Reject The Diet Mentality; Cindy Mondello

Become an Intuitive Eater

In the August 2010 edition of Guilford Woman, I began writing a series of articles to share some information that every woman should have – the steps to freedom from the shackles of dieting and disordered eating! Research suggests that 83% of college women diet on a regular basis…no matter what they weigh. Another study by UNC at Chapel Hill reveals that 3 out of 4 women between the ages of 25 and 45 suffer from disordered eating. It is estimated that 30 billion dollars is spent in the weight-loss industry annually. And, yet, the reality is that nearly 95% of all diets fail.

So why are we women (and men) still allowing ourselves to be deceived by the dieting mentality…doing the same things over and over and expecting different results? This reminds me of an Old Testament Scripture found in the book of Deuteronomy, when Moses and the children of God were made to wander in the wilderness for forty years. In chapter 2, verse 3, the Lord spoke to Moses saying, “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.”

Do you feel like you have circled this mountain of failed diets and disordered eating long enough? Are you looking for the way to “turn north”? Well, if so, that is what this series on intuitive eating has been all about! Nutrition experts and authors Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R.D., and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., are responsible for paving the way “north” for us with their 10 Intuitive Eating Principles. And it has been my pleasure to provide you with a peek into the process through these summary articles featured monthly in Guilford Woman. (Find the previous nine in the online editions at However, before we say good-bye, we have one more step to take – the final principle in this life-giving, bondage-breaking journey we’ve been taking together.

Principle Ten: Honor Your Health e Nutrition

Many times when people hear about the intuitive eating principles, they mistakenly believe that it’s an “eat whatever you want, whenever you want, and don’t worry about health” program. While honoring your hunger and welcoming back all formerly forbidden foods is central to becoming an intuitive eater, making healthy choices is an equally important piece of the puzzle. Both Tribole and Resch are registered dieticians and have years of experience with nutrition. However, they also know that if nutrition and healthy eating are introduced too soon in the process, even the most sincere chronic dieter on the road to recovery will still equate “nutrition” with “diet.” And, if you remember, the first principle of this process is rejecting the dieting mentality. Therefore, it is with purpose and intent that nutrition comes last, suggesting the need for a healthy relationship with food to be in place first.

So, What Is Healthy Eating? This question is difficult to answer in light of a nation consumed with reading food labels and counting calories. Michelle Stacey, author of Consumed: Why Americans Love, Hate, and Fear Food, introduces a unique concept for healthy eating – enlightened hedonism, or a balance between information and pleasure. Information is derived from listening to your body, as well as following nutritional guidelines (a modified Food Pyramid presented in detail in the book Intuitive Eating.) In regard to pleasure, it is important to never lose sight of the satisfaction factor lest you slip into the role of diet/health martyr. In other words, you need to make sure you actually like the taste of the nutritional food you are choosing!

Healthy eating also includes choosing foods from across the food groups. Many chronic dieters have learned to “manage” their diets by just eliminating certain foods altogether. Yet, gentle nutrition involves balancing these foods into your meals, and for good reason. A study reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition indicated that people who omit several food groups from their diet have a higher risk of dying sooner! In summary, eating healthfully is not about a perfect diet. It is about choosing foods that honor your overall health and your taste buds!

Well, friend, this may be the end of the series, but if you choose to put into practice these ten principles of Intuitive Eating, it is just the beginning of a wonderful new way of living. You have been circling that mountain of dieting chaos for too long now. It is time to change direction. Turn north.

Cindy Mondello is a Licensed Professional Counselor and founder of Restoration Place Ministries, a local nonprofit organization offering significantly-discounted Christian counseling services for women. For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, call 336-542-2060 or visit us at

Ten Core Principles of Intuitive Eating

by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R. D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

2. Honor Your Hunger

3. Make Peace with Food

4. Challenge the Food Police

5. Feel Your Fullness

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

7. Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food

8. Respect Your Body

9. Exercise – Feel the Difference

10. Honor Your Health – Gentle Nutrition


This was something that I was meaning to write last year but, didn’t get the chance to do so; now its going to happen because this is one of two fitness centers that changed my life forever,  I did not enjoy being overweight and, I refuse to let myself get that big again if I have the power to make that possible.

My life is better after the dedication of what these kind people here offered and, I am 137.5 lbs and losing.   I trying to keep between 128 to 144.7 lbs.  I refuse to engage in relationships with those that ridicule me about my weight but, I am having an even harder time trying to find that man I dreamed for whom is a bodybuilder.

The familiar scenes take place hundreds of times each day throughout the Piedmont Triad— crowds of women lined up to participate in exercise classes 45 minutes before start time, hoping to grab a coveted spot in a “First Come, First Served” policy , or else go home empty-handed, with no workout for the day—steamy, big-box exercise gyms filled with members patiently waiting for treadmills or elliptical machines, many forced to alter their daily routines due to lack of available equipment—and group classes in which fitness levels may range from novice to advanced, and participants’ health conditions may include hypertension, diabetes, or osteoporosis, yet an all-encompassing general approach is taught by instructors without adequate training or certification.

Established in July 2007, Fitness Together has provided a unique alternative to group classes and crowded gyms. By offering exceptional training for nearly five years, Fitness Together has employed knowledgeable and experienced trainers who work with individuals to help them change their lives and live better. The results speak for themselves.

“I came to Fitness Together as the first part-time trainer,” recalls Manager Blair Meadows.

