Turning 40 and Overcoming Disordered Eating and Exercise to Find Joyful Movement and Food Freedom
Kim Hagle was a stay at home mom to three young kids when she started working out with a personal trainer. She loved how she felt – and looked – and eventually got certified as a trainer herself. But her hobby-turned-career turned into an unhealthy obsession with size and weight. Kim’s journey to self acceptance began with the baby she had at 40: a beautiful boy with Down Syndrome who taught her to just be herself. At the age of 42, she overcame disordered eating and exercise habits, and obsessing over her weight and found joyful movement, body acceptance and food freedom.
Kim Hagle is Certified Personal Trainer, Registered Holistic Nutritionist, Body Image Coach and founder of Radiant Vitality Wellness. Kim hosts The Joyful Movement Show podcast, where she inspires women to disconnect movement from weight loss and re-engage with movement as a form of self care. Through movement and mindset coaching, she helps women heal their relationship with food and exercise while disconnecting their worth from their weight, so they can feel healthy, happy and confident in the body they have.
A New Hobby Leads to an Unhealthy Obsession
At 35, Kim Hagle had left her nursing career to be a stay at home mom to her three kids. While she valued being at home with the kids and they could afford for her to be home, Kim had always valued her career. So she found herself struggling with her identity. She felt a lot of “not enough-ness” and she thought it was because she wasn’t happy with her body and she had to lose weight.
While she had a long history of dieting, she had never been athletic and had never worked out. A friend turned her on to a personal trainer who would come to the house while the baby was napping. As she worked out, she started feeling stronger and more capable, and the hobby turned into an obsession. She started running and winning road races and fitness became as much her identity as stay-at-home-mom. She eventually got certified as a personal trainer and decided to turn it into her career – but it pretty quickly turned into an unhealthy obsession.
Kim said she was always a “straight size,” meaning she could always walk into any store and find something that fit. But she thinks most women are conditioned to think that if we just lost weight, we’d feel better. And, at the beginning, she did get a lot of validation and praise for how she looked. But that came with anxiety around “what if I gain the weight back?”
In about a year, Kim lost about 50 pounds and dropped from a size 12 to a size 2, but maintaining that required a lot of work. She had to watch what she ate very closely. She had to exercise for multiple hours each day, every day. Through it all, she wondered if there was some accolade or accomplishment that would finally make her feel good enough, but she never found it.
And, when her youngest child was four, she and her husband decided to end their marriage, which caused her to be more obsessive about her heating and working out – not so much as a quest to be thin, but as a mode of stress relief. She found she ran a lot during that time.
A Second Chance at Love
A few months after her divorce, Kim met a man she thought would be a summer fling but who she soon realized was the real deal. They dated long distance for a while and got married when she was 39.
Her husband didn’t have any children of his own and as their relationship developed, Kim realized how important it was to him to become a dad. In their discussions about having children, Kim told him that, because of her age, there was a high likelihood that their child would have chromosomal abnormalities. Her then-boyfriend’s response was “No big deal. Like If that happens it’s what’s meant to be, it’ll be great. We’ll rock it.”
At that moment, Kim had a vision of a little blonde boy with down syndrome running towards them. And now they are parents to a little five year old blonde boy with down syndrome who is the light of their life.
When they got the news that their baby did, in fact, have chromosomal abnormalities, it still came as a shock and Kim says she had some fears to work through. But she felt the love and support of her husband and they chose to proceed with the pregnancy. She was 40 when their son was born.
Kim quickly realized that he was just a baby, like any other baby. She wondered why she was obsessing over looking different, over being different, over being someone other than who she already was. This baby became her teacher. She realized he’s just here. He’s just him. He’s just existing and taking life as it comes. That brought an aha moment where she realized she could just slow down, be grateful, and be present. She realized this baby didn’t need her to be anybody other than who she already was. Her husband didn’t need her to be anybody other than who she already was. She wondered why she was struggling so hard to accept herself and why she wanted to look and be different.
What she came up with for an answer was conditioning and socialization. Women are programmed from an early age that we need to look and act in certain ways to be acceptable. “There are just so many ‘shoulds’ ascribed to us,” she said. Her son Gage was her catalyst for unlearning a lot of that programming.
Kim’s Place in the Fitness Industry
In Canada, new moms get a year of maternity leave and Kim found herself focused on being present with her new baby. She didn’t have the desire to work out as hard or watch every morsel that went into her mouth. She took care of the baby and she took care of herself and that felt great.
But as her maternity leave came to an end, she started thinking about going back to work in a gym. Her body had changed. She was now a size 12 and she heard the echoes of people in her head saying “as a personal trainer, your body is your business card,” and she wondered if she belonged in the fitness industry at all. The gym job she would return to was at a YMCA, which was inclusive and not focused on image or looks, so these were pressures she was putting on herself. She thought if she didn’t have the perfect, fit, little body, maybe she didn’t belong in fitness.
Kim did a great deal of internal work to get to a place of knowing that she didn’t have to look a certain way to be a credible professional in the fitness industry and that there’s a whole world of health at every size. There’s also a whole world of women who need to know that they can achieve their health and fitness goals regardless of whether their body changes.
