Why can’t I promote self-compassion AND weight loss? {Ep 106 with Charlotte Caperton-Kilburn}

Are you wondering how you can balance pursuing joyful movement with finding Food Peace™? Listen now as my guest for this week, Charlotte Caperton-Kilburn, and give our suggestions.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

This episode is brought to you by my online course, Your Step-by-Step Guide to PCOS and Food Peace™. Sign up now to get on the waitlist for the next enrollment period, and receive my FREE road map: Your First 3 Steps Toward Food Peace™ with PCOS. You CAN make peace with food even with PCOS and I want to show you how

Product links may be affiliate. If you click and make a purchase, there’s no extra cost to you.

Episode’s Key Points:

  • Bodies change, and we have to let the body be where it needs to be! Following through with certain health behaviors might result in weight loss, but it might not… you never know, and so the goal can’t be weight loss.
  • Let’s talk about metabolism: when you normalize your eating habits, your metabolism is in a better place, and your body can get to exactly where it wants to be.
  • We have to honor our hunger and our fullness! This allows our body to regulate itself.
  • If you want to incorporate movement into your life, that’s great! Just make sure it’s something you actually enjoy, and make sure you’re doing it as a form of self-care rather than as a form of compensation or punishment. And make sure you’re eating enough to fuel these forms of movement!
  • Chronic dieting really messes up our metabolism and equilibrium! But when we establish a sense of consistency with our food and movement, we help our bodies find a nice balance.
  • Don’t worry, moving away from the weight-loss paradigm won’t mess up your business in the long term! Clients can see that their health improves over time without the weight loss, and you can help keep them on track with a Health at Every Size approach.
  • Get off the fence! Make your anti-diet approach clear to your clients from the get-go.

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series.

How hard do I exercise with PCOS?

This article was written by my previous Nutrition Grad Student, Kimmie Singh. She is a fat woman of color who experiences PCOS. You can find out more information about her work now as a dietitian here.

We hear mixed messages about movement and PCOS leaving more questions than answers:

  • What’s the best way to move for PCOS?
  • How do I get started?
  • How do I listen to my body when I hear messages like no pain no gain?

I wanted to get answers from an expert. Luckily, my town of Greensboro has a personal trainer that has a non-diet approach to movement. I spoke with Asli Schoone, a HAES-informed personal trainer specializing in people’s and youth exercise. She’s been a trainer since 2001 and has lots of wisdom to share.

I went to Asli’s studio to chat about intuitive movement for people with PCOS. Here’s our conversation:

1. How did you develop an intuitive approach to movement?

I had a change in perspective when exercise began to be source of shame. When I started strength training it was empowering. Eventually I got to a place of disappointment in my body. I thought, “I’m putting in work at the gym, I’m eating the ‘right’ foods, but I don’t look like the girls in the magazines.” I began to hate movement and my body. I realized the more I beat myself up about it, the less empowered I felt. That was when I started eating and moving intuitively and stopped using movement as a punishment.

2. How is your approach different from other personal trainers?

Most personal trainers use movement as a means to an end, suggesting that you have to complete a certain amount of movement to change your body. I don’t adhere to this. I evaluate my clients’ progress by asking if they can improve in movement they enjoy in terms of strength, number of repetitions, and endurance. I look for increased enjoyment in movement and increased ability to move comfortably. The goal is to make clients feel good in their mind, body, and spirit.

Want to find a way to treat your PCOS without dieting?

Grab a FREE download from Julie here.

3. You refer to exercise as movement. Tell me more about that. 

The term “exercise” can bring up ideas of self-punishment and pain. It may even bring up to memories of gym class. It’s usually associated with a formal activity, such as lifting weights or spending time at the gym. “Movement” includes lots of possibilities to engage your body. This may include walking your dog, dancing with your kids, gardening, or cleaning your house. Movement doesn’t have to be defeating and miserable.

4. A lot of people are hesitant about lifting weights. What advice do you have for them?

People are often told they aren’t strong enough from the time they were little girls. For example, sometimes I see my husband chivalrously trying to help my daughter lift the grocery bags, but I encourage her to lift the bags instead. I know she is capable of it, and I know she is strong enough.

