Satisfaction Factor

#25 - Cultivating the Skills to Talk Back to Diet Culture

March 16, 2022 Naomi Katz & Sadie Simpson
Satisfaction Factor
#25 - Cultivating the Skills to Talk Back to Diet Culture
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we're each sharing some recent personal experiences of being confronted by diet culture, and discussing how we've both built the skills to talk back to diet culture over the years. There's a common misconception that being able to talk back to diet culture requires bravery. The good news? It doesn't! In this episode we're talking about: how responding to diet culture & assumptions about our bodies is a skill that evolves over time; the privilege associated with feeling safe in these conversations; and how to cultivate confidence when having tricky conversations.

You can stay up to date on all things Satisfaction Factor by following us on IG @satisfactionfactorpod!

Here's where to find us:
Sadie Simpson: www.sadiesimpson.com or IG @thesadiesimpson
Naomi Katz: www.happyshapes.co or IG @happyshapesnaomi

For this episode's transcript, visit: www.satisfactionfactorpod.com

Naomi Katz:

Welcome to Satisfaction Factor, the podcast where we explore how ditching diet culture makes our whole lives more satisfying. Welcome back to Satisfaction Factor, everyone. I'm Naomi Katz, an Intuitive Eating, body image, and self trust coach providing anti diet support to free thinking grownups who want to reclaim their autonomy and consent from diet culture.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm Sadie Simpson, an anti diet group fitness instructor and Intuitive Eating counselor. I help other fitness professionals disengage from diet culture, so they can improve program enrollment, engagement, impact, and retention without shame and manipulation.

Naomi Katz:

So today's episode is actually kind of all based off of some recent experiences that Sadie and I had. I had a recent experience where someone made an unsolicited comment and assumption about my body at the grocery store. I shared the experience on my Instagram stories, I got a ton of responses- like literally more responses than I've gotten to anything I've ever posted on Instagram, I don't know what that means- and just had lots of discussions with people about it. And we'll get into the details of it in a little bit. But it led us to really want to dive deeper into the idea of how responding to diet talk, responding to comments and assumptions about our bodies, is really a skill, and that we can take steps to develop those skills.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, it's ironic that you had this experience and you shared about it on your Instagram stories. And- side note- I think the most responses I've ever gotten on an Instagram story has been when I've talked about like reality TV, or something completely irrelevant to what my Instagram page mostly focuses on. But anyway, I also had an experience around the same time- it may have even been the same day- where I was in a situation of having to navigate conversations not specifically about my body, but a decision made regarding one of my Zumba classes. And that's kind of opened the door for multiple subsequent conversations since then, and we'll get into all the details in a little bit. But I think, before getting into these stories, it'll be important that we kind of lay a little bit of groundwork, and then get into the stories for a little bit of context. What do you think?

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, I think that's a good way to approach this, definitely. So the thing to understand about the fact that these things are skills- that having these conversations is a skill- is that there's like an evolution of developing skills when we get better at having conversations around diet culture, and our bodies, and our choices, the more we do the work ourselves. Nobody starts off this work like fully capable of responding to these things in the moment- like, that's just not how that works. And that's true of anything, not just diet culture. But like, I mean, if- if I'm taking a history class for the first time ever, I'm not going to be able to sit down and have a conversation about- like in detail about historical events. If I'm just starting to take Spanish, I'm not going to be able to walk into a store, and like run into somebody who speak Spanish fluently, and like have a whole conversation with them. Like, we learn the language of these things, we learn the facts about these things, and we develop the ability to talk about them.

Sadie Simpson:

And there is a lot of privilege involved in how we're able to respond in a way that we feel safe. And we'll get into all of that as we go into more of the details of these stories. But I feel like it's important to acknowledge that up front, and everybody's going to come into these conversations with a different level of privilege.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, that's a really, really important aspect of this too. You know, Sadie and I being able to respond in certain ways, or like have conversations in certain ways, is a function of the fact that we both have a lot of body privilege, and that lends a lot of safety to these conversations for us. And so that's going to be harder for people who maybe don't hold the same privileges that Sadie and I do. And so, we- we have to take that into consideration when we're talking about this. Like, you know, it took us years to get here. It's going to take longer for people who have more to contend with, most likely.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, yes. And these stories that we're going to share today are just a couple of examples from our personal experiences, how we have experienced this and responded, especially in recent situations. And hopefully it can give y'all- the listeners- some ideas, some examples of how this could look in real life. I'm not saying this is the golden template of how to respond to diet culture type conversations, but sometimes it is helpful to hear how other people have responded to, you know, to some comments, or to some situations that are related to things like weight stigma, to things like diet culture, to just basic comments on our bodies or other people's bodies, and things like that. So, yeah, I'm excited to talk about this.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, definitely. So what do you think? Should we dig into some of the details of these stories now-

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

-since we've been like vaguebooking through this podcast so far?

