An Hour with … Ricki Friedman

Founder, Break the Weight
Ricki Friedman
Ricki Friedman // Illustration by Larry Cooney Jr.

Ricki Friedman is a motivational health coach based in Birmingham who believes that when someone has physical weight to lose, they typically carry mental baggage, too. Through her company, Break the Weight, Friedman, 30, helps her clients reset their schedules. With her Breaker program, a 10-week accountability system comprised of daily check-ins, meal diaries, step-counts, and more, she personally guides them on how to shed the physical, mental, and emotional weight of their lives. Friedman straddles the line between nutritionist, trainer, and therapist (though she makes clear that, professionally speaking, she is none of the three) to help clients understand why they are struggling with their weight and meets those findings with actionable solutions. Here, Friedman shares all the ways Break the Weight is a game-changer for the wellness industry.

Hour Detroit: How did you get started helping other people?

Ricki Friedman: I had been struggling with body image issues stemming from the loss of my mom at the age of 13 and wanted to figure out a positive way to help myself. I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York to become a health coach, and eventually I started Break the Weight when I was 23 as a project between me and my close friend. My friend really trusted me because, though I had lot of things going on while growing up, I was always a really motivating person. So, we created a blog called Break the Weight. She and I would write about grief and loss, falling off track and getting back on, our good days and our bad days. What started out as a very physical journey, 290 days later, turned into breaking the actual weight in our lives — she also lost her dad when she was young and had depression. I always say, we might have not been physically the same weight, but we were emotionally just as heavy.

What is your relationship with your own weight?

I had a lot of issues growing up with trying to feel good in my body both physically and emotionally. It’s the reason I became a health coach. I was very extreme. I went on so many diets to fix myself physically, but never connected to the internal pain of losing my mother and grief that came with it. I just cared about what I looked like. Was I overweight? It’s all relative — I had five to eight extra pounds on me — but it was more about my relationship with food and my body. I think it’s important to note that I do still struggle with body image at times, but the noise is quieter, and I have the tools to work through it.

“The mission is always the same. It’s getting people to see the light and really move forward.”
— Ricki Friedman

Do you dive into clients’ emotional past?

I do, and I don’t. I’m not a therapist. I always tell people to get a therapist while they work with me, but a person can understand what’s going on in their life just by looking at their habits. My clients start to realize things like, “I am lonelier now that I’m not eating my feelings.” Or, “Walking during the day helps me feel less anxiety.” People will discover things about themselves if you give them the tools and the insight they need to make those discoveries. So, the mission is always the same. It’s getting people to see the light and really move forward.

Are you looking to expand Break the Weight?

I want to keep growing and eventually add others who can coach people with the Breaker program the way I do. But for now, I’m focused on spreading the mission of breaking what weighs us down in our lives and shape that into a well-known and strong brand that helps others change for the better.

What’s next for you personally?

I’d like to continue pursuing my passion for public speaking. I’ve already had a few gigs in the past few months. I share my story of the loss of my mother and how I’ve changed my life through changing my mindset and lifestyle. It’s another way I’m hoping to turn my pain into a business to help others transform their lives — especially adolescents. I believe grief in adolescents is a very important issue that’s not discussed enough. In relation to that, I’m planning to publish a book that I’ve been working on throughout the past year. It’s about my own 17-year journey of grief and loss for people in their 20s who lost a parent when they were adolescents. Grief often hits you later in life, so I want to help them understand what they might be feeling as a result of the loss they had as a child or young adult. No matter what I do, whether it’s through my company, speaking, the book, or more, I want to impact as many people as I can and help them change their story.

QUIZ: How Heavy Are You, Really?

How many steps are you taking?
a) 2,000-3,000 per day
b) 6,000-7,000 per day
c) 9,000-11,000 per day

How do you know when you’re full?
a) Define “full.”
b) I eat three square
meals a day, not
including dessert.
c) Thanksgiving is the
only time I indulge.

How much are you sweating?
a) I avoid sweating
at all cost.
b) I went to a sauna
last week.
c) I use my lunch break
to go to spin class

Do you have a community?
a) I’m a very
independent person.
b) I have around
1,000 Facebook
friends, so, maybe?
c) Of course, I was at a
co-worker’s wedding
last weekend.

– – – –

Friedman says:

Mostly As: Your lifestyle is weighing you down and it’s time to take baby steps towards making a change.

Mostly Bs: Things are going fine for you, but they could be better. Make sure to build a community outside of social media, eat foods that actually give you energy, and move your body daily!

Mostly Cs: You’ve found a really great lifestyle for yourself but remember not to be too strict about eating what you love. Balance is key!