• Paige Smathers

56: Rewiring Your Body's Trust Blueprint

Samantha Skelly struggled deeply with her relationship with food and her body during early adulthood. Through her struggle, she was inspired to create Hungry for Happiness: a company dedicated to spreading the message of hope, healing and happiness and committed to helping women all over the world find peace with food and their bodies. She came on the podcast to talk about lessons she's learned about how to create more trust within ourselves in order to be able to tap into our intuition with food and life in general.

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Full transcript:

Paige: Hey guys, welcome to Nutrition Matters Podcast. I’m Paige your host and you guys, I am just so excited about so many of the episodes I have coming up for you in the next few months. I am pumped about this project. I love being able to be a small part of your lives and a small part of your journey toward a healthier relationship with food. Just know that even though things have been a bit slow in the last few months, I am really excited. I’ve lots of great things lined up for us and I know you’re just gonna love it. So and today is no exception. Today I am going to share with you an interview that I did with Samantha Skelly. She is actually the owner and founder of Hungry of Happiness which is a movement to empower women to overcome their disordered eating and body image issues. So she is a motivational speaker, a best-selling author, an entrepreneur, and has a lot of personal experience with emotional eating and with working to become more intuitive as a person and with her eating as well. And so, just so you know a little bit more about her, she has shared with her mission all over the place. She’s made appearances on global tv, [??} NBC, CBC. In 2013, she was awarded top 24 under 24. And in 2014 she was named a finalist for best emerging entrepreneur which is super exciting! She spreads her message of health and happiness to help transform so many people’s lives. She has a program that she does to help women become healthier with their relationship with food. Motivational speaking. She also has a podcast called the Hungry for Happiness podcast, and she does worldwide international retreats. Oh my goodness, her best-selling book called Hungry for Happiness: One Woman’s Guide from Fighting Food to Finding Freedom. And just a reminder, if you need a little extra help with your relationship with food and you want to join a really supportive community and get some really awesome information, some tools, some guidelines, and some coaching, I have an online course that’s available on my website. It’s just If you’re interested at looking at what the details are in that, feel free to just head on over to the website and check it out and see if it might be a good fit for you. So I hope that you enjoy this episode, you guys will see, I’m like a little bit excited in this episode because she was so much fun to talk to and she had so much really beautiful insight and wisdom into all these issues that we talk about all the time on this podcast. So I think you all will really enjoy this. Thank you all for joining me and enjoy this episode.

Paige: Alright well welcome Samantha! I’m so glad to have you on Nutrition Matters. Welcome!

Samantha: Thank you for having me. I’m super excited for this conversation.

Paige: Me too! So let’s just briefly sort of explain who you are and what you do. And then we’ll dive into your story. So just get into that and I’ll ask questions along the way.

Samantha: Yeah so I run a company called Hungry for Happiness so we help women who struggle with the relationship they have to food and their bodies. [??]I feel like we’re putting bandaids on bullet wounds and not really looking at the root cause of what’s going on and it’s super important that we look at the emotional side of what is going on and my whole, my whole thing is just helping women end their fight with food, get out of that vicious cycle of dieting and binging and just really looking at the core root, the emotional weight that’s going on.

Paige: Yeah, awesome! So we do very similar things. How did you, how did you get interested in that world? Tell us about your journey.