In a surprise twist, Kim has found those realizations liberating and fun. She feels much more rewarded in her career and her business has become more successful. She’s also attracted a totally different kind of clientele. “When we just take weight off the table and focus on feeling good, feeling the best in the body that you have, it’s so much easier to be successful,” she said.
People often look to physical trainers to push them and motivate them and we give them a lot of power, as if they should know what’s best for our body. But trainers shouldn’t pretend they do know what’s best for someone else’s body. “You are the authority of your body,” Kim says. “you know what feels good. And what you do today might be different or more or less than what you did yesterday, or next week. It changes; it’s fluid. How am I supposed to know what you need today?”
Now, Kim wants her body to work as well as it can for as long as it can. She wants to be able to do the things that she enjoys for as long as possible, without pain, or with as little pain as possible, and have fun doing it. Now she thinks of it in terms of Joyful Movement (also the name of her podcast).
While not all movement is joyful – some things we do aren’t necessarily fun in the moment – but when we enjoy it we’re more likely to stick with it. Movement that we dread is not motivating, nor is it sustainable for a long term.
From Orthorexia to Intuitive Eating
Though she was never diagnosed with an eating disorder, if Kim had been more honest with her doctor, she might have been. Orthorexia, however – the obsession with “health” – is not a diagnosable disorder. And it’s easily overlooked when a person is eating healthy food and exercising, but even that can become an obsession.
After trying pretty much every diet or way of eating, Kim knows from experience that the research that says 95% of intentional weight loss efforts fail is accurate. “It doesn’t matter what you call it,” Kim said. “When we restrict food, when we don’t honor our hunger and our fullness and our satisfaction, it’s a diet and it will end up failing eventually. And the greatest predictor of weight gain is dieting or restriction.”
Today, Kim eats whatever she wants. She eats intuitively and teaches intuitive eating. Though there are no rules with intuitive eating, there are guiding principles, including: listening to your hunger. Honoring your fullness. And, satisfaction is key. “With intuitive eating, we ignore all of the rules and all the shoulds from diet culture and learn to tune back into our own body to inform what and how much and when we should eat, just like we all did when we were born,” Kim said.
Not until Kim started doing the work of getting mentally healthy around her obsessive behavior, did she realize that she could choose her thoughts and she could choose which thoughts to believe. One of the most powerful thoughts Kim used in her own work, before she had reached the place of body acceptance, was a version of “yes, and” that is typically associated with improv. “ Yes. I wish my body looked differently. Or yes, I wish my body performed differently (or put in whatever it is you wish for) and I commit to being kind to the body that I have today,” she said. “No matter what you desire to be different, you can be kind and you can be respectful to the body that you have because it does so many amazing things for you.”
Joyful Movement is one of the principles of intuitive eating. The concept is to feel the difference when you exercise or move your body in ways that feel good and that are nourishing to you. For Kim’s business, joyful movement is associated with disconnecting our “why” for movement from changing our body, which is generally the focus in the fitness industry. When exercise is a horrible, hateful thing we do just to try to change ourselves, it’s no wonder we struggle with motivation and dread exercise.
“When we disconnect from changing ourselves and instead focus on using movement as a way to care for ourselves and contributing to our life, adding to our life, we are actually open to enjoying it a whole lot more,” Kim said. She is on a mission to help women disconnect from diet culture, and stop beating their body, and punishing their body through exercise, and instead experience the amazing benefits that come from having a consistent and enjoyable movement practice.
The Forty Drinks Podcast is produced and presented by Savoir Faire Marketing/Communications
Stephanie: Hi Kim. Thanks so much for joining me today.
Kim: Well, thanks so much for having me, Stephanie. It's an honor to be here.
Stephanie: Yeah, it's a real pleasure to meet you. You have a story that I have not yet encountered, in my 40 Drinks travels to date, but that I think a lot of it's gonna resonate pretty strongly with me, so I'm kind of excited to get into it. But let's start at the beginning. So when I talk about 40 Drinks and the transition around age 40, really what the research tells us is that the ages between 35 and 45 can be a real doozy, and I think you are probably a really nice example of that.
Kim: Mm-hmm there was a lot that happened in that decade for me. Yes.
Stephanie: So let's go all the way back to 35 for you. You said that you had left your first career and you were a stay at home mom and you found a new hobby. Tell me about that.
Kim: Yeah. Yeah. So I trained as a nurse. My first career was in nursing and I had three children around this time that you're talking about and I had left the profession after my second was born. I really didn't want to , necessarily, I kind of just wanted to work part-time, but that wasn't available to me. My ex-husband, my husband at the time, was doing well financially with his career, and we both kind of decided, it it's okay, I can stay home for a bit, and I dabbled in a few things and all that was good. Ended up having a third child. It was after that, that I was really just struggling with my identity. I had always been someone who had worked. I valued my career and I valued being home with my children too. I really did love being a mom, but I struggled with that. just that, I don't wanna say that that was all I was, but you know what I mean? I kind of was like, I need something for me and I guess I couldn't really put words to it at the time. I felt all this not enough-ness, and I thought that it was because I didn't like my body and that I thought I needed to lose weight.
