Satisfaction Factor

#31 - Intuitive Eating, Eating Disorders & Autism with Renee Hamati

April 27, 2022 Naomi Katz & Sadie Simpson
Satisfaction Factor
#31 - Intuitive Eating, Eating Disorders & Autism with Renee Hamati
Show Notes Transcript

This week, we’re talking to Renee Hamati of Sensibly You. We had an amazing conversation with Renee about her own experience with autism & eating disorders, how autism & neurodivergence can impact our relationships to food, and how the Intuitive Eating framework can work for autistic & neurodivergent folks, plus a whole lot more!

Renee is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and Licensed Zumba Fitness Instructor based in NYC. She is passionate about helping people nurture a healthier relationship with food, body, and movement. Her work encompasses the Health At Every Size principles, as she believes everybody and every body deserves respect and access to health with their uniqueness in mind. Aside from weight inclusive care, Renee focuses on Intuitive Eating and Fitness for Neurodivergent folks, mainly those on the Autism Spectrum. Her lived experience allows her to connect with others and understand where they are coming from without judgement.

You can find learn more about Renee and her services on Instagram @sensiblyyou.

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. I'm Naomi Katz, an Intuitive Eating, body image, and self trust coach.

Sadie Simpson:

I'm Sadie Simpson, an anti diet group fitness instructor, personal trainer, and Intuitive Eating counselor.

Naomi Katz:

Today we are talking with Renee Hamati. Renee Hamati is a certified Intuitive Eating counselor and licensed Zumba fitness instructor based in New York City. She's passionate about helping people nurture a healthier relationship with food, body, and movement. Her work encompasses the Health at Every Size principles, and she believes everybody and every body deserves respect and access to health with their uniqueness in mind. Aside from weight inclusive care, Renee focuses on Intuitive Eating and fitness for neurodivergent folks, mainly those on the autism spectrum. Her lived experience allows her to connect with others and understand where they're coming from without judgment. Compassion and curiosity over judgment is what she likes to say. You can find Renee on Instagram @sensiblyyou. We had an amazing conversation with Renee about her own experience with autism and eating disorders, how autism and neurodivergence can impact our relationships to food, and how the Intuitive Eating framework can work for autistic and neurodivergent folks, plus a whole lot more. Without further ado, let's talk to Renee. Renee, thanks so much for being here with us today.

Renee Hamati:

Hello, thank you so much for having me.

Naomi Katz:

We are so excited to have this conversation with you. I feel like we've probably both been following you for- on social media and on Instagram- forever now. And like, I know you and I have certainly had some conversations on Instagram over the years, and it's just so nice to actually be talking to you in person- quote unquote, in person right now.

Renee Hamati:

Yes, I'm like super excited. I never expected to like meet the people I've met through Instagram. You know, because before joining this community, I was on Instagram like for fun. I'm like, okay, cool. Little- a little fun picture app. But now it's become so much more than that. It's a community and it's so special. As much as I say I hate social media, you know, because it gets icky, but like there's so much good to it. And I'm so thankful to have met both of you.

Naomi Katz:

We definitely feel the same way. So to start off, let's just sort of dig into the first question we ask everybody who graces us on this podcast, what has your experience been within diet culture?

Renee Hamati:

I think, like most people, my first diet was at eight years old. Started Weight Watchers at 12. I feel like that's such a common thing for people, unfortunately. And- another common theme- after dieting at a young age and Weight Watchers, developed an eating disorder in my teens. And that went up to, you know, all the way until college, but it went from a restrictive eating disorder, to thinking that, oh, I'm recovered, but it was really orthorexia at that point, to binge eating disorder. You know, now, like after so long, after finding Intuitive Eating, and community, and really doing a lot of work with with therapy, not realizing how much of eating disorders are really fueled by trauma. And I started going to therapy, which wasn't an easy thing to do, because, you know- and again, I feel like most people, unfortunately, can relate to this- that my first few therapists were not looking to treat an eating disorder, they were more focused on, hey, how can we get you to lose weight. And that was another thing I forgot to mention is that, you know, I've always been a chubby kid, I was chubby teen, as an adult fat. So whatever attempts at dieting was going on, whether it was just a diet, or if it was an eating disorder, it was always celebrated. And it was always so hard to like get to the point of, okay, I want to focus on recovery, because people were like enjoying what I was doing. I was like, oh, great, you know, they like when I lose weight. Actually, you know what, people are nicer, you know. So with Intuitive Eating, I don't ever like to be misleading and say it was Intuitive Eating that helped me move into recovery, because I wish it was that simple. And that was a big, big part of it. But it really came down to really learning how to work with a good therapist, having community, and really just doing a lot of work in different areas of life, even outside of food. I don't know how to answer the question. But that was my experience, I think. It was- it was a mess. But thankfully, you know, we're here, and we are heading towards a better direction with our relationship with food and movement.

Sadie Simpson:

Yeah. Well, you mentioned a few times, like you- you've done some therapy, and some different things to heal from some trauma and eating disorders. How did you find Intuitive Eating? How did you get into that?

