Body Positivity 101

Tori Rodriguez, creator of the body-positive Bettie Page Fitness DVDs, sheds light on what the movement is really all about.

In a trend we hope will continue to take off, recent years have seen a clear shift among celebs in how they talk about their bodies. Stars like Kristen Bell, Ashley Graham, Serena Williams and Chrissy Teigen, for instance, have stood up to body shamers and proudly accepted their so-called "flaws." These displays of body love reflect the body positivity movement, which advocates accepting and appreciating yourself as you are.

This doesn't mean you shouldn't aim improve your health if that's a goal for you–after all, that's the point of my Bettie Page Fitness videos. (Humblebrag: They're the first-ever body-positive fitness DVDs!) It just means you try to do it from a place of self-love versus not-enoughness. "The goal is to repair your relationship with yourself–to not only find acceptance for your physical body, but to claim and love every part of you internally," explains Kelly U, a blogger whose raw, vulnerable approach to sharing her journey to body acceptance and recovery from an eating disorder has not only helped her find healing but to help her fans feel less alone and more accepted.

Still, a lot of body positive content ends up overdoing the "love your looks" aspect, and while that can be important, it ironically reinforces the appearance emphasis that we already get slammed with nonstop. "While there are many pros to social media–inspiration, connection, community–it can also shred the web we weave for body positivity," says Kathryn Budig, a yoga teacher and author of the recently released book Aim True: Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, Discover True Balance! The endless stream of carefully selected, highly edited photos can trigger compare mode and make us feel inadequate.

Body positivity is about so much more than the external. Instead of just loving what you look like, try focusing on these four things instead.

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1. WHAT YOUR BODY CAN DO.

From keeping your heart ticking to getting you through a workout, your body quite literally lets you live. "Being able to wake up every morning and run and lift and do all of the things my healthy body allows me to do is the ultimate gift," says  Cherry Dollface, a model and YouTube star known for her empowering and encouraging way of interacting with fans. Good health is a major priority to her, especially because she has heart condition, and keeps the emphasis on what her body is capable of instead of how it looks. "I finally realized that my life is more important than a few dimples or droopy bits–and that my body is a miraculous, strong, beautiful system."

2. HOW YOUR BODY FEELS.

Budig teaches her yoga students to focus on how the postures feel, not how they look. This simple lesson is "wildly applicable to all aspects of our life, but especially to those situations that involve the physical body," she says. "It's a simple way to reconnect to the amazing ability of our physical bodies when we concertedly take the time to nurture it." When you're in a pose, mid-run, or even lying in bed, shift your attention to how vibrant, strong or relaxed you feel. "Then give yourself a supportive pat on the back for how responsive and amazing this physical body is."

3. WHAT YOUR BODY HAS BEEN THROUGH.

Embracing body positivity might help some women discover a sense of pride about scars and stretch marks because of what they represent, while others may find ways to heal long-held body shame. "I was teased my whole life for being too skinny, and I grew up as many women do feeling insecure and uncomfortable about my body," says Cherry Dollface. After she began interacting with large numbers of women on her channel, she realized that lots of women have unresolved issues from childhood and teen trauma about their bodies. "This is something that practically every woman deals with, and I realized that I have a voice that I can use to help them feel better in their skin."

4. WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS AND WANTS–AND WHAT IT DOESN'T.

This means honoring your body's basic needs for things like movement, food and sleep, as well as respecting its limits. "For me, body positivity means actually caring for my body, not trying to change it to make it appear better," says Kelly U. She learned that she was using food and her body as coping mechanisms for internal struggles, and would try to make up for shortcomings through cycles of starvation, binge eating and over-exercising. Now, she views exercise as a self-loving activity that keeps her healthy rather than a way to maintain a perfect physique. "All in all, I prioritize my mental health and maintaining a healthy relationship with myself–that is body positivity to me."

Click the black bar at the top of this page to shop Bettie Page Fitness!

~This article originally appeared on WomansDay.com~

42: The Reverse of the Age I Started Getting My Shit Together. Here's What I've Learned Since Then.

--by Tori Rodriguez

Left: Tori at 21-ish; Right: A lifetime later!

Left: Tori at 21-ish; Right: A lifetime later!

I wanted 21 to hurry so bad it literally hurt. I remember standing on a hill overlooking my favorite bar where my fake ID was no longer cutting it, thinking, “Just a few more months and I’ll be back!” I couldn’t have realized that my second 21st birthday would be far better, and for reasons bigger than bar access (though that is still a nice perk). What a difference a lifetime makes!

Here are some things I’ve learned since that first one, especially after I started getting my shit together in earnest around the age of 24 and eventually entered full-hustle mode. This is an unpolished list in no particular order, with some points more detailed than others. The list will evolve over the coming weeks and months as I flesh out some of the items and add more until I reach at least 42, so feel free to revisit later.

