What is “all in,” and should I try it?

19th March 2023 | Author: Bianca Skilbeck


A number of years ago I went “all in”, before I even really knew what that meant, or that there was a term for it.


What is “all in”?

“All in” is a phrase that sometimes gets used in eating disorder recovery circles, and it refers to the recovery practice of physically, mentally, and emotionally committing yourself – “all in” – as it suggests, to letting go of disordered eating practices.

Put simply, it is a commitment to letting go of all attempts at “weight control” or “weight management.” A recovery strategy where you remove all the food restrictions that you have had in place and all the compensatory behaviours that you might have developed around eating and food. You simply eat what you want, when you want, and how much you want. Period. A simple, yet profoundly radical commitment to yourself and to your recovery, in a world that continues to be obsessed with dieting, thinness, and weight control.

In the past I have spoken quite openly about my own struggles with disordered eating and recovery, a struggle that fluctuated in intensity and severity but was always there, insidiously whispering in my ear, for over two decades of my life.

It was several years ago, not too long after the very last extreme diet that I put myself on (which I have not written about yet, but I may do), that I just knew that I couldn't keep dieting, yo-yo-ing with my weight, and putting myself through this. That last diet was extreme. I will not talk numbers in terms of calories or weight, but suffice to say that I lost a huge and noticeable amount of weight in a short period of time; only to inevitably put it all back on, plus more, almost immediately when the diet “ended.”

I was devastated. I blamed myself. “Why couldn’t I have just had more willpower?” I thought. My self-esteem, self-worth, and body image were at an all-time low, despite how hard I had tried all my life to “do the right thing.” But trying to do the right thing had done so much damage to my metabolism, to my digestion, and probably most importantly, to my sense of self and self-worth.

And overarchingly, I knew that this was not who I wanted to be. It was not who I knew that I needed to be. In deciding to go “all in”, one of my biggest personal motivators was knowing how incongruent my life was with what I wanted to do and become as a therapist in the eating disorder space. I knew that I needed to walk the walk and do the hard inner work myself.


So, what was going “all in” really like? What was it like to finally, after two long decades, give up on my plight to control my weight, and just accept where my body was at and where it wanted to be?


It was really hard and it took time. I gained weight which was scary; at times it felt like it might never stop. Yet, I knew there was no going back once I had started; that I needed to fully commit myself to this otherwise whatever progress I made would be for nothing.

Eventually the weight gain did plateau, as I had been reassured by everything that I had learned, read, and listened to that it would. I have since remained at a stable weight now for more than 5 years (barring a period of illness last year where I luckily had reserves, and quickly regained as soon as I got better). I'm in a larger body now than I was when I started all of this. But I am finally free of dieting. I’m free of all of the counting, the stressing, the worrying, and the beating myself up for “another bad day”. When you are “all-in,” you find out that there are no bad days. There is just learning, forgiveness, self-compassion, and digging deeper into what matters for you. Always digging deeper, that never ends.

I have now stopped forcing myself to try to fit into clothes that just do not fit or do not work for me. I discovered that bigger sizes are made (well duh?) and that I can just get those instead of shaming myself with the old ones. What a revelation, yay!

Do I grieve my “old body” sometimes? Yes, I would be lying if I said that I did not. But I know that that's just part of it.

We humans change; change is inevitable if you do not want to become frozen and stuck.


I still have bad body image days, but they are fewer and farther between; it does get better.


Overarchingly, I am proud of the inner work that I have done to accept myself, and I am relieved as hell at having a much more peaceful relationship with food. A relationship where I actually keep things like chocolate and biscuits in the cupboard and forget that they are there. A relationship where I eat 3 meals per day that make me feel good and when it comes to snacking, I am equally as likely to choose the fruit, or the yoghurt, or the biscuits, and all are fine. I eat out socially and I am able to be flexible with what food is around. I strike a balance between what is nutritious, what is available, and sometimes what is simply delicious. And all these choices are morally neutral and okay; they no longer dictate my moods, my self-esteem, or whether or not the day is “good” or “bad”.

When it comes to going “all in”, my experience has been that it is really worth it, but it does take time. So, if this is something that you are considering, go easy with yourself. Anticipate the “bad” days so that when they come, they do not derail you as much; you can remind yourself that it is all part of the process. Focus on your values and why you are doing this, why it matters. Reach out for support, whether that be a therapist who works with disordered eating, a dietitian, an eating disorder organisation, or peer support from someone who has been there and done it all themselves.

Find community, whether in person or online or both, that embrace body positivity, body acceptance and a non-diet approach to life. Community is so important in this because we can truly be uplifted by other people, as much as we can be dragged back down if we find ourselves around people who do not share our values.

I do not have a “before and after” picture of before and after I went “all in.” If I did, it would not look like the ones that you’re used to seeing. You would see a person in the after picture who is in an older and a larger body; not exactly the “glow-up” that we have come to expect from personal transformation.

Yet, what you would not see is the inner work that has been done to support and enable a life that can be lived in peace with food, movement, and body image. A life where I am accountable nowadays to no one except myself because only I can know what is inside.

I can tell you that yes, it has all been worth it.



Are you thinking about going "all in", and would like some support along the way? Please do not hesitate to reach out, you can click on the link below to register your interest in therapy today


Book a FREE 30-minute Consultation

You might also like…

Become a member of our email list today to receive a FREE 3-day educational mini course on eating disorder recovery.

After that, I will send occasional updates with articles, tips and special offers. I promise that I will never send spam or share your email address.

Follow Freedom from Food on Instagram @thehaeshypnotherapist

Welcome Here logoANZAEDASDAHproductproductproductGoAHproduct

We would like to acknowledge the Wurundjeri people who are the Traditional Custodians of this land upon which Freedom from Food operates. We would also like to pay respect to the Elders both past and present of the Kulin Nation and extend that respect to other Indigenous Australians, past, and present.

Web design by Cultivate Digital