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Let’s Talk About How We Talk About Our Bodies

I am running a doggie daycare over here!

We are dog sitting Bear Bundon for three weeks and we added Stella to the mix today too. She’s my friend Virginia’s cockapoo puppy. She’s 8 months old and 10.2 pounds but man can she ever hang with the big dogs. She LOVES them and totally plays rough with them. Virginia is doing an internship here in Charlotte this summer and sometimes her days are long so she drops Stella off to hang with us. We love it! Arnie the pug is unpictured because he wanted to stay as far away from this chaos as possible.

Today was a good day. I taught yoga at 6 a.m. and then spent most of the day wrangling this crew and catching up on a ton of work for the studio. I taught Y2 Strength at 5 and then stayed to take some of Tanner’s class after.

I just got settled in at home and dinner is in the oven. I am doing a big one sheet dinner with lots of veggies and chicken breasts. While dinner is cooking, I wanted to talk to you about something that I heard today that I can’t stop thinking about.

As I’ve shared before, I love listening to audio books and podcasts when I’m doing stuff like walking, cleaning, driving, etc. I’ve just started exploring podcasts through Spotify and today I stumbled upon The Ultimate Health Podcast. The first episode in the queue was an interview with Kathryn Budig, who is a well-known yogi and someone who I really respect for how she stays true to herself and seems dedicated to keeping it real.

I won’t rehash the whole podcast with you but there were several great takeaways. The one that has stuck with me the most was around body image and how we talk to ourselves about our bodies and how we talk to others about our bodies and the consequences that come with that.

Kathryn shared that she was leading a New Year’s yoga retreat in Mexico one year and wasn’t feeling the best about putting on a bikini in the dead of winter after an indulgent holiday season. She was in a hot tub with a group of retreat attendees and made some sort of flippant, degrading comment about her body. One of her students looked over at her incredulously and said something to the effective of “oh my god, but you’re my teacher and I think you’re so beautiful and amazing.” She later came to find that the student had struggled with an eating disorder.

What Kathryn said that made me think, “oh crap…she’s right” is that when we talk critically about our own appearance, we create the space for others to do the same about themselves…and truly…who wants to have that impact on another person?

That said, I think there is a huge difference between complaining and whining about how you feel fat/bloated/puffy whatever on the regular and having true, honest dialogues about your struggles and goals.

But gosh, I think we could cut back on the surface body image complaining a ton and all be so much better off for it. Kathryn totally admitted that she has these thoughts and regularly…at least daily…but she keeps them to herself these days because it doesn’t serve or help others for her to complain about her body. It more than likely hurts them instead.

And beyond that, how often do you receive a compliment and completely wave it off and cut yourself down instead of accepting it and thanking the person that gave it? Why do we do this to ourselves and to others?

Just some food for thought as you move into your Friday.

Sending so much love and peace to all of you wherever you are on your health and fitness journey. <3

I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. 

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Betsy July 20, 2017, 11:16 pm

    Oh man….this strikes a chord. I’ve recently become SO frustrated with hearing my friends make negative remarks about their bodies on th regular. I agree that it’s a very different thing to talk about your goals, challenges, etc and I will wholeheartedly lend an ear or a shoulder, offer guidance when it’s in a positive light, but I’m trying to cut off the negative talk entirely. It’s prompted me to stop putting any disparaging words about my own body out there as well. I’ve adopted the philosophy that if it would hurt my feelings if someone else said it, I won’t say it either. Our bodies all deserve so much love!

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 4:03 pm

      I’m so glad to read that you’ve had this realization Betsy. And that you are working to set a better example for your friends and not feed into the negative self-talk.

    • Simone July 21, 2017, 4:49 pm

      I love that “test”! If it would hurt if somebody else labeled us that way, we should never do it to ourselves. Similarly, we would never dream of saying some of these things to other people, because we know they are hurtful and damaging. Why do we say them to ourselves?

  • maya July 21, 2017, 4:04 am

    Great point Jen. It wasn’t until I lost my health and my looks, that I have completely stopped referring to my body in this critical manner, All I can say is, we are all but one step away from a situation where our bodies will save our life, and suffer the consequences, and if that happens, we’ll understand just how valuable, beautiful and respect-worthy our vessel is. It’s sad that we have to wait to lose it, to start appreciating it. Also, women and girls are taught by our culture to be self-critical, don’t play into gender stereotypes, they don’t serve youmor the rest of women kind. Respect yourself, and every bit of yourself, don’t wait to learn this the hard way, or not learn it at all. That would be a life wasted.