Samantha: So I grew up as a child actress from the age of like very young and I was constantly either on the stage or in front of the camera and I didn’t you know, the whole body image thing didn’t affect me until I actually stopped the industry. So when I was around 18 I started dieting like a crazy person. Like I was on over 50 diets in less than 4 years and just constantly, constantly dieting and not really knowing how to eat properly. Not knowing how to use food for health and hunger and just ultimately feeling incredibly disconnected from my body and disconnected from what feels good. I didn’t even know I had an intuition. I could not decipher between and emotional hunger queue and a physical hunger queue. That whole, my whole connection with my body was completely gone and meanwhile, while I was going through, I called it my diet depression years, I was actually a personal trainer as well, so I felt completely out of alignment, you know with the work I was doing in the world. So I knew that there was a deeper reason as to why I was in this battle, in this fight. And so I spent 3 years after that just really healing the relationship I had to food and my body and really figuring out what I was hungry for and what was really going on and taking it ten layers deeper and not externalizing the issues. For so long I felt this feeling inside of me and I just tried to externalize my behavior and my food to try and heal the feeling. But I realized that I was just hitting a wall doing that. I needed to go into my body really not put bandaids on bullet wounds and treat internal issues with internal solutions and until I did that I was still stuck in that binge cycle battle. So after about 3 years of doing that I saw the contrast between what it felt like to feel super good in my body using food for health and hunger and not even thinking about food versus that’s all I thought about every single day when I woke up and went to bed and throughout the entire day. It was this obsession of calories and exercising. Not liking my body and like seeing the contrast and seeing how vastly different my life was, I knew that this was the work that I needed to bring into the world. So I created the brand Hungry for Happiness October 2014 so it’s been a journey but fun.

Paige: Yay! So can I ask you a few follow up questions to that whole story. One thing I’m curious about is when you were in front of the camera and on stage in your childhood and adolescence, were you the type of kid that was ultra aware of what other people thought of you? Were you anxious? Were you nervous about the way your body looked? Did you have a pretty healthy relationship with food? Or what did that look like as a kid?

Samantha: I didn’t think about it when I was a kid. You know, it didn’t dawn on me. Let me reframe that, I thought about it. I was aware of it but it didn’t create that pain that it created when I was 18. So when I was dancing, I’m like, ok I know I need to be small. I know I need to be small. That was like the thought but it didn’t like pain me through that process. It was interesting. It wasn’t until after I realized like wow the weight on my body is really affecting my emotional state. What is going on right now? Why are those two things so linked and that’s when it started to really have an effect on my overall being. When I was younger, not so much. It was just kind of how I did life you know? I was super headstrong, very logical, very up in my head and didn’t really let myself feel until I was about 18 and that’s when I started to actually feel these things. And then suppress them and suppress them. And then feel them and suppress them. And that’s where the cycling came in.

Paige: Kay, so we want to focus our conversation today around the idea of how to kind of rewire our body’s trust blueprint.

Samantha: Mmhmm.

Paige: So just to understand your story, did you feel like you were able to be connected and in touch with that as a kid and then you lost that when you started dieting? Or did you feel like you kind of never had that? Or give us an idea of that process for you.

Samantha: I think I didn’t consider when I was younger. I didn’t ever think, oh do I trust my body? Does my body trust me? It wasn’t…

Paige: In retrospect, what do you think? Like looking back.

Samantha: Oh, in retrospect? In retrospect, yeah I mean I trusted myself when I was younger.

Paige: Ya.

Samantha: And then during those 4 years of obsessively dieting and being on over 50 diets in less than 4 years, I completely shattered the trust that I had with my body.

Paige: Yeah, ok.

Samantha: And my body didn’t trust me. You know?

Paige: Yeah.

