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A Deep Dive into Body Image, Self-Acceptance and Authenticity with Jess Silverman

Episode 39 of the Fuel the Fire Podcast hosted by Shanon Safi, RD, LDN.

Have you ever felt the pressure of upholding an ideal body image? Are you tired of conflicting messages surrounding health and body image? Join us for an enlightening conversation with our insightful guest, Jess Silverman, a licensed clinical psychologist. We plunge into a rich dialogue about intuition, mindfulness, body image, eating disorders, and the impact of sports. We explore Jess's inspiring journey from a high school student intrigued by psychology to a pivotal professional making a difference in the community behavioral health program.

We touch on the societal pressure to prioritize logic over intuition, and the danger of overtraining and under-eating in the pursuit of athletic success. The conversation doesn't shy away from topics like the impact of trauma on our relationship with our own bodies and the need to challenge the diet culture. It's a deep dive into the complexities of body acceptance, the importance of appreciating the privilege of having an able body, and the profound effect of self-acceptance on our well-being.

This episode doesn't merely discuss the issues; we tackle them head-on with personal experiences, open dialogue, and actionable insights. We wrap up with a powerful exploration of self-worth, self-acceptance, and authenticity, underscoring the power of self-compassion in finding true connection and belonging. Packed with empowering lessons and groundbreaking discussions, join us in this episode as we navigate the intricacies of psychology, body image, and self-love. This conversation is sure to leave you inspired, enlightened, and ignited to challenge societal norms. We promise you an hour of your time well spent. Join us and share in our journey of self-discovery and acceptance with Jess Silverman.

Episode Transcript:

Today's episode I'm excited to share with you because I have a very special guest. Her and I have some beautiful history. We were friends back in grade school, disconnected for a little bit, just like everyone exploring their own life journey, but we have come back together and have realized how similar our paths really were. So, yeah, I'll take it as a sign from the universe and excited to share this conversation with you. We're going to get into some fun things, talk about some fun stories and dive a little bit deeper into things around body image, eating disorders, our relationship with food and even a little bit into sports as well. So, just as a quick reminder, we are now enrolling for body and soul freedom, which is a 12 week program designed to empower women to eat intuitively and really liberate the desires of their soul. So it's really integrating Western and Eastern practices to bring you back into a space where you can understand how to communicate with your body, how to communicate with your soul and really start to live a life that aligns for you in a way that allows you to feel fulfilled and happy. So check that out. There will be a link in the show notes for you to check out as well. And, without further ado, I'm going to introduce my amazing guest, jess Silverman, PsyD. She's an associate professor and licensed clinical psychologist and, yeah, I'm going to give her the floor. Let her say hello, jess, welcome this is so exciting.

It's so weird to hear someone else announce you. I don't know, it's maybe just me, but it makes me sound so I don't know. It's so new to like step into the role of psychologist. I'm so excited to be here and I thought that was a perfect way of starting off this conversation.

Oh, I'm so happy to have you and I totally hear you. You probably recently just, or yeah, how long has it been since you've had your PsyD now? Yeah, that's a great.

It feels like it's been. It was 2021 where I was commenced and graduated to technically in my field. You can, you have the credentials, but I can't call myself doctor but everyone does stupid. So I was licensed. I've been licensed in the state of Connecticut for a year and then I also am a member of PsyPAC, so I can see folks telehealth in any state, pennsylvania included actually, which is cool remotely. So that's really nice.

Oh, that is so good to know. Yes, yeah, so for those that don't know, tell us a little bit about the path to getting your PsyD and what that looks like. Yeah, great question.

Okay, so let's go back. I think I've always known I was interested in psychology, my in high school. I took a AP site course in 11th grade I think it was and I just loved the idea of like all humans have a brain but everyone's brain develops differently and, like does thing differently. And it just got me really curious about, you know, like our environments, our cultures, our family, our friends and like how we're born. And so actually, like fun fact, my mom and I basically my mom decided to, in like later life, go back to school to become a therapist. So she's a mental health professional awesome state Pennsylvania. They must plug. Yeah, yeah, just that little. It was fun for my mom. So that was really fun because we would like study together. And so I went to West Virginia University and I studied psychology there and I pretty much was always. I just like knew I wanted psych but I didn't really know what I wanted to do. So I was super interested in dreams. I want. I thought I wanted to be like a dream analysis person where I would yeah, it was, I don't know I thought dreams were so fascinating manifestation, right, I don't even know how that ship sailed, but it's a all that some point Maybe I was like that just isn't, I don't know perceivable or realistic went into a little bit of like a criminology I was really interested in like forensic psych. And then I my mom, she worked at an outpatient center, a community behavioral health program, in in Allentown. I don't think it exists anymore, but I said intern there over the summer and I had a lot of the individuals were older and so I was like what, 1817, 18, it was like maybe before college, but it might have been like my first year of college, I can't really remember. Sorry, this is a long answer, but no, I love it. Yeah, so I a lot of the folks were older, they were definitely struggling with more what we would call it consider like serious mental illness, so disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, so they'd been pretty heavily medicated and we're trying to after me back into their communities and life. So I got to participate in groups and just sort of like sit in on meals with them and there happened to be a younger individual, probably in their 20s ish. So inevitably we sort of gravitated towards each other and I just remember this person like really having difficulties with eating and I was really curious about it Not curious enough to ask some questions because they didn't really know what my role was, but enough that it struck me as like, hmm, what was that about? And so I found out that this person was struggling with an eating disorder anorexia nervosa and had a lot of other mental health co occurring disorders as well, and I don't know. It just struck me like our conversations were so natural and I just really connected to this person that I was like, wow, I don't know. I just felt like a connection, an emotional connection. I felt sad for them Because I felt like they had a lot to give life. So that was sort of where I was, like we want to learn more about this eating disorder thing. Also, I think, as women, I identify as woman. I've always been an athlete, although I didn't really identify with that until as of late. I think a lot of the struggles that this individual had resonated with me also grew up as a dancer, so dance culture can be super toxic, if we're going to use the word, and so, yeah, I guess it was just an interesting moment for me. So from there I graduated semester early from undergrad and I was fortunate enough to go to my first grad program in New York City. I went to Teachers College, columbia University, and I just interned a lot. The program was not licensed and so I was kind of at this moment where I was like, do I go for a masters and just kind of do my thing? Do I go into social work? Do I go for the doctorate? My parents really wanted that for me and my dad and so I didn't really know. So I just I volunteered at a lot of places. I took these crazy cool classes like human women's studies, like human nutrition that's not a class, but nutrition and human development that's the word. And so I just made my own program there, which was really cool. And I volunteered for NIDA, the National Eating Center Association. I helped create or I helped work with a friend on the Pilots of the Body Project, which is something that I'm not sure if you've heard of before, but like this program that you go into schools and help youth both female, male, non-binary, identified just explore the relationship to food and like the impact of media on that. So it was really a rewarding experience. And then I also volunteered at Mount Sinai's National or their Eating and Weight Disorder program. So I did some research there as well as over at Montefiore. I was really all over the city. It was wild. And then that led me to Connecticut where I work well, where I went for my doctorate. I worked at a number of eating disorder treatment centers here some research, eating and weight research programs here, so Walden Center for Discovery. I worked at Yale School of Medicine for eating disorder stuff, so I've really just been all over the math. And now I work at Yukon Health and I am trying to kind of build more awareness and programming for particularly athletes, women identified athletes, but also anyone who identifies as an athlete, because I think exercise is so important and it's something that is often abused in eating disorders for some, and also something that we know is really helpful for mental health. So it's like this great, wonderful saying but also can be unhelpful. So that's a really long answer.

