It’s the most difficult thing we do: leaving one way of being behind and accepting/ learning another. This is true whether we are: trying to learn a new skill; growing up and growing older; grieving the loss of a beloved; or living in the midst of a global pandemic.
Shifting away from the damaging paradigm of Diet Culture that tells us thinness is synonymous with health is also difficult. Learning to truly know, listen to, trust and respect your unique body’s desire for nourishment and movement and rest and other self-care is extremely difficult when you are steeped in a culture that has told you from the day you were born that bodies are problems.
Shifting into a new life where the EXTERNAL meal plans and trackers and programs and exercise regimens and beliefs about your body (that you have relied on for so long to keep you safe and “healthy” and lovable) become irrelevant, can be downright terrifying. Learning to know and trust the INTERNAL dialogue your body wants so much to have with you every moment of every day takes guts.
In order to make such a shift, we have to want to survive and adapt. We have to want more than what the old paradigm is able to give us.
If you are trying to learn a new skill, the old paradigm in which you did NOT have that skill is no longer able to help you. If you are growing up, the old paradigm in which you relied on parents or other caregivers to give you and teach you everything is no longer able to help you. If someone you love dearly has died, the old paradigm in which you could rely on them always just being around is no longer able to help you. If you are navigating a global pandemic that requires distancing yourself from others, the old paradigm in which you could go wherever you pleased whenever you pleased with whomever you pleased is not going to increase your chances of remaining safe and alive.
If you are trying to love yourself, accept your body, and make peace with food and movement, the old paradigm of Diet Culture (in which your body was a problem and not to be trusted) will not get you there. It just won’t.
The great thing about shifting though, is that it usually doesn’t require you to jump in all at once. It’s usually a slow process of transformation that moves you, bit by bit, away from the place you once were and into a whole new way of being.
Freedom — from chronic dieting, body-hatred, restrictive and disordered approaches to eating and exercise — IS possible. Body Liberation IS possible. But you have to have the DESIRE, the courage and the tenacity to begin to make the shift.
If you think you are ready to begin to make the shift out of Diet Culture and toward Body Liberation, check out Fitness For Mortals.
It is an unfortunate result of our society’s obsession with thinness that we associate healthy behaviors with weight loss. It is a sad result of our culture’s obsession with appearance that we equate “improving our relationship” with our body or “connecting” with our body with our bodies, somehow, not being good enough exactly as they are in this moment.
In most ways, this is an odd time to ask people to invest in personal training because, unfortunately we associate personal training with “working on” our problematic bodies and weight loss and our appearance. And, however much our disordered thoughts about our bodies and food and movement try to rear their ugly heads during this challenging time, it is really hard to justify “working on” the appearance of one’s body in the middle of a global pandemic. It’s just painfully obvious at this moment that there are far more important things [Please note: There are ALWAYS more important things than what people’s bodies LOOK like! This was true BEFORE this quarantine and it will continue to be true after this quarantine]. This really gets to the heart of why I call my approach to personal training, “Body Liberation Training.” Because Body Liberation Training is NOT – in ANY WAY, AT ALL – about your physical appearance or your weight.
Body Liberation Training is a homecoming to your own body. It intentionally divorces you from those old disordered patterns and thoughts that continually come to tell you – especially at a time like this – that you are not good enough or worthy or lovable. Body Liberation Training gives you tools and resources – and personal coaching – to fight the disordered behavior that promises you if you can just control your weight and your appearance, you will FINALLY be good enough and worthy and lovable. Body Liberation Training’s entire purpose is to help you understand that you are good enough and worthy and lovable RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE, exactly as you are. And from THAT place of self-worth and self-acceptance, you begin to decide FOR YOURSELF what you want your behaviors to be and how you want to feel every day.
From my perspective, this is actually, in some ways, an ideal time – if one has the resources – to invest in Body Liberation Training. In this quarantine: we are stuck; we are stressed; we are afraid; we are lonely; we are lacking structure and comforting routines and boundaries; old coping mechanisms, like disordered eating and movement behaviors and body-hatred are rearing their mean heads; we feel desperate to control things because so much is out of our control; our sleep is chaotic and disrupted; our minds feel bogged down or scattered due to the overwhelm; and, in general, we need help. While Body Liberation is NOT – by far – the ONLY help we will need during this time, it can be an extremely useful tool in coping with all of these aspects of our current situation.
