This is an extra special episode, because it’s a conversation with one of the most extra-special people in my life: mobility expert, personal trainer, yoga teacher, dancer, and one of my dearest friends in the universe, Nicole Sciacca.
Nicole is a WEALTH of information on any and all things having to do with how your body moves – and prides herself on nurturing her client’s sense of self while optimizing their performance, potential, and personal recovery. She’s also a rockstar mother, a former fitness studio owner, a meditation teacher (and devotee), a trainer to A-list celebrities, an eternal optimist, and basically the most loyal friend you’ll ever have.
In this episode we talk about Nicole’s philosophy on doing and being many things in your lifetime (and what that can actually look like), the phrase that helped her navigate the darkest moments of her personal and professional life, how an unexpected instance involving one of her most famous clients led her to instant Instagram celebrity status literally overnight (and how she navigated that), how to rethink movement as your body ages, and WAY more.
Oh! And: Join us this Sunday June 27th at 3:00pm Eastern Time for Nothing But a Number – A Movement + Self Talk workshop to reimagine your relationship with age. In this free 90 minute workshop, you’ll dissect your relationship with age and “aging” no matter how old you are. Half intentional movement focused on longevity and joint health, half mindful discussion, walk away with practical tools to help you age powerfully in body and spirit.
After almost six years and 124 episodes, I realized I’d never done what many people do right at the start of their podcasts…shared my story.
But as I’m evolving, WANT is evolving, and the world is evolving, maybe now is actually the perfect time for a (re)introduction. If anything, so that maybe you can recognize a little of yourself in these words, and know you’re not alone.
FEARLESS = FEAR < FAITH (or, “Fearless” is when the fear is less than the faith) was an equation I stood behind long, long before this past year.
But March 2020-March 2021 made me realize how vital it truly is to maintaining a sense of self-assuredness WITHOUT abandoning your very real responses to very real crises.
That’s why when CNN asked me “What’s a lesson you’ve learned during the pandemic that could help women in the year ahead?” my answer was a no-brainer.
True fearlessness is when the fear you have of a situation is less than the faith you have in YOURSELF.
I’d never advise anyone to write over their fear. That’s not how to be fearless. Whenever I hear people say things like “I choose not to live in fear,” I take a deep breath. Not only is that phrase one of my biggest spiritual bypassing/self-gaslighting pet peeves, it makes me so sad to think that somewhere down the line, whoever is saying that phrase has been made to believe that fear is not only a choice, but a “wrong” choice that must be locked away.
Lowering your fear is super hard for a reason. Fear is like an inner security guard: it just wants to keep you safe.
But upping your faith in yourself? That’s a different story.
Fear and faith can/should coexist. It’s what can help do everything from take the next smallest proactive step forward, to not giving up on yourself, to just getting out of bed in the morning.
I have faith that…
…I can brush my teeth. …I can cook myself a meal. …I can write something that means something. …I can think and feel deeply. …I can gift myself a good night’s sleep.
These are the types of things that have gotten me through my darkest days over the last year. Seriously.
Every tiny thing you have faith in – notice it. It counts. List out the reasons you already have to have faith in who you are. And slowly, the fear-to-faith scales start to tip from the fear over to the faith. That’s what can actually make a difference in the long run, and make you believe there’s more out there for you than just fear alone.
After recovering from a ten-year-long battle with various eating disorders, Johanna Kandel founded The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness. Since its inception in 2000, The Alliance has brought information and awareness about eating disorders to more than 340,000 individuals nationally and internationally. In addition, Johanna runs free weekly support groups, mentors individuals with eating disorders and their families, and helps thousands of people gain information and find the help they need. She’s also the author of Life Beyond Your Eating Disorder (Harlequin). As a passionate advocate for mental health and eating disorders legislation, Johanna has spent a lot of time meeting with numerous members of Congress, and was part of the first-ever Eating Disorder Roundtable at the White House.
In this episode, Johanna and I candidly discuss how to move forward proactively in your life if you’re struggling with an eating disorder, how you can effectively show up for others as someone who KNOWS someone with an eating disorder, and so much more.
This episode is in support of The Alliance for Eating Disorders Awareness, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to the outreach, education, early intervention, support, and advocacy for all eating disorders. The Alliance will be hosting their first-ever NOT ONE MORE Weekend, taking place February 26-28. This will be a virtual three day event focusing on what The Alliance does best: Help. Support. Recovery. This international movement will urge individuals to reach out for help, get support, and imagine a life beyond their eating disorder. Proceeds from this weekend will directly fund The Alliance’s free weekly, therapist-led, virtual eating disorder support groups.