Renee Hamati:

It was really unexpected. I was on my personal Instagram, and at- you know, my page at that time, I just posted anything that was like cute and pink and pastel. Like I, you know, I loved doing that. I would take pictures and stuff and like edit them to be pink and pastel. And so that was my thing. So how in the world like an anti diet post showed up on my Explore page, I don't know, because my Explore page was all like cute stuff, and like, you know, fun, anime, and like, whatever. But I found a post by a well known person in the community, and I was like, wow. Like, they said something- I think it was about like body, or body image, or food. And I was like, wow, I've never heard anyone say that. I've never heard this concept before. Then, like, I started, like going to their page, and I followed them. And then from following them, I followed another person. And I was like, wait a second, this is really cool. And at that- you know, at that time- I've been a fitness instructor since 2011, so I was a fitness instructor at that time, I still am. But it was interesting, because with my fitness classes, especially being someone who is, you know, like plus size, fat, whatever word people like to use- I'm comfy with, with all those words- but I never liked my class to be focused on body transformations. And when I say body transformations, I mean, like, you know, specifically trying to make ourselves as small as possible. I was all for those transformations where like, we felt stronger. And we felt those improvements in our body, like strength and endurance, and just all around feeling good. That's, that's what I was into. But I was never into selling a fitness class for the purpose of weight loss. But it was so hard, because that's what we had to do. That's what the gyms wanted you to do. That's what the dance studios wanted you to do. And it was so like, it was miserable. I hated doing that, because I felt bad. People are coming here to dance and have fun, and I gotta like, say, oh, we burn this many calories or whatever. So when I found the anti diet community, I started to feel very seen, because I never knew that this is okay to say out loud what they were saying. And yeah, so it was by accident. You know, a happy little find on the Explore page. I never thought it would have led to me making my own page, finding all these amazing people, making friends. And yeah, it was- it was so good.

Naomi Katz:

That's awesome. I love that it was like seeing a post like that, like gave you permission to do the things that you already wanted to do. Like on some level, you already knew that, you know, disconnecting fitness from weight loss, and from things like that was already something that you wanted to be doing. And like, all of a sudden, you had this permission to do that.

Renee Hamati:

Yes, for sure. And when I first joined Instagram, like, you know, in the anti diet community, the first set of people I followed happened to be like thin. And I think, at that time, seeing a thin person- especially a thin person who was a dietitian, fitness trainer, any kind of form of authority, in that sense- really helped kind of like with that permission aspect. And I never realized that until recently. Like I was going back on my Instagram thinking about like the first people I followed, and they were all like thin people, versus now I tend to gravitate more towards like connecting with people in larger bodies, because there's more connection there. There's more experiences that we under- you know, we share and understand on a deeper level. But it's- yeah, as hard as it is to admit, there was that initial like, oh, I have permission to think like that because someone smaller than me says it's okay. It's still taking time to unlearn that thought process. But yeah, I don't know if anyone can relate to that. But it's a tough one. It's- it's a tough one to move through.

Naomi Katz:

I mean, I know I personally can 100% relate to that. I think my entry into a lot of this work was also through smaller bodied professionals. And I also now definitely gravitate more towards the people in these spaces who have lived experience in larger bodies. And this is so relevant to the whole conversation that's going on within the Health at Every Size community right now. I don't think that we are necessarily to blame for the fact that our entry point is through smaller bodied people. Like, unfortunately, the way our systems are constructed, and the way the power dynamics work out, like a lot of times- the way the algorithm is structured and stuff like that- like unfortunately, those are the people whose posts and whose words tend to like be granted the most visibility. And so a lot of times that is our entry point. I think what it is, is it's on us to broaden our horizons from there- is to say like, okay, if I can understand that fatness is not a bad thing, and that, if anything, you know, if I feel like the rights and access of fat people are an important thing, then at some point, I need to make it my responsibility to seek out fat people talking about this. Which obviously, you have done. And I know that's work that we all have to do.

Renee Hamati:

Yeah. I don't want to say it was difficult at the beginning, because I wasn't aware of the fact that like that's what was going on, but now that I am more aware of like, oh, I was following a lot of thin people, a lot of thin people in positions of authority, like dietitians, and trainers, you know, having that kind of permission that, oh, it's okay to do this, and do that, and say this, and feel this way, and think this way. You know, of course, I'm very grateful for the work that everyone in this field does regardless thin or fat. But we have to acknowledge that the thinner people in positions of authority are essentially doing a lot of learning and work off the expense of the people living that experience. And that's a common thing in a lot of fields. But where it gets tough in this field is that who's more likely to be followed and heard- it's, you know, the people who are not living that experience. And yeah, it really does come back to what's going on right now in the Health at Every Size community. Sending so much love to anyone who's been affected by that. But really hoping moving forward, that the voices that should be lifted will be heard, that things are going to be moving in a better direction for everyone, and that there really will be more of a sense of like equity and just inclusion for everyone. But most importantly, the people who need this work the most.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, absolutely, that's such a great way to phrase that- is to really try and keep our focus on the people who need this work the most. And when we're talking about Health at Every Size, obviously that's going to be the people in the largest bodies among us. And of course, always, with the intersections of things like race, and class, and ability.

