Body Trust is Your Birthright
By Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD & Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC of Be Nourished
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 our relationship with our bodies. We wanted these conversations to illuminate alternatives to the pervasive dieting culture. We were 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 the body 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 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 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. So we 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 people 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 your self and your body after years of internalizing negative messages is central to feeling better.
Here are some terms you’ll likely hear from us and others looking to create a weight-inclusive world:
Body Respect is the place we start from because it is available to us almost immediately, even if body love, acceptance and trust seem impossible. The body is a loyal companion, worthy of respectful care simply because it has been with us on this journey from day one, tremendously resilient despite what has happened to it. You may not love the body you occupy, but are you willing to respect it? Try to listen to it? Get curious about it?
Body Acceptance 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 is a practice of weight-neutral self-care. Cultivating trust with our bodies after a history of mistrust 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. Over time, we become more aware of the ways the body shows up for us everyday, and in that awareness, we begin to trust its cues and rhythms.
Body Love is something we grow into over time as we develop respect, acceptance and trust. We might move in and out of body love, knowing that bad body days may still come and go. Our relationship with our bodies is an evolving one, as is any relationship, and falling in and out of love happens. Ultimately, body love is the celebration of all that our bodies are, the exquisite role they play in our lives, all they do for us, and all that is contained within them.
You can see the nuances and layers of healing body shame while living in a weight-biased world. It is an evolving and non-linear process with a lot to explore.
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 everyone else but you: your friends, daughters, and loved ones.
This truth resonates deeply—you have already tried so hard, dieting doesn’t work, and your worth is far greater than your body.
-Dana and Hilary
About Be Nourished:
In 2006, Hilary Kinavey, MS, LPC and Dana Sturtevant, MS, RD co-founded Be Nourished, a revolutionary business helping people heal body dissatisfaction and reclaim body trust. Hilary is a licensed professional counselor, a Certified Daring Way™ facilitator, and a transformational workshop leader. Dana is a registered dietitian, Motivational Interviewing trainer, and Kripalu Yoga teacher. After many years of deep listening, learning, and working at Be Nourished, Hilary and Dana co-created Body Trust® Wellness, a curriculum to encourage movement toward a compassionate model of radical self-care to heal body shame and patterns of chronic dieting and disordered eating. From 2007-2012, Hilary and Dana were adjunct instructors for the Eating Disorder Certificate Program at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. Hilary and Dana are popular speakers on topics such as Health at Every Size®, intuitive eating, and body respect in health care communities, and regular contributors to the Huffington Post. For more information, visit benourished.org.