What if you could stop body shame and end the conflict with your body? In this episode Body-Peace™ Coach Nina Manolson and I explore:
- releasing body shame
- ending the conflict with our body and food,
- and the freedom and power that come with finally feeling at peace and at home in your body.
There is a huge cost to body shame, and several multi-billion dollar industries that profit from that shame. If we are consistently criticizing our body, then that may be our deepest issue looking to be shifted, healed and transformed into our biggest gift. The most important and longest term relationship in our life is with our body and when we are in a good relationship with it, everything else in life flows.
Listen as Heather and Nina share an in-depth and insightful conversation about the collective societal and cultural consciousness about bodies that has become normal when it really isn’t – it’s a very narrow definition of acceptability. In truth, every body is perfect as it is, deserving of being loved, adored, adorned, respected, honored and cared for, with each aspect and facet having its own unique beauty.
And, when all our energy and resources are going into being acceptable, then they are not going to the things that are truly ours to share and do in the world. No one has be society’s ideal of beauty to be powerful and loved or wait to be more acceptable to be themselves fully and change the world.
Join us here now as Heather and Nina get real about understanding that often our body image is the doorway to deeper work and finding what may be underneath those issues. Creating a true partnership with our body is so important and it is kindness and deep self-compassion that will support a responsive, nourishing, considerate relationship with it.
Nina shares to her being unshakeable is the ability to sit deeply in self-compassion and be able to approach others from the heart and a place of profound compassion. She also reads one of her inspiring poems about body peace, and suggests we try calling our body whatever name we call someone we truly love and honor – and watch a beautiful relationship unfold.
Nina Manolson M.A. NBC-HWC is a Body-Peace® coach. She helps women end the war with food and body and finally feel truly at home in their body. Really at home. The kind of at home where you can run around naked and not worry about what is “good enough” or what others will think. The kind of good that allows you to feel ultimate freedom and body-peace.
Nina is also a Certified Psychology of Eating Teacher, Nationally Board Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Body-Trust Guide.
She helps her clients move past the deprivation-diet paradigm and into a compassionate and powerful way of eating & living which creates deep, long-lasting change in partnership with their body.
Nina works with individuals, groups and writes body-poems – all in service of helping women create a respectful and nourishing relationship with their body. Learn more at: NinaManolson.com
Heather Clark 00:01
Welcome to Unshakable Being, the podcast with inspiration and practical tools for purpose led leaders like you to relieve stress, build resilience, and unlock vitality in your life, body and business. I am Dr. Heather Clark, and I’ll be your host.
Heather Clark 00:19
Hello and welcome back to the show. I am so pleased to have on the show today. Nina Manolson, she is a body peace coach, she helps women end the war with food and body, and finally feel truly at home in their own body. Like really at home, like how would that be for you? If you felt truly at home in your own body, I’m just so excited to have Nina on the show. She’s got just a very diverse background. She is also a certified psychology of eating teacher, a nationally board certified Holistic Health Coach, and a certified body trust guide. Nina, welcome to the show.
Nina Manolson 00:59
Oh, thank you, Heather, it is totally my privilege to be here with you really a delight.
Heather Clark 01:05
Thank you so much. I have been so looking forward to this.
Heather Clark 01:12
And there’s a lot of things I want to know. So where we’ve decided to start today is this concept of body shame. And I’d like to hear more about it, especially in the context of as the world continues to open up through this pandemic. And then close a little bit and open like coming from cocooning to being out in the world. What are you noticing? And give us a little bit about how body shame has been showing up for people in these circumstances?
Nina Manolson 01:43
Yeah, so we have been in this really internal place, right, literally internal in our homes. Right. So from that place of being closed in, we’ve done our very best to survive and to cope. And we can talk a little more about what that has been for people. But for some people, the way we’ve survived and coped is to take care of us with food, take care of ourselves by baking by nibbling more by snacking more by making more elaborate meals, people have been very into baking bread and, you know, baking all sorts of things. It’s a real sign of survival, it’s a sign of creativity, it’s a sign of I want to survive, I want to live, right eating is really the most life affirming thing you can do. Right? I want to stay alive, I am going to eat now. Right? It’s a very powerful thing.
Nina Manolson 02:45
And some people have put on weight they now have live in bigger bodies. And as the world opens, the outside world is saying, Oh, that’s not okay. What was like, like, there’s all these phrases, right? The pandemic 15, and, you know, post COVID body, right, all these phrases that really fundamentally are shaming us for surviving and caring for ourselves in the best way that we could write. So I’m talking to a lot of women who are like, I’m really nervous about seeing people. Again, in person, they’re gonna see my full body not just neck up, they’re gonna see that I’ve gained weight or my body has changed, or I’m not as strong or as buff as I was. Right?
Nina Manolson 03:38
And then and then what comes is this wave of shame and a feeling of less than, right, I haven’t measured up. I didn’t do this, right? I am not okay, in the skin that I’m in. And there’s a huge cost to body shame, right? It’s like, the way I think of body shame. It’s like we’re on you know, we’re going along on the ocean. We’ve got this nice in big, thick inflatable boats really secure it’s buoying us up. It’s, you know, and shame is like a giant like dagger to the boat that lets the air out. And we’re not we don’t feel supported. We don’t feel safe anymore.
