My Story


As an only child growing up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I was a creative, artistic, and intelligent individual with an explorative nature, often feeling the intense pressure to succeed and navigate life’s challenges through the eyes of “having to do it right.”  My adolescent and teenage years, like most girls, were emotionally tumultuous, and I was the target of bullying and undesired attention.  I often felt as though my relationships and life were out of my control and at age 15 I was diagnosed with depression and subsequently prescribed antidepressants. 


In college, pressures to succeed and the confusing nature of young adult relationships lead to using alcohol, food, and exercise as ways to navigate my emotional world, manipulate my surroundings, and manage my weight.   My food restriction tendencies during my college years paved the path for a 15 year struggle with food, exercise, and poor body image.


Through my twenties, my cocktail of prescription drugs grew as I was further diagnosed with bi-polar disorder.  The influence of prescription drugs affected my weight, my ability to manage my emotions, and my ability to navigate and communicate in relationships; I felt broken and inadequate thus forever dependent on the drug industry. 


Continuing to cope with the chaos within, I danced with food restriction, dipping into anorexic states, binging and purging, and even cutting as strategies to mitigate my intense emotions and to "fix" my mental and physical imperfections.  I bounced from extremes of eating a poor quality diet without regard to consequences then on to “clean eating” and restricting due to poor body image and lack of confidence and self worth.  Exercise was a frequent obsession over the years, pushing hard in the weight room with an all or nothing attitude.


At 31, I experienced one of my most difficult years as an adult.  I suffered the loss of a very close loved one, learned of a potentially fatal diagnosis of another, got married, battled difficult relationships in the work place, and subsequently lost my 10 year dream career working with exotic animals in zoos.  My world was flipped upside down, and I felt completely lost.  My anxiety increased to the point of panic attacks and my cocktail of prescription drugs hovered around five different drugs per day to manage depression, anxiety, mania, insomnia, motivation, and concentration.  I felt so helpless and out of control that my obsession with diet and exercise escalated to extreme levels. 


For the four years following, I was a slave to the gym, spending two to three hours lifting weights and running.  I became obsessed with my physical flaws and trying to fix them.  Determined to lose weight, and shape my physique I was convinced that my life and challenged marriage would change for the better if I could just change my appearance by burning calories, building muscle, and tightly controlling my diet.  I became consumed with my diet, adopting an orthorexic mindset; I felt controlled by food, I found myself frequently binging at night, and had no life outside of diet and exercise.  Despite all my efforts to lose weight and reshape my body, the weight came on, my health suffered exponentially, and I further alienated myself from the people who loved me the most.  


In a effort to fix myself, I sought the advice of nutrition, medical, fitness, and spiritual experts.  Much of the advice helped me to course correct, including ending my 20 year dependency on prescription drugs.  It wasn’t until I found the Institute for the Psychology of Eating in 2015 that my world started to shift at an exponential rate.  


My training at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating has taught me how to trust my body's signals and what it truly needs.  I have learned how to become a more relaxed eater with far less fear around food.  The feelings of being controlled by food no longer dictate my life.  I have learned to listen to how my body wants to move and how it wants to eat.  My unwanted digestive symptoms have nearly disappeared, and I feel more confident in my body and clothes.  The weight of self judgment controls less of my psyche and my relationship with myself and others is more joyful and loving.  


The principles of Eating Psychology that I have learned and applied to myself and with my clients are new and progressive ways of approaching diet and exercise and are sure to change your life for the better.  I am excited to help you break free of the diet and exercise shackles that are holding you back from realizing your goals.  



Cydney Peterson