Yoga and Body Image
TWO BLACK GIRLS TALK ABOUT EVERYTHING PODCAST: EPISODE 1
In today’s podcast, we’re going to talk about body image. And for those of you who know me, this has been a big part of my life for the last 15 years. It’s kind of where my yoga has taken me, making peace with our bodies. And so Dee and I have like a very storied, kind of past around making peace with our bodies. And the reason we wanted to talk about this now, especially because the new year is upon us. And we’re getting a lot of messaging around “New year, new you.”
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Welcome to The Two Black Girls Talk About Everything podcast. I’m Dianne.
And I’m Dee, and we’re going to be talking about everything.
We’re going to talk about yoga and fashion, and just everything Black girls talk about. Hey, everybody, welcome to the podcast. Dianne here.
In today’s podcast we’re going to talk about body image. For those of you who know me, this has been a big part of my life for the last 15 years. It’s kind of where my yoga has taken me, making peace with our bodies. Dee and I have like a very storied passed around making peace with our bodies. The reason we wanted to talk about this now especially is because the new year is upon us and we’re getting a lot of messaging around “New year, new you”.
Yeah. I’ve been noticing a lot of this, “Lose the quarantine weight,” bullshit showing up so I really want to address that. This is actually a Dee’s idea to come on the podcast and talk a little bit about this. Why don’t you start? What are some of the things that come up for you when you talk about body image, or when you look at your own body image?
I’ve talked to you about this. I’ve recently started breaking up with the scale.
I wouldn’t even say recently, it’s been quite some time. I think for any women that have struggled with body images or any spectrum of eating disorder, they find that it’s always a struggle to, you can break up with the scale,but sometimes you fall back on it.
Letting go of that and embracing exactly who you are at the present moment. These a before and after pictures that I’ve been really starting to — I don’t know if it’s maybe I’m more sensitive to it, but I feel like I’m seeing so much of it. I was one of those girls. I’m not going to say I wasn’t. I was a before and after girl. I ran a business doing that. It was part of my business. It just does not sit right with me anymore.
My problem with the before and after photos is at some point as, as most of us know, I don’t know if you know but this is a very clear statistic, I’ve been doing a lot of work around body image as it pertains to yoga and making peace with your body. We know as a culture that 98% of all diets fail. This is information that you can find through NEDIC, the National Eating Disorders Information Center, or through NEDA which is the American counterpart, the National Eating Disorders Association. That talks about how diets fail, how diets are set up to fail, and blame you as a personal failing when the system of dieting is the thing that fails.
The problem with the before and after photos, I love that you brought this up, is that at some point we become that before photo again. Because if we’re looking at that 98% failure rate, there’s a good chance that you will look like that before photo again. Putting up those before and after photos, we really demonize those before photos, right? We really talk about what we weren’t doing properly or how we didn’t like our bodies in those before photos. When you returned to that before photo, because that’s what will happen, how do you feel about yourself? It’s like adding insult to injury. It becomes more of hurtful or more traumatizing because you put up these two photos to prove that you could “overcome”, and I’m using quotes, your body in some kind of way.
Just so your know, your body isn’t something that you need to fix or be constantly fixing or overcome. Because of the science of dieting and it’s known to fail and you go back to being the before picture, you feel like even a bigger failure, right? Like you weren’t even able to keep the weight off. I have been losing and gaining the same 100 pounds my whole life. I’m not going to put numbers out there because I know it can be very triggering to people who have lived through an eating disorder, who have survived an eating disorder, or who might be in an disordered eating way, that I’ve spent my life being congratulated for losing weight, and for glamorized. Do you know what I mean?
When I was in the thick of my eating disorder and I was starving myself and I was in a plus sized body, we were glamorizing that and we were celebrating that. If a person who was doing the exact same kind of activities in a thinner, smaller body were doing the things I was doing in a plus size body, they’d be hospitalized because it’s really a fat phobic way of looking at things. I have been gaining and losing that same amount of weight my entire life and at some point, you have to decide to yourself that you are worth more than what your body looks like. That having that weight on your body doesn’t make you less of a person, or less lovable, or less deserving, or less sexier. Any of those things. These are things that have been taught to us through the culture. It’s a system of oppression quite frankly.
