The Missing Ingredient to a Well-Lived Life (and a Vivacious Body)

love your life

I wasted many years of my life binging on the wrong things — things that didn’t bring me more life.

I indulged in worry, sadness and anxiety. And, my biggest binge of all? Dieting!

I spent a decade going to South Beach, being a Skinny Bitch and living in the Zone, but none of these approaches brought me deep satisfaction.

Yet, every new promise of weight loss lured me in like a geisha seduces a lonely man.

I’d bet that over 75% of my time was focused on my body. That’s a lot of precious time, my friend. Time to learn a new language, go back to school, cultivate friendships, travel the world and savor life (instead of trying to fix yourself).

I was a diet whore, spending my days and nights pimping my body and soul out to the next so-called miracle, the promise of a better body, the next booty slimming shake.

Dieting was my drug!

But like drugs, it never fully satisfied me. Even when I starved myself from a size 20 to a size 2, I couldn’t get slim enough, healthy enough, lean enough.

Regardless of my weight, I was miserable.

I was so disconnected from my body that I felt numb. And, I carried at least a thousand different food rules in my head.

Don’t mix fruit with meat. Don’t eat after 6. Limit carbs to 20 grams per day. Eat 6 small meals a day. The rules were all different, so something as simple as eating had turned into this manic puzzle that I couldn’t seem to figure out.

I was smart enough to know that what I was doing was not working, but I felt like a baby giving up its pacifier. If I wasn’t on some kind of diet, I was afraid of what my body might do and the feelings that may arise.

Desperate to stop the madness, I knew what I needed was not another diet or meal plan. I needed a completely new way of living, thinking and being in the world.

And, that is when my answer came in the most surprising way.

Her name is Paris.

Now, I know books have been written about how French women don’t get fat (which isn’t necessarily true) and studies have been conducted on the French Paradox.

But, for me? Paris was going to teach me about the missing ingredient that I had failed to recognize.

I arrived in Charles de Gaulle on a sunny April morning. All my life, I had dreamed of visiting the city of lights. And, here I was: this Southern girl, with an accent and a deep desire to immerse myself in something new.

While the art was stunning, the fashion head turning and the buildings awe-inspiring, all I could focus on were the Slim, Chic & Savvy women that graced every cafe, street and store.

What did they know that I didn’t? How was it that they could look so fabulous while eating foie gras and sipping wine? How could they be so confident and self-possessed? What was this je ne sais quoi?

I didn’t know, but my inner Frenchie whispered, “Bienvenue mon amie,” and I knew I had finally found a model that felt like love and play, not a daily hell.

So, I started reading about French culture, hired a French teacher, learned about Coco Chanel and Voltaire. I studied those French women like they were lab rats. I went to sommelier school. I may not be French, but I was certainly trying!

And, my weight?

Don’t know, because I threw the scales away. But, over the course of months, my clothes were looser, my skin more radiant, and I was happy! And, I wasn’t dieting!

That, my friend, was a miracle.

But, my learning didn’t stop in Paris, because I didn’t live in there. I lived in the good ole’ US of A where fast food and fast living were the norm. So, I needed to understand the process of change, how to create a mindset of success, how to live more European in a very American world.

I hired a mentor, spent hours reading books on Eastern philosophy, studied cookbooks (not diet books) and became a Certified Master Life coach. Every day became an experiment to finding my own joie de vivre.

Finally, I felt like I had cracked the code.

I had found the simple missing ingredient that had escaped me for all those years:

LOVE

The best diet in the world does not involve obsessive calorie counting, restriction, binging, surgery, pills or shakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It doesn’t involve hours in the gym or a “no pain, no gain” way of life. It simply involves love!

The French woman showed me that pleasure and a love for life was the key ingredient for living well and creating vitality.

What is love?

It’s surrounding yourself with people who are full of inspiration and joy. A friend of mine says, “There is no hate in the world, just hurt.” I had surrounded myself with hurting and hurtful people, and I had to release them emotionally so that I could wrap myself in the cashmere blanket of l’amour.

It’s waking up each day turned on by life, not waking up to life like it’s a war zone.

Love is taking time to sit down and enjoy a delicious meal with family and friends without the constant “I shouldn’t” or “I’ll start tomorrow” mentality.

Love is waking up in the morning and putting on your finest and making the world your runway. As one of my students said, “When I’m dressed well, a donut does not look the same.”

Love is walking away from the fridge and walking into your own divine altar to tap into something more powerful than you.

Love is moving your body to music and taking strolls around the neighborhood. It’s even running a marathon if the intention is love not punishment.

Love is play.