Kim: I had had a long history with dieting, didn't think that that worked very well for me anymore. So I was like, I'll go at this a different way, and a friend of mine had had success with hiring a personal trainer, so I hired her. She came to my house and she would work out with me in the basement while my baby was napping. And yeah, this, this little hobby just very quickly turned into an obsession because I had never worked out, I'd never been an athletic person. I was the kid who was always picked last for the sports teams. I was bullied and made fun for my lack of athletic ability. So, when I started working out and I felt so strong and so capable, and I was like, "This is amazing." And I very quickly became like a mission to prove everybody who ever laughed at me wrong. I started running and I started winning races and like fitness became the thing that I did, that was how I identified myself as a stay at home mom. It got to the point where I was getting so much validation and people are, "You're such an inspiration," and, you know, it was basically like my full-time job, even though I wasn't getting paid for it, so I went and got certified as a personal trainer and thought, well, I'll turn it into my career. That's kind of how I started out in the fitness industry and how, what started out as a hobby and a fun thing to do with my spare time pretty quickly morphed into an unhealthy obsession.
Stephanie: Wow. Can I ask you some personal questions and tell me if you're not comfortable answering them, I understand. You said to me earlier, "If I were thinner, I'd be happier." You had that feeling, which I think most of us, well, I was gonna say American women, certainly North American women, maybe universally women, have thought at some point in time. What size were you? I'm not looking for a number, but What did your body look like when you thought that?
Kim: About the same as it does now. I've always been in a straight size body, I would say like at the higher end of straight size, like I would wear maybe a 10 or a 12, but I have that privilege where I can walk into any store and find clothes that fit. I was never in a large body, but I think like many women doesn't matter our size, we all think our body's not good enough. We're conditioned to think that if we just lost weight we'd feel better. Right. And I did in a certain capacity 'cause you get a lot of validation and people really appreciate that and they praised that and that felt good. But it was accompanied with a lot of anxiety around, "What if I gain the weight back? Then will people not like me? Like what happens then?"
Stephanie: When you started working out and it got to the point where it was an obsession, had you lost a bunch of weight, did your body change dramatically?
Kim: Yeah. Over time. Over about a year, I lost I'd say about 50 pounds. So I was quite thin, quite thin. I had went from a size, I think I was wearing a 12 at the start of all of this, and I got down to about a two, four. It was very thin. Yeah.
Stephanie: Wow. But you didn't feel great at a two maybe. maybe you felt great physically, but mentally?
Kim: Not so much mentally. No. Like it was a lot of work. That's obviously not my natural size, so I had to really watch what I was eating. I had to exercise a couple of hours a day, every day, right? yeah, no, I wouldn't say that I felt good. the thing was I just always felt like, well, there must be something more to do, maybe I need to run longer distances or win races. Or I thought about competing in bikini competitions. I never did do it, but thought like there's gotta be some accolade or some accomplishment that I can add to my life that will finally make me feel like I'm good enough in myself. I never, ever did get there.
Stephanie: Meanwhile, a year or two later you left your marriage.
Kim: Yeah, it was an unhappy situation for quite some time. But yes, when my youngest of the first three children was four, we made the decision to end our marriage and separate and, yeah, that was rough. It was rough for a while. I think my dieting and my exercise just got even more obsessive at that point. Not, not so much at that point because of like the quest to be thin, it was more stress release. Like I did a lot of running during that time. I ran a lot.
Stephanie: I'll bet. And then after that marriage ended, you're a single mom with three kids. Tell me how your life changed at that point.
Kim: Yeah. Well, pretty quickly after that point I had met another guy. I guess it was about four or five months after my marriage had ended, I met this guy and what I thought would be a summer fling very quickly turned into me realizing this guy's the real deal. He's the love of my life. He lived in a different city, so we kind of dated long distance for a while. His family lives in my hometown. So we kind of knew at some point he would probably move back to this area, but you know, we took things slow and he stayed in his city and I stayed in mine and we kind of just dated from a distance for a while. But then as things became more serious and the timing was right for him to move back to our hometown, he did. And we got married a couple of years later. So happy ending to all of that.
Stephanie: You said you got married again you were 39.
Kim: Yes. Yes.
Stephanie: And very quickly after you got married...
Kim: I was pregnant when we got married.
Stephanie: Oh, all right. Fair enough. and tell me about getting pregnant.
Kim: Yeah. That was a conversation we had had for quite some time. When we knew that things were starting to become serious amongst us, my husband, Scott doesn't have any children of his own or didn't at that point. And he really did wanna become a dad and I had three kids and early on in the relationship, I was like, no way I'm done. Like, I've got three that's enough. But as our relationship developed and I knew how important it was for him to become a dad, we started having that conversation more seriously. And I remember bringing up one night we were talking about this, I was like, "You know, we really do have to think seriously about this. I will be over 40 by the time we have a child, you are well over 40 yourself. There's a pretty high likelihood that our child could have chromosomal abnormalities or things like that. And, we really gotta think that through." And he just was like, "No big deal. If that happens it's what's meant to be, it'll be great. We'll rock it." And, I haven't told many people this, but in that conversation, in that moment, I had this like vision of a little blonde boy with down syndrome running towards us. And, turns out that we have now a little five year old blonde boy with down syndrome who is just the light of our life.