💩  No one has the key to getting one’s shit together… though it’s safe to say quitting binge drinking, binge eating, binge smoking–and most all types of bingeing–is a good start.

💩  When you get your shit together, you realize that other people generally don’t have theirs together like you thought they did.

💩  One can go surprisingly long without cleaning the house and still survive relatively unscathed. I mean… wow.

💩  Same goes for showering. Again… wow. Double wow.

💩  The ability to cheerfully and gratefully receive–and use!–constructive criticism is a skill worth developing. Yes, even if it’s not what you naturally feel at the moment. Most people would rather just move on to the next in line instead of taking the time and enduring the discomfort of telling you did wrong or what you might do differently–unless they know you’ll take it well and use it to make their job easier. It’s way better than wondering endlessly why your pitches aren’t being accepted or why you're not getting repeat assignments. Take the feedback, give a sincere thanks, and keep it in mind for next time.

💩  I can still pull an all-nighter. I can also feel my telomeres shortening when I do.

💩  Just being able to follow up and follow through will give you a major advantage–most people don’t do either.

💩  Nobody really knows what they’re doing when it comes right down to it. We are all guessing and experimenting. Even you. Even her. Even him. Even me.

💩  Fear can light a much-needed fire under your ass. It gets a bad rap, but it can be your friend. Just go with it.

💩  People are always searching for fancy fixes for their lives but often give little attention to the basics: eating and sleeping well, staying active, communicating clearly and loving lots.

💩  It’s bullshit that you shouldn’t care what other people think. Of course you should care–just don’t let it be your guide. I actually need at least one agent, publisher, editor, etc. to think my idea is worth pursuing. But see that’s the point: Get clear on who you need to think what. Don’t just go around with this vague sense that people need to like you or think you’re a good person. Who are “they” anyway? Pinpoint that and then one by one start figuring out why and if or how you can afford to not care what they think and whether that even needs to be a goal.

💩  Keep playing with ways to create space in your mind and life. That is the point of meditation, after all, and it doesn’t have to take place only when you’re seated and silent with your eyes closed.

💩  When you take the all-or-nothing approach, you often end up with the nothing part of the equation. Embrace the middle ground, shades of gray, moderation and so on.

💩  You really do need to stay for Savasana.

Ultimate Bettie Page Yoga Backbend: Camel Variation

Bettie does a mean Camel Pose variation on the beach in a Miami shoot with Bunny Yeager!

Bettie does a mean Camel Pose variation on the beach in a Miami shoot with Bunny Yeager!

This is one of my all-time favorite Bettie pics and poses, a stunning expression of an advanced backbend that displays her incredible strength, balance and flexibility. For a full-on Bettie-inspired yoga workout, click the black bar at the top of this page to get a copy of the Bettie Page Yoga DVD. For a limited time, use code SPORTYBETTIE to save 20% off any order.

Here's how to do this Camel Pose with a Bettie twist:

This is an advanced stretch, especially for the lower back, so move into this pose cautiously. It's best to do this after a warm-up or at the end of a workout.

From Table pose, bring your right foot forward between your hands for a knee-down lunge. Next, extend and straighten your right leg for a runner’s stretch, keeping your left thigh perpendicular to floor like in Camel Pose. Take your hands to your hips to help yourself come up so that your upper body and left thigh are perpendicular to the floor. Lift your arms straight up, and then bend your left arm to place your left hand on the back of your head. Lift your upper body as you turn toward the right and reach your right hand up and then back toward your left heel.
 

Tip: Curling your left toes will make it easier to balance as you place your right hand on left heel. Hold for 3 breaths. Slowly and gently come out of the pose and back into Table before completing on the other side.

Enjoy! 

Don't Worry About Finding Balance. Just Seek It.

~by Tori Rodriguez, creator of Bettie Page Fitness~

Yoga, like life in general, offers countless opportunities to learn the true nature of balance: that it’s a process, not an outcome.

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“Don’t worry about finding balance. Just seek it.” 

This seemingly small shift in perspective can change your whole relationship with the concept of balance and your pursuit of it. It’s empowering because you always have control over whether you seek, but you can’t control whether you find. Seeking may get you there (though even once you’re there, it’s still a temporary stopping place), but you can’t be sure of it. On the other hand, you can seek any time you want. 

Whether on the mat or out in the world, balance is in the striving, reaching, wobbling and yes–even falling. It’s in the losing it and getting it back. What you have a choice about in that process is to keep trying–seeking–and about how to respond when you wobble or fall. Do you thrash about and curse and berate yourself or the world (which inevitably makes it harder to regain balance), or do you gracefully and gently acknowledge the wobbling or falling, and then calmly resume position (okay, even if after a bit of thrashing and cursing)? 

