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Meet Trailblazer Cara Cifelli

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cara Cifelli.

Cara, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Looking back, I can see how all the dots of my childhood and young adulthood have led me to where I am now, helping others heal their relationship with food and their bodies.

The first dot that stands out was when I was 14 years old, flipping through tabloid magazines that were making fun of celebrities with cellulite or what I refer to now as body dimples. I also remember it being something the older women in my family complained about having, so I pretty quickly got the message that it was bad and best to get rid of it.

Around this time, my mom also started The Atkins Diet and I casually joined her, innocently removing a carb here and a carb there in hopes of staying thin or getting thinner. Eventually, this restriction of food, fear of weight gain/cellulite, and a deep desire to be nice to look at snowballed into a big people pleasing problem, called an eating disorder. Like many, it began to take over my life, following me for the next 10 years. I was pretty much always thinking about food and the way I looked, making it difficult to fully engage in my life.

I must have tried approximately 327 diets, everything from Slim Fast to Weight Watchers to cabbage soup. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration but if you can relate, I imagine you’ve likely tried countless diets as well. Sometimes, I would skip out on social events because I wasn’t sure I could control myself around the food and often going to restaurants gave me anxiety, scanning the menu for an option I felt I could eat. It really impacted my quality of life and relationships.

Before finally realizing I had a serious problem with food, I spent a couple of years not doing any official diet, just trying to eat healthily. But my attempts at self-control and moderation always seemed to backfire and I would find myself knee deep in brownie batter or face first in a jar of peanut butter.

This is embarrassing for me to admit, but sometimes, I even looked forward to the binges because they allowed me to check out of life, to not have to deal with reality for a bit, it was truly a coping mechanism. I had this awakening that my eating disorder was about so much more than just the food, but rather a reflection of my self-worth. My desire to be thin and pretty was about wanting to be loved and accepted, wanting to just know I was enough.

And upon this realization, I was finally ready to do the honest work necessary to heal and I am so grateful to finally be on the other side of a disordered relationship with food. After working in the corporate world for years, I found myself very unfulfilled and felt this soul-pull to contribute to the world in a different way.

Eventually, I decided to go back to school to study nutrition and get certified as a health coach. In March of 2018, I officially launched Cara’s Kitchen (although I have had that Instagram handle for a while), as a health coaching practice helping others heal their relationship with food and their bodies, so they too can create awesome lives that they love.

Its’ the most rewarding work I have ever done and I am so grateful for it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
From the outside, it looks like a smooth ride on a steady incline but that could not be further from the truth. The reality is that while it has always been fun, it has always been a challenge as well.

I am kinda scared all the time that I am going to fail or mess things up but I always weave in moments of truth and inspiration to balance out the fear and keep me in action. Failures are just lessons, opportunities for growth, and while starting a business and putting yourself out there is scary, not doing it is much much scarier.

Something that has always been a guiding light is being grateful that I even have the opportunity to start a business as a woman, something women haven’t always been able to go to. I remind myself of that daily. We are so lucky to even have the option.

To get specific with some obstacles, creating content consistently that connects with my ideal client is a daily task that doesn’t always come easily but I practice having fun with it, and speaking from the heart. In a lot of ways, my ideal client is just an earlier version of myself, so I speak to her and that helps whenever I feel stuck.

Another challenge is that I am still a solo-entrepreneur without any employees, which is a goal of mine for this year, to hire my first one. But that means wearing a lot of hats and learning a lot of new skills by yourself. Having a “can do” attitude has really helped propel me forward and utilizing both paid and free resources to help teach me how to do everything from building an online course, starting a podcast, invoicing and accounting, learning how to publish a book. All these things I had very little formal applicable training on in school and have had to learn or teach myself.

And I love the quote from Marie Forleo, “everything is figureoutable.” My best piece of advice is to just throw your hat over the wall, trust your gut, and go for it.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Cara’s Kitchen – what should we know?
My overarching goal with my business is to help free my clients from others expectations so they can create lives that literally turn their soul on, that light them up and get them out of bed each day.

What that looks like in action is helping others step out of Diet Culture (and sometimes Wellness Culture) and the never-ending pursuit of thinness and perfect eating which traps so many of us in disordered relationships with food. The pressure we feel to look good, women especially but increasingly men, is a distraction and makes healthy living and healthy eating extremely complicated.

Our pursuit of health often ends up being really unhealthy, because it’s been collapsed with a desire to have the “perfect body” because we think that is our golden ticket to the “perfect life.” It goes against the grain of conventional wisdom but I truly believe that pursuing weight loss is not the same thing as pursuing real holistic health. They are totally different pursuits.

In a nutshell, I help people stop dieting or hopping from “lifestyle change” to “lifestyle change”, and make healthy living easy and fun.

I am most proud of helping people reconnect to the woven in wisdom of their bodies, so they can discover a way of eating that works for them and is easy to maintain. Once food no longer disproportionately occupies their brain space and they feel more comfortable in their skin, they now have so much more space in their life for the things they truly love and actually matter.

Do you recommend any apps, books or podcasts that have been helpful to you?
So many! Where to even begin.

Apps: Instagram (duh), Venmo, Canva, Snapseed, VSCO

Books: The Alchemist, The Four Agreements, Four Hour Work Week, Eating in The Light of The Moon, Health at Every Size, Outliers, Big Magic, The Prosperous Coach, The Achievement Trap (there are more but these came to mind immediately).

Podcasts: Wellness Business Podcast, Ancient Wisdom Today, Him and Her Podcast, Sexy Soul Radio, Second Life, An Excellent Example of Being Human.

Shameless plug here, I hope you don’t mind, I wrote a book called Body Wisdom, which is available on Amazon and my second book is in the works. And I have a podcast called Love Your Bod Pod. Both are phenomenal resources if you are struggling with food and your body.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Laura Austin

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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