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, give us the dirt on your story.

Naomi Katz:

Okay. So, um, I was at the grocery store the other day, and I was in the checkout line, and right as I was wrapping up, the cashier who was checking me out, who was an older woman, asked me when my baby was due.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, gosh.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And for those of you who might be listening, who might be new here, I'm not pregnant. I'm never gonna be pregnant. That's just not a thing for me. So yeah, I was a little bit taken aback, needless to say, that that had happened. It's- it's kind of interesting, because I've lived my whole life in a straight size body, and over the past year or so, I now identify as being in a small fat body. You know, my body's gotten larger, and has changed and stuff, and so I am in a larger body now. And so I'm having- like, it's not an accident that this happened now and has never previously happened. Because my body is bigger, and that opens the door for that. And I still hold a ton of privilege as somebody in a small fat body, especially as compared to larger fat bodies, super fat bodies, infinifat bodies. So, you know, that's- that's a really important part of this conversation, too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

And I hold a ton of other privileges as well. You know, I am white. I'm- you know, have the appearance of socioeconomic stability. I am cisgender. Like, you know, I have all these other things that also- I'm able bodied. So I have a number of privileges that make it easier for me to respond to this in the situation too. And my body is larger than it was, and here I get this comment. In the moment, what I actually said was, it's really not appropriate to comment on people's bodies. Fortunately, I don't consider it an insult to be seen as looking like I'm pregnant.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

And I- I was pretty satisfied, honestly, with my response in the moment.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

I, um, I felt like I managed to respond in a way that didn't further stigmatize bodies my size or larger, which was important, because there were definitely people around me at the time who were in larger bodies than mine. It was very important to me that my response didn't like increase the stigma in that moment at all. The cashier was extremely apologetic, and even said, like, oh, I should know better.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, there you go.

Naomi Katz:

Right. It's like, yes actually. You absolutely should know better. But you

Sadie Simpson:

You should. know, even that- you know, I think that- that her thought was, I should know better to say that to somebody that I'm not certain is pregnant. And I should know better, because oh my god, how embarrassing for somebody who's in a larger body. Like I- like that was obviously her perspective on it. And like, let me just say, that was not my perspective, for a number of reasons. The first one being, I honestly think I would have been pissed off about it, even if I were pregnant. Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Right?

Sadie Simpson:

It's just a random person in the grocery store making comments on the appearance of your body.

Naomi Katz:

Yes.

Sadie Simpson:

Like, in what world do we make that okay?

Naomi Katz:

Absolutely.

Sadie Simpson:

I mean, apparently our world, but.

Naomi Katz:

Like I was- I was definitely kind of like shaken and taken aback by it because it's like a serious violation of boundaries.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like, unless you're my doctor, my partner, my family, like, whatever, why would you ever need to know when my baby was due?

Sadie Simpson:

Seriously.

Naomi Katz:

So like, even if I were pregnant, on what planet do I need to give you that information?

Sadie Simpson:

Some random person in the store.

Naomi Katz:

Right? Like, I mean, that's basically medical information, and like, can you think of like any other circumstance where it's like appropriate to just like ask random- like, as like just- just like idle conversation, asking for medical information from people?

Sadie Simpson:

I automatically go to, you'd be standing in line at the grocery store and somebody's like, so when you gettin' a colonoscopy? Or something that's very, like, you know, personal, and kind of invasive too. Like, that's just where I go to. I don't know why. But anyway.

Naomi Katz:

No, I mean, I think that's spot on.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So I mean, under any circumstances- like, even if you were 100% certain that somebody was pregnant- this would still be like a violation of boundaries to ask a question like that. And her response sort of built in this idea of like, oh my God, I've embarrassed her because now she thinks that I think her body is big. And that's why my- it was important for me to say, I don't consider that to be an insult.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Having said that, I will say this- I was very satisfied with my response in the moment. And, you know, like everybody does, in the days that follow, you like run through the scenario.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

And there are definitely ways that I could have handled it better. There are things that I could have said better, or more, in the moment. I know that. But that's also important to know- is that like, you're in this moment of like adrenaline, and like emotion, and just being surprised, and stuff like that, and, like, your response isn't always going to be perfect. So we do the best that we can. And like, that's going to be true, no matter where you are in building these skills.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, I love that- like doing the best you can in the moment. And then even using that moment to consider, if this happens again, how would I respond differently, or would I respond differently? So in the days and weeks that have passed since you had this encounter, as you've had all this time to think about it and replay it in your mind, what are some of the things that you have thought about that you may say differently, or in addition to, if something like this happens to you again?

