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Listen to the Love Your Bodd Podcast with Heather Boddy
The Body Is Not an Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor
Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia by Sabrina Strings
Heather Boddy is a fitness professional specializing in many different forms of fitness and movement. She started a unique workout program called Geeknasium which focuses on pop-culture and fandom-themed fitness. Heather is passionate about creating a safe space to be our authentic selves. She aims to help make fitness feel good for everyone through her work and helps her clients find body acceptance.
Heather is also an actress and model with a strong background in creative arts. She’s a public speaker and the podcast host of Love Your Bodd. You can learn more about Heather and her work on her website and Instagram.
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Whole, Full, and Alive is a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are — underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. Who is your authentic self?
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Caitie Corradino: I got to feel what it was like to be that societal idea and to have things be a little easier for me and to have things function in my favor. But it still didn't feel good and I still wanted more. And I, none, nothing was enough. No number on the scale, no amount of times I was exercising. No person who was attracted to me, like none of that was enough.
Welcome to Whole Full and Alive, a podcast exploring the art and science of falling in love with your life, with your story, and with who you truly are. Underneath your titles, your resume, your relationship status, and your bank account. I'm Caitie Corradino, a registered dietician nutritionist, certified fitness and yoga instructor, eating disorder recovery coach, Reiki healer, and founder of Full Soul Nutrition.
But underneath my titles and resume, um, a big fan of kitchen dance breaks, early mornings, all things chocolate truffles, world traveling, and serendipity. I'm here to share no-bullshit stories and actionable tools to help you feel unshakably worthy. You have everything you need within you to feel whole, full, and alive right here, right now.
Let's get into it.
Hey, welcome back to another episode of Whole Full and Alive. I'm so grateful that you're here. Whether this is your first episode, your second episode, or your 30th episode, I'm so grateful that you and I have been connected in some way, or you've been connected to this show in some way, and you're here tuning in.
Thank you for being here. Before we dive into today's interview, I wanna invite you to take a pause in your day. Let's take 15 seconds just for you right now, before you keep listening, before you keep multitasking. If you're multitasking right now, take a nice deep breath in through your nose. Let it fill your body all the way through the base of your spine and hold it.
Then a nice long exhale to release and let it go. And just soften into wherever you are right now, releasing some tension maybe in your shoulders, in your face, places where there doesn't need to be tension, before we keep moving forward. I love to always remind myself that I always have 15 seconds no matter where I am, no matter what I'm doing.
I can always take just 15 seconds, maybe even a little less, but 15 seconds about to take a nice, deep breath. Even if I'm like in a client session, actively speaking with someone one-on-one, I always have that moment to take a beat, to take a breath. I think our brain is always trying to tell us to rush to the next thing and that we don't have the time. But the reality is we don't need that much time to help ourselves just shift a little bit more into a regulated state.
Maybe we don't have a lot of time, but we do have 15 seconds to give ourselves that moment to breathe. So, I hope that feels good for you. Before we dive into today's interview, I also wanna remind you that I do have space at my practice, Full Soul Nutrition for one-on-one nutrition counseling, holistic nutrition counseling clients, body image coaching clients, and I will be launching an opening space in my group program in a few weeks from now.
If you are looking to break free from binge eating, food anxiety, body dysmorphia, self-doubt, and burnout, I am here for you in a variety of capacities. Please feel free to hit the link in the show notes or visit my website at fullsoulnutrition.com for more info. So today's interview, let's get into it.
Today I am so excited to be speaking with Heather Boddy, who is a fitness instructor of various formats. She is a spin instructor, a Pilates instructor, a strength and conditioning instructor, a multi-talented fitness instructor, and also actress, and artist, and human being. And the creator of Geeknasium, which is a fitness program that is designed specifically for self-proclaimed geeks, nerds to geek out while they work out.
Heather has created an inclusive fitness community for people who might otherwise feel judged or ostracized in fitness spaces or aren't feeling like they're having a lot of fun or like they're fitting in at the gym. She has created a truly, truly unique fitness community, and today she is gonna tell us a little bit about how she created that community and why she created that community specifically.
At the top of the episode, she is gonna tell us a lot more about her own personal fitness journey and how she decided to release the pursuit of thinness and the various things that have helped her to continue to accept her body as a fitness instructor and to release the pursuit of thinness as a fitness instructor.
She's also going to tell us a little bit about self-acceptance beyond body acceptance. How do you then come to accept yourself on a deeper level, and how is self-acceptance different from body acceptance? And how does all of this stuff tie into working out? How does body acceptance help you stick with a fitness routine more consistently?
Hhow does self-acceptance allow you to build a fitness routine that's actually gonna work and be sustainable for you? I am so excited for you to hear Heather's voice today. I think you'll find it really inspiring to hear how she released the pursuit of thinness. I know it's something that a lot of people who listen to this show have wrote in questions about, and I think you'll be super inspired to hear how she built this super unique community of people.
I think you'll be really inspired to hear how she built this super unique community and perhaps start thinking about what kind of communities you might wanna build. So, without any further ado, let's get into my interview with Heather Boddy.
