in the completely wrong height class. But it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter. Because why was I fighting for a panel of strangers to tell me I was good enough? No matter if I was in that right height class or in the wrong one, I was still fighting for an incorrect goal, a goal that would lead me to no satisfaction even if I got first place. That was a little bit embarrassing to me at the time because I was like oh I’m short and that was distracting.

But the moment I had the clarity was actually after the whole show, I placed 7th out of 20 girls. That’s a fairly good place to be. But in my mind, I was oh my gosh, I can’t believe I didn’t get 1st place. That’s where I was supposed to be, was 1st place, like number 1. I was so mad. Everyone else is out celebrating with their family, their friends, going to get a burger, pizza, ice cream. I went to the hotel room with mom and my sister and I ate an apple. That was my celebratory food. That’s how disordered I was, an apple was like a treat meal.

I just remember saying out loud, pretty unconsciously, just this wasn’t worth it, which was a shocker to my mom because I had been fighting putting up a guard any time anyone was like are you sure this is healthy? I’d be like yes, yes, yes, it’s so healthy, it’s so good for me. Like shut up. When she heard me say that, she was like oh really Madelyn, tell me more. I was just talking about how all of the nights I spent walking around in my heels, and the money invested in my suits, and all of the Instagram photos of me trying to perfect so that the world sees me a certain way, or meal prepping all my foods. It’s not meal prepping as in cutting up a bunch of delicious sweet potatoes for the week so you don’t have to cook later. It was more like preparing 25 dry chicken breasts, and 10 pounds of broccoli, and making really boring protein pancakes all in advance, and just putting them in the fridge. It’s like not fun meal prepping. It was like torture meal prepping of not really delicious foods that my body wanted.

I just knew it wasn’t worth it. That was that moment where I was like I cannot keep doing this. And the exact thought that I had was when I die, say I die soon, when I died and everyone is around my grave and they’re talking as people do at a funeral, what are they going to say about me? I knew that at that moment in my life, the one thing people would say about me was Madelyn, she was so good at eating clean. She was the best working out. Man, she really knew how to work out. I knew that’s not how I wanted to be remembered at all. But if I kept going down this path where I allowed myself to be obsessed with food and fitness, not even fitness, obsessed with food and moving my body in insane intense ways twice a day, then there’d be nothing left to me.

I had no time, and no mental space, and no energy to serve the world. So I wasn’t serving the world. I was just trying to make myself look perfect. Look perfect. Not even be perfect, but just look perfect. I just wanted to look a certain way and it was such waste of my time. I didn’t want the world to see me as an obsessive compulsive exerciser when I could be known as someone who helps lives get better, or helps someone just be happier. Those were the things that I wanted to be known for.

Laura: Yeah, I feel like even if you weren’t able to have a career that was directly helping people the way that you are, even being able to just live a life that you’re proud of is so important. What were some of the most powerful tools you used to overcome your orthorrexic behaviors and mindset?

Maddy: Tools that I used? Well the first thing I did when it came to getting…well I did a few things. First of all, not everyone has to do this, but I moved. I moved from where I was living and who I was known as to a completely different place and knew not a single soul. I went to Colorado and that was great for me. I did get a dog and she just was the light of my life, just gave me someone to love other than myself. It was really good for me to have a reason to be responsible. All of sudden I went from being able to think about my body all day long, obsess over my body, to have a little creature that made me smile all the time, and take her out four times a day, feed her, buy things for her.

That was a very interesting kind of out of the box tool for me, having something else to pay attention to. That could be different for all of the people. Anyone can pick something, just that it gives you extra responsibility that’s outside of what you’re currently obsessing over.

The other thing I did made a huge difference was I went through my…because social media is so prevalent today and it can really, really morph your mind to think something is normal when it’s not. So I went my social media feed and I un-followed all the different accounts that were triggering me, or not even triggering, but just accounts that I knew weren’t serving this new direction I was taking. I un-followed all the fitness accounts, any girls that posting pictures of her arms, or on arm day, or legs on leg day, or of anything that was really triggering me to look a different way. I knew that wasn’t serving me.

