Body Shame Recovery: Beginner’s Resources

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Here is a massive list of resources that helped get me started with my personal body shame recovery. I recommend these resources human-to-human, first and foremost, but I also give my therapist’s seal of approval. Okay, here we go!

Intuitive Eating

I first heard the phrase “intuitive eating” on social media (see below for a list of accounts). I remember messaging someone I followed on Instagram about wanting to lose weight and be “healthier” but not sure if it was all about shame. She very kindly responded and very patiently recommended I read the book Intuitive Eating, which at the time was on my literal nightstand. I so wanted a quick fix (aka what dieting had promised me all my life) and resisted the idea that I would have to invest some time and access some patience. So I hadn’t cracked the book – I’d spent money on it but had yet to spend minutes on it. After familiarizing myself with Intuitive Eating social media accounts for a few months, the idea that this could actually be possible for me – a life without seeking or maintaining weight loss – started to sink in. So, finally, I read the book. Aaaaand I kinda hated it.

Okay, at first, I liked it. It helped me understand the concept of intuition better, it helped me see so much more clearly how diet culture twists everything up, it helped me make sense of my individual experiences through a newer, kinder perspective. But when I got to the chapter on gentle nutrition and read about one of the authors eating an egg white omelette, I wanted to throw the book across the room. THIS IS ANOTHER DIET, I thought. I did not throw the book, but I did skip that chapter, just like the authors said I could. No, really, they start the chapter on gentle nutrition – which is the last tenant of Intuitive Eating for a reason – with explicit permission and a gentle challenge to not read this chapter until the other tenants are well-practised and in place. For the diet brain, ANYTHING can be made into a diet, and my brain read the phrase “egg white omelette” and immediately fired off warnings and flashing red lights. I hated it and thought, again, I’d be stuck in misery either way: Fat and miserable or dieting and miserable.

Then I bought the Intuitive Eating workbook. And started going through the exercises with a friend. And talked to that friend and one other friend about giving up dieting. I shared my commitment to never diet again with my husband and my sister. I listened to a TON of podcasts (again, see below). I started to saturate my brain with the possibility of living a life free of both dieting AND misery. I started to think weight gain might not be the end of the world and, conversely, that weight loss wasn’t the most important accomplishment of my entire existence. MIND-BLOWING STUFF, y’all. As I learned and read and listened and talked, I noticed a friend of mine, Kylie, sharing similar experiences. She joined a program that was changing her life and would soon change mine as well.

Jessi Jean + Rise With Me Sisterhood

Kylie had joined Jessi’s Food Freedom Masterclass and touted it all over her social media and in real life. It was amazing to watch Kylie go from counting everything (macros, calories, pounds, inches) to posing in a bikini, postpartum and fearless. I saw myself in Kylie before the program and, for the first time, felt like it was actually possible for me to feel free from food issues and body shame. (I write more about this time in my life in this blog post if you want more of my emotional and mental process.) I booked a call with Jessi, didn’t tell a soul, took the call, and signed up for the course. I cried my way through that whole conversation and the first several coaching calls within the program. I cried my way through the modules and the journaling. I cried in so many Marco Polo conversations with my accountability partners. I cried, and ate, my way through those months. I let the Rebellious Eater withing me CUT LOOSE, and it was awesome. I told the food police to eff off, and then I started sharing online about what I was working through. But mostly, I connected with myself and connected with others. I know this word “connection” gets thrown around and its meaning can get lost, but there’s no other word for it: I was so isolated and alone, and so disconnected from my intuition and true identity (after two and a half decades of identifying as “blubber girl” or “the fat one”). I had to de-isolate and re-connect. Jessi’s program did that for me then and continues to do that for me now.

Science

Another hugely valuable resource that Jessi introduced me to is science. Okay, I know – DUH. I have a master’s of science and still, I had completely ignored the research around dieting which shows time and time again that dieting doesn’t work long-term for something like 95% of people. I thought I was one of the 5% that dieting could actually “work” for. Like, I thought I was special or somehow exempt from the average, collective human experience? I don’t know. I just know I had heard that statistic and others for years and yet still didn’t (couldn’t) apply it to myself. Just normalizing the weight fluctuations, the ups and downs with my eating habits, the feeling out of control and crazy around food was all so useful. Seeing myself as part of the majority and normal for having these responses to dieting helped alleviate my shame.

So I learned. I gathered information about weight set point, starvation studies, mental collaboration, neuropathways, and so much more. Jessi helped me see science as a true tool, a real asset to my emotional healing. I started seeking out as much knowledge as I could around body shame specifically, and these are the books I found most useful: Body Respect, Health at Every Size, Anti-Diet, The F*ck It Diet. I had to read these all, some of them multiple times, to continue to reiterate the reality that DIETING DOESN’T WORK. It’s not my fault, it’s not my problem, I’m not a failure. It’s dieting’s fault, dieting is the problem, diets fail everyone.

Social Media + Podcasts

Instagram is my jam. Here are a bunch of accounts I follow that help me with everything from Intuitive Eating to body neutrality: Evelyn Tribole, Tiffany Roe, Caroline Dooner, Lizzo, Kylie Russell, Jessi Jean, Colleen Reichman, Christyna Johnson. There are many, many more. Click some hashtags and let the explore page be your friend!

And these are the podcasts I return to again and again: The Dear Body Podcast (check out my interview in episode #61), Don’t Salt My Game, The F*ck It Diet, Food Psych Podcast, Intuitive Eating for the Culture, and Love Your Bod Pod. Some episodes I’ll listen to on repeat for days until they sink in. Some I’ll save and add to my body shame playlist for easy access on a poor body image day or to share with others.

Next Up

I hope these resources are helpful for those of you curious about or already on the road to body neutrality and food freedom. There’s no wrong time to introduce these resources, but I did find these tools especially useful when I was first starting out. Look for another blog post soon in which I list all the resources that helped me with the emotional/ mental health side of body shame recovery, and, as always, THANK YOU FOR BEING HERE!

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