I met Gwen online and we immediately shared our connection with all things spiritual, consciousness and the journey of book writing. When Gwen and I spoke it was like speaking with an old friend. It helped me so much to share with Gwen about book writing and marketing as we faced many of the same challenges and thoughts. I also loved Gwen’s take on healthy eating. My weight has always swayed back and forth between 10 and 20 pounds and I have had my own times dealing with guilt around food. Gwen’s healthy outlook on conscious eating makes so much sense and I feel it can help so many! So many people and even VERY young girls struggle with body image. Gwen has methods to help you come to a sense of peace with your body and food which can translate into almost every area of your life. Gwen isn’t super far away from me logistically, so I hope I get to give her an in person hug sometime soon possibly at one of her book signings! Please join me in welcoming Gwen Irwin and wishing her a Happy 50th Birthday! It is an absolute pleasure and honor to have her here for Aligned and Inspired Monday.
AIM Spotlight for Gwen Irwin
BIO: Gwen Irwin is a Transformation Coach, author, blogger, and green juice connoisseur who is passionate about supporting others to lead more peaceful and joyful lives. Gwen lives in Newburyport, MA where she writes about how everyday events can lead to transformation if we only pay attention.
1) Please tell us a quote that you aim to live by- whether it be your own or from someone else that has inspired you.
“Eat good food; feel good about what you eat.”
I started dieting just out of elementary school, not because I had any issues with weight gain or food, but because I felt awkward and like I didn’t fit in. Everywhere I looked there were advertisements for the newest and best diet, with the promise of a better life once you lost “the weight” and got your body looking the (impossible) way it “should.”
That seemingly innocent decision set me up for about three decades of dieting, only to lose the weight and gain back more, landing me in my early forties clinically obese.
During that time, I ate mostly processed frozen diet “foods” because I felt more in control, knowing exactly how many calories, fat grams, or points it contained, depending on what diet I was doing. My only concern was losing weight, not even considering that by eating all those processed faux foods, I was depriving my body of vital nutrients.
I began to label many real foods as “bad” based on what I believed would make me gain weight. I had a lot of anxiety and guilt if I ate something that was on the “bad” list, feeling stressed the whole time I was eating it. Not only was I not able to enjoy the food I was eating, the stress response (fight or flight) impairs digestion, so I was not able to assimilate the nutrients and move the food through my system properly.
So, eat good food—I use good not as a judgment, but rather as food that is whole and nutrient dense; food that hasn’t been processed, altered, or added to. Food that is in its most natural state.
And feel good about what you eat—whether you are eating a carrot, or a hot dog on a white bun, eat it consciously, enjoy it, and then forget about it. Savor and enjoy whatever you choose to eat—leave the guilt and stress out of it.
I encourage people to find the healthy eating style that works best for them, with lots of vegetables and other whole, nutrient dense foods. But I call it your 90% healthy eating style, because we don’t all live in the vacuum of our own home. There are holidays, parties, cookouts, and days when we just feel like having an ice cream. For me there are times when it is less than 90%, sometimes much less, like when I am on vacation.
So, while it is great to find a healthy eating style that you enjoy and that nourishes your body, it is also essential to have the same relaxed attitude and enjoyment with whatever you chose to eat, whether it is kale salad or chocolate cake!
Food is meant to nourish and sustain us, as well as to be a pleasing sensory experience. It is not meant to be the enemy conspiring to make us fat. Eat good food; feel good about what you eat.
2) Tell us about a moment when one of your greatest shifts occurred in your life or in one of your clients’ lives.
The greatest shift occurred for me when I finally decided to quit dieting for good, and to make peace with food and my body.
My three decades of dieting not only came with a huge amount of weight gain; what was worse than that was all the fear and self-loathing. I was constantly berating myself, and full of anxiety about what I was or was not eating, or whether I would let myself eat. That pain finally became greater than the pain of being overweight. And as much as I believed in having to be on a diet to lose weight, I finally had to admit that dieting ultimately was causing me to gain weight.