Play with this idea both on the mat and off. Notice what happens when you approach balance as a seeker rather than a finder, when you embrace it as a process rather than an outcome. You may never find balance, but you can always make a choice to seek it. And in the seeking, you’re doing all you need to do.

The Yoga Star & the Pin-up Queen

         --by Tori Rodriguez, creator of Bettie Page Fitness

                    Badass babes in beautiful backbends! (Pose: Anuvittasana) ~~Page photo: Bunny Yeager (nudity edited for broad audience); Budig photo: Cheyenne Ellis

Though Kathryn Budig might object to being called a yoga superstar, she certainly is one to me–and not just because she can rock some of the most mind-blowing, beautiful poses I’ve ever seen. Her teaching style is fun, strong and transformative, in both the asana practice and the nuggets of how-to-do-life wisdom that she drops throughout her classes and writing. She is a noted champion of body positivity, authenticity and self-acceptance–much like beloved pinup queen Bettie Page–and that’s why I thought Budig would be an excellent person to interview for BettiePageFitness.com.

Learn more about her new book, Aim True: Love Your Body, Eat Without Fear, Nourish Your Spirit, Discover True Balance! and check out what she had to say below about fearless eating, self-love, and of course, Bettie Page.

Bettie Page Fitness (BPF): Congrats on your new book! I strongly suspect from its description and name that readers can expect lots of that signature, infectious Kathryn Budig joy and encouragement to embrace ourselves as we are while challenging ourselves with love–to me, that is the essence of body-positive fitness! Am I right, and what else can we look forward to in the book?

Kathryn Budig (KB): Of course! I put a lot of time and effort into the thought process behind creating this book, because I didn’t want to turn it into another self-help book that lists all the things that are wrong with you. I wanted to start from a place of encouraging the reader to understand that where they are right now is fantastic, but then ask them the following question: What are the tools we can develop to make ourselves even better?

                                                                                      Kathryn Budig always aims true! ~~Photo by Cheyenne Ellis

BPF: One of the things that jumped out at me–and which I love–is the part of your book’s title that says “Eat Without Fear.” As a psychotherapist, fitness expert and Ayurvedic health coach specializing in food and body image issues, I believe that’s a powerful message that can’t be shared enough. Can you say more about it and what prompted you to make it an area of focus in your book?

KB: I’m an avid lover of food, but I’ve also been in the health world for years, and so I’m highly educated on the value and details of nutrition. And I’ve found that most people differentiate between “health” and “enjoyment.” They convince themselves they can either eat decadent or they can eat healthy. I wanted to bridge the gap, because I believe that you can nourish your body without taking away any of the enjoyment that food brings. I love that the world is moving in a direction that’s more conscious of food decisions, but sometimes that seems to also become very restrictive and creates neuroses, so I try to give people the tools to create true balance in the way they eat. So, eat that kale salad, but don’t be afraid to pair it with a glass of red wine!

                                                                            Eat and drink without fear, a la Kathryn Budig! ~~Photo by Cheyenne Ellis

BPF: I often take your classes on YogaGlo.com and read your work online. I’m a huge fan, and it has struck me that some of the head and heart stuff that you teach in class is similar to the things I teach clients one on one. You are incredibly wise, insightful and therapeutic! What steered you down the path of being such a fierce advocate for self-care, self-acceptance and authentic living?

KB: I think everything starts with how you take care of yourself as an individual, and I desire nothing less than to live the most embodied, passionate life possible. And in order to do that, I have to know what lights my fire and what makes my heart beat, but I also have to – as cliché as it sounds – absolutely love myself. So it starts with the self work and then, in doing that and discovering what works for me, offering that to my students, so that we can all help each other love who we are and support each other in that endeavor.

                   It starts with you... know and love thyself! ~~Photo by Cheyenne Ellis

BPF: Whether in fitness or life in general, what are some things that help you treat yourself with kindness and compassion rather than with criticism and perfectionist pressure?

KB: Perspective. It’s called being human, and the human condition is to be objective and critical, so I don’t know if there’s ever such a thing as quelling that voice, but I’ve found that if I take a moment to step back when I’ve moved into a place of negativity, that often it allows me to see the bigger picture and not just the fictional story that I’ve told myself that has usually led me to the negative space.

BPF: Clearly, Bettie Page is one of my fitness and life muses. Who are some of your top sources of inspiration in either or both areas?

KB: Seane Corn has been a huge mentor, guide and friend on my journey and she was the first person to tell me that I had a voice and that it was important that I use it. Also, Maty Ezraty trained me and will always be my teacher and I owe my teaching career to her. Ashi, my 10-year-old Puggle, has been with me every step of the way and constantly reminds me of what actually matters in life when I start to go off the deep end. And finally, my friends and family are the ultimate support system. They listen to me even when I’m completely irrational. They humor me and keep it real.  

