Rebecca Scritchfield is a registered dietitian nutritionist, certified exercise physiologist, author of the book Body Kindness, and host of the Body Kindness podcast. Through her weight-inclusive counseling practice, she helps people make peace with food, find the joy in exercise, and create a better life with workable goals that fit individual interests. Central to all her work, Rebecca aims to develop self-compassion in place of shame by rejecting the rules of diet culture and the pervasive myth that to achieve better health one must lose weight.
Using her Body Kindness philosophy, Rebecca mentors registered dietitians and supports women from around the world in collaborative, online learning spaces free from unhelpful diet chatter and negative body talk.
Rebecca has influenced millions through her writing, podcast, and appearances in over 100 media outlets including NBC Nightly News, CNN, the TODAY show, the Washington Post, O Magazine, Self, Real Simple, Health, Yoga Journal, and many others. She lives in Washington, D.C., where she was recently recognized as one of ten “Supermom” entrepreneurs in the Nation’s Capital.
Postpartum Body Image Research Study: Body Kindness Reader Survey with option for free Body Kindness e-book
Free Body Kindness E-Course, Book Chapter
Take Fat Shaming Out of Fitness Culture https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/wellness/why-we-need-to-take-fat-shaming-out-of-fitness-culture/2018/03/08/728365ac-1e31-11e8-9de1-147dd2df3829_story.html
Why Fear of Sugar May Be More Toxic Than Sugar Itself
Transcript – thank you Marie!
Hello there welcome to this week’s podcast. This week I talked to a lady called Rebecca Scritchfield. Rebecca is a registered dietician, nutritionist and she’s also a certified exercise physiologist and author of the book Body Kindness. She actually has her own podcast called The Body Kindness Podcast so you can catch up with her there as well. Really she is all about weight inclusive counselling practise and how to help people make these food… and for people who are at the point where their body’s are healthy and able to exercise, how to find the joy in exercise and for the correct reasons, the healthy reasons rather than those compulsive reasons that many of us know so well.
So Rebecca’s and I today are actually talking about Health At Every Size things, we’re talking about weight inclusivity and how to have that kind relationship with your body but we are mostly focusing on post-partum body image things. Which I think is pretty interesting for me because I’ve never had a child, so it’s something I’ve never had experience with so I’m always wanting to learn about things that I haven’t had experience with. I have had had experience through my clients but I haven’t had that first hand experience so I’m very interested in those things and I do hope that those of you who have maybe been through a pregnancy, going through a pregnancy this podcast will be helpful for you to understand that that bit at the other side, when you’ve actually had the baby, is really important and can be a crucial part of you maintaining your recovery, how you handle that bit of the other side. Anyway, here’s Rebecca.
Rebecca: I’m Rebecca Scritchfield, I’m a registered dietitian and nutritionist and a certified exercise physiologist and a mum to two young girls. I am the author of a book Body Kindness, Transform Your Health for the Inside Out and Never Say Diet Again. So it’s a book really about helping people answer the question what do I do if I care about my health and well-being but I can’t do another diet again. So whether that’s because you’ve tried it a million times and you know that they don’t lead to better health or happiness that’s usually the typical reason.
We don’t just try a diet once and say oh not for me and never again. We usually try dieting multiple times. It’s really related to my past experiences as a chronic dieter as well as experiences of working with clients. I have a private practise based in Washington DC and I’ve been counselling clients since 2007 and I started out, I guess I would say now kind of on the wrong side of the tracks because I was promoting diets and weight loss and all that stuff. I was slowly evolving and realising it wasn’t helping me and that I was struggling with intrusive negative thoughts from my inner critic, judgemental thoughts and then difficulties with eating what I realise now, I was restricting and then my body was asking for food and I was giving it food. But at any rate there was a confluence of me realising this isn’t the kind of life I want and I’m not even being helpful for clients in the long run. So what do we do if, how do I live as a dietitian if I’m not promoting what I was taught in school which was dieting?
T: Yes, how hard was that change, within the industry? Because it’s kind of going against the tide a little bit isn’t it, or a lot?