Letting and then allowing the scale to dictate how you feel a number, right? Stepping on the scale every single day, it’s like, how do you feel when you look at that? You’re letting a number tell you what you’re going to feel like or what you’re going to think about yourself? For myself, I have also fluctuated weight throughout my life and being at my thinnest, again being congratulated, “Oh, you look so great. You look great.” Spending a lot of years in the fitness industry, whether I was a personal trainer or getting ready for something, I always felt like I had the eyes on me. Having people congratulate me but not knowing that I was the most miserable at that time.
And the most unhealthy probably, right?
The most unhealthy, the most miserable, the most obsessed. It always boggled my mind too, was I would lose like five pounds let’s say, five pounds and then have people all of a sudden like, ” Oh my gosh, you looks so great,” over five pounds. It was such a small number and when I look back at it, it was just so toxic.
Weight and diet culture is so toxic. If we look at the actual definition of body image, body image — and this is from the NEDIC website — it’s the way in which we perceive our own bodies. It’s the way we assume others perceive our bodies. It involves our perception, imagination. –That’s the big one for me, imagination — emotions, physicals sensations of or about our bodies. It’s static and always changing so some days you feel a certain way about your body. Other days you might not feel as positive about your body. It’s sensitive to changes in mood, environment, and physical experience. Here’s the one that’s really big for me for body image.
It’s not based in fact. Body image is not based in fact. It’s psychological in nature. It’s influenced by self-esteem rather than actual physical attractiveness as judged by others. It’s not in-born but learned. It occurs in the family, among our peers, and it’s reinforced by society because society has created a standard of beauty that is a moving target, right? Body image trends change. The types of bodies that we find attractive change from decade to decade and generation to generation. If we were to look back at the 50s, the plus size, what we would now consider a plus size body which is actually an average size body, a size 14, a size 16 like Marilyn Monroe or Jane Mansfield, and these are very old references from the 50s, that was what was considered attractive..
Marilyn Monroe was a size 14 and she was a pin-up girl. She was what was considered conventionally attractive. The question we have to ask ourselves again too is conventionally attractive to who? Right?
To who? Exactly.
How our bodies look is really very curated to a very specific group of people. We’re looking at a hetero-normative cisgender, European, Eurocentric idea of what beauty is. We’ve seen that start to evolve. I’m always dogging them out but they are a big problem, we’ve seen it evolve with the Kardashians who have created a whole new body image to look at and a lot of their body image comes from plastic surgery. It’s not a body that you can achieve naturally by your genetics. It’s something that has been curated through wealth and privilege.
That’s really problematic because when I was growing up in the 70s, I’m 50, the big sex symbols of that time were like Farrah Fawcett and the big TV show that everybody was watching in the 70s was either The Six Million Dollar Man or the Six Million Dollar Woman, or Charlie’s Angels. When you look at that Charlie’s Angels’ aesthetic, there’s no way a little black girl is ever going to look like that.
In a million years. It’s setting you up for so much disappointment in your life. I was going to ask you Dianne, when did this start for you? What age? If you could just throw out like a quick number, what age did you start to look at yourself or start to feel uncomfortable in your skin? Was it a specific event?
Going to school always made me feel uncomfortable because I’ve always been what they deem now as curvy, and a lot of my friends, because I’m Black, right? I always had a big butt. I always had big thighs. I started getting uncomfortable, probably around puberty which started happening at around 10 or 11 for me because when my breasts came in, they came in a size D. Everybody else had these little cute training bras. They were going to wherever and their parents were picking out these little cute training bras with these little spaghetti straps and I had the super industrial bra that my mother was wearing. The thick straps, it had three hooks in the back, and it made me so self-conscious and uncomfortable.
It’s funny because now people pay to have the chest that I have but at the time it was a nightmare because nobody had a body that looked like mine and clothes were impossible to find. When I was in grade school, Roadrunner jeans were a thing and you need to have a very specific body type for Roadrunner jeans. They didn’t make clothes past a size 14 when I was a kid. That was the biggest size you could get. Then if you shopped at Sears, they had like a Husky department. Can you imagine?
They called it Husky?
They called it Husky. That’s your pivotal or that’s the beginning of-
This is how you’re seeing yourself as Husky, right? It’s the language.
Right? Who wants to shop in the Husky?It would say on the tag, and it would say on the inside of clothing, Husky. How does that set up the self-esteem for a young girl? I like that we’re changing the language now with clothing where we’re calling it extended sizing but I do have a really big problem with this idea that “specialty sizes” or “plus sizes”, and I’m using quotations for that, start at like size 12. If you’re a size 12, that is considered a plus size, okay? The average woman in North America, the average Canadian woman is a size 16. That’s the average. If you look at your friends, that’s about the average, right?
