All Taryn Brumfitt wanted to do was support her girlfriends and help them love and accept their bodies so she posted a “before” and “after” pic on Facebook. Except this wasn’t the typical kind of before and after photo – in this one, her before picture was of her looking ripped standing on stage in a bikini during a figure competition. Her after photo was of Taryn sitting naked, carrying much more weight than in her “before” pic, and looking happy. The photo went viral on FB and has since been viewed over 100,000,000 times.
Taryn became an overnight media sensation and it prompted her to launch the Global Body Image movement from which the Embrace documentary was created. Naturally, being in the health space I was curious about this movie and knew I needed to see it.
It was an emotional experience to view this documentary and to hear the things women say about their bodies – things like they think their bodies are “fat”, “disgusting”, “gross”, “stumpy”, and “below average” to name a few. But then, I’m no stranger to that – I listen to women everyday who tear themselves to pieces and feel like such a failure because they can’t seem to get a handle on their weight no matter what they do.
Yet, while watching this documentary I also felt this burning desire to take a stand for what I know IS possible for women and how gaps in knowledge can handcuff us to the old dieting regime of “all or nothing”, “good or bad”, “on the wagon or off the wagon” and how THAT is what makes our life a prison and how the battle with food seems never ending.
It simply doesn’t have to be that way!
This is my most vulnerable, transparent podcast episode to date – one where I take a strong point of view and go into the science and psychology of weight loss.
In this episode I share….
- My views on the “love yourself at any size” philosophy and how I believe that can be damaging to women
- How the dieting industry has come to be a 60 billion dollar industry and how all women are supporting it
- What the bigger conversation needs to be and discuss why we’re so afraid to have it
- How it felt to have my husband tell me that my body was less than perfect, and what happened next between us
- The myth and reality around the idea of “The Perfect Body”
- How photoshop has been the biggest contributor to the eradication of a woman’s self-confidence and what to do about it
- The Embrace Documentary – watch it here, if you’re in Canada you can also find the film on Netflix
- Miss Representation – learn more about that film here
- Get my free e-book here: 5 Ways to Outsmart Your Fat Cells & Lose Weight Today
A Review Of The Embrace Documentary: A Controversial Standpoint [Full Text]
Jen: Thanks so much for tuning in. I have to say that if you haven’t seen the Embrace documentary that was created by Taryn Brumfitt from Australia, it’s absolutely something that you want to watch. Possibly even before you listen to this podcast. That’s not totally true, because what I have to say is going to be relevant no matter if you’ve seen it or not, but you’ll have a better picture of what I’m talking about.
Let me just explain a little bit about what this documentary was about and why I feel this need to address so many of the issues that were brought up in it. Let me be clear and say that I think Taryn Brumfitt is amazing. I think she’s courageous. I think that she has started a conversation that is rippling through millions of women (and hopefully men too) to start to really figure out how can we end this war we’re at with our bodies, with food, and with confidence within ourselves, and really change the way that we are living our lives and modeling a life that can be lived well for our daughters without constantly feeling the hate for our bodies and for food.
What happened is Taryn posted a picture on the internet, it was a before and after picture. In her before picture she was standing on stage at a body building competition in a bikini and she says she was basically in the perfect body. Her after picture is a photo of her in her nakers, sort of naked, it’s tasteful, and she’s carrying a lot more weight in the after picture than in the before picture.
That’s not the typical before and after picture that we see. Usually the before picture of a woman is looking unhappy, glum, carrying a lot more weight, and then the after picture is typically one where they’re smiling, they might be in a different outfit, a bikini or something, and there is considerably less weight on their body. That is what our minds are used to seeing when we see before and after pictures.
What she says was this photo basically went viral within a few hours of her posting it on her Facebook account. She literally says that it broke people’s brains that a woman could love her body in the after picture – and she did.
What this ignited for her was this curiosity about what is it, why do women and how do women feel about their bodies. So she set off on this world tour to interview women and to really get much more of a global understanding of what is creating this culture around bodies and a woman’s perception of her body.