After dieting for so long it was amazingly freeing to be able to eat; just eat. Eat when I was hungry, stop when I was full. To consciously choose what I wanted to eat, and to enjoy eating whatever that was, without judgment.
Without judgment. That was the real shift. I trained myself during this time to stop all the diet related talk, and more importantly to stop saying and thinking awful things about myself. I accepted myself exactly where I was in each moment. It took some time, and I did literally have to train myself into this new way of thinking, but whatever time it took was more than worth it. Making peace with food and my body was such a relief, and I found that peace began to spread into all areas of my life.
Being in that peaceful space got me into vibrational alignment to find the healthy eating style that works perfectly for me (as everyone is different—there is no one “right” way to eat). The weight, pretty quickly, took care of itself, as did my long-standing stomach issue, and skin problems.
3) Please let us know and describe one to three things that you are passionate about in what you do – (for work or for play or both)
I am passionate about inspiring people to live more peaceful and joyful lives. For many people that starts with changing their relationship with food and their bodies. But whether food is the catalyst or not, my greatest passion is connecting with my divine source energy, knowing that I am the creator of my own reality, and helping others remember this, so they too can create the life they dream of living. I love supporting others to find the peace and joy that has always been inside them.
I also have a love of words and writing, so one way I try to support others is through blogging about how our everyday experiences can lead to transformation, when we are aware and in the moment.
4) If you could give one piece of advice, one action to take, or one tool to empower people right now what would that be?
Accept yourself exactly where you are in this moment. That might sound like a platitude, but it is non-negotiable if you want to make any change. Peace on the planet starts with peace within yourself.
5) If you were to offer one of your services or products that best represents what you do, what would it be and how can the readers find out more?
Please come by my website and blog, www.yourinnerjoy.com where you can find my new book, “The Joy of Eating~The Anti-Diet Solution for Weight Loss and Health”, coaching programs, and pick up a free weight loss guide. You can also find my book on Amazon here.
Thank you, Jenny—sending you much gratitude and love for having me as your AIM Spotlight this week!
Thank you spotlight guests for your words of inspiration!
Click here to find out more about Aligned and Inspired Mondays.
Oh, I can so relate to Gwen’s story! I truly believe I’ve been on every diet in the world, beginning in junior high. And they all made me fat and unhappy.
Decades ago, I quit ’em. And started eating actual food. Back then I grew a lot of it, organically, and now since I don’t have the time, shop often at our local farmer’s market with the organic growers.
I’ve been at the same weight (pretty much ideal) for decades now. I’m never deprived, and even eat “bad” stuff every now and then. My body usually tells me about that though!
That is so fantastic Susan–thank you for sharing!! <3
Gwen, you have such a compelling and honest way of sharing your story. I can so relate to your experience – I think most women can (unfortunately)! It is brilliant that you have freed yourself from all that negative self-talk, and are helping others do the same!
Thanks so much Reba! You are right–so many get stuck in this cycle. I am hoping we can start making a collective shift away from it!
Wonderful! I love “Accept yourself exactly where you are in this moment.” Once we do that, it opens up so much! Blessings to you.
I agree!! Thank you for the comment Teri!
Accepting ones self is indeed the key. On January 3 2017 I weighed 303.25 and knew once I crossed that 300lb threshold the self hating had to stop. Today, exactly 95 days later I’m down 71lbs and still going strong. In the past I would hate how I looked everyday. Now I accept that I am not 100% where I need to be but I’m a 100% better today than yesterday. Don’t let your guard down though, self doubt can slip back into your subconscious if you don’t stay focused.
Thanks so much for sharing Jim–I am thrilled for you! You are absolutely right–you have to be diligent, especially in the beginning, to make sure the negative self-talk doesn’t start creeping back in. I love it–keep up the good vibe Jim–very inspiring!!