Stephanie: I got chills. I got chills when you said that. That's amazing. So on some level you knew it instantaneously before you even got pregnant.
Kim: Yes, and still when we got the news I think I cried in bed for two days. It still came as a shock and I felt like, "Oh my gosh, what have I done? Is it fair to bring a child with special needs into the world and will he be accepted and will he be loved? is that fair to him?" So I had some stuff to work through and I had some help with that, but, you know, always had the love and support of my husband and we just knew we would be okay. And he would be okay. So we proceeded with the pregnancy.
Stephanie: So you were 40 when you had your fourth baby, Gage. I don't have a lot of personal experience with down syndrome. I have a friend of a friend who's got a down syndrome baby. For some reason, many years ago, I started following this account on Instagram called That Dad Blog, who is a dad of a down syndrome boy, and, have really watched his son grow up, which is kinda wonderful. But, from what I understand, it really is just a complete change of life when a child like that enters your
Kim: It can be when he was first born he was just a baby, I'd had three other babies, it really was not a whole lot different other than he had some nursing difficulties. But I mean, other than that, he was just a baby, but yeah, it is a different way of life. I mean, yes, he has some challenges and there's some medical things, there's some communication difficulties. But I think what I quickly realized is he's just so in the moment and before he was even here, like, and even as he just arrived and like I said, he was just a baby, like any other baby, that's I think the biggest learning that I, that I got right away is just like, "Why are you so obsessed with looking different, being different, being someone else than who you already like, just look at this little baby, he's just like, he's just here. He's just him. He's just existing and taking life as it comes." And like, I think that was my biggest aha moment was just like slow down, and be grateful, be here, be present. And like, he doesn't need me to be anybody other than who I already am. My husband doesn't need me to be anybody other than I already am. Why am I struggling so hard to accept myself and wanting to look and be different?
Stephanie: Did you ever learn the answer to that question on why you were struggling so hard?
Kim: I mean, other than I think we as women are just socialized to think that we're not good enough. That's kind of a simple way to say a very complex thing, but I think that's how we're programmed from a very early age is that you need to look a certain way to be acceptable. You need to do certain things to be acceptable. You need to be a good girl and listen to the rules and there's just so many shoulds ascribed to us. Right?
Stephanie: Yes, absolutely. So Gage you told me was your catalyst for unlearning a lot of the things you had been programmed with. Tell me a little bit about that.
Kim: Yeah. When I was home with him, here in Canada, we're very fortunate and privileged to get a year's maternity leave. So when I was off with him, I had been previously working at a gym, at a Y M C A, so I had my year off and while I was off with him, I just really was focused on being, being present. I couldn't really put words to it, but I was like, I just don't have the desire to go out and kill myself with a workout or like to watch every morsel of food that goes in my mouth. I just took care of him and I took care of me, and that felt great. But as I approached the end of my year maternity leave and I started to think about going back to work in a gym, I was like, I don't think I can because my body had changed. It had landed closer to how I look now back, in a size 12, which is fine and I wasn't willing to do those things that I had been doing before, you know, obsessing about diet and obsessing about exercise.
Kim: I started to think well, maybe I don't belong in the fitness industry then. I think part of what led to the obsession that I had over my body was people would say things like "Your body is your business card when you're a personal trainer," and things like that. So I had this added layer of pressure and obsession that I put on myself and I just didn't wanna do it anymore. When I look back, I think that's just ridiculous. I worked at a Y M C A, who was very inclusive and like, so not focused on image or looks, but that was just what I put on myself. It was pressure. I put on myself and thought, no, if I can't have the perfect little fit body, then I don't belong in fitness.
Stephanie: It's funny that you say that because, so first of all, a little unveiling of my own, the thinnest I have been in the last five or 10 years on my best day, I got my butt in a 12. So let's just be clear. It's all kinds. It takes all kinds.
Kim: And what I've learned is it doesn't matter. You can be healthy and fit and at any size. Any. So it doesn't mean anything.
Stephanie: I'm agreeing with you, I'm nodding vehemently here. Yes. That is absolutely true. Not that I'm healthy or fit right now, but that's okay.
Kim: I can help you.
Stephanie: Excellent. The other thing I was thinking was when you said in the fitness industry, your body is your business card. I get that and I wonder though, have you attracted different clientele since your body's been different?
Stephanie: Because I can tell you right now, I would not be attracted to someone who was a size two because they can't even comprehend what it's like to live in this body. And I'm projecting big time, but in my head they think that you are trying to look like them. Right? And so they work really hard to get to that. And I never would, so it's interesting because somebody who was a little bit more voluptuous or real looking would be much more attractive to me personally.
Kim: Yeah. I would agree, and I would say not only have I attracted a different kind of clientele, my business is so much more successful, I guess if that's the right word, than it used to be. So when I finally did come back to fitness, after I had done enough of this internal work myself to know that I don't have to look a certain way to be a credible professional in the industry and that actually there is a whole world of health at every size and a whole world of women, like you just described who need real and need to know, just like I did, that you are good enough and that you can achieve all of your fitness goals, all of your health goals, whatever they are, regardless of whether your body changes. That's been that's been really liberating and fun. I feel a lot more rewarded in my career, where in the past when everything was focused on weight loss and there's so much pressure and maybe they didn't succeed, or if they did, they didn't keep it off. And they felt like a failure and I felt like a failure. Now when we just take weight off the table and focus on feeling good, feeling the best in the body that you have, it's so much easier to be successful.