I also took my own hiatus because at the time I myself was a “health” and fitness blogger. I took a step back from my little fitness blogging world and I stopped really sharing people pictures of myself, my recipes, how I was eating.

I started to read Intuitive Eating, which helped me a lot, just reading this revolutionary way of eating is what it says in the cover. But it really is quite simple. It’s just eating what your body wants when it wants it and getting rid of all those food rules. Reading that book helped me tremendously and I began the journey of intuitive eating. I put away my body weight scale, and my food scale, and my measuring cups, and my meal plans. And I stopped asking people, coaches and trainers, hey, this is how I’m eating, does it sound like I’m eating too much? Am I eating too little? I feel like there’s an extra layer of fluff on my body, what should I do? What do you think I should do? Okay, let me go message this other person and ask them what I should do. That’s what I always would do is message 5 people at once, tell them how I was eating, how I was working out, and ask them their opinions. Then someone would be like send me pictures of your body. Then I would, then they’d be like, oh yeah, I can see you need to work on….

I stopped all of that. I don’t need people to tell me how to eat and move my body. Especially I don’t need people to tell me what area of my body needs work because my body is not a work in progress. It is a beautiful, absolutely complete thing. It’s merely a vehicle for me to get around in my life and that’s how I wanted to see it. I wanted to see it as tool to serve the world and to get from point A to point B. But in order to do that, I had to stop asking people to tell me what’s wrong with me. I had to make that conscious decision to stop introducing myself as Madelyn, I’m a fitness model. Because I took pride in that. I wanted people to know that. I needed to get rid of the labels.

There’s a lot of stuff of just my inner work of my ego and the way that I wanted the world to perceive me and asking myself why? Why do I want the world to see me as a fit chick? What is it about that that has controlled me so much? And it really comes down to just wanting to be special, wanting to be known, wanting to have a reason to feel high and mighty, and that is all my ego.

I had to work on breaking that down and getting rid of all those patterns and habits that weren’t serving me and really just being with myself, not being with my Instagram and being with pictures of people that look a certain way, or fitness magazines, or food journaling. I needed to just be myself and focus on other things like meeting new friends, reading fiction. I work for myself now obviously, but at the time I worked somewhere, so really investing my time into that place and just being present when I was working there. Maybe make food that’s fun and different and I don’t know the calorie count for. Maybe move my body in a way that feels good. Like, what feels good? Like I look forward to it, dancing, or rock climbing, or hiking, things that don’t come with a little calorie measurer. Something that I just do intuitively and I do it only because I like it.

Laura: Was that part of the self-coaching practice that you kind of took yourself through? Or did you ever end up having anyone make recommendations to you for that kind of healing process?

Maddy: No, that was self-coaching. Honestly I think that I was given a lot of clarity from God just because when I talk about the things that I came up with to do, I am kind of surprised that I could intuitively decide this is the next step, this is the next step, now I need to get rid of this. But I had this really strong inner guidance of this act is not serving me anymore, this act is not serving me. This act over here will. This over here will, this is naturally what I need to be doing to let go of this obsessive mindset that I have.

I didn’t ever hire anyone. I know that it would have benefited me greatly, but I have that kind of personality as well where I just know what will serve me. It’s a matter of am I going to listen to it finally?

Laura: Yeah.

Maddy: It’s a choice.

Kelsey: I think a lot of people that are dealing with orthorexia, or just disordered eating habits, or lifestyle choices can really struggle with because it’s one thing to be motivated internally or just really feel like you did, Maddy, where you know what things are serving you and what isn’t at the time. But I think a lot of people aren’t quite sure. They know something needs to change, they know what they’re doing is not healthy, but they’re not quite sure what to do. Even when working with someone, they can be told something but not really following through with it. They don’t maybe necessarily fully feel that in their body that that is right and that’s what they should be doing.

Where do you feel like it came from for you to get that internal motivation and just have this clarity around that? What would you recommend to people who maybe even are working with someone and just aren’t feeling aligned with what their working towards quite yet, but they know it’s the right direction to move in?