Nina Manolson 04:20
We feel like, fundamentally, there’s something wrong. We’re broken. Right? Oh my gosh, I don’t feel secure in my own skin. I don’t feel like I can navigate this ocean as confidently because literally, I’m leaking out energy. Because the shame attack has been so intense. So it’s so important. Two things in this opening up of the world. One is to notice, oh, that’s the diet culture trying to make money on my shame. Right? calling it the COVID 15 and calling it like oh you better get your post your pre co
Nina Manolson 05:00
body back, right? You better do a post COVID cleanse, detox diet workout, right? It’s gonna get more and more ramped up the diet culture, the diet industry is going to like go, whoo, good. We got an opportunity to make even more money, and it’s gonna attack. So one thing is to notice, oh, someone’s trying to shame me. And the other is to go Wait a second. Is this the relationship I really want to have with my body? Where I really feel bad all the time?
Heather Clark 05:37
Absolutely. I love this concept that it’s truly a relationship with your body. And is a relationship fun when it’s filled with shame? Absolutely not. And why not honor your body? Hey, we’ve made it through this pandemic, we’ve made it through this giant collective trauma. Instead of you got me here, but you did it wrong. Like that’s not, that’s not really helpful. And that doesn’t create more. And there’s a lot of us that know that if somebody else has a judgment about our bodies, that’s really about them.
Heather Clark 06:17
100% it’s about them. You know, that? Look, I don’t know, I used to do it. Like I’m admitting this 100%. And it was done to me all the time. And it still is that look, when another woman looks at you and looks at you from head to toe and backup. Right? It’s the body scan. Right? What does your body look like? What I finally realized when I was doing it is what I wasn’t had nothing to do about them. I was comparing myself. Right? I was going Oh, as much as my body measure up. Am I do I look as good as them? Am I okay? Right? There was this constant compare and despair that fuels that, right?
Nina Manolson 06:56
That’s so important to look at and go like what and then to realize, when someone’s doing that, to you that compare, it has nothing to do with you. It has everything to do with how they feel about their body. And what I love that you said before, was how like, we’re giving ourselves a hard time for making it through for surviving something. And instead of saying to our coping mechanism Well done, you made sourdough bread, like every week and had bread and butter every day, good for you. You made a throw pandemic or like, Oh my gosh, that was a mistake. I am now broken. I need to be fixed. We’re gonna fix this. We’re gonna and the fix is weight loss.
Nina Manolson 07:43
That’s where we get caught. Right? Is there a transition for our body to deal with? Yes. Is there a different relationship we want to have with how we nourish and care for ourselves, possibly. But to make our bodies wrong, it just it? It’s like, trying to have a very intimate relationship with somebody who’s so important to you. But all you can tell them is, oh, you’re doing it wrong. I can’t believe you said that.
Heather Clark 08:15
And it’s a relationship with someone you literally cannot get along without. It’s your body.
Heather Clark 08:22
Exactly, exactly. And our relationship with our body is the longest relationship we will have in our life, we are born into that body, we will die into that body die in that body. This is our long term relationship. This is where it’s at. And so it’s the most important relationship in our life. Because when we’re in a good relationship with our body, everything else flows. We feel confident we feel we have energy in our life, we feel engaged in a way that has us being fully present instead of hiding behind our body shame and body blame.
Heather Clark 09:07
So how does one begin to release themselves from the shame that that body shame?
Heather Clark 09:14
Yeah. So it’s a great question. The first thing is going Oh, there you are. There you are. I often call it the mean mirror voice. Right? When I like would get dressed in the morning. It’d be like really? That doesn’t look so good. Oh, really? Your body’s showing too much there. Right? That’s that mean? mere voice that is the voice of shaming. Right? And I love my clients call them this voice. Some people call it love voice. Some people call it you know, the meanie some people. I have a client who calls her bitchy Becky. Right. Like, it’s really important to name her and be like no, that is not who I really am that is a voice and a voice that didn’t actually come from within, like I hear from a lot of my clients who say, no, that voice really is me. I really believe it.
Nina Manolson 10:14
I’m like, Okay, let’s what, rewind that a second. How did you even learn that voice? Where did those phrases come from? Right. And some people will say, you know, my mom was really critical of her body, that’s a direct our relationship to our bodies very influenced by the relationship we saw our mother have with our body. But some people are like, nope, my mom’s relationship with their body was great. It was awesome. I was in a supportive family. But then I became athletic. And I went onto a team. And the team was all about flat abs and weight requirements, right? So then I learned that if your body doesn’t conform, you were labeled lazy, right? Oh, that’s where I got that shaming voice, right. Or even as simple as you know, I didn’t get it from family, I didn’t get it when I was teenager. Those two are very, very, very common.
Nina Manolson 11:07
Other people are like, you know, it didn’t happen until I had a kid. And then after the kid, I didn’t lose the weight. And I was looking at people, all the celebrities who lose weight, and then I feel bad, like What’s wrong with me? I’m like, so it can happen at any time, right? The diet culture can infiltrate and poison, that inner voice that we want to support that says, I care about you, I honor you, I respect you, I see you as sacred, right?
Nina Manolson 11:41
That inner voice has been brainwashed, right by our diet culture that says to us, our body, there’s something wrong with our body, and our body has to be a certain way in order to be acceptable in order to be valued. And we have an entire society that trashes women’s bodies, right, we have a whole society that says, our value is our size, our value is our shape, right? Our value is our fitness. And to really unpack the shame, is to question and to divest ourselves from that diet culture that’s profiting off of our own shame and are feeling bad with ourselves. So step one in unhooking shame, is to hear that voice and to call it out. Be like, Oh, that’s the voice. And it’s not actually my truth.
