Month: September 2017

LU 062: Dr. Michelle Lelwica – The origins of “The Religion of Thinness and Physical Improvement”.


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Lovely radicals… it’s podcast time!

In this week’s episode of the “Life. Unrestricted.” podcast, it’s my great pleasure to talk to Dr. Michelle Lelwica from Minnesota.

Michelle is a professor of religion at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where she teaches courses on the intersection of religion, gender, culture, and the body. She did all of her graduate work at Harvard Divinity School, where she received a Masters of Theological Studies in Christianity and Culture (1989) and a Doctorate of Theology in Religion Gender and Culture (1996). She is the author of “Shameful Bodies: Religion and the Culture of Physical Improvement” (2017), “The Religion of Thinness: Satisfying the Spiritual Hungers behind Women’s Obsession with Food and Weight” (2009), and “Starving for Salvation: The Spiritual Dimensions of Eating Problems among American Girls and Women” (1999). She has also written different scholarly articles and popular blogs addressing women’s conflicted relationships to their bodies.
In our conversation, Michelle talks about:
– How early she started to feel self-conscious about her body
– How she spiraled down into an eating disorder, while nobody knew or saw how sick she was
– How getting taught how to think critically, as well as learning about the history of how women are being kept small by narrow beauty standards helped her to recover
– How religious narratives influence our culture’s obsession with “physical improvement”
– Where some of the roots of our hope for “salvation” and “finding happiness” in thinness can be found in Christianity
– How women’s desires, appetites and bodies are contextualized in religious narratives
– How the story of Eve and the apple influenced the way women and their bodies are treated and perceived to this day, and how similar some of today’s diet-culture messages are framed
– Questions to ask ourselves when it comes to our belief that we have to “be pretty” or “be skinny” or “look good”: For whom? Why? Says who?
– Why our use of language matters, especially around bodies, food, exercise and weight (“good”, “bad”, “sinful”, “guilty”, “get rid of”, “burn”, “eradicate”, “purge”, “repent”, etc.)
– How foundational myths bleed into modern day diet-culture
– How dieting, diet-talking and wanting to belong to certain food/eating/fitness tribes (Paleo, Vegan, Crossfit, Keto…), gives many people a false sense of community where all they hear is the respective gospel
– How women get distracted from giving their unique gifts and presence to the world by the pursuit of “a better body”
– How our culture’s pursuit of “physical improvement” serves the interest of transnational capitalism
– Why never to underestimate the effect of the intense amount of harmful imagery and messages our brains have to take in on a daily basis
– How the BMI (which was never intended to be an indicator for health to begin with!) was manipulated and how this influenced how we view bodies and weight
– Why the lowering of the BMI had everything to do with profit and how the financial ties to this decision lead to the weight-loss industry
– How corporations deliberately send us contradictory messages
– How getting angry about having been duped can awaken your internal drive for change
– How Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly”-series about the objectifying, narrowly defined, digitally enhanced depiction of women’s bodies in advertising shook her awake
– How the “cruisade for thinness” and the “obesity epidemic” started around the same time and what that should tell us about the harmful long-term effects of dieting
– Why “slowing down” can be the greatest blessing
– How to start appreciating non-conformity
– How she challenges her students to ask themselves what their true personal values are…
… And so much more!

Michelle doesn’t have her own website (yet), but you can find the articles Michelle wrote by googling her name “Michelle Lelwica”. Here are a few examples from Psychology Today:
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-religion-thinness

Here’s the link to her latest book called “Shameful Bodies”…:
https://www.amazon.com/Shameful-Bodies-Religion-Physical-Improvement/dp/1472594940

And here’s the link to her books “Religion of Thinness” and “Starving For Salvation”:
https://www.amazon.com/Michelle-Mary-Lelwica/e/B001KD3N1O

And here’s the link to the book she mentioned, “The Good Body” written by Eve Enzler:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/good-body-eve-ensler/1100627130

Also, here’s the link to “Descarte’s Error” by Anthony Damasio:
https://www.amazon.com/Descartes-Error-Emotion-Reason-Human/dp/014303622X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1501341198&sr=1-1&keywords=descarte%27s+error

Jean Kilbourne addresses body image and women’s depiction in advertising in her award-winning “Killing Us Softly”-series as well as in all of her work, find out more here:
http://www.jeankilbourne.com/

Hey, radicals, I need your help to keep up producing the podcast. Please consider supporting it with a monthly pledge on Patreon! Thank you very much. Here’s the link:
https://www.patreon.com/lifeunrestricted

If you want this sort of badassery to come to your phone automatically, please DO subscribe on iTunes (Apple):
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********* Don’t forget!*********

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LU 061: Alan Levinovitz, Ph.D. – The religious roots of modern food fears & “The Nocebo Effect”.



