Many people think they need to buckle down and clean up their food and lifestyle habits, sergeant style, if they want to lose weight and have more energy. They know what they need to do to transform their health, but they treat it as a looming deadline or assignment. Then they eat “clean” for a few weeks or even months, and eventually run out of willpower, binge, and feel terribly guilty – like a failure. 2001 graduate Jena la Flamme flips this conventional approach on its head.
Jena is an Integrative Nutrition Health Coach and author of Pleasurable Weight Loss: The Secrets to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Loving Your Life Today. She believes the only sustainable path to weight loss and holistic wellness is tapping into authentic enjoyment. She believes that pleasure of all types is the only route to becoming your healthiest self.
She’s taking over our Instagram account tomorrow – check it out to see what she’s up to!
We had the pleasure – pun intended – of speaking with Jena recently and picking her brain on her journey from yoga and meditation student in India to wellness entrepreneur in New York City.
What were you doing prior to enrolling at Integrative Nutrition?
I was living in India studying yoga, meditation, and healing arts. I was a freshly certified yoga teacher and Ayurvedic body worker. However, I was still suffering with my own food and body struggles.
What led you to the Health Coach Training Program?
When I discovered the school, I was suffering. Even after years of studying yoga and trying to eat healthy, my relationship with food was a source of great pain.
I was bulimic as a teenager, and ten years later, I was still overeating and binging on sugar, and feeling miserable about my body shape.
I met Joshua and some of the graduates of the school, and their energy was so positive and fun that I wanted what they were having!
As soon as I heard what the school was about I knew it was a match for me because it addressed two of my most pressing needs at the time: Developing my career and healing my own relationship with food and my body.
How did your life change after enrolling?
My life changed completely while attending the school. I became immersed in an enthusiastic community of women and men on a mission to change the world, and I was energized to create my own transformation.
I started my business, which continues to grow to this day. I wrote a book that was endorsed by Dr. Christiane Northrup, and I’ve helped more people than I can keep track of at this point, and that is so exciting.
My life also changed because my eating changed. I became more vibrant and vital in every way. Plus, I met people that I’m still good friends with to this day.
I feel incredibly nourished and supported by the friendships that evolved from attending the school.
Which topics were most beneficial for you?
The most impactful component was learning how to deeply listen, whether to another human being or to you own body, or, as I like to say, your own animal.
When we slow down, listen, and ask the simple yet powerful question, “How can I support you?” it’s amazing what happens.
What are you up to these days?
I help women around the world lose weight, have peace with food, and feel wonderful in their female bodies in feminine, sensual, pleasurable ways.
I show women how to use relaxation, play, pleasure, sensuality, sexuality, celebration, creativity and community to heighten their metabolism and experience weight loss as a natural, sustainable side effect.
I offer private coaching, online programs, and live in–person events called Pleasure Camps for women who want more access to my teachings. I offer free webinars, videos, podcasts, blogs, and am active on social media.
What makes you and your practice unique?
Immediately from the name of my work, Pleasurable Weight Loss, you have a sense of what makes it different. It’s a feminine approach to weight loss where pleasure in life and with food is the key, and it goes against punishing, deprivation-based dieting methods.
Too often we operate under the illusion that having pleasure in life and enjoying our bodies will come only after we lose weight. But this approach never works and it only makes things worse.
However, when you proactively include more pleasure, fun, celebration, and sensuality into how you eat and live, you’ll discover that the need for strict control dissipates and overeating automatically loses its charm.
How do you help your clients be successful?
I help my clients become successful by teaching them to think of their body as an animal. I teach women to be aware that their body is literally a female mammal, and that like all creatures in nature, already knows how to eat well and how to move to be in shape.
The problem, I teach them, is not that your body’s instincts are wrong, it’s that you haven’t been listening to them deeply or closely enough. I bring their focus away from controlling their food and guide them toward developing an authentic, kind relationship with their body, and weight loss happens as a pleasurable side effect.
What do you love about your work?
I love seeing women freed from guilt and shame around pleasure in their lives. I love witnessing them embrace pleasure, relaxation and fun as important, non-negotiable, health-giving priorities in their lives.
I love being part of the transformation of their lives and bodies when they start trusting and listening to the infallible wisdom of their female bodies. The ripple effect of these women claiming their ability to know what really feels good to them and then to go get it is inspiring. Weight loss and peace with food is only the start.
So, where do you stand? Do you believe discipline and deprivation are the keys to weight loss? Or are you on board with the pleasurable approach? Perhaps you’ve always been a pleasure proponent?
What was your biggest takeaway from Jena’s story? Did she inspire you to make a health change, or perhaps start a new career?
We want to hear from you in the comments below!