Feel free to use either full-fat or “lite” coconut milk for this recipe. The heavier the coconut milk, the creamier the consistency and more coconut-y it will taste. So, choose full-fat or “lite” depending on your flavor and consistency preference.
Click pdf below to get a printable version of the recipe.
The biggest barrier that most of us face to practicing body kindness is shame. Shame comes from feeling like we are somehow less than what we "should" be. We learn shame at a very early age... from family, from religion, from teachers, from the media. Anywhere there is a message that tells us we are "wrong" or "bad" or "not good enough," there is shame. Diet Culture, therefore, is ALL ABOUT shame.
When we experience shame because we don't like what we see in our reflection, or because we feel paralyzed by all of the healthy behaviors we "should" be engaging in that we aren't, or because of a particular diagnosis, or because we -- or people like us -- are ACTUALLY being shamed by certain voices online or in the media or even in our own family... it feels impossible to choose kindness towards our body because our body feels like our enemy. Our body, full of shame, feels like it is the thing that is bad.
Our body isn't the enemy. Shame is. And the only way to really reverse or erase shame (on an individual, immediate level) is to engage in Self-Compassion. Most thoroughly explored by Dr. Kristin Neff's research, Self-Compassion is defined as "being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or flagellating ourselves with self-criticism" (Neff, 2011).
Self-Compassion is about taking a moment when we find ourselves hurtling toward shame to stop and consider another approach. Maybe what we are going through is just part of being human. Maybe what we are going through is something most other people face as well. Maybe what we are going through is a trick of marketing or just social conditioning that has led us to believe some folks are better, more lovable, or worthier than others.
Self-Compassion can remind us that we deserve body kindness.
One way that Neff suggests we practice self-compassion is via our self-talk. When we find ourselves sliding into self-criticism and shame, we can use the following script or a variation of the following script:
I am having a hard time right now.
This week, re-write this self-compassion script out (or write your own variation of it) and place it somewhere you will see it every day or in the places where you tend to experience shame most often. Every time you see it, repeat it either out loud or quietly to yourself. See how this script can help turn your mind and heart away from shame and self-criticism and toward self-compassion and body kindness.
Then, attend the next Coaching Call on Tuesday, October 12th at 7pm, to tell us what kind of effect giving yourself these words this week had on you!
Because of the hold that Diet Culture's obsession with thinness has over our hearts and minds, folks encountering the concept of Body Kindness/ Body Positivity/ Body Acceptance or Body Liberation for the first time often misunderstand this approach as a giving up on health. We have been told by weight obsessed health professionals for over a century now that our weight IS our health and so the paradigm shift to weight neutrality is very hard for most folks to understand.
The reality is our obsession with weight as the sole marker for health arose from health insurance norms imposed on medical care. Many health professionals -- including medical doctors and personal trainers -- have ALWAYS known that obsession with thinness was actually unhealthy and often led to physical and mental health issues but our health insurance/ medical industrial complex had to figure out an easy way to categorize people who were worthy of coverage and those who were not OR how much to charge and what interventions to offer based on an easily accessible number that didn't require a lot of individual time or attention.
Judith Matz and Amy Pershing, two social workers specializing in a Body Positive approach to Eating Disorder recovery explain that " there is no weight loss program or diet plan that can show long-term results. In fact, the pursuit of weight loss often worsens health conditions as weight is regained and/or other treatments and strategies are ignored. To make matters worse, weight stigma is an independent risk factor for health problems."
This week, take some time to make a list of your health-related goals. What do you want to be able to do with your body that you can't do right now? Or, what do you want to continue to be able to do? How do you want your body to feel on a consistent basis? What are some of the things that you know help your body feel that way? If weight loss or a "need" to be at a lower weight crops up, take note of that too. It is so hard to let weight-centric health go after a lifetime of being inundated with that expectation. Just take note of the variety of goals and behaviors you want for your body that either have nothing to do with weight or much less to do with weight than you think.
If you have questions about your list or any of the Body Kindness Activities provided in UNLEASHED, please bring them to our weekly coaching call and get them answered!
If you're practicing any kind of yoga, you are probably doing some form of back bend or another. There are many different types of back bends in yoga. In one of Bad Dog Rebel's Power Yoga classes, you are doing dozens of backbends every practice.