Maddy: I’d say that for anyone, it’s going to be super uncomfortable at first because once upon a time you felt really stressed, you felt really out of control with life, and you were like I’ll use my body to distract me. That was honestly a really kind of your body to do. Honestly, it was because your body was like oh my gosh, you’re in pain. I want to help you out, here’s a distraction. Sweet, right? But then after a while, you turned to it time, and time, and time, and time again, and this is why it becomes coping mechanism. It’s the only way you really know how to cope with the stress going on, so you have to break that coping mechanism and create a new one.

This time, instead of finding a distraction that creates more pain…because we as humans, some of us kind of thrive on that. We thrive on feeling like there’s something wrong with us and we need to work on it and change, because it is such a powerful distraction, so powerful. Instead, if you’re working with someone specifically as well…let’s talk about this. If they’re giving you a lot of food and body image exercises, that’s awesome. But there’s so much more to it, so much more.

Kelsey: Right.

Maddy: So you can keep doing these actions, but I think most people are going to be stuck in this, well I don’t feel quite aligned with this yet, if they haven’t learned the underlying reasons why they turn to these issues, these patterns and habits in the first place. You need to find out what it is you’re uncomfortable with in life. Are you uncomfortable with this relationship that really isn’t serving you? Are you uncomfortable with something that happened in your past that really triggered you so much, you turned to this coping mechanism immediately and never even faced it? Are you uncomfortable with rejection? Because we all are. Do you have friends that are constantly bringing you down and not letting you progress and change into the ways that you really want to grow? I could just go on forever, and ever, and ever.

But there are so many underlying reason that cause these things, and those are things that need the most attention. With my clients, we talk about food and body stuff going on in our life probably in the first session, maybe the second session. But after that, normally it just naturally glides into what’s going on in their family life, or that thing that happened in their past that they have survivor’s guilt for, or the fact that they’re living a lifestyle full of anxiety and have no self-care habits at all. Merely adding those things in and brining awareness to the struggles that we face on a daily basis gives you so much power, because once you know something, you’ll never not know it. The goal of any coach should be to find that thing the person isn’t knowing, bring it to the surface, bring awareness to it, and then create exercises and new habits around it that will help this person on a daily basis to come to terms with it.

Kelsey: That’s so interesting and I think that really hits the nail on the head that when you focus so much on the food and exercise part, which is how you’re coping, you maybe never really get to the bottom of it. Laura and I both work a lot with functional medicine type patients and it’s the same kind of idea where if you focus on the symptoms of what’s going on rather than the underlying cause, you just go around in circles. You never really, truly accomplish anything. You don’t heal anything from the inside.

And it sounds to me like that’s exactly what you’re doing where you’re finding this underlying cause of what is making a person use these coping mechanisms and really working on that, which in turn just makes the person not feel like they need to do those things. And that’s amazing.

Maddy: Exactly. There’s definitely a time and place for those food exercises because eventually you need to eat the food you’re afraid of. You need to eat it. For anyone that isn’t aware of orthorexia, we’ll just quickly put that definition in here. Orthorexia is an obsession with what one considers to be healthy eating. That’s very open, it’s very vague. It could be whatever you consider.

For me it was the body building diet. That was the only way to eat and I was so anxious, obsessed if I didn’t eat that way. But I’ve known people who had orthorexia and theirs was anything that was in the shape or form of a smoothie. If it wasn’t a smoothie, it wasn’t healthy and it was going to do damage to their body. At the time, this person was scared of the word fat. That’s a whole other thing is becoming a part of the fat acceptance movement, which I think is just equally important with all of this work that we’re talking about is to be able to recognize that every shape and size has value.

Kelsey: Right.

Maddy: And there’s not one size or shape that should be able to receive more judgment than others. It’s not our job as a community to judge body sizes and shapes. That’s a whole other conversation and topic. But being able to not fear any type of body shape and being able to actually see that the media has created this mindset where this body is good, this body’s bad, and start to challenge that, challenge that belief and speak out about it, that’s also extremely important. But yes, I just totally went on a tangent.

Kelsey: Tangents are good.

Laura: That’s alright. I feel like the kind of work you do, there’s probably so many different topics that fall into it that it’s hard to stay super laser focused on one thing.

Actually I wanted to ask you, having experience working with clients who have different underlying factors impacting their food choices, their body image, all that, are there any patterns or themes that you tend to see where there’s certain areas of people’s lives that tend to impact their food choices more? Like relationships, or just anything that you feel tends to be one of the more common issues that comes up that people are not dealing with appropriately that is kind of driving their disordered behavior?