Heather Clark 12:48
And it feels like this is rooted, perhaps in trauma, but it’s almost it feels more like it’s rooted in like a collective consciousness thing. Like it’s a collective conditioning that we unconsciously step into because it’s, it’s, it’s very primal, this feeling of fitting in it we mistake that again, for belonging, like the is driver belonging.
Nina Manolson 13:16
Heather Clark 13:16
What we really want is to at least if we can’t feel like we belong, at least fit in. Are we in the cave? Are we around the fire? Or do is are we part of that group? So it feels like this is picking up some of that collective conditioning? To Oh, I thought everything was fine. But yeah, I’m athletic and my abs aren’t flat enough. So somehow, I’m less than, or somehow I’m lazy. So it feels like, it’s not just the conditioning, but it’s the conclusions we’re drawing from that conditioning.
Heather Clark 13:44
Yeah. So if you think about it, like the way we’ve gone through a pandemic, right, do you remember in the beginning when we put masks on, and it felt so weird, right? We’re like, so weird. Now I walk outside, I wear a mask if someone’s not wearing a mask, I’m like, That’s weird. Right? So our collective consciousness around bodies, has become normal. When it really wasn’t right. There was a time where body diversity was great, where people in larger bodies were actually thought more valued, right? But then we got a culture steeped in racism, and classism that made bodies that didn’t look white and upper class. They were diminished. Right? So then it became, Oh, you don’t have this thin white body? Well, then you are less than, right? That was a shift that happened.
Nina Manolson 14:48
That was actually a shift that then we now think, is normal. We look at models and we’re like, oh, that’s the ideal of beauty. It’s shifting a little again now which is great, right? We’re getting Getting influencers and models and public people who are living in different shaped bodies with, you know, diversity of religion and skin color and, you know, gender identity. And like there’s a lot more nuance that’s happening, which is so fabulous. But we have been brought up in a culture that has a very narrow definition of acceptability. And so just as you’re saying, it is a collective consciousness that happened.
Nina Manolson 15:39
And it shifted as a whole world it shifted just like in one year, we’ve shifted, right, how we think about how close somebody is to us, or what’s socially acceptable, right, a friend of mine said, she went on a date recently, and the person reached out to shake her hand, and she was like, shake my hand. Yes. Right. Like, what we think is acceptable has really changed, right? So to realize how we feel about our bodies, has shifted much slower than in a pandemic, but it has been a collective shift of what’s an okay body, right?
Nina Manolson 16:20
Even if you just look, in the last 50 years, you can see styles of women’s bodies, right, of what was acceptable in terms of, you know, in the 20s, super slim, right in the 50s. Super curvy, right? There’s always a different style, it happens slowly. But as women were like trying to catch up and trying to fit in and trying to have that sense of acceptability, and with that acceptability will come power and will come love and will come. agency, right? So there’s so much built in to this idea. If my body is right, then I get to have this very full, alive, happy, loving life. And that’s just really wrong.
Heather Clark 17:19
I could not agree more, I really enjoy you pointing out the false cause and effect of when my body is acceptable, then. When I’m in power, I will have love, I will have agency. That is deeply fascinating to me, because I think that’s something maybe I’m late to the party, but I don’t think a lot of people are really viewing Oh, my body image issue. If I’m acceptable, then I have agency then I have power in my own life, then I’ll be empowered. It doesn’t really work like that except that at a deep level I think culturally we believe that.
Heather Clark 17:58
I especially love the the the new light you’re shedding on this What if body shame and body image issues perhaps that’s actually rooted in racism? Maybe that is actually root rooted in classism, and patriarchy. Like what if one way of shifting it in the world is shifting your relationship to your own body?
Heather Clark 18:23
It is it’s radical. So Sabrina stretch strings, wrote this amazing book and the name of the book is not coming to me. But she wrote basically about how our ideas of body are rooted in racism. And for us to step into saying My body is acceptable, more than acceptable, it is brilliant and beautiful and strong and deserving of being kind, caring, adored, adorned. All of those things, as it is is actually incredibly revolutionary. It is anti patriarchal, deeply feminist work to say my body doesn’t have to change to suit you. My body doesn’t have to change to fit into some bikini that you think is the way that it should look.
Nina Manolson 19:23
Right? My body is perfect as it is, and it can have around tummy and around belly and you know, waving under arms and you know, jelly chins and necks and all of those things have their own unique beauty to them. right this is where we start actually start to shift into how we also speak about ourselves as we age, right? Oh, we shouldn’t age we should stay young. We should stay you know wrinkle free, there should be no cell you Like not ever right? To claim our body and say, yes, this is mine, and I stand with her I stand by her I stand, you know, in support of her, is incredibly radical. And it is for each woman, not only our own specific journey of healing the trauma that we’ve had that’s disconnected for us from our relationship. But it’s also deeply cultural work.
Nina Manolson 20:32
Right, it’s both, we get both the, the incredible deep healing, and we have the external community connection. So when we do that deeply, personal work, it is incredibly powerful because it heals us from the inside. But it’s not just deeply personal work. It’s also work that is communal, it’s a collective reclaiming a collective owning for women of our body. And I’m saying that like capital B od why all of our bodies together, to when we walk into a room to not do the compare and despair to not do the scan, but to look at everybody and go,
Nina Manolson 21:28
Wow, how cool is your amazing body, you have so much power, you have so much agency, as do I that nobody because they have this thin privilege has more power, and is going to get more love and more attention because they have the pretty package with the bow on top that that that our society says, Oh, that’s awesome. You win the prize, because you have the pretty package that we recognize culturally, as somehow more acceptable. But the only reason we don’t recognize all of our bodies, as incredibly powerful and beautiful, unacceptable, is because we’ve been conditioned that way.