In the States, it’s like a 16, 18. That’s the average size for a woman yet that’s considered a plus size. I would say a size 10 and below is considered a “straight size” and again, I’m putting that in quotations. Most people don’t fit into that. There are more people who are wearing a size 14 to size 20 than there are wearing a size 10 to a size double zero. Shouldn’t those sizes be the specialty size seeing as less people wear those sizes and the plus size be the norm? Just spit balling here because I don’t understand how you come up with this sizing.
Even the word plus size. I’m about the language. I just don’t even know why we have to categorize sizing. Let’s just put the sizing out there as far as numbers go and when I go to the store, I just look at the number and I know. Why does it have to be plus size section, petite section? You’re categorizing women’s bodies.
Yeah, because men don’t do that with their clothing.
No, they don’t.
Men’s clothing is based on a waist conference. When my husband and I will buy jeans from, I don’t know, American Eagle or whatever, they will look very similar. They’ll be the same color wash and they’ll have the same distress on them and we will have trouble laying them out as to whose jeans are whose but he will know right away because his will have a waist measurement.
A waist measurement.
Mine will have an arbitrary number. That’s the other thing that bothers me because you can go and grab a size 14 from American Eagle or Old Navy or Gap or whatever clothing store you’re shopping at and that size differs. It’s not a standardized size A size 14 at old Navy is different than a size 14 at American Eagle, which is different than a size 14 at Gap or wherever else you’re shopping. That is really problematic especially if you become really attached to being a certain size, which was huge when I was growing up. When I was growing up in the 70s anyway, there was no such thing as a double zero. That wasn’t a thing. I didn’t even think there was a thing as a zero. I think the smallest size you could be when I was growing up was maybe a four.
Then you would start getting into children’s sizing like girls 14, girls 12. I didn’t see a double zero. Now that’s become a really common measurement or a really common clothing size, is to be a double zero. I think that’s really interesting that the trending around categorizing the sizing of women’s bodies continues to change. The predominant narrative, body image is trending. The trendy body image now is what? Is to have a big booty, right? We hear about in all the songs. Having a big butt and a tiny waist. Megan The Stallion has a song out right now called Body, ody, ody, ody, ody, ody, ody. My friend Amber actually sent me a voice message because she was all upset. She goes, “The body she’s talking about is not my body.” Tiny waist, big hips, big boobs. I’m just like how many people even have that?
That’s the whole thing too, is you can’t pick and choose where you put fat, muscle, whatever. Right? If you want like a big butt, most likely it’s going to be other places, right? Your stomach, your waist-
Your thighs. How is it that we think and through these songs, they are telling us that we can pick and choose? It’s not even scientifically possible.
Biologically, it just is not possible.
The thing that kills me is if you’re going to have a big butt, you’re also going to have to have big thighs because your thighs have got to hold your butt up.
Your butt up. Exactly. It’s physics here. We’re talking physics now. Here we go. We’re talking physics.
Right? We’re talking, we’re talking everything.
It doesn’t makes sense.
It doesn’t make sense. Like Beyonce or J-Lo who naturally have big bottoms, they also have big thighs. Right? Because they have to be able to carry themselves around. There’s a certain kind of proportion. This whole idea that body types trend and that the new narrative in the 21st century is to surgically enhance your body so that you can be part of this trend, and who knows how long this trend is going to be in? You’re willing to surgically alter your body and put yourself at risk because I think one of the most popular plastic surgery procedures going on right now is the Brazilian butt lift. The Brazilian butt lift. I know the Kardashians have really popularized that, but it’s also the most dangerous because we’re taking fat from other parts of our body and putting it into your bottom. Well, guess what? That fat travels, and it can travel to block off your arteries and end up killing you because you wanted to be stylish and a pair of jeans.
It’s very detrimental. Now that we have things like face tune on our social media apps and you can Photoshop your social media apps, people don’t know that what they’re looking at is an altered image that isn’t real, and that your body is hundreds if not thousands of years of evolution, right? Thousands of years of evolution has created this body. Your ancestry has created this body and it is a custom design for you. We’re really in a society where having something custom is really cool. You have a custom body, and trying to live up to a body image standard that is always evolving and changing. What is popular today may not be popular tomorrow or five years from now, but yet you’ve gone under the knife to try to achieve this look. Then what? Do you know what I mean? Then what?