Back bends are wonderful for counteracting so much of the damage we do to our spine and core by sitting ALL OF THE TIME! This is why they are such a main feature of our Power Yoga classes. However, if you are not engaging all of your postural muscles each time you do a back bend, you are actually putting your low back at greater risk for pain and injury!
When we engage the postural muscles around the lumbar spine, we "pack the low back" in a muscular bubble wrap that protects the spine itself. If we have chronic low back pain (which so many Americans do because of the aforementioned constant sitting and lack of core strength), consistent practice of back bends is actually GREAT therapy for that BUT -- ONLY if done with muscular engagement and postural integrity.
Click pdf below to get a printable version of the recipe.
Of course, there are many many ways to engage the rectus abdominis and the pelvic floor together. The move featured below is just one way. But...
ANY TIME you are working the abs, it is a good idea to:
*pull the pelvic floor up
*pull the belly button toward the spine
*slightly tilt the pelvis under you
and *pull your shoulder blades back and down
STRONG, UNSTOPPABLE CORE, here you come!
Click pdf below to get a printable version of the recipe.
Body Positivity generally means being loving and positive towards your body, no matter what it looks like or is capable of. The Body Positive Movement began as a Fat Positive Movement via Fat Activists. When folks first began using this term, they were calling for the end of Fatphobia, Ableism, Homophobia, Transphobia, Sexism, Racism, and other oppressions based on "differences" between bodies. When fitness instructors and personal trainers first started using this phrase, they meant that they were RADICALLY accepting of all bodies as well as inclusive and accessible to as many bodies as they could be.
Unfortunately, the meaning of Body Positivity has changed and gotten watered down as it has been used and co-opted by many companies and professionals who do not uphold the radical values of the phrase's inception. In fitness, yoga and dance, we often hear the phrase "Body Positivity" used even when the companies or professionals using the phrase make absolutely no attempt to embrace anything other than the thin body upheld by Diet Culture as "the standard" and "the norm." Body Positivity has become a buzz word that, in many situations, has completely lost its original meaning.
Still, "Body Positive" is so common these days that most people understand the basic gist of what we are referring to when we use it. So, many fitness, yoga and dance instructors and trainers still end up using the phrase because people "get it." Body Positive can still be a useful phrase to use for this reason. It can also feel "right" to us since the denotation of the phrase means "having a positive attitude towards one's body." Who doesn't WANT that?
But having a positive attitude towards one's body can be a very difficult task when we have been living in, steeped in and conditioned in Diet Culture since birth. Diet Culture has given us ONE IDEAL BODY. Statistically speaking, about 1-5% of the world actually has that ONE IDEAL BODY which leaves the rest of us feeling like there is SOMETHING wrong with us.
For many people, Body Acceptance is usually easier as it just means allowing our bodies to be what they are, as they are, each moment. Some days, our bodies feel great. Some days, they don't. No matter what, if we work on it, it is possible to just ACCEPT our body each moment. Body Acceptance is easier because it doesn't require a "positive attitude" and it doesn't require that we "love" our body all the time. For most people on the journey of Body Liberation from Diet Culture, Body Acceptance is an easier place to start than "Body Positivity."
Finally, Body Liberation is a much higher aspiration than either Body Positivity or Body Acceptance as it refers to actively seeking ways to free oneself -- and others -- from the constraints placed upon us by the dominant paradigms of our culture. Body Liberation is here to do the work that the original, radical work of Body Positivity promised to do. Many of us who are working toward Body Liberation are involved in the spiritual, environmental and political work related to this goal. This makes Body Liberation a bigger commitment than either Body Acceptance or Body Positivity and so it also often means that one has already been doing the work of Body Acceptance and/or Body Positivity for a while.
Does one of these sound better to you than another? Or, like so many of us, do you move between all three at different times, on different days, in different situations? When are you most comfortable with "Body Acceptance"? When are you most comfortable with "Body Positivity"? And when are you most comfortable with "Body Liberation"? Are you uncomfortable with any of these phrases? Why? Reflect privately on these questions and/or share your thoughts with us on the Facebook Member page or, better yet, at our first Coaching Call on Tuesday October 5th at 7pm!
I joined track in 7th grade because I was absolutely obsessed with a boy who ran track and I wanted to be close to him. Yes, I am the original creeper. And... I hated it. I enjoyed being closer to him (even though he wanted nothing to do with me) but I hated track. My favorite part of every practice was the after-party trip some of us would take to the upscale convenient store near my school for chocolate croissants and raspberry seltzers. Still, I ran. Every day. I didn’t run well and I didn’t run with joy but I ran.
This is an important point because when I try to think of when I “started” running, I usually think of my first major weight loss (the first time I weight cycled) while I was an undergraduate student at The University of Michigan. I loved running through the streets of Ann Arbor. I loved biking through the streets of Ann Arbor. I noticed that you can get to know a place so much more intimately when you are walking and running and biking through its streets rather than driving. I liked that part of running but I’ll admit that running was part of the obsessive regimen that was always my eating disorder. It was just one more aspect of the extreme calorie restriction and the punishing exercise I used to force my body into compliance with “acceptable” size standards.
The first time I stopped running was when I was in Poland with the Peace Corps. At the time, it was considered strange in Poland to run through the streets for pleasure or exercise. At least, that’s what I was told and what I observed. I looked like a crazy or foolish American and I didn’t want to. I wanted to fit in. So, I found a gym... where people ran on treadmills and smoked at the same time. I hated running on the shitty treadmills at this gym so I cut way back on that and did other things instead.
I began running again while I was getting my masters degree and a divorce. I lived in Southern new Mexico at the time and nearly killed myself one afternoon trying to run in the high heat of September. I mostly ran during this time to stay half-way sane and not sink into my depression. I learned to run in the early morning. I also started running at my University’s track. But I was a grad school partier. I smoked and drank heavily so my running was erratic at best. I never really stopped that time. I just kept being erratic.
I didn’t get into a habit of running again until after my Master’s degree when I was living in Boston. By the time I met the love of my life, the man I’d have two children with and later marry, I was running regularly and living fairly cleanly — LESS smoking and LESS drinking. My active lifestyle was actually part of what he said made me so attractive as a partner. This is an important point because...
if you’re keeping up with this story, you’ll notice that I had always been active. I didn’t particularly LOVE being active when I was in middle school but still, I was active. What’s important about this is that I have actually had to spend decades being active, become a recreational triathlete, a fitness instructor, a personal trainer, a yoga teacher, a degreed health fitness specialist, a health coach, and the owner of my own studio before I was able to — without reservation or embarrassment — OWN the fact that I am — and have always been — a very physically active person.
Why did it take me this long? Fatphobia.
I am a curvy girl. I don’t mind that. I have straight-sized privilege and I have curvy privilege. My curves have made me sexy af my whole life and being considered sexy by my partners and feeling sexy in my skin has rarely been a problem for me. I have larger than average breasts (they were bigger when I was younger, before I breastfed two humans) and as Mindy Kaling says, “an ass that won’t quit.” But one thing I have heard time and time again throughout my life, mainly because of those curves and especially from my own father as a child, is that I don’t have “an athletic body.” Because that's what we do. We decide, sometimes as early as a child's infancy, what their body is and is not capable of. "Oh, he's going to be a big, football player." "Aw, she's going to be a little ballerina." We put the shape and sizes of children's bodies into these boxes that we can easily understand and control. This allows us to "help" children understand where they do and don't belong. And it is utter bullshit.
Let me tell you one thing I know with absolute certainty at this point in my life and with all the training I have now had as a health professional: There is no such fucking thing as an athletic body. This is a lie that fatphobia tells to keep people in line, to keep some people feeling inadequate while others get to feel superior. This is a lie that capitalist culture tells to keep everyone in their boxes so the machine keeps moving. This is a lie that diet culture tells to sell product.
Any body that does athletic things is an athletic body and keeping people from owning their athleticism because they don’t look like the product fatphobic, capitalist diet culture wants to sell is not just bullshit weight bias, it is actually a detriment to our health.
I want to take a moment and acknowledge that I have never been marginalized or oppressed for the size of my body. I have always veered towards the higher end of the straight-sized world and lower end of the plus-sized world. This is an important acknowledgment to make because within fatphobic diet culture, the larger one's body size, the worse the pressure and hatred and hardship become. My body image and even my basic understanding of my own identity was shaped, harmed and truly damaged by diet culture but I was never marginalized or oppressed as folks who live in larger bodies are. So, this is just to say that however difficult it has been for me to own my athleticism and see my body as deserving of and capable of physical activity, including running, it is typically so much harder for those folks who -- in addition to this -- are being marginalized and oppressed for the size of their bodies.
The last time I sunk deeply into my eating disorder, I was part of a triathlon training group who towed the diet culture line of thinness being equal to health. I had already completed many sprint-distance triathlons prior to joining this group. I had already worked up to some fairly serious mileage in my biking, my running, my swimming. I did this without concern for my weight because I knew I was healthy. I was me. I had actually taken up triathlon as a method to embracing my body exactly as it was. I was never going to be triathlon Barbie and I wasn’t interested in doing a full Ironman or anything. I was a very healthy recreational triathlete. No more smoking. Okay, some drinking still. And now my efforts were very consistent and backed up with quality nutrition. But none of that mattered in the triathlon group. It was still about who lost how many pounds and running to “keep the weight off.” So, I complied. I developed atypical Anorexia and orthorexia. I lost a lot of weight -- again. Good girl, they all said. What a good dog.
The comparison trap within diet culture is sticky and nearly impossible to extricate ourselves from. It's as if we must know who is winning the game -- and, of course, within diet culture, the thinnest among us are the winners. No matter what it took or didn't take for them to get there, they win. It's as if me owning my athleticism in a bigger body somehow takes something away from those runners in smaller bodies. Let me tell ya, friends, no matter how far, how fast or how long you run, we are all going to grow old (if we are lucky) and we are all going to die (for certain) so this isn't a game any of us are going to win. My ownership of myself as a runner in a larger body doesn't do anything to take away your ownership of yourself as a runner in. a smaller body. Nobody is winning or losing. We are all just doing what feels good and feels right to us in this lifetime. It took me WAY too long to understand this and to reject all that comparison shit.
I had to stop running for what has felt like a very long time when I entered into recovery because running was tied up with the disorder in my mind. But this year, I discovered Louise Green’s running training program. Louise Green was one of the first (truly) Body Positive fitness professionals I had ever heard of. She wrote a wonderful book called Big Fit Girl. She has been an important role model and inspiration to me as I pursued my own credentials to become a fitness instructor, personal trainer, and health coach. Her app is called Big Fit Girl and it is filled with Body Positive fitness — and yoga and dance — offerings. Even with all of the knowledge and experience I have as a coach myself, I have learned so much from her program. But what I have learned most of all is that I have an athletic body. I have always had an athletic body. Because, I have always been active in this body. Whether I was in the disorder or just trying to stay sane. Whether I was embracing my body or scared to take up space. Whether I was chasing after a boy or feeling my own power. I have always been active and I have always been an athlete.
My goal is to not stop running now. Ever. Not until I'm dead. Louise Green’s program has provided me with the tools and knowledge I need to progress with grace and self-compassion in my running journey. And, she has given me the permission I needed to own my athleticism. Running has nothing to do with weight loss or weight maintenance for me anymore. It feels completely divorced from the eating disorder. I no longer lace up and go out with a frantic feeling that I have to force my body into compliance with diet culture norms. I lace up and go out -- as I did when I first discovered triathlon -- because it feels fucking awesome and -- as I discovered in college -- I can explore places in an intimate way when I am running. Also, like most runners, I love the contemplative time it gives me to work through things in my own head and my own heart. I actually do a lot of writing while I'm running.
So, when I look back, I have actually been a runner for the majority of my life and the entirety of my adulthood. I’ve started and stopped more times than I can count but I’ve always been a runner. And this time, I’m not letting fatphobia or diet culture take that away from me.
You have learned about fatphobia, about the fact that dieting for intentional weight loss is harmful to your health, about intuitive eating, the Health At Every Size movement, Body Liberation and all the rest of it. You have begun to embrace your body, to heal your relationship with your body, with food, and with movement. You get it. You recognize your fatphobic thoughts. You recognize your internalized fatphobia. You’re doing the thing.
Yet in choosing fitness, yoga, and dance professionals to work with, you’re still rushing straight back into the arms of good ole fatphobic, diet culture… proudly declaring that your [insert giant fitness, dance, or yoga corporation’s name here] instructors aren’t “that fatphobic,” or that your fatphobic yoga instructor “didn’t say anything about intentional weight loss” in her classes, or that… (and this is my favorite) you are able to “just ignore the fatphobia” in the movement programming you’ve chosen.
And this is what I’ve been noticing about your tendency to continue to rush back to traditional fitness, yoga, and dance spaces: You seem to think that the master’s tools will dismantle the master’s house. You think that by moving into these spaces and declaring yourself healed from Diet Culture, by refusing to let those unfriendly spaces push you out or make you feel that you are unfit to belong, you are winning. You think that by “taking up space” within traditional Diet Culture-centered Fitness, Yoga, and Dance classes that you are slowly changing the culture and people’s minds to understand that Body Diversity is a fact and that not everyone moves their body in order to intentionally lose weight.
And, that’s one way to do it. Because, you are right. Traditional, Non-HAES-aligned fitness, yoga and dance professionals DO need to see and learn that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes. They also need to learn to respect bodies that exist outside of Diet Culture’s norms and learn to treat those bodies with respect and dignity. They also need to be confronted with the fact that their approach is harmful to many many people. You are also absolutely correct that you have the right to enter these movement spaces that claim to be open to all bodies and take up as much space as you need.
But the flipside to these radical reasons for being a part of these Diet Culture spaces is much less oriented toward liberation than these reasons make it seem. The flipside is… fatphobia has you STILL believing that THESE professionals – thin, ripped, and focused on intentional weight loss possess the gold standard knowledge in movement. Diet Culture has you STILL believing that fitness and yoga professionals who are not thin or who have adopted a HAES-approach in their work can’t possibly know what they are doing. Thin, ripped movement professionals who are focused on intentional weight loss and physical appearance, still seem more “serious” or more “credible” to you than HAES-aligned movement professionals. To take part in their classes and programming somehow gives you the right to demand to be taken seriously or to feel more credible. Participating in their classes and programming proves that your body is okay. Because despite what you may think or feel, you still feel the need to prove that your body is okay. You might still need the approval of thinner, more societally-acceptable bodies to feel that you are okay.
However difficult it is to hear or confront, all of this makes sense. These are the deeper, more difficult layers of Diet Culture’s grip on your mind and your spirit. We can know and want and work toward Body Liberation for YEARS before we actually believe that we deserve it, before we actually stop trying to prove that our bodies deserve love and respect and compassionate care EXACTLY as they are.
Choosing HAES-aligned movement professionals is a big step for a lot of us. It may require you to confront your own fatphobia in a new way, particularly if the HAES-aligned movement professional exists in a bigger body or a body that looks more like your own than any other movement professional you’ve ever seen. If you’re present for what’s happening, HAES-aligned movement classes may require you to accept your body exactly as it is, without asking you to buy into any lie that movement will make your body smaller. Instead of offering up the instructor as some kind of model of perfection that you are moving towards, your instructor is just another human – like you -- moving in their perfectly imperfect body. Because HAES-aligned movement is not done as punishment or to force the body to comply with unhealthy societal standards of beauty, it will make you seriously confront the question of why you engage in movement at all. HAES-aligned movement will require you to come up with new reasons – which may induce a micro-crisis in your understanding of yourself. If you’re not moving your body in order to make it smaller, more acceptable, or “hotter” then why are you moving your body? In confronting this question, many people need to take a period of time where they do not move their body much or at all and, if you are used to regular movement, this can be a disheartening phase of the process. Ultimately, HAES-aligned movement makes you think. Ultimately, HAES-aligned movement encourages you to know yourself better – specifically, to know yourself better outside of the damaging paradigm of Diet Culture.
Like all Body Liberation-oriented conundrums, the bottom line is that the choice is yours. If you feel you MUST continue to seek movement programming from fatphobic, diet culture-oriented sources, so be it. Your choice. I am only suggesting that you take a harder look at your reasons for doing so to determine if that is REALLY your choice or if that is simply the “choice” that’s been programmed into you.
There are so many HAES-aligned movement professionals – of all shapes and sizes – out here in the world now. Each time you ditch a diet culture-centered movement professional or company and choose HAES-aligned programming instead, you are not just helping yourself, you are supporting and contributing to a massive shift in social consciousness. You are supporting and contributing to a movement that 1) accepts and respects the fact of Body Diversity; 2) believes that everyone deserves access to the health-related endeavors they want/need to take part in; 3) believes that ALL bodies deserve respect and compassionate care; 4) rejects the notion that being thin is synonymous with being healthy; and 5) understands and is concerned about the UNHEALTHY lengths folks have been manipulated into going to in order to achieve thinness. Each time you choose to support HAES-aligned movement offerings with your money, your time, and your energy, you aren’t just making that choice for yourself, you are making that choice for your culture and for the better world that you want to create.
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.