What's the F***ing Point episode 07: Sarah Jane Chapman on Body Liberation, Yoga, and Spirituality

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Sarah Jane Chapman, a massage therapist, yoga teacher, and heart-of-gold human who I am lucky to call a friend.

In the conversation, Sarah Jane and I delved into: 

  • why she believes “yoga always wins” and how her personal practice and teaching have evolved
  • how getting diagnosed with diabetes further complicated her eating disorder
  • the practice that was most transformational in healing her mindset from toxic diet culture
  • spending time in nature, gardening, sustainable farming, and seasonal eating as ways of connecting with spirituality and honoring our interconnectedness with the earth
  • making the tarot relevant and useful in day-to-day life 

And just an audio heads up — on the morning we were recording, Sarah Jane was having some laptop issues and used her phone instead for the recording, so there were a few vibrations in the second half of the interview, but not too bad. 

To listen to this episode, you can stream or download from the embedded player below, or find and subscribe in your fave podcast listening app. 

Thanks for listening, and if you dig, please share it with a friend and review the podcast on iTunes

About Sarah Jane Chapman 

Sarah Jane Chapman was born in Upstate New York where she would spend her days climbing trees and laying in the grass. She started practicing yoga at age 14, which helped her through some of the most difficult times of her life. In 2012, she traveled to Rishikesh, India where she became certified in Hatha Yoga, and shortly thereafter moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Wanting to offer more to students and expand her knowledge of the body, Sarah Jane attended the Mind Body Institute in 2015 to begin her work as a massage therapist. She now offers a plethora of body work and Reiki, as well as astrology and tarot readings. Sarah Jane lives in east Nashville with her husband and pitbull, still climbing trees and laying in the grass. You can follow her wanderings on Instagram @sarahjanechap

Mentioned on Today's Show:

check out my interview on the HeartSpace podcast!

A little while back, I got to have a juicy conversation with the sweet, smart, and multi-talented Corinne Dobbas (a dietitian + dating coach) on her podcast, HeartSpace.

The episode with my interview went live today, and it was fun to listen back and remember all the good stuff we got into! We cover a broad range of stuff, from Buffy (yuuuup) to trauma to body+self acceptance. 

Head over to your favorite podcast app and check it out! <3

how to deal with negative body image & anxiety

how to deal with negative body image & anxiety

Below is the beginning of a post I contributed to Recovery Warriors, a badass online magazine for eating disorder recovery.To read the full post, click here.

Here’s a glimpse into a pretty common dialogue that shows up in various ways in my work with clients who are navigating eating disorder recovery (usually alongside depression and anxiety). I’ll call this fictional client “Brit”. 

Brit: “I was feeling really crappy yesterday.”
Me: “Yeah? What kind of stuff you were thinking or feeling?”
Brit: “I don’t know, really, it was just inner critic stuff and anxiety I guess.”
Me: “So if I could have plugged headphones into your brain at that moment, what are some of the thoughts I would have heard?”
Brit: “Hmm… maybe like that I have a lot of demands on me at work that I’m worried about, and that I was bad for not making it to the gym that day and eating a bigger lunch."
Me: “Gotcha. And what about the feelings, like emotions or stuff in your body? 
Brit: “Just anxiety like kind of a pressure in my chest, I can feel it some now just talking about it.”
Me: “Can you describe it more, what it feels like right now?”
Brit: “It’s kind of hot in my chest, and a little queasy in my stomach, and my shoulders are tense.”
Me: “Right now, does it feel okay for that feeling to be there?”
Brit: “I don’t really like it, but yeah, I guess so.”
Me: “Just see if you can breathe into those places, your stomach, your chest, and your shoulders, without needing to change or fix them. And are any of those thoughts showing up right now?”
Brit: “A little bit, but not as much. I think it helped just saying them a minute ago.”
Me: “Nice! Sometimes all it takes is just breaking it down a little bit to understand more about what’s going on with you instead of just having that vague sense of ‘yuck.’” 

(I’d go further with her on this, but this part is enough to illustrate my point for now.)

I see those heads nodding in recognition! (Says my clairvoyant alter-ego) —and believe me, this is very much still an ongoing practice for me, too. Whether it’s a specific event that triggers it, or a thought or feeling that shows up first, often I have to intentionally step back and break down piece-by-piece to get clear on what’s going on with me, as I walked through above. 

(To continue reading, head on over to Recovery Warriors!)

Read More

podcast launch! WholeYou: the mind + body + spirit show

podcast launch! WholeYou: the mind + body + spirit show

Howdy, Wonderers!

Today marks the launch of my brand new podcast, co-hosted with my kick-ass partner in crime, Lauren Fowler! Lauren is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and also co-authored an eBook with me earlier this year, Hips, Hunger, and the Pursuit of Healing.

WholeYou is a podcast all about the connection between the mind, body, and spirit.It's centered around the idea that you are already whole as you are, and you don't need to be 'fixed.' The pursuit of healing is simply a journey, so take it step by step where you are. Healing your relationship with food or your body image may start with the mind or body but definitely digs deep into your heart and deeper hungers.

Just stream or download via the embedded Soundcloud (click through below to the full post), or search for WholeYou in iTunes or in you favorite podcast app. And if you like the show, please leave us a review on iTunes as it helps us reach more ears!

Read More

how to know if your relationship with food is unhealthy

7836566298_7bbd0a4d0c_z.jpg

What thought was flitting through your mind when you clicked the link to this post?