Jessica Rabbit once famously said, “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way.” Self-talk isn’t inherently good or bad, positive or negative – it’s all information. It’s how we view that self-talk that determines if it’s on Team Positive or Team Negative.
And for many of us, our self-appointed negative self-talk flares up the biggest when it comes to talking about our BODIES.
My thighs are _____.
My hips are _____.
My arms are _____.
My skin is _____.
Pick your body part and pick your adjective, and I’m sure you’ve got at least one area you tend to beat up and call mean names on the regular.
But just like our self-talk, none of our body parts are inherently good or bad – we just name them that way. And way too often, we lump them into the bad category instead of the good.
Seeing a reflection you’d prefer looked different, or noticing your clothes fit differently than usual, can instantly morph your response from neutral sensations to negatively charged emotions.
And what do we do when those emotions bubble up?
We distract ourselves and immediately blame our bodies for merely existing.
So often we don’t bat a lash at being mean to ourselves – not because we’re inadequate, but because we’re removed.
When we feel things we don’t want to feel, we try to distract ourselves. Scared? Procrastinate the day away. Uncomfortable? Check every app on your phone (twice). Angry? Play the blame game and point out everything wrong with someone else.
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When we distract, we dissociate. But something else happens, too.
When we dissociate from whatever’s happening instead of facing it head-on, we don’t learn how to navigate the full spectrum of our human experience. And what’s more, we start to shut down OTHER sensations, too. We don’t just become removed from the things we don’t like, we start to numb out to the things we do, too, because what affects one aspect of our lives usually affects the rest of it, too. It’s no different with our bodies.
We detach, place blame, and dissociate – instead of trying to figure out where those pent-up emotions are actually coming from.
Just like Ghost Worries hijack your thoughts and make you forget the reality of your situation, body-related negative self-talk steals your sensations and makes you forget what your body actually feels like.
The pattern is simple, and mirrors the kinds of patterns we’re often prone to when a relationship on the rocks. See the thing. Notice the fault. Blame the Other. Withdraw attachment. Withdraw kindness. Withdraw touch.
But instead of the Other being a partner, the Other is our body.
Touch is vital. As U.C. Berkely explains, touch “activates feelings of reward and compassion. reinforces cooperation, and cultivates a sense of safety and trust.”
If you apply that logic to touch between two humans…it might behoove you to stop and consider if the same is true with self-inflicted touch.
The second you dissociate from the actual feel of your body, the second you start to dissociate from your body itself. And when you dissociate from your body for too long, you become afraid (or at least resentful) of it. This thing you call your body seems entirely out of your control.
Your skin becomes something to pick at and prod.
Your muscles become bulk.
Your rolls become flab.
Your fat becomes forbidden.
The only time you touch your body is when you’re zeroing in to fix something.
The solution is simple:
like Beyoncé and Nicki, you must literally start feeling yourself.
Sound awkward? It might be at first. But it’s a weird yet effective trick I always come back to when I’m really feeling low about my bod. And I find the longer I go without putting TOUCH into practice, the quicker I slip into old body-loathing tendencies and self-talk.
It takes a matter of minutes, doesn’t involve spending money, and doesn’t require you to recite a mantra or do anything too hippie-dippie. It’s as easy as applying lotion after you get out of the shower or giving yourself a mini massage. There is NOTHING fancy about this practice, but it’s powerful beyond belief.
Take the time to actually feel what your skin feels like in your hands, the way your muscles curve and your thighs dimple (yes, everyone’s do). Notice the micro-dips in your collarbone as you press in, or the soft area under your armpits that is so often shielded from the sun. Get curious about your lines and shapes – ALL of your lines and shapes.
How does this thing I call My Body fit together?
How does my back hold me upright?
How does the weight I put on my feet each day affect their sensitivity?
How does the constant texting and typing my hands do affect them from the inside out?
Touch is healing, and not just when it comes from another person. Touch can be healing in our relationship with our Self – an aspect of healing that is way too often overlooked.
If you want to take it up a notch, try using creams or oils with your favorite scents. Learn aboutacupressure points. Maybe even turn it into a journaling exercise by taking a 10-minute ‘touch break’ in your day to explore what the skin you’re in feels like and take notes. The best part is that you don’t need anything fancy to put thisself-love-building practice into place. When we can notice the way our skin feels, relieve a tight muscle, feel the way each part of our body miraculously fits together, we become a human to admire instead of a object to critique.