Maddy: I have seen a lot of family stuff. A lot of it comes from women who work with me and their mothers. That’s just been a pattern with so many women I work with. I think our mothers’ generations, that was really the generation where the dieting became more prevalent and really started to pick up speed of a women is supposed to look a certain way. So mothers passed that down to their kids unawarely, or awarely.

And now fortunately being able to recover from eating disorders and body image coaches, that’s all picking up speed, good timing. But a lot of people that come to work with individuals who help with these issues, it’s because of the things they learned from their mother, or even mothers and sisters saying oh you look like you’ve gained weight, or you really need to shape up your body, or you can’t wear that outfit. Or a guy is not going to like you if you look that way, you need to get on the Special K diet, you need to do this.

The issue here, besides the obvious, is that a conversation needs to be had, a very serious conversation. But then what if you have that conversation with your mother and nothing changes? Then the next step, which of course you learn regardless how your mother responds, is to learn how to be okay with yourself even when others aren’t. That’s really hard, I understand. It’s very tough, especially when it’s you mom because of course we’re made to want to receive the approval of our parents. That’s just how the whole things works. We always want approval of our parents, and that is fine. But we have to be okay with ourselves. We need to learn that it will benefit you to learn to be so confident in who you are and the direction that you’re moving that you don’t need…and that’s a key word…you don’t need your mother to approve about everything about you in order to feel fulfilled, alive, and happy.

The smallest thing that your mother could do, if she can’t change herself to love her own body, which is fine, that would be a lot to ask her to have someone else change themselves necessarily, but at least to have a conversation about how those comments about your body are super triggering and that you would appreciate it if the comments would stop. If at least the comments about your body would stop, it’s not up for discussion. You’re body, your business, and that it’s going to be left out of the conversation for the rest of your lives.

That’s the least that family members can do. I think if you really talk to them about how triggering it is and how it’s guided so much in your life, they will understand and they will want to help you. If they don’t want to help you, then that’s a different path. That’s something else to talk about is like is this person serving you in your life? Right? Even if it’s family, if this person is so clearly in their mindset that they don’t want to help their child, they don’t want their child to get better in this disorder, and they don’t care, how much contact are you having with this person? You really need to think about that. There are a lot of layers there.

I also work with a lot of nurses which is interesting, a lot of nurses. I can see that because when you go through the schooling, there’s so much pressure to be number one, to save these lives, to help people, to do this, do that. It can really feed into a perfectionist mentally. If someone already suffers from anxiety, there’s a lot of anxiety with the hours that nurses have to work and it really messes straight up with the food. There’s sometimes not time to eat food throughout shifts and those are long shifts. Then when they’re famished, they end up “binging.” But what’s really happening is they’re starving. It’s really not even a binge, it’s just you’re really hungry.

Laura: Right.

Maddy: So it’s not your fault. You’re just really needing to eat food right now. But in their mind, it’s like I failed, I’m a binge eater again. But no, the solution here is rather quite simple. It’s just figuring out a better system that works with eating and making that a priority to find time during your 9 to 12 hours shifts where you can sit down a meal. Even if you have to eat it within 5 minutes, make that a priority just like breathing. Because if you don’t, then yeah, you’re going to be famished and starving, and your energy is going to be all over the place. As you two know, then your hormones probably are just going to be wacky because you’re not being fed the way you should be fed.

I see a lot of nurses and I see a lot of family stuff, but definitely more than that. I’ve seen some very interesting things. It always comes back through to the need for control, the need for avoiding rejection, perfectionism, and just yeah, wanting the approval of people, family members.

Laura: Definitely. I feel like from my experience, and I would imagine that you’ve seen this too, is that a lot of that kind of boils down to self-worth being a big part of the equation, and feeling self-worth even if you’re being rejected or even if you’re fearing rejection even if it’s not actually happening. I feel like when I work with clients, I end up talking a lot about this with many of them just because of the kind of niche I’ve been getting myself into lately.

