Episode 387: Diet Culture and Reframing Your Body Image with Summer Innanen - Your Kick-Ass Life

PODCAST & BLOG

PODCAST & BLOG


This week I explore the topics of diet culture, body image, and intersectional feminism with guest, Summer Innanen. Summer is a professionally trained coach specializing in body image, self-worth and confidence. She is the best-selling author of Body Image Remix and creator of You, On Fire – the online group coaching program dedicated to helping people get free from body shame and live life on their own terms. She is also the host of Eat The Rules, a podcast dedicated to anti-dieting, body image, and intersectional feminism.

Personally, I succumbed to diet culture for decades and have been going through a process of unlearning all of the internalized messages that never served me. Extricating oneself from diet culture is a unique journey for every woman. To echo Summer’s words, “Acceptance is not a destination, it’s an ongoing practice of meeting yourself where you are at and where you need to be.” 

In this episode you’ll hear:

  • A brief definition of diet culture and what it revolves around (various layers of oppression). (8:24)
  • For women, worrying about body image is a universal condition and is rooted in internalized misogyny. (12:10)
  • Summer talks about how the way to feel better in your body isn’t about “liking the way you look” and how this can make it harder for us to accept ourselves. (14:14)
  • The importance of knowing the truth about weight science. (23:04)
  • Summer’s response to the assumption that if you accept your body, you're “giving up” and not going to “take care of yourself”. (25:27)
  • We can reject diet culture and go on to do amazing things. (32:40)
  • “Tools of avoidance,” dieting and fixating on our bodies. (36:00)
  • How diet culture is related to patriarchy and white supremacy. (48:09)

Resources mentioned in this episode:
Follow me over on TikTok or Instagram – I’m @heyandreaowen
YKAL 1:1 Coaching – visit AndreaOwen.com/apply
Summer’s website
Tell Me I’m Fat – Lindy West on This American Life
Body Respect, Linda Bacon
Anti-Diet, Christy Harrison,MPH, RD
Body is Not an Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor
Fearing the Black Body, Sabrina Strings

Summer Innanen is a professionally trained coach specializing in body image, self-worth, and confidence. She helps people all over the world to stop living behind the numbers on their scales through her private and group coaching at summerinnanen.com. She is the best-selling author of Body Image Remix and creator of You, On Fire – the online group coaching program dedicated to helping people get free from body shame and live life on their own terms. She is also the host of Eat The Rules, a podcast dedicated to anti-dieting, body image and intersectional feminism.

Right-click to download the .mp3

 


SHOW TRANSCRIPT

Summer Innanen 00:00
I really want people to just know that their body is just this vessel. Maybe they're gonna like the way it looks sometimes, maybe not. But they can still really live a kick ass life, know that they're a badass and know that they're just valuable and worthy to this world.

Andrea 00:16
You're listening to Make Some Noise Podcast Episode Number 387 with guest Summer Innanen.

Welcome to Make Some Noise Podcast your guide for strategies, tools and insight to empower yourself. I'm your host, Andrea Owen, global speaker, entrepreneur, life coach since 2007, and author of three books that have been translated into 18 languages and are available in 22 countries. Each week, I'll bring you a guest or a lesson that will help you maximize unshakable competence, master resilience and make some noise in your life. You ready? Let's go.

Hey, everyone, welcome to another episode of the podcast. I am so glad that you're here. If you are curious at all about what my home office looks like, the place that I record all of these podcast episodes, check out my TikTok, yes, I'm on TikTok, I love TikTok. I've learned so much and been wildly entertained over there, during the pandemic, and forevermore. Also on Instagram, and my Instagram reels. I’m @HeyAndreaOwen on both of those platforms, and I did a short little video. It's like 30 seconds of my office, which has recently been redone.

I'd been wanting to do it for a while and finally had a little bit of time on my hands last year, as some of us did. And I did a gallery wall that wasn't going to be like raging feminist gallery wall, that wasn't my initial plan. But alas, I couldn't help myself. You'll see some Golden Girls in there, you'll see a picture of my daughter, I love it. And then wallpaper on the other side. And I just, you know, and I'm very lucky enough to have the resources to be able to do the, wallpaper is not cheap. I didn't I didn't know. And I was like, I need how many rolls to do this. Well, that seems excessive. But I guess if you want it to match up all of that good stuff. And I love it. I love it. I spend so much time in here. And when that happens, I just feel like your physical environment matters so much. And I have been guilty of not fixing up a room until people are going to come over, or you're going to sell the house. Or your parents are coming and you're like, well, shit, I guess we should probably hang some stuff on the walls, or, you know, fix that thing that's been broken. I've done that many times. And then you're like, why didn't I do this before? It’s so nice. That's sort of how I feel about my home office. It's been a slow process. So if you want to go check that out, go over to my reels on Instagram, or my TikTok, HeyAndreaOwen, I'm over there, and you can check it out.

Also, if you are feeling like you could, I don't know you guys know me springtime always makes me feel like I'm being reborn. And if that's you, if you feel like you could use some support, you and make some changes in your life, we have some openings for private coaching. I was on a consult call with a prospective client a couple of weeks ago. And I thought, you know, might be interesting for me to tell people what happens during those calls. First, you fill out an application. If you go over to AndreaOwen.com. Did you hear that? AndreaOwen.com. More on that in a second. AndreaOwen.com/apply there's an application, we get that application, we check it out. And it's not always a great fit more often than not, yes, we are going to refer you to either get on the phone with me or one of my lead coaches, either Liz or Sabrina. And then we go from there, and we set up a call.