R: Yes, how hard is the change? So I think I want to say that the change for me is absolutely worth it. Like at this point, it’s about living my values and so I could never go back. It’s interesting because I am mentoring a group of dietitian and therapists in a supervision group right now for body kindness and a couple of them are at the beginning stages and they are uncertain about the difficulties and how everything is going to evolve but that’s exactly what they said too, now that I see the literature on chronic dieting and have experience I working with clients with body image concerns, and that dieting does not improve health habits or well-being, I know I’m never going to go back but I just feel scared about the process and the reason I know I’m not going to go back is that I couldn’t do it, it’s against my values.
So I certainly would not say, oh it’s really no big deal right? Because we live in a diet culture and a body image obsessed culture. So I would say, from a dietitian perspective and also an exercise and fitness professional perspective, cause those are the two main areas where I have expertise, I think that the big challenge is when you have to emotionally come to terms with pretty much every thing you worked at was wrong or lacking, was almost like missing stuff.
So when you study medical nutrition therapy for diabetes, there is evidence about what would help a person with diabetes through self care choices. But what you also study about is weight loss and then your basically told that you help a person eat in a certain way and that weight loss is going to help improve outcomes. That’s where the problem comes out right? It’s not like information about how you would help someone with diabetes is all wrong, it’s just this idea that we are taught that weight loss is going to improve outcomes and that if people wanted it bad enough could lose weight. A person is non compliant if they don’t weight.
I guess to re-characterise it, it’s more like there’s this missing piece of the puzzle and so what you have to contend with is a lot of emotion so I remember feeling guilty for clients I have hurt, shamed unknowingly. Angry that I was never taught this information in the first place, angry at diet culture, I started dieting when I was 9 so when I finally realised how badly entrenched I was, there was a lot of anger. Then the 3rd one was certainly this idea of, wow well what do I do now? And it takes time to figure that out and to have a new way thinking and of being and living in the world. When you’re trained that exercise is something that you do to earn food, or to make up for something you ate there is a lot of reprogramming that has to go into that.
I really do feel like exercise is something I do, for joy and for taking care of my body. I would say that if I’m going on a walking/running loop in my neighbourhood, there are all these trees around and it’s very natural and soothing and that could be truly a joyful movement type of experience. And then I might go to a workout class that is focused on strength training and it’s meant to be intense, but in both of those scenarios, I’m not there because I hate my body or to try to make my body lose weight or change it’s shape. I’m there because I know that strength, having strong muscles and bones is important and I know that movement and cardiovascular health is important. So there might be different types of movement I do for different reasons but underlying all of it, it’s not about I need to fix my body or my body is a problem.
For me, I’m someone with thin privilege so that’s just a choice, I can just choose that and it might be hard to deal with my inner critic but that’s a decision that I can make and with time, I start talking to myself in more kind, positive ways. But for someone who is at a higher weight, they can still make those choices like, I’m not exercising for weight loss, I’m exercising to take care of my body but the culture is going to make an assumption that they are there because they don’t like the way that they look. They are there because they are desperate to lose weight and that is a problem I’ve written about that for The Washington Post about removing fat shaming from fitness culture.
Because even if you’re trying to support someone and motivate them, it’s actually a micro aggression when you say something like, oh good for you, good effort and it’s so great to see you here. That person could have lots of fitness experience, they could be a trainer themselves. But your kind of congratulating them for doing something about their body. So that came out of some interviews that I did for that article and so there are a lot of layers to how you evolve out of diet culture you have to start with yourself and then as you become more aware you can also understand just the ways in which we make assumptions on people based on their weight and shape and appearance and the judgements we make about what their health must be like and what they must do for habits or care about their body.
You’ve got to evolve through it as well so I would not want anyone listening who is at the very beginning to be like OK this sounds like a lot of work, or this sounds like I might make too many mistakes. Do not lose motivation, it’s just more of the understanding that once you realise that there is a discrepancy, that the way you talk to yourself, the way you are living your life is no longer working for you, that is the only sign you need to start making changes in a direction that is more framed around your well-being and self care.