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Hey there, lovely radicals… podcast time!

In today’s episode of the “Life. Unrestricted.” podcast, I talk to Alan Levinovitz from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Alan is an assistant professor of religion at James Madison University, and his academic work focuses on classical Chinese thought, the philosophy of play, and the intersection of religion and medicine. He studied philosophy and religion at Stanford, and received his Ph.D. in religion and literature from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His writing has appeared in numerous media outlets as well as academic journals.
Listen to Alan talk about:
– What made him see and investigate the connection between religion and our culture’s obsession with “wildly attaching morality/miracle powers” to different foods
– Why he would personally have chosen a different title for the book
– Where the inclination to attribute (somewhat random) superpowers to certain foods comes from
– Why we are so susceptible to fall for miracle promises and fall for all the nutritional lies we are presented with
– Where the science really stands on gluten-sensitivity
– Why a lot of people with disordered eating hide their disorder by making up sensitivities they don’t really have
– How living in fear of certain foods can severely limit our life, relationships and joy
– What we are forgetting when we are obsessed with “healthy eating”
– Why a fearful attitude about food/food groups/ingredients alone can cause the undesirable symptoms we were trying to avoid
– How to not get caught up in the myth of “optimization” and “body hacking” when it comes to food and exercise
– How we should really be thinking about the concept (and consequences!) of “dieting”
– Why fear-mongering myths about food can have a powerful, long-lasting effect on people
– Why, when “the honeymoon phase” of a certain diet is over, we tend to think it’s us that sucks at dieting
– What the “Sunk Cost Bias” is and how you can recognize it if it happens in your own mind
– Why books by medical doctors (like “Wheat Belly” or “Grain Brain”) are misrepresenting actual scientific evidence, and are causing nothing but unnecessary hysteria and fear
– Why in science, any “exaggeration” is, in fact, a lie; yet science is often misquoted or taken out of context to create a new sensationalist, fear-mongering narrative
– Why we hold on to false beliefs even in light of disproving evidence
– What the “Wind Turbine Syndrome” is
– Why the powerful “Nocebo Effect” is way too often forgotten
– What our beliefs about food have to do with our own mortality
– Why irrational fears can cause major obsessions, and why thinking critically and staying objective is so important
– Why, when we feel stressed out, we tend to repeat actions that don’t actually work for us, and we tend to do those even harder (“diet’s not working! – let’s diet harder, then…”)
– Why diet-gurus summon up demons that don’t exist (and how often they get rich doing just that)
– Why 30% of the American population is interested in “going gluten-free”, even though only 1% actually are affected by Celiac Disease
– How to stay sane in a world that constantly throws contradictory nutritional advice at us…

… And so much more!
Here’s the link to Alan’s workplace:
https://www.jmu.edu/philrel/people/faculty/levinovitz-alan.shtml

You can also check out his Twitter account:
https://twitter.com/alanlevinovitz?lang=en

And here’s the link to his book “The Gluten Lie” on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/Gluten-Lie-Other-Myths-About/dp/1941393063

If you enjoy and love my podcast, please support it on Patreon! It would greatly help me to keep those episodes coming to you. Thank you!
https://www.patreon.com/lifeunrestricted

If you want this sort of badassery to come to your phone automatically, please DO subscribe on iTunes (Apple):
https://itunes.apple.com/ch/podcast/life.-unrestricted.-podcast/id1130713233?mt=2
or on Stitcher (Android):
http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=93987&refi
********* Don’t forget!*********

Make sure to join my tribe and meet some of the most supportive, loving and kind people of all shapes and sizes, including great coaches and leaders! We’re right over here at: http://www.lifeunrestricted.org/join/

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LU 060: Marya Hornbacher – Fighting the stigma of mental illness and eating disorders.