I am so excited to be sitting down here today with Heather Boddy. Heather, thank you so, so much for coming on the show. This is the second time, actually, maybe like the fourth time I've done a podcast interview with you.
Heather Boddy: Yeah. It's been like, and vice versa, like, I've interviewed you, you've interviewed me. It's, we just can't get enough of each other.
Caitie: That's so, so funny. I mean, yeah. I think the way that I first met you is I think a nice intro to who you are. So I met Heather probably almost a decade ago, which makes me shake a little bit. Um, but I met you working for 24-Hour Fitness, right? That's where we first met.
Caitie: Yeah, we were both, yes, sitting at Pilates among a million other things and that's when we clicked because we kind of realized that we were both taking a very similar approach to fitness, which was really exciting. And so you've seen me evolve through my first podcast and my second podcast and my like shift from full-time fitness into full-time dietician and whatever it is I'm doing right now.
I've seen you evolve through your, being a full-time group fitness instructor to kind of creating your own thing and really, really coming into yourself over the last couple of years. So it's been so nice to be connected with you for all this time.
Heather: I agree. I like, I think this is something that we can talk about later when I like tell my story or whatever, but one thing that like really, something about you that you might not know is that when I was interviewing you and the entire Fit for All team, which was probably back in like 2016 or 2017, you said something that really struck a chord with me about like body image and fitness and the nature of what I was doing in my podcast.
It was, I was talking about like treating myself after a workout or something like that. And you had mentioned like, “well, food has no moral value.” Like, and it was the first time that I had heard anyone say that, and then the continuing to watch you evolve really helped shape my evolution as well, which is really special.
Caitie: Wow. It's really, really special to hear that reflected. I mean, Wow. I mean, what an incredible evolution we've both been through together. And to hear that I was the first person to say that to you just makes me think about like, the nature of podcasting in general. We were just talking about this off-mic 30 seconds ago, like how the reason we're here is to strike a chord with one person or give one person an “aha” moment.
The fact that I could give the interviewer “aha” moment is incredibly special. And it just makes me feel like I can understand how my impact can be so profound by just saying one thing to one person. And I, cause I know that there's so many people that you have brought the intuitive eating mindset to since that moment.
I know there's probably a lot of people who you have said to like, “Hey, food doesn't have any moral value,” since that moment.
Heather: Yep. 100 per all my clients, basically.
Caitie: That is, wow, that's really exciting. I don't even know how to land in that fully, but I'll try. And to kick us off here, we are gonna be talking about Heather's survival guide to body acceptance and self-acceptance.
Kind of starting with body acceptance, Heather, like when did that journey start for you? When did you recognize that you wanted to accept your body? Because your podcast was always called Love Your Bodd, right? That was something that you started quite a long time ago, and I do think that your body acceptance journey kind of kicked into full gear a bit after you started the podcast Love Your Bodd, yeah?
Heather: Yeah. My body acceptance journey has been exactly that - ajourney. And I would say that I grew up relatively secure in my body. Even though I grew up as a larger body person, as a person in a larger body, I accepted a lot about myself, whether it was good or bad in terms of like pigeonholing myself as the ugly best friend.
That was just something that I kind of accepted about myself, whether it was true or not. And it wasn't that I felt bad about my body, it's that I was just sort of like, “Oh, well this is where I fit in society. I fit in this box.” And that is where I will say like, you know, we don't need to fit in boxes.
Just because society pushes that, like that norm of like, “Oh, well you look a certain way, you must not be desirable.” Like that's not true and that is something that I have grown to learn over time. But when I was younger, I really just like thought that because I existed in a larger body, that meant that like people were not attracted to me.
Again, like I said, over time, that definitely is not true and has been proven over and over again that it's not true. But if we get into the evidence that I received, so I was in the acting industry and I was only getting cast in roles as I began to lose weight. And for me, that served as evidence like, oh, the smaller that my body gets, the more desirable I am to be on screen or on a stage
Then let that evolve into my dating life, it was the same situation. The smaller my body got, the more people were attracted to me. Again, not necessarily true, but it was the type of people I was attracting because I thought I needed to get, quote unquote, this type of person in order to be considered valid and loved and attractive.
I was seeking evidence in the wrong things and I was seeking evidence from really dark places of like, well, the smaller my body gets, the more valid I am. And then that also showed up in the fitness industry where the smaller my body got, the more I was hired at specific gyms. And the more I was seen as a reliable fitness professional.
Where my journey to body acceptance, because all this time I was just looking for evidence that the smaller my body got, the more valid I was. And my journey with body acceptance, like I said, it has been a rollercoaster. Starting Love Your Bodd was sort of where it started.
I wanted to hold up a mirror to society and say like, “Hey, we are causing people harm by continually only showing one body type on TV or putting people through harm by only casting people who look a certain way in shows and putting them on media and putting the societal pressure on people.”
However, at the same time as starting that podcast, I was in the throes of diet culture and I had, I was a beach body coach and I was selling workouts, and I had just become a certified fitness professional, and I was so focused on making my body smaller that that was like all that mattered to me pretty much.
