Affectionately known as "America's #1 Success Coach," Jack Canfield is the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and a leading authority in the areas of self-esteem, achievement motivation, and peak performance. [www.jackcanfield.com]
Arianna Huffington is the co-founder and Editor in Chief of the Huffington Post and the author of twelve books. [www.huffingtonpost.com]
Seth Godin is a prominent author, blogger and speaker. [www.squidoo.com/linchpin]
Krishna Kaur is the founder of YOGA for Youth, a program that takes yoga, meditation, and stimulating discussions on the philosophy of yoga to urban youth. [www.yogaforyouth.org]
Norman Lear has enjoyed a long career in television and film. He is also a political and social activist and philanthropist. [www.normanlear.com]
Leilani Münter is a professional race car driver and an environmental activist who uses her voice in the number one spectator sport in America as a catalyst for change. [www.leilanimunter.com]
By going undercover to meet slaves and slaveholders, Kevin Bales exposed modern slavery's penetration into the global economy. He co-founded Free the Slaves, which has helped to liberate thousands of slaves. [www.freetheslaves.net]
Sophie Chiche, lifebyme.com founder and curator, enjoys asking deep questions and living a life of meaning. Today she's launching Shape House, an urban sweat lodge, a place to melt away fears and fat. [www.shapehousela.com]
Entrepreneur and writer Mastin Kipp founded TheDailyLove.com, which merges pop culture with inspiration, and co-founded The Love Yourself Company, an apparel company that has started a global self-esteem movement. [www.TheDailyLove.com]
Liz Phair is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. [www.lizphair.com]
Archbishop Desmond Tutu is Chairman of The Elders, a group of world leaders who address some of the world's most pressing problems. He works energetically for human-rights and in his ministry. [www.tutu.org]
Zainab Salbi is the founder and CEO of Women for Women International, a group dedicated to helping women survivors of war rebuild their lives. [www.womenforwomen.org]
Despite his physical challenges, Sean Stephenson has taken a stand for a quality of life that has inspired millions of people around the world. He's a professional speaker, psychotherapist, and author. [www.timetostand.com]
Kia Miller teaches Yoga at Yoga Works in Los Angeles, leads teacher trainings, and runs retreats and workshops on meditation, chakras, pranayam, and mantras, and other practices. [www.kiamiller.com]
Simon Mainwaring is an ex-Nike/Wieden creative, former Worldwide Creative Director at Motorola/Ogilvy, branding/advertising writer, author/speaker/blogger, Australian, idea geek. [www.simonmainwaring.com]
Shannon Bindler is a style editor, life coach, and the co-founder of Get Up Girl, an empowerment company that inspires women to shine. [www.getupgirl.com]
Grammy-nominated art director/designer/photographer Mathieu Bitton has designed over 450 CDs and movie posters. He's a renowned collector of and authority on black films and their soundtracks. [www.candytangerine.com]
Opus Reps founder and agent-producer Jorge Perez travels the world producing photo shoots with great photographers and celebrities. He's also very involved with Meals on Wheels in Los Angeles. www.opusreps.com
I know firsthand how frustrating overeating and gaining weight can be. I spent a good portion of my life stuck in a cycle of overeating comfort foods, gaining weight, and dieting. I was never good at sticking with diet plans. In fact, I always felt hungry and food-obsessed the minute I put myself on a diet. While each new diet plan restored some hope and motivation, compulsive food cravings and a sense of restriction and deprivation always led me back to overeating and weight gain.
I know that I definitely ate emotionally. I used food to calm and soothe myself. It helped numb the pain of unpleasant emotions, self-doubts and other negative thoughts, and general stress. Food altered my brain chemistry; and because food is pleasurable and exciting, it was a good distraction. It temporarily filled up the inner emptiness and restlessness I regularly felt, a sort of spiritual hunger.
The truth is, I was hungry for many things, the least of which was food. I hungered for validation, acceptance, reassurance and hope. I was starving for intimacy, nourishing connections, self-acceptance, self-love, joy, peace, ease, security, passion and purpose.
My mind, body, and spirit were trying to tell me something. It took years of study, therapy, and visits to health care practitioners for me to understand and resolve all the pieces of the overeating puzzle. As each piece fell into place, my life got better and better. I no longer felt constantly hungry or compulsive about food. My weight and mood stabilized. I felt less overwhelmed. I procrastinated less. My inner chaos and outer clutter diminished. I felt more emotionally balanced than I had ever been in my life. A nourishing inner voice was developing and, with it, self-acceptance and self-love. Connection and intimacy were replacing the emptiness and loneliness I had lived with for so long.
Looking back, I can see that my unrelenting hunger, emotional eating and weight problems were actually a blessing in disguise, symptoms bothersome enough to push me to look for an internal solution rather than another diet.
Now I help overeaters and imbalanced eaters heal their relationships with themselves, their bodies and food. A different kind of hunger drives me today—the passion and excitement of helping others connect to themselves, release the weight and create the lives they hunger for, the lives they desire and deserve.
– Julie Simon