Heather Clark 22:13
And in situations like this, it’s really helpful to ask and who benefits from that?
Nina Manolson 22:19
Yes, exactly. That was like my next sentence, right? Who’s making money off of your shame in that moment? Right? Who makes the money and the diet culture is a $72 billion. industry? Right? The anti aging industry is even more. Right? So there’s a huge amount of people making money off of us feeling like we’re not okay the way we are. Right?
Nina Manolson 22:53
So and when we’re in that hustle of trying to be okay, right, let me buy the skin products and the new diet and the this and that when we’re all of our energy and, and resources are going that way. A lot of our energy and resources aren’t going to the things that really are ours to do in the world. Right? Like, we have a basket of you know, 100 pennies, and we’re saying okay, 60 of those pennies, I’m going to give to feeling bad about my body and, and buying the you know, Spanx and the you know, the anti aging cream, but that only leaves me 40 pennies to invest in myself and to give to the world and to to to share what it is that I am here to do. Well, what if we took those 60 pennies back? Now we have a full dollar to go out there and be ourselves fully and change the world and make an impact? Because we do have the agency and nobody has to wait until they’re thinner to do that. Nobody.
Heather Clark 24:11
I love that. Talk to me about how do you approach it when people have had a lived experience? where someone who is thinner, who is prettier? Who has fewer wrinkles, appears to have doors fly open in front of them appears to be able to wield more power in the world because they have the acceptable body type. How can people especially with that lived experience shift into what you’re suggesting?
Nina Manolson 24:40
Yeah, so great question. So I loved how you say it appears that doors fly open it appears it doesn’t appear it is. This is thin privilege. Thin privilege is alive and well in our culture, right. You can get on a plane if you’re slim, but if you live in a large body, how am I going to sit in that plane will the safety book Fit Me, right? If I walk into an interview, there’s documentation that says when somebody in a larger body goes into an interview, they are assumed to not be as smart to not be as capable. Right? So when you’re saying it appears, now it is then privileges for real. So there is first to acknowledge, yeah, that person has been privileged, whether they acknowledge it or not, we’re not in charge of them.
Nina Manolson 25:30
Right, we that we can’t do anything about how they seem or how they see themselves or how they use their thin privilege. That’s their work to do. But what we can do for ourselves, is be on our side, right? To acknowledge, wow, I am walking into a situation where thin privilege is going to be there, right? That’s the first thing to acknowledge. It’s gonna happen, because it does. Thin privilege exists in our culture, fat phobia, fat, weight stigma, right? There’s a lot of nastiness around weight, right? There’s a lot beautifully. So there’s so much inclusion around so many aspects in our world, but not so much when it comes to how your body size, right? So part of it is allying yourself with people who say, Yes, I support you, in who you are. We need the wind in our sails. We need those people around us to bolster to support. Right, it’s really important.
Nina Manolson 26:40
So two things in that situation, one, acknowledge that then privileges there. Oh, yeah. And the other is, find people who are on your side. And if it’s somewhere that you can name it, wow, I’m really aware, you know, in this culture of this business, there’s a certain look that you seem to foster, I want to invite you to look at the examine that. And I don’t fit into that. And I don’t want to what I bring is something else, something powerful, which is agency and intelligence and creativity, that doesn’t come from doors flying open in front of me because I am tall, blond, and thin and blue I write, they comes from me actually doing the work in the life or having a lived experience. You know, these are, these are deep issues that we’re not really talking about in our culture as much. And so I appreciate your curiosity into
Heather Clark 27:48
Oh, yeah, like I there’s a lot more where that came from, because,
Nina Manolson 27:52
Heather Clark 27:54
what, cuz I have had an experience where I was at an event, and someone came out to do a presentation. And it was a woman in a large body. And she just owned it, she owned who she was, she owned how she looked. And she as a result had so much power. And part of that power, was giving me the opportunity to realize, Oh, I’m waiting to be a speaker until I’m thinner. I’m waiting to do things until this thing happens. And I’m like, What? That’s foolish.
Heather Clark 28:33
And what I realized in that moment, is that because she was completely owning it, and had done all of her work, and integrated, whatever shadow she had around it, like, whatever her process was, she had more power. And she had a different kind of privilege. And I’m wondering, what have you seen, perhaps in your own life, perhaps in that have clients? What is the shift when they just own everything about them? Like they’re in a body? Maybe it’s a strong body, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s a big one, maybe it’s a thing when like, what happens when they just own all of it?
Nina Manolson 29:08
So it’s not a switch. And now I own it. And the thing that I see for people who do own it, and I’ve seen it in my life, right? It’s a continuum. Sometimes I’m like, Yeah, my bodies all that right. as I age as my hair has gotten whiter as it’s changed, shape them become softer, and all sorts of things right? is the thing that allows me to stay what I call body current.
Nina Manolson 29:36
This is a really important term that I’ve coined, which is I am with this body. Now, I’m not trying to have the body I had when I was 20. I am not thinking about the body that I will have for the wedding in August. I’m in this body, I am being body current. And with this current body, I have compassion. So self compassion is The thing that lets us walk into that room and be all that and feel all that, because we don’t, no matter who it is, doesn’t feel all that all the time, that’s the sort of myth of I’m going to flick the switch of body positivity and body love. And today, I am here forever. That’s not life, life happens. And suddenly we feel smaller, like, you know, a little diminished or we feel hurt.