Stephanie: Yeah. And the goals are different, right? It's it might be for somebody who's getting back into fitness, it might be I wanna be able to walk a mile or I wanna be able to hike up this hill with my kids. It's not necessarily, I need to get thin just to be thin, just to wear certain clothes.
Kim: No, like I want my knees to hurt less or I wanna be able to bend down or get up and down off the floor. Like real life goals.
Stephanie: Yeah, for sure. Interesting story: I grew up, I always like to say I grew up in a ballet studio. I grew up dancing. I danced for 20 something years. That took me through my late twenties and then was sort of active on and off through my thirties. And when I was 40, I fell in love with arial silks.
Stephanie: So much fun. I fell in love with it and probably about four or five years ago I had to give it up because of health issues. So I'm trying now to get back into movement, get back into exercise after being really quite inactive for multiple years after being limited. One of the things I thought I would try, I said, "Oh, I think I would like to try Pilates." I grew up, again, dancing, so those are ways of movement and movements that my body knows fundamentally. I looked around me, there's all kinds of different options for Pilates, and I found this one studio, very small and relatively new studio, but the woman who owns it and who is the sort of lead Pilates instructor is somebody who has autoimmune diseases. Her sort of bio says she got herself healthy again and strong again, using Pilates. And for me, that was instantaneously the connection that I wanted to make, because she would know that when you have autoimmune disease and you are trying to sort of climb back out of a hole, it's not just work out hard and fast because that can hurt you. So I work out with her and we're very gentle, she's very thoughtful about how does your neck feel? How do you feel? Should we do one more? And it's not the like, all right, gimme eight, gimme 10, gimme 12. It's do a couple more. How do you feel about these? Are you feeling good? Interestingly she is thin and beautiful, so normally I would say, "Oh, that would not be somebody that I would necessarily be drawn to because I wouldn't have think she could understand someone in my size and shape," but she understands what's inside because she's very similar stuff inside. So it's interesting what attracts us to, not only our, physical instructors, but anyone we're connected to and drawn to it's not typically the external wrapper.
Kim: It's true.
Kim: And you touched on some really important points there, and I love that your trainer is getting you to tune into your body. And listen to what's going on inside you and asking you questions. Like, does this feel good? How do we wanna make adjustments? Do you wanna do one more? Do you wanna stop? Like, that is what it's all about. I think we often look to trainers to just like push us and like motivate us and give them all the power, like as if we are supposed to know what is right for your body. We don't. Or we shouldn't, we shouldn't pretend like we do. You are the authority of your body you know what feels good. And what you do today might be different or more or less than what you did yesterday, or next week. It changes. It's fluid. How am I supposed to know what you need today? Right, Right. And we've worked out where we've had a lovely session and the next day I was completely crashed. Then, I'll take a week off, then I'll go back and we'll do the same session and I'll be okay. My husband, when we first met and we're flirting by text message and talking to each other all day long on text message, I remember being at the gym on a treadmill or a elliptical or something and texting with him and he texted me, this was the first of many times he said this to me. He said, do you wanna be a champion?
Stephanie: I said, no. have no interest in being a champion. I really just wanna be able eat dessert and for me, that was at the time, but he said it to me recently, I forget what we were talking about and he was just goofing, but he was like, don't you wanna be a champion? And I was like, no, remember never a champion.
Stephanie: And that's
Stephanie: I just wanna function.
Kim: And now it's even switched to wanna function, which is like, yes! That's what it's about. Just need to function. Like that's where I'm at. I just want this body to work as well as it can for as long as it can. Like I wanna be able to do the things that I enjoy for as long as possible, without pain or with as little pain as possible and have fun doing it. Like I talk a lot about joyful movement. Like that's the name of my podcast. And not that movement is always joyful, there are some things we do that aren't necessarily fun in the moment, but when we do enjoy it or at least, you know, kinda like it, we're a whole lot more likely to stick with it. Like you said with the Pilates, right? If it feels good in your body and you feel successful and you feel connected and you're enjoying doing it, it's a whole lot more sustainable than these short bursts of intensity that you hate and dread. That's not motivating, in the long term.
Stephanie: Right, right. I do love though that when I'm doing these movements, she'll oftentimes say to me, "Your form is so good. I never have to correct you. You should be a Pilates instructor." And that's just kind of like fun for my ego to hear all those things, but the truth of the matter is that I had a ballet teacher who studied with the Boston Ballet for her whole growing up. We had ex excellent form and a lot of these movements are things that when she says to do them, my body just knows how to do them, 'cause they are truly fundamental. They are that muscle memory, that cellular level, 20 years of, doing that with your body. Uh, so that's always fun.
Stephanie: Talk to me a little bit about eating. You mentioned, and let's be careful with how we use this term, but you said something about disordered eating. Do you feel like you had some disordered eating? for a while?