Renee Hamati:

Health at Every Size- it's, I think, a touchy subject, and I just started to learn this too, because it's a touchy subject for a lot of people in larger bodies, because for a lot of them, it doesn't feel like a movement to help liberate them, and help them find accessible health care, and ways to take care of themselves in a way that works for them. For a lot of people, it still feels like, oh, here's a sneaky little way we're gonna get you. You know, gotcha. You know, you know, a little sneaky little non diet, but you know. And in a lot of ways it can be structured like that. And another thing that I have to also name, and this is still something I'm learning to accept is that not everyone cares about health. It's just not something that they want to even, you know, think about, talk about, engage with. And there's a lot of reasons for that. There- people have medical trauma, people don't have the means to access health, so why think about it. You know, to them, it's like, why think about something I can't even access and stress myself out even more. Whatever their reason is, it's valid, and that's something we, as Intuitive Eating counselors, anyone who works in a field- you know, this field- therapist, dietician, doctor- you know, there are people who don't want to talk about health or, you know, make it even like a focal point of what they think about. We have to learn to just respect that. And there people in the Health at Every Size community who fall into that category. And it- I think like saying that, it sounds a little like, oh, why are you in the community if you don't care about health. A lot of the way that Health at Every Size is presented just really comes off as like another- you know, another diet.

Naomi Katz:

I feel like it would be- like, we almost want to reframe it as instead of Health at Every Size, like Health Access at Every Size- where it's like- it's not so much that everybody is obligated to be healthy at every size- like we don't want to open the door to the, well, it's fine if you're fat, as long as you're healthy, kind of an argument, which I think is something that comes up a lot within that, like, and people still consider that to be Health at Every Size aligned, which it's really not. But like it's almost more trying to frame it around like it doesn't actually matter whether you are- you personally are healthy or not. Everyone needs to have or should be granted access to health care- like compassionate evidence based health care. That's really the conversation. Less about are you healthy, and more about do you have access to health care.

Renee Hamati:

Absolutely. And just kind of going back on what I said previously, I don't know a better way to word it right now, other than to say that there are people who don't care about health. And not to say they don't care about themselves, but just- when I say care about health, to me, it's like there are people who want to schedule like time for movement, they eat intuitively but they still put focus on the gentle nutrition aspect, they, you know, they're a little bit more kind of like careful with like what they do and don't do, and they really prioritize like how to feel their best, whatever that means for them. Being healthy is a different thing for each person. Someone who has an auto immune disorder is going to have a different definition of health, compared to someone who doesn't have any kind of physical illness, can run marathons, and do whatever, compared to someone who has a severe case of agoraphobia and can barely leave the front door. Like you know, healthy for someone like that- their definition in that moment in time might be, oh, I- you know, they opened the door and they walked down the block, and they walked back, and they were okay. Like that's their definition of their healthy right now. Versus like someone who has an auto immune disorder, and they're having a really bad flare up one day, and the next day that flareups not there, like that's a healthy day for them. So it's- health is such a hard thing to define. I think it goes beyond lab work. And I'm gonna self disclose hypothyroidism, there are times where I go do lab work, maybe my thyroid is a little bit out of range. You know, if we're gonna go based off lab work, then people like that are technically never going to be considered healthy, which I feel like everything being based off lab work just erases every other experience. But- but yeah, so I'm so sorry. Like I wish I knew a better way to word it. Because it's not that people don't care about themselves. So just the whole idea of health is just like, you know, it's not, they're not interested to talk about it, whether it's because of trauma, or it's just, you know, they want to just live life and not think about it. It's a silly example, but like they stubbed their toe, and you know, their toe hurts. It hurts enough that they acknowledge the toe hurts. They're like, okay, you know, maybe go to a doctor about my toe. They're gonna go to have their toe so their toe feels better. But they still don't want to engage with like every other aspect of health for whatever reason, but they still deserve to go to a doctor, be respectfully taken care of. You know, it's like oh, you stubbed your toe, here's like a little bandaid, a little booboo kiss. You know, it's like- I don't know why I went with the toe stubbing. But just like, you know, people deserve access to respectful health care, even if they don't want to engage with health, and we can't force people. There are people with health conditions, and, for whatever reason, whether they don't have the access to, they don't have the mental energy to do it, they cannot find the energy to take their medication, to do their self care. It's really really difficult. And that's why I'm really upset about my own wording of saying people don't care about health because that's not the case. I just- a little secret- I'm not good with words. So that- you know- so- I don't know what other way to say it.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah, that totally makes sense. And honestly, I don't think that there's any thing wrong with your wording. Some people don't care about their health, and that's okay even if that's literally exactly what it is for them and how they how they would word it themselves. Like that's still okay. Everybody gets to set their own priorities in their lives, and like when we say health is not an obligation that means you get to not care about your health if you don't want to. You should still have access for if you ever do decide to seek it out. Boo boo kisses for everyone, basically. On demand.

Renee Hamati:

Oh my gosh. No, thank you for saying that. And hearing you say that, I think, brought up why there was discomfort with me not okay with my own wording. Because, again, I hate to admit it, but it's true. It's hard to have to acknowledge this. It kind of sucks when you do acknowledge this kind of stuff. Like okay, that's reality, but reality is, it's a lot easier for thin person to be like, oh, like, you know, to say like, they don't care about their health, and like say that they're only here for a good time not a long time, versus like a fat person. Because when a fat person says it, you're gonna have people pop out of the woodworks, oh, my tax dollars are paying for your- you know, you're eating up the medical system. And like stop, be more concerned about like the other things like you're paying taxes for. At that point, why does a fat person so suddenly become like a strain on the medical system because they don't want to take, you know, for example, like their antidepressants, or their Metformin, or like, they don't want to go to the gym. That argument doesn't come up when you have a thin person who regularly goes out like drinking every night, like you know, they're hungover every day, they don't want to go to the gym, they choose to eat foods that like don't really support their their health or that, you know, help them feel good. No one really says anything. You know, they're not caring for their health. They're choosing not to. That's something that they don't want to engage with. And it's okay for them. Because it's just, no one is going to point fingers. But again, if a fat person wants to go party every day, and skip the gym, or not even go into a gym ever, and eat foods that, you know, they acknowledge that they don't feel great eating those foods, it's a whole different story. So I think that's why it was so hard for me to say that there are people- there are people who don't care about their health. Because I'm thinking about the fat people who they can't say that even if they really wanted to. Because I know it's a lot easier for a thin person to be like, oh, you know, who cares.

