You Can’t Take Good Care of Something you Hate

By Alexandra Caspero on May 31, 2016

Hi friends! How was your weekend? We had a great time up in Wisconsin and it was great to completely unplug and relax with family. I’m super excited to have my friend Rachael guest posting today on a really important topic- stopping the negative self-talk. I’ve talked a little about this before in my Happy Weight series, but I’m glad that she’s dedicated an entire post to the subject. In other news- we’ve still got some spots left in our upcoming Joyful Eating program so if the topic below hits home, we’d love for you to join us in a few weeks! You can find out more information about the program here. I’ll be back tomorrow for a really delicious vegetable fajita bowl.

Hi there! I’m Rachael Hartley, Columbia, SC dietitian and co-creator of Joyful Eating, Nourished Life. I usually blog over at Avocado A Day, but today I’m visiting Delish Knowledge to share a little more about the program we’ve created. It was almost a year ago that Alex and I first met in “real life” after a year or so of emailing. That very first night we came up with the concept of Joyful Eating. Now we are so thrilled to see our idea finally come to life and to teach a kinder, more compassionate way of achieving health. Today, I’m talking about self compassion and why it’s so important for self care.

I think we can all agree that bullying is pretty deplorable. Speaking from experience here, since I was bullied all through elementary school, first for being the smart kid, then for having big, purple glasses. Granted, they were pretty awful glasses, but still…

I also remember another kid in elementary school who was bullied for his size. It was much worse. Kids called him fat and gross in every possible way. They made assumptions about his abilities, always picking him last in sports, even though he stood a head taller than the other boys and probably could kick their butts. People always assumed he wasn’t smart. When it came time to pair up for projects and he would ask the other kids to be his partner, they’d tell him no, “because you’re stupid.” He wasn’t. I know this because we always ended up together, him with his linebacker-like physique and me with my big purple glasses.

Besides the obvious meanness of it, there’s a ton of research showing long term negative effects of bullying. It increases the risk of anxiety and depression. Kids who were bullied have lower academic achievement after bullying starts. And despite every bullied kids dream of coming back to school skinny and popular after summer break, being bullied increases risk of weight struggles (and eating disorders as well). In adults too, fat shaming, which is essentially adult bullying, leads to reduced likelihood of weight loss and higher rates of weight gain. 

So why do we bully ourself with negative self talk?

Some of the comments I hear clients and friends make about their body or their abilities reminds me so much of bullying it’s impossible not to draw parallels. They call body parts fat and gross. They call themselves lazy for missing a workout. They call themselves awkward and uncoordinated for missing a beat in workout class. They beat themselves up for a “lack of self control” for having the audacity to enjoy ice cream. They say things they would never in a million years say to someone else, or even think about someone else.

Just like a bully, negative self talk stems from low self esteem and feelings of inadequacy. The difference is that bullies are mean to make themselves feel better. We’re mean in an attempt to make ourselves better.

It sounds convoluted, but most negative self talk is an attempt at motivation. There’s a fear that if we’re nice, it’s letting ourself off the hook and we’ll just settle in to a marathon of reality TV with a box of cookies dipped in ice cream. Yet, when you think about the similarities to bullying, it’s obvious that negative self talk is anything but motivational. Attempts to bully yourself into healthier habits or a smaller size will do the exact opposite.

In Joyful Eating, our six week program based in intuitive eating, we approach motivation from a different way – from self love and compassion. That’s because you can’t take good care of something you hate. Self criticism lowers self efficacy and creates a fear of failure so deep, most are afraid to even try. But when you love yourself, or at the very least, demonstrate compassion to yourself, you treat your body kindly in a way that nurtures your healthiest, happiest you. You cook nutritious and tasty meals because you deserve to feel energetic, satisfied and pleasure from eating. You check out that new cardio hip hop class you’ve been wanting to try, because even if you fail miserably, you know everyone was pretty awful at some point. You have the courage to stop using the scale as a measurement of your health and self worth, because you know you are so much more than a number.

In Joyful Eating, Nourished Life, we’ve weaved self compassion throughout the course, by focusing on health over the scale and by building body positivity and self love throughout. In Joyful Eating, you’ll learn how to create more positive, compassionate self talk. We’ve also built in body positive exercises and and meditations to help you make peace with your body. In Joyful Eating, you’ll gain access to an exclusive facebook group that focuses on support, not competition.

Seeing so many programs that focus on pounds and the scale, we are SO excited to show a different, more compassionate way! Alex, Anne and I really hope you’ll join us in our first group launching on June 20th. The first group is offered at a special price, and is filling up quickly, so be sure to sign up soon if you’re interested. Head to for more details!

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Meet Alex Caspero

Alex Caspero is a Registered Dietitian, New York Times Bestselling Chef, and mom of two. She aims to cut through the nutrition noise by providing real-life, nourishing tips for body and mind. Learn more about Alex.

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    1. Amy_Thoroughly Nourished Life
      May 31, 2016 AT 8:47 pm

      What a great post Rachael. I love the work you three ladies are doing! Negative self talk is something that I am great at reminding others not to do, but bad at catching in myself. That’s why my mantra is ‘be kind’. Be kind to others and firstly be kind to yourself. When you come from a place of kindness health-promoting behaviours and decisions come naturally, and with an ice cream cone here and there too!

    2. Dixya Bhattarai RD
      May 31, 2016 AT 2:47 pm

      you guys are always sharing such important, powerful message!!!

    3. Dixya Bhattarai RD
      May 31, 2016 AT 2:47 pm

      you guys are always sharing such important, powerful message!!!

    4. The Domestic Dietitian
      May 31, 2016 AT 9:21 am

      This is such a great post! I think it’s so important these days and with so many ways for people to be inundated with body image issues, it’s so important to focus on being healthy. Great job.