But you’re going to be doing that while existing in a culture that is constantly going to be questioning why would you make those changes. So in my private practise I specialise in a Health At Every Size approach I see people of all different weights who have concerns about their weight and their body image issues. I also work with clients who have eating disorders at any stage of their recovery. There’s a lot of universities near me so sometimes I’ll get college students who were working on recovery while in school and they may go to a higher level of care if they need it more on a summer break so that’s something that I work with.
I also specialise in working with high risk pregnancies so that’s usually people that are pregnant with multiples or have a diagnosis of gestational diabetes and certainly I see women throughout all the stages of pregnancy but also it’s a very important vulnerable time in a woman’s life but also if there’s any challenges with whether it’s food aversions or being able to do what you need to do to take care of your body and your baby. I’m thinking of a client who actually had bulimia who wanted support throughout her pregnancy in managing her recovery and actively choosing not to purge throughout her pregnancy. There could be a lot of intersecting issues there. A lot of blame and shame.
Someone gets gestational diabetes and it can be very scary. So when you are someone who has a Health At Every Size approach you are knowledgeable about harm reduction and shame reduction and building self compassion regardless of somebody’s weight or shape or appearance. That can be really helpful in their healing too.
T: Yes and so we were going to talk about body image and pregnancy right?
R: Yes pregnancy and post-partum
T: So where should we start with that?
R: (laughs) Well, I guess generally speaking the idea of understanding what do we even mean when we talk about body image, it’s really just a picture we create in our minds that goes with us throughout our life. It’s how we see ourself and yes in an appearance way but also in what our mind tells us that may influence how we see our appearance. There is comparisons that we will do, out of social comparison theory the idea that we will compare ourselves to others and make up stories that somebody else’s life must be so much better, based on a comparison of our appearances and that can actually increase our own levels of shame.
So I think understanding that pregnancy or not, we all have a body image and for women, most women struggle with their body image. I want to say it’s 80% or above, I’ve got this great clinical book on body image that I’ve been reading recently but I don’t have it at my desk right now. But I’m just mentally recalling general trends from that. Its basically a persistent problem and pregnancy is a time where our bodies are changing so there is a lot of increased anxiety and uncertainty because of course understanding that our cultural message is the worse thing that could happen to a woman is that she could gain weight yet in pregnancy you’re supposed to be gaining weight.
Then there are even twisted messages around if you’re a higher weight maybe you should gain less weight or maybe even not gain any weight at all and it just becomes very overwhelming as far as, OK you’re pregnant, you want to have a healthy baby and you get these messages that’s like, everything you do could make or break your babies healthy. So what I find is people do a little bit too much research and with the internet you can find anything online that days, do this, don’t do that and it can actually be a time of increased anxiety.
So you know what’s interesting about it is that there are I think everybody’s pregnancy is different. I have two girls and both of my pregnancies were very different but they are also different among different individuals and I think that we have a lot of pressure to enjoy every moment of our pregnancy and we actually might be uncomfortable, so being able to say that we are uncomfortable whether it’s because we’re feeling nausea or tired. People make the assumptions, aren’t you so excited? Don’t you feel amazing? And it’s like, better not say that I have low energy today. So I think that there’s this added pressure of especially in a first time pregnancy because it’s all new for you, you don’t know what your experience is going to be like so that you are afraid of being honest about what’s really happening and what you really may need because oh this is supposed to be only a positive experience.
So that’s something that I would say, allowing yourself to feel your true feelings is really important because even negative emotions are beneficial. They tell you that your body needs something so feeling nausea might mean that your body needs something to eat, and some fresh air and maybe a gentle stroll rather than whatever other type of workout you may have planned to do because those things can help you feel a little bit better or at least help you make it through some difficulties.
I think that in my experience some who are pregnant have concerns about gaining weight and in a certain correct kind of way even comparing to those charts, when I was pregnant I didn’t necessarily gain in the third trimester how the chart said I should. So I really chose to take a real flexible approach and in my first pregnancy got on the scale backwards, had a doctor that I really trusted and it made it easier, going through the process of pregnancy and there’s of course the expectation that you’re going to get your body back I guess is what they say. Especially you hear among celebrities its celebrated how quickly post-partum women can quote get their pre-baby body back. But in my opinion you always post-partum right? You are always, there isn’t just a short time of post-partum period, once you’ve had a baby you are always post-partum. Even the idea that your number one goal as a new mum is to see how quickly you can get your body back is ridiculous.
