I’m honored to bring you this success coaching interview I had with my client, Moira Kucaba. Moira is a mother of two beautiful children, wife, and super star success coach with BeachBody (www.moirakucaba.com).
Moira contacted me for coaching because she had been struggling with bulimia and was a self-identified sugar addict for 15+ years. At the time, Moira was in the midst of starting a health beverage company that she eventually set aside to pursue her ultimate passion – coaching.
In 2015, she joined forces with BeachBody, and in just a short while, was in the Top 10 position out of over 500,000 coaches worldwide. Amazing journey, incredible story.
While these achievements were glorious for me to watch from the outside, it’s the inner work that Moira did inside herself that was even more impressive to me as a coach. She rolled up her sleeves and went to work on herself and the results are truly remarkable…but also achievable for you reading this right now.
Please don’t let Moira’s outer beauty, ideal lifestyle, or driven work ethic make you think she’s any different from you or me. She tells her story of struggling with obsessive thoughts of food, just like all of us. It’s how she turned things around that are important to focus on here. Get the gem you came here to find in Moira’s story and don’t let your inner critic of comparison get in your way…okay?
Click the video below to listen to our conversation and hear Moira share her bulimia recovery story.
My intention for sharing this interview with you and the world is…
…that during this conversation and the weeks following, you’ll be more powerful over your thoughts and your behaviors, and will begin seeing yourself making the changes you want to make so you have the life you want to have.
How Moira’s Eating Disorder Started
Moira’s life started out in a healthy family household. No abuse or trauma. She is the youngest of 6 children, so you can imagine how her drive to stand out and be a super star may have started very early on.
Moira said that weight wasn’t an issue for her because she was always a competitive athlete as young woman and that meant a lot of exercise so she could eat a lot, too.
Moira is a lot like many of the eating disorder clients I work with. She did very well in sports, piano, school – you name it. High achievement levels are a thread you hear throughout her life.
In the early part of our interview, she does a great job of explaining how she looked at herself as an addict for years. But, she turned it around into more of a “driven personality” vs “addictive personality.”
She reframed it over the years and now it serves her. She sees her ability to “get shit done” as a success trait, not a hindrance or something she uses to allow herself to feel like a victim.
Her new story empowers her instead of leaving her victimized, being “just the way she is.” Moira’s driven personality often had her take something she got excited about and run with it.
Well, she was exposed to partying, alcohol and drugs and ran with that, too.
“By the grace of God,” she said she got sober at 21. Just as soon as she set down alcohol, though, she picked up sugar.
At that point, Moira had not learned how to handle her emotions and energy, so food became the new outlet for her.
Rather than gain weight, she fell into bulimia as a way of somehow managing binging on sugar. She became a daily binge eater and pretty quickly couldn’t find her way out of her struggles with food.
When Recovery Became an Even Bigger Struggle
Moira saw the road she took to eliminate alcohol and drugs from her life as a lot easier than removing her obsessive cravings and daily binge eating. She could cut out drugs and alcohol more easily than she could get a handle on normal eating and found the more she struggled to recover and stop overeating, the deeper she went.
“The more I worked on how to hammer out the problem, the more trapped I got,” said Moira. She talked about how she was living in California and trying to find help for her eating disorder. She went to dietitians, therapists and other things and worked very hard to recover.
Yet, her recovery work only seemed to make it worse.
She then moved to the East Coast and brought her struggles with food right along with her. She decided to really work at it when she moved because she decided she didn’t want to keep living that way.
She tried a weekend retreat in Florida for eating disorders, and attended Overeaters Anonymous at one point because she had success with the AA program that helped (and still helps) her live a sober life.
Unfortunately, things were getting more severe and she sought out every avenue she could to get help, but nothing seemed to work.
We talked about how confusing the struggle with an eating disorder is for someone like Moira who is so capable, so driven and achieves whatever she sets her mind to. How could someone with all of these talents, skills, smarts and achievements not find her way out of bulimia?
Stay tuned for more on that in a minute…
Living Life with an Eating Disorder
Moira is still in touch with the pain and suffering she felt from her years of living with bulimia.
She said, “I just felt consumed by it. Bulimia is one of the most awful living hells you can live in. Because unlike alcoholism – a which really allows you to detach, black out and escape – with an eating disorder, you’re conscious and still living through everyday life.”
She remembers the pain created by the secret of living through an eating disorder. “The shame is SO big. The self-loathing.”
She talks about how, “You’re putting on this face to the world, harboring this secret that makes you hate yourself. And you’re trapped. You’re trapped! You have no presence in your life with the people or experiences that mean things to you. I can remember feeling robbed of every single holiday because of the obsession.”