Do you have any tips or ideas for the people listening if they are struggling with self-worth issues where they’re following  this diet and lifestyle because they believe it makes them more valuable as a person, or if their body looks a certain way, then that’s what gives them value? Do you have any tips for people about how to start to build that self-worth that is not related to the state of their body?

Maddy: I think one of the number one reasons why people struggle with self-worth is because they are already in some way out of alignment with who they really are. Even these actions of obsessing over your body or caring so much about what people think are out of alignment with who you truly are and that’s why you’re suffering with your self-worth. So letting go of what is no longer serving you will automatically put you back in alignment with who you are more so. Maybe not fully all the way, but more so. It will give you more time, and room, and energy to find the things that you truly do love to do. Like maybe you’re spending so much time in the gym, you’re not spending the time that you want to be like let’s just say volunteering. Something like that if your heart really is in helping people. If you want to be going to orphanages and reading to the kids because you were an orphan and you want to serve people in that kind of way, but you can’t because you’re so consumed with the gym, there’s no time, or you have no energy to do those things. Let go of what is no longer serving you so that you can start doing that thinks that do. And that includes people. If there are people in your life that aren’t serving you, they’re lowering your perception of your self-worth because it happens day, after day, after day.

If you’re hearing something so much, you’re going to believe it because what you think is how you’re going to perceive things. Thinking leads into the actions and what you believe, and it’s all so intertwined. So it really starts with the mind and only feeding messages into your mind that are affirmations that confirm your worth. Even if right now you don’t feel your worth, first of all know that you are so worthy. You are on this planet for a very specific purpose and a reason. If you’re not sharing that reason and that purpose with that world, you’re robbing the world. The world needs it. The world needs you, every single person on this planet. And it’s so sad and it makes me so ticked off that the media has told you otherwise and has told you that you need to dedicate your life to changing your body, and to perfection, and to eating a certain way, because that’s BS. It’s the last reason you’re on this earth. You’re not more worthy because you look a particular way. You’re worthy because you’re here, because you exist. No diet plan will add to that. Know that right now. That’s so important for people to understand.

But in order to really feel that way, sometimes you need some extra stuff. You need to let go of what isn’t serving you. You need to start feeling happy again. You need to start doing things that feel pleasing to you. That can come in all different forms. Maybe it’s a new job, maybe it’s moving your body in a pole dancing studio because it makes you feel sexy and just makes you light up for a minute. Find the things that are going to add to you as a human being and raise your vibration. Because when you raise your vibration, you feel that worth radiating out of you.

It might sound kind of woo-woo, but I totally believe that to be true. I heard people tell me that like you’re worthy, blah, blah, blah. But I didn’t really feel it until I stopped doing those actions that were suffocating me. I made room to trying new things, to maybe even date and experience love, and to spend more time with my family without obsessing over what are we having for dinner. I really just felt their presence and how they saw me as worthy. Being able to see them and how they perceived me as a worthy human being, it also helped me because I was like wow, look at the way that they see me. It’s beautiful, it’s amazing. I’m their daughter and they love me. Being able to see that worth through their eyes, added to my own. So it was all of these millions of things added up together that made me who I am. And now I am just so confident in who I am and the direction I’m moving in the world and there’s a lot of worth from that.

Then the last thing I’ll say is that my worth in particular comes from my God. For me to know that my worth doesn’t always rely on my actions, or who I am, or this or that, gives me so much more purpose and can let me relax into my day. There’s no pressure on being a certain way or doing a certain thing because my worth is already here because of my God. That’s just such a beautiful, empowering thing and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world. Now that I’ve experienced what it’s like to really live through Jesus and know that I don’t have to do anything, or I don’t have to be special, or be self-righteous, or unique, or eat a certain way so people perceive me in a certain way because of the fact that I already have the most special reason to live and that’s for God, then that takes off all that pressure on me to be a particular way.

Laura: Yeah, that’s been a huge one for me too over the last couple of years and I know that that can be a controversial topic for some people because of all the negativity around religion and all that. But definitely having value in the eyes of a higher power for a lot of people makes a huge difference because it takes the focus off of what other people think, what you think about yourself, and it kind of puts it more on what your greater purpose is.