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 4:02 pm

      Hi Maya – thank you so much for your comment and for sharing your experience and your truth. I’m sorry for what you went through but it sounds like you have emerged on the other side as a stronger and more grateful version of you. I couldn’t agree more that girls are taught these behaviors from a young age and we have to set a different example.

  • Erin July 21, 2017, 6:45 am

    This really resonated with me. I’ve recently gained some weight to get to a healthier place and have apparently been making more comments about my weight in terms of not feeling good in my skin quite yet. My husband brought this to my attention this other day and told me that he wished I saw myself how other people see me and not how I think they see me (bigger). This has really stuck with me and is helping me change how I see myself. My daughter is 2 years old so I’m extremely motivated to set a good example for her so that she grows up feeling good about and respecting her body.

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 4:00 pm

      Hi Erin – first I just wanted to say thanks for sharing. Second, I wanted to congratulate you on taking steps to get healthier. I can imagine that having your young daughter as a constant reminder to do better for her is so helpful. Sending you continued peace with your body so that you can spread that gift to others. xoxo

  • Emily July 21, 2017, 8:00 am

    Love this post! I also like that you make the distinction between every day “diet/negative talk” and having honest goal-related conversations. I find it difficult to get out of that diet mindset that has become so ingrained in our society, but I am really working at it! When you open your eyes to it, it’s amazing how surrounded by it all we are–tv/ movies/ blogs/ instagram/ conversations with friends. Three things I think about that help me: 1) thinking of my health first and being grateful for that above all else; 2) thinking of setting a good example for the young women in my life so I don’t perpetuate this cycle; 3) thinking of many things Kristin Armstrong says in her amazing book “Mile Markers” (she talks about how ten years from now we will almost always look back and wish we looked the way we look now, as well as many chapters on body image and supporting other females/friendships/being a body confident example for her daughters).

    Finally, I also always think about the idea of positive self talk and how we would never talk to a best friend the way we talk to ourselves and our bodies. We need to be kinder and more loving to ourselves and our amazing bodies!

    Thanks for all you write!

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:59 pm

      Hey Emily – thanks for your comment and for sharing your three things. I LOVE the idea about setting a better example for younger women so that the cycle isn’t perpetuated. Also, Kathryn Budig brought up that same point as Kristin Armstrong about the aging and ENJOYING where we are now.

  • D July 21, 2017, 9:07 am

    Great post. The negative self-talk is something I have made a conscious effort to constantly work on–I always try to remember to not say anything to myself that I wouldn’t say to a friend! AND I’D NEVER tell a friend they look fat or are dumb -and THEY’D never say things like that to me- I shouldn’t say those things to myself! AND I should be my own best friend! So crazy!

    PS. I’ve been taking the same collagen supplement for a month now..i swear my nails are well..tough as nails! I feel like I can already see a difference!

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:57 pm

      Thanks D! I too love the rule of if you wouldn’t say it to a friend, why would you say it to yourself. I even gave my yoga class the example last Saturday of thinking of themselves as tiny little newborn babies. Would you say the negative crap that you say about yourself to that tiny little baby? NO!

      I’m so glad that you’ve noticed a difference with the collagen. Me too!

  • Hillary Gras July 21, 2017, 9:54 am

    I love this podcast and I just heard that episode as well. Totally struck me, too… makes you think twice about what you say and in what surroundings. Easy solution? No negative self talk!!! And so much easier said that done right?

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:56 pm

      So true that the solution is easy but the practice is tough!

  • Runner July 21, 2017, 9:56 am

    I read an article about this on SELF magazine a long time ago, and what I remember to this day is “NO FAT TALK”. So simple, and when I hear others going there, I try to turn the conversation around to something more positive.

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:56 pm

      YES! You are doing such a service to others for not participating in going down that road.

  • Aimee July 21, 2017, 10:09 am

    Amen, to all to of this. I try to make a point to just not comment on my own body or anyone else. It makes life so much easier, happier and then we can focus on other qualities! (Also, doggie camp looks like so much fun!)

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:55 pm

      Yes, yes, yes. And doggie camp was the best!

  • Annie July 21, 2017, 10:24 am

    Oh boy…needed this today. Just spent a few days in Mexico and a picture was put up on Instagram of me in a bikini. I instantly compared myself to my beautiful friends and got discouraged, but when I sent it to another friend to complain she said “What I see are muscles and the only girl brave enough to sport a bikini!” All about POV.

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:55 pm

      Thank you SO much for sharing this Annie. I hope you enjoyed your vacation and what a good friend you have to help you see a different and more positive perspective.