And so I'm talking to this woman and she had filled out her application. I had more questions based on some of the things that she wrote, I come from a place of curiosity. Tell me more about this. Say more about that. What did you, what do you mean by this? Tell me what this looks like in your life when you talk about this struggle. So the client tells me more. And then I tell you, this is how I do it personally, whether or not I think I can help you. Sometimes I can't. And it's clear that it's more of a therapy topic. And I will say you know what, I think this would be enormously helpful for you to process all of this with a therapist. But I know pretty much from the first few minutes if it's something that is in my zone of genius and that I can help the client with. Here's the thing too, is that yes, there's going to be some aha moments when we are on the phone together or on Zoom together. But a lot of the work happens in between. I give assignments, we co-create these assignments together, you do them. And that's where the magic and the change happens. And I want you to be equipped with the tools to be able to do the work on your own. in your life going forward. I don't want you to need me forever. If you need me forever that means I'm not doing my job. Personally, that's how I view it. And I do also believe that we can use different coaches and therapists throughout our life because everyone has their specialty, everyone has a different personality, they are trained differently. PS also hire a coach who's trained little side note. And let's see if we can make some magic AndreaOwen.com/apply.

Yes, we are moving everything over from Your Kick-Ass Life to Andrea Owen. I want to emphasize that there is no S on the end of my last name. Anybody out there with the last name that gets people get it wrong? Because the other spelling of it isn't, is a common last name as well. So my maiden name was Fry. Which honestly, I feel like I should have just just kept. But I didn't. And it was F-r-y, a lot of people put an E on the end of it. Which I didn't really care because it doesn't change the pronunciation of it. It's it's Fry. Either way. It's common with an E. It's common without any we were without an E family. But when people say Owens, I'm like absolutely not. No. And my husbands like I've been dealing with this my entire life. Anyway, AndreaOwen.com/apply if you want to apply for one on one coaching.

Speaking of interesting last names, our guest today is Summer Innanen. And we had such an amazing conversation about diet culture, which is something I love to talk about. I was, I succumbed to diet culture for decades, probably three and a half decades, and am unlearning all of the internalized things that never served me. And maybe you can relate. We also talk about body image, a little bit of intersectional feminism in there as well. So for those of you that don't know her, let me give you a quick introduction. Summer Innanen is a professionally trained coach specializing in body image, self-worth and confidence. She helps people all over the world to stop living behind the numbers on their scales through her private and group coaching at summer internet.com. She is the best-selling author of Body Image Remix and creator of You, On Fire. The online group coaching program dedicated to helping people get free from body shame and live life on their own terms. She is also the host of Eat the Rules, a podcast dedicated to anti dieting, body image and intersectional feminism. So without further ado, here is Summer.

Summer, welcome to the show.

Summer Innanen 08:21
Hi, Andrea, thank you so much for having me.

Andrea 08:24
I am so excited to have this conversation as I was telling you before we started recording, I have such a passion for this topic, but but many times don't feel researched enough and, and you know, well versed in all of the things and I think that that things are changing quickly in terms of what our culture is understanding and becoming aware of around diet, culture and body image and body positivity, etc, etc, etc. So I'm super excited to have you on. I want to jump kind of not so much in the deep end yet. But can you give a brief description for people that may be new to the term of what diet culture is?

Summer Innanen 09:05
Mm hmm. Yeah, you know, I, so I'm gonna kind of like paraphrase something that Virgie Tovar who wrote the book, The Right To Remain Fat. She's an incredible fat activist. You know, she sort of describes it as like the culture where, you know, everyone talks about food in terms of good or bad and they feel guilty if they eat something and you know, that kind of just the way that we sort of look at food through this moral lens. And it's all really connected to this belief that being fitter is better and being and being bigger is is bad. And so the entire culture sort of revolves around these fat phobic beliefs, which are also rooted in sexism and racism and everything else. All the different various layers of oppression that cause us to feel Like there's something wrong with our body. And that in order to fix it, we need to always be in the pursuit of fitness and always be dieting, and that sort of transpires into our entire culture with the way that we interact and behave around food and exercise and everything else. So that's kind of like a very short summation of it.

Andrea 10:18
It sounds a little bit like Lindy West is someone that I follow. I read her books, and she had, she was on NPR, it's been a handful of years. And I feel like the title of it was something like coming out as fat or something. I'll put the link in the show notes. It was it was really good. And she's talking about this. And one of the things that struck me is she said that for so long, she felt like she was only a good fat person if she was actively trying to lose weight. And she would you know, it made her friends more comfortable. And I might be misquoting her, it might not have been her friends, but it made other people more comfortable if she was telling them that she was on some kind of diet or doing something to not be fat anymore. And she was done with it.

Summer Innanen 11:00
Mm hmm. Yeah, yeah, that's the whole, like, it's called in fat activism spaces. It's called, like, the good fatty paradigm. And it's like, you know, you can you it's, it's kind of acceptable to be fat, as long as you're trying to be thinner. And I think that that permeates into our existence, regardless of our body size, obviously, like, if you're in a larger body, it's much more significant. But, you know, we're all sort of born into this world, particularly as, as, as women, or people who identify as female that to that, you know, it's it's your purpose in life to be smaller. It's like, if you're not trying to lose weight, well, what's wrong with you like, of course, everybody wants to lose weight. And it's such a damaging paradigm. And it's such a damaging belief system that we inherit, that makes us constantly feel like our body is never good enough, and that we're inherently never good enough.

