Updated: October 10, 2012

If you watch TV, go online or even pass by the gossipy magazines at the grocery checkout, it's hard to escape the continual scrutiny of celebrities' shapes. From the best and worst beach bodies to who has a spot of cellulite, who's gone under the knife and who looks painfully thin, there's a never a shortage of speculation about celebs' physical attributes.

I can't imagine what it would be like to have my beach photos published in a magazine and nit-picked by millions of people online, but some people say celebs should be held to a different standard. I've heard the argument that it's a celebrity's "job" to look good, or that they can afford chefs, nutritionists, trainers, etc. and therefore have "no excuse" for looking less than perfect, but I don't agree.

I've counseled celebrities, models and professional athletes, and I can tell you that they're human! Even people with money, resources and lots of professional support can struggle, because let's face it – this isn't easy. I once had a client who signed up for a very expensive meal delivery service. Her thought was, "If all of my meals are made for me and I don't keep any groceries in my apartment, I'll have no choice but to eat the calorie-controlled meals and well, problem solved!" As I predicted, it didn't quite turn out this way. This person was under a lot of stress and had a history of emotional eating. As a result, many of the delivered meals went uneaten in favor of take-out comfort foods like pizza and BBQ.

When I graduated with my B.S. degree in nutrition, I realized that you can know everything about what, how much, and when to eat and still not be able to consistently put that knowledge into action. So I stayed in school and as part of my master's degree in nutrition science, I earned twenty-one graduate credits in counseling psychology. That helped me hone my personal coaching skills and understand more about the whys of my clients' eating, but the more I worked with people one-on-one, the more I realized that their family members, friends, occupational settings and communities also influenced their abilities to successfully live healthier lives. So, I went back to school again for a second master's degree in public health, specializing in community and family health.

Through all my training and 18 years of experience, what I've come to know is this: we humans are complex beings, and every day there are dozens of factors that influence our behaviors. Changing a pattern requires not just knowledge and support, but also a lot of awareness and a hard look at our emotional connections to food.

If you're struggling, please don't beat yourself up. Losing weight and changing your eating habits isn't about willpower. It's about understanding and transforming your relationship with food, and that doesn't happen overnight, no matter who you are.

If you need support, please leave your comments. What are your biggest barriers? Please share!



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