Samantha: It was like there was zero trust so every time, even things I out of food because I didn’t trust myself so much with food, I didn’t trust myself with money, with relationships, with my career. It percolated into every area of my life. Not just the relationship I had to food to my body. So I had to during my recovery process, cuz when we think about actually trusting ourselves, we think about trusting like our personality, our ego, and the part of us that let us down in the past. But there’s a deeper part of us, our intuition, and our soul that is so trustworthy. It’s unshakable. And that’s the part of us that we need to trust. And so when we’re recovering and we’re going through this work, we actually have to take action just without the evidence and just know that we’re going to show up for ourselves. And that was the leap that I had to take and granted it took me a long time to get to that place where I’m like, I gonna take action and not worry about what happens. I’m just going to take action and just trust that I’m gonna catch myself and I’m going to be supported by something higher than myself. So that is how we ultimately build, rebuild trust in our body, is by taking action. One of my mentors is named Philip McKernan, he says, in the absence of clarity, take action. So I was so unclear on how to trust myself. I had no idea as far as my story that I was not trustworthy. And so in order for me to learn how to rebuild that trust, I had to take action, I had to do things that allowed me to rebuild that trust with myself. Something as simple as listening to our body and deciphering between a visceral yes in the body and a visceral no. A lot of us are so disconnected from our bodies, we have no communication to our intuition. And our intuition is like this glorious birthplace of so much guidance and direction and for a lot of us, especially dieters, we’re just so disconnected from that because we’re all up in our heads. And it’s like, what should I do? Right? Rather than, what is my body telling me to do? So it was a process of really deciphering between a visceral yes in the body and a visceral no and taking micro, making micro-decisions based on what my body was telling me to be able for me, to build that up [and] make bigger decisions based around food or other life decisions. And now it’s, now with my decision making, I kind of take logic out of the equation, I ask myself the question and I can decipher between that expansive yes feeling of like Yes, that feels good, let’s lean into that or No, don’t do that. And that’s a really freeing, it’s such a freeing feeling to not have to overthink and overanalyze decisions and just check in with our bodies and make decisions based on what our body is saying and not what we think we should do or what everybody and their dog thinks we should do. So even little decisions now like, what grocery store should I go to or whatever it is, I try and take logic out of the equation as much as possible and in a world that’s so rooted in logic and overthinking, overanalyzing; inviting our intuition is an act of courage. It’s great.

Paige: I agree. Oh my gosh, you said so many things in that little segment that I wanna follow up on and dig deeper into.

Samantha: Cool.

Paige: So the first thing you said that I loved. I loved and I’m noticing this you know, as I start to pay attention, I’m noticing this everywhere, but that’s so true that as you…sometimes it kind of seems a little bit unimportant to talk about our relationship with food right? It can kind of be like, ohhh food is not as important as refugees or like all these things going on in the world right?

Samantha: Yeahh.

Paige: Like how are we talking about food when there’s so many other things going on? But what I love about what you just said is you know what? As we work on healing our relationship with food and becoming more in touch with our wise, beautiful intuition that we have within us, we are better human beings in general, we become that can’t help but trickle into other areas of our life and I think in the end this connects back to our theme for today where when you connect to that intuition and you trust and rewire that trust blueprint in your body, you are able to trust yourself in every other way as well and it’s with exercise, with jobs, with relationships, with you know, all of these things and I just think that’s such a powerful idea and I want to hear more about your experience with that and your wisdom in that area.

Samantha: Yeah it was super interesting when I started to heal the relationship I had, so money is so linked to food. So generally speaking, when we have issues with money, we also have issues with food because the root cause, one of the root causes of both of those things is rooted in scarcity. And so when we’re operating from a scarcity mindset, we develop dysfunctional relationships with food and money. There’s not enough. It’s not enough. I’m not enough. It’s like this enough-ness thing that’s going on and so when I was super focused on my relationship with food and healing that I realized the byproduct of that is I had a much healthier relationship with money. It came more in abundance. I didn’t have that like scarcity like, *gasp*I’m gonna run out feeling. It was like, oh money is constantly flowing to me and it’s effortless and I can become a river for this and the same thing with food. And a lot, for me personally, with food, I gotta eat it because I don’t know when I’m gonna get the next meal. It was like that feast and famine thing. And that behavior and pattern was also present in the relationship I had with money. And so it’s really beautiful now when I am feeling like, ok, I’m feeling like *grr* sticky with money or food, it’s like ok I know where this is coming from, this is just rooted in scarcity and then I go back to my scarcity work and I do the healing that needs to happen around scarcity in order to heal what’s currently going on in that situation. So right now, what’s super clear to me, what the belief is that is perpetuating those behaviors to be activated.

Paige: Samantha! That is huge, I’ve been thinking about this so much! This idea of scarcity and that mindset and how that plays into our relationships with food and

Samantha: Oh yeah.

Paige: When we think something is scarce, whether that’s put on by a diet or put on us by a supposed intolerance or maybe it’s not really real but you’re just kind of, oh this is helpful to help me restrict, when we make something scarce, our bodies are wired to go find it. If we think about it from an evolutionary perspective, that’s important. That’s an important part of psyche to know that when food is scarce, we get extra motivated to go find it.

