Today we celebrate Karen Smith! Karen has been with our Empowered RX program since 2020 and has just graduated from our Mentorship program. When she began our program she started out with an Empowered Health Impact Score of 83 and she is exiting with a 35! She went from a high risk score to a low risk score and her feelings and core beliefs have shifted to demonstrate that. WE ARE SO PROUD OF YOU! Read on to hear about Karen's journey. She is a total badass!
Diet Culture is a pervasive belief system that idealizes thinness, whiteness, and beauty. It makes us feel like we aren’t good enough. It creeps in through the back door of our brain and changes the lens in which we view ourselves. Over time Diet Culture wears us down and our confidence wanes. The number on the scale dictates our self-worth. We stand in front of the mirror and critique our perceived flaws over and over again. We forget what it feels like to be in our body because it’s not a safe or comfortable place to be.
Does this sound familiar? I’m sure a lot of you can relate. Diet Culture impacts 9/10 women and 2/10 males. These statistics show that most of us will go on to diet and restrict at some point in our life. We start to apply moral value to how we look and shame ourselves if we don’t live up to the standard.
Have you ever met someone and immediately thought, “Woah, this person is a total badass..” … Yea, well.. enter Karen. This was my first impression of Karen Smith, but it was quite clear she didn’t feel the same way about herself.
Karen and I met via Instagram about 6 months ago when Prototype Empowered first began. Empowered is a trauma-informed fitness and nutrition coaching program. I soon found out that she had also previously done CrossFit at Prototype and weightlifting, our home base.
When we began working together on Nutrition, her goals revolved around losing weight! She was eager to work out all the time, hating rest days and always ready for her workouts with Joe. It became evident that Karen was in a serious relationship with Diet Culture. She also carried the emotional burdens associated with being a Trauma Survivor.
Weightlifting is something that makes her feel powerful, capable, and in charge of her body. For Karen, weightlifting and dance are the only sports that allow her to feel that sort of power.
She didn’t find weightlifting right away. After an injury took her out of the dance world, she would go on to immerse herself in diet culture even further. The exercise was punishment with the purpose of shrinking in size. She was a self-proclaimed Cardio-queen that tried to outwork everything she ate and feared the idea of taking up space.
Weightlifting was the first step towards a more holistic life. While she felt more empowered lifting, she still felt intense shame about her body. The Medical World has shamed her about her weight for decades. I remember her describing her history of medical appointments. As she choked back tears she described body shaming, prejudice, and assumptions about her size and weight. Karen recalled that Doctors would tell her she needed to lose weight and follow this blunt statement up with directives to exercise more.
“MORE exercise? DO YOU KNOW ME?”… Karen was an over-exerciser for decades. The Doctors didn’t take the time to learn about her relationship with her body and food. They made assumptions and made her feel helpless. For those of you who have similar experiences, I recommend checking out the book Health at Every Size. This book theorizes that body weight isn’t always a problem, but that dieting is. It challenges the traditional Westernized approach to body shape and size.
After a few sessions, her goals began to shift away from losing weight. She started to focus on understanding her ‘why’. We looked at her relationship with food and focused on nourishing the body. We honed in on mindset and added in mindfulness practices, journaling, and self-care. After examining her family tree she learned a lot! We observed that many generations of her family were emotional eaters, had experienced poverty, famine, and trauma. She was able to see that she had learned these behaviors as a coping mechanism. This whole time she had demonized herself thinking that these ways of being were bad parts of her that she needed to remove. Her belief system that she and her body were inherently bad was finally starting to change.
Karen did the self-exploration and work required to rebuild a new set of healthy habits. These habits now revolve around honoring both her hunger and her fullness. They revolve around self-love instead of deprecation. They revolve around freedom.
She still hates REST days and is working on understanding recovery as a form of self-care. Breaking up with Diet Culture can be a life long journey. Karen is now confident in herself and has the tools to steer the ship when waters get rough. Instead of letting her inner critic guide her, she now relies on her strong inner voice and a sense of curiosity. Karen has redefined her definition of FEAR. FACE EVERYTHING AND RISE!
If you can relate to Karen's story and are ready to reclaim your life and your health you can book a FREE DISCOVERY CALL NOW.