                     Bettie Page flips her dog on the beach; Kathryn Budig snuggles with her Puggle, Ashi! ~~Page photo by Bunny Yeager; Budig photo by Cheyenne Ellis

BPF: I was so surprised and excited when I realized Bettie was into yoga, first from her photos and then from firsthand accounts of people who knew her. What are your thoughts about her yoga-esque poses?

KB: They’re beautiful. They’re reminiscent of the famous Marilyn Monroe yoga photos, and both women embody that old-world glamour that somehow seems to be lost today. I love the combination of playfulness and sexiness. It always brings me joy to see an empowered woman embracing who she is.

                               A modern yogi and a retro yogi open their hearts in Camel Pose (Ustrasana)  ~~Budig photo by Cheyenne Ellis; Page photo by Irving Klaw

BPF: Where do you think someone like Bettie–a working model in NYC, generally–would have learned yoga back then? Marilyn Monroe is said to have perhaps learned from Indra Devi’s writings, and there are those beautiful photos you mentioned of her in various yoga poses. But it's not known where Bettie learned, though she did work out at the gym regularly and could have learned from someone there.

KB: It’s hard to say–maybe she learned from books. That was an era where yoga was still predominantly male, and Indra was incredible innovative and the first of her kind. So, I’m not entirely sure where Bettie would have learned from, but it shows that she had some prowess and moxie, learning wherever she could. 

 

Pinup Plow Pose! Bettie & Marilyn in their own variations of Halasana ~~Page photo by Irving Klaw; Monroe photo by Ed Cronenweth

It has been an absolute fan-girl pleasure to interview you, Kathryn! Thank you so much for all the goodness you bring to my life and to the world! 

                                                                          Glitter kisses! Bye for now, Beautiful!  xoxoxo  ~~Photo by Cheyenne Ellis

Workout Wisdom: Life Lessons You Can Learn from Fitness

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You already know that working out can make you look and feel fantastic, add years to your life and even give your sex life a boost, but did you know that exercise is an excellent life coach?

As a psychotherapist, health coach and fitness fanatic, I’ve discovered that the lessons I’ve learned from exercising reinforce some important life lessons. Read on for some motion metaphors, and check back for a new lesson each week. And remember the most important theme of all, in fitness and in general: Balance is key. 

Lesson #1: When you focus only on results, you miss the best part.

It’s tempting to think about how great you’ll look if you just buckle down and get through a certain number of workouts, but this makes exercise seem like something to be endured rather than enjoyed. By the same token, focusing only on your next goal in life robs you of the thrill of the journey itself.

o AT THE GYM: If you usually focus on “getting through” your workout, be mindful of how strong and healthy you feel as you do it, and marvel at how your body responds to the challenge. Besides making your sweat sessions more meaningful, a recent study found that mindfulness is correlated with long-term commitment to exercise. 

o IN LIFE: Step back sometimes from focusing on how to get or do more, and remember that there is more to your existence than the items on your to-do list. Be sure to make time for the people you care about, and be grateful for simple pleasures.

Lesson #2: You're stronger than you think you are. 

Lesson #2: You're stronger than you think you are. 

Think back to a time before you started running or lifting weights. You probably never imagined you’d be able to run as far or lift as much weight as you do now, but you stuck it out and your dedication has paid off.

o   AT THE GYM: Tap your strength reserves by adding some sprints or challenging hills to your next run, and bump up the weights for a few sets of a strength session. If you’re a yogi, try that inversion at the wall for once when the teacher offers to spot you! You might be kicking up in the middle of the room sooner than you think.

o   IN LIFE: When you need a strength infusion, think of times in your life when you ended up doing something you thought you couldn’t. You’ve already done what you thought wasn’t possible, so you can surely deal with whatever hurdles life throws your way.

Lesson #3: Sometimes You Need Someone to Share the Load.

If you’ve ever needed someone to show you how to do something new or spot you at the gym but were too proud to ask for help, chances are you either hurt yourself or simply moved onto something less challenging. Seeking support is equally important in your personal life: Like having a fitness buddy, it can help you stay safe while venturing out of your comfort zone. 

o AT THE GYM: Next time you work out, ask a trainer or fitness-buff friend to assist you for a couple sets of at least one strength exercise. You'll be surprised how much more you're capable of when you have a little help! 


o IN LIFE: Dare to ask for advice in an area that you normally don't. Usually tight-lipped about work challenges or relationship dilemmas? Ask a trusted friend for her take on a situation that's nagging at you. At the very least, you'll have a different perspective to add to the mix, and you just might come up with a solution you wouldn't have thought of otherwise.