Babette Dunkelgrun of Mill Valley, California, knows from experience how many different kind of diets are out there. But after years of experimenting she realized what really works is having a healthy relationship with food. A non-diet health coach Dunkelgrun is helping women have a healthier relationship with food by addressing the root of their issues and focusing on healthy relationships in all aspects of their lives.

Dunkelgrun’s story, as told to The Story Exchange 1,000+ Stories Project:

I used to be a yo-yo dieter, so feeling and being healthier, and getting comfortable in my skin, included lots of help from qualified professionals in the field. I had to come into a new relationship with food, and myself. Self-care tools such as movement and mindfulness replaced old habits that no longer served me. I realized my transformation was a gift, one that I could share with others.

I feel most successful when I remember the arc of my personal narrative: It is great that I am able to overcome my own issues and be an effective professional within a context that touches my soft spots. As Maya Angelou once said, “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”

“I had to come into a new relationship with food, and myself.”

– Babette Dunkelgrun, Health Coach

It took several detours to arrive in an authentic place where I realized I’d started using my voice as a vehicle for truth to share with other women. Success has looked like learning to help women in transitional life stages improve their relationship with food. Most often, these female clients come in looking for solutions to nutrition/exercise challenges and during the course of our work together, they shift their focus to building healthy relationships in all areas of their lives – at home, at work, and in the family. 

I am a non-diet health coach, and the challenge is similar to the advantage. What I offer is like relationship counseling, but food is the partner. So there are lots of folks out there looking for someone offering a diet program, but that is not me.  I used to think my own troubled relationship with food growing up was somehow unique to me. It took working in mind/body spaces like yoga and pilates studios to understand that health and body image are tricky topics more often than not, especially for women.

Oprah. I love her self-made life and resilient, empowered spirit. She is great at going deep with people, and getting to the heart of what is most important. She’s also a good example that food and nutrition can be complicated no matter how successful you are in the rest of your world. My clients are also my role models: I see their desire to grow as such a powerful and admirable life force. The guru is everywhere as long as you keep your eyes wide open.

This story is part of our 1,000+ Stories campaign.
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