Samantha: Mmhmm. Hundred percent, hundred percent.

Paige: And when food, and I’m sure you’re a Brené Brown reader, I can just tell by the way you talk,

Samantha: Mmhm. hahaha

Paige: I can just tell. So I love in her book, Gifts of Imperfections, when she talks about how the opposite of scarcity is not abundance, it’s enough.

Samantha: Mmhmm enough-ness.

Paige: Oh gosh, that just speaks to my soul like I feel like I’m being a little bit too intense and excited about this? But I can’t help it but I love that enough, in her book she describes, you know you wake up in the morning and you’re like, god didn’t get enough sleep and then you’re running around, gosh I don’t have enough time. And it’s like, that like the way we live our lives is like, I’m not enough. I don’t have enough. There isn’t enough. And when we’re talking about food in particular, how silly is that? Food is at every corner, in abundance.

Samantha: Exactly.

Paige: There is enough!

Samantha: Yeah. A hundred percent!

Paige: Anyways, so I’ve been thinking about that a ton and also as that connects to like even our sense of self worth like, if we can stop having that self taught track going on in our brain of I’m not enough, I’m not popular enough, I don’t have enough followers, I don’t do enough work, I’m not enough, enough, enough, it’s like just remind yourself that you are.

Samantha: Yes.

Paige: Because you simply are because you exist, you know? You are enough! So what do you think about that?

Samantha: Well it’s important as well not to externalize our enough-ness right? Or our worth. It’s pretty much the same thing. So yeah, I mean so often when I tell my clients like, you are enough or you are worthy, they’re like, well, I need to find the evidence. They try to externalize it right? They try to externalize their job role, the amount of money they have in their bank, who they’re dating, what they’re doing, the travel that they’re going on. And it’s like that actually has nothing to do with it. If you think of a baby, they’re not enough because they have a really nice baby blanket and a great bottle.

Paige: hahah.

Samantha: They’re just enough because they just are.

Paige: That’s such a funny thought.

Samantha: right? It’s like this, you just are.

Paige: But with the baby, like the minute they enter this world, they are everything.

Samantha: Exactly, they’re significant.

Paige: And you can’t help but feel that when you’re around a newborn baby who’s absolutely done nothing positive or negative in their life, they just simply exist.

Samantha: Mmhmm. Absolutely, absolutely.

Paige: That’s so cool.

Samantha: And that’s the thing, so it’s about being cozy and being cool with the idea like the enough-ness feeling that is not externalized and is simply a reflection of what’s going on in your emotional field and not your possessions. So normally when we’re feeling inadequate and we’re not feeling enough, we’re getting to a state of consumption and we’re trying to consume more books, more podcasts more clothes, more money, more boys, more alcohol, whatever it is right? And we get into a state of consumption and actually that’s detrimental to our feeling of enough that actually creates toxicity in our relationship to being enough. And the best thing that we can do when we’re on our quest and search for feeling enough is inviting in simplicity, how can I simplify? How can I get down to the basics? You know? You know when we get rid of clothes in our closet, there’s that feeling of Ahhh, right? And that’s the same feeling like what do you need to get rid of in your life to be more connected to your worth because everything else all the materialistic stuff, all the other stuff in your life is simply just a distraction from you actually feeling your worth and the reason why we want those things in our life is often because we’re scared that we’re not enough and we’re scared that if we take all those things away, that you’re going to be left with nothing. And that’s just not the case. That’s just what our mind thinks, that’s what our ego is attached to. So the true essence of who we are is who we can be with nothing at all.

Paige: Ok, I just watched the minimalist documentary.

Samantha: *loud gasp*did you? Oh my god I wanna see that so bad, I haven’t yet.

Paige: it’s on Netflix and it’s spoke to my soul. It really did and what you’re saying about like all this clutter I think is so true on like a figurative level and also on an actual physical level. And as we, you mentioned like the example of when you get rid of clothes in your closet, you’re just like, ahhh I feel like physically lighter and freer.

Samantha: Yes so good right?