Nina Manolson 30:28
Or we, you know, some of the old shame comes up. But this compassion, the self compassion, the kindness, the awareness, lets us navigate the relationship so that we stay by our side, we are like that woman that you describe walking in that room. So she is standing by herself behind herself saying, yes, you have something to say here. You have power and agency and something to offer. Right? And so sometimes, yes, that’s how we feel. And then sometimes she may get off that stage and feel suddenly really vulnerable. And to be able to navigate the ebbs and flows in our feeling of like, I got this, I am all that takes compassion, like, oh, wow, that’s awesome. You’re feeling so fabulous. You’re in body love and feeling like totally vibrant and engaged in life. Awesome. And sometimes? Well, not so much. You know, and that’s okay. And that’s okay. That’s the human experience.
Heather Clark 31:45
So how does someone who is experiencing body shame or maybe even in a shame spiral? How do they activate that compassion?
Nina Manolson 31:55
Yes. So, so important, the first thing when we are going down that shame spiral, right? Or just in a place of, ah, I’m feeling really bad. So I’ll tell you a story. I was at a conference with a lot of health coaches, and everybody had been up on stage saying, you know, I’m so awesome. And I got this many clients, and I did this new appearance on TV, and I was getting smaller and smaller and smaller.
Nina Manolson 32:28
And so by the time I left, I was like, I don’t know the size of a pea, right? Like my, my sense of self had shrunk. So then I had some friends who were like, let’s go out and I was like, no. And I was like, You know what, I’m going to give myself space. And the first thing I did was, you are in a shame spiral. You went into compare and despair, so bad, that you shut down on yourself. And this is where, like, it’s like, the emergency kit of self compassion comes out. And the first phrase in that emergency kit is on suffering right now. With a hand on your heart. Oh, I’m suffering right now.
Nina Manolson 33:13
And when I say that to people, people are like, Yeah, but I’m not suffering. Like, you know, kids in Africa. No, no, weren’t don’t have to be suffering, like giant s suffering, you can be, I am having my own private suffering, right. So in that room that night, I just put my hand on my heart and was like, Oh, I’m suffering. I like totally collapsed and made everybody the hero and I am a crumb. And there’s nothing good about me. And I just had gentleness, for the fact that I was hurting. It’s from that place of Ouch. I am suffering that opens the door to compassion.
Nina Manolson 33:56
And when we open the door to compassion, there’s many things that can come in, but one of them is our experience of humanity. Oh, I am suffering. Oh, you know what other people suffer? Do. Other people sometimes get down on themselves? Oh, yeah, I’m human. Oh, I’m suffering because I’m human. Oh, yeah. People do that. Also humans, humans, is that this is how that like, this is how the breadcrumbs go, right? I’m suffering. I am human humans. Other people deserve care and love and attention.
Nina Manolson 34:34
Oh, I’m a human too. So I deserve some care and love and attention. Then we can start to get those bread crumbs all the way back to being kind and on our own side. But that shame spiral is you can’t like it’s not like a pull yourself up from the bootstraps kind of moment. It’s ouch hand on heart. Oh, I’m hurting moment. And then a softening into that feeling. That’s how we can shift when we’re in that deep, deep, deep pain of self rejection.
Nina Manolson 35:14
I love that so much. Because it’s not simply the acknowledgement of what’s happening, it’s not simply the hand on the heart that I am suffering so much, because that is what’s happening. What I’m hearing is the shame trigger, at least in your case. And in many cases, for me, it gets triggered when there is an apparent lack of vulnerability. Like the person sharing is like, I am fabulous, and all of these different ways. But maybe they don’t talk about how Oh, and I tripped up the stairs on the way here, you know, they don’t they leave those parts.
Heather Clark 35:47
But because they’re presenting with a lack of vulnerability, it seems more likely for us to go into shame. So part of it, the shifting into the compassion is not simply the acknowledgement. It’s the being vulnerable with yourself. Like, it’s okay that I’m struggling now, like that, because that’s what’s happening, let me simply be with that. I’m human and other humans are deserving of love and compassion, and I’m human airgo, I am deserving. I really love the way you’ve walked us through that. Because it’s not simply with body image issues, this is applicable for everything, everywhere. It’s a powerful tool.
Heather Clark 36:27
It is. And one of the things you just said, it’s not just body image issues, but our body image issues, open the door to all those issues, right? So when we’re because it would have been as easy and I’ve done it many times in those situations, instead of Oh, gosh, I am the size of a pea. My body’s not okay, I should lose weight. Right? Instead of feeling bad about what’s happening, or being vulnerable to the feelings that are happening, our experience of our body becomes the container and the dumping ground for all of our bad feelings, right?
Nina Manolson 37:06
A bad interaction happened with my partner, I should lose weight. Right? I went to the gym. And it was, you know, the first time I’d been back at the gym, and I’m feeling a little bit breathless, and I’m starting to worry about, you know, am I gonna be able to, you know, walk, you know, the whole beach this summer, and I’m having concerns and fears about my health, I better lose weight, right? Our body image and our sense of self in our body becomes the, like whipping post for all the bad feelings.