Naomi Katz:

Oh my God, that's such a good question. I've been through a lot of versions of those.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

But I think that I would probably say something a little more blunt. Like, no, like that's just my belly fat, and I'm fine with that. Or like, that's just my belly fat, and there's nothing wrong with that. Or, you know, something along those lines, where I was, like, a little more explicit about like, it's actually fine for me to just have fat.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

I think that's- that's primarily what I would shift in my response. But you know, the thing that does really stay with me as like a victory from this, is that I didn't feel- so I should- I should frame this as, pretty much all my life, I have been terrified of somebody saying this to me.

Sadie Simpson:

Mmm.

Naomi Katz:

Even when I was at my smallest, I used to avoid certain shirts and certain things because I was afraid that they would make me look pregnant. Part of that is because I've always had, you know, larger breasts, and I often wear clothes that are a little more like flowy or loose or something. And I'm just- I've always been very picky about what clothes that I choose because I've always been afraid that this is something that somebody was going to say to me. And it's interesting-

Sadie Simpson:

And then somebody did.

Naomi Katz:

It's interesting, because in recent years, I actually stopped avoiding clothes that made me look that way because I started to do this work around, like, why would that be a bad thing? If I were pregnant, like it would be fine for me to look that way. So why are bellies only okay if you're pregnant? And like, so I actually- this is something that, very specifically, I had done some inner work on around my own baggage because it's something that I had a thing about for a long time. And that's sort of relevant because now when this did happen, I had some emotions about it, but I didn't feel shame about my body. I didn't let it like throw me off, or like change any of the things that I was doing to take care of myself. I went home and ate lunch. Like I didn't like skip food. I didn't throw out the shirt I was wearing, like, or the jeans I was wearing. You know, I didn't do any of that stuff. But the reason for that is because I had done work on this specific narrative on my own leading up to that.

Sadie Simpson:

I think that's so important to recognize because- and we'll talk about this more at the end, when we give some kind of specific tips on how to handle these situations- but even now, just recognizing that doing this work takes a lot of time, and it takes this self work to do some more of the like external conversation work. So it is not an overnight thing, that you just wake up and you have these skills to be able to have conversations that you feel pretty good about.

Naomi Katz:

Definitely. And one of the reasons why we thought that this was like a good jumping off point to like have this conversation, and why it was an important conversation to have, was because I got so many messages and DMS from people responding to my stories, and like, people were like, praising my response, and I had people like telling me they thought I was brave and stuff like that, and I just- and it made me feel really uncomfortable. Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the support. Like I don't want it to sound like I'm not grateful for the fact that people reached out, and like said kind things, and were supportive. That's lovely, and I do appreciate that. What made me feel uncomfortable about it is that I- this has nothing to do with me being a brave person. It has everything to do with me just having experience in this work, and having these conversations, and forming the language around this stuff. Like it's- it's- I have a skill that I've honed over the years. And also there was like a little disconnect for me, as like, hi, I'm like a small fat, conventionally attractive, like cisgender, able bodied, white woman responding to an offhand comment about my small fat body that wasn't malicious, or like, you know, anything like that. That doesn't make me a brave person in any way. I had- I had a ton of safety and privilege in this conversation.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. And I feel like that's another reason why feeling grounded, and feeling firm in how you responded in that situation is important to share.

Naomi Katz:

You know, sort of as a contrast to this, I actually- I think I mentioned a couple episodes ago, I've been reading Aubrey Gordon's book, What We Don't Talk About When We Talk About Fat, and she has a whole chapter in there about the harassment she's experienced living in a larger fat body. And it is a whole different level.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like, I don't know what I would be equipped to do, or how to respond, if I faced that level of harassment. That is, by the way, a book that I highly, highly recommend, especially for the sake of, you know, for those of us who are in smaller bodies, really understanding what people in larger bodies go through, and- and really being able to frame our own experiences that way too. Which- not that that's the purpose of learning about people who experience more marginalization and oppression than us. But it is really important to be able to look at our experiences and be like, this is not brave. So having said all that, Sadie, you had a recent experience where you had to have some- some diet culture responses and conversations, too. Can you tell us a little more about that?