Naomi Katz:

Absolutely. I think that's a really, really important aspect of this too. So I'm so glad that you like specified that part too. I think that's really, really important. So thank you for that. Renee, you have definitely talked on your Instagram before a fair amount about your own experiences with neurodiversity, and how that has impacted your own relationship with food, and with your body, and things like that. And I'm wondering if that's something that you can, you know, tell us a little bit more about, how those things have come into play for you.

Renee Hamati:

It was interesting to think about this, because it's not something I ever really put two and two together with. But being autistic and having a history of dieting, I realized there was a lot of complexities that I was never made aware of. So I never knew that I was autistic until my late 20s. And it wasn't until I was speaking with my therapist at the time. I don't have a therapist right now, because I don't have- I can't access one, I don't have the financial means to do so. And so I was working with a therapist for a few years. And I couldn't afford to do like the proper testing, autism testing. And that could cost up to $5,000, if not more, and I simply could not afford to do that, especially knowing that a lot of the diagnostic criteria is based off of cisgender men, so anyone who's not a cis male may not have an easy time getting diagnosed. A lot of people have taken that, you know, went through that rigorous testing, spent 1000s of dollars, and they come out with no diagnosis, but they are like well, no, this doesn't make sense. It still does not make sense. And so my experience being a woman, I know that the way autism shows up for me is a lot different than it would for a cisgender male. So with talking with my therapist and going through whatever assessments, you know, I could have the means to do, he did diagnose me as autistic. And a lot of things started to really come together. A lot of things started to make sense. And more recently, when- with dieting. With dieting, I never realized, but that was a special interest for me. So a special interest- and I think this even stems out to people with ADHD, like neurodiversity in general, I think- like a special interest is something that- it's a topic that we, you know, we dedicate so much time, and effort, and energy into. It makes us really happy to talk about, to learn about. We will kind of like go super focused on it and like, go through every like Google page we can to learn what- what we can about this topic. And for some people, it's like a TV show or a comic book. For me growing up, it turned out to be dieting, and like diets, and everything about diets. I became very interested in health, and fitness, and nutrition. And I tried to read everything I could about different diets, and learning all the math equations for like the BMI calculation, and maximum heart rate, and like VO2 max. Like, whatever it- like, whatever it is, like numbers were really fun. And, you know, and learning about like different diets, and like health, and stuff like that, it started out as an interest, like, oh, this is really fun to learn about. But where it became really difficult is that I was on a diet myself. So I did not grow up in a household where dieting was like a normal thing. My sweet mama, she actually picked up dieting from American culture. Well, I am American, I was born here, but I'm a first generation Jordanian. My whole family came from Jordan. And not to say that diets don't exist in Jordan, right? It's just the dieting culture in a western world is very, very different, compared to like, what- what is- well what was common at the time over there. I would imagine now that diet culture is much more prominent in- you know, even- like all over the world. But at that time, it really wasn't, I would say. So I did not grow up in a household where like, you know, people knew about diets, or nutrition, or health- like, it wasn't like that. You know, that being said, I was never like put on a diet by my family, because it wasn't really like something that was like normal for our household, our culture at the time. Again, I think that's changed over the years. It was like, my pediatrician, my teacher, who would bring up, oh, you know, maybe like, consider a diet, things like that. And so that's why it started at such a young age, at eight years old. You know, having my third grade teacher, who I, you know, I have so much love for her. Well, my third grade teacher, I knew her beyond a level- like, you know, on a more closer level, because she was also a family friend. And I have so much love and compassion for her. And I know that, you know, looking back, she was also going through a really hard time with her body image and food. And I don't think she ever had any bad intent ever. She had nothing but love for her students. So when she approached me and said, maybe consider watching what you eat, maybe lose weight, I don't think anyone ever expects like, what that's going to lead to. And not to say that she like, caused my eating disorder. Not at all. But that was the start of my diets at that time. So again, like engaging with my special interest, which was nutrition, and health and dieting, it was really difficult when an eating disorder developed. And eating disorders- I feel that it's a common misconception that if you diet you will get an eating disorder, when it's- it's so much more complex than that. A diet could definitely lead to an eating disorder. But to say that that's the only cause or the cause, I feel that's where it makes recovery a lot harder, because there's a lot that goes into an eating disorder, that, you know, the diet could just be the trigger that led to it.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah. Oh my gosh, I'm so glad you said that. Because that's so so important. We actually- I think we just recorded an episode where we were talking about, like, yes, all of these are behaviors kind of all on the same spectrum, but it's not like every diet becomes an eating disorder. Like yes, most people who have eating disorders at some point dieted, but that doesn't mean that like, this is just one thing, and like you can't recover from an eating disorder just by giving up dieting- like that doesn't do it.