Andrea 11:52
And that our value is most definitely at the top of the list of things that make women valuable is the size and shape of our body, and our appearance as well. And I know that men struggle with this, too. But I do think that women have a unique way of struggling about it. What do you think?

Summer Innanen 12:10
Oh, yes, 100%? I think it's because so much of this is rooted in sexism, and then in this in, in the belief that, you know, our worthiness is in our desirability. And so that really comes from like that's in our DNA, our survival as women dependent on depended on us being likable. And that equates to being desirable. Like our survival, literally, survival literally depended on that before we had any kind of independence. And so that's kind of wired into our DNA. And so for us, it's, it's a lot more significant because it comes down to like our survival like that, you know, and our love ability and my desirability and my success. And everything about that is I think that yeah, men definitely struggle with body image. But for for women, it's just like, it's like a near universal condition.

Andrea 13:03
It's at the forefront. Yeah. And it's really interesting. This is another topic for another time, but I've been reading more about internalized patriarchy, and misogyny. And it's, it's fascinating. And it definitely is one of those things, you can't unsee it once you see it. So I'm just telling everybody listening, you might want to do a quick Google search and your life's gonna change for the better. But there's first a little bit of whiplash around yet how we have participated in this so much.

Summer Innanen 13:32
Mm hmm. Absolutely, absolutely. But I think it's a helpful framework for that understanding, you know, why we compare ourselves to others, or why we judge other you know, other women and things like that, like, that's all really rooted in internalized misogyny and internalized sexism and, and I think it's almost like a more helpful framework, because instead of seeing it as like this internal defect, we can look and see, okay, it's actually like the way that I've been conditioned that I that some of these behaviors and beliefs that I have, are because of this conditioning versus like, I'm defective and there's something wrong with me, which is something that I always try to really instill in people and that like, none of these thoughts or beliefs are your fault.

Andrea 14:14
Exactly. No self-blame, or you know, if there is any try to lean on some self-compassion, but also I think it for me, it really put under the microscope, the stereotypes that that we as women face around being backstabbing, and catty, and gossiping, and those types of things and where they originated from I even looked at the science around it. Super fascinating. Anyway, I don't want to get too far off track. But I want to ask you, because you talk about how the way to feel better in your body isn't necessarily about liking the way you look and how trying to do that can make it harder to accept ourselves. So can you talk about that for a minute?

Summer Innanen 14:51
Mm hmm. Yeah, I think that you know, when you sort of look at like mainstream body positivity or body image advice you sort of get this understanding that like, okay, we should just all like love our bodies and embrace our cellulite and all this stuff. And I sort of find that message. I mean, that messaging is a huge ask. It's a lot. I mean, it's better than, like, you know, diet culture or not phobic messaging, but it's, I still find it kind of problematic because it's keeping the focus on our body, it's keeping the focus on finding ourselves attractive. And, you know, like I said, when are when we've been told that our, our worthiness is dependent on being attractive, then we're still kind of holding the upholding that belief system. What I want for people is to know that they are good enough, regardless of how they look, I want them to be able to look in the mirror and maybe like what they see or not, and still know that they're inherently good enough and be able to go on with their day, and know that they are a value to this world. And that's like a very, very liberating place to be.

And the other issue I take with sort of this, like, trying to like, the way you look, is that I mean, it's, for one, it's also kind of unrealistic, especially when we know like, we're all going to age out of beauty standards. So if we're constantly sort of measuring ourselves through the perception of beauty standards, even if those beauty standards evolve, and change, and start showing people in larger bodies, we're still kind of hedging it on, like, whatever that beauty standard is in the in that moment, and it creates this kind of like unrealistic expectation that we're then hindering our self-worth on something that's still very external. And I want us to really know that our worthiness doesn't come from any of these external things. It comes from who we are and knowing that who we are is valuable and worthy.

And the other problem I see is just that I have people who come to me and they feel bad for feeling bad about their body, they're like, I know, I should love my body, or I know I shouldn't care how my stomach looks. And I'm like, no, like, you don't feel bad for feeling bad. Don't beat yourself up for beating yourself up.

Andrea 17:05
I call that the ultimate ass kicker beating yourself up. Yep, I see that a lot.

 

Summer Innanen 17:10
Yes. And it's putting this other like, ‘should’ this other expectation on ourselves, that is piling onto this already huge mountain of expectations that we have on ourselves. And so I like people to just kind of drop that expectation at the door, I don't want people thinking they need to like the way they look or that they're gonna think that they're hot. Like, that's not the work I do with people. I really want people to just know that their body is just this vessel. Maybe they're gonna like the way it looks, sometimes, maybe not. But they can still really live a kick ass life, know that they're a badass, and know that they're just valuable and worthy to this world.

Andrea 17:44
I'm kind of a little speechless over here, because I'm thinking about, and I'm just gonna be really candid for a second. I'm thinking about what I make up this being for many a lifelong process to unlearn and undo what we have, how we've been conditioned to behave with dieting, what we've been conditioned to think and how we've been conditioned to feel.

Summer Innanen 18:08
Mm hmm. Absolutely.

Andrea 18:10
I feel like you're never gonna go out of business.

