As a competitive Masters weightlifter and Crossfit coach, I've spent many hours training in the gym. Despite all the discipline devoted to improving my lifting technique and strength, I had become increasingly concerned with controlling my body shape and “making weight.”
Sidenote: “Making weight” refers to trying to hit a specific body weight before every competition to classify athletes into their weight divisions in weight class sports.
My life revolved around studying nutrition and experimenting with ways to optimize my diet to maximize performance, gain muscle, and lose body fat. I LOVED geeking out over the science!
FOR ONCE IN MY LIFE, I EVEN STOPPED FEELING FAT.*
Sidenote: *As if “fat” is a feeling...hint: it’s not, and whether it should be considered “bad” is a whole other conversation…aaand hint: it shouldn’t.
At the same time, despite a leaner body and being in my STRONGEST ever physical condition, I still didn’t feel confident enough to rock only my sports bra or shorts at the gym or a bikini at the beach (even with a spray tan!).
AND? I WAS ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT FOOD!!!
LOOKING AT FOOD
“Clean” foods like almonds, cashews, and peanut butter, led to “shameful” foods like cereal, donuts, cookies, and cakes!
I WAS LIVING A DOUBLE-LIFE. AND IT WAS GUT-WRENCHING.
One weekend I was having trouble sleeping - probably as a direct result of whacked-out hormones combined with excessive caffeine and other legal stimulants to blunt my appetite and give me energy (recreational use of Optimum Nutrition’s Pre-workout for the win!).
I had also been using Intermittent Fasting as a way to “get control” over my eating. (Scientific evidence touted miraculous metabolic and cellular benefits including fat burning and performance enhancement in addition to longevity!)
I found ketogenic dieting combined with Intermittent Fasting to be the only way I could prevent myself from full-on bingeing.
FOOD WAS LITERALLY "ALL OR NOTHING" FOR ME.
I eventually found myself in a strange catch-22: I needed to workout to justify fueling my body, but I couldn’t fuel my body unless I was going to workout, yet every time I tried to fuel my body, I’d end up full-blown bingeing instead – which left me consequently too miserable to workout...
But... “fasting is healthy” because SCIENCE! So... I fasted. And fasted. And barely slept. And pulled all-nighters. And loaded up on caffeine and stimulants (and branched chain amino acids, of course.)
It’s okay, at least I’m not bingeing! I’m not training so I don’t need fuel! Fasting prolongs your life and promotes health! People do this all the time! This is fine. I am fine. Ooh, abs!
But I knew I was NOT fine. This was NOT health. I couldn’t go on like this. I mean, I had cleared out the discount bakery rack at Walmart and then didn’t EAT for days! Who does that? That's. Not. Normal.
As luck (or desperation) would have it, I finally stopped searching for the answers in fitness and nutrition, and instead found what I'd been searching for to "fix" myself after attending a body image training and eating disorders conference in Chicago. I experienced a series of light-bulb moments as I was introduced to an astounding array of life-changing resources inspiring a whole new way of thinking about bodies in general and how to relate to food. I immersed myself in Intuitive Eating, Body Positivity, (and a fair bit of therapy as well) - and finally, it all clicked!
The answer was in learning how to LET GO, relearning how to truly listen to and TRUST my body, and tuning out the noise of body shame and fatphobia perpetuated by our society.
It is SO LIBERATING to be on the other side of the diet mentality!
And that’s why I’m here. To help women like you escape from the torment of the quest for the perfect diet and body. This all starts by making peace with food and the body you have right NOW. I’m here to help you discover how to STOP DIETING and BINGEING through intuitive eating and to help you see that you are so much MORE than your body -- and to help you find the freedom and confidence to go ahead and rock your bikini anyway!
Kortney Karnok is a former food scientist turned international body image and certified Intuitive Eating counselor, speaker, writer, activist, and body positive Level-1 Crossfit and weightlifting coach. She currently lives in Beloit, Wisconsin with her supportive husband, Joe.
Kortney has a bachelor’s degree in food science and technology from the University of Georgia and a culinary arts degree from the Art Institutes of Atlanta. She is currently pursuing her Master of Social Work degree at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
After several years in the corporate world as a food scientist (where she literally worked in a cookie and cake factory at one point!), she left her career in the food industry, winding up in fitness and health as a personal trainer. She eventually found her way to the weightlifting and Crossfit world where she specialized in nutrition and wellness as a certified Level One Precision Nutrition coach.
Kortney now helps women take their lives back from the oppressive nature of diet culture and food, body, and exercise obsession through a Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating approach.
As a recreational level athlete, Kortney also holds 6 Irish National records as a Masters weightlifter in Ireland, where she lived with her husband and spent years training, competing, and coaching the sport of Olympic-style weightlifting and Crossfit.