I have to say, there were times where tears were pouring down my face, because she would talk to women in the street and ask them how they feel about their body. Words like disgusting, fat, I’m just average, I’m not perfect, I’m short, I’m stumpy, big thighs. The level of critique and self-loathing and hurt that you could see in this woman’s faces was shocking. Yet I shouldn’t be shocked, because I talk to women every day who often feel this way about their body.
What happened for Taryn – and this might be a journey that many women take, perhaps you listening – is she basically went through three pregnancies and by the time she was done she loved being pregnant, she of course loved the miracles that she had created and given birth to, and yet she found herself left with a body that she did not love. She didn’t know what to do.
At first she contemplated surgery and she went to the surgeon. Then she looked at her daughter and thought, “What am I saying to my daughter if I get surgery? That’s not what I want to teach my daughter.” Then she thought, “Oh my god, I’m going to be stuck in this body that I hate.” It was painful.
This is what I want to bring up. So many women go through pregnancy and have these babies, like I did, and then you’re left carrying extra weight. The problem is that we have this lack of understanding about how to lose weight in a healthy weight, because of the 60 to 100 billion dollar diet industry. These gaps aren’t filled in by that industry.
It’s almost like we have these pieces of a picture or this picture that we want to create for ourselves, and yet there are so many puzzle pieces missing and these gaps, we don’t understand them. The only world we live in is be stuck with a body that I don’t love or go to an extreme with a diet that is like torture where you restrict, deny, and have hard rules, to live like that or try to live like that and eventually fail.
If that doesn’t work, you go back to this oscillation between the all or none approach. For so many women it is crazy making.
What I want to talk about is, first, about the myths that are out there in the dieting world. I want to talk about the confidence piece that a woman needs to have, regardless of her body. That there is no way that I believe any woman should have to be resigned to the fact that she cannot live in a body that she feels good in. I have to say, I’ve been very nervous about sharing this, my personal opinion and putting it out there on my podcast, because I don’t want to be perceived as this asshole who is perpetuating this idea of trying to make sure a woman is living within society’s standards of perfect, because perfect does not exist.
Perfect is a creation of the mind. Even the women that we might see on a cover who we think “have the perfect body,” they don’t even look like themselves when you see them in real life. Photoshop has become the thing that has eradicated a woman’s self confidence, because the normal, healthy body of a woman, we’ve become so distorted in what we think is perfect and acceptable. It’s really not realistic to achieve.
Let’s go back to Taryn and take a look at an approach she took to sort of change her body. I have known many people who have bikini competitions, body building competitions, and usually it starts when they’re in this position of not loving their body. They start to go to the gym or they meet a trainer and the trainer suggests, “To give you a goal you should do a fitness competition,” and that sounds really exciting.
The thing that is missed out on here is that the world of standing on a stage and competing is messed up. It is messed up. That is not a way that most people can live the rest of their lives. The body that you get when you stand on stage, that is a body that you’ve basically rented for a day. It isn’t possible to stay like that. You are standing on stage dehydrated, you have limited your water consumption for the past week, you have basically eaten no carbs, you have tried to restrict yourself to such an incredible level of deprivation that you have lived the past who knows how long they’ve been training – anywhere from three to six to nine months in a state of rigidity around food.
You become so body obsessed because you know you’re going to be standing up there in high heels being judged on your hair and your makeup, and in a bikini. It’s a crazy thing. What happens is you resort to an extreme tactic. To me that’s just becoming part of the diet industry. It’s an extreme tactic meant to get you to a destination that you cannot live at forever, because really most women cannot live on egg whites, protein powder, salad, and boiled chicken for the rest of their life.
I know that there’s a way to make this a healthy lifestyle, but I’m saying that the majority of women that I’ve had experience with and reflecting on Taryn’s story in the Embrace documentary, it’s not the typical experience of most women who do this.