If you’re living with or ever had an eating disorder, I know those words will sting at first, but hopefully also allow you to feel you’re not alone. The pain of our shameful secret is what also keeps the cycle in place. But keep reading…
A State of Disempowerment – Not Living Life By Our Design
As Moira and I shift the conversation out of the pain and into the solution, we settle on a topic that we both know creates a gateway to everything we want in our lives: Emotional mastery.
When we become aware of our thoughts, we create clear intentions and can actively choose them, and we can have anything we want in our life. I tell Moira about how all the years of coaching I’ve seen the state of bulimia as living a negative emotional state. A state of disempowerment. She agreed.
As Tony Robbins says, “Lousy states create lousy decisions.”
As hard as this may be to hear…we choose to keep overeating because we haven’t figured out how to manage our emotional state. Food becomes the outlet we distract ourselves with, and soon it becomes the thing that creates even more emotional suffering and overeating.
Moira said, “The quality of our life is the quality of our emotional state. We get trapped by our eating disorder. When you live in those negative emotional states that is what your life becomes. If you’re in those low emotional states, that’s what your life is no matter what is going on the outside.”
The illusion of an eating disorder is that binging is a solution, but it’s actually the problem. When my clients recognize that binging is a temporary distraction, an alternative they’re using to avoid feeling real feelings and working through the energy that needs to pass, they have the ability to see binging for what it is. Binging is part of the problem that makes them only feel worse about themselves…which leads to more binging.
This is where the confusion of the illusion traps most people. We have to get past the illusion, see a new perspective, and start to slowly live into the shift that is created from a new way of looking at ourselves.
The Change Happened When She Shifted the Story of Her Identity
If you’ve read or followed me for any time, you’ve probably heard me talk about the importance of your story…your inner and outer monologue which is how you’re creating your life.
What I heard from Moira during our conversation was how she fundamentally changed the most important story that drives behavior and that is the story of WHO YOU ARE. Your identity. Who you see yourself as. The “I am ______” you tell yourself and others.
Her old identity was tied to the struggle. She identified herself as having a problem…and a really big one. She could only see herself as a woman with an eating disorder. To her it was, “This gigantic thing in my life that if it could just get pounded into place, then everything is magically going to work out.”
For Moira, she said during our work together the transforming moments for her was when she got that “the more effort you’re putting into it, the more you’re resisting it and putting energy into it (what you don’t want).”
She said that made complete sense to her in that moment. Her whole life to that point, and every area of her life, was about going after everything with gusto – put energy into it! Make it happen!
Unfortunately, the more energy she put towards her eating disorder, the more trapped she was in it.
As Moira said, “The harder I worked at it, the more struggle I created. It didn’t make sense to me because in every other area of my life, the more I wanted something, the harder I had to work at it.”
The confusion for her was coming from the place of not understanding that how she was to do this would have to be different. She would have to let go of her old identity of addict, plus shift her focus from working harder on struggling with her eating disorder and instead begin to see herself differently so that she could naturally allow the well-being she had already inside her to replace the victim with a problem.
My coaching to Moira and all clients is that whenever you have a slip up, let go of it quickly. In Moira’s case it was important to focus on what was working in her life: Focus on how she was a good person and the good things she was doing. Minimizing the impact of the negative and focusing on the positive.
In her mind when we started, she was 100% that behavior and focused on that all the time.
She totally identified herself as a sugar addict. She was 100% convinced she was addicted to sugar in an abnormal way. She said, “I’m an alcoholic. I’m a sugar addict.” That’s how she created the identity that made her binge when she logically knew she didn’t want to.
She now knows that sugar is an addictive substance for everyone and she’s no different in how her body reacts. The change needed to take place in her mind in order for her to have different behavior around sugar.
The shift was she stopped labeling herself as a sugar addict which finally gave her a shot at success. She shifted her identity from a victim and feeling powerless over food to a new story that freed her up.
She relived the struggle that her old identity created. “That’s how I operated for decades (as a sugar addict).” Moira is also a recovered alcoholic and has over two decades of sobriety. She felt that, “If I give up that identity (addict), if I don’t believe I’m an alcoholic I will drink and I will die. It’s a real fear because my sister died.”
In her mind, she had to unlink the neural pathways that not being an addict could kill her. She feared if she gave up being an addict she would pick up alcohol, and that’s what killed her sister.
Seeing the Pattern Now as a Gift
Moira over time began to see proof for the “gift” she was given as a young girl who became a high achiever, a driven person. She retells the story of meeting a friend’s husband who is an ultra runner which is a feat maybe the top 1% of distance runners in the world achieve.