I used to post before and after photos and just to show like, “Oh, this is what I looked like before and this is what I look like now.” And I'm going to share this because it's part of my journey, not because it's any sort of goal that anyone should have, but in that time of my life, I had lost 80 pounds.
At that time I was very proud of myself for that weight loss. And I thought, “Wow, all of the hard work I'm putting in is really paying off.” I was in a relationship at the time with someone who I had deemed like very attractive, and I was thinking like, “Wow, I really hit the jackpot here with this attractive guy.”
I was at the height of my fitness career. I was teaching 16 classes a week and I was doing my own workouts on top of all of that. And my podcast was doing well, and I was talking on my podcast about, you know, how important it is to take care of your body. And that's where Love Your Bodd started was like, let's love our bodies in terms of like exercise and nutrition and that kind of thing.
What I didn't realize at that time was that I was actually really miserable and I was really not in a good place. The relationship that I was in was emotionally abusive. Didn't know it at the time because I was so focused on what I could control, which was how much I was eating and how many times I was exercising.
I also was tired all the time from all the classes I was teaching, not eating enough. Still, even though I was at that 80-pound loss, it felt like it wasn't enough. And it felt like I needed to do more to be considered valid. I needed to do more, more, more. And I would say that that is sort of my rock bottom was noticing that at that point in my life when I was doing the most, I still needed more.
There was a shift. It wasn't a perfect shift, but I did realize like something's got to change. And luckily, that guy who I was with broke up with me. I can't say how long I would've stayed with him had he not been the one to break things off. And that breakup was really tough. But it was also kind of like a wake-up call of like, okay, I need to start taking care, actually taking care of myself, not depriving myself of food, not over-exercising, not throwing myself at people who don't care about me.
I need to prioritize me. So that was the first shift that happened. The second shift that happened actually happened during the pandemic because I had found, my body had found like a homeostasis where it stayed and it had stayed there for three years. And I was like, great, this is awesome. I can, you know, I felt I was eating intuitively. I had a really healthy relationship with exercise. I was feeling really good about myself when lockdown happened.
During lockdown,. I gained a lot of weight and at first I was terrified because I was like, I'm a fittest professional. If I am showing up, gaining weight, like what does that say about me? And because of reminders from the people who I've surrounded myself with, which like will be my first tip, honestly, in a survival guide for body acceptance, is to surround yourself with people who accept you for who you are and who also accept their own bodies and who are not in the throes of diet culture, and who celebrate diverse bodies.
Because I think that I had curated my Instagram feed and the types of people who I communicate with to mostly be people who were all having these discussions about like, yes, it's lockdown, we're stuck at home. It's natural, we're gonna gain weight. Like you don't need to pressure yourself. We're all going through a very traumatic event. And like your biggest fear should not be the number on the scale.
In fact, I don't weigh myself. It was actually, I put on a pair of shorts and they didn't fit me anymore. And that's kind of like, what put me into a spiral. And that was where the next shift for body acceptance happened was really like my online business had started and I was in charge or helping guide all of these people through this traumatic event.
And the last thing I wanted was to pressure them to feel like they needed to lose weight, right? Like that was the last thing I wanted to do with all of these people who trusted me to help guide them through this hard time, and I just wanted to be a safe space where people could exercise and it didn't feel like a punishment.
I just wanted to be a safe space where people could work out and talk about what they're feeling and talk about what they're going through without their body being the issue. And I was like, so if I'm trying to create this space for these people, why am I so worried about what I look like? Why am I so focused on that?
It became such an issue in my mind that I asked my clients, I was like,” I don't know if you guys noticed this, but I am gaining weight.” Like right along with like, we're, we're all like, I'm doing this too. And I put up a video from when I first, I have a workout library where I create the exercises and I create, I filmed the videos myself. And one of the videos that I posted was from a year and a half prior where I was in a much smaller body.
Then, I did a live workout with them a couple of days later where I was in my body that I was in on that day. And I asked them, I was like, is it difficult for you to see or does it make you think any less of me to see these two videos, like side by side, like one where I'm like obviously much smaller and one where I'm obviously like much in a different body?
They were like, “No. If anything, it helps us like relate to you and realize that you're just a person too, and that you go through everything that we're going through and all of that.” So the shift really happened when I really started to think about it. I started to think like how, if I'm so focused on my own body, how am I able to show up for other people?
How am I able to create this safe space for other people that I'm trying to create if I'm so focused on making myself smaller? And so that was the second shift. And then the third shift came from really educating myself on what fat phobia is and what weight discrimination is and all of these things that people talk about, right?
I had heard people talking about it, but it wasn't until I really got a good grip on how society functions for thin people and for able-bodied people and for white people. You know, like all those things. Like society functions in the thin, white ideal. And having that realization also really helped me feel into my body and say like, okay, I live in a body that is not necessarily the societal ideal.
Okay. Does that make me any less worthy of love? No. Does that make me any less worthy of putting myself out there, worthy of having a company? Like all the things that I had been seeking validation for at the start of this journey, I was seeking it in other people. I was seeking it in my career. I was seeking it by getting hired by these gyms.