Renee Hamati:

No, absolutely. Absolutely. It- it's one of those things- sorry, not to go off topic- but it's one of those things where it's like when people boil down an eating disorder to a diet, it's so infuriating because an eating disorder is not a diet. It might have started while on the diet, but who say the diet is the cause of that? You know, you can't really say that, which so important to really understand all the possible causes of eating disorders. So I started developing an eating disorder- a restrictive eating disorder- at that time. It was really hard for anyone to, to acknowledge that, because, one, I was, you know, chubby as a teenager, and people were already expecting me to lose weight. But then also, a lot of people knew me as that girl who loves health, and fitness, and nutrition, and very, very passionate about it, you know, like a health not fitness freak, whatever. And so, at what point- like, where was the line between I really love learning about this- this topic, versus I'm doing a lot of disordered behavior, and I can't tell which one is me just engaging in a special interest, and which is- you know, just, which is a disorder. And, yeah, that part of it- that part of it was really tough. That was tough to like navigate at the time. So initially, I didn't even know at the time what an eating disorder was. I'm not- you know, not to sound like a grandma when I say this- but like, at that time, you know, back in my day, you know, like, there wasn't- there wasn't Instagram, there wasn't Facebook, there was- we had- what did we have? We had MySpace, and we had Zynga. I don't know if anyone had Zynga.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh yeah.

Renee Hamati:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Okay. I'm the grandma now, because I have no idea what Zynga is. But I first thought it was like MySpace

Renee Hamati:

Zynga was like a popular blog website back in the day. You know, it's like, everyone had their own blog, and you could find people based off of like what their interests were, like what their blog topic is, or location. It was a really fun community. But like, that's what we had at the time. And like, at that time, I will say, I came across pro-ana blogs. I didn't know what pro-ana meant. I didn't know what anorexia was. I did not know what- you know, I was like 11 or 12. I had no education about eating disorders, no education about like autism, nothing. All I knew was diet, weight loss, and people who don't diet and weight loss. And now we have more information, more social media, more ways to learn about things. We have more of that knowledge. So I just started to piece all this together like two years ago. So yeah, it's not like me at 12 years old was always like, ah, yes, this is my special interest. I had no idea. I was just- I was just, you know, along for the ride.

Sadie Simpson:

I have a question. So knowing what you know now about special interest, and just kind of learning more about your tendencies, and your past, and how all of this has kind of culminated to who you are today, do you have any insight as to how your special interest- which you may not have recognized this is what it was at the time- how that impacted how you became a Zumba instructor or a fitness instructor? Because as a fellow Zumba Fitness Instructor, I'm always curious to know how other people have experienced this- their entry point into teaching group exercise and things like that.

Renee Hamati:

So I got scammed into it. No but, at the time- so I love this question, because the story behind it, it's one of those stories that I love because I think it's kind of cute. I did kind of get tricked into it. I- it was in like 2010, I think. Because I got certified- sorry- I got licensed- I don't know why, they get very like, picky about that at the training. Like you're not certified, you're licensed. Like I got licensed as a Zumba instructor in 2011. So I think was 2010, my brother and I were going to the same gym. And at that time, like, you know, I wasn't really- I didn't want to go to the gym because I had no one to go with, and it was, you know, boring. I don't like to go by myself. So he's like, hey, why don't we go to the gym together, we'll hang out, you know, we'll go get a quick workout in, and we'll go grab food afterwards. I'm like, okay, cool, cool. So I'm like preparing myself all week for this like little gym date with my brother. And I'm getting ready that day. I like, you know, get my clothes on. And at this point, I'm really not feeling up to going to the gym because like, the excitement wasn't there. I don't want to do this, boring. And he calls me last minute, and he's like, oh, you know, hey, I can't make it to the gym today. So in my head, I'm like, yes, I got out of it. And he's like, well, why don't you go anyway? Like, why don't you try a Zumba class? I'm like, what the hell is Zumba? I never heard of what Zumba was. And he's like, no, no, just go try it, I hear it's like, you know, really fun, really popular. Okay, whatever. So I go to the gym, and I go to my first Zumba class, and I did not know what to expect. I was like, okay, I'm feeling nervous at the time. So I went all the way to the back of the room. And the instructor walked in, and I thought he was like the coolest thing ever when he walked in. He walked in with his like Zumba pants- they have like strings all over them, like little fun tassels. And oh my gosh, so festive, so fun. But he walked in like the coolest thing ever. The music started, and within like the first 30 seconds, I was like, oh my gosh, this is amazing. I've never done a workout like this. I've never been in a room with like this many people doing- doing fitness, but we're all having fun. I felt the love. I felt the fun energy. It felt so, so so wonderful. And I- it sounds like an over exaggeration, but like, you know, if you- if you've ever took a Zumba class, and you loved it so much that you became an instructor, you know exactly what I'm talking about- how much it's- oh my gosh, I could- I'm gonna like cry. So it was so beautiful. And from that day, like I left that class, like in awe. I was like, this is amazing. Where has this been all my life? What is Zumba? Why have I been missing it? So what turned out is like, you know, my brother and me supposed to go to the gym to like do like some machine work or whatever, turned out me going to Zumba. And then I came home, and I told him all about it. He was like, yeah, look, I wasn't going to go to the gym with you anyway, I just- I was just wanting you to go. So he tricked me.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh.

Renee Hamati:

But it worked out for the best because I found something that- wow, it's such a big source of joy for me, Zumba. So yeah, I did get tricked into it, but it worked out, so.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh my gosh, that's so amazing. Sounds like your entry point into pursuing more intentional movement was based on a place of like joy and fun, and not from a place that, often we hear from folks is their first experience with a group movement class or in a gym was, oh, this is torture, no pain, no gain, that sort of thing- that you got to go into this with this amazing experience versus this negative experience. So that's really neat to hear that.