Over dinner one time, she learned his parents were alcoholics, too. She said that conversation helped her see that just as he picked up running, was driven, and channeled it to become an ultra runner, she had picked up alcohol and ran with it.
She knew then that she could instead channel her newly realized “driven personality” into creating good things in her life and let go of the “addict personality” who was only driven to overeat.
She made an important decision to choose to believe in a story that empowered and fueled her success as a coach and business woman instead of perpetuating the victim story of a sugar addict.
Did She Have the Fear of Getting Fat if She Stopped?
I asked Moira during our call if she ever had the fear “I might get fat if I stop bulimia.” She laughed! She said she had this big time. Like me, she said it perpetuated the fear of letting go of her eating disorder for a very long time. If you have this fear, just know that it’s the #1 fear most bulimics have and continuing to believe this keeps you trapped. Not having bulimia doesn’t make you fat. Your body can heal and balance itself out.
Strategies That Worked for Her
I asked Moira what worked best for her during our work together. She talked about state management and learning the triad from Tony Robbins and how important that was for her.
She said she rapidly taught herself how to shift from where she was focusing her thoughts. She tells a great story about how she was out on a boat with her husband and her kids. She experienced a powerful moment when the obsessive thoughts about food (candy in the cooler) totally took her over. She said they were literally “talking to me.”
She realized in that moment she was giving them momentum. In that moment, she started to be aware that food thoughts were just thoughts.
She said, “I had control of my mind. I would find something of beauty. Looking at the clouds. Look at my children’s faces or clouds and cut the thought off. The thought is what leads to the behavior. I started to understand that my recovery happens when I shift into those positive emotional states. The darkness will fall away without effort.”
She suddenly was in her true power and able to choose again. She knew that, “The eating disorder part of me wants the candy. My soul wants my children. Do I want to listen to what my ED wants or what my soul wants?”
She chose to see the beauty in that moment. She practiced that same principle again and again when old lingering thoughts would show up. She said it got easier and she forgave herself more quickly when she gave in.
Moira has learned a lot over the years as she’s become a very successful coach. She said she really enjoyed learning about neuroplasticity. She talked about how she realized “We’ve wired our brain to have these eating disorder tracks in it. When I started to understand this wasn’t a moral or ethical issue, it’s just brain circuitry I can fix, I could do something about it.”
She learned how you start to create small shifts, and through a little bit of trying, you create a different path for the brain to choose. You do great, and then once in a while, you slip back. But it’s not something wrong with you. It’s how you’ve wired your brain. The brain just went down the old path…no big deal.
The slip was the slip. It didn’t matter. The progress was completely detached from any negative emotion about the slip.
I think Moira started to see that she needed to love and accept herself more, too. The identity shift from addict to driven worked for her and allowed her to accept herself for the way she was, instead of trying to live life seeing herself as a broken person.
What Life Looks Like Today
It’s strange to hear Moira talk about having low self-esteem all her life. Seeing her outward charisma, beauty and grace, you can’t imagine how she could ever doubt her awesomeness.
Yet, she inwardly also knew she always had something that would bring her massive success. If she could just get over her eating disorder, she would find a path to the top.
And she did. Big time.
She started her health, fitness and mindset coaching in 2015. She really enjoyed helping people with their mindset. She was a Pilates instructor for 15 years and had her own business. But at that time, she didn’t have all of the tools to help her clients create real change in their life.
In case I didn’t mention, Moira is now one of the Top #5 out of 500,000 coaches in BeachBody. By the time some of you read this, she will be the #1 coach in the entire company.
We are all capable of achieving whatever we want to create for ourselves. She’s a hard worker, puts in the hours, and is driven to attain what she wants.
Moira saw the way to greater success in her business was to do the inner work. The work she needed to do last year was to have the unwavering belief that she would arrive in the top 10. She said she “had to lean into the vision of it, the seeing of it, the feeling of it. The Universe doesn’t hear what we say, it hears what we mean (feel). We get what we believe, not what we want.”
Her success is your success, too. You have everything inside you that she does. If you’re comparing yourself to Moira, find the ways you’re like her and how that is a GOOD thing…not the ways you’re different.
Don’t allow your monkey mind to create a disempowered feeling inside. Choose to create a story about yourself that feeds your soul and causes YOUR shift in mindset and behaviors.
The Mindset Shift That Changes Everything
Moira said what lead her to become a Top 10 health coach “wasn’t working harder,” but instead she needed to shift her belief. Her story.
She said, “If you want your eating disorder to go away, or lose 10lbs, or any change you want. If you fear it, if you think there’s no way it’s going to happen, then you’ll get that.” When she’s coaching future coaches, “It’s not looking at the how you’ll do it, but work on what you’re believing inside.”