No, I love it and I think it's really cool to hear someone's evolution Because, you know, sometimes you don't always necessarily think like, oh, this is the path that I'm going to go down and you know it from birth, or like even when you start college, even when you graduate college. It's really these different experiences that we can open ourselves up to and sort of like surrender to the universe and just say like, okay, life's going to take me where I'm meant to go and I'm going to trust that, because we try to like yeah, like make it such a thing in our head like we're supposed to know the answers, we're supposed to know where we're going. And when you just allow yourself to be just like taken through passion or what lights you up and the curiosities that you had, like that conversation with your friend, and it's like these are the things that open us up to deeper things that we could have never planned. So it's really cool that you just followed that nudge and came to a place where you were able to really use that information and that experience to be in a place of service and in a space. That's really important.

Yeah, yeah, I mean it's funny, as you were saying, that I was thinking, because then you know sharing what program you're doing with this intuitive eating thing and I love intuitive eating, by the way, and, like you know, I think it has there's people who co-opted and all of this but as a human, I feel like we get so distant, whether it's from social media or just, you know, trying to feel, like figure out where we are in the world, you know, moving around and all of that, and just mental health too. But I think when I can ground myself in my own curiosity and my own intuition, that's when I feel my best. And so, I don't know, it's just exciting to I think that it makes sense. You know, as you were sort of reflecting back, I'm like, oh, I guess I see how I kind of fell into this, like curiosity and intuition have just kind of brought me to where I'm like supposed to be, eric Lotz, because what does that mean? I don't know if people can see me.

Yeah, oh, anyone watching on YouTube will see it. Yeah, no, I totally agree, and I think it's something like I talked about it in a lot of past episodes where we're almost conditioned to disconnect and distrust our intuition because we see logic as king, especially in Western society. It's really normalized and I think that's even part of it and maybe even why, like mental health services are so much more important now than ever, because it is through our media, it is through just our hustle culture and it's like the only way to achieve more and do more is to disconnect from your body. But when you do that, you're not able to hear your intuition and it's like you question yourself more and it's hard to know what lights you up, because you just learn alternative coping mechanisms to just keep numbing, which then further disconnects you, and so it's kind of like this toxic cycle and it's really hard to break, which is really why I feel like this work is so, so important because, you know, I hope we hit a point where we start to see that things should shift and I hope there are cultural shifts and we get to experience them and see them in our lifetime and really witness people coming back to their own power and what they were innately born with. That we're out there chasing and thinking we have to earn it, but it's just within us.

Yeah, yeah, I mean, everything you said is like so well put and I feel like it's also and I don't know if you've experienced this, but it's so interesting to me that things like, for example, sport, which I believe is like a really beautiful, it's a social product, like it's a protective factor is this wonderful, great thing. That's really helpful. And it's also something that sometimes disconnects us, because if, especially for the athlete who's either multiple sports or your competitively in school, you have to go to school from like 745 to like 233 o'clock, I remember In high school and then you literally have to what go straight to practice, and sometimes people are there until 339 o'clock, so you're either not eating dinner or eating dinner so much later, and it's like your body is actually not hungry, maybe because you're moving and you're doing all these things, but then at some point maybe there is hunger. That's happening, but such so interesting to me that these things that can be so helpful for us can also be what Maybe can also be maladaptive, is how I should say.