Let’s take a look at a few facts here.
One of the things that I find amazing is that the average Australian body, as she says in this movie, for a woman weighs about 156 pounds, is about a size 12, and the height of 5’3”. Think back to the last time you looked in a magazine or went into a woman’s clothing store and there were mannequins. I swear, my arm is bigger than most thighs of mannequins I see in clothing stores and their waists are basically the size of a nut. We’re constantly bombarded with these visual representations of women’s bodies that are fake. It’s fake and yet it gets imprinted on our psyche.
When that imprinting happens and we start to believe that the way women look in magazines is real then we’re constantly comparing ourselves to what we think is an ideal, but really it’s just simply an image that has been created by multimedia – Photoshop and technology included, different software systems – to thin, tone, and shape a women’s body with unrealistic proportions. That hurts, because then we also go and we see all of these magazines and headlines that propagate this message of “lose 10 pounds in 10 days,” or, “lose 30 pounds in two weeks,” or, “get your body back after baby in a week by doing this.” That is fake. It’s marketing.
What do we do? How do we start to understand that if you’ve put on some weight where do we go to learn how to take it off in a healthy way? The problem is most women don’t even reach out for help. They have this belief that, “I can and should do this on my own.” Because we’re not taught this in school, we’re not taught nutrition well in school, we are not taught what the food companies are doing to our food, we are not taught that our plates and glasses have increased in size over the last two decades and that now we are putting more onto our plates and eating it simply because that’s what we’re wired to do psychologically. We’re eating more and we’re moving less, and we don’t even understand that.
Then you might say, “Sure, Jen, but that’s why I need to exercise more. Right?” No. You don’t. Exercise will never be the answer to permanent weight loss. It’s not. It’s part of living a healthy life, it’s part of healthy weight maintenance balance, but you will never have enough time to out train your nutrition.
The problem is we don’t understand nutrition. We just don’t. We don’t understand the impact of alcohol, of our liquid calories, of the coffee drinks. Sometimes we are so completely in denial about how we are using food and booze to numb ourselves, to distract ourselves from lives that we’re living that don’t feel fulfilling, where there is a level of overwhelm so pervasive that you can’t escape it and it’s hard. For those brief moments where you connect with your partner or girlfriend you drink or you eat because it brings about pleasure.
The conversation needs to switch to not “how can I lose 10, 20, 30, 50 pounds,” but, “How can I start to get more fulfillment out of my life? How can I start to create more happiness and joy in my life? To identify what is it in my life that I’m not happy about right now? What’s hard? What am I tolerating?” Those are big questions.
What I find interesting is that we chase this idea of perfect, but perfect is a creation of the mind and it doesn’t exist. In fact, I just got married not too long ago and my husband made a comment early in our relationship about our “less than perfect bodies.” I noted it at the time and I thought in my mind I know my body isn’t perfect, but then I got curious after we’ve gotten married, “What is the perfect female body to you?” With a little bit of – I don’t want to say anger on my part, but deep curiosity, because what is this standard that he has in his mind, me at 5’6” and 135 pounds-ish on a day to day basis, what is this standard that I’m being compared to that I will never meet?
He couldn’t even put words to it. He couldn’t put words to what perfect was. It finally came around over many conversations, as I’ve talked about this podcast and my own struggle. If you’re listening and don’t know that I’ve gone through my own weight loss journey and have lived with wearing one pair of fat pants and feeling horrible about myself, heavy, lacking confidence, wondering what was wrong and why couldn’t I lose weight.
Well, I did. It was awful, but there were bigger problems in my life. The socially acceptable narrative with friends is talking about, “I need to lose some weight.” It’s not about, “Oh my god, I’m coping with looking after sick parents,” or, “I’m really hating my partner right now,” or, “Work is horrible and soul sucking and I don’t like going to work every day.” We hide some of those realities.