T: It’s horrific. It’s so sad isn’t it really? If you think about it?
R: Well it’s a cultural thing, I don’t think that we really respect pregnancy and the post-partum period whether it’s from how much maternity leave we get to the support a women really needs and the caring and nurturing a woman really needs. It can feel very isolating and I’ve certainly seen that in my counselling practise where there is your tired after having a baby and you’re also up, your sleep is disrupted and for whatever reason because the most important thing we should be doing is working on getting our pre baby body back that then we feel like every exercise we could have done is a failure because it wasn’t hard enough, good enough, we haven’t lost weigh fast enough.
That’s what we really want to step away from and really resist. Just this idea, that’s not to say oh Rebecca, never exercise again? No, not at all but its how do you reframe that putting your baby in a stroller and going on a short walk where you can get some fresh air and just relax and breathe. That is physical activity and not as good. The same thing for nourishment that if you’re somebody who used to spend a lot more time cooking, you don’t have to spend a lot of time cooking to be well nourished and you don’t have to eat perfectly or follow a prescriptive diet to be well nourished so just really re-framing expectations for what that would look like too.
There maybe days where you really are craving some sort of salad with a yummy dressing and protein and guess what there are going to be days where you are like, I’m tired and I don’t want to cook and I feel like pizza. There should be no moral difference between those two types of food choices at all. But we do.
T: Yes. What you were talking about there, about feeling that expectations of somebody to lose baby weight as the priority as soon as they have a child. It made me think of something I heard on another podcast, women’s hour which is a BBC thing recently, I think it’s one of the royal family, Kate Middleton I think has just had a baby and there was all this discussion on how she came out of hospital after having a baby looking just perfect and is that actually OK or she should have looked a little more real? Does it add to the pressure of women to think I need to be able to come out with my hair flowing…
R: Yes so I was watching that and I read a couple of articles and some of the comments on it and what I loved is about how social media can help bring about this almost like rebuttal response so as human nature, we are going to do that social comparison we are going to look at a picture of Kate Middleton and be like, wow, her hair is perfect, she’s in a dress, she’s smiling, she’s in heels…right??
T: That alone is not for me!
R: I know, I rarely wear heels. And she had a baby 7 hours ago or something and there could be this nature of I could never do that, so my life sucks etcetera and then it’s like you read more in the story and peoples comments and they talk about how many handlers she has and all the resources that she has and I think that’s one way that helps people mitigate that comparison pressure to reduce the shame that might result but the other great thing is when people started posting their own pictures and it’s just like the complete opposite, no make up, dishevelled greasy hair. I remember women posting pictures of them wearing their mesh underwear and diapers which I was fully subscribing too as well.
What’s great about that is you also see what’s common and real and those also get lots of likes and clicks, those can also help us feel good and like we are not alone. It just sort of helps to mitigate that social comparison. I was also inspired by Serena Williams who recently had a baby and she is arguably the best tennis player in the world and she is quoted as saying that there is a fourth trimester and I’m in my fourth trimester and I think that that’s something that’s really powerful about the need to support women in the post-partum period. She talked about being very honest, saying I remember not being able to find my baby’s bottle and it made me cry. And things like that do happen, your sleep deprived so you see Serena Williams as a strong, powerful, can do anything superhuman athlete and at the same time, because she’s willing to be honest about what it’s really like, losing my baby’s bottle made me cry, so I love following her, what she’s saying in her post-partum window and she’s also talking about her size and appearance and saying my body isn’t meant to be a size 4 so I’m not going to try to be a size 4 and that’s the words that she used, but I think that it was really powerful to say, I am strong and I’m not going to try and contort my body into a smaller size despite what society might say about me. That’s just not, no thanks.