Yeah, I really feel that and it was for me at least, when I kind of hearing this recently. So I was a crossfit athlete and I competed in that for a while and probably, like I want to say, it was around 2020 where I really decided like, okay, I don't want to compete anymore, my body is tired. I mean there's a lot more going on, but one big thing is like I, even though this is my profession, like I'm a dietitian, I should know exactly what your caloric needs are. Like I struggled to properly fuel myself and Part of that just like led to some unhealthy behaviors and it wasn't even intentional, but like that that's where so much of it seems really harmless. And it's like, oh, you know, I'm Training for three hours a day because that's what you do when you're this type of athlete. And it's like you like even when you consciously try, like I was under eating because I had no concept how much I was really burning, especially because Just your condition to think that you only need X amount of calories and you should try to stick around that and like to think that my normal day was like 4000 calories was like beyond me, right, and like, and, like I said, it's like I just couldn't fathom it. But what was you know? It just led me to a dangerous place where it's like I was so caught up in that identity it was hard to let go. And then, like I got myself into these like binge cycles where I would under eat because I didn't know I needed more, and then I would like binge after. I'd come back and then just like feel horrible and it was just like this, this is bad cycle, right, and it was like accompanied by lots of shame and guilt, of course, with it. But yeah, it was like it was something where I loved competing, I love being a part of a team doing a sport, but it also at some point became like this negative thing where I was very obsessed with my performance and how I looked and it like it got to the point where I started to realize like this is actually hurting me, even though I thought it was like so important to me. I started to realize what I made it mean about myself just went too far and it led me down some like yeah, some unhealthy patterns and paths, yeah, well, I love that you were able to recognize that.

That's something that I think is incredibly admirable, and arguably I did crossfit for a bit. That's really hard, by the way, yeah.

Oh my god, it's the hardest thing I've ever done.

Yeah, yeah, but it's super relatable to you. So I am a marathoner and I am proud of that. I am not like fast, fast, fast, like I'm never going to be elite or pro, and I have to remind myself of this, but I think running is the same thing. Right, when I'm training for a marathon, I'm out there for three, three, half hours, I'm doing my long run and I can't eat a meal because I'll throw up. So it's weird like I have to take in fuel. But there, you know, especially in running culture, I think again a specific physique that we have, that like I don't feel I match that. I think my body is just built differently. I was a multi sport athlete when I was growing up and so I'm just I don't look like that and I have to remind myself. I think something I really hold on to is like body functionality, because at the end of the day, not a lot of people run marathons and my legs have carried me 26.2 miles and like I get so proud of the work that my legs can do for me. But also like after I go for a run, some people are like starving, and I'm the type of person where my body is like you put anything in me just and we're going to throw it up right now, not intentionally, like I'm just not hungry, but also from the like Sport nutrition perspective, like I need stuff right, like I need to take in like protein and carbs quickly after so that I can improve my recovery. So it's just interesting that like intuition, but also this piece of like, and we still do need to do certain things and I feel like that's relatable for probably a lot of different sports, cost fit, running, etc. But yeah, so I think that's so relatable in a lot of ways and I think a lot of people struggle to figure out from at least my experience when something is not helping them and it's hurting them, because the fitness industry is also very big and important, but sometimes can be misleading.

Yeah, and something you said just kind of made me think about. Just like you know, you mentioned, like you love intuitive eating and then kind of saying like, yeah, sometimes your body isn't telling you what you need, and so that's where it's really important to balance, like, the intuitive approach and also the logical approach, which is something that I think Intuitive eating gets this like bad rap for being. Like, oh well, how are you supposed to just know? And there is a level of education. I always like to disclose that, like you still need to be taught nutrition because, number one, you have a lot of deconditioning to do. Like, first and foremost, there's so many things that we're told that are bad for us that we then think is just our intuition telling us no, when in reality it's conditioning. So that is really important and that's why there are professionals and people to work with you on that, because it's hard to just know these things. It's, there are principles around it and sometimes your body reacts in ways where it can't properly communicate, because it is over expended or you're under high stress and your body doesn't have the ability to tell you exactly what it needs or it doesn't know how to send you the message in a way that you can really hear it and understand it. So yeah, I'd be curious to know your thoughts on that and around that part.

Yeah, absolutely. I love that, and I think, as you were saying, that my brain was going like 90 minutes an hour. I feel like it's like I think it's so hard as, like a person who especially like is you and I study this or we, you know, learn about it. We go to talks, conferences, like we're interested in it, and I think for, like the average human out there who's maybe not studying in the realm of dietetics or psychology or even medicine, it's like where do you, where do you go? Right? So you go social media, instagram, tiktok, twitter, I don't know, I don't have Twitter and it's like in one direction, you're seeing one thing and people are saying like, oh, this is the thing right. And then in another place, you're like, oh no, this is bad for you or don't do this, and it's like, so how do you know what to do, which I feel like only further disconnects you from your intuition, and I feel like that idea of deconditioning, which I love that word, I mean it's something that I think we're doing as well. I would like us to do more of as a society, from like a social justice perspective, but it's also, I think, something that I kind of am trying to incorporate more at in like an academic medical center where I think weight bias can be a really harmful thing for an individual who may not be the picture. Air quotes again for those who are not seeing this physically above an ideal body. Air quotes, again Because sometimes health isn't marked by our body size or weight or even our the pants size that we wear, right. So, and you can get so confusing if you have people you trust or people you respect, or people you see on social media that you're following and they're saying to do all of these things but you're also trying to listen to what your body saying, and if you have a history of struggling you we also know that with eating, that your body cues may not be right on, and that logical side that you were talking about is, I feel, like a really helpful guide for someone who maybe is a little, maybe misdirected or unsure of like where they need to go to get to the ultimate place of intuition that they're sort of striving for. I don't know if that, yes, but I feel like that's where my brain went.