What I realized, what I truly realized was that the right people and the right companies and the right clients are going to hire me no matter what my body looks like. It does not matter what this vessel looks like. They're hiring me for me because of what I bring to the table and what I can offer.
If I am being my authentic self, and if I am promoting that idea against the societal norm, right? Like I don't want you to have to try to fit into the societal norm. That's why I started my podcast. That's why I started my business in the first place. But I kept falling into the trap because of society, because that's what we are so taught and what is pressured into our brains since we are children.
That's like essentially the big shifts that happened for me to get me to where I am today is like it just was really about unlearning everything that I had learned. And it's hard, and I'm still unlearning so much to this day, but there was just so much that I had felt like was finally validated for me when I lost weight.
Because I got to feel what it was like to be that societal idea and to have things be a little easier for me and to have things function in my favor. But it still didn't feel good and I still wanted more and none, nothing was enough. No number on the scale, no amount of times I was exercising. No person who was attracted to me. Like none of that was enough.
Once I realized I'm enough without all of that stuff, that's where the really, really big shift happened. And it took a long time. We're talking, this is like five or six years. And it's just a constant practice. You know it's a constant and consistent practice to accept my body and to be happy in my own skin.
I'm definitely more on the side of, you know, when it comes to body acceptance and, and body neutrality and body love, like I've really learned how to love my body regardless of what it looks like. And I think that's really exciting about the shift of Love. Your Bodd, specifically my podcast is that it started and I called it Love Your bodd, right? But I don't think I ever actually loved my body when I started it out.
The shift has happened that, like now I actually do and I'm pretty comfortable talking about everything that we talk about on that podcast today. So yeah, that's that.
Caitie: Thank you so much for sharing all of that. The most beautiful thing is that you shared the nuances and the ups and downs of all of this, right?
I think we hear a lot of stories where it's like, “I was dieting and I was restricting and I was tired, and then I found intuitive eating and that was it, and I shifted,” and it never really looks like that, ever. It looks more like what you're speaking to, which is like, “Hey, I started in acting and I realized that, you know, there were certain things you had accepted about yourself,” like the nuance of that too.
There were certain things that you had air quotes accepted about yourself too that weren't necessarily true, and then you were like, “okay, I do need to lose weight in order to get jobs. So let me start doing these like beach body programs and lose weight.” Then you found that you were getting more jobs when you lost weight.
You also found like, “oh, maybe I should be a fitness professional in addition to being an actress.” And okay, now you're kind of, “okay, maybe I should start a podcast about taking care of your body, but also like accepting your body. I'm kind of starting to like accept my body a little bit, but also I wanna still lose weight because that feels good,” and “oh, like maybe Love Your Bodd is about nutrition and like eating well and beach body or maybe Love Your Bodd is about just accepting your body.
I know that there were ups and downs and in-betweens like you're describing, and then there was the shift with the breakup. And then there was the shift with the pandemic, and then there was the shift with just like taking a wider fucking lens to all of this and seeing like, “Oh wait. This is a systemic issue that's been going on for a long, long time.”
Society is built on thin white privilege. Let me take just a much wider lens to this now too. I also appreciate that you shared that sequentially because I do think that a lot of individuals who are struggling so much with their body image, with their body shape and size, and with using dieting and over-exercise and food restriction as a coping tool, are unable to take that wider lens right away.
Taking that wider lens right away feels really, really hard when you're so caught up in it. I'm not sure that people are able to really understand the deeper layers of fat phobia when they're in an eating disorder, when they're in disordered eating, when they're so caught up in this loop of trying to just feel safe by using these disordered eating behaviors.
I do think that that is kind of what happens a lot. The healing happens in phases and it typically happens somewhat in that order and it's nuanced. I'm sure you learned about fatphobia and the deeper systemic roots of diet culture some point earlier on, but that shift and acceptance and exploration of that didn't happen until later.
Heather: Yeah. I also wanna say like when I started Love Your Bodd, I had never really heard the term body positivity. I didn't know these things. It was something that I started just because I wanted to and I wanted to start having conversations about body image, whether it was related to improving health and nutrition, or it was just having discussions about it.
When I got on that side of Instagram just from having the podcast, I was challenged, my views were challenged and sometimes I was feeling very defensive. It was very much like, if you're going to talk about body positivity, you cannot also talk about weight loss. And when I was confronted with that, I was really, really defensive.
I was like, that's not true. And I do still think that there's nuance to it because I do think that if someone desires weight loss, that's their own decision. That's something that they are making that decision and I can't police them and tell them not to do that. And so when I was confronted with that at first, I really did feel very attacked, like almost personally.
Like, I'm not doing anything wrong? Like stop telling me I'm doing something wrong because I couldn't see past what diet culture had taught me up until that point. And I think one of the things that's amazing about Love Your Bodd and me creating it is it brought me into that wider lens very slowly but surely just from the nature of what the podcast was about.
I think that's one of the reasons that you and I connected and I was like, oh, I need to have, I need to have Caitie on my podcast. And then you had Fit for All at the time, and I was like, I really wanna do this panel with these people. And having that conversation with you all, like I mentioned at the top of this, was actually one of the first times that my mind was open to it in a way that did not make me feel defensive, right?