5. Many people with PCOS have chronic inflammation and struggle with chronic pain. How can they incorporate movement that promotes health and body acceptance?

Start with small movements that feel manageable and good for your body. If you feel pain or discomfort, there is no need to push through that. Choose movements that support where you are. Moving your body in ways that feel good will help to stop seeing your body as the enemy. It will help you appreciate what your body can do.

6. Fact or fiction: If you aren’t sore, you aren’t “working out” hard enough. 

Fiction! I hate this myth for a couple reasons. Stretching and warming up can reduce soreness, so soreness is clearly not an indicator of how hard you are working out. Secondly, who determines if you are working out hard enough? The only person to make that decision is you. 

7. What advice do you have for someone that is trying to add movement to their lifestyle for the first time in years?

Start slow. During your first week you may only be able to move for ten minutes at a time. Listen to your body’s cues. Rest or stop when you need to. There is no competition when you are listening to your body. Give yourself permission to stop when your body needs to stop.

8. How can people increase their movement without going to the gym? 

The possibilities are endless. If you want to try strength training, you can use dumbbells or resistance bands. A personal trainer may be able to make special modifications. There are plenty of resources online to guide you through new types of movement. Remember that movement can be whatever you want it to be. It may come in the form or playing with your kids or dancing in the living room.

9. How can people modify movements for larger bodies?

Every movement can be modified. For example, you may need to sit down while doing some strength training exercises. You can even modify push-ups by doing them while standing with your hands against the wall.

10. How can people form a movement routine that is best for their bodies and lifestyle?

Start by asking yourself, “what would I like to do?” Your movement should be based on what feels good for you. Ask yourself for feedback on what does and doesn’t feel good.

11. How can people differentiate between normal soreness and pain from an injury?

Muscle soreness starts 12-24 hours after exercise and will feel tender to the touch. Muscle soreness should ease up after the second day. Pain from an injury will feel sharp and will continue to hurt when you move that body part.

12. What advice do you have for people that are unhappy with their endurance? How can they increase their endurance?

I encourage you to remember that increased endurance doesn’t make you a better person. We tend to attach self-worth to endurance. If you want to improve endurance, consistently engaging in activities will help. If you are struggling with comparing your endurance to others, you may find more happiness moving in settings that are less competitive.

13. There are so many popular exercise programs. Should I buy into the hype? 

I see it as reinventing the wheel. Companies make money by keeping us interested by making us feel like we need to move in an optimal way. One program is not necessarily more effective than another. Movement that works for your body is what’s effective. Many fad programs come with a higher risk of injury, especially for people that haven’t exercised before. Similar to fad diets, they suggest that a certain type of movement is best for everyone, but that’s not how it works.

14. What is the best exercise for PCOS?

Moderate exercise is best, such as relaxed walking and yoga. I also recommend resistance training with cardio. If you really enjoy high-intensity movement, I suggest limiting it to once per week.

15. What are your favorite ways to move?

I love weight lifting. I also love to dance, play with my kids, yoga, and move near water. My life is fast-paced, so I like movement that is calming and resetting.

16. What is your movement mantra? 

Honoring your body is promoting your health.

Want to explore more non diet options to help manage your PCOS, promote health AND healing?

 Click here for details on Julie’s PCOS and Food Peace course.


Want to learn more about Asli and her work? Contact her at:
(336) 447-0217
Get Set Girls Facebook Group
Anchor Strength Training Facebook Page


The Love Food Podcast Episode 42 with Nancy Clark RD


Does exercise control your life? Are you trying to recover your relationship with food, your body, and exercise? Wonder what a healthy relationship with exercise looks like for you?? Join Julie as she chats with sports dietitian Nancy Clark on this important topic. Listen now for places to start.

Subscribe and leave a review here in just seconds.

