Mental Coach: “Emotional eating is a problem that can be hard to admit” (interview)

Mental Coach: “Emotional eating is a problem that can be hard to admit” (interview)

05.06.2022 11 minutes

Jana Stanova is a nutritionist, coach, and co-author of the NEtucni project. Some of our fans had the chance to meet her in person at her workshop held in  NEBBIA store Ostrava. She focuses on self-development, mindset, health, and weight loss. She is also a mom of two kids, and she’s been through periods of losing and gaining weight. Maybe you’ll see yourself in her story too. Get motivated by Janka’s determination to change things for the better and move forward in every period of your life! Find out how she deals with sweet cravings and emotional eating in this interview.

You and your partner have started a project NEtucni, what made you do it?

During the period when we started the project (2013), we were both into fitness a lot. Exercising and nutrition was the biggest main topic of our day. I was advising about workouts and nutrition through Facebook groups. Once I offered to create a meal plan for free, and I got so many requests I had to ask my partner for help. The project NEtucni was created in one day and we have been going strong for nine years. We have worked with thousands of clients, and we are always trying to improve the quality of our services.

You were a mom of two kids, now you own a business. How did you do it?

As a mom, I was interested in psychology and parenting, and I had many enlightening moments. Thanks to my kids, I started the journey of self-development. Afterward, I didn’t have the period of my life and I stopped taking care of myself. This darker period took its toll on my physical and mental state. Things started to change after I started doing therapy. That’s when my new life began, I decided that the only way is up. Imagining my future helped me so much, I believed I can make my dream come true and my doubts were gone.

Many women and mothers have a problem with doing things for themselves. We can’t tell our partners to take the kids for a couple of hours, we do overtime at work. How to change this?

That’s a good question and for me, it’s the most frequent topic during my coaching. Women are under constant pressure. We have to deal with everything, take care of the kids, do the shopping, cook, go to work, have a good position, and of course while doing all of this we have to look great. How to change this? Set your boundaries, and create limits on what is okay and what isn’t. No compromises. I always my clients this one question: “How will your job and other responsibilities get affected if you create time for yourself?” Every woman told me that she will have more enthusiasm for work, a better mood, and she’ll perform better.

A very important step in this process is to learn to ask for help. Every single one of us has helped someone in their life. Was that a problem for you? Absolutely not. Don’t hesitate to delegate some of your responsibilities to your partner or colleagues at work.

Many people feel dissatisfied with their life, but they don’t know what to focus on and what needs to be changed. How to find the things that I want to change?

We should change that aspect of our life that drives us mad the most and that keeps hapening over and over again. It’s not a coincidence. This situation keeps happening because we act the same each time. Think and ask yourself: “How can I change my behaviour to have a better outcome?” We often blame our surrounding for what happens. Don’t play the victim and take responsibility for yourself and your life.

It’s important to know this. How to distinguish between things that I want to improve for myself and things I want to change just because others expect it of me?

You should focus on things that you like doing and you don’t think of them as a waste of time. If we start doing something against ourselves, we usually don’t feel like doing it and we lose motivation very quickly. Once again, it helps to ask yourself: “Do I really want this? What happens if I don’t do it? How will I feel? Is this important to me?” Your answers will show you if you are doing something for yourself or not.

Is it possible to feel good in today’s world even if you have some extra weight?

Of course, it is possible. Today’s world is much more acceptable than 10 or 15 years ago. The beauty goal was to be very skinny. I am not skinny, and I don’t think I am ugly. I feel great even though I have a few extra kilos. It’s about self-love and self-respect. On the other hand, we have some extreme cases when 150 kg women hide behind self-love and they can go and show their extra weight because it’s trendy. That’s not what I mean. I am talking about balance, healthy confidence, humility, and self-acceptance.

You have a successful project going on. Have you ever had problems with procrastinating and reaching your own goals?

Some people like having a list and crossing off items. From a psychological point of view, it’s great. You can see visually how the list is getting smaller. Always set realistic goals that fit into your life. Procrastination is often rooted in the fact that people want to do more than they can. You are setting yourself for failure and then comes the vicious circle of procrastination and failure.

Let’s talk about a topic you deal with every day – diet plans. What is the best way to lose weight?

I always say that the best plan is the one that we can keep long-term. We lose weight for a certain period, we drop a few kilos, but as soon as we go back to our old lifestyle, the kilos come back. Ideally, you find your own lifestyle around food that you can keep your whole life. Of course, after losing weight, you don’t have to be so strict anymore.

What do you think about an intuitive eating trend that had a boom a few years ago?

Intuitive eating is a big topic. If you want to lose weight this way, you have to know the nutritional value of foods and the needs of your own body. A beginner usually doesn’t know these things, so they can listen to their “intuition” and eat a chocolate cake. Listening to your own body is very on-trend, but a body that is overweight or obese doesn’t give the right signals.