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, so this kind of started a couple of months ago as I was putting some of the finishing pieces together for Shame Free Fitness. So if you are new around here, Shame Free Fitness is a virtual continuing education course that I have for group fitness instructors and personal trainers. But as I was recording one of the modules in Shame Free Fitness, one of the things that included was different ideas or different things that you could consider trying in your group fitness classes or in your personal training sessions that could create a more welcoming or more inviting environment for somebody who may be intimidated to try group exercise class, for somebody who may have had a very bad experience in a group exercise class before. And one of the things that I mentioned in that module was that, if you teach in a studio that has mirrors, would it be possible to shift the class away from facing the mirror- so their back, or their side, or whatever would be at the mirrors. And as I was recording that, it was a very much a, oh shit, I need to kind of check myself on this. Because at some points like in my group fitness career, I've done that, where I've shifted away from the mirrors. But currently, in one of the biggest classes that I teach right now, we are directly facing the mirrors. And I almost felt like I was justifying that to myself by saying, if we face the mirrors then the people in the middle of the room, or the back of the room, can see me better. If they can't see me directly, they can see me in the mirror. And as I was even saying that out loud, as I was recording this lesson, I was like, that's- stop. Like, that doesn't make sense. Like there's some other options that can be done here. Like I need to reassess what I'm doing here. So I decided to shift my class away from the mirror. So the studio that I teach in is- is lengthwise- so the studio is longer than it is wide if you're facing the mirrors. And I decided to shift it so that the class is- like if you're- if you're looking at printing off a piece of paper, they were portrait, and I shifted them to landscape, if that gives you a visual.

Naomi Katz:

That is a perfect visual.

Sadie Simpson:

So yeah, a couple of weeks ago, I started shifting the class away from the mirrors. And I was kind of hesitant to do this, to be honest, because this class had been directly facing the mirrors for so long. I knew I was going to get some pushback, because people hate change. People like their spots, people don't like to try anything new. And just a side note, like typically, in my classes anyway, I'll just drop some little nuggets here and there in my classes about kind of my perspective, and my teaching philosophy, and you know, things about movement that can be more inviting and more inclusive, and that type of thing. And sometimes I'll have bigger, deeper, full, specific conversations. But anyway, for this specific situation, I started this class- the first class that I taught where we faced away from the mirrors- I started the transition by really kind of easing into it. So I told everybody- I was like, hey, this class is starting to get really full now, now that people are kind of emerging from this latest round of COVID. We're having a lot of people come in here, and I want to be able to see you, I want you to be able to see me. So we're going to turn to the side because of the way the room is oriented. So that was kind of how like I dipped my toes in and sort of got people kind of a little bit on board with this transition.

Naomi Katz:

I love that as an entry point- like, to like basically just not talk about the thing at all and make it a logistical decision.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

You guys are all portrait. I need you to be landscape.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, yes. I hadn't really thought about it that way, but that's something that I probably do all the time, is kind of ease into it, or find a logical reasoning for approaching a conversation, or a shift, or a change, or a transition. I'm not a very in your face kind of person. Sometimes I wish I was. But I'm more of a let's ease into this kind of a person. And that was a good ease into this like transition for me personally.

Naomi Katz:

I love that. And we are totally going to come back to how important it is to make this stuff work for your comfort, too. So-

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

-that's- I love that you threw that in there too.

Sadie Simpson:

So yeah, I kind of eased into it. And then once we kind of shifted the direction, then I was like, okay, we're shifting the orientation of this room so I can see, you you can see me. We technically have more room to kind of spread out a little bit. And after we kind of made that first transition, then it kind of opened the door for me to dig a little bit deeper into the real reasons besides being able to see each other- the real reasons why I felt like it was important to make this transition. And it was a really good conversation, honestly, that I was able to have with my class as a whole. I was able to talk to them about why we were shifting away from the mirrors, because it was a way to kind of shift the focus away from this external validation of seeing ourselves in the mirrors. It was a way to prevent some body checking that I know happens when you have a big ass mirror right in front of you. It was an opportunity to allow my participants- and even myself to an extent, sometimes- from comparing ourselves, and our bodies, and how our bodies move, and how they look like when we're dancing and doing all this sort of stuff. Like it took away that comparison aspect of not having to see the other person like beside of you directly in the mirror. And really, as a way for them to begin to cultivate bodily awareness and attunement, because that's a big piece of exercise, especially in a class like a Zumba class- coordination is a huge part of this. And to be able to have this internal kinesthetic awareness of direction, and intensity, and what, you know, your squats feel like versus what they look like, and that sort of thing. Like, that's really important to me as an instructor and a trainer. But all of those things are important, and- like kind of wrapping this all up in a little package- most importantly, for me was creating this space that wasn't intimidating, that is inviting, that is welcoming for somebody who might be new to checking out a class, or somebody that might be kind of scared to try it out because of the mirror aspect.

Naomi Katz:

That's- it's so important, and it's so key to creating this like welcoming environment. And also- you're totally right- to developing like an internal awareness of your body and how things feel instead of how they look.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Which is just so, so important in a- in any kind of movement practice. So I'm curious to hear if you- like, did you get pushback, and like how you handled that.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. And that kind of brings me to my this story is kind of similar to your story situation. Because not only did I have to kind of do some of this pre work to sort of prep people on this change, but also like the post work and the post conversations of the resistance to the change. I felt really good initially, because some of the initial feedback was, wow, this is really great. Oh, we've got more room to spread out. Oh, I love not having to look at myself in the mirror. And it was also neat that I saw some participants who were always in the back of the room kind of shift up towards the middle, towards the front. So that was kind of neat too, to see that.