Back with my husband, we worked around to the fact that there could be 100,000 different women, all who are beautiful and all who have a different body shape and type. All of them in their own way are perfect. Until we as women start to embrace that concept – and I love the word that Taryn uses, it’s about embracing it.
There’s one thing to embrace a body that is healthy, that you feel good in, that you feel sexy in naked, that you feel like you’re nourishing well with good food and you’re nourishing your mind with good thoughts. Then who cares what the scale says? You could be anywhere from 100 pounds to 250 pounds or more, if you feel good on the inside then that is what matters.
My issue is women telling other women that they need to resign themselves to live in a body that they don’t love. I hate that. I fully believe that every woman should have the physiological right to know how to in a healthy way change her body. Not by going to extremes, but by learning the underpinnings of nutrition, her metabolism, and the reality of healthy weight loss. When you know those things, permanent change is 100% possible.
I know it because I have experienced it. I lost that 35 pounds not by dieting, not by trying to stand on stage in a bikini, but by really taking a comprehensive deep look at my life, to get myself back onto my own priority list and to start to truly take care of myself and to love myself in the same way that I was taking care and loving my children. That’s the piece that is sometimes not easy to do.
A lot of women say that when they were at their thinnest they were the most miserable they’ve ever been, because to get to that level of thinness they had to torture themselves. These were literally some of the words that came up when they were asked, “How do you feel about diets?” Many people know that they screw with you in negative ways, that they can totally mess up your body, they cause emotional and physical suffering, that diets will often cause you to gain weight, after you lose the weight most of that weight will come right back on your body because you can’t live like that.
We have to recognize that we don’t understand food. Food has become confusing in our life. We have turned to food for love, for comfort, for solace, for escape, for distraction, for a way to keep ourselves busy and deny some of the other things. Food has become far more than just what it should be, which is nourishment. Nourishment of your cells to keep you functioning and healthy, that is the purpose of food.
We’ve now created social experiences around it, soothing experiences around it, habits around food that don’t serve us. Couple that with the food industry and their practices around how we’re living busier and busier lives right now, so convenience foods have become something that fill our cupboards way more than they used to. Foods that are quick and filled with sugar. All the sugary snacks that we consume on a regular basis without even giving thought to it. A totally inability to be aware of what a proper portion is, that’s where we need to pay our attention.
What bugs me is where’s the view point where it’s like you can do whatever you want to do as long as you’re willing to actually change your lifestyle, take a look at your belief systems, understand that when you have four ounces of wine it’s like eating a piece of toast. So many of my clients literally are drinking the equivalent of two loaves of bread a week, “But it’s just liquid. It’s not that big of a deal. Right?”
There’s this lack of understanding. I say so often if we were like this with money, probably all of us would be dead broke. If you walked around thinking that your $50 bills had less value than your $20 bills, if you were constantly spending you fifties thinking that because you were saving your twenties that you were doing a really good job, that doesn’t make you dumb, that doesn’t mean that you should be resigned to the fact that you’re going to stay poor forever, it means that you need to get educated about money and learn that actually you $50 bills have more value than your $20. If you want to save something, save your fifties, spend less.
Yet with food we believe that it shouldn’t have to be hard, “I shouldn’t have to think about it. I shouldn’t have to worry about it. I shouldn’t have to put too much thought into it. I want this to be easy. I don’t want to track. I don’t want to have to pay attention.” You know what? Maybe back in the early 1900s or 1800s when food was scarce, when the food production methods were different, when people were eating and cooking at home, when sugar was less of a commercial product, back then you probably could have gotten away without having to pay nearly as much attention to your health and your food.
Simply because of the times that people lived in back then they could not go to a grocery store and walk out with a pie, a box of cookies, bags of granola bars or whatever, and eat it all in one week. It would have been impossible. Now that is, for many families, the norm. Yogurt filled with sugar, and yet framed as a healthy snack. Granola bars marketed as healthy treat and yet they have the same amount of sugar as a chocolate bar.