And we need to hear so much more of that, especially from celebrities because they have more power, the financial power, the popularity. Those are all forms of social power, so when they make statements it has much more impact than if somebody who has less social power, like if someone like me makes a statement. I hope it helps people but not being Serena Williams, I don’t have the reach that she does, or that strong impact so I think that part of we can do is make sure that we follow and support the celebrities or the influencers on social media who are living the kind of life that we want to live and then we unfollow and we just take pauses away from the magazines that don’t help us live a better life or the articles, skim the headline and ask yourself, is this helpful or not? Not everything is going to be helpful and stop consuming some of this media that just sends you down that spiral of criticism of shame and judgement.
Amy Poehler has this phrase that I love, she says good for her but not for me and so you could use that for any little thing that might be out there. Even if it’s someone you normally like and follow, it’s just like this is not for me, let me just turn that off and tune that out because it’s in that rumination and that over thinking where shame really grows and thrives and it can lead to significant problems in our well being and mental health and our sense of self worth and self esteem and those things all are going to impact our ability to take care of ourselves. Which is if we care about our health and well-being, it’s the daily compassionate self care choices that really help us create the kind of habits and life we want. But if we are always comparing ourselves to perfection and judgements and shame we are not even going to do little things, like drink a glass of water in the morning.
T: Right, I think, good for them, not for me is for anyone with a history of an eating disorder is a pretty good phrase to remember all the time when we are surrounded by this diet culture and I think though that do you think that people say somebody might have a history of a restrictive eating disorder and they might have been recovered and gotten pregnant, do you think that that time, that fourth trimester do you think that that is a higher risk for that person to maybe go into energy deficit again because they might get sucked into that I’ve got to work out, as soon as I’ve had this baby and actually not look after their body. I imagine that having a child is quite an energetic drag on the body. And I haven’t had one so I wouldn’t know, but I’m just imagining that it’s going to be quite a big deal for the body.
R: Sure absolutely I mean we need time to heal and recover and so your next doctors appointment is about 6 weeks after you’ve had a baby.
T: Seems like a long time.
R: Yes well your kind of sore, I was wearing diapers for a couple of weeks. I left the hospital still bleeding (laughs) yes so it is a miracle and it is a lot on the body. So you’re right, the fact that just culturally, all genders don’t holistically understand all that goes in the process that shows the level of isolation that occurs.
But to specifically go back and answer your question. So it’s a recovery period for anyone but in respect to an eating disorder history, I mean anything can be triggering and so I have a client list right now of folks who are post-partum who have had eating disorders before their baby who have dealt with triggers and who have dealt with some relapse issues is yes its absolutely possible and anything can be triggering.
I think it really just, the number one thing is going to be will you let yourself say, I have needs and my needs matter. Because no matter what negative thoughts you’re having, no matter what, maybe you even started on some restrictive type behaviour, even that, Whole30’s not a diet, but deep down you know that is not what your healthy self would say. Trust your ability to say, I have needs and my needs are valid and worth it. I think that’s t he only thing you need to be able to do. Because if you can say that out loud and know that to be true, no matter what your negative thought bullies are saying about it, because they might be saying, but but but and giving some sort of reasons to why you should go back to behaviours, you can say I have needs and my needs are valuable.
That is the first step to then doing the right thing which is getting the support that you need. We all need a support system and so acknowledging that you have needs then getting some kind of support, whether it’s talking to a friend, any professional you trust and to just get the feelings out in the open. That now they can exist and when your feelings can exist and your thoughts can exist.
Even if you feel guilty for those thoughts, you might feel shame, like I can’t believe I here again, this is not the kind of person I want to be, that’s actually good information. That is information that whatever is happening with you right now is not in-line with your values and that’s going to lead to your next decision, from that conversation with the friend, then you decide to contact someone from your care team, find somebody that specialises in post-partum well-being.
