Freedom Friday: Isabel Foxen Duke

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You’ve likely already heard about Isabel as she’s a total rockstar in the body image and food freedom world. Her and I connected a few years ago and had a few Skype chats as friends since then. We share similar messages, so I wanted to welcome her on today to share her story of freedom!

FREEDOM

1. I am so happy to have you on as a Freedom Friday guest! Give us a little background about yourself before we dive into the juiciness of freedom and how it applies to you and your life! 

In short, I help women stop feeling crazy around food— which for most of my clients means the ups and downs of diet-binge cycling, weight-cycling, or otherwise feeling emotionally attached to food and weight management. Most of my clients struggle wit binge-eating and emotional eating, and think that’s the problem. But binge-eating and emotional eating are just symptoms of deeper food-related neurosis, in my opinion. Both behaviors are almost exclusively correlated with dieting and poor body image—a fact that I ignored for a long time on my road to binge-eating recovery. I spent years working with countless coaches, therapists, doctors, etc. trying to “overcome binge-eating,” but until I addressed my poor body image (and subsequent restrictive behaviors with food), I stayed stuck in the same old patterns of being “in” and “out” of control with food. The body image component is what’s missing from most binge-eating treatment, and it’s what I’m trying to add to the conversation about binge-eating and emotional eating in various professional settings. 

2. What does “freedom” mean to you?

For me, freedom is about fearlessness at it’s core. Or at least being willing to go for what you want despite fear. I think nervousness about how we’re going to be perceived, or fear of what might happen if we take a jump into the unknown, is what holds us back in life— fear is our shackles. 

3. Share about the time in your life when you lacked freedom. What was your struggle? 

The most obvious example is when I was really struggling with my body image, and would hold myself back from doing just about everything I really wanted, for fear of being judged on the basis of size. I often tell people I would be trying to be a musician right now if I didn’t have such insane body image issues as a young woman. I just thought I couldn’t do or get what I wanted professionally in my body at the time. I wouldn’t buy the clothes I wanted to wear, I wouldn’t go out with the people I wanted to go out with, I never “went for it” in life, because I was terrified of judgement or just assumed I wouldn’t be accepted. 

4. What was your turning point? When did you realize that you needed to embrace freedom?

Because I was made so miserable by my body, I was pretty obsessed with food and dieting most of my life (despite constantly failing at them, as most people do). At some point the obsession with food (and subsequent binge-eating), became so bad that I ended up in rehab, and I realized that I was definitely NOT free. It took five more years to figure out that where I really needed to embrace freedom was around my body image, and that my life would always revolve around food (and thus remain very small) unless I embraced and accepted my body just the way it is right now. That’s when the world opened up for me—when I stopped letting my body (and thus food) dictate my life. 

5. How do you allow freedom into your life on a daily basis? 

I try to remember that no matter what happens in my life, I’m okay, and there’s nothing to be afraid of (really).  Life is gonna be messy, hard, some people will like me, some people won’t, and the more I realize that there’s no perfection to achieve, I can actually just enjoy what’s given to me. This is obviously easier said than done, but some days a reminder is all I need. 

6. I believe our journey towards freedom never truly ends, it just continues to progress to more and more freedom. How have you challenged yourself recently to embrace more freedom into your life? 

I’ve been challenging myself to get more and more comfortable with things that scare me— because so much of my struggle has to do with fear, and being held back by fear. So, for example, if I’m afraid of financial insecurity, can I get comfortable not knowing what my next career move will be? Can I embrace that uncertainty? That kind of thing.  

7. What is one golden nugget of wisdom you can provide to those who are currently struggling with embracing freedom today? 

Just focus on making peace with what scares you. The more you make peace with your fears, the more free you’re gonna be (in my experience). 

8. And before we say good bye, how can we stay connect with you over social media? 

The best place to reach me is my website: www.isabelfoxenduke.com or if you’re curious about my work with binge-eating / body-image, check out my free video training series at stopfightingfood.com — that’s where I’m most active!

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