For sure. And I think one thing you said just about body size and discrimination, and that's just in something that I've been like getting more or just like becoming more aware of, because and it's like acknowledging the fact that, like you know, this is the body that I have, right like I only know my lived experience from this body. I've never lived in anyone else's body. This is all I know. And so the more aware and the more people share their stories and talk about like, just like, and it goes, I feel like it just coincides with social justice, what you tapped on, where it's like people's lack of awareness, that of what it is, and it's not to anyone's fault, so it's not like it's just coming from a place of like you know your perspective and you live in this world and there is, like so many other worlds and so many other experiences outside of your own, and it's normal to not think about that all the time, especially if you've never been exposed to it. But when, like, when you're in this space and you hear people's experience like, and this kind of dips into like eating disorders, to where it's like there's no body that says like hey, you're healthy or hey, you're not healthy, or like there's no way to know just by looking at someone, and that goes the same for their mental health. It goes through the same as like how they've been treated in social situations. It's like all of this information we have no idea that people are experiencing and you have to always acknowledge that there's some privilege you're experiencing that someone else doesn't have and vice versa, and so it's like to be aware. It's like okay, I have a privilege of living this experience and it doesn't make my reality any less real, or am I feeling any less valid? But someone's also experiencing a different reality and I need to hear them. I need to understand them and not only advocate for myself but for everyone, and to really take a look at things and not have so much bias or like even start to acknowledge our own biases that we might carry, and start to like try to dissolve that and promote that and share other people's stories and kind of talk about and spread the word about these things that like just might not reach people's realities unless you have that conversation with them.

Yeah, yeah, that is so true and it's like, it's like I don't want to say this, so I lost my tune of thought. Yeah, it happened. It's like when you have all these really great ideas and it's just like, oh, how do I get it out? There was a thing I saw on social, the other day actually, and it was I'm going to butcher the quote because that's what I do but it basically was like you weren't meant to have a body for your size. What, if? What would it be like if we could have a body? Our body was meant for us to experience life, right. Like it's this way, yeah, yeah, and I really, really resonated with that. And then so I was like all in, 100%, right. And then to your point about privilege. I have to sit here and be like I am privileged that I don't have. I am an able body human that I can move around the world. And there are some people body functionality is something I really do practice with a lot of my clients and myself and there are some people who it's really hard to be in their bodies because maybe their bodies don't work for them in that way, right, like they can't walk or they can't see, or they have kind of pain and so they can't move in the ways that they want to, and it's like well, how do you experience the world in a body that's not working for you per se? So I think that idea of privilege is important and I think if there's someone out there who sees this, and that is you, I do feel like there are ways to you know, I think the other thing that's been bouncing around my brain is this idea of like intuition and mindfulness really go hand in hand, and sometimes, when we fight the things that we don't like whether that's the size of our body or our body's just not doing what we would like them to do we end up suffering more. And I'm not saying that people are the pain that someone may have chronic pain is all in their head. But I do think that sometimes, if we fight the fact that we have chronic pain or we can't use our lens in the ways that an able bodied person can, it makes us feel like we are damaged or we're the ones that are wrong. And if we could lean into the fact that, okay, yeah, you know what? Maybe there's a thing out here called the spoon theory for like individuals who are, who have disabilities. I just have less spoons, and so I need to figure out how I want to allocate my spoons right. If an average able bodied person has 12 spoons and maybe I am I'm someone who has nine spoons, and so you get to kind of break down what the things that you do in a typical day, how many spoons that takes, that you can ideally reserve the spoons for the things that do bring you joy, so that you can experience living in your body as it is, instead of trying to wish it with something else or wish it looked like someone else's. Does that make sense?

Yeah, 100%, yeah, yeah, I think that is such a good point to touch on is we are given these bodies and everyone can have their beliefs about. Did we agree to this? And before we were conceived, whatever you know, that's getting into really deep spiritual place that we'll say for another time, right? So consciously, you don't recall agreeing to the body, right? So it's like you're born into this lifetime and you're like okay, I have this body and, exactly like you said, we compare it to this quote unquote ideal and we get really fixated on the lack and we're like what? How am I not measuring up and I think everyone does this and even the people that you look at on social media or in the office or in real life, where you're like this person, so perfect, they have it all together and they're so great and it almost just like pisses me off that they're so great because it's just making me feel like I'm less than, and it's like the thing is like that person. You have no idea what's going on in their head. They could be feeling same exact way, looking at you, thinking the same exact thing, and it's really important to work on self acceptance and just knowing and reminding yourself and again coming back to that word of deconditioning is just saying that like there's nothing inherently wrong with you. You just are. We all just are. There's no right way to be, there's no wrong way to be, it's it's just a matter of being. Like this is what I am and I have to love myself, no matter what. If, if I want to be happy, it comes back to that, it's like can I accept my reality, whatever that is in the moment? It's always just being in a state of acceptance and trying to bring yourself back into the present moment, back into your body, and really just knowing that. To do that, yeah, there are a few barriers you might have to face. You know, especially with trauma. If you've gone through trauma, your body preserves itself by disconnecting from it because it felt unsafe to be in your body, because it brings you back to a trauma you've experienced and that that kind of work again. I think that's definitely your area and how you can support people in that is like, how does it, how can we start to feel safe being in our body if we have experienced trauma or my brain is telling me it's not safe to be there, right?

right. Yeah, I mean, I feel like there's like three things I want to circle back to you. But to that point, you know, from a trauma informed perspective, it's really helping people to, firstly, like well it, depending on the trauma, or how many like, I think sometimes it can feel unsafe to be in one's body, and I love to sort of help people recognize that your brain is protecting you by disconnecting you at that moment. And that's actually really amazing that your brain can do something like that, because what you experienced, or experienced multiple times, is really painful, and if your brain didn't have that intuition or that natural ability to protect you, we'd be having a different conversation, right. So I think there's something about like praising the body. Even if the way in which that trauma or traumas unfolded wasn't safe, right, wasn't good for that person, your brain was ultimately trying to protect you and I think that that's a really it's a compassionate way of thinking about a really awful and terrible situation or situations that a person endures. So I feel like that was one thing that I was thinking about. And then another thing that you were sort of saying that I often talk about with clients is this idea that, like what people are putting out there is some people love to be unfiltered. Some people are saying they're putting themselves out there. We don't we still don't know if that's true. I think when I learned that photo editing was a thing that people actually did, I was like like what? I don't even I'm really bad with technology, so I'm like I don't even know how to do that. They can even like look good, but you know, like, the dove campaign has like videos where they show you how they go through and they make a person look wildly different than they are. But it's a snapshot, right. Like we think about Snapchat. It's like a quick like. So I'm married and when I got married a few years ago, went through and looked at my wedding photos. I think many people can identify that. We just don't always love how we look in photos and to me it was like such a magical day, right, it's your wedding.