Summer Innanen 18:15
Well, I mean, it would be great if I did, because it feels… I have some clients that are like approaching 70, I have some that are very young. And like the the thing that I've noticed is that it's just, it doesn't matter how long you've been in it, like it can still you can still unlearn it. And I think that's it. But it is a practice. Like, I also like to tell people that acceptance is not a destination. It's not this place where you wake up one day and you're just like, I accept my body, everything's fine. Like, that's it, I'm done. It's really this ongoing practice of always kind of meeting yourself where you're at, accepting that there's parts of you that you don't like parts of you that you do like welcoming those parts in that you don't like healing those parts that are showing up that are creating issues like it's really, it's an ongoing practice. It's like how are you going to show up and accept yourself today versus this destination that we get to and so it can be kind of like a life, it's like a lifelong way of living that's that's about being there for you and treating yourself with kindness, compassion, and trust and respect.

Andrea 19:19
I am super glad that people are even talking about this nowadays. And we definitely some arguing we see some arguing going on on the internet about you know, there's there's the camp of people who think it is their job to judge someone's health based on the size of their body. It's ugh. So I have an interesting background. I don't know if you noticed this about me, but I'm just I'll be brief. I went to college for exercise physiology. This was around 2005 to 2007ish. I took a long time to grow Because my life fell apart. At any rate, that was during the quote unquote, obesity epidemic, when it was all over the news. And what was interesting that I, when I look back on this is that we looked at research in a handful of my classes that body size does not equate health. And they were they were looking at someone who would not someone, but like a subject of people who would be classified as even obese. But their stats were healthier than other people. And I remember my, one of my professors talking about this, and he was so matter of fact about it. But we quickly switched over to it's almost as if that topic kind of got swept under the rug a little bit. And then we went back to talking about how exercise is weight loss, you know, that that's kind of the ultimate thing.

And I'm not articulating this very well. And I think part of it is because it's traumatizing to be educated in this particular topic that is so waited for women, and a lot of people and then walk away from it. And I walked away from the fitness industry, because I felt like it was toxic. And it's it's complicated, I think, is what I'm trying to say. And it's complicated, not just for people who went to college for, for anything around weight, or food or fitness or any of that.

Switching gears a little bit, I wanted to give a personal anecdote of something that's currently happening. And I'm sure you've seen it if you're on social media, how you know, skinny jeans are out and the flared jeans are coming back in. And there's this whole argument about bringing back low waisted jeans, and I about died because I was like absolutely not. No, no, no. So I was in my mid 20s, when those were popular. But I am…I feel validated that there's so many women talking about how that created such those genes, that style of genes created such disordered eating for them. Or your you know, just anyway, I feel like I'm not being articulate at all. And it's probably because I'm like, ugh…

Summer Innanen 22:13
Yes, well, yeah, the height of my own disorder eating was when those genes were most popular.

Andrea 22:19
Oh, gosh, it's not good memories.

Summer Innanen 22:21
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. But I mean, just like besides the point, it's like, are they like, where are the Gen Z men telling the Gen, like the millennial man, what they shouldn't be wearing? Like the whole thing. It's like such bullshit.

Andrea 22:34
Well, she's like, for like one body type. When Paris Hilton was and you know, Nicole Richie and Britney Spears for like, 17. And they just they are, they're the worst, I will never wear them again. And I'm mostly upset because my daughter's 11. And I'm like, absolutely not. No. And besides, like, your butt crack shows, it's just kind of, it's not that cute. And sometimes like pubic hair. There's….

Summer Innanen 22:58
I mean, where, where what you want to wear, like, wear what you what you want to wear? Wear, what's the comfortable.

Andrea 23:01
High waisted is so much more comfortable.

Summer Innanen 23:04
I mean, I I would agree with that. But I am on low waisted but yeah, we have very good body types. But I just you know, I do want to circle back, because you're talking about weight science. And I think it's really important for people to know, like to know, the truth about weight science. You know, like you mentioned kind of reading all these studies that suggested that you could be in the higher in a higher BMI, which the BMI is kind of arbitrary and based on my conversation.

Andrea 23:47
Make it go away.

Summer Innanen 23:50
But you know, like for people who want to learn more like there's there's a couple of really good books like Body Respect, by Linda Bacon, as well as Anti-diet by Christy Harrison like those, those books really go into the nuts and bolts of all of that research what it really says, and so I always encourage people who are still really struggling with that, like, can you be healthier and a larger body like all that to if they're struggling with that belief system to, to read the research, because it's so important and to read it by people who can put it in layman's terms for you, because you can get lost in the weeds. But it's just I think that that's like, I didn't want to just leave that hanging there because you did bring it up. And I think that that's so important because we think that our, like one of the aspects of our worthiness is also health, right?

Like in our culture, it's like, oh, you should be healthy as long as they're healthy. And it's like your health is your business. It's not entirely within your control. But it's also up to you like if that's your job, that's your bodily autonomy, it's your decision. It's no one else's business. And as a culture, like we need to stop, you know, make comments about commenting on people's bodies commenting on their health and know that like someone else's health is is entirely it's it's their business. It's not up to us unless they've invited us into the doctor's office with them to give our opinion. We need to just take the back seat there. Because the whole like kind of “concern trolling” thing and and putting that in quotation marks is so harmful for people, it's not helpful in any way, it just makes them feel more ashamed. And the impact of weight stigma is greater on someone's health, like has a greater it's a greater document on someone's health and being in a larger body. And that's really important to understand.

Andrea 25:27
Yes to all of that. And I want to ask you, because this is also something that that we hear a lot in our society is people assume that if you accept your body, and maybe it is a larger size, or perhaps a woman has gained weight, as she's gotten older, or gained weight, if she's had a child or children that she's essentially giving up and not taking care of herself, she's let herself go, what is your response to that?