Naomi Katz:

That is so awesome.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like that kind of like instant shift. Like, oh, it turns out, these people, it's not that they wanted to be in the back. It's that they didn't want to be by the mirror.

Sadie Simpson:

Yep.

Naomi Katz:

And now they can find a place where they're more comfortable. That's-

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

-so amazing.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. That was very, very, very cool to see. Definitely had some of that. But also had some pushback- because again, people hate change. People don't want to do something different. They like what they know. I had some minor pushback like that. But I also had some major pushback from a couple of people. And- you know, and I'll get into some of that pushback in a second- but as I was getting some of this negative feedback, it really made me recognize that as the instructor, as the leader of this group, I need to be a lot more explicit on a regular basis of why I do the things I do, because it aligns with my values as an instructor. But anyway, one of the- the comments that I got was that, you know, we need to face the mirror because this is a dance class, and we need to be able to see ourselves, and we need to check our technique, and we need to check our form. And I was like, well, I mean, this is not a professional dance class. This is a YMCA Zumba class. Like we're not taking this show on the road to Broadway or anything like that. So that was one of my initial responses. But then even having conversations with some other people about questioning whether this decision to transition the class away from the mirrors was something that I decided as the instructor, or was feedback that I was getting from maybe other participants, or even from management, or anything like that. It was a good opportunity to have some one on one conversations within this larger group setting of that this was a decision that I made. This is a thing that's important for me to set this standard as the instructor, and to create this space that is inviting for people who may not otherwise come in here. And I definitely got some hesitancy and some pushback of saying- of people saying things like, well, this isn't a yoga class, like this is not, you know, all this zen, listen to your body type of stuff. And I was like, well, actually it is. Like this is a good opportunity to listen to your body. And this is important for me, as the instructor, to create a place that's safe for people who may have a disordered relationship with their body, or body image issues, or people in bigger bodies who may not feel comfortable in here. And really the turning point in some of these one on one conversations were when I kind of centered it on myself. Like, I hate to say it like that. But when I said, I've had body image issues in the past, I have had issues with comparing myself to other people's bodies- and when I made it personal about me is really when it clicked. And that really, honestly, bothered me a lot. Like I hate that I had to make it about me to make it impactful. But in some of those conversations, that's what made it click.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, if that isn't reflective of our society, in general, I don't know what is.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Like, the fact that so many people like can't seem to like conjure empathy or care for people, just as a- as a whole- like, they have to know somebody personally who's being affected for it to matter. I mean, it just- it's so reflective of so many issues with our society right now.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

But I love that you, you know, were able to sort of hold your ground there. I also love the idea that, like, feeling movement in your body and stuff like that is something that only happens in yoga classes- -that like movement feeling good for your body, and

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm. like being accessible, is something that can only be true for yoga, and that there's any form of movement to which that doesn't apply. But it's interesting, because I actually think that that's a pretty common misconception. It's, you know, like what we talked about in our joyful movement Intuitive Eating episode, about how, like, joyful movement has to be gentle movement, and that when you're- if you're doing movement that feels good in your body, it has to be something like yoga, but that doesn't apply to all movement. Yes, yes. Well, and even, just like you, after- this- this has been going on for a couple of weeks, and you know, the newness has kind of died down. And eventually, it's going to become the expected norm, which is great. But I've definitely had opportunities to kind of reflect on some of my responses, and how I handled some of these situations too- same thing, like you always think about stuff you could say differently, or present differently, or whatever. But just even thinking about like, if I were an instructor in a bigger body, or if I were an instructor without all of the body privilege that I have, and tried to do this in an already established class, like, how much more pushback would that have received?

Naomi Katz:

The thing where like, we can only relate to it if we know somebody personally, also has limitations around privilege. Where it's like, on the one hand, if it's somebody

