aish.com > Spirituality > Spiritual Odysseys

Transform Your Body, Transform Your Life

September 18, 2022 | by Sarah Pachter

Ilana Muhlstein, author and influencer with 2 million followers, lost 100 pounds and shares her secret.

Ilana Muhlstein, a bestselling author, dietitian and creator of 2B Mindset, was dangerously overweight as a child. She vividly remembers sitting on a bar stool in the kitchen one evening, watching TV and eating lots of a dishes from a take-out order from a restaurant in New York. Her mother walked into the room and said, “What happened? Who ate everything? That was for the entire family!”

Muhlstein was trying to numb the pain of her parents’ divorce who split when she was four years old. “There was lots of fighting and chaos all the time. Food became my stability. And I didn’t have much oversight because my parents were busy and didn’t have the best relationship with food themselves.”

Eating was Ilana’s way to numb the pain. But it never really soothed her or filled her up inside. When Ilana was eight years old, the pediatrician warned that her weight was off the charts and posed a real health issue. She suggested that she attend Camp Shane, a weight loss camp.

Every camper took mandatory nutrition classes, all food was measured, and campers had to weigh in weekly.

“I lost 30 pounds that summer but gained it right back during the school year.” When my parents saw that I regained the weight and more, they sent me back each summer and thus began the yoyo cycle.” Ilana gained about 20 pounds each year until the age of 13.

“You keep thinking eating will make the situation get better, but it never does.”

In eighth grade her class was selling Oreos and challah for a fundraiser. She was eating more than she was selling, downing rolls of challah in one sitting. A snickers ice cream bar was her routine breakfast.

She peaked at 215 pounds and didn’t believe she could lose the weight. She went to camp only to please her parents.

The Transformation

Ilana notes that “weight loss, and all growth for that matter, can't come from anyone else. In my practice, if anyone says to me: I'm here because my wife wants me to lose weight, I tell them to go home. You can’t lose weight for someone else; it has to stem from within.”

She first started wanting to make changes in high school because she wanted to hang out with boys and wear different clothing.

Ilana begged her parents to go back to weight loss camp. “I was tired of being the ‘big’ girl. That summer at camp I lost 30 pounds and was down to 185 lbs. When camp was over I decided that I was never going to go back to the 200 lb. zone. My only goal was to keep the weight off.”

She kept it off and lost another 30 pounds throughout high school, and kept it off through college.

“I was a volume eater and most weight loss programs are all about measuring and restricting. I didn't want to count calories or do weight watchers, for me it was too restrictive. My goal with weight loss and life is to be free of negativity.”

Eventually her motivation to lose weight shifted inward. It no longer became about the boys. Rather, it was an internal need. She started feeling that what she was portraying on the outside was in direct contrast with who she was on the inside.

“I wanted to have a confident and friendly personality, and this deeply mismatched the body I was living in. This dichotomy felt crippling. I had to escape it so the outside could reflect the inside. My weight was holding me back from so many things. I was ready to break through.”

Ilana has lost more than 100 pounds, has a thriving business and has authored a bestselling book. However, these impressive accomplishments pale in comparison to what she considers her greatest moment of growth.

“I knew I wanted to become a dietitian, but I was not planning on sharing my weight loss story. At the time there was no social media. It wasn't normal for a CEO of a company to share her life story. And truthfully, I felt ashamed of my weight loss. I wasn't married and I was insecure that if anyone saw pictures of me as an overweight child they wouldn’t date or love me.”

Her turning point was when she was on a date with the man who would become her husband. “I have a confession to make,” I told him. “I used to be overweight and I lost 75 lbs.”

“Wow!” he said. “That’s great! Especially since you want to be a nutritionist.”

“Yeah, except I’m not going to tell anyone about that.”

His answer changed the trajectory of her entire life. “Are you kidding? People have to know.”

His encouragement caused what she calls a “massive growth moment.” She realized that by sharing her story and pictures with clients, it made her relatable. This would help them gain trust and motivation to overcome their weight loss goals.

It is because of her story that she now has over 2 million followers on social media, primarily on Instagram and TikTok. “I am so grateful to have the opportunity to help so many people and make an impact on the world.”

Ilana’s Famous Mantras

“Water first, veggies most.”

“More water, more weight loss.”

“Better in the waste than on your waist.”

“Dinner and done.”

With a new book on the way, what motivates Ilana to keep going is her desire to help others achieve their goals.

“It’s not about fitting into a bikini. It’s about improving your quality of life. Being overweight is harder on the body. I had back pain as a 12-year-old. As soon as I lost the weight the back pain disappeared. I want to give other people the gift of a better, healthier life.”

Every day Ilana receives a text that someone lost 100 pounds through her program. One woman named Natasha Perehson launched her own career with millions of followers chronicling her journey.

She advises others to focus on only two pounds at a time. The start of any “impossible” journey is to just focus on one step at a time. ’After a month of daily steps you look back and say ‘wow I came so far.’”

Ilana feels that “we all need to feel more determined, more disciplined and way more focused. Our society is bombarded with distraction. The beauty of the 2B Mindset is that it’s not one size fits all. You learn the tools to lose weight in a way that fits with your life. If you can just stay focused on a simple, sensible and sustainable system, you will have incredible success, and that applies to any area of life. Stay focused, quiet the outside noise, and you can achieve anything.”




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