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Love Your Body Instructor Highlights – Heidi & Jessie

Love Your Body Instructor Highlights – Heidi & Jessie

. 9 min read

As a part of our Love Your Body Week celebration, we are sharing the stories of body-positive leaders on the Moxie platform.

Today we have the opportunity to celebrate Heidi Grace Dietrich and Jessie Dwiggins. Read below to hear their stories around body image, self-care, and celebrating our bodies in all forms.

Heidi Dietrich

Heidi has taken pilgrimages to India and teaches a variety of yoga practices – Iyengar, Vinyasa, Yin, Gentle yoga and Yoga and Ayurveda.

Read more about Heidi below and visit her Moxie studio to join her for her #LoveYourBody ADDICTED TO YOGA class.

Q&A with Heidi:

How has fitness (or yoga) impacted your relationship with your body?

While I was always fairly healthy, my athletic motivation was minimal. During high school, I remember being embarrassed that I would breathe heavily after running. Somehow not noticing that everyone does. Yoga provided me with a modality through which I was able to get more in tune with my body and start to love it as my home. Over the years, my diet has changed, and even during periods of unhealthy habits, yoga had a way of keeping me from going too far in my over indulgences mostly. Ayurveda has been my tough-love teacher in helping me quit drinking red wine and also releasing cannabis from my life, both tools that I was very relaxed with myself about using. Until I wasn't. Yoga has helped me to honor the transitions and even starting to embrace the aging process.

What does body positivity mean to you?

Body positivity means noticing when I'm listening to an inner critic and shifting my focus as quickly as possible— having a sense of humor and acceptance about my thin lips and tiny tits— honoring that this is just how I'm showing up at this moment and that I'm enough.

In what ways do you aim to empower yourself or others to love their bodies?

The practice of yoga can strengthen us, balance us and relax us. Each of us needs different medicine. I aim to empower myself and others to release other people's ideas of how we are supposed to show up, how we are supposed to look, how we are supposed to practice yoga. Yes, there are modalities that help me put a fire under my butt, but if they cause me to be harsh or self-critical, it's not the modality for me. I aim to empower all women to tune into the innate wisdom within and let that be your true guide. Inspiration - yes, please. Comparison - no, thank you.

What are some insecurities you have about your body? How do you work through them? How do you overcome it?

I was always insecure that I wouldn't be able to do things, so I wouldn't even try. As I started teaching yoga, I discovered that it's all one step at a time, one day at a time. Letting myself have a beginner mind helps me work through my insecurities. Honoring that while I may have felt like an enlightened goddess yesterday, today may feel like a shriveled-up raisin without a clue; meeting myself right where I am at each and every time and honoring what is in each moment.

Do you have a self-care routine? Share in detail.

My self care routine evolves with the seasons and has shifted during the years I spent traveling the world. Things I won't go without include my morning meditation, lemon water first thing, roll out of bed and onto the mat even if just 5-10 minutes (it always feels so good I stay longer), tongue scraping and twice weekly self oil massage as per Ayurveda. I also have sacred geometry tools from India on my altar that I switch according to the day of the week, honoring each day's planet and qualities.

For a while I was pulling Divination cards daily to tune in, now that is more of a once weekly practice. Checking in with my yoga sisterhood as a way of experiencing sangha, seeing the mirror through divine connection. Hearing the words of reflection from women I love and admire works better for me than getting my "notes from the universe" through other sources. Since we're all experiencing the collective consciousness, my sisterhood is an enjoyable way to digest my life events by hearing my story being told through their shares. My friend in Sweden will be talking about completely different people and events, but her words give such insight into my day or week events as well. I suppose you could say my circle of sisters is my Divination tool.

Self-care for me also includes limiting what I take in through my senses. I spent years absorbed in Netflix, yet I couldn't recall my dreams, and if I did, there were usually strange pieces from the show I watched or even someone I scrolled past on Facebook. My diet is nearly vegan, which has done wonders for my self-care (midwest woman sometimes craves cheese). And as my teacher said, if the goddess wants cheese, give the goddess cheese. Depending on the season, I also dry brush - I have started again this spring.

While there's obviously a ton of work to be done still, can you speak to the progress around the body positive movement? Have the stereotypes improved even a little bit?

Back in the 80s I would devour Vogue magazine (behind my feminist mother's back), so I do see there is cause for some celebration to see how many stereotypes have changed. Of course, many mainstream media outlets are stuck on old images, but a lot has changed in the past 40 years. While we do have a long way to go we really have come a long way, even if it is so unthinkable that we EVER had to go through feeling badly about the bodies we were born into or could ever have judged another or been judged.

What about advice for someone struggling with body positivity?

Change who you spend time with. When we feel bad about ourselves, we often attract people into our lives who will help reflect back to us what we think. Starting a new habit or project to meet people who like what you like is a great way to be around people inspired to live an optimistic and loving life which tends to make us just happy to be alive. That being said, I also experienced massive self-judgment when I was around super healthy and athletic people. Maybe it's my Libra rising, but my mountain to climb is self-judgment detox. My new practice is to speak lovingly to my body, thanking her for being my home.