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm. who has a lot of body privilege, and so we kind of- like we respect them more, and all of that- then when we find out that this is something that's directly affecting them, we can be like sympathetic about it. If you were an instructor who didn't hold all those body privileges- like yeah, maybe you were in a larger body, or whatever else- and you made this change, and you framed it around yourself, people might react very differently to that, and feel like you were being, you know, emotional, or defensive, or whatever, and not approach it the same way. Like this is- it's so important to recognize how differently the world reacts to us when we have these privileges. Yes, yes. And I will say, by and large, the positive feedback has been way better than the negative feedback. And it's been a really good opportunity to be able to have these conversations, not only with the class as a whole, but to kind of spark some individual conversations after class, which has been really positive, and I've really enjoyed being able to have some of these deeper conversations with people.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, that's so awesome and so important. Like I just- I love that- I love that you did that. And I also- I think one of the things that I love most is that, like, it's such a good demonstration of the fact that our own inner work helps evolve this skill. So even like, you were going through the Shame Free Fitness stuff, and you took stock of what you were doing, and you realized that, like, this was a conversation you could have, and this was a shift that you could make, and, you know, that you could- you were in a place where you could make a change that better aligned with where your values were now and stuff like that.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. And I think that's a big part of it, is finding opportunities within our circle of influence, within our scope, that we can actually tap into to start creating some of these smaller changes that can eventually ripple out and create a lot bigger changes. But we have opportunities all around us that we can have some impact and some influence. And I think doing some of this work helps to build that confidence and to build that ability to be able to recognize where there are some opportunities. And being tuned in to seeking out some of those opportunities is a really important part of this work, as we get more comfortable with it, as we get more firm in our values, and all that stuff.

Naomi Katz:

Mm hmm, definitely. Um, so we also kind of wanted to talk about another aspect of this, which is how, you know, it's really important to develop these skills for talking back to diet culture and things like that, not just for when these random things happen, but also for the sake of being able to advocate for ourselves in situations that often come laden with a lot of diet culture. So a good example of that is medical situations.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

And again, privilege plays a huge role in this. But I did want to share a story about how this came up for me, like sometime over the course of the past year. I have probably mentioned this on here before- I have really kind of terrible acid reflux, and I was seeing a doctor. I actually got referred for a consult to possibly have a surgical procedure to help correct it. And I was very nervous going into this doctor's appointment to begin with. One, anything stomach related is often- like the- the approach is often based on like, well change this thing about your diet, or lose weight, or whatever. So like I was prepped for that going in. And it didn't help that the surgeon who was going to do this procedure is a bariatric surgeon and performs like weight loss surgery- like I would imagine that's probably the bulk of his practice. And so I was already pretty amped up going into this to this appointment- let's just say that. In some ways, that's helpful, because it meant that I was prepared for the conversations that I was expecting to have. It gave me a chance to sort of mentally and emotionally prepare for having these conversations. And so, you know, I declined to be weighed at the office. It was the most pushback I've ever gotten from a nurse about not getting weighed- to the point where I ultimately just- I mean, it wasn't a lie, but I basically did the same thing, where I centered myself in it instead of declining, oh, it's not medically necessary, I'd rather not. I actually cited my like eating disorder history, which, for the record, is not why I don't get weighed. I actually don't have a problem seeing the number on the scale, because I've disconnected meaning from that. I do it because I have the privilege of being able to do it, and like I hope that at some point it changes policies, if enough of us do that. Having said that, this time, I actually had to just be like, I can't, I'm in recovery from an eating disorder, and this isn't good for me. And even that got an eye roll, let me just say.

Sadie Simpson:

Wow, dang.

Naomi Katz:

It was really quite bad. In any case, I started out, I declined to be weighed, got into the doctor's office, the doctor came to see me. I explained my symptoms. He also asked me, you know, what I did for a living. I told him I was an Intuitive Eating professional, because I kind of just wanted to get that out there and see if it would head any of this off at the pass. He seemed really, really interested in that, which I was like, okay, that's cool. Like he asked me some questions. And he told me like that it would be really interesting to see, like with his patients, like whether Intuitive Eating would be something that would help them in recovery, or something like that. And I was like, well, that's interesting. And so I let my guard down. And that's when he essentially told me that losing weight would be helpful for my condition.

Sadie Simpson:

Of course he did.

Naomi Katz:

Right. And I told him, you know, that really doesn't make any sense. You know, I've had this problem in every body size, at every level of fitness. If anything, this condition is preventing me from being able to partake in movement as much as I would like, and things like that. I don't need to get into the details. He was very condescending about it.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh gosh.

Naomi Katz:

But I ultimately flat out said to him, I am not going to pursue weight loss, so I need you to only give me treatment options that don't involve weight loss, because I'm not going to consider any of the other ones. And there was like a very tense moment for a minute, where like, I really, really thought that I might have to just walk out of his office, or that like he was going to say he wouldn't treat me, or something like that. But eventually, he moved past it and started giving me like actual information about the surgical procedure that I was there to talk about, and all of that. And again, I have to

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. point out the privilege in that. You know, he considered me to be an educated person. I'm in a small fat body. I am white. I have, you know, financial stability. I- so insurance. And like all- there's a lot going on, that allowed me to have this conversation and not risk not getting treatment at all, which is certainly a risk that people can sometimes run. But again,

Naomi Katz:

These are life skills, basically. it's- the important- the- sort of the point of the story here is that, like, the fact that I had built up these skills to Yes. And if you are listening to this, and you follow us on have conversations around weight, and around diet culture, and to draw boundaries and lines around that stuff, allowed me to actually access medical care instead of just weight loss advice. It acted as self advocacy at a very important time. This isn't just about like, oh, what if somebody says Instagram @satisfactionfactorpod, if you something shitty at the grocery store? have any stories like this, whether it was a positive or a negative experience, we would love to hear about them over there. Because I think it's really important that we share these stories. Come talk to us. Absolutely. Let me tell you that I was blown away after I shared about my grocery store experience in my stories. I was blown away by how many people sent me messages telling me that the same thing had happened to them at some point. I wasn't surprised, necessarily. Like, I know that people say shitty things. And I know that people say this shitty thing in particular, because I had a fear about it for so long. And I was still so surprised by how many people reached out and were like, oh, yeah, that's happened to me.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, it's such a common experience, unfortunately. And as we personally get comfortable doing some of this work of disengaging from diet culture, it makes it more approachable to have deeper conversations around this stuff. So let's talk about some action steps. What are some things people can do if they're looking to gain confidence in this area, or the skills, or the practice in how to have conversations in a way that feels good on both a personal level and aligns with their values?

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. I mean, that's a- it's such a good question. And I think the biggest thing- like the absolute biggest thing- is doing the work on yourself.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

It's so hard. Like, I feel like we should not feel like we have to take personal responsibility for fixing something about ourselves in order to deal with other people's bullshit.

Sadie Simpson:

Mm-hmm.

Naomi Katz:

But the reality is that, because we live in diet culture, because we live in this system, we internalize so much of that same bullshit, and we're never going to be able to really talk back to it, or like really face it, without dismantling it in ourselves. Like we can't do the outside work without doing the inside work.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

So, you know, maybe that's reading books, maybe that's following people on social media. If you are interested in doing that, I definitely suggest you check out the list of resources in the show notes from our first episode and our third episode. There's a ton of resources listed in both of those. Maybe it's actually doing your own coaching or therapy around diet, and body image, and like anything else that is making you feel shame about your own body. Because a lot of why we struggle with having these conversations and with responding is because we have this like initial shame reaction when somebody says something, and then that silences us. That makes it- like, it just robs us of our voice right then and there.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. And I think another way we can move forward in this work is connecting with other people who are also kind of along the same path. So we talked about it in our friendship episode, and we've talked about this in a lot of other episodes, too. But finding either personal connections through friendships, or professional connections with other people who are doing some similar work that you're doing in regards to disengaging from diet culture, on a personal level, or on a professional level. Even, for the last couple of years, you and I having some of these conversations has definitely helped me feel way more confident in having some of these conversations with other people too. So that's been really helpful. Like, I hate the idea of an accountability buddy. It sounds stupid and cheesy. However, it is really helpful to have somebody to kind of talk through some of this stuff with.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. I feel like that doesn't have to be accountability. It can just be support.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. And you know, the other thing is- and this sort of goes back to like sharing these stories when they happen- I think a lot of times we don't share them, because we feel very isolated by them. And, you know, that just perpetuates the shame- that like, in this story, I am the one who's wrong, not the person who said this thing, or like, you know. And so we don't share the stories, and we feel like they're only happening to us, and then that breeds more shame. Whereas if we have these networks of people, or even just one person, that like we can talk openly about this work with and about these experiences with, we start to realize that like we're not alone, and we're not the problem, and the rest of the system, and the people still stuck in that system are what's really wrong here. And then, of course, you know, the biggest thing is practicing, trying, messing up, not doing it perfectly.

Sadie Simpson:

It is never gonna be perfect. You're always gonna have those conversations in your brain of how could have this gone better.

Naomi Katz:

Absolutely. So one of the things that- and this actually goes back to having other people to talk to about this too, and, you know, connects back to what you were saying about how you always kind of ease into things. One of the reasons it's so important to practice talking about this stuff is that it's so important to find our own language around this work and these experiences, so that it feels authentic to us, instead of just repeating the words of other people. When we first learn about stuff, it's easy to parrot what we've read, what we've heard other people say, you know, scripts that we can rely on. And that's an important part of the process, because it, you know, can get us through that part where we're like, maybe not 100% believing it yet, and like, we're scared, and we just like have a lot going on.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

And when we start to get to the point where we have our own language around it, and it sounds like us, instead of like we're parroting somebody else, it's a lot easier to pull up that language when we need it. And it just, you know, finding that language helps us internalize these things as beliefs too.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes. I think that's a really important piece to remember, is being able to speak to this in a way that feels authentic to ourselves, because it is really easy to just mimic and copy what somebody else says. But it's just- it doesn't work. That's- that's not how we create change here. We really have to find ways to connect to this on a personal level, so that way we can create impact on a bigger level too.