Nina Manolson 37:47
Instead of Wow, I’m a little bit uncomfortable back at the gym right now. Like, gee, I haven’t done that in a while. Right? Instead of being with that, or Wow, that was a really hard interaction. It was very uncomfortable. I feel really vulnerable instead. Oh, gosh, they’re judging me from my belly. Right. So food and body become the doorway for all these deeper issues. Right. And that’s actually a very cool way when we can be off I hate my, you know, sugar cravings. I hate the fact that I’m nighttime snacking. I hate the fact that I’m a nibble, nibble nibble, I hate the extra 1510. You know, whatever. 25 pounds.
Nina Manolson 38:34
Instead, going wow, here is an opportunity for me to look at this and see what’s underneath. Right? Our unwanted food and body issues are a doorway to all of our deeper stuff. Right? I often say some people you can go and spend $10,000 and go see Tony Robbins. But if you have food and Bobby issues, all you have to do is eat breakfast and lunch and all your issues are right there on the plate. Like we don’t have to go digging for them. We don’t have to self help it. You know like it’s there.
Nina Manolson 39:07
Well, because all roads lead to Rome if you want to go see Tony Robbins great. Go do that. But I love it like you can use anything. Okay, well, this is my doorway through.
Nina Manolson 39:16
Yeah, beautiful. Absolutely.
Nina Manolson 39:18
So I would love to know, what’s your origin story? How did you come to be doing this work in the world?
Heather Clark 39:26
It’s a great question. So the short answer is, I did not feel good in my own skin. So there’s a wonderful French saying I grew up in Montreal. And there’s a wonderful French saying in a song b&o my poet means I feel good in my skin. And I would hear that and I’d be like yeah, no, not me. I always felt like I was supposed to be thinner. Right. And I was on my first diet when I was nine years old, and dieted from then on for decades, right the only relationship I knew how to be with my body was to try to make it smaller. That was my job. You’re supposed to be smaller. I was supposed to be taller.
Nina Manolson 40:04
Well, that’s a little hard to manage. And I was supposed to be blonder. I’ve never been blonde. So you know, cut a dyed my hair did not. But that was the image right that I grew up with. That was what beautiful was. And in order to be a powerful woman, well, you better be society’s ideal of beauty. So I hustled for that. But it never felt good. And I did all the therapy in the world and became a therapist. I did all the nutritional health coaching, I became a health coach, right? I, like did all the deep work, but I was like, why am I still struggling? And it wasn’t until I pulled them together. Right?
Nina Manolson 40:44
This is an emotional issue. This is a health and what am I eating issue. This is a cultural societal issue. These are intrinsically connected, and I have to work on all of them. I call that the nourishment dynamic to actually shift the relationship that I have with my food and body. So you know, I do this work, because it’s my work. And it always has been. And I’ve been doing this work now with women, and their relationship with their body for 30 years. And I started as a body worker, My hands were on women’s body, doing massage, and every day I would hear stories of trauma. And then people’s memories in their body. And I was like we are carrying our story. And our body, this body needs to be listened to. She deserves to be honored and to be cared for. So important. So that’s why I’m like so passionate and so committed to helping women have body peace, because it’s enough with the body war.
Nina Manolson 41:59
Yeah, because a lot of people, maybe I shouldn’t phrase it like that. Let me try again. In my world, there’s a fair number of people that have had body image issues, and varying degrees of success with, it seems like it’s more of a management managing, like, so it’s almost like another job, I’m managing my issues. And how can people shift that relationship? Or do you find that it does continuous management, like, talk to me about the management piece? Yeah,
Heather Clark 42:36
I love that. So the management piece, so a lovely colleague of mine said one day, she was talking about what she does. And she said, I help women manage their body, like it was a project. And my whole body like it was like terrible, like, hair on the back of my neck feeling. I was like, don’t manage my body. I have a whole patriarchal system that’s been trying to manage my body. I tried to manage my body for 30 years, Do not come near my body with a 10 foot pole and try to manage her.
Nina Manolson 43:07
Right. So that management model is what we’ve been trained into. Right? And it’s understandable, right? Okay, the diet culture says, You know what, you’re hating your body feel shame. I got a program for you, let’s manage you right out of this situation. But then we go, we manage, manage, manage, we go on a diet, we go train for a marathon, we do whatever it is, I’m going to go go, go, go go. And it’s really hard work. And eventually we’re like, this is exhausting, and not so fun. Not so pleasurable. So you know what? I don’t think I want to do this anymore. So we stop. And we’re like, ah, I can’t believe I stopped. I should try harder. I should do more. Let me just, you know, get my willpower in gear now.
Nina Manolson 43:51
And then we go go, we try try, try. And that’s all this is exhausting. And then went on failed. It failed. I did it again. I failed again. Let me tell you, I did this diet cycle 500 times in my life, right? More Weight Watchers than I care to admit, around and around. I’m on it. I’ve got it. This is it. Now Oh, I didn’t I failed. What’s wrong with me, I am a problem. I need to be fixed. I need to be fixed. Let me manage it another way, right around and around around we go on the Ferris wheel. So the management model just fails us. And that fundamentally is the shift that we have to make is I don’t actually want to manage my body. I want to and we talked about this in the beginning.
Nina Manolson 44:36
I want to be in relationship with my body. I want to have a functioning, authentic, caring, compassionate, communicative, considerate, loving, nourishing relationship with my body. I want to have a pleasure but I want to have fun with her. Let’s like enjoy life. Let’s not try to control And be taped around everything. Because enjoyment is stainable. This is something I can do until I’m 102. Right? But management is not sustainable because life happens, we have pandemics, we get illnesses, we have injuries, we get old, and management doesn’t stick.