Jessie Dwiggins

Jessie is a yoga teacher specializing in the ABCs of movement so you feel better in your body. Her yoga know-how comes from her own practice, several certifications, and experience teaching since 2007 to classes ranging from 1 to 1000 people.

Read more about Jessie below and visit her Moxie studio to join her for her MINDFUL EATING MADE EASY #LoveYourBody class.

Q&A with Jessie:

How did you first get into the health & wellness industry?

I started my first diet as an overweight pre-teen. I'm glossing over some painful factors beyond puberty that led to my weight gain. After my first week of restricting food, I had lost weight and was hooked on dieting. It was intoxicating; people kept telling me how proud of me they were. I thought I was doing this great thing for myself. Little did I know I was starting a hard-to-break habit of struggling with food and eating that will likely last (at least a piece of it) most of my life. (I grew up with the means so that I could restrict my eating. I knew where my next meal would be coming from. I see that deliberately restricting food for weight loss is a privilege.)

My food restriction led to disordered eating and a very complicated relationship with food and movement, as I was abusing exercise to "earn the right to eat." I got into the health and wellness industry to better understand my confusion about food and movement. A couple of degrees, certifications, and a bunch of personal practice later, I understand how to eat and move best for my body - sometimes contrary to the latest health and wellness fad - and that's what I hope to help others do through classes and workshops.

How has fitness (or yoga) impacted your relationship with your body?

Movement has become the way that I make sense of things. When I'm feeling troubled, I can sift through difficult thoughts and feelings by moving. It helps me to process my emotions. I learned how to do that through yoga. Yoga has taught me to practice sitting with pleasant and unpleasant sensations and everything in between. It has brought my body awareness online. I've come to appreciate what my body is capable of and understand how my body is changing as I move through life.

In what ways do you aim to empower yourself or others to love their bodies?

My movement classes' intention is often exploring how to connect to physical and emotional sensations through breath. It's my hope that people who practice with me hone their present moment awareness and connection to their intuition. I offer a lot of movement choices so people can pick what's best for them in the moment. The most empowering thing I can offer to myself and others is practice in making choices to best meet our true needs while moving. When we do that in our movement practice, it may be easier to do it elsewhere in life. Once people are connected to their inner workings, they can more easily navigate the stages of change necessary to learn about body positivity and diet culture and take baby steps toward healing their relationship to their body and food. We all start where we are and that's perfect.

Do you have a self-care routine? Share in detail.

I don't have a specific self-care routine, but a self-care toolbox that I draw from depending on what I need.

My non-negotiables are a glass of water when I wake up (and water throughout the day) and a walk outside with my dog at some point during the day.

The other self-care practices I use are:

  • Wearing clothing that I can move easily in and expresses my unique style
  • Moving because it feels good and helps me to do activities in my life more easily
  • Deep breathing practices and/or meditation time
  • Eating in a way that nourishes and fuels my body, which includes chocolate
  • Limiting any diet culture messaging found in magazines, on TV, and in social media - anything that tries to convince me that I'm not good enough
  • Laughing, rest and sleep, pleasure, and spending time outside
  • Not engaging in body bashing conversations
  • Practicing acceptance that my body is always changing and adapting to life and non-attachment to know that just because I look one way today, it may not be that way tomorrow. It's a practice because I don't always feel positive about my body, but if I can feel neutral about it, it's a win.

This isn't a to-do list either. All of these bullets rarely happen in one day. My agreements with myself are to drink water and go for a walk, anything else I do is icing on the cake.

While there's obviously a ton of work to be done still, can you speak to the progress around the body positive movement? Have the stereotypes improved even a little bit?

Regarding stereotypes, that's nearly an impossible question for me to answer because I'm a white, cis-gendered, women who fits into clothing at any store - while I've struggled with my appearance, many of the stereotypes don't apply to me. I'm also in my infancy of learning about the body positivity movement. We now know that the body positivity movement started in the early 1970s alongside Civil Rights and other movements for equality and freedom. To continue the progress made so far, the conversations have to include systemic racism, diet culture, and weight stigma. We have to consciously and deliberately reject all three. I can speak to my work outside of teaching movement, which is educating about eating behaviors, mindful eating, and diet culture awareness, which is one of many facets of body positivity. We're seeing well known diet programs pivot to include mindful eating and wellness. Sure, they're co-oping and monetizing a movement to stay relevant, but that says something about the progress we've made around diet culture.

What about advice for someone struggling with body positivity?

First of all, I know it's an uncomfortable feeling. Good for you for noticing it! If you're up for it, create a state change by dancing to your favorite song, stepping outside for a deep breath, having a good cry, or anything else that would move those feelings. Not to diminish or numb what you're feeling, but to increase your awareness of why you're feeling what you're feeling. I found that when I was struggling with my body it was usually masking something else I didn't want to deal with. To help go through those emotions, reach out for support with someone trained in the area of body positivity, like a therapist who specializes in the Health at Every Size approach. I know not everyone will want to or be able to see a therapist, there are also a bunch of books and podcasts in the area of body positivity. Look for something that resonates with you. Sometimes it's helpful to know that someone else has had a similar experience to yours.