The lovely human being that is Gina Susanna of Nourish and Eat is an important new part of the Riot. She is taking your questions about pretty much everything BoPo. Props to you all for asking such amazing ones, and feel free to drop new ones below! xx
What is your exercise/nutrition plan?? How do you stay healthy without getting obsessive?
It took me a long time to get to where I am now. Ever since I gave up working out when I started Minnie Maud in recovery, I’ve had a very tentative approach to ‘fitness.’ I used to work out to exhaustion on an empty stomach, I was in calorie deficit all the time, and I weighed myself compulsively. Now, I’ve thrown away my scale – I have no idea how much I weigh and I don’t care. I eat when I’m hungry and I don’t count calories, but I make sure that I get enough protein, fruits and veggies, fats, carbs, and all the other things that make food not only necessary but fun and delicious and enjoyable. And as for exercise, I do yoga in the mornings to help me center myself. I live close enough, so I walk to and from work every day. I get outside and enjoy the sun, but I also allow myself the time to stay in and relax on the couch sometimes, or say to myself “you know what, I don’t feel like going to yoga today, I’m going to sleep in.” Allowing myself the flexibility to do what feels right for my body has helped keep me balanced.
How do you think people like you and I can meaningfully address the completely unattainable beauty standards that we are constantly bombarded with by the media?
I think we can fight back in all kinds of ways. We can do it just by standing up for people who don’t fit within those standards — if you see someone who may not fit within those rigid standards, but is rocking their outfit or their hair looks killer or they’re putting out some great vibes, tell them! Don’t be afraid to say, “That crop top is amazing, you look fantastic!” or “You’ve just inspired me to ____.” That one compliment from a stranger might make their day, and prompt them to do the same for someone else! We can also make it clear that we don’t buy what the media is selling us. Don’t buy from companies who body shame, or don’t incorporate diversity in their models. Be on the lookout for companies who value bodies of all sizes and shapes and colors. You can also be a voice of body positivity within your own circle of friends and family! If you hear someone you know making a self-deprecating comment, interject! Let them know all the things that make them wonderful, instead of focusing on the negatives. Talk to children in your life about things that have nothing to do with their bodies, and encourage them to explore life outside of their societally imposed gender roles. Little by little we can influence others to do the same.
How can you learn to really love yourself? I’m so for mental health advocacy but when it comes to myself I can’t begin to see myself as beautiful no matter how hard I try…
It was really hard for me at first, too. I would look at these women on social media and within the body positive community and I would think, “They’re so beautiful, but I’ll never get there.” The way they would describe their bodies and talk about themselves was something so foreign to me. It was like a different language. But that’s exactly what body positivity is, when you’re new to it. You’re learning a language. You can’t just open your mouth and speak it. You have to hear it around you. You have to immerse yourself in it, and try it, little by little, without getting discouraged, without faulting yourself for not knowing it right away. It takes practice, and saying it to yourself over and over again, even if you don’t know what you’re saying at the moment. Because one day you will.
How do you talk about body issues when you start dating someone, how your prior ED effects someone now, or explaining that you have body issues that you’re working on etc. It’s something I’m soooo insecure to talk about with future bf’s because it’s something I hid/never talked about in romantic relationships. That’s a big deal for me and even typing it makes me feel nervous.
I think there’s such a stigma attached to eating disorders, or mental illness, or body image issues. People can assume that those who struggle with these things are selfish, or vain, or seeking attention – when in reality, vanity is the furthest from the truth. I know when I was struggling the last thing I wanted was to be looked at. I felt like nothing, and hideous.
But I’m a firm believer in honesty. Not that you need to shout it from the rooftops (and I mean, if you want to, you do you), but I don’t believe an ED (or history of disordered eating, body image issues, or any other mental illness) is something you should hide from an S/O. If you’d gotten into a horrible car accident a few years ago, you wouldnt feel any shame in talking about it – so why should you feel shame around this? It happened to you. Maybe it’s still happening to you. It doesn’t by any means define you as a person, but it affects (or has affected) some aspects of your life. It has importance.
I use the phrase “I’ve struggled with disordered eating” when talking about it to strangers. And I use their reaction to judge how to proceed. If your S/O can’t handle it, or if they judge you or make insensitive comments, then maybe they’re not the right person for you. But never be afraid to talk about your past. You are a warrior. You should never feel ashamed of that.