Renee Hamati:

I have to say that the Zumba instructors I've had the privilege of having as my instructors, they have been such amazing people. And I think like one helpful thing with Zumba is that there's really no room for talking. Because you walk in, and music starts, the music is playing for 30 minutes, 45 minutes, an hour, or whatever that class is, and then after class we all say like thank you, and like goodbye, and chit chat, In addition to being a Zumba instructor, you are also an and like that's it. So the instructor really doesn't have like a lot of room for chatting, where, you know, you have a lot of like other fitness classes where the instructor has a microphone, and they are talking through and like saying like what's on their mind. Like, yeah, I think one good thing with Zumba is that there's- there's not a lot of room for that. And also with Zumba, it's because- it's like dance fitness, it- there's a lot of fun around it. It wasn't ever something where I ever looked at it as like, oh, like calories, and like, oh, weight loss. Our intention with movement is to bring joy to people, to bring fun, to help people feel good. Intuitive Eating counselor. Another thing that you, you know, talk about on your Instagram relatively often is ways that the Intuitive Eating framework works or maybe doesn't work for neurodiverse individuals, and for yourself included, and I was wondering if you could sort of elaborate on some of the ways the framework maybe isn't one size fits all when you're talking about things like neurodiversity. Yeah, for sure. One thing I often hear from people who are neurodivergent is that, I can't do Intuitive Eating, Intuitive Eating is not for me. And I really want to understand like, what- you know I want to understand why they feel that way, what were they told about Intuitive Eating that made them think it's not for them. And opening up that conversation with a stranger, it's hard. But I see people comment under posts on Instagram with things like that. And I think why I wish I could talk them about it is because, you know, I'm someone who, you know, neurodivergent, person of color, fat- like, the- a lot of identities that are often told Intuitive Eating is not for you. And thankfully, that's not something I've heard when I first joined the community. It's something I've heard after being in it. But had I heard that before even learning about Intuitive Eating and joining the community, I think there would have been a lot of discouragement, thinking I can't do this, it's not for me- you know, is- like is this it, like is my only other option just diets again, and like, counting points and calories. So what I wish I could tell people is that Intuitive Eating is not something that anyone invented, it's something that- you know, intuition we are born with that. For some people, they have certain conditions that they're born with where it's really difficult for them to connect with their body. But for the most part, most people, we are born with that intuition. For some people, it's a lot harder to connect with that. Not impossible. But there are other ways to connect. So we are born with that natural gift, and it often gets taken away from diet culture. But the Intuitive Eating program itself, which was created by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, that is their book, that is their program- it's, you know, there are 10 principles- that was created by them. But- but just because there's a book out there that has a list of principles, doesn't mean that we have to go step by step with each rule. I think Intuitive Eating can very much be made for each individual, adapted to their specific needs. And so a lot of people with autism have a lot of rigidness, this black and white mentality, if there's a rule, we don't like to break it. And a lot of that rule breaking comes down to, well, why can't I break the rule. If- if there's an explanation about why a rule exists, I feel it- it makes it a lot easier for me to make a decision on if I want to break that rule or not. So like a silly example, if you say, don't go in the pool past 5pm, and that's all you say, I'm going to say, okay, so the rule is don't go in the pool past 5pm. Even if I see other people in the pool at six o'clock, seven o'clock at night, I'm not gonna go in the pool, because you told me don't do it. I don't know why. But if you said don't go in the pool past 5pm, because that's when the mosquitoes come out, and you're gonna get a lot of mosquito bites, and it's not going to be fun, then that will kind of give me kind of information. Okay, so if that's the reason, I can go get bug spray, put it on, and go in the pool at 5pm, have fun with my friends. So when it comes to things like that, there's a lot of rigidness that people maybe don't understand why that's a rule, why that's a principle. And I think that knowing why, or having an idea of why something is, really starts to help with making those decisions about what rules we choose to follow, or how we choose to follow them. Well, one thing with Intuitive Eating- and this is a very, very touchy topic- but coming back to special interests, in even just people with autism, a lot of people really enjoy learning about patterns, and numbers, and things like that. So for someone who, maybe they count calories, they have their calorie app, but they don't count calories in a restrictive way. For them, they love that information of what did I eat on this day, three years ago? How did I eat that day? Or what foods am I eating the most of? Or information like that- a lot of these apps give you a lot of this information, even down to like what nutrients and micronutrients you're consuming. And so for some people, it might just be a genuine interest for them, where they love, they really love that data. They love just knowing. But it's not affecting their relationship with food, or how they're eating, or their body image. It's just numbers and data.

Naomi Katz:

Yeah.

Sadie Simpson:

I've never thought of that in this way.