Nina Manolson 45:23
And we need a way to be in a relationship that gives us the long haul view of feeling good. A feeling like oh, this is a good place to live. I like being in my body, I can engage, I can grow old, I can pick up grandchildren, I can run, I can make love, I can, like, you know, lay on a beach, I can feel the sun, we want that juicy, yummy, pleasurable, delightful relationship with our body. Management doesn’t keep us there. Management keeps us in the I did it right. And I did it wrong. And it keeps us in the shame and the blame. And that doesn’t feel good.
Nina Manolson 46:08
And in addition, it’s incredibly stressful in church, because that management piece at depletes resilience, it requires a great deal of executive function. And you’re often working at odds with your stated goal. Oh, my stated goal is to lose weight. But I’ve got all this stress, I’m depleting resilience, I’m using all this executive function. And now my body is asking for more sugar. Now my body is asking for more. And then it perpetuates that negative cycle. And I love this, it’s not, when you share about our relationship with your with the body. It really feels like a partnership. And when you’re in partnership with your body, that goes both ways your body can tell you what it requires. And and I think people are perhaps afraid that if they get into partnership and just listen to what the body is asking for, oh, well, then I’ll gain, you know, hundreds of pounds, and then things will just fly off the rails and like first of all? Probably not. Second of all, isn’t that interesting that that’s where you go to next? And what does that mean to you? Is it about the weight? Or is it about the perceived consequences of the weight?
Heather Clark 47:25
Yeah, it’s a couple of things. Yeah, there’s a couple things he said were so important. So one is the stress cycle that management puts us into, right? And the impact of when we’re in sympathetic nervous system, that’s our fight or flight, right, and how that negatively impacts our ability to really function. Well, in life when we’re in chronic stress. Most of us know a little bit about that. So that’s one piece that you said was so important to like, take the yellow highlighter and and highlight the other is this piece around. How do we be in shifting? How did you say it into the? Tell me again, the words you use are so good.
Heather Clark 48:09
Sometimes I channel and I can’t recreate the words, but in my perspective, it’s like shifting into that partnership mode
Nina Manolson 48:15
Heather Clark 48:16
that was together. It’s not like body, you need to do this. It’s more like a body. What do you require? Oh, I find I don’t really quite what to do that like where’s How can we partner?
Heather Clark 48:27
Yes. So that partnership, exactly, that was the word I was trying to come back to is so important. And people do feel like oh, gosh, and if I start eating intuitively, if I start really honoring my desires on my wants, oh my gosh, I am going to be eating bonbons in bed and watching Netflix 24 seven, right? There’s this fear of, if I let go of the restriction, if I let go of the management, I will go fly free and ended up in this what I call the whatever day like I’m just gonna do whatever, I’m gonna do whatever, right? And there is a sort of an actual reaction when people let go of the tight, tight tight, there is a bit of a reaction of a little kid going away.
Nina Manolson 49:10
Nobody’s like minding the store. You know, I can eat Swedish Fish. But after I brush my teeth, oh my gosh, seriously, right? There’s there is going to be that. But that’s again, not an authentic relationship with our body. That’s reaction, right? We want to be in a responsive connection. We want to actually be in a relationship where we’re responding and considering our own body. So eating intuitively. Listening to our own body, trusting our own body is not ignoring our body. It’s actually honoring our body. It’s being embodied awareness. It’s creating an actual conversation where we’re not Lan Lan, I can hear you. Like, I’m not listening anymore, because you’re not putting me on a diet. So whatever, right? It’s being in that, like, oh, how can I support you? How can I help you? What is in your best? And what is in my best interest in this moment? How do I be there for myself? That sometimes takes practice? it sometimes takes some re-learning, right? We weren’t taught that at all. We were not
Nina Manolson 50:27
No, no. And it’s really it’s creating that unshakable relationship, not only with your body, but yourself, which then naturally, you’re creating unshakeable relationships with everything else in your life, and then you can respond, not react. I really think that one of the reasons why people feel like, well, if I stop the management, then I’m just gonna lift off the rails because there is that, that snap back. And people are only identifying with Well, I quit paying attention. And now I’m eating Swedish Fish before I brush my teeth, and I’m eating a whole pie by myself or whatever it is.
Nina Manolson 51:02
Heather Clark 51:02
And they’re not staying with this whole relationship building until it gets all the way to Okay, and now that’s over. Okay, body, what do you require? What would support you? And because the body is also asking you in ways, maybe you can’t hear yet? What would support you like, like, it’s truly a partnership?
Nina Manolson 51:26
Heather Clark 51:27
And what if it’s just your cognitive mind that isn’t quite along for the ride yet? What if everything else is already there? And it’s simply a shift?
Heather Clark 51:38
Yeah, it’s so powerful. There’s definitely the cognitive part. There’s also the ability to be in our body to embody to actually feel and there’s something called interoceptive awareness. It’s our ability to feel inside our body. And most of us have been trained out of that experience. We’ve trained to, I don’t need to be, oh, wait an hour or two. It’s okay. Right. Especially when when nurses I work with, it’s like really retraining? Do you need to pay soapy? Like, seriously? Or even? I’m hungry. Oh, I need to eat now. And do I really need to go eat? Right? or What does hunger feel like? What does too hungry feel like? What does full feel like? What does my heart beating in my body feel like?