What I’m asking for and what I’m taking a stand for is you don’t need to live in a body that you hate, but you need to get educated and you need to learn how to take control over emotional eating, over the desire to soothe yourself with food when things are hard in your life. We need to have courage as women to face the difficult things that many of us go through in silence and embrace that part of our life, make that part of our life more public so that we can get support in those areas.
What I find so sad as a mom is that more than 50% of children – girls who are between the ages of 5 and 12 years old – want to lose weight. Many of my clients come to me and their mothers put them on diets when they were children, or they watched their mom be on a diet and suffer, and the diet mentality permeated their home, their household, their culture.
Dieting became a big thing back in the ‘60s. Now we have all of these different things; do you need to go vegan, Paleo, vegetarian, do you need to try South Beach, the Mediterranean Diet, what about being gluten free, being dairy free. There are so many different things out there that are telling you that it’s going to be the end all be all. I’m here to say that no diet will ever be the end all be all or will ever create the kind of happiness that you think a thin body is going to give you.
What it requires is you facing your life head on and identifying what’s working and what’s not. What’s causing pain in your life and where are you bringing joy? How are my relationships, are my relationships nurturing to me or are they draining? How much of yourself have you compromised as a wife and a mother, or maybe in your role at work? How many of you have dreams that you haven’t pursued? How many women are letting their own needs go because of self-sacrifice to take care of others?
I used to wish that somehow a fairy godmother would come into my life and somehow take care of me. I realized that my hard truth was that the only fairy godmother I can ever count on to come into my life and save me is me. I had to create those boundaries. I had to step up to the plate and identify these things.
I had to get help or I would have been that 170 pound-ish woman, which is too much weight for my body to carry and I personally didn’t feel good at that weight. There are tons of women who do; they have a bigger body frame, they love their curves, they have a beautiful chest, they feel confident, they strong and they eat well. That is where they feel good.
There’s not this prescription for one size or one body that needs to fit all. That’s not it. It’s personal. I feel my best, and part of it is that I know that I will feel my best when I’m actually taking care of my health, when I’m paying attention to the foods. When I eat chocolate and chips, and drink every day, I don’t feel good.
I was at a lecture once where this guy said that so many people are walking around in a food hangover, that it’s become their normal. For any of you who have maybe had the experience of drinking a little bit too much and having a hangover, I certainly have, it feels awful. Sluggish, can’t quite think clearly, a little bit sick. Just imagine for a second if you’re experiencing the exact same thing because of the food you eat, or how much food you eat, or the kinds of food that you eat.
Less than 1% of North Americans are getting enough calories from vegetables. That is a problem. We don’t know how to work with food so that we can feel full, so that we can feel energized. We rely on the quick and convenient, which is always going to be the carbohydrate based foods, the quick sugar based foods. If we do that, if we don’t ever take time to organize our kitchen or our grocery shopping, or to change our habits to support our physical and emotional needs, then our weight will never change. If it does change, it will be a band-aid. You will do something that will be a quick fix. You’ll do something drastic because you feel desperate, because when you looked in the mirror or saw yourself in a picture you hated what you saw.
The bigger problem here is women are waiting – you’re waiting to live your life based on your body. “I’ll do this when…, I’ll go swimming with my children when I feel comfortable in a bathing suit. I’ll have sex with my husband when I feel better or more sexy naked. I’ll go after that promotion when I’m comfortable standing up in front of a group of people.” The problem is that a woman’s weight will hold her back from living a life that can be filled with joy, so you get this catch 22.
I missed out on being in pictures with my children in the early years of their life because I didn’t like what I looked like. I have clients who say they’ve never taken their children swimming and their kids are at least 5 years old. I have married couples who haven’t had sex in four years. That’s a long time. That in itself isn’t happy or healthy, it doesn’t create a happy fulfilling relationship for either person.