When I had seen that stuff before about diet culture and fat phobia, and I can't think of the right word, but like anti weight loss, if that's a thing. I was feeling very much like, that's not what I'm trying to do. I'm not trying to tell people they shouldn't seek these things.
I think it was like actually sitting down and having the conversation with people who knew what they were talking about and who were more educated on it. And then, as I continued doing Love Your Bodd, my lens grew wider and wider, but it didn't grow to the point where I was really sitting and staring at those systemic issues until we were confronted with it in the pandemic.
We were in the throes of like, here you go, you're alone and you got stuff to learn. That's when I learned it.
Caitie: That is something that really happened in the pandemic is that we all were thrown into a collective trauma and we all were thrown into collective healing and we all were thrown into collective learning and taking a wider lens to everything, to health, to economics.
Like everything, everything in that time. And I guess for someone who's listening to this who hasn't reached that wider lens yet, or is maybe even hearing about this for the first time, and they're thinking, “well, you just said Heather, that society treats people in smaller bodies better, and society is set up for people in smaller bodies, and so I still wanna lose weight. So what now?”
I'm sure you get that all the time from your fitness clients, and I'm curious, at this point in your survival guide, how would you recommend that someone navigate that very real, very valid, very frustrating fear, and that very valid desire to lose weight?
Heather: Yeah, I mean, my first thing, and this is something that I talk about with my clients all the time, but it's also not easy, is that weight loss is not actually something that you have control over, right? So if your desire, if your goal is to lose weight, you actually don't have control over the number on the scale.
For some people, hearing that is helpful because they relinquish that control of like, “Oh, if that's not something I have control over, why do I focus on it?” And for some people, it's even harder to hear because then it's like, well then how will I lose weight if that's not something I can control?
What I like to tell people to focus on is the things that they can control if it is something that they want. Like if they want to feel better, if they want to start exercising, if they want to start, you know, if they want to start having a more nutritionally dense diet, if that's something they're looking for, right?
Think about the things that you do have control over. And then, and like start there. So it's like, oh, I wanna work workout three times a week. Great. You kind of have control over that. Now if you make the goal five times a week or seven times a week, you don't necessarily have control over that because then you're pushing your body to a point where it's going to start saying like, “Ah, I actually don't think we're gonna work out today.”
That's when you have to learn how to listen to your body's cues to sort of say like, okay, I had this high-intensity interval training workout schedule today, but I'm actually really not feeling it. I would much rather do yoga or just go for a walk. And so what I work with my clients in this way is just teaching them how to have a better relationship with their body and with fitness in general, and to let go, to relinquish that control, that weight loss is something that is going to happen, right?
It could, it might, but just focus on how you feel and come from a place of empowerment. That's also really important to me. It's something that I talk about a lot in fitness and specifically in my workout program. So my workout program is catered towards nerds or self-proclaimed geeks, people who identify with pop culture and fandom, and media, people who really like to dive into that kind of stuff.
The reason that I did that is because fitness can be this very daunting thing. And it can be this, you know, the gym and the fitness industry can be this place where people feel less than and unwelcome whether they're unfamiliar with the environment. And like, even as a pro, as a fitness professional, sometimes I will walk into a new gym and be like, “I don't belong here.”
You know, so it's like I get it and I have been there. And so what I wanted to do again was create this like safe space for people to just experience fitness without that societal pressure that they need to fit in. And so I immerse people in geek culture in my workouts. And the reason that I do that is so that they can feel more empowered than the workouts so that it will feel less like they're trying to punish their body for what, for what they look like.
It'll feel less like they're trying to force themselves to work out. And it's more about like, “yay, I get to activate this nerdy side of me in my workout programs.” And Caitie, actually, you might not remember this, but the last time you were in my apartment, referencing that in 2019, I think I was telling you about Geeknasium, cuz I had just started it or was thinking about starting it.
You come from a much more like mind-centered yoga, sort of like mindfulness background. And something that you said to me was like, “So if they're escaping into their workout, like as someone who's, you know, more into mindfulness, like how do they stay present and aware in their bodies?” And I was very much like, “Oh, actually it's because they're channeling characters they love, so they are more present in their bodies because they're pretending to be X, Y, Z character that they love.”
So not only are you escaping into your workout by channeling these characters, but you're also more present in your body because you are pretending to be that character. So I don't know if you remember saying that or not, but it's definitely, when I tell my story about Geeknasium, I do reference you sometimes.
Caitie: That's so funny. Yeah, I mean, I can imagine myself saying that. I absolutely could. It just speaks to the fact that like, that's not my world at all. Like I'm just, I'm not a self-proclaimed nerd. I'm not a self-proclaimed geek. Like that stuff is just so not my wheelhouse, and that's something that I love about you and about our connection, is that you can be so connected with people who are coming from a completely different perspective than you.
I love that you have kind of introduced me to this whole other world of people who have completely different interests. And I do think that the fitness industry is built for people with one very specific lens of interest, which is me. Which is like, yeah, like yoga, mindfulness, things like that. Like mind-body connection and all of those things that I've just been always intuitively passionate about.