As a Body Liberation Trainer, I can help you gain awareness of your body-mind’s needs and desires, your body-mind’s knee-jerk reactions to stress and overwhelm and out-of-control feelings. We can create a comforting routine and structure of movement, nutrition and self-care for you so that you can build the boundaries you need right now. These routines and structures will help you sleep better and calm down. As your Body Liberation Trainer, I can be a person on your team, directly supporting you in your pursuit to feel better, more resilient, and more hopeful every single day. I consider myself a coach and a cheerleader for your own self-care and a helpful touchstone in your day and week to keep reminding you that you deserve that self-care.
If I could magically give every person in the world three resources, beyond a loving support network, during this time, I would provide: a good therapist that you can trust; a good medical team that treats you with compassion and respect; and a Body Liberation Trainer that you feel comfortable with. This is a team that could see you through whatever comes your way in the coming months. Unfortunately, I cannot magically give every person in the world these resources. But, I can offer my services as a compassionate, respectful, knowledgeable Body Liberation Trainer. And, so, that’s what I’m doing.
I am a totally different kind of trainer than you have probably ever heard of before. I am actively working to shift the old paradigms of the fitness and wellness industries. I am fighting for the right of Every. Body. to engage in the behaviors that they deem necessary for their own self-care. I believe in your right to define “health” for yourself. I believe every single body is worthy of love, respect, dignity, and compassion. And yes, I do believe THAT message and THIS work is more important now than it has EVER been.
If you agree with me or you are intrigued by what I’ve said here, please check out my Fitness For Mortals Body Liberation Training Program and be in touch.
Like so many people around the world right now, I was laid off from my (paying) job a few weeks ago. Obviously, at least here, in the United States, I will be laid off until the end of the month. And then, I sincerely hope I am not called back to work before it is safe because, unlike the CEOs of many major corporations and the current President of my country, I do believe my life and the lives of my family members are more important than money. Still, my family needs me to earn money – even in this global crisis – so that when things go back to “normal” or when companies run out of patience for getting their payments, we won’t lose everything.
So, I might be in a somewhat unique position of FINALLY being able to pursue a dream I’ve had for a very long time. That is, being a full-time Body Liberation Trainer and Yoga Instructor who not only trains and teaches clients but also produces online content in the form of podcasts and blogs on the subject of Body Liberation. THIS was the fantasy dream world I wanted to step into as soon as I left my full-time English teaching position last June.
But, it’s not easy – financially, emotionally or mentally – to snap one’s fingers and just step right into a totally new life. So, I meandered a bit, questioned myself A LOT, doubted myself completely and almost gave up, then started to see some glimmer of hope for this fantasy dream world when I was asked to teach and train at Crystal Mountain’s Peak Fitness Center full time a couple of months ago. Then, because of this pandemic, THAT particular aspect of the fantasy dream world was taken from me (and my family).
So, it took a global pandemic to force my hand to do the thing I’ve wanted to do for a very long time but here it is, I’m doing it. And I would be thrilled every single day if it weren’t for the circumstances, I find myself having to build this fantasy dream world in. Though it’s good for productivity that I have “no choice” but to launch it now – and I’m truly hoping I can find some clients to start working with me asap – I would have preferred to build this fantasy dream world and launch in a time when we didn’t all feel so scared and so helpless.
I genuinely believe that the programming I have to offer folks can actually be helpful during this time and though I feel forced to do this thing NOW, I am not so desperate that I would attempt to cajole clients to join me by preying on their fear and helplessness as so many providers working within the Diet Culture framework are doing. This post was actually supposed to be an outline of how my Body Liberation Training offerings can be a very helpful coping resource during this time but all of this had to come first. And I’ll explain that other stuff tomorrow.
Hang in there everybody. One way or another, we’ll be on the other side of this someday. Like Bob Dylan said in his song “World War Three Blues,” “I’ll let you be in my dream, if I can be in yours.”
is an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer; an ACE-Certified Group Fitness Instructor; a certified Yoga Teacher; a Certified Intuitive Eating Professional; and a degree-holding Health, Fitness Specialist. She lives in Frankfort, Michigan and owns Every. Body. Fitness and Yoga Studio.