  • Rebecca July 21, 2017, 10:48 am

    Totally jealous of your houseful of dogs!

    I agree, I’ve tried to consciously not chime in when somebody talks negatively about their body. I feel like a lot of times when a friend complains about feeling fat, my instinct is to commiserate and talk about how fat *I* feel. Instead, I try to tell her how great I think she looks!

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:54 pm

      Haha…it’s been a crazy week. There is a lot of fun going on over here.

      Yes, I totally know what you mean about how easy it is to jump on that negative self-talk train and rebound with a comment of your own…good for you for spinning that around!

  • Liz N. July 21, 2017, 11:27 am

    This is a very relevant and hot topic for me right now. I’ve grown up a “fat kid” and have spent my whole life trying to shake off this label. I’ve gone through years of yo-yo dieting and body dysmorphia. Now in my mid-40’s, I’ve come to a point where I realize that the negative self-talk has eroded my confidence and has impacted my relationships with others. I’ve wanted to have the body confidence to accept myself no matter if I am 50 pounds overweight or at my ideal (thank goodness for body role models like Ashley Graham, who embrace curves).

    This past year, I went through a separation and started to take care of myself again physically, mentally and emotionally. I’ve lost 33 pounds since January (with about 10-15 more to go) and I’ve gotten so many compliments on my transformation, which overwhelms me and makes me terribly uncomfortable. I find myself dismissing their comments, which sounds ungrateful (which is not my intent). The transformation inside is catching up and I’m learning to graciously thank people for their compliments and grow in my self-confidence. Heck yes, I’ve worked hard to get here!

    • Jen July 21, 2017, 3:53 pm

      Hi Liz,

      Thanks for your heartfelt share. I am sorry to hear about your separation but I’m glad that you are taking care of yourself on all levels in the wake of it. I can totally see how it would take a while for the transformation to click on the inside and for you to feel comfortable with the attention and compliments…but you earned them girl! I’m proud of you for taking charge of your health and realizing how negative self-talk has negatively impacted you. Sending you lots of love.

  • Savannah July 21, 2017, 4:51 pm

    As usual, another awesome post. I’ve made it a goal of mine to really give my own body the same grace that I give other people’s lately. I have a lot of friends with diverse body types and all of them are so beautiful to me- why wouldn’t I view myself the way that I view them?

    An idea that I love is that your behaviors have to change before your attitudes do. I’m hoping that by continually viewing all bodies as gifts and works of art, my attitude towards myself will continue to improve.

  • Samantha C July 21, 2017, 6:10 pm

    This is such an important topic. After having my two kids I struggled even more with the changes my body had. (I’ve always had an unhealthy view). Then I heard on the news and through reading girls as young as 3 were impressionable. I never want my daughter to grow up being critical of herself and not loving herself so I decided I had to make a change with my relationship to food, exercise, and my thoughts. So I hired a lady (Ricki with breaktheweight) and I worked on myself. Best choice that I have made. I never say skinny, fat, I don’t critique myself and my daughter knows we eat to feel healthy and strong. I also keep thoughts that are negative to myself.
    I hope to have one less girl in the world with body image issues! Great topic!

  • Diana July 22, 2017, 2:35 pm

    I’m working on using positive language overall. Focusing on the good versus focusing on the bad. I’ve spent most of my life a pessimist, but I’ve apparently converted in the last couple years. My friends call me an optimist now! While I do have critical thoughts about my body, I think focusing on the good in general has helped me choose thoughts that are appreciative and respectful of my body. I’ve been listening to The Power on audible, and this is really reiterating the concept of choosing good thoughts. They’re so important!

  • Christina @ The Running Noob July 22, 2017, 9:16 pm

    Thanks for posting this. I think it probably strikes a note with a lot of us reading your blog.

    Some good advice my husband once gave me when he heard me talking badly about my appearance — “You wouldn’t talk to your circle of girlfriends like that so why is it okay to talk to yourself that way?” He’s right. When I catch myself looking for the flaws, I remember that I deserve the same level of love for MYSELF that I give to my friends around me.

  • Laura July 23, 2017, 12:09 pm

    I love this post. It’s just awful how we women talk to ourselves about our bodies. We’d NEVER say the things we say to ourselves to one of our friends. Just sad!

    On a side note, do you have a recipe for the one pan chicken and veggie combo? I’d love to see it! I love one sheet pan dinners… so easy to prep in advance and just throw in oven while cleaning up! (or in my case, making baby bottles for the next day!)

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