People glamorize and it really was a good day and it's.

you know, some of the photos that I look at I'm like oh gosh. And then I have to realize that, like they caught me, made a laugh, right. So I was actually enjoying myself in that moment and I had to really unlearn or relook at the photo from a different lens. But then I was like, oh, my gosh, like what would it have looked like if I had just they had caught it a second earlier and then a second, you know, and you look at like a video and you capture someone in a video moving and it's like these are just snapshots. The same thing like blood work, right? Sometimes you go and you get blood work done and that's why doctors especially if you're not well have you do blood work a few times because they want to make sure that it all lines up, and that's why weight can be such an un. I don't know the word I'm looking for is like not necessarily the best accurate form of measuring something, because it changes from what you know. You put on a certain pair of clothes and your weight is going to change, or you go to the bathroom and your weight changes. So I think it's it's collecting multiple pieces of data over time. It's putting the pictures all together and capturing the full laugh that I think is is. You know, I try to remind myself and also clients that I work with.

Yeah, I think that's a really cute way to think about it. Not not too long ago, I made a post about this and it was around like how I would just be so like critical of myself looking at photos. And she'd be like you know, I don't like this, why do I look like that? Oh my gosh, why can't I have this or all these sorts of things. And it's been such a practice to really accept that and just kind of, like you said, it's like when I look at this I'm more. It's like, yeah, the deeper into self acceptance you go. You just kind of like you look at yourself differently, like you look at any version of yourself, and you just put yourself into a place of feeling what you felt in that moment. And either you can choose compassion if it was a moment that you were like you know, my brain wants to say I don't like this photo of me, maybe I can just look at it really compassionately or looking at it and being like, damn, I was so happy in that moment. And that's what it brings me back to. It's about the feelings that this brings up and I think about it too because, like, people will look at certain photos and be like oh my God, I love this photo of you and I'm like you know I don't like that photo of me. Why would you like that photo of me? I'm not wearing makeup and like I'm mid laugh and like I have a double chin or whatever, and it's like you look so happy and like that's what people are seeing. They're not analyzing you for every little thing where you know, especially like I'm like a recovering perfectionist and so it's like you know, wanting to be so perfect and wanting things to look so perfect, and just kind of saying like you're chasing an ideal that will never happen and as you heal, it's like the picture will look the same, but you'll start to love it more.

I love that, yeah, and it's like something you said earlier about you know CrossFit and how um you know like it's this challenging sport that you're doing and you loved it and then it kind of wasn't something that was working for you. But at the same time, you know, you're always sort of trying like you lost yourself in it because you were trying to get better times or more reps or I don't know whatever else. I did CrossFit for a bit. I swear You're proud Um but I think you know the same thing with um as we were talking. It's like I race. Photos are not good. Don't love them. They're like they're also running. So what, how are they supposed Like when I'm not going to stop, maybe some people will, and if you are one of those people, that's great, but I don't tend to stop when I'm running One. I don't even like notice the camera people, because either either on the other side and the last marathon that I just ran, I don't know where the camera people were. There was like one part where I remember it was like very specific. It was like smile, look up, so like that one was obviously good because I was somewhat posed, but I just had the best race. I mean it was. I was so in my body, it was. The crowds were unreal. I had a lot of people on the course that were cheering for me. I was running in a city that I used to live in, where I started Like it was just it had so much meaning to me that I and I had a time goal. But I had lots of goals and so I knew that if I met any of them, I was going to be proud of myself and I made sure that the goals that I set were realistic so that I would ensure that I would get one of those goals my race photos. I mean someone might look at them and say, oh gosh right. But I look at them and I'm just seeing how happy I was and how much fun I was having and and like I'm sweaty and gross, but I was just so in the moment that it didn't really matter what I looked like, because I'll look back, I will remember that, it's a core memory for me and then those photos just get to help me share that with someone else who didn't necessarily run that race with me. So yeah, it's a, it's a journey, for sure, but yeah, I'm very proud of that.

Oh yeah, you should definitely be proud of yourself and I think that's where, you know, I see it a lot in people where you accomplish great things and do amazing things and will fixate on well, I didn't like the picture of it, or it wasn't the I didn't get all my goals, or you know it's. It's something where, yeah, if you come from that background, we're like prone to be hard on ourselves because we want to be high achievers and we want to do great things. And it's just kind of realizing and remembering, like, whether I do these things or not, whether I look this way or not, it doesn't make me any less worthy of love, of connection, and so much, so often like that, that comes back to like the core of what's going on. Is we, these learned behaviors of thinking like, well, if I do this thing, it earns me love, and if I don't do it, then I'm not loved, and then I will feel like yeah, and it just kind of like folds in on itself and you you can just like get really deep into those feelings and start to bring up other thoughts. But I just I love how you're able to take that journey and start to see like and even just as a measure of progress for your own, just like strength and like overcoming the way you used to treat yourself or see yourself. And now it's like wow, I can look at myself in a completely different lens and have so much compassion and love for myself in these moments and look at that version of myself and just feel happy and proud. And I think, like being proud of yourself is such a big, big thing, which I know. For me for a long time I like couldn't, I could not be proud of myself, like I didn't ever feel that like every, every second of pride was just a fleeting moment that I could never really hold. And I think to be able to genuinely look at yourself and just be like wow, I'm proud of you, like it's, it's like when you can really say that to yourself and really feel it, it's such a good feeling.