Maybe it was something like, "I am so tired of this. Maybe this isn't really 'normal.'" Or perhaps it was a variation of, "I wish she understood that what she's doing with food isn't healthy. How can I get her to see it?" Or maybe you were just curious.

Whatever reason you clicked on this post, I'm glad that you're reading this, because chances are pretty good that you and/or someone you know (make that half the people you know) have some kind of disordered relationship with food. It's hard to find accurate statistics on disordered eating, because so many people (more often women, but a fair amount of men, too) don't seek help or wouldn't meet full diagnostic criteria for an eating disorder, so they often fall between the research cracks.

What the Research Does Say...

Need some convincing? In one study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders, 91% of women surveyed on a college campus had tried to control their weight by dieting, and 22% of them dieted “often” or all the time. The same study reported that 35% of “normal dieters” progress to pathological dieting, and of those, 20-25% progress to partial or full-syndrome eating disorders.(1) This study was published twenty years ago — as much as I'd love to give more updated statistics, funding for research in this area is not where it needs to be, so these are still figures that eating disorder organizations like NEDA and ANAD are posting. And I probably don't need to tell you that things have only gotten worse over the past two decades.

In 2008, SELF Magazine collaborated with the University of North Carolina's Eating Disorders Program, polling its readers in an online survey that received over 4,000 responses from women age 25-45. SELF's then-editor, Lucy Danziger, stated that the purpose of the survey was to "discover the unfiltered reality of the eating habits of American women, and ultimately, to help women develop less obsessive, more accepting attitudes toward their bodies and a healthier relationship with food." (Sidebar: The irony here is not lost on me. Danziger authored the book The Drop 10 Diet, faced controversy after excessive slimming of Kelly Clarkson's 2009 SELF cover photo, and was let go in 2014 after the magazine mocked a woman running a race in a tutu that turned out to symbolic of her cancer battle. The PR snafu was probably just the last straw for Danziger, who was already on thin ice with Condé Nast for the magazine's slumping sales.)75% of the respondents reported disordered eating behaviors or symptoms consistent with eating disorders. You read that right: THREE OUT OF FOUR.

It's too bad the survey results weren't a wake-up call for SELF about the kind of content its readers really need. And while you could make the argument that these results are not representative of the general population since they are already readers of a magazine geared toward "women's health" (aka dieting and fitness), SELF is pretty mainstream, and I would say its reader is not terribly far from the "average American woman." The survey also found that:

  • 67 percent of women (excluding those with actual eating disorders) are trying to lose weight
  • 53 percent of dieters are already at a healthy weight and are still trying to lose weight
  • 39 percent of women say concerns about what they eat or weigh interfere with their happiness
  • 37 percent regularly skip meals to try to lose weight
  • 27 percent would be “extremely upset” if they gained just five pounds
  • 26 percent cut out entire food groups
  • 16 percent have dieted on 1,000 calories a day or fewer
  • 13 percent smoke to lose weight
  • 12 percent often eat when they’re not hungry; 49 percent sometimes do

What Are the Signs of a Problem?

Do any of those behaviors above sound familiar? Even at times before and after I had a diagnosable eating disorder, I would have answered "yes" to a lot of those questions. And here's some more that I would add for you to consider if you're wondering whether you or someone you care about might have disordered eating:

  • Do over 25% of your thoughts throughout the day revolve around food and/or your body? 
  • Do you ever weigh yourself more than once a day?
  • Do you keep clothing that has not fit for a substantial amount of time, as "motivation" to lose weight? 
  • Would you have anxiety if someone took away your scale?
  • Are you rigid with your workout routine? (i.e. if you don't get ___ minutes, RPM, calories burned, or pounds lifted, ___ times a week every week, you get anxious?) 
  • Do you think of your food intake as "clean"/"good" vs "gross"/"dirty"/"unhealthy"? 
  • Do you get anxious about birthday parties, work happy hours, etc. because of the food?
  • Do you use exercise in a compensatory way. i.e. "I ate that much so now I have to work out ___ amount"?

If your answer to some or a lot of these is "yes," just know that you are SO not alone. There's nothing to be ashamed of, because our culture basically breeds disordered eating. But also know that you don't have to accept this as your "normal."I had resigned myself to that, and I've met many other women (and some men) who have also accepted disordered relationships with food as "just the way things are."

Why It's Worth it to Work on Your Relationship with Food

It's hard for me to articulate exactly what it feels like on the other side of that hill without sounding totally cheesy, but believe me — it's worth the work it takes to get here. It feels like freedom to not be trapped inside a mental prison of FOODFOODBODYCALORIESWEIGHT all the time. It's a process of relearning how to eat and how to have a relationship with self. 

And the truth is that it's really, really hard to climb out of it alone. I might even say impossible. Developing a healthy relationship with food and body looks different for each person, but you need to have the support of people who've been in those trenches, who get what it's like, and who are far enough out of them that they're not just going to try to sell you on the latest diet or workout sensation that they're excited about this month.

If you see yourself anywhere in this post, sign up here to be the first to get details about the eBook on Intuitive Eating & Body Image that I co-wrote with dietitian Lauren Fowler, scheduled to release next month. 

Ready to go even deeper? Check out my coaching page to see if we might be a good fit for 1-on-1 work.

1. Shisslak, C.M., Crago, M., & Estes, L.S. (1995). The Spectrum of Eating Disturbances. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 18 (3): 209-219.

Graffiti photo by Duncan Hull, Creative Commons license.