Kim: Yeah, definitely. I was never officially diagnosed with an eating disorder. I think if I had been honest with my doctor I maybe could have been. I kept that pretty well hidden, and I think a lot of things are often overlooked when that whole orthorexia it's not a diagnosable eating disorder, but when things look healthy on the surface, it can be really easy to overlook something that's actually disordered, right?
Kim: I'm eating healthy food. I'm exercising. It's a fine line between eating healthy and exercising and it being an absolute obsession.
Stephanie: Can you define orthorexia? It's not a term I'm familiar with.
Kim: Yeah, so it's not a diagnosable eating disorder, but it is the obsession with health. So where all of your eating and exercise habits are centered around being healthy. So as a personal example, oh, I mean, I've done every different diet or lifestyle or way of eating that you can think of. I did cleanses and I did keto and I did all the fasting and I went gluten free and I didn't eat sugar. I didn't eat anything white for a while. No dairy, like all of the things. And in the name of being healthy, but really it was like, I just wanna be thin.
Stephanie: So that orthorexia is really a great name for the gray space between healthy and not healthy. Cleanses man. I've done those as well.
Kim: I was a nurse and I'm a certified nutritionist and I mean, I know better. I like we have a liver, have a liver that detoxifies our body..
Stephanie: It's that guy's only job.
Kim: And it works unless got a disorder of some sort where it doesn't, it works. You don't have to actually cleanse your body. But
Stephanie: Yeah. But it does. I don't know. It feels like, again, who knows whether when I was doing it, it was wildly healthy or not, but it does feel like a jump start though. Something you can do to sort of get going in a direction.
Kim: Yeah. Yeah. And we think that once we get a kickstart and get some habits going and maybe get some results that we'll feel motivated to continue. Yeah, and maybe for a while, but what I learned, and it took me so long to learn this, but what I eventually learned is that 95% of these intentional weight loss efforts fail. Right. We, we've probably all heard the statistic that 95% of diets fail, but most of us don't actually know that what we're doing is dieting. It's healthy eating. I'm doing a cleanse. I'm doing this. I'm doing that. I'm just avoiding bad foods, which I use in air quotes, because I don't believe in bad foods, but you know, we don't really think that our restrictive eating behaviors are dieting, but that's what I kind of came to learn through all of this is that it doesn't matter what you call it, what label you put on it. When we restrict food, when we don't honor our hunger and our fullness and our satisfaction, it's a diet and it will end up failing eventually 95% of the time and the greatest predictor of weight gain is dieting or restriction.
Stephanie: So, how do you eat now? What does your day or week look like food-wise?
Kim: I eat whatever I want. I eat intuitively and I teach intuitive eating. So if that's, a new concept for your listeners, it is, a research backed way of eating by, two registered dieticians. Though there are absolutely no rules with it, there are the 10 guiding principles where we listen to our hunger. We honor our fullness. Satisfaction is key. Satisfaction is the overarching principle where if you deny your satisfaction, you don't eat the things that you like or enjoy, you will end up overeating. I certainly experience that lots of times where I would eat carrots instead of chips, or I would have the apple instead of the chocolate and think that I would replace whatever I was craving with something healthy and similar, and then end up binging on said forbidden food later in the evening. And then having to exercise it off.
Kim: So with intuitive eating, we ignore all of the rules and all the shoulds from diet culture and learn to tune back into our own body to inform what and how much and when we should eat, just like we all did when we were born. When you're born, you are automatically an intuitive eater. If you've ever seen a baby, they know when they're hungry and you can't stop them if they're hungry, they gotta eat, nor can you over feed them if they're full. They just know how much they need and when, and we all have that wisdom inside of us, we're just kind of deprogrammed over the course of the years, By messaging like "You have to clean your plate" or "You shouldn't eat too much of those things" or "No sweets until you've finished your dinner" "That type of food is going to make you fat" or blah, blah, blah. We start to distrust our inner knowing about how to eat but it's always it's there and you can come back to it.
Stephanie: Yeah. one of the things I've been thinking about lately with myself is unlearning the clean plate club. I could tell you that even today, downstairs, I was eating lunch and, it was a salad with Turkey on it and a beautiful, cilantro, lime dressing, and I just wanted to finish it so I could, I don't know, check the box, say I finished, finish my lunch and I probably ate too much of it, but it's salad with baked Turkey on it. So can it really... anyway, it's something I've been clueing into more recently that I do. And I'm trying to wrap my head around it a little bit, 'cause I have that you know, I don't like to waste food and you know, so throwing things away is, is a big one for me. But I suppose even if I had just put the lid back on the salad and gone back for the last quarter of it, two hours later, when I was a little peckish, that would be better than shoving all of it in my face in the one sitting.
Kim: Yeah. And it's just good to be curious about that rather than judging yourself and saying, "Oh, I shouldn't have done that," and, "I didn't feel great when I did that. That was the wrong thing to do." Just, be curious, "Why do I do that? Is it because I don't wanna waste food? Or is it a scarcity mindset that I grew up with that's lingering on?" Like, "What do I need to explore here?" And let yourself off the hook, like, "Okay. So I did that. It doesn't mean that I'm bad. It doesn't mean that I'm not an intuitive eater. It doesn't mean that I'm going to get fat." And I use fat as a neutral descriptor I just wanna kind of clear that up that there's no stigma in me around the use of that word or, or being any size. But yeah, just lose the judgment and go "What's for me to learn in this?"