I've been intuitively passionate about wellness for like a very long time, just like naturally passionate about helping people. Heal their bodies with nutrition therapy and things like that. And so, you know, I always wonder like if I wasn't just like intrinsically passionate about these things, would I be motivated to move my body? Like would I actually feel motivated to work out?
The answer is probably no. And I would need a different pathway to feel encouraged to do that. And I don't think that the fitness industry is built for a lot of people who need that alternative pathway, that alternative motivation to be able to move their body, which is an objectively important thing.
Our bodies were designed to move and a lot of people don't feel motivated to do so because the fitness industry isn't created for them. It's not created with their personal motivation or like their little carrots in mind. And I think that you've created something really unique and you've also tapped into a really important point, which is that fitness and movement, movement in general should be a way to feel more like yourself, not less like yourself.
This just came to me yesterday because I went to a fitness class that was, I got like a free week at a local yoga studio. I don't even wanna call it a yoga studio because they don't really practice actual yoga, um, nearby. And I was at this class and I hated every single second of this class. Oh my God. This class had no soul, like zero soul at all whatsoever.
It was playing, they were playing that like very generic kind of like fitness music, like, just like that, like, you know, someone covering Ed Sheeran at like one 20 bpm, just like on loop, like forever. And we're just like doing squats. And then we do a yoga pose and then we do more squats. Then we do, oh my, I was so miserable. I was so miserable in this class.
It was very monotone instructor and it just reminded me how important it is to enjoy your workout. Like I was like, if this was my intro to fitness, I'd be like, “wow, I never wanna workout ever again in my entire lifetime.”
It's like life is not meant to be this thing that we white knuckle our way through. Life is meant to be enjoyed, generally speaking, wider lens. And workouts and movement especially should be something that feels intrinsically motivating for you because we've already got enough stuff in life that is inevitably a drag. Paying bills, inevitably a drag. Family dynamics. Yeah. Inevitably a drag, like these things that we just have to deal with. Right.
We don't have to deal with a workout that disconnects us from ourself, a workout that makes us feel like we're counting down the minutes. There are so many ways to move your body, and though your workout should make you feel more like yourself, doesn't mean that it's not gonna be challenging in some moments.
Doesn't mean that you're not gonna be like, “ah, like I'm really challenging myself right now.” But if you're doing a form of movement that is actually the right one for you, that's authentic to you, you'll be able to push yourself through that challenge because you feel motivated and inspired to do it, even if it's like hard for a moment.
Even if it feels like a push for a moment, if you're doing the right workout, that part that feels hard, like doesn't matter as much and the whole workout itself should not be miserable. And I just, I do love that you've created just something really new. I don't think that there's anything else like this.
Heather: Thank you. I also think that it's like, I love what you're saying about like, your workout should make you feel more like you because a lot of people come to me and they're very much like they hate working out, like they hate fitness and they think that it's something they should be doing.
It's like we're taught like, oh, you should, should, should. And my advice really is to just like find what works for you, what does feel good for you, and find things that challenge you that also do feel good for you. And it sounds like that fitness class was not it, and I'm very sorry that that was your experience.
I'm glad it wasn't your first one. I have a very different experience that happened to me in Cincinnati. So my family- I'm a New Yorker now, currently, I've lived here for 10 years. My family is in Cincinnati. And when I go home to visit, I like to get movement in somehow because as a fitness instructor, it's just inside of me that I want to move at least once a day.
I really wanted to do a cycle workout. And I was using my sister's Planet Fitness like pass that you can use at any Planet Fitness. And I went and Planet Fitness, at least the one by my parents' house, like didn't have any good cycling bikes. And I was like, they just had the kind you sit back on in pedal, but not like a cycling class, cycling bike, you know what I mean?
Um, so I looked up, I was very disappointed by that. I tried to do my cycle workout on that sit-down bike. It did not work. I was like, Nope, this isn't it. So I looked up some cycling classes in Cincinnati and I just like on a whim found, found a local cycling class and I went, and it was incredible and it felt so good, and I loved the instructor so much and I introduced her myself to her after class.
We are connected on Instagram now. And every time I go home, I take one of her classes. And it's just one of those things that's like when you find something that just like works and feels good, like it just works and feels good, like there's no, it just will click for you.
Sometimes you need to experiment to get there and you need to find different ways of movement. So it's like if you did that workout class that sucked and you didn't like it, don't give up. Go to a different class or try a workout video, do something at home, maybe that will feel better. Because there is a level of experimentation that goes into it as well.
I'm so glad that I just randomly was in the mood to cycle that one day and randomly found this cycling class because it introduced me to a whole community that I'm now very excited to be a part of whenever I go home and visit. And I think that's another layer of talking about fitness too, and health and your relationship with yourself and your relationship with your body is the communities that you are part of makes, it has a big impact on that, I think.
Caitie: Majorly, majorly, I mean, we're social creatures. Biologically, we're hardwired to seek relationship and connection with other people. And so of course, when we're setting goals related to fitness and movement, it's gonna be intrinsically, biologically, naturally motivating for us to be connected in a community with other people who are kind of doing the work with us and making that behavior change with us.
