Hi, I’m Vania, and I’m on a mission to help women free themselves from the clutches of the insidious cultural mindset that they must be thin in order to be valued, powerful, in a relationship, successful or loved.
I’m on a mission to help people make peace with their bodies, with themselves, and with food.
I’m on a mission to dispel the myth that to be healthy one must be thin, or of ‘normal’ weight and that beauty and thinness are important or relevant. I’m with Laurie Penny: I also don’t want to be told I’m pretty or beautiful as I am. I want to be known for my courage and strength of character; for my skills and the way I can help people; I want to be known for the way that I stand up for people’s rights – I want to be known for my advocacy.
I want to help create a world where the conversation about beauty is irrelevant and has faded into the background. I want to live in a world where women (and men) can own their power and make their contribution to the world, without feeling guilty for taking up space!
I stand for a world in which honour, respect, love, equality, kindness and cooperation are highly valued, rather than prettiness, beauty, thinness, ‘hot bodies’ or ‘being ripped.’
Because I spent decades of my life at war with myself and my body.
Here’s my story
It all started when I stood on a scale at the age of about 8 and somehow came to the conclusion that the number was too much. It probably had something to do with the fact that my mother and older sister were always on diets: if they (my idols) weren’t good enough as they were, how could I possibly be?
Throughout my teenage years, I copied the diets my mother and sister were following. I wanted to be part of what they were doing. I wanted to be included in their undefined, unnamed club.
I became obsessed with what I ate – I alternately starved myself for a few weeks, and then binged (for a few months). Then repeated the process over and over again.
By the time I was 16, I was bulimic. I didn’t know the name then – it just seemed to be a perfect solution to ‘enjoying’ food. Though truth be told, there wasn’t any enjoyment in scoffing down slabs of chocolate and tubs of ice cream. I thought the problem was to do with my willpower, and the food itself – I believed I was addicted to sugar and had to eliminate it from my diet. I believed I had a candida overgrowth caused by excess consumption of sugar – which supposedly made cravings worse. I pictured hungry little bacteria, like newborn chicks in a nest screaming for more sugar – that’s what I believed caused these indescribable urges – I thought I needed an exorcism, let alone a diet!
When I was 25, I did the More to Life Weekend, which has so far been the single most transformational experience of my life, and launched decades’ involvement with the organisation. I learned how, as a child, I made sense of events – and how this ‘making sense’ impacted the development of my life. I learned about love, forgiveness, gratitude, living authentically, and, believe it or not, being human! I learned the vocabulary of connection and disconnection, and this transformed my relationships, including one I hadn’t recognised before – the one with Life itself!
Though my behaviours around food changed over time, it was only when I cottoned onto the fact that diets, restriction and deprivation can actually cause weight gain and food obsession, that things really started to change for me. I worked with a coach and earnestly began to work towards Intuitive Eating.
The next remarkable step in my journey was learning how to meditate – and then developing a daily practice. Over time I realised that what I was doing was working in 3 realms; those of the body, mind and spirit. And this is my unique offering to you.
I am so grateful for the journey I’m on. Understanding my relationship with food has been and continues to be an extraordinary and rich experience.
This is a journey about developing curiosity
It’s about discovering longings and yearnings
It’s about understanding deep needs
It is a journey into the centre of the heart itself.
The nitty gritty about me
I have a B.A. in Psychology and an Msc. in Education for Sustainability with a focus on behaviour change.
I’m a registered Intuitive Eating Counsellor, certified MB-EAT (Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training) teacher and a qualified Self Esteem mentor with the More to Life Programme. Over the 25 years I’ve been involved with More to Life, I have had the privilege of coaching hundreds of people to become more of their authentic selves. I’m a member of ASDAH (Association for Size Diversity And Health), a professional member of The Center for Mindful Eating (TCME) and have a Health At Every Size (HAES), weight inclusive and weight neutral approach to my work.
I am an avid blogger and writer – look out for my new posts and newsletters every week. I also run an active closed Facebook Group and is free to join! It’s a place to share, be heard and give and receive support.
Here’s unsolicited feedback from one group member:
“Just thought to share some successes lately. I attended my first book club meeting at the local library yesterday. This is the first time I am doing an activity for my enjoyment instead of for weight loss. There were treats there but the discussion was so good that I kept forgetting about the treats. I have also had more and more mindful meals where I have been able to stop when satisfied. I have been going for walks during my lunch hour and moving in a way that I like. For the first time in forever I’m not trying to be someone other than me. I feel like what I learn in this group is a truly sustainable skill that helps me be happy in my own skin.”