“I have stayed because our approach truly makes a difference. Our clients are individuals with unique fitness levels, needs and health histories. We formulate specialized plans with specific goals in mind. It takes dedication and commitment for our approach to exercise.”

Blair demonstrates a true passion for health and fitness. Though well-toned and energetic now, she knows firsthand what it is like to be healthy—and what it is like to be unhealthy. Spending the majority of her teenage years considerably overweight, she had to overcome her lack of fitness by herself, without a support system, professional instruction, or constant encouragement. After achieving her goals on her own, she changed her academic focus and her life’s purpose. She vowed to help others like herself who need an established plan and committed professionals to make an overall commitment to change.

“I have sympathy and empathy for our clients, many of whom come in here with a variety of chronic health conditions. Most of our clients, before they became clients, were disgusted at what they saw in the mirror, were sick and tired of being sick and tired; they were afraid of what their doctor was going to say to them, and they dreaded the thought of exercise. They now enjoy the exercise and the health benefits as a result of our program. I have been that person. I have experienced those feelings.”

Blair is joined in her efforts by four additional trainers and owners Wilda and David Young, who are also paying clients of Fitness Together.

The Youngs saw a need in the Piedmont Triad for a physical fitness facility that offered a high degree of specialized attention, in a private environment, in order to improve overall health and fitness. They found that “doing it on their own” through jogging, health clubs, and home gyms simply did not work. They needed the commitment and accountability offered by a professional Personal Trainer, and preferred the environment offered at a private studio.

“The medical profession can address specific medical conditions, but is not able to provide the ongoing attention necessary for making significant lifestyle changes,” accords Wilda, a physical therapist specializing in women’s health and urological issues. “A physician can write a prescription, but he can’t make sure you exercise, eat correctly, or get enough sleep. Our Personal Trainers address those issues, and help our clients achieve their fitness goals.”

David, a seasoned international business traveler, suffered many of the health challenges faced by business executives these days: lack of energy, unwanted weight gain, and high blood pressure. He became a client of Fitness Together and dramatically changed his life.

“The fitness industry sometimes has a sketchy reputation. At Fitness Together, all of our sessions are by appointment only. This saves valuable time. There is no waiting for equipment, no long-term contracts, and no parading around in front of a gym full of people.

“We’re not ‘The Biggest Loser’. We offer motivation and encouragement rather than intimidation and fear. We focus on providing outcomes, on setting and obtaining goals. No screaming, no crying, no drama,” says David.

A new client to Fitness Together receives a basic assessment upon first visiting the studio which includes cardio health, body composition, basic measurements, underlying chronic conditions, and health history, as well as general nutrition. Goals are also determined, and from this evaluation, an individual program is designed.

According to Blair, “Our clients have made three commitments. One is a commitment to change their life. Second is a time commitment. They realize they need to set aside time to improve their health which benefits them and their loved ones. Third, they make a financial commitment. They realize that they get what they pay for. The time commitment includes sessions of 3-4 visits a week, each lasting from 45-60 minutes. We have found that scheduling appointments in advance helps with accountability. We also perform follow-up assessments every 4-6 weeks.”

“We consider healthy living through Fitness Together to be an investment. By paying for health and fitness on the front end, you can hopefully avoid the costs associated with long-term chronic conditions and the resulting medications and hospitalizations that occur. Our clients receive the experience of a highly-trained trainer, in an upscale environment, with that personal attention that gets results,” David said.

According to David, however, the most important commitment is commitment to change. “We want our philosophy to become a part of your lifestyle, not for a 4-6 week period of time, but for a lifetime. When you leave Fitness Together after a session, we want you to carry your commitment to healthy living to your home, on the job, or as you travel.”

“Our personal trainers also have a commitment,” says Blair. “We have a commitment to constantly be acquiring knowledge in our field, as well as a commitment to our job and our clients. We have a responsibility to always be honest and direct and to ensure that our own lifestyles reflect what we teach others. We practice what we preach.”

In addition to specific workouts and customized cardiovascular plans, Fitness Together also offers nutrition advice. Since proper nutrition is a key to achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, Fitness Together trainers spend time teaching clients how to read product labels while grocery shopping and will conduct refrigerator/cupboard evaluations upon request. Clients are encouraged to track what they eat and then assess their choices.

Blair Meadows also stakes claim to being Greensboro’s only female with the Titleist Performance Institute distinction. As a Certified Golf Fitness Instructor, she can customize a workout to improve areas specific to each individual golfer, no matter the skill level. She helps golfers improve not only their strength and endurance, but also their posture and flexibility, resulting in an improved swing and game, as well as a great feeling of overall well-being.

As Fitness Together approaches its fifth anniversary of serving the Piedmont Triad, the owners and staff remain committed to their clients, despite a challenging and uncertain economic environment. They are currently expanding their facility by one-third, allowing the trainers to provide small-group sessions to as many as four people. The sessions will be scaled to meet the individual needs within the group.

“We take pride in offering a proactive rather than reactive approach to healthy living and fitness,” says Blair. Citing a recent study from the journal Health Issues, it shows that if people aged 61-64 would commit to walking regularly, several billion dollars in Medicare costs could be saved in a lifetime. She believes that a focus on wellness is a priority worth keeping.

“People are going to have to assume more and more responsibility for their own health in the future. Working with the staff at Fitness Together is not a luxury, it’s an investment—an investment in a happier, healthier you and an improved quality of life. We all get to choose— we can choose to invest in health or invest in illness.”