The Year of No Diets

Personal Blog – Coach Emma Schilter

You’ll see me do more personal blogs throughout 2020.

But to kick things off I’m going to talk about the 455 days I spent not dieting.

Here’s a brief synopsis of what’s in this blog post:
– A brief look into my childhood
– 9 things I focused on instead of dieting
– 5 life lessons I learned in 2019
– Other areas of life that are just as important as physical health


To start, let’s just get a small background about myself and my journey.

My relationship with my body & with food goes way back to middle school.

I went through some VERY AWKWARD tween years.

To make matters interesting, I was chubby, hairy (italian), had braces & a resting bitch face.

Something that I don’t bring up very often was the fact that at a younger age, I was bullied by my classmates, neighborhood friends, and of course sibling rivalry – which made me incredibly insecure and constantly on the defense.

Pretty much on a daily basis, I would go into a DEAD SPRINT home – crying.

But as the days progressed, I noticed I was getting faster & faster…and once I got to high school I found that I was extremely explosive and fast on the soccer field. Looking back, it’s because of the practice I had running home everyday.

I probably should have raced track instead…but I digress.

Things that were said to me at a young age created this defensive personality within me. I always took everything so personally like a dagger to the heart. It was like a fire would go off and I needed to protect myself. I was incredibly insecure.

I still fight insecurity to this day.

But in middle school I used food to numb my feelings.

High school I would run 5 miles per day, go to soccer practice, and still binge on candies and bags of Reese’s PB cups.

In college, I still had my stashes of Reese’s, and I was competing in college soccer while going to Nursing school.

At the time and through each stage of life, I would look into the mirror and still see the chubby, awkward version of myself. That vision just never went away.

In reality…I was thin. I was “in shape”. I just didn’t have a six pack.
Honestly it blows my mind how small I was and still had belly fat. I would constantly compare my body to my closest friends – which is completely unfair to myself and to them. But it was a daily practice for me.

The reason I wasn’t lean on my stomach wasn’t because I didn’t workout…it was because of how much stress and anxiety I lived with every single day.
It was because I would go on a binging spree at 2am in my dorm room eating entire bags of Reese’s because I told myself I’d never reach my goals.

I had body dysmorphia.
I had anxiety.
I had depression.
And I overtrained, under ate and binged because of it.
I didn’t know how to handle stress, and I didn’t know how to love myself.

So as I grew older, I thought that if I looked a certain way – like those other women – that I would find peace and love for my body.

So I kept going through these cycles…
Diet, feel shitty, binge, feel guilty so continue to eat whatever, gain weight, diet again, feel shitty…

And not as a surprise, my body started to change. Not necessarily in the way I was looking for.
I was getting sick often, getting severe injuries, I had absolutely no energy, my performance was going way down, my insomnia got worse (yes, it’s possible), and I had crippling mood swings & anxiety.

I went through reverse diets, cuts, maintaining phases…but it was all the same. I would still have to go into pretty low deficits (diet phase) and not be able to lose much body fat. And the times that I did, when I would reverse back up I would gain everything back almost immediately.

I got blood panels done, and everything came back fine. But none of this made sense to me at the time. I needed to figure out what was going on with my body.

There was one thing that I had not tried…ever.

One concept that is extremely hard to even consider when you have body dysmorphia.

The concept of sitting at maintenance for an entire YEAR.

No diets.

The idea of learning how to respect my body – without changing it. The idea of taking a break stressing over the body fat on my stomach or trying to fit into old clothes instead of finding clothes to fit me.

So in October, 2018 I decided that I would not go into a deficit cycle until 2020.

Instead, here’s what I focused on:

  1. Inner narrative – how I talked to myself
  2. Individual performance in the gym
  3. Self-care practices (nails, massage, PT, sleep, routine)
  4. Changing the way I handle stress
  5. Eating foods without guilt
  6. Being okay with the scale fluctuations
  7. Being okay with not being lean AF like other gym owners and nutrition coaches
  8. Being okay with being uncomfortable
  9. Respecting my body

I’m 5’5”

October, 2018 I weighed in at 151lbs

January 1st, 2020 I weighed in at 151lbs

My highest weight got to 160lbs

My lowest weight was 146lbs

But at year’s end…I successfully maintained.

With ZERO injuries.

I did get sick a few times though – but would get back on track once I felt good enough to eat normal again.