One of the things you were mentioning a few minutes ago was learning what your purpose is, and what you love to do, and why you’re here on this planet. Do you have any advice for our listeners who struggle to identify their purpose, or identity the things that they love, or feel like they’re kind of stuck in this lifestyle that is just kind of day to day living, chores, work, all the stuff that isn’t really stuff they’re passionate about and they feel just that they don’t even know what they want to do, or they don’t know what makes them happy. Do you have any recommendations or tips for people who want to discover what kind of lights them up but they don’t even know even know where to start?

Maddy: Yes. One thing I do believe everyone in their core of cores knows what makes them happy. It’s just a matter of doing it. I watched family members go about their day to day life doing the bills, and the work, and the chores, and all this, and it makes me sad because I know that these family members are choosing not to add other things in their life because in a way they’ve almost just said hey, I’m older, it doesn’t matter anymore. I’ve heard them say that and it hurts me because there’s always more living to do. It’s making that choice to making time for it, making it a priority.

But for the people truly don’t know what they want to be doing, what lights them up and makes them happy, because I know that is possible because that is how I was for a while. I didn’t know that I liked anything else besides food and working out. For them, I would really just recommend…and I’m a list girl…so I would just say think about things that sound interesting or cool that are available in your city and start writing lists and just start writing, and writing, and writing. Write down all the things you’d like to do, maybe things you’d like to be, maybe things you’d like to have. Just write down this list and make goals. Make goals to do one of these things a week.

It could be traveling. If you want to travel, please do it. Go travel someone. Make a tiny list of some countries you want to go to or some cities nearby. You don’t have to leave the country. But write down those things and then that will give you a new passion of just planning this trip. A new project, maybe you want to be wood carving. Have you ever wood carved? Maybe you should wood carve. Go get a really knife and some wood and pull up and You Tube video and just try it out. Go to a pottery class, right? Maybe start that garden you’ve been wanting to start for a long time. Go to an adults gymnastics class. Do something to move and use your brain in a new way. Even if that’s not your thing, at least it will start inspiration for something that could be your thing.

I would also add on to that books, because for me, there’s no kind of inspiration that I could receive from anywhere else except for books. Books give me so much inspiration, insight, and just passion, drive, and ideas. I just get a lot of ideas from reading with the stories and journeys of other people. Even one simple quote can just change my entire life. I know that sounds kind of like an exaggeration, but it’s true. I’ve read quotes that have just changed everything for me and got me moving, and got me more passionate about my job, and just gave me more inspiration.

Just start with writing lists of all the things you’ve wanting to do or would consider doing. Pick one thing to do per week, and make that time to do it, and don’t ever skip out on it because that’s how you’re going to be able to open up your horizons to things that you really do enjoy doing. If you don’t really resonate it and love it, go home. You don’t have to stay and put yourself through it if you’re miserable. But give it a good honest shot.

Laura: Yeah, I think a lot of times people are afraid that they’re either not going to like something, or they won’t be good at it, or whatever excuses they have for not trying something new. Especially as we older, we tend to not be as good at learning new skills as we were when we were kids. But I think that’s really liberating to remind people that it’s okay if you don’t like something that you’ve tried that was on your list, or if you’re terrible at it and it makes you frustrated that you’re so bad, then you don’t have to continue. Or if you’re really bad at it but you’re like, actually it was still fun even though I was terrible. You can still do it and you don’t have to be good at it. If you enjoy it, that’s kind of the purpose of the activity. Say you’re doing pole dancing and you fall on your butt half of the class, but you still had a great time, then that was still a successful class because you had fun and that was the whole purpose.

I think people that get into those orthorexic mindsets a lot of times their decision to engage in activities is very performance based. And so if they’re not performing well at an activity, it can get them feeling negatively and avoiding that activity. But if you’re purpose is just to have fun, then there is no performance aspect and you can do things that are a total waste of time, or totally just not accomplishing anything and really just enjoying yourself, which I think is really important to have activities like that on a regular basis that are literally just for fun and nothing else.

Listening to your story and hearing all of the changes that you’ve gone through in your life, what has been best part about that journey you went through releasing yourself from your restrictive diet and exercise practices? If you had to tell someone who’s struggling with orthorexic behaviors and obsession with diet and exercise what they should look forward to on the other side of that, what would you say?

