Author Leanne Ely Talks About How to Get Rid of "Body Clutter," Part I

Wednesday, April 18, 2007 - 4:41pm

By Donna Feldman, MS, RD

Tell me just a little bit about how you got into the diet and food business?

Well, it started a long time ago.  It was me willing to do right by my own children.  I studied and became a nutritionist.  I found out very intriguing things about my daughter, who had horrible milk allergies when she was a baby, and nobody could tell me what was going on.  They just wanted to give me antibiotics; they started threatening tubes. I just said you know something isn't right; and I just knew that I have to look to something more alternative. I was going down the elevator from the doctor's office, when my daughter was about nine months old. I had her on one hip, the diaper bag on the other side, and in my hand was yet another prescription for antibiotics.  I crumbled it up, threw it away, got in the elevator, and I said God, I have no idea what I am going to do, but I am not doing this.  You are going to have to show me what to do.  And from there, it just snowballed.

I worked with allergies long ago, and I know that it's one of the most frustrating things for parents.

Well, it is especially when nobody's saying you might want to check food out. I found it just appalling that my pediatrician could have said listen, you know let's just take her off milk for a little while, see how she is doing.  At the time I was still nursing her, but I was starting to give her regular food.  And, milk had just started to be introduced.  I had no idea.  I had not one clue.

So that's got you in this direction.

Yes.  As a parent I was appalled at what people give their children. I just thought they need some good information on kid snacks that don't come in a box with an ingredient list three inches long.  They need to understand that we are feeding little souls here, and not just try to fill a hole so that they are not hungry anymore.  We are building their bodies inside.

Are you happy with how Body Clutter came out?

I am very happy with how it came out.  Because, what was not necessary was another diet book that said, eat like this, exercise like that, and everything will work.  How come it hasn't worked yet?  There are billions of dollars spent every single year on this whole business, and all of those things will work if we could just get our brain around them.  The problem is not the diet.  The problem is what's in our head.

Yes, and I believe that's how you do refer to Body Clutter as such, that it's in your head.

Yes.  "Body clutter" basically starts from the head, and it's how we think about ourselves, and "body clutter" ends up being something we sit on.  So, there is a definite connection.  What we have tried to do, the collective "we" as women, we have tried to diet and take care of the "body clutter" we sit on, without taking care of what's in our head, and that's why we are not successful.

Very good point.  Do you feel that you are speaking primarily to women?

I think mostly. I would say 95% of our audiences, 96%, 97% are women.

Would you say specific groups of women? I wasn't sure if you felt that you were talking mostly to moms, in particular to moms who maybe staying at home.

No, I think any woman, whether or not she is staying at home or she is out working for a paycheck.  Any mom who is at home is definitely working.  But, if she is out earning a paycheck, she is just like the rest of us.  We are all in this together.  We all do the same thing.  We all struggle in the same way.  We all have those horrible tapes that play in our head that tell us we are not going to measure up. I can't do it, I am fat, whatever horrible things that we think about ourselves. We have this going on continually in our heads.  And, especially when we get dressed and look at the mirror, and God help our poor little husbands, when they say, gosh, you look really nice, and we have this diet track going on inside about how awful we look.  And then, we snap at him, no, I don't.  And he thinks, I am just trying to compliment you.

Do you have any feedback from male readers?

We do on occasion, yes.  And, we have a lot of feedback from husbands of readers, and they have just been incredible.  We just got back from Dallas. That was the last leg of our book tour, and we saw a lot of husbands, and the husbands thank us and say you know this book is the one that's made the difference for them.

Do you think that, before the book, they understood how the problem works, mentally?

I don't know that people really paid attention.  You get so used to something; it's forest for the trees.  And, what we did was put a microscope on this issue: this is the problem, we all do it.  We got this collective yes, I do that too.  It's that identification process of saying they are talking about me.  And, that's why I say, it's really not a book for stay at home moms or working moms.  It's a book for women, and any woman who has ever succumbed to speaking lousy about themselves, whether out loud or not.  We have these internal tapes, and those are the things that we try to address in the book.

Do you want to share any specific feedback you have had on book tours; a story from one of the readers that really touched you?

Oh my gosh!  There have been so many.  A lot of tears.  We had a woman who came in, and her son had committed suicide.  She said that this book helped her to stay in a routine, to have that routine to take care of herself, and not just get sucked down into that vortex of depression.  So now, that's not distinctly a weight loss thing at all, but it was understanding that the book is about our mindset, and she used this to help in other areas.  So, that one sticks out to me, because I sat there and wept with this poor woman, who had just lost her son three months ago.  And, she just said I know this is not a traditional Body Clutter thing.  And then, we always have women who show up, and show us their before and after pictures, and their sixty-pound weight loss, seventy-pound weight losses.

That's amazing. For people like that, who have lost that much weight; any indication that they did actually follow some particular diet plan?  I know you occasionally mention low-carb.

Well, in the book we talk about feeding yourself small meals.  We talk about movement, and getting out, and getting some exercise, and we talk about drinking water.  If you just follow what's in the book, and eat good, honest food, easily-identifiable food, the weight will come off.  It is that simple.

Any evidence of resistance from family members?  The kids didn't like it, or my husband is sabotaging my efforts, or whatever.

There is always going to be sabotage, and we have talked to people about that.  How do you handle that?  You have to learn to stand up for yourself, and that's what this book is.  It's standing up for yourself, and saying, I am going to take care of myself. These are the things that I am going to do.  It doesn't mean you have to be a raving, screaming monster about it.  It means that you need to realize you have the mindset, then you put the plan into action.  And, you take everybody on board with you.  You let them know this is what's going on folks, and just say no, I can't do that; no we are not going to sit and eat ice-cream; you are welcome to eat ice-cream if you want, but I would prefer to eat a cut up apple.  And, I am doing this because I love myself enough.  We get them to understand that we take better care of our cars than we do ourselves.  We can replace those cars.  We can't replace our bodies.  We've had people who say the book has been hard.  It's been an emotional journey, and it's been very, very difficult.  We've had people who read the book four times and couldn't get past the forgiveness chapter.  They have got different issues that they are dealing with. But, you know those are their issues, and those are things that they need to deal with.  We have just given them the tools.