You can then take meaningful actions that is even if you feel attached, like gosh I really feel attached to doing past behaviours, I’ll just use an example of the client I mentioned earlier who struggled with bulimia and she did not purge during her pregnancy but it’s sometimes it was later in post-partum she started purging again, and she did get back in touch with me and we worked again on no longer purging and she was doing some chewing and spitting behaviours and it was that she was dealing with when she felt her anxiety escalate, she would reach for food and it didn’t matter what it was, because she was also working on intuitive eating when she realised she wasn’t hungry she would feel guilty about eating when she wasn’t hungry and then she’d spit it out. So what’s still a behaviour and she knows she doesn’t want to do it, but what the work ends up being is understanding that intuitive eating, sometimes you eat when you’re not hungry and it’s OK to eat as a response to anxiety. What would it feel like, even if she became aware that she was eating something that she didn’t want to eat, what would it feel like to say, it’s OK, this is nourishment too. So let me finish chewing, let me rest and digest, and let me do some mindful breathing and relaxation this is going to be OK. It’s about having that action plan and that permission to not be perfect right?
We’re humans and if she’s using intuitive eating to say only eat when she’s hungry that’s actually a mistake with intuitive eating, do you see what I’m saying? So now she can say, OK you’re right so lets work on not chewing and spitting, because it’s actually a form of intuitive eating to be able to sooth emotions with food while at the same time I work on other ways noticing my anxiety and practising positive self care so that some times I might not reach for food. So I think that that’s a really good example, she still struggles deeply with body image and weight concerns and not all clients with eating disorders have direct appearance related issues but this particular client does. So it has been interesting to work with her over the past several years, she has done tremendous about of work in her recovery and things do get better.
But then there are these versions of relapse where what she does as a behaviour might change and shift but the key situation for her of why it’s not relapse worse is that she’s doing that initial step of I have needs, my needs are important and you know what? I need some help, I need some support and as long as you can do that, it doesn’t matter what you are struggling with, you will get the help that you need and you are worth the help that you need.
T: So you mentioned the what was it? The 360 diet?
R: The Whole30, I don’t even know what 360 is but that sounds awful too.
T: I lose track! I know that you have some thoughts on that, so maybe just quickly because there are probably people listening to this who are looking at that or who have thought about that.
R: Sure so I can share a link to an article for US News which is just about for people who don’t understand Whole30, it sounds healthy enough what’s the problem with it? The way that I addressed it in the article is that there are people that have, so Whole30 will say it’s not a diet and it’s about all these inflammatory things and it’s going to help you feel better. Yet there are people who have concerns with their relationship to food and their weight and Whole30 will say right on their website, if you follow Whole30 your body composition will improve, it just has to. It’s basically ridiculous, it’s not science based, the people who created it are not experts. They’re rich because they’ve sold best selling books because they’ve play right into diet culture, but it’s not what you would do medically if somebody had a food allergy or intolerance.
There are people who came out and said I liked Whole30 and blah blah blah you are always going to find people who don’t agree with your point but by and large a lot of people were like, thank you for bring these issues up because at the end of the day you can’t say you’re not on a diet and then say well this is going to change your body composition. That is a diet and then I went into a lot of the emotional damages that can come with Whole 30 and things like that so I’d be happy to share those links as well as links to some of my other writings and I’d love to share a little bit about the research that we are doing.
T: Sure, yes.
R: So I’m really excited to be working with Doctor Jennifer Webb. She is the lead investigator on a research project, she’s based out of the UNC Charlotte and she runs a lab that is grounded in mindfulness and positive psychology and those are central to the body kindness philosophy. She reached out to me about wanting to study how body clinics can help enhance body image in post-partum women. So right now we are doing focus groups in Charlotte and there’s also a secondary component that I’m helping to collaborate which is a research survey so people who qualify are women who are pregnant or up to 5 years post-partum and who are living in the US and who have read Body Kindness.
So to learn more about it you can go to www.bodykindnessbook.com/research and from that page you can get a link to do the survey but you can also get, if you don’t have a copy of Body Kindness, we have limited of free electronic copies so what you can do is go there click the link, read the book and then take this survey once you’ve read it. So we are going to be conducting that research this summer and that’s just what we are trying to do with the survey is take a look at the material we have in the book and how what they are finding helpful in the post-partum as far as self care and well-being and then the goal between the survey and the focus group is to then create tailored self help programming for women that are going through this transition.
Anyone who does the survey in addition to getting a free copy of the book, there is a body kindness after baby electronic tool kit that I’ve created, so it’s a video and a series of resources that you can get and you get a link to that once you’ve completed the survey.