Maddy: Well, I believe everyone really at their core wants to help people. And this is such a prevalent issue that the driving factor for me was knowing that I could now relate to other people and help them, and that’s been the most powerful aspect of my whole recover process is now being able to help others.

Even if you’re not going to be a podcaster or have your own business about this stuff, chances are the next girl you meet has struggled with food or body image. Chances are, everyone has. Just being able to have those experiences and to be able to help those people, and not coach them, but just have a conversation with them, just being able to say yeah, I’ve been there, I’ve done that. This is a few things I did to get out of that mind space. Know that you’re enough. Know that you’re here on this world for a purpose. That simple of a conversation could change that person’s life. On my time here on earth, that’s what gives me my purpose and my passion is knowing that I can have those conversations with people. And I’m so grateful for the struggles that I’ve been through because I can do that now.

Laura: That’s awesome. I feel like sometimes that are people are in the midst of a struggle forget that a lot of times it’s post struggle where you feel the most accomplishment and purpose and feeling of that you’re on the right path because you went through that struggle. As much as it can be upsetting or frustrating to be dealing with this stuff when people are dealing with it, it’s cool to know that once you get through that, that can really just shape your life for the better.

I’ve been following you on Instagram, and social media, and stuff for a while and a lot of your posts up until recently were all from other countries. What has that been like traveling around the world, and living in other countries, and pursuing that part of your passion?

Maddy: Oh, so amazing. I went to Thailand in March. I came back and then I went back to Asia. I went to Vietnam, Cambodia, back to Thailand, and then to Indonesia. It was just such a beautiful experience. I did this three months of travel absolutely solo. I just learned so much about giving up control because that’s literally what that is. Traveling is all about giving up control. You have someone cooking your food for every meal, you have someone doing your laundry, you have someone else driving you somewhere. You’re always giving over that control, and you just have to go with it.

I learned a lot about how to relax, to not think about the future too much, to not get too much anxiety about how am I going to get from point A to point B? Is it going to be a cab, a taxi? How am I getting home? That kind of stuff. Just relaxed into and I just trusted. So I learned how to just be in the moment, but really present. I had a lot of fantastic food. I met a lot of cool travelers and people along the way.

Bali was incredible. If anyone’s interested in going to Asia in that area, I would of course recommend Bali, but I would definitely say Cambodia. That was my favorite country, just going to Phnon Penh and Siem Reap. Just so much has happened in Cambodia. It’s just such an incredible country that has been through so much in their time, but yet they have overcome it all. And it’s sad because a lot of America doesn’t really know about the history in Cambodia, but there is so much history there and I think that I want to go back. It was just such an incredible place and the people were the nicest there, so smiley and happy. Barely had anything, but were just so happy to be able to meet you, and serve you, and take you places, and teach you things. Definitely go there.

If anyone ever wants to travel, create that opportunity because it will really serve you well. And I’m even going to say solo travel because solo travel will teach you tons about yourself because you’re with yourself a lot. You’re with yourself all the time and you become your best friend. If you struggle with liking yourself, I think solo travel is a really beautiful way to enjoy the world and what the world has to offer while you learn things, and really be with yourself, and appreciate yourself more because of how amazing you are and the fact that you’re solo traveling.

Laura: Yeah, that was an experience I had when I lived in Australia after graduating for a year. Then I’ve also traveling kind of shorter trips like two weeks to Nicaragua and Costa Rica most recently. There is that piece of feeling really powerful being able to do that, especially as a woman. I’m not saying that men can’t experience that as well, but I feel like as a female traveling on your own and being able to kind deal potentially challenging situations or unknowns, and new environments, and that kind of stuff, it really builds a lot of self-confidence that you feel you can really handle stuff. I definitely will agree with you there that that’s a great way to really build self-confidence and self-worth.