Love is walking with your shoulders high and your heart open.

Love is investing in a nice bra to hold your beautiful bosom.

Love is a glass of Champagne shared in celebration.

Love is allowing yourself to have insanely ecstatic sex!

Love is standing shoulder to shoulder with and celebrating the most beautiful women in the room because you know that you all are fabulous.

Love is getting rid of the clutter that is drowning your desires.

Love is embracing who you are — perceived flaws, challenges and all.

Love isn’t always easy.

In fact, love can be downright difficult, because . . .

It takes patience, kindness and attention. And, if you’ve created a world that runs more off of punishment and deprivation, this is going to be your hardest (and most fulfilling) job of all.

It requires that you stop running life on auto-pilot and be intentional.

It requires effort.

Love requires that you feel.

Love requires saying no.

Love requires saying yes.

Love begs for you to forgive yourself.

Love demands that you take up for yourself.

Love requires nurturing (not punishment).

Love lives in a state of presence.

Love asks you to slow down and savor.

Love asks that you stop trying to fix yourself and celebrate instead.

Love loves improvement, not proving.

Love requires that you do things that scare you silly.

Love doesn’t care how many tasks you checked off for the day.

Love asks you to eat one piece of chocolate, not the whole package.

Love asks you to put on your finest even when you feel your worst.

Love is embracing your shame.

Love is…loving what is!

How to Live an Insanely Wild and Gorgeous Life

First, stop looking for plans, prescriptions or step-by-step approaches. Instead, start hunting for love like a starving hunter in the dead of winter.

Find a supportive community and mentor.

Wake up and dress yourself in a way that feels good for you. (Think style doesn’t matter? These images may change your mind.)

Play with people who inspire you.

Practice presence.

Eat a piece of chocolate.

Dance the night away.

Burn a candle.

Chant “I am love” three times every hour.

Go to bed early.

Watch a sunrise.

Hire a babysitter and go on a hot date with your husband.

Swear off sweatpants for a week. Seriously!

Sit down for your meals.

Feel your feelings instead of stuffing them down.

Discover a hobby and indulge often.

Throw a dinner party.

Give yourself a kiss every day!

When in doubt, ask yourself this:  What would love do?  (tweet it)

A Love Immersion

The women around me began to notice how I was changing. And, it wasn’t just my body but how I was showing up in my own life.

My world went from dark to light over the course of a year or so. I literally birthed a new woman, unrecognizable to the woman I once was. And not unlike any birth, it was filled with moments of pain and fear, but because it was also filled with pleasure and play, I stayed the course.

I started having intimate conversations with women, sharing what I was learning. Then, I started receiving phone calls and emails saying, “Tonya, this has been the best week of my life! And, my pants are fitting looser.”

Because of this profound approach that I was taking — working on both my inner and outer world — I decided to create a curriculum to support women in making peace with their bodies and food, tap into their self-confidence and radiate with joie de vivre.

It’s called Slim, Chic and Savvy. I don’t call it a weight loss program, because the results reach far beyond weight. Instead, it’s a lifestyle that has led to women starting businesses, publishing books, traveling around the world, healthier relationships, and yes, losing weight too!

Slim, Chic and Savvy students engage in luxurious activities that lead to BIG results, such as learn the principles of dining that I learned from my French friends that allows me to be a hedonist and stay happily slim.

It’s not conventional (because I’m not a conventional gal). It’s not a how-to (because I don’t like being told what to do and your soul doesn’t either). It’s not a diet (because diets don’t work).

The Slim, Chic and Savvy 10-week Immersion program is a melange of mindset and lifestyle techniques and skills that have changed the lives of hundreds of women. Yes, including yours truly!

If you want to notified on the next enrollment, click here and get on the waiting list.

xoxo,

tonya-leigh-pink-sig

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9 Responses to The Missing Ingredient to a Well-Lived Life (and a Vivacious Body)

  1. Just because love is the answer, I swear that, starting from now, I will love myself more than everything! Thank you, Tonya. God bless you!
    Baci (kisses in Italian),
    Celeste

  2. Tonya, no truer words have ever been spoken. When all is said and done the only thing that remains is love. And, who wouldn’t rather focus on that? It’s so much more inspiring! <3

  3. Tonya, your words resonate so much because you simplify matters in a world that loves to over complicate everything!
    Having been a self-help junkie for many years, I can honestly say that your work has had such an impact on me because you focus on pleasure being the goal as opposed to something that feels so unobtainable unless blood, sweat and tears have been sacrificed.
    I love your blogs and Tweets and look forward to anything that you have to offer the rest of us chic girls in the future.
    Thanks again! Xxx

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