T: Do you think a lot of your motivation to create these resources for people after they’ve had a baby, does that come out of your own experience? And realising there wasn’t much there.
R: That’s a good question, so it’s interesting because when I came up with Body Kindness. I wanted to help as many people as possible. So my focus was more about anyone who wanted to step away from dieting but if you read it you will see there’s only 1 male story. But there’s a lot of female perspective and my perspective as a female so I apologise to men but it does work for men.
Hopefully we will have more tailored resources because men also deeply struggle with their body image concerns. So with respect to the post-partum period it’s interesting because there is some research that shows that women who breast feed they verbalise a body appreciation in some research like yes, my body is different but look at all the amazing things my body can do and I also believe that whether or not you breast feed I think you can have that mindset of body appreciation and that’s really important because having a healthy body image doesn’t mean that you’re never going to think a negative thing about your body but it’s your ability to express appreciation for your body that helps you build resilience in body image.
In the post-partum window myself was actually when I was writing Body Kindness so my inner critic was very strong so my youngest was 6 months old, so I had a 6 month old and a 1.5 year old. Just everything I did sucked, whether it was my writing that sucked or that walk that I did with the stroller wasn’t enough or you’re making pasta again, you suck. What was so interesting about it was that it wasn’t how I normally talk to myself, it was how I used to, but the problem was I was going through a very difficult time in my life where I was tired and where I was uncertain of how to be a mum I don’t think I wanted to do it perfectly but I really felt like I was making a lot of mistakes and so there was this constant self flagellation and that really hurt my self esteem and my well being.
And so when people read Body Kindness, I’m like I wrote that to help me as well. It’s grounded on research and positive psychology and I think that because of this time transition with becoming a mum and also that your body does change after a baby and it doesn’t necessarily go back to the way it look before and over time even without babies bodies change so I think that it can be particularly helpful for that window because there is a lot of change and transition that you may be adjusting to but certainly anyone who just feels like I need to talk to myself more kindly, I need more self compassion, I need less shame, they are also going find help and support for that.
T: Big thank you to Rebecca for coming on and talking to me on this weeks podcast. You know I imagine that quite a few of you listening to this will have had children and I’ve never wanted to have children so I never did but even though just the process or the idea or the concept of being pregnant fascinates me because it’s such an incredible feat from the human body your growing another person inside of you and then giving birth. I mean that has to be traumatic in the proper sense of the word, for the body. It’s actually going through a process that’s creating a lot of muscular internal, there’s just a lot happening, come on!
It’s incredible and so I think that there are a lot of physical things going on when a person is pregnant and when a person gives birth and a lot of those physical things are to do with hormones as well and thoughts and feelings and it’s probably an incredibly messed up time actually. In fact, if I didn’t have to have the child afterwards, because I don’t want to have children, I would probably go through it just to see what it’s like. Actually that’s not true because if I was invested in that, I’d be a surrogate, I do not want to do that. So that’s not entirely true, but I am really fascinated in the concept of what happens to the human body when it does something that epic.
Then you’ve got to think from the context of some body who has had or does have an eating disorder, there’s this added layer of complexity on it and maybe if somebody is fabulously fully recovered and very robust, then none of that complexity is there, they are going to feed themselves, they are going to ignore diet culture, they don’t care about it anyway, so they are not going to worry about the baby body afterwards. But for a lot of people, I imagine that that’s not entirely going to be the case and so it does add this other level of complexity and it probably can be a time where ones brain starts to listen to messages from outside maybe be even more prone to just trying to look the way that the culture wants them to look and follow things that everybody else whose had a baby should be doing apparently.
I think that I really like the idea that people like Rebecca are actually focusing on this, people who have been through the process and have also had experience in helping people with eating disorders and body image stuff. Because it’s a big deal and I think that if you are anywhere close to struggling with this stuff then it’s a really good idea to seek support because your body is very precious and we wouldn’t want anything bad to happen to it in this time when things are so important. That’s all for this week, thank you for listening to this weeks podcast, cheers and until next time cheerio!