Renee Hamati:

Yeah, but it's a genuine interest, where they just love to have that data, but it doesn't affect their relationship with food. And with Intuitive Eating, of course, and anti diet, we often encourage, hey, delete those apps, don't log your food, don't do this. Where it becomes wishy washy is that, well, one, does this person have a history of an eating disorder or disordered eating? You know, if yes, let's put- you know put that category on one side. If no, this person doesn't have a history of this, and it's not affecting their relationship with food, and there's no harm or issue coming from this behavior that they're doing, where it becomes a little bit tricky about, you know, wanting to stop that behavior- like wanting to stop the behavior as their Intuitive Eating counselor, or their dietician, or their therapist- is the question is, are we stepping into ABA therapy- applied behavioral analysis- where we're telling an autistic person, hey, what you're- you know, you being yourself is not okay, don't do that, do this instead, this- you know, Intuitive Eating doesn't like when you do that, you can't do that. And so that's something we have to consider- is this just part of their, you know, as an autistic person, they really enjoy this number and data and just to have access to it. You know, it's going to be, I think, a touchy area, because we're telling someone, you being yourself is not good enough for Intuitive Eating. But if this person does have a history of an eating disorder, or disordered eating, that's when thinking about what steps to take next- is there another way we can let them have that information without it affecting their relationship with food. So really trying to figure out how we can do this in a safe way. Even if it's like, moving towards an app where it's just- there are some apps out there that are just photo based. One I use is called Ate. A-T-E, ate. At this time that we're recording, it's not an app that is at all geared towards dieting, or like anything like that. It's simply take a photo of what you're eating, it will log the time that you ate it, it will give you how many hours it's been since your- your last meal. And you can go back and see, you know, what you ate on that day a year ago. It gets hard to navigate. Because again, it also- what if that person, they love numbers and love data, but they also have that history of eating disorders. How can we let them know it's okay to be yourself, but also get them into a safer place.

Naomi Katz:

One of the ways that you frame this stuff a lot of times on Instagram is like "Intuitive Eating, and"- which I love so so much- and is that sort of the kind of thing that you would say, you know, is how you would frame something like that, where it's like Intuitive Eating, and something else that might work better or more to the point.

Renee Hamati:

Yeah, so, Intuitive Eating, and- I think for that, is that I think a lot of people who learn about Intuitive Eating, the way it's presented on social media - and again, I hate to say this, but I feel like part of the truth is that it's presented in a certain way by certain people because people, Intuitive Eating counselors- like, let's not lie, people want to make money, right? So they're going to market something as this big, great thing, like a one size fits all solution to all your problems. Where that gets very misleading is that there are people who will see those kind of posts that make it sound like Intuitive Eating is going to solve every problem that you have. They go into it, they buy the books, they maybe work with a counselor, and they're like, okay, but what- something's not really working the way I expected. So I think Intuitive Eating, and, you know, forms of therapy. Intuitive Eating, and challenging your own thoughts and behaviors. Intuitive Eating, and using any other tools and techniques that you have available to you to help you navigate what you're going through, and help you get to a safer place. Because the main goal with all this is helping people just get to a healthier place with food, their relationship with food, their body, with movement. And, you know what, for some person, that might look like never logging their food ever again, eating whatever they want, whenever they want. What might that for another person? It might look like having that food freedom, ditching diet culture, but maybe they're still logging what they eat, for whatever reason- maybe it's autism, maybe it's OCD. And so I think there's a lot of expectations that people have going into Intuitive Eating, when they feel like this is not going to work for me because I have a certain way about what I do. And then because it gets really hard, and- and this is another thing where, like, if you are someone who really falls into categories where, you know, you have an eating disorder, autism, neurodivergent, OCD, like anything like that, where it's a combination of things, I think that's when it becomes really beneficial to work with a professional. Because as wonderful as us as Intuitive Eating counselors can be, those of us who are just Intuitive Eating counselors, we cannot diagnose or treat anything that you have going on. We cannot provide therapeutic services for your eating disorder, or your experience as someone who's autistic or neurodivergent in a therapeutic way. We can listen, but we cannot really go deeper in that sense. And so that's why I think it's important to acknowledge that Intuitive Eating, and- you know, whatever that may be, whatever that and is. And then another part that gets a little intimidating for some people is, a lot of people who are neurodivergent, a big one is the fullness cues. You might hear a lot of people who might have ADHD, or are autistic, that express that they don't know what fullness is. They know what that very uncomfortable fullness is, where like they're ready to just like- like, that's it, don't even show me a picture of food, like I'm done, leave me alone. That idea of Intuitive Eating and giving yourself permission to eat, it sounds horrifying for people who struggle with that. And I think that's another part of like, why Intuitive Eating scares people.

Naomi Katz:

I've heard similar things from folks with ADD and ADHD about hunger cues- about how hard it can be for them to recognize hunger cues for like, all kinds of different reasons. And so that's an interesting consideration, is that just those internal cues on either end might not be as recognizable, or that there might be some obstacles to recognizing those things, the way that Intuitive Eating usually frames them. I think you really hit the nail on the head there in terms of

Renee Hamati:

And again, I feel like it's one of those things where like working with someone really does help. Nobody needs an Intuitive Eating counselor to begin their Intuitive Eating journey. We- as counselors, we are not the answer to all of your problems. All of the power is within you, the individual. You know yourself best, you have access to books, to information online. If you cannot access a counselor, do what you can with what you have, you can still do it. A lot of us didn't work with a counselor when we began our journey. And don't let that stop you. But we are here to help with any nuances, any things that doesn't make sense, you know, helping you figure out how to make this work for you, as an individual. It does get a little bit hard because, you know, going back to people who are autistic and have an eating disorder, it's two things that, I think, a lot of autistic people love structure, and like, what we're- we're trying to do- is trying to make sure rules, and having like step by step kind of guidelines, and doing things by the book. And eating disorders also love rules. And if it's two things that, you know, autism and eating disorders don't like, it's breaking the rules. It's really hard to step out of that rigidness. And then it's really hard when part of that rigidness is not just an eating disorder, and it's coming because of who you naturally are as a person, as an autistic person. And so letting go of the control that comes from the eating disorder gets really hard because there's an overlap there with autism. So it does get very, very difficult at that time, when you have the two kind of with each other. And when it comes to autism, if someone does have that very black and white rigid mentality, it doesn't mean that anything is that like everybody knows that one size doesn't fit all. And that doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with them wrong with them, doesn't mean they have to change as a person. personally. So Renee, before we ask you our wrap up question, But if that's something that they acknowledge, and they say, okay, I want to change that, I want to be more flexible, I'm okay with like stepping away from that mindset and learning to be a little bit more flexible, then for them, I think it's not something they're being forced to do. So it's- it's really hard. It's- I know, like part of this is about eating disorders, but where it gets hard is like the part that is autism. Whenever we expect an autistic person to change for a set of rules or how- you know, let's think of Intuitive Eating as a society- we're now expecting an autistic person or person with ADHD to change their ways, conform to the new society. It gets really hard. Really like just as- as a community, how can we make this accessible for everyone, get people to that healthy relationship, but also make sure we're not making anyone feel like they are wrong for who they are as people? can you tell everybody how they can find you, how they can work with you? Yes, thank you. My Instagram handle is @sensiblyyou. And I'm mainly on Instagram @sensiblyyou. That name? It sounds like, oh, you must have thought that for a long time. What's it mean? It was an accident. Honestly, I had a previous handle, and I loved it. I'm not gonna say it because like someone took it, and they're like, not a good company. So I had this really cool handle, loved the name, really, really good. I took all social media for it. Everything. Only thing I didn't do was get a domain. So like, well, who would be silly enough to get a domain when they can't even get all the social medias and the email for it? Like, who would do that? Someone did it. They did it.

Sadie Simpson:

Oh, no.

Renee Hamati:

I was like- I was like, oh, you know what, let's buy a domain, let's- let's take this bad boy to the next level. And so I went to go buy a domain, and it was taken, and I was like what. So I'm looking at who took it. It's like a fitness company selling their their fitness products. I was like, no.

Naomi Katz:

Oh no.

Renee Hamati:

I sat there for like a year trying to think like what name, like what's going on? Like, I feel like that was like an identity crisis, you know? I'm like, you know what, that's it. I can't do this. I can't promote like, my, my Zumba, my whatever. Like, that's it. It's- I gotta go. It's not- it's just my name. Yeah, so I was on trying to brainstorm and like, just those two words came together by by mistake- wait a second, that makes a lot of sense. So did you guys need to know that? No, but did I tell you, yes.

Naomi Katz:

I'm still- I'm glad we do.

Renee Hamati:

Not many people know, but yeah, that wasn't like

Sadie Simpson:

I know. a well thought out name. And just it came about, and it's fate, and I like it. So here we are, I am @sensibly you, where we learn to just do things in the most sensible way for ourselves, what makes sense. As far our services go, I currently offer virtual Zumba classes. I offer both one on one and group fitness. And I also offer Intuitive Eating counseling. And on Friday nights, you'll catch me doing karaoke and telling jokes. So, your pick which one you want to sign up for.

Naomi Katz:

Those are all really good choices.

Sadie Simpson:

Nice.

Renee Hamati:

No, no, just joking on the karaoke. I kind of like me in this way, towards the end of the podcast, and I am like getting a little bit more goofy, and being myself a little bit more, and I almost wanted to be sorry about that. It's like not that all autistic people are like jokesters, and you know- that's just me- but you know, when you're doing a podcast, like you are kind of expected to be like this perfect talker. But you guys, that expectation was never there from the start. So I really appreciate that. And I thank you for saying, hey, be yourself. It's okay. I think we need more of that. I mean, I want people to be more okay with being themselves.

Sadie Simpson:

We love that.

Naomi Katz:

We love you just as yourself.

Sadie Simpson:

Just as sensibly you.

Renee Hamati:

Oh my gosh.

Sadie Simpson:

We always wrap up with one final question. Are you ready for it?

Renee Hamati:

I hope so.

Sadie Simpson:

Okay. Renee, tell us what is satisfying for you right now.

Renee Hamati:

All right. Well, I did just finish teaching a Zumba class before this podcast. So a shower, definitely a shower. You know, that sounds really good. It was my birthday yesterday. So a piece of cake sounds great right now. Yeah, a shower and a piece of cake sounds really fun after a Zumba class, and after a really fun podcast.

Naomi Katz:

Well, Renee, thank you so much for being with us today. And happy birthday one day late, obviously. And yeah, we just really appreciate your insight and your time today. It's been really great talking to you.

Renee Hamati:

Well, thank you so much. And it was an honor to be on the show with you guys. And I just want to thank Naomi and Sadie again for inviting me on. And I hope to hang out with you guys in the future.

Sadie Simpson:

Yes.

Naomi Katz:

Us too. So that's all for us this week. Thanks to Renee Hamati for having this conversation with us today. If you enjoyed this podcast we would love to connect with you over on our Instagram page @satisfactionfactorpod. Be sure to comment and let us know what you think about this episode. And one other simple thing you can do to support us is if you're listening in Apple podcasts or Spotify, you can leave us a rating and a review. This helps us to reach more people and we really appreciate it. Thanks everyone. Catch you next week.