I’m always curious, for those people who feel they need to have plastic surgery, if they ever regret doing this to live up to a certain aesthetic that doesn’t actually exist because it’s a completely altered image.
For me, and this is a question for you Dee, how do you as a parent explain that to your sons? I’ve been trying to wedge myself between my sons and the overall society or influence from society and their friends around what they should look like and what their body should look like. Because as much as there’s a focus on women’s bodies, there’s a focus on men’s.
Which I never realized until I had teenage boys. My son loves working out. He loves cooking and food. I’ve had him ask me things — As much as what was going on behind the scenes with me at some point while I had my family, I really try to keep things very nutritional. I would like to think that they never really knew what was going on behind the scenes. Very nutritional and not getting obsessed about things. I’ve had my son actually in the last little while ask me just very specific things about food. I’m like, “Don’t worry about that. Don’t worry about that. Enjoy your food?” Let’s not worry about the sugar and carbohydrates in fruit. We’re not going to talk about that.
My answer to him always is, “Have you ever heard of somebody becoming unhealthy eating too many bananas?
Yeah, whole, natural foods?
Let’s not worry about that.
I’m a big fan of no food has any particular value. You’re not more morally conscious or a better person because I had a kale salad for lunch and you had pizza. Whatever you wereare feeling and whatever you want to eat that makes you feel nourished is nourishing. The feelings around that food of guilt is a bigger problem than actually just eating the cupcake.
Absolutely. Everything has energy, and that’s what I believe. Everything has energy. Trust me, I’m going to eat the cookies, the homemade cookies that I made with love.
Yes. That you made with intention, right? Even if you don’t eat those, even if you keep the store-bought cookies, if you enjoy them-
Enjoy them and love them-
And love them, then I think they’re good. We put so much value on food. We put so much energy in making people feel bad about eating the things that they love, that the psychological effects of that are detrimental and life long. I’ve been in recovery from an eating disorder for the last 16 years and every now and again, I call her my angel – my devil, right? It’s almost like if you’ve ever watched old cartoons, there’d be an angel on one side and a devil on the other side of your shoulder. One would be telling you to do bad things and the other one would be telling you — It was really big and like the Flintstones — the other one would tell you to do things.
So sometimes I’ll be eating something and my eating disorder will show up. She’ll say, “Oh, Dianne, should you be eating all of that? I don’t know if youshould be eating all of that.” Then the other side will be my consciousness, my yoga, my awareness, my knowledge, will be like, “Don’t listen to her. She’s, she’s not good for you. Eat your food and enjoy it. There’s no food that’s off limits unless you have an allergy or a reaction to something,” but that you should be out there enjoying your food and finding a way to be in your body that feels good, and that is not constantly judgmental. I do not want to live my entire life worrying about every single calorie that I put in my mouth. That’s not living.
No, that’s not fun.
It’s not living.
So many connections as a society, it’s surrounded by food. Family and love and connections. When you have a crappy outlook on all of that, how does that affect everything else?
I wish that we could really focus on what is going on inside and becoming more in tune with our souls rather than what we’re putting into the body. Because I really feel that once we become in tune with ourselves, whatever it is that we want to eat and feels good for us, like you were saying, Dianne, is what it’s going to be, right?
Yeah. It will be good for me.
Just recently, I’ve just realize my stomach’s not loving bread, but it’s not because it’s like, “Oh, it’s carbohydrates.” It’s just that I was making a connection that every time I would get really bloated and then the family would have to leave the room. I’ve been trying to — and I hate using the word eliminate, get rid of, restriction, restrict. I don’t use that language anymore — but just really being mindful of what I’m putting into my body. Intuitive eating.
Intuitive eating is a big one. I follow quite a few dieticians and quite a few of them are my friends, my one friend, The Mindful Dietician, you should check out her page, Fiona Sutherland, amazing. She works with a lot of people with eating disorders. Another person that I’m currently following is Dietician Anna. She posted quite recently on her page — she’s got lots of good stuff on her page — if you come to intuitive eating and you gain weight, that’s fine. If you come to intuitive eating and you lose weight, that’s fine. It’s intuitive eating, right? Your body’s going to do what it needs to do. We have been trained for so long not to trust our hunger cues, not to trust our instincts, that we don’t even know how to eat properly. We don’t even know how to eat for joy.