Paige: And that documentary talks about that physical side and I loved it and they really gave some great examples of how to make it work for you and you don’t have to live in a tiny house or whatever to do it right?

Samantha: Mmhmm.

Paige: But then, I love the idea of taking this a step further and talking about, what about all that extra clutter in our spiritual or our kind of like mental health level right? Where it’s like, we feel better about who we are when we stay simple and when we get rid of all that extra stuff that distracts us from what’s really important and what really matters to us. I don’t know if I’m making sense but…

Samantha: No, a hundred percent. Well didn’t they say like, you can only have, not you can only have but like having like limiting it to 33 items or something?

Paige: No, no, no. Not the, no so these guys are basically what they say is like, they interviewed a family that lives in this big huge house and the mom didn’t really want to be a minimalist but the dad really did and so they found a way to make their lives work and what I love about it and I think this totally relates to food, and I’m really letting this idea marinate for a while but sorry for all the puns, the food puns. Anyway…

Samantha: Hahaha I food pun all the time.

Paige: Ahh you don’t mean to but it just happens. You can’t help it.

Samantha: And some won’t stop.

Paige: So what I loved about that take away from the documentary for me is they interviewed all kinds of people and how they have a minimalist lifestyle and no two people or two couples did it the same way. And what it came down to is every single thing, thing like physical thing, that these people have in their lives and that their surrounded by has an intention and has a purpose.

Samantha: So cool.

Paige: And it’s so cool, like it’s cool on like that physical level but if you think about it, like with food, I think this is what we’re trying to teach. Is like, there’s no good food/bad food. There’s no right and wrong. There’s intention.

Samantha: Intention. Yeah.

Paige: Can you bring the foods into your life that have purpose and meaning and you know what? I’m not here to say that cookies don’t have meaning because for me, they do. Like I love a chocolate chip cookie but I don’t love it everyday all the time right?

Samantha: Yes. Exactly.

Paige: And so I think this idea of like being intentional with each and every thing we bring into our lives whether it’s food or things or people or relationships, I think brings us to this level where we’re no longer saying, oh I should or I shouldn’t or it’s right or it’s wrong to eat this food. We’re saying, what’s right or wrong in this moment for me? And that’s a different answer for someone else right? I just love it! I’ve been thinking about this a lot.

Samantha: And also, like that does come down to this whole essence that we’re talking about ourselves of trusting right? It’s when we create rules around things we don’t trust ourselves around. So we don’t trust ourselves around food so we have to create rules around it. We don’t trust ourselves around certain things, men, money, whatever it is so we create rules around it. And this is this whole essence of like ditch the rules and practice trust because what is going to work for you today is not going to work for you tomorrow and you’re going to make a different decision then and you need to trust yourself that that decision that you make, providing that you make it from a place, an intuitive place, is going to be the decision that is most aligned with the highest, best, and most authentic version of you. So we can’t slap rules on things cuz that’s just not our truth.

Paige: Wooo! But guess what? That’s so hard for people. Holy smokes.

Samantha: It’s so hard for people.

Paige: I know people when they just heard you say that, we can’t have rules, people are cringing and they’re like, no! don’t take away my rules right?

Samantha: Don’t worry girls, I was there too. I was like, what do you mean I can’t have, I can’t count calories? That’s crazy!

Paige: Yeah.

Samantha: And you just, you know, you get used to it.

Paige: That’s literally one of the scariest things you can tell certain types of personalities, right?

Samantha: Yes.

Paige: It’s like, hey there are no rules, there is no right and wrong, people are like, annnddd not listening to you anymore.

Samantha: Annnddd, shut the podcast off. Don’t do that! Hahah

Paige: Ok, so let’s dive into that cuz I think that’s like super super important to this conversation about trust. Because I guess, here’s how I conceptualize it, I would love the give and take from you but when we put our, when we follow rules, right? They’re external, they’re outside. It’s a form of trust. It’s a trusting someone else. It’s trusting, hey Paige is a dietitian so I’m gonna do what she says or Samantha’s a total expert. She’s been through this front and backwards so I’m just gonna do what she says. I’m gonna follow her rules right?