I was eating about 2400-2700 calories per day. Training on average about an hour to 1.5hrs per day, 6 days per week. I had 1 day where I lifted in the AM and did cardio in the PM. But I did not overtrain, nor did I under eat 

Some may think, “oh, come on…you just got to eat food and train. That’s super easy!” And to those of you who think that, I’m going to laugh in your face. 😀

NONE of this was easy.

Not when you’ve spent your entire life completely tearing yourself down internally telling yourself how worthless, ugly and fat you were. How you’re a hypocrite for owning a gym and nutrition company but nobody can see your abs.

I had to rewire my entire way of thinking.

And I am thankful for the coaches I’ve worked with that have helped me change this. I couldn’t have done this alone. Every day I had to battle my narrative.

Throughout my journey this past year I’ve learned a few things though.

Do you want to hear my life lessons?

If not, just stop reading 😉

5 Life lessons I learned in 2019

  1. It’s possible to respect your body even if you’re not at your goal.
  2. It’s important to heal your body from time spent dieting.
  3. Self worth and confidence isn’t determined by how you look.
  4. Clothes are meant to fit your body, not for your body to fit them.
  5. It’s okay to ask for help.

Let me elaborate on these.

1. IT’S POSSIBLE TO RESPECT YOUR BODY EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT AT YOUR GOAL

Your body is a beautiful and intelligent thing. It adapts to anything and everything you throw at it in order to keep you ALIVE. Each season in your life brings a different demand on your body. This life may feel like an absolute sprint, but it’s not. We need to find patience and grace within our journey. So it’s OKAY if we have to go in cycles. It’s okay if we haven’t met our goals yet.

Your body can be beautiful, amazing, and you can appreciate it – even if you’re not necessarily where you want to be. I’m not talking about self love – because honestly that’s a hard stretch for many people. But you can find out how to have SELF RESPECT and allow yourself grace with imperfections.

Which brings me to my next point.

2. IT’S IMPORTANT TO HEAL YOUR BODY FROM TIME SPENT DIETING

Dieting is stressful. And in a world where we are constantly stimulated 24/7 and our stress is at an all time high, adding dieting to an already stressful life is taxing on the body. Not only is dieting stressful, but your body adapts to the stress on it. It slows everything down because it’s trying to preserve your life. So if you’re ACTUALLY starving, you’ll live longer because of how our bodies react to less food. Amazing right?!

But when we chronically diet (either we live there or we diet on and off yo-yo like all year round) our body has zero time to get back to “homeostasis” aka health, healing and maintaining.

So it’s actually SUPER important for us to limit our dieting to 1-2x per year for about 3-4 month periods on average (however, this suggestion is different for those who are obese). 

That way, we can go to maintenance for 3-4 months and then do another diet cycle. But without that healing, our bodies will not respond the way we want them to, and in order to see progress in fat loss we would have to constantly get lower and lower increasing that stress demand on your body. When we get to a certain point, we experience illness, injury, insomnia, anxiety…amongst other issues down the road.

The reality is that we NEED maintenance phases for optimal health.

The other reality is that most of us are either unaware or too afraid to go into these phases.

3. SELF WORTH AND CONFIDENCE IS NOT DETERMINED BY HOW YOU LOOK

Whaaaaaatttt?!

You can be confident and feel like you’re worthy and you belong without fitting into a size 4?

HECK YES LADY.

I have learned…confidence is a skill.

You actually have to put yourself into uncomfortable situations (be vulnerable) to grow confidence. Confidence is a bi-product of vulnerability and bravery. Bravery is the act of facing a fearful and vulnerable situation – and doing it anyway. You have to habitually be BRAVE to have confidence.

Being a certain size or leanness doesn’t bring you that. Having a certain body fat % doesn’t mean jack SHIT when it comes to confidence. Having body fat doesn’t make you less important than someone else.

KNOW THAT.
LET IT SIT DEEP INTO YOUR SOUL.

4. CLOTHES ARE MEANT TO FIT YOUR BODY, YOU’RE NOT MEANT TO FIT YOUR CLOTHES

I had to go to a business conference and went shopping with a friend of mine who is pretty great with fashion trends. Before we went, I had told her that I struggle hard to find things that fit me. I constantly felt discouraged and upset by the fact that I couldn’t wear things that I thought were cute – probably why all you see me in are athletic clothes. Not just because my job requires it being a CrossFit coach, but also because nothing fit right. None of my old clothes fit me, so I needed new ones.