We have spent a lot of time, and I’ve met a lot of people, I know that you’ve done this in the past who have done fitness shows and have regretted doing bodybuilding shows and fitness shows because it’s really messed with their relationship with food. I first had an experience of that at a soccer practice. One of the moms on the soccer team was talking to another mom who had in her past been a figure fitness competitor. I think she had had one of her aha moments, much like I did at 50 and she had found this image somewhere and wanted to change her body to look like this particular image of a fitness competitor. She was talking to this woman who she knew had had, an experience with it. I just was watching it because I want to jump in with my two cents worth and go, “Don’t do it.”
But I was happy to see this woman say, “If I had it all to do all over again, I wouldn’t have done it because it played a psychological number on my brain and has forever ruined my relationship with food.” She said she had ended up in the hospital, that she had ended up with an eating disorder, and I think what people don’t realize is not all diets and in an eating disorder, but every eating disorder began with a diet diet. We don’t know where we are on the spectrum or how our body’s going to react. She was sharing that with this, with this other parent. Then I couldn’t help myself because I was listening in on the conversation.
I just jumped in and I just said, “You have three daughters, right? Your son’s out here playing soccer with my son but you have three daughters. They’re watching. Even though you don’t think they’re watching what you’re doing or you don’t think they’re listening to what you’re saying, they are because kids really do learn by example, more so than you lecturing them about what they should be doing.” If you were to take this too far, how would that play with your daughter’s own sense of self worth?” My mother was constantly on a diet. My mother was constantly complaining about her body so that normalize those activities for me, so then I would just do it too, because that was what was normalized in my family.
It wasn’t until I got severely sick with an eating disorder that I realized that this is not normal behavior. It was sanctioned behavior because society loves it when you lose weight. Society loves those success stories. Society loves a before and after picture as we talked about, but it’s not actually how we’re supposed to show up in the world as humans, right? We’re supposed to be elements of joy and we’re supposed to be nourishing our bodies, whether that’s the people we hang out with, or the food that we ingest, or the content or the books that we read. All of these things are part of our nourishment as a whole, but we are so singularly focused on food that it’s become a national obsession and a critical problem for a lot of people.
I know that I always have these examples but I remember this one specific night, my family, we were out for dinner and my husband ordered this big thing of fries for everybody to share. I remember like actually looking around, I was a trainer, and actually looking around to make sure — Windor’s not a big city — that I didn’t know anyone before I enjoy French fries people. It makes me really sad that I wasted a lot of time feeling but I guess the big thing is is that through personal development-
You learn. You learn, right.
I remember I was at Shopper’s Drug Mart. To our American listeners, it’s like CVS or Walgreens. I have a love affair with Toblerone chocolate. At Christmas time, to make sure that I get a Toblerone under the tree, I buy my own and I give it to my husband. I say, “Wrap and put it under the tree for me because I want to make sure I get it.” Some things you just can’t leave to chance, right? You can’t trust your family to get you what you want for Christmas. Sometimes you just need to get it yourself. I remember I was standing in there trying to decide what size I wanted because you know they have the smaller sizes that you can put in your stocking, and then you’ve-
I hope you got the big one.
Of course. Of course I got the big one. I was like, “Do I get the small one and the big one, or do I get two big ones, or do I get seven small ones?” So I’m standing in the line at the Toblerone and trying to figure it out. I ended up picking up the biggest one you can. The triangles the size of my head or whatever. I heard someone behind me go, “Ooh,” like this. I heard that. I turned around and it was my neighbor who was in my yoga class and she’s like, “You’re going to eat that?” and I said, “Yeah, and I’m going to enjoy it.” I said, “There are no bad foods. There are no bad foods. It’s just food. Enjoy it or don’t enjoy it. Eat it or don’t eat it. But creating all this anxiety, drama and anguish around a chocolate bar is not good for your mental health.” She was shocked, and then she bought the same one. Said, “The milk chocolate one. I don’t want the dark chocolate one. I want the milk chocolate one beause that’s my favorite.”
Most diseases are caused by stress or stress related so eat the Toblerone.
Have the burger.
Eat the cupcake. Enjoy your life. Know this, your exercise regime is not punishing your body for the fact that you ate the cupcake. Let’s not do that.
I always say it’s not a ticket to eat.
You don’t earn your food.
I had a friend of mine once say, she’s like, “I’m not a dog. I don’t treat myself. I don’t give myself treats.” Because I spent a lot of years too trying to over exercise. I overexercise for-
To “compensate”. Right?
