Q & A with Skinny Bitch Author Rory Freedman: Her Spiritual Journey that Led to Best-Selling Book
You probably know Rory Freedman as the author of one of the best-selling books of our generation, Skinny Bitch. But what's even more interesting about Rory is her own personal and spiritual journey -- how a nudge from a Tony Robbins CD and a Wayne Dyer book led her to walk away from her $100k a year job and take a leap of faith and follow her passion for animals. The road to Skinny Bitch was often difficult, but Rory's passion prevailed.
Are you looking for some inspiration and strength to make a change in your personal or professional life? Then look no further than Rory Freedman's story (which I hope she writes into another book someday!).
MindBodyGreen: How did you come up with the title, 'Skinny Bitch'?
Rory Freedman: For many years I was a vegetarian and a vegan, but every time I would try to help someone who would complain to me about their diet it was really hard to get them to listen to me. I was at a conference where I saw more footage of factory farming and slaughterhouses, and I thought I’m going to die if I don’t do something to help these animals. It occurred to me that humans very much love animals and don’t want them to suffer, but they also don’t want to sit there and read about their suffering, their pain, and how human involvement is contributing to that. So it occurred to me if I could write a book, call it Skinny Bitch, and not giveaway that there was going to be anything about factory farming and slaughterhouses in the book, that women who are just living their lives who like shopping, who like watching Oprah, who like reading silly magazines, would pick up this book and it would change their lives, and it would change how they treated animals.
MBG: How long have you been vegetarian and vegan?
RF: I’ve been vegetarian for sixteen years and vegan for six years.
MBG: Was your choice to become vegetarian mostly an animal rights issue?
RF: It was 100% for me an animal issue. I used to treat my body like a garbage dump. I was not at all connected to my health and my well-being and what I was putting in my mouth. I got a magazine in the mail from PETA when I was in college and there was an article about factory farming and slaughterhouses. I just sat there reading this article and looking at these pictures, balling my eyes out because I used to eat meat for every single meal and I never considered the animals that were ‘this meat.’ That was it for me. I went vegetarian in that moment. Over time I really started to develop this interest in nutrition – and what I put into my body and how it effected me every way – spiritually, mentally, and physically. My life truly changed after making the decision to become vegetarian.
MBG: You mention how you were affected spiritually, and in 'Skinny Bitch' you mention how the book would not be possible without Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins…. Why?
RF: For five years I was an agent at Ford Models in New York City. I had a great life, I was making a ton of money, I owned my own home with my boyfriend at the time. Everything was good, but I just did not feel fulfilled. I read a book by Wayne Dyer, Real Magic, and in the book he talks about the moment of “Satori” – a moment when you have this sort of awakening. One weekend, I was at a factory farming conference in New Jersey and I had this moment of awakening where I said, ‘Wait a minute, what am I doing at my job? I’m supposed to be an animal rights activist.’ I quit my job at Ford that Monday and told them that I was leaving to become a full-time animal rights activist.
A few months later, I was listening to a few Tony Robbins CDs, The Hour of Power and Get the Edge -- and he talked about the power of goal-setting. I had had the idea for Skinny Bitch – but listening to those CD’s gave me a tangible, concrete plan for reaching my goal – and it was from that moment on that Skinny Bitch became real.
If it was not for the work of those two men, Wayne Dyer and Tony Robbins, Skinny Bitch would not be real.
MBG: That is awesome that you had an ‘aha’ moment and acted on it immediately. I feel like a lot of people have moments like that but don’t act.
RF: It overtook me. I didn’t really have a choice. I was growing increasingly unhappy at work; I was feeling crappy every day, headachey. At that moment, everything came together, and I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to be an animal rights activist – this is what I was put on this planet to do. That was it.
I was still terrified. I was scared. I was going from making $100k a year at Ford models to making $0 a year. I didn’t have a job lined up – I had no idea what was going to happen. I was living in New Jersey, which isn’t exactly a Mecca for animal rights activism – but I really believed strongly that the universe would conspire to help me. Even when it was scary, even when it looked like things weren’t going to work out, I had to keep following that ‘knowing.’
MBG: I feel like so many people are searching for that ‘knowing’ – and it’s an amazing thing when it happens.