Key Points:

  • Julie needs your letters! Send your letter detailing your complicated relationship with Food to LoveFoodPodcast@Gmail.com
  • Many people struggle with balancing exercise and food in a healthy way. All too often it is tied together with weight. This is NOT healthy.
  • Athlete vs compulsive exercise
  • E in Exercise should be for Enjoyment NOT Excruciating
  • Movement for pleasure is health promoting
  • First steps to move toward a healthier direction:
    • Role exercise plays in life: Athlete vs Distraction from life?
    • What would you be doing if not exercising so much or so exhausted from exercising so much?
    • Exercise can be a stress reliever yet enough is enough.
    • Exercise is serving a distracting purpose
    • Consider Yoga: doing for your body not to your body
    • Consider weight lifting as long as keep within limits
  • Convert from compulsive exerciser to athlete. An athlete fuels her body and takes rest day. “Your training today is to do nothing.” <–I LOVE this!
  • 30 minutes five days a week or 150 minutes of exercise recommended to be fit. Can be easy to get too much.
  • “Anyone who exercises for more than an hour a day does it for reasons other than health and fitness.” Ken Cooper
  • What are you running away from??
  • Listen to your body: intuitive eating AND intuitive exercise. Be sure to include pleasure and socialization with exercise. This will nourish the body on many many levels. Healthy exercise includes pleasure.
  • The many reasons to exercise: health, fitness, bone health, heart health, diabetes prevention, etc. Notice to burn off calories is not on this list!!!

    I got a chance to hang out with Nancy Clark RD at this year's FNCE. She is a dietitian celebrity and honored she agreed to be on Love Food!
    I got a chance to hang out with Nancy Clark RD at this year’s FNCE. She is a dietitian celebrity and honored she agreed to be on Love Food!

Show Notes:

Do you have a complicated relationship with food? I want to help! Send your Dear Food letter to LoveFoodPodcast@gmail.com. 

Click here to leave me a review in iTunes and subscribe. This type of kindness helps the show continue!

Thank you for listening to the Love, Food series. Give me feedback via Twitter @EatingPermitRD.

How weight stigma hurts your PCOS

Weight stigma hurts. Stop assuming and start listening.
Weight stigma hurts. Stop assuming and start listening.

The other day, I was chatting with a woman while we were waiting in the grocery check out line. We discussed the loud rain outside and smart strategies to get into the car without getting drenched. As we chatted in this long line, we eventually got to the area with the magazines. She commented on how she wished women didn’t think they had to be so scantily clad on covers in order to get picked for movies. My feminist ears rejoiced and I nodded in agreement.

We discussed female actors we enjoy in movies.

Me: (Pointing to the People Magazine cover with Melissa McCarthy) She is such a smart actor…great comedic timing and multifaceted.

Line Friend: I don’t like her, she’s **while going from chirpy to hushed** fat.

Me: (momentarily paralyzed)

Line friend: I wish she didn’t make that new clothing line because that just encourages obesity. And laziness. If she was smart, she would just eat less and exercise more. Then she would be healthier. It’s not rocket science.

Me: That’s funny. I am a dietitian and in my work I have learned we can never know how much a person eats and exercises by looking at them. We also can’t tell how healthy they are by looks. I have met many fat women who can run 2 miles in the time it takes me to run one. And, by the way, nutrition science is just like rocket science yet even more complicated.

**mic drop**

Rather, I heard the cashier say “Do you have a VIC card?”

What does this woman in the check out line have to do with your PCOS?


This anonymous woman demonstrated cultural beliefs about fat people: lazy, stupid, gluttonous and untalented second class citizens worthy of only tent-like clothes. Just by looking at Melissa McCarthy, this woman knew her cholesterol panel and SAT score.

What if this check out line woman was your doctor?

This is called weight stigma. Here’s a great PDF from the Binge Eating Disorder Association describing exactly what is included with weight stigma.


As I experienced the grocery check out line conversation, I thought of many of my PCOS clients. I’ve heard hundreds of women recite eating plans well below their nutrition needs full of wholesome health promoting foods only to feel like a failure. Even though they hard-core diet, the scale doesn’t budge. Family members, doctors, dietitians, clergy, therapists, and our culture say that is not good enough. If a person is not losing weight then they are not doing enough.