Nina Manolson 52:41
All of that is interoceptive. Awareness. We have all been trained out of it. Right? I don’t need to pee. I’m tired. I’m not tired. I just need a cup of coffee. Have a little chocolate? Not tired. Right? I don’t need to go to sleep. Right? We’re all like our computers, our phones late at night? eyes like bleary. Right. But are we going like honey, you’re tired? Put the phone down. Close your eyes. Right? We’ve been trained into the lalala. I can’t hear you body. And so part of this relationship is is building body listening. And that is that takes some you know, there’s some embodiment worked in there.
Nina Manolson 53:23
There’s some getting tuned into interoceptive awareness. There’s knowing how to pick up on those cues, and learn how to interpret them. Because these are skills that we’re born into, but our culture has raised us out of them. There’s a client of mine, she said once she said, I feel like I missed like this day at school where you like learned how to listen to your body. I was like, Oh, no, you didn’t miss it. It was not there. We did not get this. Right. It was about listening to someone else’s feelings. Someone else tune in, especially women. Right? When I asked women how they are right, they can tell me how their children are and how their parents are, how their mate is how their friends are. Literally I’m like, No, no, no, you How are you? Oh, how am I? Right? We’re super empathetic, we can feel right into everybody else. It takes some retraining to feel into ourselves, and to honor our bodies in that journey.
Nina Manolson 54:31
And when you do, it really brings a lot more freedom into your life. It gives you a lot more power. And that simply knowing where am I at? What is my body asking for? What do I require? What would I like? If I were putting myself first what would I do? These are really crucial questions that can change your entire life. And I love your approach of just start with what’s in front of you in For a lot of people, that the body image issue is what’s in front of them? Yeah,
Heather Clark 55:06
yeah. If you are in a place where you are criticizing your body consistently, where you are feeling bad about what you just ate, where you’re trying to figure out the diet of tomorrow, where you’re giving your body a hard time, when you get dressed, that’s your issue to look at. Right? It is right there to be healed and to be shifted and to be, you know, transformed into actually your biggest gift. Because our unwanted weight issues or unwanted body image issues, our unwanted eating behaviors are all there, saying, Hey, I’m over here, please pay attention to me. And if we can turn to them from this approach of body peace, then we get to shift into a very powerful, long term sustainable, positive relationship with our food and our body.
Heather Clark 56:09
Heather Clark 56:12
I would like to know, what does it mean to you to be unshakable?
Nina Manolson 56:17
Hmm, I love that.
Heather Clark 56:19
So for me, to be unshakable means really to sit deeply in self compassion. Because it’s not about being super confident. It’s not about being like, oh, gosh, I got it all going on. It’s not even about I think at some point in my life, it would have been like, I’m really strong. But really to me unshakable is to be able to approach myself and the world and the people around me, from a place of deep from the heart compassion, like, Oh, yeah, here we are being humans, right. And as the as such, we can pretty much do anything. We’re incredible. We are truly incredible. One of the things I think to me that’s being unshakable is sitting in that deep seat of compassion. But one of the things that helps me do that, is being surrounded by women. I find it incredibly supportive. And it does give me that container of feeling unshakable, it’s part of why a lot of the work I do is with groups of women, because when women support each other in such a deep and caring way, it has a profound influence on how we feel about ourselves.
Nina Manolson 57:44
That’s beautiful. I just love that and hadn’t consider the perspective of surrounding yourself with women to help support the internal as well. So it’s an it’s a very community based approach. Love that. So I know that you’re also a poet. And I’m wondering, would you honor us with sharing a poem?
Heather Clark 58:08
I would love to. I was thinking, as we were talking about all the different themes that we were talking about, and I decided I would read a poem called we got the body thing wrong. And I chose this poem because we talked a lot about body management, right? And about sort of, like, how do I manage this body and how our culture manages our body, our culture gets into this, like, I’m going to fix you. So this poem is called we got the body thing wrong.
Nina Manolson 58:45
We got it wrong, because we were taught it was a thing. Our body something to be dealt with, to be managed to be monitored to be measured. We got it wrong because our body became it. How could this wondrous collection of cells wisdom and energy, be an IT it puts our body over there separate from us, it keeps us from being connected. Your body, she, he, they Goddess is connected to you, she is you. Our parts are all connected body, mind, soul, spirit feelings, but she, your body keeps getting left out, she gets ignored. objectified, she gets managed. Try calling her she or darling or lovey, or whatever name you call someone you truly love. Try that and watch a relationship unfold.
Heather Clark 59:59
Nina Manolson 1:00:00
Thank you so much. You know, where can we find you?
Nina Manolson 1:00:06
So the best place to find me is that NinaManolson.com. So that’s my name with a.com. You can also email me Nina at NinaManolson.com. I’m also on Instagram at Nina Manolson on Facebook. Nina Maolson and tik tok. I’m Nina Manolson. So, and feel free to reach out.
Heather Clark 1:00:29
Nina Manolson 1:00:30
There’s some fun goodies on my website and more poems. But if you feel like you know what, I just need to talk about this. Just reach out.
Nina Manolson 1:00:39
Beautiful. Thank you so much. Thank you for coming onto the show. It’s been delightful.
Nina Manolson 1:00:45
Thank you, Heather. Really my privilege.
Nina Manolson 1:00:50
Thanks so much for listening. I’d love to hear from you. Go to unshakablebeing.com and submit your question, comment, or topic request. May you be unshakable, unstoppable, and vibrant again. Until next time.