A whole new lens…
———- Message from Mish ———-
You know when you are at a conference and you have to choose where to sit? You might already be an up-the-front-gal (like me) or a down-the-back-person… and you head there. And then (if seating is generous) you do a scan of who you would most like to sit with?
At FILEX about 5 years ago I did this and Jodie just looked like my sort of person.
And she is.
It was not long before we worked out that she wrote one of my favourite newsletters to receive from her Fitness business Healthy Balance Fitness. I loved it because it had just excellent advice and was such a refreshing change from most fitness websites that are all about shredding and training to an inch of your life (this may be of interest to others, just not to me!).
Since then Jodie has co-created the Moderation Movement with Zoe Nicholson. Other people must have also enjoyed the refreshing change from our diet / body size crazed culture, because their Facebook page went viral overnight!
Jodie and I were also involved Eating Disorders Victoria and gave feedback on their brilliant website that everyone ABSOLUTELY must know about How Far is Too Far – (which I write about in this blog) – created for Fitness Professionals, Parents and Teachers who are concerned about clients, family members and students developing unhealthy eating and exercise habits.
This is Jodie’s story.
Tell us about your journey to here
I’ve worked in fitness since 1998 and have had various roles including gym instruction, old school ‘aerobics’ instruction, management, group fitness, running coaching, and presenting. Since 2003 I have owned and managed Healthy Balance Fitness, a multi award winning group fitness business that offers boxing, HIIT and running programs. I originally was drawn to working in fitness because I adored helping people to feel better about themselves. However, the longer I was in fitness the more I realised that so much of our industry makes people feel worse about themselves – not better!
This drew me towards learning more about body image.
Around the same time I saw Taryn Brumfit speak passionately at the inaugural Women’s Health and Fitness Summit in 2014, and knew I too wanted to present and spread the message far and wide. I now speak at primary and secondary schools on body image for The Butterfly Foundation, am co-founder of The Moderation Movement, and am studying my Masters in Counselling at Monash University. As a part of my Masters I am about to embark on my practical placement at Body Positive Australia, counselling people with exercise and/or body concerns.
I now speak at primary and secondary schools on body image for The Butterfly Foundation, am co-founder of The Moderation Movement, and am studying my Masters in Counselling at Monash University. Fitness is still a huge part of what I do, but it’s with a whole new lens.
What motivated you to start the Moderation Movement?
Dietitian Zoe Nicholson and I were lamenting the extreme fad diet being pedalled by a particular celebrity chef, and we were expressing our concern for all the fad diets, body ‘transformations’, and shaming messaging around food, exercise and bodies. Zoe had recently begun to learn more about the Health At Every Size (HAES®) paradigm, and was sharing her learnings with me.
HAES is the compassionate antidote to the body shaming, fad based, nutrition and fitness messaging filling popular culture. We declared “It’s like someone has to stand up for moderation these days” and The Moderation Movement was born. We have hosted full day workshops, been invited to speak in Tasmania for local council, have appeared on radio, and we’ve sold a great deal of ebooks.
Our message of turning away from extremes and fads, and turning towards listening to your own body, has been well received.
What are some practical strategies that fitness professionals can use to be more body positive with clients?
I could write a 5,000 word piece on this, so I’ll give you a non-exhaustive list of quick tips!
- Watch your language! Never associate exercise with compensating for food, burning off calories, or punishing an ‘imperfect’ body. Don’t mention burning off chocolate in the Easter classes, nor Christmas food during the festive season! Don’t talk about burning fat or creating ‘six packs’, I know you can be motivating without resorting to appearance and food based language!
- Encourage positive behaviour change, not weight/appearance change. Take the focus off how people look and instead help them achieve their goals of feeling and functioning better.
- Do not comment on clients’ change in weight/appearance. Instead commend them for their improvements in skill, strength, coordination, cardiovascular fitness etc.
- Respect all bodies and never make assumptions about someone’s fitness or health behaviours from their appearance. You can find out the best information from pre-exercise screening and by asking them. Don’t assume someone is a beginner because they have a large body. Health and fitness comes in all shapes and sizes. The population is not a string of ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos!
- Help your clients to make exercise about enjoyment and feeling good. Forcing themselves to do physical activity they hate is unsustainable. We need to stop perpetuating the idea that exercise is about penance and punishment, and a tool for manipulating our bodies. We need to help people find the joy in it again!
What should fitness professionals or parents do if they think their clients or children have moved into the danger zone?
Reach out! The earlier people get help, the shorter the recovery process. Don’t just put your head in the sand and hope it will go away. It’s likely to get worse.
Fitness professionals should learn more via a professional development session conducted by Eating Disorders Victoria called Should I Say Something?. If there is a client you are particularly worried about give The Butterfly Foundation or Eating Disorders Victoria a call to ask for some advice.
Parents should call The Butterfly Foundation for advice on 1800 ED HOPE.
Many fitness professionals themselves may be struggling with eating, exercise or body image concerns so I encourage them to reach out to The Butterfly Foundation or even contact me so I can refer you to a wonderful counsellor/psychologist/dietitian in your area.
Is it weird if I quote myself? I’m ok with being weird
“A life well lived cannot be measured in calories or kilograms”
If you are interested in working with Jodie in a counselling capacity – you can get in contact with Jodie here
And more recently Jodie has been included amongst some of Australia’s top anti-diet, body respect professionals in the amazing program – Untrapped… which I think is pretty damn cool and just bloody refreshing in the fitness industry!
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