For my bingeing. One extreme to the other is not healthy in my opinion. Whether you’re doing one or the other, you’re eating to exercise or exercising so you can eat-
Dangerous. It’s dangerous. What I’m always trying to do, and I ‘vereally reframe this in the past six months or so, is the idea behind joyful, mindful movement. I’m riding my spin bike. I’m running. I go to yoga class. Whatever it is that I do is because it’s joyful and mindful and I like it. I have not it to an outcome. If I’ve been attached it to an outcome, it’s the outcome of how do I feel when I’m done? Do I feel happy? Do I feel accomplished? Do I feel stretched? Do I feel juicy? Does my body feel a little less still? These are sensations that I’m connecting with my body. It is not for an outcome. It’s not to seek an aesthetic. It’s really important that, I think, that we divorce exercise from weight loss.
That exercise or in my opinion, I’ve reframed it, joyful, mindful movement, is about just that. Moving because it feels good. If you’re out there doing something that doesn’t feel good, find something else. I teach a class — we’re going into lockdown so that’s over now — but I taught a class where we would dance. Where we would do jumping jacks. Where we would do a little bit of Asana. It was like a HIIT class but we did everything in that class. It was called HIIT yoga and we do these little short bursts of energy. I said, “We call it HIIT yoga because we need a name for it to sell it.We are doing a little bit of Asana shapes in it but this is really about mindful joyful movement.” I know if I put that on the schedule, people will be like, “I don’t know what that is.”
What is that?
Yeah, they need that. I always say that. It’s about moving in your body that feels good. As mammals, we’re just moving. Sometimes I put on my favorite song and I make everybody dance, and sometimes we do pushups, and sometimes we do yoga, and sometimes we do what ever makes our bodies feel good. We stop if it doesn’t feel good and we shift to something else that’s makes us happy. I always get my students five or six options. “You can do all of these things. We’re going to go for a minute. Go.” Your own adventure. Go. Be in your body in a way that feels life-affirming. Go. You know what I mean? As opposed to creating these ideas that are unattainable or unnecessary or hurtful, or damaging or overdoing it.
I’ve been all about intentional exercise, very similar to you. I would always have this strict schedule where it’s like Monday was arms, shoulders, legs, booty, and if it was Friday, Friday was legs. I could not skip. I have let all that go because first of all, it’s boring.
For me anyways, I was bored. Then I would find myself, I would wake up and I’d be like, “I hate leg day so I hate Fridays now.” That whole thing, associating a day, living for a day, associating a day with a body part that I didn’t actually — I wake up and what do I feel like today?
It might be going for a walk in nature.
Going for a walk, going for a run, riding bike. Today I did a bunch of HIIT. I’m not sticking to one thing. I’m trying all these different things. I’ve been loving the Peloton on our bikes. I’ve been doing an app called down dog so it has meditation, yoga, HIIT exercises, all these different things just for whatever I’m feeling. You get different instruction and I’m all about the instruction. Being a yoga teacher, personal trainer, I love having somebody else tell me what to do because you’re not actually teaching the class, right?
100%. I work with a trainer on and off and I appreciate working with a trainer because I want somebody else to tell me what to do. Because I feel right at the top when I’m in a class and I’m teaching the class, I’m giving that instruction so that people can have their own experience, and I need that for myself sometimes too. I can roll out my mat and do a practice but then I’m thinking about it and maybe I’m not 100% in my practice because I’m guessing about what comes next or what other things I should do, or is what I’m doing balanced. If I do an app or at some point when we get out of COVID,when we can go back to our public classes, it’s nice to just be in that energy and have somebody else lead you to do something. Just close your eyes and be in it.
Beause whenever I do a yoga class, a public yoga class, that’s led by somebody else. I just close my eyes and appreciate the fact that I can move my body. Back last year, it’s been a year already, more than a year, I took a yoga teacher training called Mind Body Solutions with a teacher named Matthew Sanford. He is an Iyengar teacher that happens to be a paraplegic, and he was teaching us how to teach to others who have paraplegia, quadriplegia, traumatic brain injury, and have limited use of their body. It wasn’t until I started to look at how we show up in our own bodies that I could fully appreciate whatever it is that my body could do, and how easy it was for me to navigate the world in a body that’s able.
It’s no big deal for me to get up, go to my car and drive to the grocery store. If you’re somebody who is in a wheelchair or uses a chair, that might not be that easy to navigate around the world. That these people who were in my class that I was getting to practice from were appreciative of whatever their bodies could do. That was a wonderful lesson that the way they saw themselves in the world was very different from the way that I saw them in the world or that the way that I saw myself in the world. That I needed to more connect with my body as a vehicle to experience life and not as something that I constantly need to be improving, or changing, or tweaking. That doesn’t make any sense.