I want to scream from the mountain tops: STOOOOOOOP!

This way of thinking sends many of my clients with PCOS to reach for fad quick weight loss diets so extreme they are considered eating disordered. The scale may budge for a second yet extreme efforts always end up harming. These extreme measures led most to binge because of human physiology combined with high insulin levels. Ever feel like attacking a plate of brownies while cutting carbs? That’s oxaloacetate (from the Kreb cycle) and neuropeptide Y (a brain chemical) working with your hyperinsulinemia (feel like rocket science yet?).

Here’s a secret: healthy eating without scale obsession is possible. It may or may not change your weight AND it still makes you healthier. Here’s more on this.


A woman with PCOS once told me the shame she felt when a man approached her in the weight room. He said, “I think it is so great you are here doing this.” My client looked around hoping she was the only one working out at 6 am and he was complementing her early bird arrival. Nope the room included a dozen other people. He walked away and didn’t make a peep to anyone else. Why did he single her out? She knew: she was fat. And, the shame washed over her as she decided to never go again.

Weight stigma keeps many women with PCOS from moving in a way that feels good and energizing. Plus, eating so little leaves the muscles rarely energized enough to feel like exercising. We know consistent movement helps manage high insulin levels and other side effects of PCOS. Instead of being a slave to the gym, consider how your body enjoys to move. I love My Big Fat Fabulous Life’s Whitney Thore’s Big Girl Dance Class and Debra Benfield’s Curvy Yoga retreats. More people are wise to including all sizes in gyms and yoga studios but there are not enough. While we work on changing cultural beliefs on movement, check out this inspiring video.

Doctor visits

Women with PCOS, you must be exhausted. First, you had to struggle for way too long to find your PCOS diagnosis. Then, since we have such little research, you were given little to no information on how to treat this crappy condition. Then, if your weight increased rapidly, your health care provider told you to stop gaining weight. Like you were living off Twinkies and Mountain Dew. Then when weight loss proved to be impossible or only through deadly pursuits, doctors told you to just Eat Less. Exercise More. No wonder you avoid doctor visits like the plague.

I am so sorry. I hate when you go to the doctor for strep throat you hear a weight loss lecture instead of what those of us in small bodies hear: “I just need a throat culture and you will be on your way.”

I am sorry that, we the medical and health providers, didn’t listen to what you were saying. Or not saying. That you already were working your butt off and doing as much as humanly possible.  On behalf of health and medicine, I apologize.

Weight stigma keeps women with PCOS from going to the doctor. The eating and exercise assumptions along with cultural stereotypes we all hear in our heads are sugar coated shame injectors. And, not going to the doctor keeps you from the most important parts of PCOS treatment: knowledge and early detection. Many of my colleagues and I are working to unveil weight stigma among health and medical providers. I think they will see the light *fingers crossed* soon. Here’s some research so far. It’s a handy PDF you can send your doctor.

Or mom.

I am rethinking my conversation with my check out line friend. I think next time I hear the whisper “she’s fat” I will pause. Take a breath. Then say:


Hello, my name is Julie. And I am a fat activist.


Your eating lessons from My Big Fat Fabulous Life and Whitney Thore

I sat down with Whitney Way Thore of My Big Fat Fabulous Life. I am honored she trusted in me to guide her toward health. Plus, we got to share the visit with you during episode 2.

Whitney Way Thores's dietitian Julie Duffy Dillon.
Laughing and crying with Whitney Thore during season 2 of My Big Fat Fabulous Life on TLC.

I found Whitney to be a kind, genuine, charismatic woman who got me in stitches with her goofiness. Do you know why Whitney is so captivating to watch on TV? She is like all of us: afraid for her health, feeling the pressure, and not wanting to lose herself.

I gave Whitney pointers and here are ways you can incorporate them into your life.

Are you afraid for your health?