Yeah, yeah, I actually don't really know if I've really said that before. So that's really cool that you caught that and I sat there with that for a moment too. And I also will name like running a marathon is a huge accomplishment. So I don't think people need to go out and run a marathon to be able to say they're proud of themselves, like it can be that you just go outside, right, you connect with an old friend and you know, I've been, I've been really grounding myself in that a lot lately, just especially with yeah, I think with just everything going on. I think feeling like we have to be able to know ourselves, to know where we fit in and belong and fit in not necessarily in like clothing size, but just like community. And I think when we can be our like most authentic and intuitive selves, we find people that see us right and and I think that our, our want to see us right and even if you don't have that same experience, it's someone is like, wow, that's really really great, like that's so cool. You know feels like a lot of what we've been talking about and reconnecting, so I think it's sort of a thematic in that way.

Yeah, yeah, I think that's like a really big part to it too is we feel so alone in these thoughts when we start to have them and it can almost stop connection from having happening. And when that happens, it's like it's again, it's like a compound effect and what comes first the chicken or the egg? It's like they're they're causing both sides of it to be harder. It's like you isolate because you feel like no one understands you, but deep down, you just want to be seen and you want to feel like someone gets it. And it's like this dichotomy that we're experiencing, where we want to hide and be seen all at the same time, and it's it can be a difficult space to navigate, but, yeah, it can also be really liberating when you start to open yourself up to that and start to own these parts of yourself that maybe before you looked at with shame, and now it's like I can either wear this as a badge of honor or I can see it as a way to show myself that I can do hard things and I can overcome things and I have survived some of the hardest days of my life and this is better, preparing me to continue to navigate and continue to expand and evolve.

Yeah, yeah, I mean, it's so funny Everything you said. I just like want to capture that. That was like so yeah, so accurate and so well put. And it's like we didn't grow up which is so funny to me, especially that I study psychology but like we didn't have like an emotions 101 class or like how to communicate right. And I think a lot of certainly a lot of eating disorders and disordered eating stems from not knowing how, as the individual, to get our needs and wants met and communication and connection with other people. It's a very interpersonal disorder and also, you know, from like a trauma informed perspective, because there's a big correlation there. It's like not knowing how to create safety and security within ourselves, especially if something has happened. So it's like this triangular or some shapes that I'm making with my hands, way of like. We just become so alone and isolated and we feel like we have to do something or be someone else or, you know, we can't be ourselves. And the more we engage in a behavior that distracts us or separates us from who we really are whatever that means for us, because it's always, in my opinion, changing and growing the harder it is to feel like we fit in too. So it becomes this like catch 22. That happens, and if only we were taught in school how to get our needs and wants met. Especially women like how to be. It's okay to be assertive and confident, and there's not something wrong with you for that. So kudos to the younger generation. I'm millennial, so, gently below, y'all really know how to advocate for your needs and wants a little bit better than at least some of the older us older folks.

Yeah, it's really cool to see that how that's. That's definitely changed and I love how you worded that. It really is like that and yeah, because it's like a lot of times we're taught like that's how we're supposed to do it. Like you fit in by fitting into this box, yeah, and in this box, then people will like you Right. It's really hard to, especially when everyone around you is being a certain way or you've watched role models act this way to receive XYZ. Then it becomes something that is so normalized and I think deeply societally it's really normalized for women to be this like people, pleasing, serve others, forget about your own needs, like you're seen as a hero if you're so selfless, you do everything for all the people around you and just become this like yes, girl, where it's like you know you never disrupt the flow, you never say anything against the people right or holding the majority opinion, and you're supposed to be quiet across your legs, keep your mouth shut and it's like that's. That's almost like what we're conditioned somewhere. That story was like put into our heads and it's really like it can be something that really disconnects you from the essence of who you are and it's this whole thing of like trying to find your voice again, trying to know what you actually want. Maybe you never asked yourself what you wanted. You know it's like you have to learn yourself, like you're finally able to see just how important it is to build that relationship with you yeah, and to know you so that you know where you want to be and the type of people you want to fit in with and who really feels like home to you.

Yeah, yeah, and I read a lot about some of the professional athletes and their experiences. You know, being especially female athletes kind of making their way through a male identified sport. It's predominantly been male run and still is, but anyway, yeah, and it's just so interesting, like big corporations, right, big money, so you kind of have to mold yourself into what they want to be. But a lot of these athletes are like I don't want to do this doesn't, and so that really feel good to me. This isn't who I am at my core and also this doesn't match the message that I'm trying to put out there. And it's sometimes we have to figure that out by doing things we don't like. Like in my training I had to train in a lot of spaces and I was able to say I don't like doing X, y and Z because I wouldn't have known that unless I tried it. But yeah, I mean it's like, it's a silly we had talked about earlier before, like straightening our hair when we were younger. And it's like I mean, no, I love my curly hair until I really let it grow out and embrace it, but gosh, it saved me so much time and money. But it's not so much frustration, but it's like a silly thing that as we become more comfortable with ourselves, we can say like, ok, I don't need to straighten my hair to feel like I fit in, like my curly hair can exist in society, and if someone's not going to accept me for that, then maybe that's not a place that I want to work or a person I want to interact with. And so I think a lot of professional athletes segue back is they're starting to do that too and they're creating these women-identified businesses or really trying to speak up against these bigger corporations, because they're sort of saying it's not just one way, we have to really think about this from a more individualized approach and it's OK to use our voices and advocate for that. So I had an amount on a tangent, but the straight hair saying really just needed to bring it back.