When I say behavior change, it kind of reminds me of what you were speaking of before, which is you don't get to decide I'm going to lose 15 pounds in three weeks. You don't like, that's goal ever. And I'm just giving a ridiculous example of like what I see all the time. You don't get to decide that, but you can set a behavioral goal.
You can decide, okay, I'm going to set out to change these behaviors. That gets to be the goal. And I always hear from the creators of Intuitive Eating, Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, weight is not a behavior. It's not, weight is not a behavior. So you can't set a weight goal, but you can set behavioral goals and one of the things that does help you stick with that behavioral goal, to keep going with that behavior, with that habit is community.
I think another thing is acceptance of yourself and what you love. And to kind of slide into more of the self-acceptance piece of your survival guide, Heather, I feel like what we're saying is very much about self-acceptance. I accept that I hate cycling. I accept it. I think it has to do with my dance background, I'm not really sure.
I was speaking with another client, another client, a client who is a dancer the other day. And I was like, I think there's just like something about like sitting on the bike and just like being stuck in there that like doesn't feel good as a dancer, but I accept that about myself.
That's just something I don't like to do. And it's something I've wanted to be able to do because I've got friends who are in, you know, their spin classes and I had a lot of friends in the fitness industry, of course, when I was a full-time instructor who like taught cycling classes and I was like, I ain't going, you won't see me there.
I'm not going. I guess like similarly, someone who identifies as a fan of cosplay and all the types of things that you incorporate into Geek Nosium is if they accept that about themselves, that they're not gonna wanna go to a basic CrossFit class or whatever it might be. Leaning into that sense of self-acceptance can help them kind of make the behavior change that they're seeking if they wanna move their body more and just feel better in their body.
Heather: Yeah, definitely. Yeah, I think like, yeah, it's like realizing what am I willing to accept about myself and what Is something that I want to change, right? Like do I really not like cycling or have I only taken a sole cycling class and I a SoulCycle class hated that. You know, like cuz it's like, because I do think, you know, I hated cycling before I was a cycling instructor, honestly.
Then I got certified and I was like, this is my favorite class to teach. And I think it's because the energy that comes into the room when you're cycling, like there's just so much, like I can yell at people on the bike, I can get really quiet and whisper to them while I'm on the bike. Like there's such a dynamic energy that cycling can have that I feel like doesn't happen in many other fitness classes.
It's one of my favorites to teach because I can really like get into it and I feel like the energy just explode in my cycling classes. And then because I love teaching it so much, when I'm not teaching it, sometimes I crave it right? But like had I not become certified, I don't think cycling would've been for me either because there are some teachers who teach cycling completely off the bike and they're just walking around the room telling you what to do.
That's not, I don't like those kinds of cycling class and I don't like SoulCycle. I mean, the thing I don't like about SoulCycle is that they make such a huge production of it. You know what I mean? And like I feel like, I remember the first time I was in there, I was like, am I at a concert? Are we performing? Like I'm very confused.
It just felt very much like performing rather than doing a fitness like it, I felt like I had to be on and put on some sort of, “I am in a SoulCycle class performance.” But then when I found this cycling class down in Cincinnati, it was very much like it was about that energy and I think it was the instructor who I just happened to like find her class. It was about that energy and about that connection and about like that push and that's what made it feel so special.
I do think, yeah, it's about like what am I willing to accept that I don't like, but also what am I willing to like see maybe if I do? Like, how can I push myself a little further to see if this is something that I like to do?
Caitie: Yeah. And I'm curious when it comes to that piece of self-acceptance, right? How can you bring yourself to a willingness to experiment? Because I think that there are certain things that yeah, you do have to experiment with them a little bit to see if you can ultimately enjoy the experience. And there is some element of risk-taking that needs to happen when you're kind of trying to make a new habit stick. You've gotta try out different things and see what lands and what doesn't land.
When it comes to experimenting with new things and taking risks in that sense, I guess, how can you cultivate a level of baseline acceptance that gives you the confidence to walk into the room? Like what comes up for you when I say that?
Heather: Well, the first thing that I'm thinking is really, like, you've got- if you're feeling like that need to be challenged in some way, there's something that's pushing you in that direction, right? So it's like if you took the SoulCycle class in the first place, right? And you hated it, something told you to take that Soul Cycle class, right?
There's something in you that is having a desire to change whatever that something is. So what came up for me when you said that was really like, am I going to accept that this is where I am right now and that I don't wanna change? Or am I going to accept, or am I gonna not accept that and am I gonna going to say it's time for me to push myself?
It's about finding that balance between like, am I sick of being stuck where I am? Do I not feel good right here where I am? Or am I okay here where I am? And if you're not feeling good where you are, what step further can you take to make yourself feel a little bit better?
I think that's the difference of like, there's a self-acceptance that comes from feeling really good where you are and saying like, yeah, this is great. But if there's something telling you like, I'm actually not really happy with where I am right now, listen to that voice. Try not to let it beat you up.
Don't feel horrible about where you are just because you're not comfortable there. But just think like, what step can I take to push me to where I wanna be?