Whitney tearfully described her fears of diet prison. She was terrified of the all too familiar head space where she’s afraid of anything she eats, a slave to the gym and chained to the scale. Whitney is not the only one who has tried to change her eating habits quickly because of health fears. Many move toward fear as a motivator. I find this type of motivator hurts us in the end. Fear tends to promote impulsive decisions, fad diets, and quick results over health. If you have walked in Whitney’s shoes and experienced that same terrifying head space, read on.

Weight loss is not a behavior

When My Big Fat Fabulous Life premiered, the cast got together to celebrate. I met a fabulous young woman named Samantha. She described doctors refusing to treat her medical conditions until she lost weight. That would be fine and dandy if weight loss was really calories in calories out and a proven method to work. BUT it is not. Surprised? Read more herehere, and here.

I told Whitney “weight loss is not a behavior” because we cannot control what the scale does in reaction to eating, exercise, and self care habits. Behaviors = the food we choose and the way we move our body. How our body reacts is up to an immeasurable amount of variables. Even more, if you experience PCOS multiply this by 100. High testosterone and insulin levels left untreated will make the scale not move or go up.

When Samantha told me doctors refuse to treat her medical conditions UNTIL she loses weight I wanted to scream. Doctors, I appreciate you have good intentions, yet you are keeping this young woman from finding health. And, this practice is discriminatory.

Say NO to the Food Police

Black and white thinking, in the psychology world, is referred to as a cognitive distortion. It is distorted and pathological because not much lives on opposite sides. Rather, our world has continuums and shades of grey.

Sadly, society losses sight of this concept with food. We categorize it as right or wrong.

Good or bad.

All or nothing.

Black or white.

This is a trap my friends.

When we set up food as ____is good and ____ is bad we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Here’s why:

  • Nutrition science is a fluid science. This means it is always changing and never exact. Most nutrition research is based on correlational methods. This can only suggest a relationship NOT cause and effect. Next time you read “Eating sugar causes diabetes” or “Eating fat causes a heart attack” note the error. And send the author a Research Methods 101 textbook. I will pitch in.
  • Good versus bad food ideas relate to morality. I teach my children and my clients the only bad foods are the ones we steal. If you pay for it, it is good. I think it is easy to call a food good or bad yet it is inaccurate. Stop using lazy terms and go for accuracy.
  • Relating food to morality harms our ways of relating to food. This is especially true for children. Those genetically predisposed to eating disorders learn this cognitive distortion and can find an eating disorder waiting eagerly around the corner.
  • Using all or nothing thinking about food sets up a perfectionism that does not exist in nature nor is necessary. Eating one Twinkie or Donut will not cause diabetes or kill us.

Eating less is not better!

Eat less often or fewer calories has been twisted to equal healthy for everyone. As I mention in My Big Fat Fabulous Life, eating too little is harmful. Keep in mind:

  • Every binge starts with not eating enough earlier.←Tweet this Don’t blame the “tempting” food or a lack of willpower. Binge eating starts with a diet and overly restrictive eating habits.
  • Eating infrequently stresses out our body. I explain to Whitney that it makes our body go into a starvation mode. This means it taps into primal brain communication demanding us to eat and EAT NOW! This will feel out of control or binge like. It isn’t in reality. It is just being human. More here.
  • Eating infrequently sets up the body to want to binge which then pummels our body with glucose then insulin. These spikes are exhausting to our physiology. Insulin and blood sugar spikes hurt body systems like blood vessels. And, the more insulin spikes, the more weight goes up since insulin is a growth hormone. So if you aren’t interested in gaining more weight, stop dieting. Restriction/dieting predicts weight gain. Tweet this Skeptical? That’s ok. Learn more here.

Your body has the answers

Burn your diet books. Walk away from boot camps. Stop looking outside of you for the food and exercise answers. Each of us has our voice inside letting us know how to eat for health and pleasure. Don’t hear it? Doesn’t matter because whether you are looking or not your body is still communicating. Before you eat your next meal or snack pull up a chair. Listen. Open yourself to the options.

Warning: saying no to diets may feel wrong. It may even feel neglectful. Many people tell me it feels like letting yourself go. It’s not letting yourself go. It’s letting yourself Be.←Tweet this