What do we do? We have to recognize that diets lead to food obsession, and being food obsessed is unhealthy in a psychological way. I also believe that having people tell you, “Don’t worry about it, just love yourself. Just accept who you are. Embrace the body that you have.” Yes, there’s an element of that that’s true, but if you can’t, if you know – and that’s the thing, most of my clients know in their heart of hearts that somehow in some way they’re doing a disservice to their own self by not paying attention. They have an inner knowing that life isn’t quite on track. Either they’ve been ignoring the whispers or the signals, they’ve gotten busier to deny and to distract themselves from a reality that they’re experiencing that they don’t totally love, so they know. You might know, too.
There are two conversations at play here. One is a conversation around how screwed up it is that the average woman – me – will still believe she is overweight when she’s not. I don’t happen to believe that because of the field that I’m in. I’m happy with my body, I love what it does. I love that I can move it, I love that I’ve given birth to children, I love that I’ve nursed and sustained lives by breastfeeding. I think it’s a miracle, it’s amazing. I love that I can go whitewater rafting, climb things, and dance. I’m grateful for my body and what it lets me experience.
The one thing that I want you to remember is that your body is a vehicle for you to get through your life. The better you treat that vehicle the better life can feel and the more you can experience.
Back to the conversations at play. One, the biggest problem that I see is that there is a massive gap for women around understanding a healthy way to lose weight. The belief is that it has to be all or none, extreme tactics or bust, a bikini competition or something that is depriving and rigid, hard food rules, and there is a ton of confusion out there. Then the other problem is that most people don’t want to teach you the healthy way to lose weight because it’s business, the dieting industry is a businesses that relies on you being a repeat customer. That’s why the diet industry is growing.
The average woman spends something like 42 years of her life dieting. Think about all of the energy that is getting wasted on that, when it could be spent on living. It’s a sobering thought.
There is an education piece that needs to come about. I am trying to make it my personal mandate to educate, inform, and tell you that you have to pay attention, you have to start caring about what you put in your body, you have to start understanding what these food labels are telling you, you have to start advocating for your own health. You have to start to become aware about the reasons of why you’re eating what you’re eating when you’re eating it to identify if you’re an emotional eater.
I say that not on a holy than thou peak from a mountain, but I’ve been there, I’ve been an emotional eater and I didn’t even know it. I just thought, “I’m just eating.” It sounds so stupid now, but it took some other mentors in my life and people that I reached out and got help from to really see the truth of it and do the deep inner work that is required.
If you know me, if you’ve been following me, if you’ve been listening to me, you know that I believe an outer transformation will never ever be sustained unless you do your inner work. The inner work is not for the faint of heart, it is hard. Often we’re facing things that hurt us when we were younger, we’re going through experiences that embarrassed us or that we felt shameful about. We have to go through some of the pain and process it. A lot of people when they feel pain they just shove it down because it hurts so they want to escape it. That is human, but it is not healthy.
Conversation number one, the education piece. Let’s get real about if you’re 5’2” there’s a reality about how much energy your body needs and if you eat beyond that your body will store it as fat. Not because it’s unfair, not because your body is broken, not because you have a bad metabolism, but simply because you are eating too much beyond what your body can handle. Your body is smart, it will take even the healthiest, greenest, cleanest, most organic food and convert that to fat if it’s beyond your body’s energetic capacity.
The same is true whether you’re 5’6” or 5’10”. The difference there is if you’re 5’10” and a female you’ll be able to eat more food than a female who is 5’2”. Why? Think about it. You’re bigger. Someone who is 5’2” versus someone who is 5’10”, you’re bigger, you’re taller, you’ll have more muscle just simply because you’re a taller woman. You get to eat more. Not because you’re lucky, but it’s driven by science.
The science of metabolism has been something that the diet companies have manipulated to make you believe all sorts of things that aren’t true, like “you can boost your metabolism if you drink this or eat this magic food, you’ll never have to worry about your weight.” It’s bullshit. It’s not true.