Naomi Katz:

It's the only way we get through this stuff. The other part of the practice piece is like a little bit of what I was talking about with a doctor, where like, I know I'm going into a stressful situation. I know that the situation has the potential for this kind of a conversation. And so like practicing what I'm going to say in advance if something comes up. Role playing can be helpful, but you can also just do it in your head.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm a big fan of like writing it out. Like whether it's in the notes section of my phone, or I'm making myself a little sticky note- like getting it out of my brain and into a document, to where I feel like it makes logical sense coming out of my mouth. Because that's one of the things that holds me back sometimes, is being afraid that when I say something, it is going to just sound like a whole hot mess, it isn't going to make any sense. So I like the idea, if I know I'm going into a situation, to kind of write it out to get my thoughts into a cohesive outline. So that way, when I do have these conversations, they feel more succinct. But at the same time, sometimes we're going to have these conversations unexpectedly, and it's not going to be perfect, and that's okay, too.

Naomi Katz:

Totally. It's like we said sort of towards the beginning, it's always about just doing the best that you can, in a way that aligns with your values, in the moment.

Sadie Simpson:

I think it was really helpful to talk about some very specific examples here. So again, if you've experienced something- a story, an example, something that's happened in your life that you want to talk about- that you want to share with us, come hang out with us over on Instagram @satisfactionfactorpod, and tell us about it because all of this work happens whenever we're able to share these experiences with each other.

Naomi Katz:

Yes, absolutely. Sharing is caring, Sadie.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes, sharing is caring. Alright, Naomi, what is satisfying for you right now?

Naomi Katz:

Going back to my Instagram stories again, some of you may know that I have just gotten over a bout of shingles, which was super fun. So what's satisfying me right now is that finally- like three weeks out, or so- I am like 100% better.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, great.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. I like- I finally feel like I'm back at 100%. And this week, I've been able to start doing some, like, work to get back into my body. I mean, this happens with sickness in general, but I think especially sickness that comes with a lot of pain like shingles does- we dissociate a little bit. And then we also do this thing where we're like holding our bodies really tensely, like, we're like, protecting against pain. And so I have apparently been doing that for like weeks now. And I- oh, man, I did some yoga this week, and I can't even tell you how much like I didn't even realize how tense, and like just stove up, and like, in that protective shell I was. And so like starting to move my body and like- I don't know- do things like just take a bath, and like relax, and just like get back into my body. It's been really, really satisfying.

Sadie Simpson:

That's awesome to hear that, because it is hard- especially if you've been sick, or you know, busy with work, and life, and stuff like that- to kind of get back to just feeling movement, and relaxation, and just everything in a way that you can kind of tune inward.

Naomi Katz:

What about you? What's satisfying for you right now, Sadie?

Sadie Simpson:

Well, funny enough, now that you mentioned yoga- since the beginning of February, I have been taking a yoga class once a week. Some- this is something that I used to do- you know, before COVID- but like yoga, like once or twice a week- just- I hate stretching. I think it's boring. I don't like it. So I like to take a yoga class because it makes me like stretch and just, you know, do some slower, intentional movement. And I started taking a class at the beginning of February. And it has just been so good to get back to that for a lot of reasons. One, since I've been doing this, even just once a week, I'm feeling less pain in my back, and my neck, and I just feel better in my bones and my muscles. And it's just lovely. And ironically enough, when I started taking this yoga class, the instructor teaches in the same studio that I teach at- she teaches away from the mirrors. So that was one of the things that kind of motivated me to shift away from the mirrors. And I had never taken any classes from this instructor before, but she is just so lovely. Like, her name is Martha- so shout out to Martha at the Black Mountain YMCA. She- like in that first class, she was very clear in saying, you know, I'm going to give you options for movements you can do, but if you want to do something else, that's fine. I really like it when I see people out in the room, sort of doing their thing because that tells me that they're listening to what they need. And I was like, yes, Martha, this is amazing. So it's been great from like a physical aspect for me, but also just to be a participant in somebody else's class, in a class that like I feel good about being a participant in. So that's been very satisfying.

Naomi Katz:

That sounds awesome. Good job, Martha.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Well, all right, everybody. That's it for us this week. If you enjoyed this podcast, we would love to connect with you over on our Instagram page @satisfactionfactorpod. You can comment, let us know what you think about this episode, send us a message, share in your stories, whatever you desire.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah, and another simple thing you can do to support us, if you're listening in Apple podcasts or Spotify, leave us a rating and review because this is what helps us reach more people.

Naomi Katz:

Catch you next week.