Moira remembers when she was in the struggle of her eating disorder and stuck in the story and not sure she’d get out of it. On one coaching call, she remembered some work we did together. She remembered my telling her something like, “ Don’t you see yourself one day sharing this story talking to women, being a light?”
She thought at the time, “Maybe I’ll be at front of my church sharing this story.” Instead, about 18 months later, she was speaking to 30,000 people in the Superdome in New Orleans.
She says the Universe has much bigger plans for us than we can sometimes see for ourselves. Our work is to get out of the way. To line up with what’s possible and allow the Universe to deliver it to us.
I’d like to think I planted a seed inside Moira’s mind that I knew was there all along, and my having faith and seeing it when she couldn’t helped her start to see it, too.
Proof the Universe Has Your Back
Moira talks about how she kept a gratitude journal for nearly 20 years. She believes there’s so much power in it…focusing on it.
If we focus on the bliss, our life feels balanced. She’d been gratitude journaling for 19 years, and we were working together earlier this year and she said it lost it’s impact on her.
“It wasn’t working any more. Then I had a 2 mm shift.”
She started to focus on the proof that the Universe was showing up for her. What happened to her was she had a big dip in business and started to focus on what wasn’t working. She then remembered what she did want in her business and kept her focus on that.
She started to keep a book of proof that her dream was happening. She said after that, “It was an avalanche.”
She started to see more and more proof the Universe had her back. The Universe was there and willing to deliver her dream. By focusing on the proof, the Universe could deliver even more proof to her. What a wonderful shift!
What You Can Do to Get Started
I asked Moira for any final thoughts on what anyone still struggling with bulimia could do to overcome it…where to start. Here are her suggestions (simplified):
Mindfulness, Intention and Keep Going
She started to change her rituals. She simplified Tony’s triad. She does a quick check-in with herself when she feels off. “What’s happening with my body? What’s happening with thoughts in my head? Those two things had to change right then.”
She would keep herself from getting in the downward spiral if she’d eaten more than she wanted. “I’m fat, I’m going to gain weight. I’ve overeaten…”
She knew she needed to shift her thoughts and her body. Trying to think different thoughts was so much of the solution for her. “Move a muscle, change a thought.” Really actively changing both things. Change physiology (some movement!) shifts thinking. Also, consciously shift your thinking towards what you want instead of adding more momentum to what you don’t want.
She realized that when she didn’t catch the thoughts early she ended up binging and purging. She’d notice them, but just didn’t do it early enough.
She also forgave herself during the process. “I don’t have control over it all the time. Next time, we’ll try to do better.” She didn’t feel disempowered because she didn’t do exactly what she wanted. She looked at it as someone practicing a new instrument or sport trying to get better. You’re not always going to get it when you first start. That’s OK.
Moira’s words of encouragement are that: “We are 100% capable. No one person is worse off than the next. You’re not more trapped than the other person.”
Daily Rituals – Her Morning Process
One of the most important things you can put into place to keep your positive, daily momentum is something like a morning process. For Moira, it’s 3 minutes of gratitude, 3 minutes of prayer, and 3 minutes of visualization. It’s her anchor in the morning that gets her in a good feeling place.
She says her goal is to “Start my day off in a high vibration. Who doesn’t want to do that?!”
When she started off in a high vibration place, the world would treat her differently. “When I dipped, I would try to regain my footing each day.”
As a student of personal growth, Moira also finds reading and listening to positive books and videos every day, even just 10 minutes while driving gets her mind into a great place.
Thanks to her team and colleagues at BeachBody, she stepped into a different circle of influence who pushed her outside of her comfort zone. Moira said, “Who you surround yourself with is everything.”
Personal development is how you’re going to change your life. Moira believes in “The compound effect. 10 minutes every day will completely change you as a human being.”
Rituals, consistency, and what you’re feeding your mind are all important. I told Moira that she helps people with what they put into their body, but she realizes without a healthy mind they will sit in the struggle.
In closing, Moira shared that she recently presented to a large audience of coaches who wanted her to give them her strategy. You know…what’s her secret to success?
“There’s no secret sauce,” she said.
Working on what’s in your mind is truly where the breakthrough will come from. Your business will expand or explode in proportion to the dimension you believe in yourself and your vision.
In the last minutes of our call Moira was kind enough to share how my coaching changed her life.
“After a 15-20 year struggle of daily living in hell every day with bulimia you were the solution. The pivot moment that lead me out of the hell. If it wasn’t for that, there is no possible way I would be helping the hundreds of thousands of people I get to help.”
Wow. I’m so touched by the opportunity I have to coach wonderful people like Moira to let their greatness really come through.