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Inner monologue? More like inner bitch. Don’t give her the power.
“Empowerment” is trending, but somehow we’re still here telling our negative self talk it can go screw itself and F off.
Tell me again how is this supposed to be helping?
For what I’m guessing is some sort of evolutionary advantage, we’re programmed to interpret the world in very black and white terms. There can be no middle ground when it comes to right and wrong, and when we disagree with something, we typically villainize it rather than try to understand where it comes from (or what the real solution should be).
Good Versus Evil. Us Against Them. It’s a formula that’s easy to understand and easy to master. It’s primal.
So it’s only natural that with this sort of mentality, we’d choose sides with our self-talk and try to bully one of them into submission.
Brené Brown says to give your inner voice a name – she calls hers Gremlin. For some people, providing that separation is useful, and allows them to distance themselves from the harsh, usually-untrue things their inner voice likes to say.
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I, however, have never been able to separate my inner voice from myself. Because the thing is, it’s all a part of who I am.
Maybe my brain is playing tricks on my heart, maybe my inner voice is misguided at times, but at the end of the day – it’s all just me, telling myself what to believe.
Some people might say to snap out of it – to tell your inner critic to shut up. And hey, that might work for some people. But it NEVER works for me. Identifying my negative self-talk as someone other than myself – an ass, a bitch, a bully – only puts me on the defensive and gives me yet another thing about myself to dislike (on top of whatever it is I’m negative self-talking about).
Empowerment, for the record, is defined as “the process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one’s life and claiming one’s rights.” Yet I cannot see how throwing insults at insults does anything to make us feel anything but more aggressive and afraid. They’re just harsh words to combat harsh thoughts. Abuse masked as “empowerment.” Which, to me, is anything but empowering.
Instead of fighting against what is, why not try fighting for what could be? Instead of taking sides, why not confront the perceived enemy? Instead of viewing your inner monologue as separate from your “true” self, why not try to understand what it’s actually trying to tell you?
Calling a very real part of who you are a “bitch” just reinforces and strengthens those negative-talk muscles that have been trained over the years to come to your defense in their negative-talk way – and focuses on the problem, not the solution. Berating a part of who you are is not the answer. Tapping into a new reserve of power to retrain that voice – that voice that so longs to be helpful – IS.
Next time you’re tempted to call your inner voice a harsh name, sideline the smack-talk and reframe it as something MORE.
Here are a few ideas of what your negative self-talk really is all about. Could it be that your negative self talk is…
1) An invitation to explore?
2) An opportunity to rise?
3) A clue to an imbalance?
4) A way to practice moving forward through fear?
5) A wound to be nurtured?
6) A signal for help?
7) A cautionary tale of what it looks like to not be self-actualized?
8) A sign of neglect?
9) A cry for attention?
10) A distraction from the truth?
11) A language that’s been inherited and internalized?
12) A sign of burnout?
13) A call to action?
14) An empathetic pathway?
15) A clue as to what needs some extra love?
When I first started working on WANT, I would get pitches from people with books or websites with names like “Bitch On The Inside,” “Mental Mean Girl,” or “#StopHatingYourself Life Coaching.” We’re so aligned, they would say. We’re all about empowering women.
I respectfully declined every single one of these pitches.
…But I don’t think that’s what makes the change LAST.
Because here’s the clincher: the quicker we are to call our inner monologue a bitch, the quicker we are to find fault outside ourselves. The quicker we are to clique up and take sides and tell our friends to “get over it” or “snap out of it” when they’re feeling down on themselves, the easier it is to do it to ourselves. Life becomes arduous and unfair. It’s a negativity loop that goes on and on and on – all in the name of self-love.
Teaching yourself a new language, whether it’s Spanish or Self- Respect, is a process. Sometimes it’s as simple as going word by word. Phrase by phrase.
Today, pledge to stop calling your inner voice a “mean girl” or your “inner bitch.” Your mind and heart are smart, and they’re most likely just trying to protect you from disappointment, shield you from loneliness, or numb that Ghost Worry pain that’s predicting what other people might “find out” about you so that when they do “find it out” it won’t hurt as bad.
Your inner voice is just used to using this warped defense mechanism – a defense mechanism you don’t need.
Think back to the times when your negative self-talk starts to act up. What is it usually trying to tell you? What does it signal? How can you reframe your most common self-critiques…without resorting to name-calling? Tell me in the comments below.
And know someone who needs this? Share it with them today to help them shift their negative self-talk.
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