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Love Your Body Week Instructor Spotlight – Jill & Nikki

Love Your Body Week Instructor Spotlight – Jill & Nikki

. 7 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 Jill Harding and Nikki Moore. Read below to hear their stories around body image, self-care, and celebrating our bodies in all forms.

Jill Harding

Jill is a Certified Massage & Yomassage Therapist, Trauma-Informed Yoga Teacher for adults & kids, Body Positivity Coach, and owner of Daydreams Wellness Studio for Women in Indy. Read more about Jill below and visit her Moxie studio to join her for her #LoveYourBody Chair Yoga class.

Q&A with Jill:

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

Yoga has been such a game-changer for me!  I got into it sort of late in the game. I'd thought about studying to become a Yoga Instructor many times over the years, but I struggled with my confidence because I felt out of shape & I had fears that others would think I didn't belong because I wasn't as young or thin like everyone else in the class. When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, I temporarily closed down my wellness studio because I couldn't socially distance & do massage sessions, so I decided that would be the perfect time to take a Yoga Teacher Training. It turned out wonderfully because the online learning format really helped soothe my anxiety about being judged for not being flexible enough or skinny enough. At age 51, I officially became a Certified Yoga Teacher for adults and youth & teens. I still have some curves & padding, but I'm in the best shape I've been in for many years, as far as my strength, cardiovascular health, & inner feelings of empowerment.

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

My yoga classes are specifically designed to be inclusive for EVERYBODY. That means all ages, body types, & flexibility levels. As a newbie yoga instructor at age 52, I understand how intimidating it can be to even try yoga because of how it's often portrayed on TV or in social media. My focus is to smash those stereotypes & show that you don't have to be a twisty pretzel to embrace a mindful-movement practice that benefits your stability, mobility, & balance.

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

My self-care routine includes doing yoga & meditation several times a week, receiving regular massage therapy sessions, hiking in the woods with my hubby and our three Australian Shepherds, & indulging in naps whenever possible. Also whenever I go to the salon, I call it my Hair Therapy time because my hairstylist & I talk & laugh while she's giving me a fabulous new 'do, so I always leave feeling like a whole new woman!

  • What about advice for someone struggling with body positivity?

I struggled a lot with feelings of shame for gaining weight in my 30's & 40's, but now that I'm in my early 50's, I'm finally beginning to see that all of the energy I was putting into negative self-talk could've been put towards making small, but helpful changes to feel better about myself. During the pandemic, I became a Certified Be Body Positive Facilitator, and it was so eye-opening to learn how revolutionary it can feel to accept myself as I am, curves and all. My advice is whenever you're engaging in negative self-talk, take a moment to think about how you'd feel if your best friend, sister, or daughter were talking about themselves in the same way, then tell yourself all the wonderful things you'd tell them to make them see how beautiful they really are!

Nikki Moore

Nikki is a 7+ year breast cancer survivor and certified instructor who teaches a variety of classes on Moxie – dance, tone, strength, and more. Read more about Nikki below and visit her Moxie studio to join her for her #LoveYourBody Dance class.

Q&A with Jill:

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

I have struggled with my weight on and off for the last 20+ years. The struggle began when I realized that I had a "cottage cheese" derrière at age 24. I was getting married in four months and did not like the way I looked. I joined a local gym, and with the help of a personal trainer, I got my body to a place where I was happy for my wedding. My weight proceeded to fluctuate back forth for years. I trained for and ran a marathon at age 30 to help stay on track. I was too focused on losing weight during the training, and I put myself into premature menopause because my body fat dropped too low. Then my stepson had a near-fatal car accident when I was 33. He sustained a traumatic brain injury, and I became immersed in his long, arduous recovery while still working my full-time job as a police officer.

I completely lost track of my eating, never had the time or energy to work out, and ended up 40+ pounds over my "normal" weight. I even had to get fitted for new uniforms so that I could go to work. It was a very upsetting and sobering time. I managed to drop some of the weight in the next few years by running but never got to a point where I felt good. I changed my approach to fitness as I approached my 40th birthday. I didn't want just to hit a target weight, I wanted to feel healthy, fit, and strong. I had heard that once a woman turned 40, it becomes much harder to get in shape. This time I used a mix of weight lifting and running. It was the most well-rounded approach I had used since I was a gym member at age 24. I felt great and confident that I was physically in the best shape of my adult life. Not only was I at a comfortable weight, but I had strength, some muscle definition, and good cardio health. I committed to running a half marathon the following Spring.

Then, I was diagnosed with breast cancer the day after Christmas of that year. I was pissed. I felt like my body, which I had dedicated so much time to get healthy, had betrayed me. I learned that I would need radiation and then five-years of anti-estrogen medicine to fight cancer. I decided that I would continue my workout routine and still run the half marathon. During the 33 radiation treatments (5 days a week), I worked out and ran a 10k just four days after completing my treatment. But, I could feel the fatigue in my entire body. I was determined that cancer would not take my half marathon too. I felt like I could not take another step once I crossed the finish line. I knew that I had pushed myself to the limit and needed time to rest and recover. After I allowed my body the time it required, I had a friend introduce me to Beach Body's 21 Day Fix. She started a challenge group and encouraged me as I completed the 21-day program. The support was amazing. That was when I decided that I wanted to help other women be fit, but with my own knowledge. So, I became certified in Bolly X and then as a Personal Trainer by ACE. Helping others, especially women, learn that they can and should fit self-care into their schedule, especially when life is hectic.

  • What does body positivity mean to you?

I have come to a place where body positivity has nothing to do with my size. It has ever thing to do with feeling strong and healthy! Most of us chase a weight that we have decided is our "goal". When we do that, we miss the journey. For me, I want to take time to consciously focus on the improvements I am making along the journey. Things like: that 8th rep on the exercise I struggled with two weeks ago is a little easier or Hey, I couldn't reach my toes 3 months ago but my fingers just brushed them in that stretch. Recognizing these small improvements helps keep us motivated to keep going. This is the basis of the my home studio, Studio Thrive. No one ever escapes this life without experiencing grief and stress. I want to be the voice for other women that cheers them on as they hit the small and big milestones on their journey to a happier and healthier life. I want women to know that is OK to take the time to work on their own physical and mental well-being. I want to be part of a group that is thriving, not just surviving, this stressful and crazy thing called life.

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

Feeling strong and capable is the most important aspect of my own empowerment. I have found that recognizing improvements, small and big, helps me feel empowered. It helps me focus on what my body is capable of doing, not what size jeans I fit into. Knowing that I can push past the number of reps or increase my weights or shave a little time off of my 5k time reminds me that my body is strong and capable. As an instructor, I strive to help others do the same. Loving your own body and being kind to yourself is an important part of self-empowerment. Having others encourage and compliment you helps you do the same to yourself.

  • 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?

I was watching the Critics Choice Awards the other day and I saw their SeeHer award presentation. It was refreshing to see a marketing campaign that accurately portrays women and girls in advertising and the media. It is a step in the right direction. It made me excited and hopeful that my granddaughter may be part of a generation of girls that aren't subliminally told to be a size two from the media and marketing.

  • What about advice for someone struggling with body positivity?

Every woman, every person for that matter, should know that they are unique and beautiful regardless of how they look. Everyone has made it through their own struggles and lived to tell about it. Even when we think we have hit our breaking point, we find a way to get out and get through. That is because you are strong, and you are capable. Focus on the things that make you capable, not on the packaging that holds them.