You show amazing stories of your clients’ transformation on your Instagram. It’s visible that you have many different clients. What do these clients have in common?

Thank you. Our clients have in common the fact that they’re amazing and determined to make a change without making a big deal out of it. On contrary, clients that had many complaints and were hesitant to keep anything couldn’t reach the finish line. It’s not always like that but it’s frequent. You have to understand that once you lose weight, your life will be better. I am not talking about the life of someone else, I am talking about your own life.

Why do you think so many people have a problem with their weight?

I blame their own laziness and high-calorie diet. After work, we sit on the sofa and eat sweets and potato chips. We haven’t even started talking about all the stress. People are on autopilot. Work, kids, afterschool activities, eat something quick. When we eat so automatically, the brain doesn’t process this input well and we eat a bigger portion than if we eat mindfully. We should also talk about wrong motivation. We don’t lose weight because we want to but for someone else. Finally, there’s emotional eating that affects a large portion of the population. It’s hard to admit though. We eat out of boredom when we are sad or under stress. The trigger is an emotion. People often blame health issues. In reality, it has been proven that excess weight caused by health issues affects only 3% of the population. All the others have no one else to blame but themselves. It’s hard to hear, but it’s the truth.

They say that people who want to lose those last 5kg have the hardest time. Do you agree?

I don’t think it’s about the number of kilos. I think it’s more psychological. The fewer kilos you need to lose, the less motivation you have. People who are 20 kg overweight are more determined than those who have only 5 kg of extra weight because they are much more limited by their weight. I would advise them to ask themselves whether they want to lose that weight for real. Those, who are truly convinced about losing weight, will lose the weight. Doesn’t matter if it’s 5kg or 20kg.

Everyone who wanted to lose weight at some point had problems with losing motivation, having cravings, and returning to old habits. What do you tell your clients to make them consistent and think about their goals?

This happens when a person goes on a very restrictive diet and has an unrealistic goal. My advice would be don’t starve yourself. The person who is losing weight shouldn’t be hungry! Focus on quality foods with good nutritional value. The first step is to have the right meal plan. Sweet cravings come when you’re denying yourself something and the forbidden fruit will always taste better. In this case, it’s helpful to have a day when you eat one meal the way you want or for example, you have two pieces of chocolate a day.

Okay, we can combat hunger with the right meal plan. How not to lose motivation?

The issue hides in the unrealistic goals. It’s when someone wants to lose 10 kg in two months. It’s also helpful to divide your goal into smaller ones. It means you don’t focus on the 10 kg right away; you only see the first 2 kg and then after that the next 2 kg and you keep going.

My second piece of advice would be regular visualization. I focus on the future, and it helps me to imagine that I’ve already achieved my goal or reached my dream. I see myself in different situations what I wear and how I feel. Try to imagine yourself at the moment when you’ve already achieved your goal and see what it does to you. It’s easier to go after your goals once you experience the amazing feeling that you’ll get. Even though it was just in your mind.

Why do you use the slogan “obesity is a matter of choice?”

If a person doesn’t fall into that 3% of the population with health issues, obesity and extra weight is your responsibility. Overweight people ate themselves to their current weight. Maybe they had something unpleasant in their life, but they were the ones who kept eating and sitting on their but. Once we are overweight, it’s our choice whether we want to stay that way or decide to change. Some people are more successful others less. You are responsible for your body.

Most of us get sweet cravings and often it’s just a habit. Do you have any advice for those who keep eating sweets?

It’s a habit to eat sweets. Every habit can be changed, and addiction can be cured. You can start by replacing the unhealthy foods with a healthier version or a smaller portion of something sweet. If eating sweets calms us down, we can do some other activity like go for a walk, listen to music, or read a book. It’s going to be hard at first, but it’s more important to keep going and create new connections in your brain, and cut the old ones connected to food.

I think that the best way to get rid of an addiction is to stop completely from one day to the next. The gradual reduction doesn’t work because we still give our body what it wants. Plus, getting rid of sugar addiction is enough to cut it completely for a week.

Many girls fight with eating disorders. Binge eating is talked about a lot more. What advice would you give them?

I mentioned binge eating or emotional eating before. It’s a psychological problem. The first step is to admit that there is a problem. I also recommend observing yourself, the moments you eat, and how you feel while eating than writing everything down. You can see easily which part of your life isn’t okay. When you find out what triggers emotional eating, your battle is half won. All you have to do after that is to focus on the solution. What else can help me in that moment besides food? It’s a marathon and you’ll learn a lot about yourself. Therapy or coaching can be very helpful as well.

Do you have a final message for fans? :)

I would like to thank them that they kept reading till now. :) If you are battling with a few extra kilos, you better believe the saying “Everything starts in your head” is true. Your mind is what makes or breaks you and having the right mindset is more important than you might think. I invite all NEBBIA fans to my Instagram  @janicka_fit or you can check out our webpage Netucni. Have a beautiful day!