Caitie: I suppose that is why I do feel comfortable sitting here saying that I hate cycling, as I have, it comes from a place of self-acceptance. There's no desire that I have to push myself to go to that next level with cycling. Plenty of forms of cardio that I absolutely love. And also if there wasn't a form of cardio that I really liked, and I heard about the energy of cycling and how it can have that dynamic energy like you're talking about, and I wanted to nudge myself to get in there.
It could come from a place of self-compassion, which I like to describe as treating yourself the way a supportive coach would treat you versus like the way a friend would treat you or the way like your mom would treat you or whatever it is, if you have a good relationship with your mom.
I think like that tends to be a little bit fluffy and people don't really get it, and they just kind of like dismiss that like, no, I'm not gonna treat myself the way a friend would treat me. But you can treat yourself the way a supportive coach would treat you, which is a supportive coach as someone who celebrates you and accepts you and doesn't let you get off the hook.
A supportive coach is someone who is gonna celebrate your successes and challenge you to become better and challenge you to take care of yourself and call you out on your bullshit when it's necessary. And so I think that when you're talking about self-acceptance from this place of like, well, I have this desire to push myself. It's like, yeah, treat yourself the way a supportive coach would treat you if you recognize that you can be better.
Better is a bad word to use because I think that that kind of puts it on a black-and-white scale of like, I'm better or I'm worse. Challenging yourself to know that you can feel more like yourself, jjust that you can feel aligned. So, all right, as we're wrapping up here, body acceptance and self-acceptance.
Thank you so much for sharing your story. Heather, if you are gonna create a survival bag which can have, you know, books in it, it can have podcasts in it, social media accounts in it, it can have songs, it can have practices, workouts, whatever it is. If you're gonna build a body acceptance bag and a self-acceptance bag, what would you put in it?
Heather: Ooh. Together as one bag I can together. Um, I don't know. Do we wanna create two bags? What are you feeling? I think I can put them together in one bag. I think the book, The Body is Not An Apology by Sonya Renee Taylor belongs in there. And Fearing the Black Body.
I don't remember the author of that, but it's kind of like a clinical research book about the systemic racism in body image or in fatphobia specifically. So those are two books that I would put in there. Let's see. I, we'd have lots of snacks. My snacks would be like Oreos and Reeses and lots of water. We'd have lots of water in that self-acceptance and body acceptance bag.
You know, I think like a curated Instagram feed and I can't, I'm not gonna like list off every person who I follow, but I just would say like an Instagram feed of diverse bodies of people who celebrate bodies of all sizes, of people who talk about body image and body grief and self-acceptance and self-awareness, and you know, there's just like, there's a hand there.
There are so many people out there that you can follow that will give you guidance that are not entrenched in diet culture. That aren’t pedaling the same societal norm or the same systemic norm, like you can find the people who exist outside of that. And so I'll put that Instagram, that very special curated Instagram feed in the bag as well. Then, just like an iPod with Apple Music so that I can listen to whatever I want, whatever.
Caitie: Yeah, at whatever you want, whenever you want. Nothing specific. Yeah. Which I, I think is amazing. I mean, music is such a regulating tool. I like feel like we all need to tap into the power of Spotify to regulate our mood on a regular basis.
I say that to clients all the time, it's just like, can you get yourself outta a funk by pushing play on a curated playlist? And yeah, I mean, you're the first person that I asked that question to that puts snacks and water in the bag, so thank you. Bye as a diet.
Oh, also one more, one more thing in the bag is going my She-Hulk comic books. Can't believe I forgot about those. She-Hulk comic books are going in the bag as well.
Caitie: Why is She-Hulk in the bag?
Heather: Okay. This is a different story, so She-Hulk had a big impact on my shift as well when I, before I became a fitness professional, but when I was trying to lose weight for acting, I had started reading the She-Hulk comics and it was the first time that I was reading about a woman who was the, like lead character of a piece of media who chose to exist outside of the societal norm of what was expected of women.
She is an almost seven foot tall, very, very muscular green lady. She-Hulk is the Hulk's cousin. And she, unlike the Hulk, she has full intellectual abilities when she is in her Hulk form. So she chooses to stay in her Hulk form at all points in time. And I found that to be very empowering because I was like, “oh, she's not conforming to what society expects of her. She's not staying in her human form at all times. She's out here practicing law and dating and going to bars in this giant green body.”
Like, why can't I do the same? And that's what started, that's what inspired me to become a fitness professional, and it's also what got me into cosplay.
Caitie: So, so fun. I love that. Yeah, I love that. Well, Heather, thank you so much for your time for sharing such personal things, and please follow Heather's podcast, Love Your Bodd. And her Instagram, are you just Heather Boddy on fitness, on Instagram?
Heather: Yeah, just my name. H E A T H E R. Oh my gosh. H E A T H E R B O D D Y.
Caitie: Beautiful. Beautiful. All right, well, I know that we will connect again soon and we'll be back here. I will be back here on the mic in two weeks from today.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you loved this episode, please leave a five star review. It means so much. Shout out, Heather in your review, and yeah, take a deep breath before you move on with the rest of your day. See you soon.