Kim: We can judge ourselves a lot too. If we eat past fullness and we don't feel good in our body, and we think like we screwed up and we made a mistake and like, there's something wrong with us, but no, that means everything's working well in your body. Your body let you know that you had more than you needed, by sending you signals. And that just proves that you can be an intuitive eater. Your body works, and it wants to send you messages to let you know how much and what type of food is right for you. So you go, "Okay, thank you body. Thank you for letting me know. And I'm gonna listen more closely next time."
Stephanie: I really like that. Your body's working when you're feeling full or over full, instead of beat yourself up for overeating, you can turn it into a positive by saying, "Ooh, it's working," and you're right. If I could just pay closer attention next time, maybe I won't go past the stop sign.
Kim: Yeah. Or you'll learn where the stop sign is, right? If we're a member of the clean the plate club, it can be, you can miss that stop sign, you can blow right through it because you've been taught not to listen. You clean your plate. So we we learned to shut down our signals when we're following all the rules and the shoulds. So like, okay, there is a stop sign. I just need to know what it looks like and what it feels like.
Stephanie: Yeah. And I think for me too, sometimes like this, afternoon, I'll pack a salad that's on the large side, but that's my lunch, right? It's lettuce with carrots and peas and snap peas, and right. So it's like, "Oh, I'm gonna need more of that in order to be satiated" or "in order to get me through till after work" and so I think, "Oh, I gotta eat this because," but if I had just done what I said earlier, if I just put the cap back on it, I could pull it back out,
Kim: I always keep emergency snacks. I got a stash everywhere that if that feeling ever comes up, I don't have to worry about stuffing myself now because I've got things for later. If I need it.
Stephanie: Yeah. I am a certified snack master. So there are,
Stephanie: Well, The other thing is, for me, that I am on a restricted diet. and this is again, with relation to my health issues. For five years, I've been on a version of what's called the autoimmune protocol AIP. It's also called autoimmune paleo, and I found that a lot of it really works for me. A lot of it makes my body feel really good. And so the day or week or month where I do get back up on the horse and regain some health and vibrancy, I'm not sure I'll give a lot of it back up. There are things I'd like to have back, in the yes column. Some of which like tomatoes I've tested every now and again, and they just make me feel sick. I may want tomatoes, but my body doesn't. So there is a little bit of me that has, some, food insecurity and some food anxiety when I leave the house around, is there gonna be something for me to eat? Can I eat? but I'm here at my office, and like I said, I am a snack master. We've got plenty of snacks here. I won't go hungry.
Kim: That's good.
Stephanie: So do you feel less obsessed with your body these days or is that something not still in the back of your mind at all?
Kim: Well, yeah, here's the thing is I'm definitely way less obsessed. Those body image thoughts are much fewer and far between, but they do pop up. We live in a society that worships thinness and thinks that anything outside of the thin ideal is not good enough. So we're all gonna have those thoughts from time to time.
Kim: What I've learned is just because I'm having a thought doesn't mean that it's true, doesn't mean that I have to believe it. and usually when those come up, I know it's not actually about my body, it's something else. I'll be honest, lately, there have been a lot of body image thoughts coming up, but it's also because I'm experiencing insecurity in another area of my life. I know that it's an avoidance thing to keep me out of addressing the insecurity I feel in this other area, it's like, okay, just change your body. Just start exercising more, just like reign in the eating and lose a little weight and you'll feel better. So I know that that's just something my brain is feeding me to try to keep me safe. And I go, "Thank you brain. That's appreciated. I know what you're doing here, and I'm a big girl and I actually can address this root insecurity, this other insecurity that's going on. Let's go look at that."
Stephanie: Well, and that's a huge piece, right there, just that awareness that maybe your brain isn't telling the truth, or maybe the thought you're having isn't actually the thought, maybe it's a distraction from, or a curtain between you and the real thought. Those are big pieces of that evolution from where you were to where you are, from obsession to acceptance. How did you learn that? Was that something you just, read about or found or heard? Where does that level of awareness come from?
Kim: I had a lot of support. During this whole transition that we were talking about, I hired a mentor. So I worked with, Stephanie Dodier, she is a nutritionist and a body image coach, and she has a mentorship for non diet professionals. So when I was transitioning my business to this weight neutral, non diet approach, I worked with her and a big part of the professional mentorship is doing your own work. So I had a lot of support in doing my own body image healing, she uses, and now I do as well, tools from cognitive behavioral therapy, self coaching model and doing thought work and those types of things. That's where I've spent the most of my time and my healing on is learning what I'm actually even thinking. Where are these thoughts that my body's not good enough even coming from? Why do I think this way in the first place? And then where does it get me when I think that? What are the outcomes of those thoughts? And I can, with some work, choose to think differently. Like I don't have to believe those things. They're not serving me.
Stephanie: Yeah. I'm trying to remember where I've picked up some of that language as well, but there are sometimes where things will pop into my brain and I'll have to remind myself "No, I'm in charge. I'm the one who gets to make the rules. I'm the one who gets to decide." So some of those sort of knee jerk or rote, or, in your terms sort of obsessive, any of those thoughts that come in that are, beating you up, there is a way to separate yourself from them and take away some of that power.