RF: It is an amazing thing. I get questions a lot from people when we talk about this sort of thing and they want to know, ‘What if I don’t know what my calling is?’ And I feel terrible because it sucks when you don’t know what you’re calling is. When I was reading Wayne Dyer and listening to Tony Robbins, it just kept coming through to me, more than anything that I should ‘Be of service. Be of service. Be of service.’ The power, the prestige, the money – none of that is ever going to fill you up. But being of service is going to be that thing that you’re missing, that thing that drives you, that makes you feel whole and complete and good. And it’s true. So for anybody out there who doesn’t know exactly what their ‘thing’ is yet, just be of service and volunteer in areas that seem meaningful to you or that draw you in for some reason, and I would imagine that something would soon stick. I highly recommend Real Magic for anyone who’s looking for something.
MBG: Great advice...you have such a great personal story...
RF: I’m just a regular girl from New Jersey. I grew up like everyone else watching TV and thinking the best thing I could do was amass “stuff”, and have money, and buy a house – and have a cool job where people think you’re cool. The fact that just sitting a seminar learning about factory farming and slaughterhouses, reading a book by Wayne Dyer, that I had the guts to walk away from my career that I built for myself over five years – that I’m going to ditch it all and the universe is going to provide.
MBG: So what happened when you walked away from your job? Did things come easy?
RF: I’m glad you brought that up because it wasn’t a straight line. It was scary and bumpy and windy and there were many times when I thought, ‘Oh, no, I’ve made a grave mistake. The universe is not helping me.’ I quit my job and spent all my time looking for a job as a full-time animal rights activist and I couldn’t find one! I thought, ‘Oh my God, this is crazy. This is supposed to work.’
For about a year I just did everything I could to help animals. I would volunteer for events, I wrote letters to editors and legislators, and learned the ins-and-outs of the animal rights movement. Finally, my boyfriend at the time lost his job, and we had zero income, and we started to not get along so well and we ended up breaking up. So then I said, ‘Uh oh, I really need to get a job now. If I can’t help animals, I’m going to help kids.’ I then got a job teaching kindergarten and pre-school. It took me about a minute to realize that I hated it, that it wasn’t what I was meant to be doing, and that I still wanted to be an animal rights activist – and eventually I had the idea for the book. While I was riding to work one morning and listening to the Tony Robbins CDs, that’s when it all started to come together. Almost immediately I started to write the outline for the book. After this I began to realize that the universe did conspire to help me, it just didn’t happen the way that I wanted – which is a good thing because when I first thought of myself as an animal rights activist I thought of myself sitting inside an office of a non-profit with a desk and a phone – and that just doesn’t work for me. And it turned out a lot better, with me writing a book and reaching millions of people, and me being able to be at home and do this phone interview with a tiny little cute foster dog in my lap!
MBG: So when did you really know that you had something?
RF: It was about a year-and-a-half or two years before I knew I really got it -- that this was it. And when things started working, they really started working. I randomly went out to dinner with old friends in New York who I hadn’t seen in years and told them about how I was so excited and inspired, and that I had this idea for a book. They said that they were writing a book too and had a great literary agent and that we should get in touch with her. I sent them the book proposal and they immediately sent it out to publishers. It just all got done, so quickly and so easily.
MBG: Is this when you hooked up with Kim Barnouin?
RF: I called Kim and told her about the book. I said, ‘I knew what this book is going to be, I want to write the whole book, and even though I know the ins-and-outs of the nutrition aspect, I want to focus on the animal rights -- and I need you to do the nutrition research. And she said, ‘Check.’
MBG: The Victoria Beckham moment…. Was that the moment that changed everything?
RF: That was the moment for sure. Before the book came out, I thought all that was needed was one celebrity to be pictured holding the book, we’ll be on the map, and it’ll be all the craze. But when the book came out – it was out for over a year – and we couldn’t get any press! It was selling well because of word-of-mouth, but we got no press – not even bad press, which I thought we might get because of the title. I couldn’t figure it out. We were on the LA Times best-seller list, but with zero publicity. Then one beautiful faithful day, Victoria Beckham was filming for her reality TV special, and she picked up Skinny Bitch at Kitson in LA – and that was it. We arrived. Finally, the message has arrived. People who had no intention of reading about factory farming and slaughterhouses were getting that information.
MBG: How has your life changed since then?
RF: It doesn’t really feel different. The only thing that’s different is I feel busier with work, but beyond that nothing’s changed. My life has gotten bigger in the sense that I’m around a like-minded vegan community here in Los Angeles, but that’s it.
MBG: What do you tell someone who’s looking to get more “connected” – who is looking for a change?