I know I was about to kind of build on that, because I just feel like my hair is symbolic of my journey of wellness because, it's like, yeah, so true, yeah, because it's like so funny. I just want to get into this because I feel like so many women can relate where you know, especially when we're young, very, we do all these beauty things to. You know, like we wear more makeup or we always straighten our hair, or we over plucked our eyebrows in 90s babies and like all these things that we did that we were like, yeah, this is making me more beautiful in the eyes of society. And then when you're like your natural self, you feel weird about it. But it's like that that's who I was born as. This is the version of me that I think of as me. That's the how I see myself in my head. It's like that version of me. And so it's interesting because as I stopped straightening it kind of like talk about it's like it got curlier, it got healthier, it's like starting to grow again and yeah, it just it feels like it's the external, almost like the outside of me is matching the internal growth with it. And like now I just it's funny, like if I straighten my hair, I'm like I look so weird. Who is that? And it's like it's so funny because now I just so I'm just like so deeply connected to my curly hair that I'm like, oh my God, like who would I be without it? Like I don't. It's just like I don't know me without my curly hair and it's like I like me so much better because this is the me that doesn't have to try to shift myself or shape myself for something, just to think that, like it will make me be more loved or be more attractive or look more professional and all these things that we think, like you can't be because you have curly hair. Yeah, and it's so wild to think.

Yeah, I mean that's a whole another podcast We've got like this point. But yeah, I mean, like the, I mean it's definitely stems from like a racism plays a factor in this. But I think what I loved and I love that idea of your hair being synonymous with your growth, by the way is that you know, and I think I've said this to clients before too and I remind myself that it is like we're supposed to be diverse people, right, and that's what makes people so great and interesting is that we evolve and you know, like from a genetics perspective, like we all have mutations that we're like born with or could be born with, and then they kind of like die off. I don't remember I learned this, but I learned it in a class. This way, don't quote me on it but and it happens, right, because like it's it's a matter of like survival, right, and it's it's this interesting idea that, firstly, our hair I think our hair's changed Every like seven years anyway, so it's like it's so good, like I think the hormones change our hair, so it's it's a great analogy, because it's almost like we have to evolve over time, like we're going to be changing, and we can either lean into that change and go with the curls, or you know, we can fight it and try to straighten it. My hair just didn't want to be straight, so, um, yeah, I don't know. I think I was kind of linking a lot of greater ideas together and we're not all supposed to look the same. And even if we all looked and ate or worked out and ate the same, or trained and worked out the same, we still wouldn't look the same and we're not supposed to.

And also shout out to getting my eyebrows threaded because I definitely over plucked and I appreciate other cultures teaching me how to take care of my body as well. Yeah, I like how you brought that all back and I feel like this entire episode was just like one giant tangent. We're like, yeah, we're going to talk about eating disorders and then we just like talked about everything, but but like I feel like this is such an amazing conversation and I feel like a lot of people can relate to so much of what we talked about and even like, just on the note of that, so even with eating disorders, I feel like so many of us just all humans, I would beg to say like have engaged in some form of disordered eating habit and we don't even know it because they're so normalized in our culture. And that's where, even though we didn't necessarily use a lot of specific language, I feel like a lot of people will hear this and just be like yeah, and then not realize like these thoughts don't necessarily serve us, like maybe they served a purpose and they did something positive for us in one state, and we start to evolve and grow and realize like these thoughts are no longer serving me and it's not going to serve the version of myself that I want to step into the person that I want to become and so starting to disconnect from you know, just like getting into it a little bit, like things like dieting all the time or always trying to lose that five pounds or trying to look a certain way, or, you know, just like eating low calorie, everything, fat free, this, low carb, this, and being hyper focused on the calories that you take in and calling it a good or a bad day depending on how you ate, and all that and all these things that are just so normal. And, like you know, I talked about had this on a post again, maybe not too long ago, where it's like you go out with your girlfriends and you just all you do is like shame yourselves. You're like, oh my gosh, I wish I had your legs, like I hate my body in this outfit, and then you change like 20 times because you don't feel good in anything, and then you go out and then you're grumpy because all you can think about is how you don't feel pretty enough because of this outfit and your body or your hair or your makeup, and it's so, so normalized that we don't even know that it's. It's not a way that you have to continue living.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I mean it's also like that. It's sneaky, right, and I think a lot of people don't realize how diet culture has co opted and change. But it's the same rhetoric and also and I don't support diet culture, but bear with me when I say this it is a brilliant marketing strategy, because it is the marketing that makes you hate and blame yourself for a thing that is designed to make you fail. Because they need your money. So if, after 30 days, are up and you're good to go, then you don't continue paying them, so they have to figure out a way to make you need them again, which is crazy, genius, but also awful, because it has messed up and influenced so much of how many women are affected by it and I don't think it's just girls and women are hugely affected by it.

So true, yeah, it's easier to speak from, like, a female perspective just because, like, we are females, identifying as females. But it is something that men also face. You know, maybe with different language it could be. You know, the more typical male things are like I want to have bigger muscles, I want to be lean, I want to have a six pack, and like everyone's facing it, and it becomes this like yo-yo effort in fighting against your body and what it naturally wants to do, in thinking that if it looks a certain way, it equals a certain thing. And we tie to all sorts of things right, whether it be a relationship or approval from family or getting a job. Somehow, some way we stay attached to that goal because we think it's going to bring us a certain thing. And so often, like you know, even if you do quote unquote, like lose the weight and way the amount you thought would make you really happy, it's either you want to keep losing more or it just didn't feel as good as you thought it would. And you start to realize, like was this ever really about the weight? Like what is this really going on? Like what's going on on a deeper level here? Like what am I really fighting within myself. What is it that I'm not accepting? and it's so often it's like not even really about the thing that you're trying to do, it's just like yeah, it's never about sorry to interrupt you.