I want to be strong to be strong so that — I had my kids a little bit later in life so I’m going to be of those older grandparents. I want to make sure that I’m able to run with my grandkids, or pick them up, or help my kids out if they need help. That I’m the grandma that can take your kid for the day. That I’m well enough to do these things and that I’m well enough to be there to see my grandkids graduate high school, or go on to college, or get married, because I chose to have my kids a little bit later in life. I have to make some substantative goals around my health so that I get to be here for longer. Starving my body and over exercising my body isn’t going to make that happen.
Wellness is a full circle. Wellness is just not about the physical as well. It’s about other things as well.
Yeah. Everything that you ingest has influence. Everything you read, everything you watch, everything you participate in is part of your wellness. Taking self care for ourselves is really important. Taking downtime is really important. Hanging out with friends is really important. All of those things also nourish your body and are part of your wellness. I want to remind you that you’re going to constantly be hearing messages from the media that tells you, you need to change. We talked about this a little bit, this new year new you, or drop that quarantine weight that’s going to start happening.
I want you to phase those things out because these are ways that companies and capitalism make you feel bad about yourself so that you will buy things that don’t necessarily serve you. Everything you need resides right here in your body and your heart. If you want to buy things, that’s great, but you don’t want to be in social media feeds or around people who are going to make you feel bad about the decisions you make that make you happy. That make you feel well.
When you think about quarantine and you’ve got that quarantine weight, now it’s the end of 2020, how did that wait happened for me? Because I got the quarantine. How did that happen? A lot of good times.
I had a lot of meals, good food, good drink with my family in these four walls, so much love, so whatever. I’m happy. Count your blessings because there has been a lot of sickness in this world.
Yeah, and a lot of food insecurity in this world where people don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
I think to myself that if at the end of COVID all that happened to you is that you gained some weight, you’re doing well. You’re at a place that hopefully, you had access to food. Hopefully, you had access to a lot of things that — You’re alive.
You’re alive. You know what I mean? These are things that we need to consider. I love that you put that in perspective, that that quarantine weight for some of us comes from a place of joy, right?
We need to stop surrounding weight gain with that it’s a bad thing. You were lazy or you over ate or all these things that-
That aren’t true. Bodies fluctuate.
Bodies fluctuate. For me as a person who has a thyroid condition, if I start to lose weight, I have to be vigilant because something’s wrong with my medication and something’s wrong with my body. Another thing I’d like to see people stop doing is commenting on people’s weight as a way to compliment them. You talked about that. You touched on it in the beginning where you talked about that, that shifted five pounds and how many people made such a big deal about it. There’s so many other ways that we can celebrate each other, that has nothing to do with what we look like.
Because you have no clue what’s going on, like I always say, behind the scenes. You have no clue what they’re going through? Are they going through somebody’s sick in their family, stress, a breakup, all these different things. Something going on with their job. You don’t know what is going on and what is happening.
You want to be really conscious of that. The kind of compliments I love to give is, “I always am so happy to see you. You always lift my spirits.” That’s how I feel about you. I’m always so happy to see you. You always lift my spirit. I always have such great conversations with you. Your energy lights up a room. I really like how you’ve done your makeup. I was following a TikToKer and they were talking about why they wear makeup, and I thought this was really interesting. She was like, “A lot of women will say, I don’t want to wake up for men. I know I wear makeup for me.” You know what? When I get dressed up, I get dressed up and wear makeup for other women. I put it together so that I hope that they see me and maybe they get inspired to wear something they wouldn’t ordinarily wear.
I love that.
Right? When my friend was wearing these really loud tights, remember like maybe five or six years ago, super patterned tights. I don’t see them as much anymore. They were really popular and I remember thinking to myself, “There’s no way I can wear that.” My girlfriend said to me, “Anybody can wear anything.” She goes, “I dare you to try them on.” I tried them on and then there was no going back. Next thing I knew I was on every active wear clothing site trying to find the loudest tights that I could find and be out in the world. I remember the first time I put them on, I went to the grocery store and I kept waiting for somebody to come up and tell me I couldn’t wear these things. Because as a plus sized woman, you’re always told, “Wear black. Black is slimming.” You’re always told, “Wear dark colors. Dress monochromatically.” Here I am in the loudest print. I know it’s so boring.
