my story; ryann nicole

001. My Story & Why I Started The Food Freedom Lab

November 4, 2020

Ryann Nicole

Hi, I’m Ryann.

Your Not-So-Average Food Freedom Therapist & Virtual Coach. As a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), Certified Nutritionist with a BA in Psychology, and a MA in Professional Counseling, yes I do a little of the "so how does that make you feel".

But my ultimate goal is to provide you with the resources you need, in an easy-to-understand way, on healing your disordered relationship with food and your body. 

TOp categories
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Binge Eating

Healthy Habits

Body Image

Emotional Eating

Mental Health 

I have shown snippets of my story here and there, but I felt it was time to fill you all in on who I am, what I went through to shape who I am today, and why The Food Freedom Lab.

The Beginning

Growing up, I was always a very active child and a “good eater.” When parents describe their kids as good eaters, like it's never working on getting them to eat the food in front of them – that was me. Fast forward to middle school. My body became a bit more of a focus; however, my body wasn't something that consumed me.

Yeah, I noticed my legs touched, and many friends didn't. But other than that, it is something that I didn't think about. I'm unsure if it was the environment I was in or the people I chose to hang out with… But whatever it was, I'm thankful that was the case.

When Things Started To Change

My freshman year of high school was when everything began to change. It was like I stepped on campus for that first day of school and became more aware of my body. About halfway through my 9th-grade year, puberty hit, and I started to put a little weight on. I never noticed it until I looked at some photos after a swim meet and saw an extremely unflattering side to my body that I had never seen before. And this picture set the ball rolling. That day I went on my first diet, and the weight dropped fast.

I became Hooked

Friends, family, teachers, and people I didn't even know at my school started to praise the weight I had lost. After the comment, I heard about how good I looked and was starting to get questions about how I did it. And as positive reinforcement is designed to do, I was motivated even more to keep going with this. Every aspect of my life surrounded food. I put on a fake smile, but underneath it, I was miserable. But I didn't care.

  • My swimming suffered majorly, but I didn't care because I was losing weight.
  • My grades started to drop, but I didn't care because I was losing weight.
  • And my downtime consisted of sleeping, but I didn't care because I was losing weight.

I didn't care about how miserable I was because I thought looked good, and people told me I looked good all the time. And I liked that.

Then Came The Concern

Three months into this and slowly, the positive comments turned into comments of concern. As the comments turned to concern, it did not make me want to stop. It just made me want to hide what I was doing. And this was the beginning of the lies and living this seemingly double life. At the end of this year, My dad's project that brought us to Hawaii slowed down, and his work in Arizona started to speed back up, so we decided as a family to make a move back to Arizona so he wouldn't be traveling all the time.

My eating disorder was so exciting because I moved to a new place where nobody would know how much weight I had just lost, and nobody would comment anymore. Fueled by this new move, my eating disorder was stronger than ever. This continued for about another 2 months until my family went on vacation to San Diego, and they told me they would take me to the hospital.

The Beginning of Binge Eating

And that was the very first day I binged, and a new positive reinforcement began. The more I ate, the more excited and happy everybody was. And the more weight I put on, the more positive comments about my body I received.

But when I got to a weight that didn't appear as sickly anymore, the comments came to a quick halt, and concern about my weight re-emerged. I wanted to go back to restricting, but I couldn't. The more I restricted, the more I binged, and the yo-yo, binge-restrict phase of my life began. This lasted 7 years. 7 years of back and forth dieting and restricting. Food controlled everything I did.

My Rock Bottom

One day I woke up and decided I didn't want to live like this anymore. It was the end of my sophomore year of college, and that summer, I told myself I would dedicate this time to getting help. I enrolled in an outpatient treatment program, and for 10 weeks, I finally let go of what I wanted to do and decided to trust the process. And I changed. I say what as if it was easy, but it wasn't. Even Though I was no longer binge eating – I still had this voice in my head telling me I wasn't enough, and I couldn't shake it.

It took me far too long to realize that the only person telling me I wasn't enough was myself. I realized that if I wanted life to be more enjoyable, it was up to me to shift my mindset and take care of the broken pieces inside me, making me feel like I wasn't enough. I'm not going to lie, it took a few years, but I wouldn't have changed it for anything because I know I'm the person I am today because of it.

I Don't Regret It

As I began to change and grow, I became more aware of how many incredible women struggled with the same self-defeating thoughts I had for many years. I realized that although I had the privilege of going to therapy, not everyone does. And I truly believe that even if you do not have a major problem – therapy is helpful for everyone.

  • Therapy allows you to let go of all the thoughts in your head and lay them on the table with someone who does not judge.
  • Therapy allows you to speak freely to someone unbiased
  • And therapy challenges you to think about things in a different light.

Andddd well realizing this one day as I was sitting on the couch 23 days into quarantine; this platform was born. This is where you all can have a safe space to chat about all things life… All things making your life less enjoyable or all things that make you feel like you're not enough. You know, all the good stuff we talk about when we meet a girlfriend for coffee BUT with adding some easy-to-digest, totally accessible therapeutic skills along with that…

Because here's the thing, too many incredible amazing women are putting their lives and their happiness on hold until they reach this certain standard they've set for themselves based on the brainwashing that occurs in the society we live in today. And if this is you, and you're nodding your head right now thinking, “I am doing that,” Girl, you are in the right place! I am so happy you all are here.

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Your Not-So-Average Food Freedom Therapist & Virtual Coach