Summer Innanen 25:52
Well, other than, like just sheer rage?

 

Andrea 25:54
Other than punching them in the face, yes.

Summer Innanen 25:58
I have so many responses to this, but like we really have to look at like what are you know, if you stopped dieting, what are you really giving up on, you know, you're giving up on, you're giving up on a culture that you know that that values certain bodies over others, you're giving up on deprivation, you're giving up on, you know, decreased mental health and chronic stress, like limited social interactions, like what you're really giving up on when you're really letting go of is all of these things that are extremely harmful to both your physical and mental health.

And the other thing that you're you know, when we talk about, like acceptance, like acceptance is really the practice of treating yourself with kindness, compassion and respect. Like, that's literally the opposite of giving up. When people kind of challenge or they have hesitations towards accepting your body, they're like, well, like, I'm not gonna, like, I'm afraid I won't look after myself. And I'm like, I'm teaching you how to treat yourself with kindness, care and compassion. It's literally the opposite of giving up. And so I think that that's, that's just like a really important reframe, for people to keep in mind. Diet culture has taught us that if we're not dieting, we're giving up. But who profits off of us believing that? The diet companies because yeah, we keep coming back for more if we think that if we believe that. Whereas like, if we can really break free of that, we'll see that what we're truly giving up on is this really, really harmful system.

And when it comes to taking care of yourself, I mean, that is such an individual thing. I mean, sometimes taking care of myself looks like sitting on the couch and eating Oreos. Sometimes taking care of myself looks like going on a walk, and or going to the gym, like it's just it taking care of yourself, we have to look at it beyond just putting food in your mouth and exercising. We have to look at it as our emotional, our mental and our physical well-being, knowing that not sometimes we're prioritizing one of those over another and that's a really kind way to look after yourself. And so we I really tried to help people understand and, and form like a new version, a new definition of what taking care of yourself means to you. And it's really about like honoring your body's needs. Tuning into what feels best for you, what's going to be the most nourishing for you, you know, and it's almost like the way that you look after like a child, you know, we're able to kind of figure out what their needs are and take care of them. And, and no one is is like making their kid exercise all the time. And I are pleased to help not in depriving them of food and stuff, you know, we have to kind of treat we have to kind of like reparent ourselves, where we're taking care of ourselves, and really give ourselves the same kind of kindness and grace and compassion that we would give to somebody that we love. And so I hope that that helps people like see it differently and know that you can, you know, you can be healthy emotionally, physically and mentally by just looking after yourself in a way that feels best for you and having it completely detached from whether something is going to make you gain or lose weight. And just tuning into what your body actually needs. And that's really what I want people to be doing.

 

Andrea 29:19
I love that reframe. And I also love Oreos. So I will sit on the couch with you Summer and we can eat Oreos together. Like you were talking about stopping dieting and I I've had many a conversations with various female friends on here. I had podcast episodes, I have a series called Conversations About Shit That Matters With Unqualified People where we've talked about this topic and our own journey, you know, into our 40s and one of the things that I stopped doing, so this was a couple of knows a few years ago. So it was around the time that my father passed away in 2016, I decided to stop exercising, because and I don't recommend this. I'm not saying everybody personal choice. Because of someone who had been immersed in that industry. And also because I had to look in the mirror and admit to myself that I had never exercised within the top priority. The top of reason that I was doing it was to take care of my body and move my body and you know, do it for my mental health and well-being it was solely to keep my body a certain shape and size now was the main reason that I was exercising. And I wasn't even necessarily punishing myself with exercise, like I had done in my 20s I had definitely gone down that route and, and was participating in some very dangerous behaviors around eating and exercising, or I should say, lack of eating. However, you know, I was, I was 41. And I just, I was just done Summer I just was, and I knew it wasn't permanent, but I just knew I had to go through some stuff emotionally and, and I gained weight and also went to the doctor and she told me my cholesterol was high. And I was like, damn, okay, so they're not lying when they say diet and exercise matter.

Summer Innanen 31:05
Well, stress is really connected to cholesterol. If you're father passes away then…

Andrea 31:09
And it wasn't like, it wasn't hugely, you know, like, dangerous. But anyway, I after two years, I started exercising again. And I, I can say that I have seen a massive difference in my own, I've chronic anxiety, my own mental health. So I do it now because honestly, I really love it. I love the kind of exercise that I do, I wouldn't do it if I hated it. And it just, it makes me feel better. But I am two pant sizes bigger than I was 10 years ago. And I'm like, I just am so happy that I can afford to buy bigger pants and bigger underwear. Like that's really. And it's taken me a long time to get to that place where I'm just like, okay, I'm 45 and I'm, I'm bigger than I was and my body is happy. I genuinely feel like my body is happy.

Summer Innanen 31:53
Mm hmm. Yeah, I mean, I think it's like that's, that's, that's, that's an awesome place to be. And it's important.

Andrea 31:59
It feels revolutionary, like revolutionary, someone you know, in her 20s, who had disordered eating, and it was an eating disorder, like it very well could have killed me had it kept going. And it's very scary. And that was that was my way of quitting dieting. Because I felt like it was a form of dieting, exercising to keep it a certain size it is. And it's totally different now. I'm not saying I don't have moments where, you know, I see someone who my age who's super fit, you know, and she's and I'm like, oh, maybe I could be like that. But then I'm like, no, I don't I don't want to put in all the effort it takes to be like that. Like, Iove Oreos.

