By: Kylie Cooper Photo by: Lillian Reitz
Inside our January print issue, we chat with local author Alexis Cano on her weight loss journey, the frustrations she has with the dieting and fitness industry, and how she hopes to inspire others.
Kylie Cooper: Your book, The What IF? Diet Plan, came out just over a year ago now. What initially inspired you to write the book?
Alexis Cano: In all honesty, my book was initially inspired by the anger and frustration I felt toward the health and diet industry. I naturally skipped meals as a young adult, but stopped because I knew it was “bad.” So, instead of listening to my body I became obsessed with learning all I could about health, nutrition, and exercise so that I could lose weight in a healthy way—but nothing ever worked for me.
What inspired me to continue writing my book, though, was the freedom I felt from not obsessing about food or my body anymore, and realizing that changing our beliefs is really the key to permanent weight loss.
KC: What was the experience of writing the book like?
AC: For me, writing a book was a long and tedious process, full of uncertainties and lots of self-doubt. I really had to work on my mindset and constantly remind myself why I was writing it. I kept telling myself that if just one person felt less alone, or more hopeful about their own journey with weight, food, and body image, then the process would all be worth it.
KC: So, you had to revisit what I can only imagine were some fairly harsh wounds in order to put this piece of work out. Why do you think it is important to share your story with others in this way?
AC: I felt it was important to share a very raw account of my story because I know what it’s like to feel ugly and uncomfortable in my own skin. I also know the sheer frustration of obsessing about what, when, and how much to eat to try to lose weight. I know what it’s like to feel undeserving of something—be it love, a career, nice clothes, whatever—because you’re overweight. I know how lonely and maddening this journey can be, and I wanted to do my small part to help others who are struggling know that they’re not alone and that it is possible to lose the physical and mental weight for good.
KC: The philosophy laid out in your book is centered around mindset and shifting the way we think about food. With your background in psychology, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the relationship between our mindset and our food.
AC: I feel that society has taught us to give WAY too much power to food! Yes, what we eat is certainly important and influences many aspects of our lives, but I don’t believe food should control how we feel or determine how our day goes. I’m a big believer in ditching labels like “good” and “bad” when it comes to food. Instead, I like to focus on appreciating and truly enjoying our food, whether it’s salad, ice cream, popcorn, steak, whatever.
KC: What advice can you give to people on their own journey through weight loss and issues concerning body image?
AC: My first piece of advice is to start where you’re at, not where you think you should be. Think of small action steps you can take now to get you closer to your weight loss goals. For me, it was practicing 12-hour daily fasts, eating fruit for dessert, and getting 10,000 steps in per day. I’ve since tweaked these action steps, but that’s how I started. As for body image: Take time to appreciate something about yourself every day. I know this sounds cheesy, but self-appreciation can help you stay in a good mental state through the highs and lows of weight loss.
KC: What do you hope readers take away from the book?
AC: I hope my readers can take away insights that help them shift their mindset around food, culture, and body image. I often share personal stories and discoveries I’ve made in my own journey, and love receiving feedback and insights from readers who can relate.
KC: If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
AC: Oh man, I’m going to tear up! If I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be: “Don’t be afraid to be yourself, Alexis, even if you don’t know who that is yet. We’re all just learning as we go.”
KC: Any upcoming projects you’d care to share with us?
AC: Most definitely! This month I’m releasing an online program called The What IF? Mindshift Weight Loss Solution to help people learn how to lose the physical and mental weight for good. Each week, I’ll be taking learners on a deep-dive of the concepts I discuss in my book, as well as some powerful journaling exercises. Anyone interested can visit my website to see a free preview of Module 1!
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