It's never, and I always tell my clients that, and I think I have no idea what time we're at, so I'm sorry if I just keep talking, but yeah, I think it's like. You know, I, just as we're saying that, I could keep coming back to this idea of like what would it be like if we could? Just, you're going out with your girlfriends, you're going out for drinks or food or whatever, and all you're doing is shaming yourself. You're now missing out on that opportunity to be completely immersed with your friends. And typically, what we are looking for when we're saying I need to lose five pounds or I don't feel this, I don't feel that is we're looking for someone to say I see you right, I accept you, and what better community than the people that you show up with? But all you're doing is is beating yourself up in that space, and then people are like you know, and or then it becomes a spiral of them and and so it's just so interesting and that's you know. Yeah, I know we didn't get to be eating your stop or any of the other things, but I do feel like what we talked about it was like, just without saying the eating disorder or disorder eating. I feel like it's these themes that show up in, and in some ways it's even maybe more relatable for someone who doesn't even feel they identify with meeting sort of disorder eating.

Yeah, yeah, oh yeah. I love so much of this conversation and I I just got chills when you were like, yeah, you just want to be seen. Yeah, that's really what it is like. You just want to be seen and accepted and know that, like there's nothing you have to be or do to be witnessed, to be accepted, to be seen, and that's it's just so beautiful, it's so interesting how it's like. Exactly what you need is just like hiding in plain sight like you, it's you, that's it. Just being you, the version that you are right now, right in this very moment, is all you need to be to have exactly what you want.

That's so true. And if I can quote Michelle Obama real quick, in her book the light, we read all the things like we I think I'm confusing with. On a book that I read, her most recent book, she. Something that struck me was she shared this story. I don't not spoiling it for anyone who didn't read it, but basically, like one of her really good friends is just like genuinely super happy and it's because every morning that person woke up and they said good morning and like I think the name is like Bobby or something, and I was like I'm just like that idea, if you're basically looking at yourself in the mirror and you're saying I see you, jen, and I see you just right, like, and that's how they start their day, and I was like wow, I was so struck by that and I feel like what you were just saying is, you know, like it's a helpful thing, like just the first thing we do when we wake up is just good morning, just Good morning, jess, like that's. It is like this silly little thing we can do, but it changes our interaction and the way we show up in the world. Yeah, I don't know thanks to that, but thanks, Michelle Obama, thank you.

Michelle Obama. But yeah, just as like the final note before we wrap up, just to build off of that, like I think it's so interesting how I'll have sessions with clients and you know you'll have like 20 sessions with them and then on the 21st session you say, hey, let's try saying good morning to yourself in the mirror every morning. And now their life has changed and it's so interesting how it's like. It's always just like this one tiny little thing that suddenly sets a light bulb all over the place. And I always like to say this to remind people that it might feel like you're making no progress, it might feel like you're not seeing dramatic changes happen, especially in the space of mental health. It's like it's that building effect. It's like the iceberg theory, where it's like you can't see what's happening underneath, but eventually you're going to see that little peak rise above the water. Right, it's the same thing. It's like you just keep listening to the podcast, you keep reading the books, you keep seeing your therapist, you keep seeing a coach, and one day there's just gonna be that one thing that makes everything else click and that's such a beautiful moment. So just just encourage and if you feel like you're feeling down and you're listening to this episode and you feel like Dang, I got a long way to go. Just just take it day by day, moment by moment, and like it's. This process isn't linear. You can have like, it can feel like nothing happens for two years and then suddenly You're a completely different person. So just remember that everyone's journey looks so different and there's no timeline for this and it's. It just happens how it happens, in perfect timing, and just trust that it will happen, especially if it's on your heart that you want to evolve and grow and heal from these things. It will happen for you. So well said, awesome. Well, thank you so much for this conversation, jazz. So much fun. I loved this. Same same. I really really did, and I can't wait to connect. I feel like we'll have to do another episode In the near future. We actually were going to talk about. The world needs to hear that too. Yeah, yeah, at some point. But yeah, people enjoyed hearing this conversation. How can they find you and how can they connect with you a little bit more? Good question.

So I am on social media. It is my personal page. I don't have a, although I guess you could find me at like work for a small private practice, at small victories, wellness, so also not for nothing, these small little things that we're talking about. So you can definitely find me there, and then at Yukon Health as well, I have a profile and also voice and sport. That's another place. I'm just all over the place again. So lots of different ways that people can kind of connect with me and I'd love to hear from folks you know, just to hear if there's anyone out there that this resonated with or anything. So I'd say those are probably the best places that you can find me.

Awesome. Yeah, well, post some links in the show notes to you, things that you want to share with people so that they can find you, and, of course, we always love to hear from you. So tag us, take a little screenshot, throw it up on the gram or whatever your form of social media is. And, yeah, we want to have a conversation with you. So message either of us and sounds like we're both here for it. So I love it. I'm the best. Awesome. Thanks so much, guys, and thanks again, jess. Thank you, thanks so much for listening to today's episode. If you're enjoying listening to this podcast, I have a special gift for you. If you leave a review and send me a screenshot, I will send you something personally in the mail just to show you how much I appreciate your help in helping me spread the empowerment across the world and showing other women the magic that they have within themselves, just the same way you do. Babe, if you're enjoying this episode, then I would love it if you took a screenshot and posted it on your story on Instagram and tagged me at fuel the underscore fire. Let's have a conversation about it. Let's chat about it. I love to hear your thoughts and your feedback. I'm here to support you in any way that I can. I love you guys so much and I'm excited to keep coming at you with some new guests, new information and new techniques to keep blowing your mind and making you feel invincible. Thanks for listening. Love you, bye.



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