Speaking of traveling actually, you have some stuff coming up on the horizon. Now I’m not sure if this will be after or before this podcast goes live, but I know that you have a retreat coming up. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Maddy: Yeah, so I’m actually going to be doing multiple of these. The first retreat is coming up September 29th to October 2nd. I’m inviting 8 women to come to Boulder, Colorado. We’re going to be doing tons of workshopping, we’re going to do some fun things like hiking and yoga. But it’s going to be just an incredible weekend for diving really deep into some of these topics we talked about, but more along the lines of vulnerabilities, goals, struggles that we face, how to really feel free in our life. The retreat’s called Forever Free. I’m so excited about that. This is my first retreat to host and I’m pretty sure I’ll be doing another one the first portion of December.

If anyone is interested in that, just keep up with my work and I’ll let you know when the next dates are. I’ll probably be announcing those pretty soon actually because this one that I have coming up, I have 2 spots left for it. I am super excited to have that get going. Yeah, that’s been the main thing that I’ve been working on right now. It’s been really exciting.

Laura: Awesome. Then I know that a lot of us are going to be familiar with your work as more as a body image and nutrition, well not nutrition, but food freedom and that kind of stuff. Where do you see your business going in the next couple months or years? I know that you’ve been kind of shifting more toward a mindset motivation approach.

Maddy: Yeah. I made the decision to switch my business from food and body image over to motivational speaking and freedom mindset, talking a lot about the art of giving up control, the art of surrendering to life and surrendering to your own greatness so that you can really live out those dreams that you do have, or uncover the dreams that you don’t know are within. I’m teaching a lot along those topics. My You Tube channel is a great example of the things that I like to talk about because it has everything to do with fear, rejection, giving up control, surrendering, all of those beautiful things.

That’s really the direction I’m going. I’m going to be doing less talking about the food and the body image, as strong as that is in my life of a story. But as strong as that is in my life as my past, I’m also ready to let that go because revisiting that every day of my life has been great on one side, but on the other side I almost feel like I haven’t been able to just move on completely. I’ve made that decision to let that part of my life still be here of course, and when people want to talk about it, I’m still going to talk about it and help them. Or if an interview comes up, I want to be able to share that part of my life. But in my in my day to day life and my business, I don’t want to necessarily revisit those days every day.

Laura: Right.

Maddy: I’m going to be focusing on what else there is to life. The theme for me is more than this. It’s just there’s more to this now. There’s more to life than revisiting those things, or to be talking about those things. There’s so much more to life that we can all focus on together. Once people get to that point when they’re ready to move past it, you’ll know. Then you can start focusing on what’s more to this. What’s more to this life. Then I’ll be here. That’s the stuff that I like to talk about.

Laura: That’s really cool. To be fair, I feel like so much of that can be helpful in the process of getting past the food and exercise obsession just because once you do realize that there is so much more to life, then it’s a motivating factor that will drive you to finding what’s more. Because if you don’t realize that there’s more and you feel like your body is kind of the most important thing to focus on, it can be difficult to see past that.

But I love that you’re sharing all this stuff. I think it’s awesome. I’m going to keep following you, and following all your recommendations, and reading all the books that you recommend. I read Playing Big while I was in Cost Rica based on your suggestion and that was a huge game changer for me. I just love seeing the stuff that you share, and the videos you put up, and the blogs, and all that. We will definitely be sharing that with our audience and hopefully I’m sure we could talk about this forever basically. But hopefully what we did talk about today is lit a fire under some of our listeners to really start exploring what’s important to them and what life holds for them beyond just nutrition, and fitness, and all that stuff.

Thank you so much for coming on. I really enjoyed this conversation, Maddy. Anything you want to just send our listeners to as far as finding more about you and work online?

Maddy: Yeah. My website is MaddyMoon.com. And Maddy is with a “y,” Maddy. MaddyMoon.com. I’m on Instagram at Madelyn Moon. You could find my podcast on iTunes, Mind Body Musings. Oh yeah, my You Tube channel, “Maddy Moon TV.” Those are the best places you can find me.

Laura: Awesome, and we’ll link to all those in the show notes so people can find you anywhere they want to. Thanks again for coming on Maddy, it was great chatting with you. We hope to have you on again in the future.

Maddy: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me on. You ask great questions and I’m just delighted to have been here. I hope that your audience gains a lot of insight from it.

Laura: Great to have you, Maddy.

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I'm a women's health expert and a registered dietitian (RD) with a passion for helping goal-oriented people fuel their purpose.

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