Kim: I don't think I realized until I started doing this work that I could choose my thoughts, or I could choose which thoughts to believe. I thought that feeling like crap about myself was because there's something wrong with me, and that like I needed to change me or that I needed to change all of my circumstances, like flip my whole life upside down, which I did try that as I shared. None of that works, it doesn't work until we actually look at what we're believing about ourselves and choosing to challenge those beliefs and over time, changing them.
Stephanie: Yeah. That's one I sometimes still struggle with again, because I am limited, so I can't do the, as much as I would like to do to be active and vibrant. So my body maybe doesn't look exactly the way I think I would like it to, but I have to remember that it is waging an unbelievable war against Lyme disease, really, with the complications of an autoimmune disease. There are moments where, when I'm feeling frustrated or unhappy with my body, I do have to remind myself that this is the body that is waging the war, and we're gonna win it one of these days. And these are the legs that carry me, to all the places that I want to go. And so what if I have to wear a size. 16, that's fine. Just buy clothes that fit you.
Kim: Yes, 'cause that's so important. It's so important to feel good in what you're wearing, like wearing too- tight clothes is a reminder that you wish your body looked different. What I was gonna say there, too, is one of the most powerful thoughts that I used in my own work especially when I hadn't yet reached the place of body acceptance was, Yes. I wish my body looked differently or yes, I wish my body performed differently or put in whatever it is you wish for, and I commit to being kind to the body that I have today. No matter what you desire to be different, you can be kind and you can be respectful to the body that you have because it does so many amazing things for you, as you said, right? it deserves your respect.
Stephanie: One of the things that I love is that your body remembers to do things that you don't even think about, right? Your body remembers to breathe. It remembers to have your heart beat. It remembers to pump your blood. It remembers to blink your eyes. Your body is this amazing machine and so it absolutely is worthy of thanks and of respect, for, even for those things that it does just to keep you alive every day. But I love your Yes, And it's, I know I've heard that tactic coming from improv, right? The, the Yes, And. The acceptance of the situation and then adding to it. And that's a brilliant use of Yes, And. Yes, I can be frustrated with how I look and I can also, fill that sentence any way you'd like to. I love that. That's pretty fantastic.
Stephanie: Tell me a little bit about Joyful Movement.
Kim: Yeah, well, joyful movement is one of the principles of intuitive eating, as we were talking about before. So, the ninth principle is to feel the difference with movement, when you just exercise or move your body in ways that feel good and that are nourishing to you. When I was learning this whole concept of intuitive eating and thinking about how I can apply it to my fitness business, I was like, I'm gonna really like latch onto this idea of joyful movement. So I expanded on that and created kind of my 10 principles of joyful movement. Really it's disconnecting our "Why" for movement from changing our body, which is generally the focus in the fitness industry like tone up, lose weight, burn this, sculpt that, and that causes a lot of us to dread exercise and we have to force ourselves to do it. Everybody says they struggle with motivation well it's no wonder, because it's this horrible, hateful thing that we do just to try to change ourselves. So joyful movement, like I said, it's not always sunshine and rainbows every time that we move our body, there has to be some intention behind it and sometimes we have to challenge ourselves and do things that maybe aren't amazing, but movement can feel good. It can feel good. And when we disconnect from changing ourselves and instead focus on using movement as a way to care for ourselves and contributing to our life, adding to our life that we are actually open to enjoying it a whole lot more. So that's that's my mission and that's what I talk about on my podcast, on The Joyful Movement Show, and really just on a mission to help women disconnect from diet culture and trying to beat their body and punish their body through exercise and instead experience the amazing benefits that come from having a consistent and enjoyable movement practice.
Stephanie: Bravo. That's a heck of a mission. I know not for everyone, but for some of us that maybe non joyful movement is fine in our twenties. When our body is gonna listen to us anyway, right? When we can eat things, we can drink things. We can, abuse ourselves and then go to the gym a couple of times and things sort of snap back to where you want them to be. But once you, once you evolve past that, the body doesn't respond that way any longer. And so to find that place of joy and that joyful movement, it will help you stay healthy.
Kim: Yeah, most of us experience what you were talking about in our twenties, and then when that's no longer working for us, we're like, well, what do I do now? Because like, fitness is so all or nothing, black and white. Like if it doesn't look like that, like going to the gym an hour, a day, five days a week and like killing myself, then it's not good enough. It doesn't count. No, that's not true.
Stephanie: Right. Yeah. That is the truth. I'm just so loving everything that you shared today and these philosophies and these thoughts around detaching from some of our less healthy thoughts and patterns, and how to do that. I love that you're doing that with movement and you're doing that with eating those things are so important. So just so fundamental.
Stephanie: Well, Kim, thank you so much for joining me today on the podcast. I really appreciate it. Before we go tell my listeners where they can find you.
Kim: Yes. Sure. So, I have a podcast myself. It's called The Joyful Movement Show and it's on all of the podcast platforms and on social media, on Instagram and Facebook, I'm at Radiant Vitality Wellness.
Stephanie: Great. Great. Well, I wish you the very best with your continued mission and, thanks so much.
Kim: Thanks so much for having me.