Summer Innanen 32:40
Well, yeah, I mean, I think it's like, that's the thing is that all those when you're engaging, and all that stuff, you have to look at how that time, energy and money that it takes that it takes away from you. Like, diet, culture literally steals our time, energy and money. Yeah, and that's the biggest thing, like when I work with people is when they when, you know, when we start to kind of close out our time together, when we finish a program with me, they're like, I just have so much more mental space. Like, I just feel so much calmer. And I'm like that's amazing. Like, that's what we want.

Because it's just, it's this constant chatter that we're sort of experiencing. Um, and like, you know, especially as women like we, you know, our purpose in this world is, is so much bigger, like we have so much more potential, if we're not wasting our time and energy, like hating our body and dieting. And I'm not saying again, that's not your fault. It's not a personal defect all but we can reject it and like what's possible is reclaim reclaiming that and then you can go on to like really amazing things. You know, whether that like I've had some clients that one went on to like volunteer at a rape crisis center, I had another one who went on to become a foster parent, like just all these, like really amazing things that we can do when we have that mental space back or maybe it just means being more present with your kids. Like that's, that's also very important, but it's just yeah, like, it's such a it's such a waste. And when it comes to healing your relationship with exercise like that, I I was an exercise addict. I had to, I definitely that was like my main coping mechanism was over-exercising and I had to as well take like a very big hiatus from the stuff that I was doing, to completely detach that from like, the pursuit of thinness to come back and really be able to just take my ego out of it and listen to my body and do what I really liked and what felt good for me and it's such a better place to be Isn't it like to just be able to move your body because it feels good…

Andrea 34:44
That’s why I said that it felt revolutionary. And I'm not being dramatic when I say that it felt like a completely different mindset even to say mindset doesn't feel like it, it does it justice. How different, I almost feel like I got a part of my brain removed that was obsessed with the size of my pants and all the things that are related to that. And it is so freeing. Again, I'm not saying that it's perfect, I still have moments where I'm like, whew, get a little squirrely, but for the most part, it is it is totally different. And I, I definitely, it's my own personal experience. That's why I like having people like you on who know the science and, but I just I do think it is such a unique journey for every woman, and women listening are probably on all different parts of the spectrum, you know, just starting to understand what diet culture is in their eyes opening up to that, to women have worked on it a lot, all of it. And I just, I just want to say that wherever you are, is exactly where you need to be. And I want to ask you to directly related to what you were just talking about is that you say that dieting and picking apart and fixating on your body are what you call tools of avoidance. So, is that what you mean by what you were just talking about? Regarding like, the mental space or something?

Summer Innanen 36:08
It's all it's kind of a sort of, well, little bit that we can tie them together. So yeah, so I think that you know, so so a couple things. Dieting and fixating on our body are really coping mechanisms like they're, they're ways that we deal with other emotions and traumas in our life. And they're because they're they're easier to fixate on, it becomes something that we can problem solve. It feels like something that we can control versus a lot of the other stuff that we're experiencing, that we can't control. And that feels really anxiety inducing. You know, a lot of people don't like to feel their feelings and fixating on your body is a really good way to avoid feeling your feelings and getting to the kind of the deeper stuff that's really going on underneath.

And to give you just a bit of an example. Like you mentioned, your dad passing away, my dad passed away a couple, like a year and a half year and a half ago, yeah, a year and a half ago, I really hadn't had a lot of moments of body shame leading up to that. But when he passed away, like I remember just about a month afterwards, I was like really starting to like fixate on my body again, and all of that stuff. And I was able to just take a step back and be like, okay, like what's actually going on here Summer and I was like, okay, well, I'm, I've got this, like my world had just exploded like it was it was sudden it was traumatic, like it was just this whole thing that happened when he passed away. And it was. And so my go to coping mechanism has always been to fixate on my body, it's a way to kind of like, soothe and avoid feelings. And so I was able to like take a step back and be like, okay, no, it's not about my body in this situation. It's really about this, like this overwhelming grief and everything else that I'm experiencing at this time.

But on like an even on a smaller scale, I noticed this with people even if just they're having like a conflict with their partner or anxieties about work, or the pandemic has brought this up big time for people. They've been fixating on their body more or having these urges to diet because it gives them the sense of control. Yeah, it's like we've medicate ourselves with dieting to kind of try and soothe and fix our feelings, which is another reason why it's so hard to break free of dieting, because it is so addictive. It is it is this thing that like keeps us coming back because it gives us this like dopamine hit, it gives us a sense of control. And so it's really hard to let go of that because we're sort of left with like, sometimes a lot of these more difficult feelings underneath that we've been really trying to avoid like maybe loneliness or rejection or hurt or anxiety. And then so that's something that I always encourage people to look at is that if you are having a moment where you're experiencing body shame, to really look at, like, what else am I actually experiencing right now what emotions are going on in my life for myself and try to really identify those because a lot of times, like it's, it's not about your body. It's about this other stuff that we're experiencing. And and so I guess to tie it back to the point of like freeing up mental space, I mean, sometimes it just frees up mental space to be able to look at like what's really going on underneath and to really feel the feelings that are happening underneath. And instead of instead of like avoiding those and pushing them down and trying to diet our way through them to be able to sit with them and acknowledge them and move through them.