RF: First thing I’d say is get help from someone else. Whether it’s Wayne Dyer or Tony Robbins or any self-help book that’s been recommended to you or catches your eye in the library because those books really do work. They really help you think differently, see things differently, and behave differently. I think that’s a good place to start.
Just a few weeks ago I talked to a friend and explained to her why I was vegetarian, and how I felt about animals. Last night when I saw her she said she hadn’t eaten any dead animals since we had that conversation. She also talked about other issues like depression, work, wanting to quit smoking. I told her that “It’s so incredible that you stopped eating dead animals, and I want you to know that for me, that was gateway that lead to everything else in my life changing. So even though you might not realize it, you stepped on that path, and are in that direction now, and it will effect every single on of those other things. And it may not happen overnight.” And I love to quote Kathy Freston, how she always talks about ‘leaning into’ things. So I said, “You don’t have to know today how you’re going to quit smoking or what that’s going to look like exactly, just know that your intention is to not be a smoker anymore. Just ‘lean into’ being a non-smoker and it’ll happen." Whatever it is you’re trying to do, be inspired, be excited to just do one first step.
MBG: What does MindBodyGreen mean to you?
RF: The word that comes to mind is ‘connection.’ Like I said previously, I used to be a human garbage dump, and I had zero connection to what I was putting in my mouth: If I wanted it and tasted good then that was enough. Once I made the connection between slaughtered animals and what I was putting in my mouth – that first connection shifted everything for me. That was the first truth that I really thought, there was this big house of cards that fell down and it paved the way for me, and I saw truth after truth.
The other night I canceled cable. It was too much of an addiction. So I was over a friend’s house and she started to fill me on the details of The Real Housewives of New Jersey, which I used to watch. Then I started to say something negative about one of the women on the show – and I stopped myself and said, ‘You know what, I’m not doing this. I feel bad talking about these people. Who am I to pass judgment on them?’
MBG: Back to the book. You touch on the importance of exercise – do you have any exercise staples?
RF: My exercise regimen is all over the place, all the time. I feel like I have ADD with exercise. Some days I'm crazy obsessed with trapeze and go to trapeze school for three days, and then I go to the gym and do weights at the gym, and then go from that to hiking with my dog. I’m all over the place all the time, but I like feeling active all the time. I play co-ed softball now and it’s so much fun. I like to change it up all the time. It’s so easy to get bored.
MBG: Do you have a breakfast routine?
RF: It always changes, but I’d say that fruit is a staple and right now I’m big on smoothies, like frozen strawberries, rice milk, ground up bananas and some hemp seeds or flax seeds.
MBG: Smoothies, just like Kris Carr?
RF: I love Kris Carr to bits and pieces – she is a Unicorn!
MBG: Do you a guilty indulgence?
RF: I don’t really feel guilty about anything I eat since I’m 100% vegan 100% of the time. I do feel guilty if I go too many days without some fresh fruit or salad.
MBG: What about your Last Supper? What would you eat?
RF: My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. I love a day that is devoted to being thankful and expressing gratitude - that is centered around family and food. I love mashed potatoes and gravy, I love some sort of vegan meat, I love greens, I love apple pie, I also love white cupcakes with white icing….I’d want it all.
MBG: Vegan meat for Thanksgiving – do you have a favorite vegan meat?
RF: Gardein for sure. Tal Ronnen, the conscious cook, who cooked for Oprah during her 21 Day cleanse, and who Oprah called the world’s best vegan chef, works with Gardein and helps develop their products. Their fake meats are so incredibly delicious it’s shocking. Chipotle also has Gardein at some of their locations.
MBG: What about veggie burgers?
RF: I think Boca Burgers vegan grillers are great. Amy’s veggie burgers are great, too.
MBG: What about a favorite healthy food?
RF: I loved steamed vegetables. My staple dish at home is steamed veggies with brown rice and tofu. I am addicted. That’s what I eat literally four nights a week for dinner. It’s my favorite meal on the planet.
MBG: Any shout outs?
MBG: What are you working on now? What’s next for you?
RF: Right now I’m trying to turn it all inward and figure out what’s next. Just like Skinny Bitch came to me – sort of like a gift from the heavens - I’m trying to listen and hear what the next thing is for me. I think I have an inclination about what that might be, but I’m not ready yet to speak it into the universe. I need to sit with it and develop it a little more in my brain.
For more on Rory and Skinny Bitch: