All in body image

What Is Weight Stigma? (And What Can You Do About It?)

It’s important, here, to acknowledge weight stigma harms all of us, and it harms the most marginalized among us (e.g., womxn of color who are fat, of lower socioeconomic status, and/or trans) most of all.

While it may seem a far-fetched conclusion if you’ve never experienced it firsthand, the effects of weight stigma are very real, and often show up in pronounced ways in healthcare and medical settings (which is why it has a place here, in fitness—the “average” sized womxn IS “plus size,” and part of helping someone with their health is treating them with compassion and respect, in my book). We often hear rhetoric about , “glorifying ob*sity,” and being a burden on the healthcare system, but the reality is most folks are simply trying to live and navigate an environment and a culture actively opposed to their existence (see: Today’s Dietitian for a thorough article on the prevalence of weight stigma, internalized vs experienced stigma, the health effects of weight stigma (especially in healthcare — a 2017 study found that doctors are the #1 most common source of weight-based stigma!), social media, and more).

Does It Feel Like, "Loving Your Body," Is Only For Other People?

I know many people who wake up every morning, and right before they look in the mirror to greet themselves for the day, they feel pure terror. Dread. Fear. We steel ourselves up to brace for the, "flaws," someone else has told us will be there, and we wonder how, "bad," they look that day, and the chorus starts:

"Ugh, gross."
"I can't wear that. Do I have any clean, flowy tops?"
"I'm giving a presentation today; will this hold across my chest?"
"I shouldn't have eaten ____ last night. I never get this right."


We've discussed it before, but it bears repeating: the language you're using has a measurable impact on your perspective.

Many clients come to me unhappy with their bodies, desperately hoping that the program I present will hold all the secrets to body change, and, as a result, happiness. They're disappointed to find out that it doesn't always work that way, and, in fact, countless repeated incidents of this led me to examine my coaching philosophy, such that I no longer coach with a focus on intentional fat loss.

Liking our bodies (and ourselves) is an inside job, one that can't be completed in an hour a day at the gym and a salad every night for dinner. It's a practice, and it often feels unreachable: how many times have you asked yourself, "how do I go from hating everything about my body to loving it? LOVING it?"

It seems a million miles away for a lot of us. It did for me.

Is Your Workout, "Working?"

Is your workout "working?"

A client came to me once saying that her workout didn't "work." She twisted her hair around her fingers, obviously nervous to say so.

"I love the feeling I'm getting during our sessions & in my own gym time," she said. "I feel stronger. I push myself harder, and I love feeling accomplished. I can lift more weight. I'm having fun. But it's just not...working."

Of course, because I am a fan of questions more than most other things, I asked what she meant.

(I'm sure you can guess the answer. I like to hear people share their thoughts out loud.)

We put so much pressure on fitness programs to end in fat loss, but is that the only answer? Does a lack of dramatic fat loss REALLY mean your program isn't working?

Why the Words We Choose to Describe Our Bodies Matter

I know many people who wake up every morning, and right before they look in the mirror to greet themselves for the day, they feel pure terror. Dread. Fear. We steel ourselves up to brace for the, "flaws," someone else has told us will be there, and we wonder how, "bad," they look that day, and the chorus starts:

"Ugh, gross."
"I can't wear that. Do I have any clean, flowy tops?"
"I'm giving a presentation today; will this hold across my chest?"
"I shouldn't have eaten ____ last night. I never get this right."

The language you’re using has a profound impact on your perspective.

Many clients come to me unhappy with their bodies, desperately hoping the fitness program I write will hold all the secrets to body change, and, as a result, happiness. They're disappointed to find out that it doesn't always work that way, and, in fact, countless repeated incidents of this led me to examine my coaching philosophy, such that I no longer coach with a focus on intentional fat loss.

Thinking About Thinking (How to Examine What You Think, What You Know, and What You Think You Know)

Challenging our beliefs is one of the most pivotal practices in which we can engage, in fitness and in life, AND, it is not easy.

What does it mean to, “challenge your beliefs?” Quite simply, to consider you may be wrong. To acknowledge you are looking through a lens that may or may not be shared by those around you. To realize what you know is informed by your position or experience, and there are others out there. To wonder, “if this is true for me, but not true for another person, why and where exactly do our experiences differ? What common ground exists? Could I expand my perspective?”

A (cough) challenging practice, to be sure. What’s good for us doesn’t always feel good at every moment.

Why would you want to do it?

Stigma, shame, and disconnection all heavily contribute to negative health outcomes, for ourselves and others, for starters. All of those behaviors begin from the beliefs we hold, particularly, in the fitness industry, about which behaviors and bodies are acceptable, visible, and worthy of respect (and, by contrast and extension, which are unacceptable, invisible, and shame-worthy).

Put in fitness context specifically, every time you say you, "can't eat that," about your favorite food, for example, you're denying yourself pleasure and joy, making a judgment on what you think you deserve, and implying certain foods are meant for certain bodies (and those bodies only).

Sound like what you mean? Is that even accurate to what you intended to say? I didn't think so.

Are You Hiding? 👀👀 (One Shift to See More Progress Instantly)

A lovely thought to consider: we’re all these big, powerful, multitudinous forces, under the surface, imprisoned by nothing but our thoughts. That’s true for some of us, and others of us are kept in hiding by bigger forces making it unsafe to show the whole of who we are. It’s worth considering why any one of us isn’t allowing our full selves to shine; I’d imagine, if we pull on these threads, we’re playing roles we didn’t necessarily choose and staying in them most of all because it’s easy to do so, no matter how uncomfortable it may be.

How do we get from keeping our heads down, hiding away, playing our parts to the bold, unapologetic, magical mermaids we are? Some common advice is to, “fake it ‘itl you make it.”

I’m not big on, “fake it ‘til you make it,” because that feels really…cheesy and inauthentic to me.

How to Eat Pancakes Without the Side of Guilt

BUT HOW DO YOU JUST...GO EAT PANCAKES? 🥞

(I do see this is a cheeseburger.)

Look, I understand it's early in the week, and you have #goals to hit, and you're "supposed to be" eating nothing but chicken boobs and vegetables. If you're recovering from diet culture, the prospect of a, "fuck it, let's go get pancakes," Sunday like I frequently mention may seem terrifying. You might be thinking, "if I did that, I'd eat candy and mac and cheese for the rest of the day. I'd rather stick to the plan."

First and foremost, I think coaches who say, "it's just one day!" are giving lazy advice (similar to, "just love your body!"). Like, if that didn't send you into a spiral of anxiety and frustration in the first place, you'd be there already. NEXT.

Why I Don't Believe in the, "No Excuses" Movement

When I decided to become a coach, I realized, first and foremost, this sort of trust was vital to the success of everyone involved: if I can't humble myself enough to listen—deeply and fully—or to understand that at any given moment you may be having an entirely different experience and perception of our interaction and/or environment than I do (and believe you about your experience), then am I really being of service?

Am I really helping you along with your goals?
Does this change when your goals are different from my goals?
Or when they're different from the goals other people have, or have had in the past?

Seems quite basic, when you put it that way, but I haven't always hit the mark, and I find time and again, as I both get to know coaches further and have hired some myself, we could all use work, here. Not being understood seems to be a common experience of the human condition, especially in fitness.

Why You're Hung Up on Your, "Summer Body"

During warmer weather in particular, we hear all about, "summer bodies," and, "getting ready," and all sorts of things implying that our bodies aren't enough as is, and, when we inevitably buy into it, we're often left with less money and more frustration than when we started, plus a heaping helping of shame.

Body image issues are logical: they don't come from nowhere, and nothing is wrong with you if you struggle to love your body.

(In fact, I'd argue that, "loving your body," isn't really the point, here; it's to think if your body less, so that you can be more of who you are, other than your body.)

And, the first step, for so so so many womxn I coach, is to recognize, while your body is certainly all yours and you can do whatever you choose with it (or you should be able to, anyway), perhaps (juuuust maybe), your thoughts on your body are not entirely your own.

If You're Tired of Trying to, "Love Your Flaws," You're Not Alone. There's More to This.

We won't be talking about, "loving your flaws," here, for quite a few reasons, but perhaps the most universal one?

I don't think that's a goal you really have, when we get down to it.

I don't think it would make you feel good to pick on some body part you've been told needs to be fixed, agonize in the mirror over it every morning to keep it top of mind all the time, only buy clothes that cover it up, and somehow be totally hype about it anyway.

It doesn't make sense.
Marketing to you that way is dishonest, IMO.