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Hey, lovely radicals… podcast time!

In today’s episode of the “Life. Unrestricted.” podcast, I’m talking to Marya Hornbacher from Minneapolis, USA.

Marya is known for many things. She is an assistant professor of Writing Arts at Rowan University, she is an award-winning journalist and – as most of you might know – she is also a bestselling author, most known for her memoir on anorexia called “Wasted” (which was published when she was 22 years old). Ten years after that, she published a memoir on Bipolar Disorder called “Madness”, after which she came out with an acclaimed novel called “The Center of Winter”, followed by two books about mental health, addiction, recovery and spirituality; one called “Sane”, the other one “Waiting”. Marya has a lot more in the works, but we’ll talk about that – among myriad of other things – in our beautiful conversation. You’ll hear Marya talk about:
– When and why she became self-conscious about her body as a child
– How her parents related to weight
– What she was hungry for as a child (apart from food)
– Why we grow up with the idea that our various emotional hungers are unwelcome
– Why people with a sensitive nature are often prone to eating issues
– What her own journey of finding out about (and coming to terms with) her mental illness was like
– How she fell into the trap of identifying herself by her problems, issues, and chaos
– How she found out that recovery meant to go beyond that “black hole of trouble”-identity
– How, for many people (not all!), an eating disorder represents a symptom of a larger issue, rather than the problem itself
– Why misdiagnosis are so rampant when it comes to mental illness
– How she started to re-establish trust in herself and advocate for herself when faced with medical professionals
– Why educating ourselves is vital in the process of healing from our own personal issues
– Why the right sort of medication can make all the difference
– What the key pieces were for her to finally start her healing journey for good
– Why recovery (from anything) is so hard at times, bringing forth what a person has been running from
– Why the investment we put into healing is the best we will ever do for ourselves
– How she understands her own past eating disorder in retrospect
– Why she ended up becoming an alcoholic after her eating disorder was “under control” (aka: addiction transfer)
– Why she doesn’t believe in the theory of certain people “just having an addictive personality”
– Why what we’re all looking for is already inside us, and why our need to “feel in control” often leads us into the trap of “being controlled” (be that by food / rules / compulsions, or substances)
– Why it is crucial for the healing process to develop our own opinion and to advocate for our own truth instead of just following random popular people’s advice
– Why we all need to be careful with our social media consumption
– Why self-acceptance really is the key to become comfortable with who we are
– What she finds helpful on the path to finding out “who we really are”, and what brings us the greatest joy in life
– What she wants us to know about Bipolar Disorder (I and II)
– How she deals with her illness and manages it these days
– How we can accept and live with our own personal limitations without beating ourselves up over them
– Why it is our personal responsibility to step out of the game our society seems to want us to play
– How important it is to find our own tribe outside of the masses
– Why the key to finding “our sort of people” is to step out of comparison-mode ourselves
– Why making friends with solitude can be a key step on the healing journey
– What “resilience” means to her
– How not to fall for “Do THIS… and you’ll be happy!”-lies anymore…
… And so much more!

Check out Marya and her books:
http://www.maryahornbacher.com

Lovelies, I need your support. If you enjoy and love my podcast, please consider supporting it by becoming a “Patreon”, so that I can keep producing it for you. Thank you!
https://www.patreon.com/lifeunrestricted

If you want this sort of badassery to come to your phone automatically, please DO subscribe on iTunes (Apple):
https://itunes.apple.com/ch/podcast/life.-unrestricted.-podcast/id1130713233?mt=2
or on Stitcher (Android):
http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=93987&refi

 

********* Don’t forget!*********

Make sure to join my tribe and meet some of the most supportive, loving and kind people of all shapes and sizes, including great coaches and leaders! We’re right over here at: http://www.lifeunrestricted.org/join

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LU 059: Dana Sturtevant – How being truly nourished helps your body to trust you (and vice versa!)



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Lovely radicals, it’s podcast time!

In today’s episode of the “Life. Unrestricted.” podcast, I get to talk to Dana Sturtevant from Portland, Oregon.