We have to listen to the people who have that science background. This isn’t about dissing intuitive eaters or other people, because often you can get healthy when you follow, “What does my body need right now?” I joke and say when I’m sad my intuition tells me to go eat cookies, not kale. It tells me to go have a glass of wine when I’m stressed. That’s my intuition. I do, so sometimes I will, but then I also fight back with what I know to change my behaviors and habits.
The second conversation that I’m also addressing in this podcast is the one that we have a messed up perception of what we’re chasing as women and it doesn’t exist. That is the part of the Embrace documentary I love. I love her message. Embrace who you are. Find the joy in living your life and don’t let your body hold you back, but learn how to work with your body and learn how to change it in a healthy way.
I hate that even for myself, hearing my husband tell me that my body wasn’t perfect, I felt less than, not enough. Like somehow another woman somewhere else who might be taller, have bigger boobs, a curvier ass, leaner, stronger – I have no idea, but in my mind it went to all sorts of places that were psychologically not healthy.
Before anybody judges him, he’s a great man and a loving man. It really inspired a fascinating conversation between us because of the work that I do. For some women out there who hear a man’s comment about her body not being perfect, somehow then creating the belief that perfect exists – it doesn’t. It doesn’t exist. There’s a quote in the movie that says even the girl in the magazine doesn’t look like the girl in the magazine. I’ve said that.
If there’s no such thing as perfect, if you can’t reach perfect because perfect doesn’t exist, what do you need and want? Let go of the concept of the perfect body, it’s fake, it’s a glorified thing that has been perpetuated over decades of objectification of women. How do you want to feel? What brings you energy? What makes you feel sexy? When do you feel good in your clothes? What do you want? Not based on this messed up view from society, but you.
What I take a stand against is that you have to embrace and love your body just as it is when you don’t love it, when you don’t feel good, when you’re engaging in emotional eating, when you’re not nourishing yourself with good food or good thoughts, when your harming it, hating it, and then feeling like you can’t change it. That is oppressive to me, that belief system that you can’t do anything about it because dieting doesn’t work so you need to be stuck. What? That’s not true. It’s not true.
I also want to say that if you diet to become thin that thin equals healthy and healthy equals happy, that’s not true either. Happiness is not contingent on your body size. Happiness is an inside job. Happiness is an emotional field that you have to cultivate and play in and really figure out as the woman you are today what’s bringing you joy and what’s not. You have to take a look at these messages that you’ve bought into and start to deconstruct what’s true for you and what’s just flat out wrong.
I don’t want any woman to believe that she needs to be stuck. I want every woman to believe that you have the right to feel good naked, feel good in clothes, to feel like you have energy to thrive and that you’re not just getting through your days surviving, because that is energy wasted.
I’m going to tell you something that I wasn’t sure if I was going to bring up. I can’t really hold back here. I was reading an article, I clicked and found this research study. This sociologist had actually contacted PornHub, which is a pornography site, to collect data about search results. It was about human behavior and sexuality. No one had really done this before.
One of the findings that I found fascinating was that with men there was actually a huge amount of search for bigger women, to watch bigger women having sex. This sociologist deducted that men actually like bigger bodies. Women are starving themselves to be thin and yet we’re at such a mismatch. I think women are thin for other women and this pressure driven by society of what women should look like, which women propagate; the models, the photos, the marketing, the media. Yet for men that often is not their ideal.
That’s a little aside, but it’s fascinating. What if just as you are you let yourself believe you were sexy? I don’t mean if you’re shoving your face full of fast food every day and eating chocolate every day and numbing out with three glasses of wine nightly. I mean if you are taking good care of yourself, you feel good, you feel good in your clothes but you constantly have this little chatter in your head that you should lose weight. What if you let that go? What if you let yourself believe that actually just as you are, whether you’re 5’2” or 5’4”, 130 pounds, 150 pounds, 180 pounds, but you felt good, what if you let yourself believe that you were enough?