Andrea 39:39
Yeah, yes. And it's it's interesting when I wrote How To Stop Feeling Like Shit, you know, there are 14 unhealthy coping mechanisms is what those are. And I knew that dieting was one of them, but I couldn't write about it because I'm not an expert in that but I'm glad that you brought that up because yes, it is. And it's directly tied to perfectionism and overachieving. And control, like, all those that I wrote about. So yeah, thank you for pointing to that about it being a coping mechanism that that, you know, we're used to doing it since we were very young.

Summer Innanen 40:12
Yes, yeah.

Andrea 40:16
It’s a lot of practice.

Summer Innanen 40:12
Yeah, totally, totally.

Andrea 40:16
You know, we’ve seen our mothers do it many times, not always, but many times.

Summer Innanen 40:20
Oh, I mean, everyone, I work with us other mothers. I think, you know, it's like one of those things that people talk about, like emotional eating, and I'm like, can we just talk about emotional dieting instead, because that's the bigger problem. That's what leads to people thinking they're emotionally eating. But really, they're usually just like, having kind of like, responsive eating. So restriction, but that's another story. But anyways, I just, I just think it's like one of those underrecognized things that, because again, it's just so accepted in our society to be dieting, but really, it's just it is such a like, it's like emotional diet. That's what it is.

Andrea 40:56
I'm guessing, I don't want to assume that you do possibly get clients who, they're, they're overweight, and it is affecting their health, maybe it's like putting pressure on their joints or something is actually going on that their doctor that they trust has has said like, yeah, you should probably consider losing, you know, 20-25 pounds. A) my first part of that question is does that ever happen? And then B) how do you work with someone with creating a balance to be able to do that without fixating on it and and kind of working with really the whole culture of fatphobia? I know, that was a huge question.

Summer Innanen 41:36
Yeah, no, it's really good. I think it's like, it's a common concern that people have, because we've learned not saying this is true, but we've learned that there you know, there's a lot of like health complications with being in a larger body, which is a lot of that has been like, again, if you read about weight science, it's not not necessarily true. But you know, first of all, I don't use the word overweight, I use the word like larger bodied or self identifies as fat because overweight is based on the BMI which we know is arbitrary. And and like, just complete bullshit.

Andrea 42:09
Well, and you make a great point. I want to pause there and apologize if I've offended anyone listening. Because that points to that there is a normal, I’lI say a.k.a good weight. And any weight that is outside of that we usually don't talk about you know, underweight as being bad. From a, you know, society, the way it looks standpoint. But yes, I, point taken and thank you for pointing that out.

Summer Innanen 42:32
Yeah, no, no, it's totally fine. I think it's like, it's really common, right. But it is, it is, in essence, like kind of stigmatizing language, because it's, it's really referring to like the body as being diseased. And that's like, how, like, it's so stigmatizing. And so, so that's, I just wanted to mention that for people and, and because even just take that out of your own language repertoire can be really powerful and starting to rewire beliefs that you have. But you know, when someone's doctor tells them that they need to lose weight to manage a certain condition. Like there's, there's a few different ways to go about it. You know, first of all, if you look at all of the research, there is not one diet that works in the long term for the majority of individuals. So 88, 88% of individuals are going to gain the weight back plus more, some, a lot of them plus more. And so, you know, until there is a proven form of losing weight, like what we're really recommending to people actually becomes more harmful.

And so what I recommend people do instead is try to find a doctor that is going to be more aligned with the ‘health at every size approach’, which is an approach to health that looks at focusing on health behaviors, versus versus weight loss as the outcome. And so you know, you can still make changes to your diet and make changes, like make changes to what you're eating or make changes to how you are treating, like what you're doing to your body, whether that's sleep or movement or stress. But taking the outcome of weight out of the equation and looking at managing health through that lens and that perspective. And there's a lot of amazing registered dieticians that work with people in that so I'm always recommending that to people if they do want if they do want someone to give them like a specific specific recommendations on how to manage a health condition without it being tied to weight loss, because in the long term that's usually more detrimental to someone's well-being and someone's health.

And the other thing that you know, you can say to your doctor is like what would you recommend to a thin person because there is not one health condition that only people in larger bodies get that people in thin bodies get all the same conditions and some doctors aren't recommending weight loss to them. There's ways to manage these conditions without it being about weight. I think it requires it requires a bit of education on an individual’s part, it requires a bit of like, it's hard, right? Because you kind of have to advocate for yourself, which is really, really hard for people, especially if you experience discrimination and stigma. But there's a lot more resources available online now to point you to practitioners who can help you and are going to treat you with the respect and dignity that you deserve. And I think that that's, that's really critical to understand. Does you feel like that answered it?

Andrea 45:28
Yeah, I have a yes, it did. And I just I have this really strange feeling that this episode is gonna piss some people off. I don't know why.

Summer Innanen 45:39
Well, they should come listen to my podcast.

Andrea 45:45
Just irritate some people, and for whatever reason, but I think the last question I want to ask you that you can speak to is, what is the, what is the biggest argument or pushback that you get from people, when they might be newer to this conversation?

Summer Innanen 46:04
I think that like people feel like I'm attacking them for wanting to lose weight. And like, that's not what I'm doing at all. Like, I'm not, I do not want anyone to feel ashamed…

Andrea 46:09
People get pretty defensive.