Here I am in the loudest prints and having people come up to me and go, “Oh my God, where’d you get those pants?” That was the reaction I got. Not like, “Ooh, you shouldn’t be wearing that.” We need to let go of that. I always tell people, “If you don’t like something that I’m wearing, you know what you can do? You can turn your head. Nobody told you, you have to look at me. I’m allowed to be in the world as me and if you don’t like what you see, you can turn your head. You can walk away. You can not engage.”
It’s time. It’s time for us. I think as 2021 rolls in, and I know what happens for a lot of people, people set a lot of goals and set a lot of resolutions. You talked about this actually on your social media. Why don’t you share about your feelings on new year’s resolutions?
To me, they don’t make any sense. Only when you start living in a space where every day is a new day or every moment is an unrepeatable moment. Why is it all of a sudden, it’s December 31st and, “Oh, it’s new year’s eve. The ball’s going to drop and all of a sudden I’m going to change.”
Yeah. You have a list of things to do.
Most of the time they fail anyways. I saw that in the fitness industry. People want to lose whatever holiday weight, they want to drop to a certain and by February, diets fail.
98% of them.
Diest fail and they fail by February.
They failed by design and they blame you for your own — It’s never the diet. It’s always you. If diets actually worked, there would be one diet and everybody would be on it, and everybody would be the same size. How boring would the world be if we didn’t have body diversity? It would be so boring. I think it’s great to set a goal for 2021. Your goal is to maybe do something different with your job. Maybe you were thinking about leaving your job. Maybe you were thinking about starting something. Alexa’s talking to me. Starting something new. That’s fine, but having these unrealistic goals that don’t mean anything are a waste of your time.
You can set an intention to maybe get outside more, or drink more water, or something really simple that makes you feel good. Nothing that if you manage to fall off the wagon January 2nd, that you’re not beating yourself up about and you’re not feeling less than. One of the intentions and the goals that I set for myself every single day is to delete or remove people from my life that don’t inspire me or lift me up. If I finish talking to somebody and I feel worse about myself after I’ve talked to them, then it’s not really serving. Or I feel really anxious or angry after I’ve talked to themm then it’s time for them to move on. If it happens to be a family member, then it’s time for me to create a little distance and space and not spend as much time. Sometimes you can’t escape your family. Or to actually talk to that person about their attitude if it makes sense to do so.
And that’s okay.
Yeah, we’re not all meant to get along, right?
That’s right. My husband and I, what we’ve been doing is around Christmas time, instead of setting new year’s resolutions, we pick a word for the year. I heard this from somebody, I forget, quite a few years ago. We pick a word and that word, we tried to revisit it every — It can only be one word. It can’t be a phrase or a sentence. It’s one word.
We always revisit it through the year and it’s so funny because that word always tends to-
That’s kind of fun. We could invite our listeners to pick a word for their 2020.
I would love that.
You could pick a word, even if you’re not listening to this podcast in January or February, but you can just pick a word at any time.
That’s your homework for this. We’re going to start to wrap. That’s your homework for this, is to just pick a word and revisit that word throughout the entire year and see how it shows up in your life. That’s really fun and it takes away all that pressure because it’s just a word.
I remember at the end of the year, sometimes I would think, “I need to set a new year’s resolution.” I would set this ridiculous-
Goal for yourself. That was never going to happen.
I can’t even manage to set a goal like drink eight glasses of water a day. That’s even hard for me. I figure if I’m drinking tea enough, I’m like, “Okay, I’m drinking caffeine free tea. I’m probably getting enough water.
Water. I think. I think.
I’m going to the bathroom.
I’m all the water. You saw my big jug.
I know. You’re so good about that. I’m not as good about that. Things that won’t make me feel defeated.
That’s right. Well, girl.
Yeah. It’s getting to be that time. I think we talked about everything we’re going to talk about today.
I think so.
Keeping in mind the new year,isn’t a new. You were fabulous in 2020, you will be fabulous in 2021, so embrace who you are. As always, we loved talking with you today. If you have any ideas for the podcast, we would love to hear from you. Drop us a line to our social media pages. I am on Instagram @diannebondyyogaofficial, and Dee?
Yes. Check us out. Let us know what you think about the podcast. Feel free to drop us any questions. Maybe you’d like to be a guest on the podcast. We’d love to talk to you. Until next time, we’ll see you soon.