The Journey from Loathing to Loving
By Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC & Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD
Ten years ago, Be Nourished was born from a desire to have a safe and welcoming space for people to have conversations rich in meaning about their relationships to their bodies. We wanted these conversations to illuminate alternatives to the pervasive dieting culture. We were both drawn to this work because it was clear that weight is a normative discontent, regardless of size. In our individual practices, it didn’t seem to matter how much weight people lost or how “cosmetically fit” they were. Feeling content, at home, and flexible in regards to their bodies was continually elusive.
We noticed that the pursuit of the thin ideal can be likened to a cat chasing its tail– you get to the size or shape that you thought would be perfect, nothing changes inside, you still don’t feel good about yourself, and you’re left making more plans for fixing, fixing, fixing (“just 5 more pounds” or “now, if I could just get rid of this”). For many people, it is a never-ending cycle with enormous emotional impact, including the internalization of shame, amplified self-loathing, intensified dieting and disordered eating behaviors, and lives that are being lived out in smaller than necessary ways. When the pursuit of wholeness and wellness is even slightly contingent on achieving a certain body size, worthiness is forever conditional. We have seen, over and over again, that worthiness isn’t something we will ever find in a scale, a size, or in someone else’s approval. Our programs seek to re-install worthiness from the inside out, with roots grown from the core of one’s being.
Over the years, we’ve facilitated groups, retreats, e-courses, and workshops for women who want to let go of body shame and move towards a more compassionate way of showing up for themselves in this crazy, weight-obsessed world. The journey from loathing to loving is often a lengthy one (no lie), but it is worthy of pursuing because it is where you will find true freedom to live the life you envision for yourself.
After years of doing this work, we realized that Body Trust™ is the beating heart behind the cultivation of Health at Every Size® and Intuitive Eating practices. Learning to trust yourself and your body after years of internalizing negative messages is central to feeling better.
We wanted to share some terms you’ll hear us use often that aren’t very easy to define:
Body respect: The place we start from because it is available almost immediately even if body love, acceptance, and trust seem impossible. Your body is your loyal companion, worthy of respectful care simply because it has been with you on this journey from day one, tremendously resilient despite what has happened to it.
Body acceptance: This is the Zen of the practice; a place of equanimity that we return to again and again. We work with what is happening now and what is possible, resting on a belief in our inherent value and worth.
Body trust: Cultivating trust with our bodies after a history of mistrust is a practice that can be likened to how you regain trust in any relationship (it takes time, lots of patience, and tiny consistent acts of care and kindness). Body trust practices involve learning to listen to the body’s subtle and not-so-subtle messages, following them and cultivating faith in their inherent wisdom.
Body love: This is the celebration of all that our bodies are, the exquisite role they play in our lives, all that they do for us, and all that is contained within them.
This work is hard so it can be helpful to remember you have evidence that this is a worthy path for you to explore. The evidence?
The fact that you want it for other women: your friends, daughters, and partners.
The fact that when you read our blog or hear us speak, it resonates with truth– the truth that you have already tried so hard, that dieting doesn’t work, that your worth is far greater than your body.
We cultivate braveness and embolden others to speak their truth into the shared spaces at Be Nourished, whether in our office in Portland or in our private online group forums. If this resonates within you, simply listen.
“The Journey from Loathing to Loving http://ctt.ec/wl979+ @BeNourished #BodyTrust”
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Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC is a therapist and co-founder of Be Nourished. She encourages conscious and authentic living, with the courage to love yourself anyway.
Dana Sturtevant is a registered dietitian, certified yoga teacher, and self-proclaimed foodie. She especially enjoys blogging about mindfulness, yoga, Intuitive Eating, Health at Every Size®, and the Slow Food Movement.