Summer Innanen 46:11
Or wanting to lose weight, or yeah, are they you know, they feel bad. And, and I think that, like, you know, all all that I'm talking about here is, is is looking, treating all bodies with dignity and respect. And I like I really hope that ultimately, people can get on board with that, like, do you want all bodies to be treated with dignity and respect, that we have to, you know, look at treating people in all body sizes, the same way and giving them that same treatment. And so I think that, you know, any kind of pushback is generally just like, it's challenging these, you know, this kind of conditional bias that we have, and, and really shaking this belief system that we've maybe invested a lot of time and energy in and within ourselves. And that's really hard for people, you know, I'm not telling people to go out and be unhealthy. I'm telling you the exact opposite. I'm telling you, again, to go and care for yourself in a way that feels good for you in a way that is really about honoring your body and who you are, instead of punishing who you are, and coming at it from a punitive perspective.

And so and so yeah, but just circling back to like, I would never want anyone to feel ashamed for wanting to lose weight, that's an innocent response to living in a culture that demonizes larger bodies and praises thinner bodies. You know, I think that it's totally natural to want that it's totally normal to participate in that. But I also think that, you know, if it's taking time and energy from you, if you feel like your self-worth is really conditional on maintaining a certain body size, or being in a smaller body, then there's another way forward, that can give you a lot more freedom and liberation. And so I hope that it doesn't piss people off. I hope it actually just opens their mind and that they're on board with this notion of like, let's, let's be respectful to all body especially.

Andrea 48:09
Not not to anything that you said, I do feel like I talked about myself a little bit too much, but try not to center myself and make it about me. I just I have, I think so much personal experience in this. This still feels a little bit that it rises to the surface when we talk about it. And and I lied. I have one more question. I know that. I know that part of your work revolves around intersectional feminism, and that's important to you. So I'm curious in your words, how would you describe how diet culture is directly related to both patriarchy and white supremacy?

Summer Innanen 48:44
Oh, okay. That's a big question.

Andrea 48:47
I know. Right. Floor is yours Summer. Now we’re really going to piss some people off.

Summer Innanen 48:50
Now we're really good people. Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh, my gosh, I guess.

Andrea 48:53
Well, my show I can ask what I want.

Summer Innanen 48:55
And here's the thing like okay, so I come from a place of privilege. So I'm probably not even the best person to be answering this. So I'm going to refer to a few people and a few resources for people to read more I know you've had Sonya Renee Taylor on your show. She is…

Andrea 49:01
Oh, I love her.

Summer Innanen 49:03
Like my number one that book the book The Body Is Not An Apology. Like I would go there. Yeah.

Andrea 49:15
Her videos on Instagram are so good. I repost them to my stories all the time.

Summer Innanen 49:19
Yeah, like so that's I mean, I'm referring people to to her work all the time because she is an activist and she is black and she's in a larger body and it's just I think that that's who we need to be listening to and centering in discussions especially as it relates to the intersections of these things but but you know, that like the fitness and beauty ideals are really rooted in like Eurocentric beauty standards so it's the beauty standards are really white, thin, young you know, and so yeah, and so it's it's it's racist yeah, but point blank and there's a really honest there yeah…

Andrea 49:57
To afford to be that way.

Summer Innanen 50:00
100% and there's a really good book called fearing Fearing the Black Body by Sabrina Strings, which really goes into the depth of where the where beauty standards came from and how they were rooted in white supremacist, right supremacy. It's a very detailed book. So again, like that's another resource for individuals to look into if they want to see more, but I think that from like a very kind of basic and surface level, just look at who's representative in the media, and what bodies are really valued. And which ones are kind of framed up as the ideal. And if the vast majority is again, like, you know, thin white young. And so that's all, that's not what everybody looks like, right? So, and again, it's coming down to this idea that like, in order for you to be worthy, you have to be desirable, you have to be attractive to the male gaze. And so I always like to say to people, I'll leave this one, it's horrible for you, but it's like your purpose in life is not to give somebody a boner. You know, so…

Andrea 51:10
I can't wait to tell my daughter that. She’s only 11.

Summer Innanen 51:12
Yeah, but it's true, right? But that's where it's like this connection with the patriarchy comes in. And it's because it really steals our time, energy and money. Like when we're fixating on our bodies and trying to look a certain way. We're not participating in the culture, we're not actively like trying to, you know…

Andrea 51:19
Giving our opinions, and yeah.

Summer Innanen 51:20
And yeah, exactly. We're told to be small and just, you know, be pretty and like, your everything else doesn't matter. And so it's all very much connected. And that's like a very brief way of saying it. But I would really look to people who are the ones in the marginalized bodies talking about this stuff to really understand it further, because they have the lived experience.

Andrea 51:49
We'll drop those links in the show notes, and I shoot you referring to them, and I am so loving this conversation. Thank you so much. And thank you for letting me talk about myself so much. Sorry, listeners.

Summer Innanen 52:00
Thank you so much for having me. It was great.

Andrea 52:02
Well tell everyone where to go to find out more about you and what you offer.

Summer Innanen 52:07
Sure. So the best place to find me is if you go to TheBodyImageCoach.com that will take you to my website, which is SummerInnanen.com. And in case you can't spell it just go to TheBodyImageCoach.com. I have a podcast called Eat The Rules. And on my website, there's a free 10-Day Body Confidence Makeover that will that will kind of set you on this path if you're interested in learning more.

Andrea 52:30
I love the name of your podcast, Eat The Rules. That is so incredibly perfect. And thank you so so so much for being here. Listeners, thank you so much for listening, and you know how grateful I am for your time and remember, it's our life's journey to make ourselves a better humans and our life's responsibility to make the world a better place by everyone.

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