In her new book, SHIFT FOR GOOD: Simple Changes for Lasting Joy Inside and Out (on sale TODAY!!), Good Morning America contributor Tory Johnson recounts the remarkable internal transformation she underwent when she took the “Shifting” weight loss advice that she offered in her #1 New York Times bestseller, The Shift, and applied it to her personal relationships, career, and community. Below, she shares an intimate family moment from the beginning of her new Shift journey when she realizes that overcoming one obstacle—like weight loss—can reveal how to tackle other life challenges.
“Liking those cupcakes, are you, Mommy?” my sixteen-year-old daughter, Emma, asks good-naturedly. She’s about to lie on my bed and chat with me into the night, as she does so often. When I don’t respond, she returns to her bedroom. I hear bits and pieces of her whispering to her twin brother, Jake: Mom . . . bad . . . mood. That doesn’t begin to describe the darkness that envelops me.
I’ve wolfed down not one but two sugar- laden cupcakes, a treat from friends who spent the weekend with us. This is nervous eating-without-thinking-about-the-consequences behavior that has plagued me throughout my life. It is something I haven’t done, or even been tempted to do, since my Shift, when I swore off sweets.
When I first Shifted, (A) I changed the way I viewed food and myself, and as a result (B) I lost a lot of weight, so (C) I expected to be happy forever. Game over. Yet here I am, a good seventy- plus pounds lighter but not a whole lot happier. In fact, I’m about to grab another cupcake.
Emma’s innocent teasing about the cupcakes jolts me back to reality. I cannot allow myself to ever return to the on- again/off- again eating treadmill because it’s bound to end in disaster.
Now that the weight is gone, it occurs to me that there are more layers in my life that I need to peel off and address—and that makes me uneasy. The truth is, I’ve lost the weight but I haven’t lost my Fat Girl mentality. It’s not that my life isn’t good. I have great kids, a loving husband and a rewarding career. But after the high of my accomplishment, I feel let down and I’m not sure why. I guess I imagined that once I lost the weight, life would be perfect—and it’s not. It’s yet another wake- up call.
Like many women who struggle with weight, I am well aware of what it feels like to use food as comfort to dull the pain, to temporarily ease every problem. I cannot start bingeing on food again if I want to have any chance of creating lasting change in my life and facing whatever problems arise in a more sustainable manner. In other words, I want to Shift for Good—not slide backwards.
“Liking those cupcakes, are you, Mommy?” is all I needed to hear to know that I can’t allow food to soothe my woes ever again.