Dana is a trainer, mentor, Kripalu Yoga teacher, and Registered Dietitian specializing in Health at Every Size (HAES) and Intuitive Eating. She is the co-founder of “Be Nourished”, a revolutionary business helping people heal body dissatisfaction and reclaim body trust. In her work, Dana loves to incorporate mindfulness and self-compassion practices, and she is specialized in Motivational Interviewing techniques. She has facilitated more than 300 workshops throughout the United States for health care providers looking to enhance their skills in behavior-change counseling, and her work has been published in various media outlets. You’ll hear Dana talk about:
– How lucky she was to be able to grow up in a household where there were no diets, body shaming or any sort of hyper-focus on “healthy eating”
– When and why she became self-conscious about her shape and size
– Why she went into the field of nutrition
– What she found out about her younger self from reading her own letters to her late grandmother
– What she experienced in her previous work as a “weight management” dietitian
– Why that work started to feel deeply unethical for her
– Why living a free, flexible life and weight-suppression don’t go together
– How our inner “trance of unworthiness” drives us to keep abandoning ourselves
– Why no amount of weight-loss will improve how you feel about yourself, and why feeling worthy and confident really is an inside job unrelated to weight
– The importance of recognizing the difference between “fitting in” and feeling a sense of “belonging”
– How her and Hilary’s clients often react when they first hear their message
– Why it is so hard to claim something (that we KNOW is true) for ourselves
– Why this current “health-ism” (hyper-focus on “having to be healthy, or else it’s our own fault”) is really about money
– Why so many people, including health-care providers, are in denial about “prescribing diets”
– Why we are often tricked into believing “well, this is not a diet, this is only a lifestyle change”
– What happens when one coping mechanisms is being forcefully removed without working on the underlying issue
– Why compulsive exercise always points to a complicated relationship with food/weight
– Why it’s totally ok that not all people are athletes
– Why today’s “gym-culture” is ruining a healthy relationship to movement for most people
– Why nobody can tell you what your body needs, and why there IS no black or white strategy that works
– Why it is always wise to be suspicious of people who claim to “have found the true way to health/fitness/weight-loss”, especially when they are trying to sell said truth
– Why it takes some time (and effort) to heal the “dieting mind”
– Why the healing process really only works when we put concerns about weight on the back burner
– Why most people have to hit “diet bottom” to kick-start the healing process
– What needs to be grieved when we find the courage to step into our fears and work towards freedom
– Why diet-talk is basically nothing else but women keeping up their own oppression
– Why the fear of a particular food is worse for your body than the actual food
– Why the moralization of food is particularly dangerous for people
– Why “going Paleo” and “going gluten-free” (except for the 1% of the population who actually has celiac disease) and “going vegan” are fads, too
– How absurd the whole “nutritionism” in the world looks when we zoom out for a minute to really look at all the contradicting advice out there
– What real success looks like for clients of “Be Nourished”
– Why rules are the problem, and not – as we might think – the solution
– How “full permission to eat” looks like and why it is the solution to stop the diet-binge-cycle
– Why it is important to process and release the anger that we have directed inwards for so long
– Why it is important to realize that it is not your fault that you have a complicated relationship to food (Dana’s dog agrees strongly here)
– How “Be Nourished” helps private clients as well as health care providers get rid of weight-bias…
… And so much more!

Check out Hilary Kinavey’s and Dana Sturtevant’s work with “Be Nourished” here:
http://www.benourished.org

Here’s the link to their Facebook page:
https://www.facebook.com/benourishedpdx/?fref=ts

Please consider supporting the podcast with by becoming a “Patreon”; so that I can keep producing it. Thank you! Here’s the link:
https://www.patreon.com/lifeunrestricted

If you want this sort of badassery to come to your phone automatically, please DO subscribe on iTunes (Apple):
https://itunes.apple.com/ch/podcast/life.-unrestricted.-podcast/id1130713233?mt=2
or on Stitcher (Android):
http://www.stitcher.com/s?fid=93987&refi

********* Don’t forget!*********

Make sure to join my tribe and meet some of the most supportive, loving and kind people of all shapes and sizes, including great coaches and leaders! We’re right over here at: http://www.lifeunrestricted.org/join/

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