I spent 30 years of my life believing I wasn’t enough and chasing all sorts of things to try to create that feeling in myself. When I realized nothing on the outside, no external thing would ever create enough validation for me, unless I was willing to change my own belief system and to start to truly believe that as I was, independent of any external fact, I was enough. What if you did that, too?
I don’t want women to continue living their lives, spending their energy day in and day out, being at war with their bodies or with food. It is unhealthy, it is exhausting, it is draining, it is emotionally crippling, and it’s physically unhealthy to have that stress in your life day in and day out.
What I want is for women to understand their bodies, to understand their metabolism, to understand their nutritional requirements, to understand food. That is what I’m going to continue to do, I’m going to continue to share the science that I have behind me of fat metabolism, of metabolism, of healthy weight loss, of changing a woman’s expectations that she should or could be able to lose a significant amount of weight in a short time frame, because that doesn’t happen, it’s not real.
True permanent weight loss takes time. It’s time that most women aren’t willing to give themselves. They often have this belief, and maybe you’ve had it too, that you should be able to lose 10 pounds in a month. That would be exceptional and it certainly could not be sustained month after month, unless you were trying to do something extreme.
When you learn how to live with your body and your food and your life, and shift all of the behaviors in your lifestyle to create new habits, then within six months to a year to 18 months you will create a new healthier version of you. Patience, consistency, and persistence are the cornerstones of success. Most people try quick, easy, restrictive, and that is the epitome of ultimate failure. There’s no way around it.
My heartfelt plea is if you’re struggling, if you’re living your life constantly feeling unhappy with your body, constantly wishing you could lose weight, constantly browsing blogs, magazine articles, and dieting websites to try to figure out what you can do, please reach out to me. I will help you. I can help you.
I will start to share this information. Listen to my other episodes. See the videos that I have on YouTube, just search my name (Jennifer Powter) and they’ll come up. Start to get educated. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is confidence. Truly understanding this stuff is the path to food and body freedom.
I want every woman out there to love who she is, how she feels, and to be confident in all of herself, because I believe women will change the world. I truly do. There are so many people who say, “Imagine if a woman…” This was on another documentary, Miss Representation, I think it’s Katie Couric goes on to say, “If a woman could only put all of that energy and time that she spends worrying about her body into volunteering, we’d have world peace.”
You know what I say to that? I say screw you. When a woman doesn’t feel confident, when you don’t feel confident you start to quiet, you quiet your voice, you start to take away your spirit. You start to not say what you want to say, you start to hide, you hide in life, you literally don’t want to be seen. If you don’t want to be seen, how the hell can you be heard?
The problem isn’t about redirecting where our energy goes. The problem is about creating our own sense of internal confidence again. Confidence comes by taking action, but it needs to be the right action, because if you keep taking the wrong action, which in this scenario are dieting, then you never get the confidence you need to change your life because you constantly feel like a failure. Then the vicious circle just keeps on going.
Please, if you’re somebody out there listening and you’ve been struggling, if this podcast has hit a nerve, if you have thoughts or comments about it, please leave them on my blog in the comment section below.
Let’s start to change the dialogue that is happening with women. Next time you hear a friend of yours complaining about her weight, ask her a question like, “How is everything else going in your life? What kind of stress are you carrying these days? What’s making you really sad right now? Anything?” Let’s take the conversation to the deeper level. Collectively we can do that, with sisters, with friendships, with mothers, with daughters, with teammates, with colleagues. Let’s change the narrative and then let’s get educated, let’s take a stand for the healthy way of changing our bodies, our habits, and our lifestyles. Let’s try that approach and see where we are in a year or two.
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please share it. I believe that this is a conversation that needs to be brought up. Let’s have some discussion around it. You might not agree with what I’ve had to say. Tell me, I want to know.
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Thank you so much for listening. I’ll put a link for you to get in touch with me. If that’s something that you feel inclined to do, I would love to connect with you. That’s all for now. I’ll be back next week with another awesome episode for you. Take care.