My friend and I went into about 3-4 stores.

First store I tried things on that she totally thought would look BOMB in, but when I put it on my lats almost tore every shirt.

White button down? HA YOU FUNNY. 

Any jacket? Almost tore it to shreds putting my arms forward.

My friend was in awe. I remember her saying “oh my gosh, even someone who looks like you struggles to go shopping? I honestly would have never guessed it!”

It was a failed attempt to find conference clothes, so we went home.

I messaged another friend who is in the fashion industry in New York City. I told her how upset I was and felt so discouraged. And she said something I will never forget…

“Oh Emma…the clothes we wear are meant to celebrate the body you have. It’s not the job of our body to fit into the clothing. You just haven’t found what’s right for you, yet.”

My eyes opened wide. I could almost cry.

She’s right.

We have this idea that we are supposed to fit into the clothes.

We don’t allow our body to change out of fear of not fitting into something. Even if it affects our health, happiness and wellbeing.

We trash talk ourselves because a skirt doesn’t fit us?

WTF LADIES.

Clothes are a celebration of OUR BODIES.

We wear them not to fit into them, but to enhance the features we love about ourselves.

We wear colors, styles and fabrics to celebrate who we are NOT to cover things up.

It’s a piece of our personality coming to light.

And if we don’t “fit” into old clothing, well maybe we simply need new clothes to celebrate where we are in this moment. Not to be discouraged, but to show respect and grace through every phase in our journey.

Clothes don’t have feelings – the individual wearing them does.

Stop giving power to the fabrics, and take the power back.

5. IT’S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP

If you think I went through this myself, YOU WRONG GIRL.

Even though I own Rising Tide Performance and CrossFit Blue Moon, I STILL need a coach to help me go through challenging things. As you can see, I was a mess for many years. I didn’t even know I was a mess until I turned around and looked at it.

I needed someone to help me navigate through my biased vision and opinions, to help me change my thought process, to help me grow and learn in various different ways.

That includes a therapist, pastor & coaches.

I don’t know how therapy or coaching got such a bad stigma, but I honestly believe everyone should have a therapist and a coach if they have the opportunity to.

We all have crap we’re dealing with in our own way.

Trauma, experience, emotions.

Sometimes we need someone to listen that isn’t a friend or family member.

Someone who is unbiased and someone who can help us ask ourselves the right questions in order to rewire the way we think and overcome obstacles that we battle daily.

There is ZERO shame in asking for help.

It doesn’t make you weak.

I actually think asking for help takes someone who is stronger and wiser.

If you try to do everything yourself – that’s weakness to me.

Asking for help to me is showing strength INSIDE of your weaknesses.

That’s pretty damn cool.

Ask for help and you will be successful.


As I move into 2020 I have my eyes set on some different goals. I don’t want you guys to read this article and feel shame for wanting to diet or have body goals.

On the contrary.

Because in 2020 I’m going to go through diet cycles myself.

The point is to understand that we don’t need to obsess over aesthetics to feel good about ourselves and where we are headed.

If you have a yo-yo past, in order to achieve body goals, you may need to be OKAY with spending a period of your life healing from that type of stress before targeting that side of yourself again.

Our society is so obsessed with body changes, quick fat loss diets, cleanses, detoxes, weight loss…that we completely miss the mark on what health truly is.

We are so OBSESSED with physical changes, that we forget to address other areas of wellness that are equally important to physical health…

8 Dimensions of Wellness:
Emotional / Mental
Spiritual
Environmental
Financial
Intellectual
Occupational
Social
Physical

I’m incredibly excited for what’s to come in 2020, and I’d like to take you along on my journey.

After a year of healing my mind and my body, I’m interested to see how my body responds to throwing in diet cycles.

I’m still battling my narrative as this is a lifelong growing process, but I hope that my journey may help you overcome a similar battle yourself.

Wherever you are in life, you, my friend are powerful, worthy & loved.

You only have control over yourself and the way you respond to situations. And you can overcome barriers and obstacles that are in the way of you rising up to becoming the person I know you can be.

I am here, my team is here at Rising Tide Performance to HELP YOU with pieces of your journey.

Just ask for help.

Wishing you all the very best year ahead.

Emma

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