Full text of nutritionist & fitness coach Jen Oliver’s talk: How to Love Yourself to the Core at TEDxWindsor conference.
Listen to the MP3 Audio: How to Love Yourself to the Core by Jen Oliver at TEDxWindsor
What inspires you? How inspired are you by the thoughts you think, the words you use, the feelings you feel, and the core values and beliefs that you live by?
It’s not so black and white, and there are many missing pieces of the puzzle. The more information we have on diet, exercise and weight loss, the higher the rates of body dissatisfaction and life dissatisfaction we have than ever before in history.
I’m going to leave you with two things by the end of this talk.
One, how greater self-love will inspire your life. And two, how to cultivate more of it.
One of the first and most basic fundamental needs that we have as humans is a connection through love, a bond.
I remember it, like it was yesterday, feeling so much love and adoration for my mom, who in my eyes she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
She was a mix between a super-model and Superwoman, and she could do no wrong. I used to love watching her get dressed, watching her get ready for going out, dressing in beautiful outfits.
And I would always compliment her: “Mom, that dress is so beautiful on you! Where are you going? Let’s take a picture. Oh, I love that. That looks so good!”
And in return, I would receive: “This? Oh God no. I look so fat today. No pictures. Oh God no.”
Like a slap in the face. I felt wrong. I was wrong while I was extending love that she couldn’t accept at that time because of a block of her own.
When will it be that we need to stop justifying, people pleasing, looking outside ourselves for validation about our worth that we know comes from within?
Maybe if we felt that true depth of worth and love for ourselves, we wouldn’t constantly be comparing to everyone else, looking at others and feeling that if they succeed, that means I must fail. If they’re good, I must be bad.
This natural scarcity and this feeling of competition with all those around us. When will it end?
I know it’s possible for us to look in the mirror and see true beauty, see love, with kindness, compassion, empathy, and true magnanimous love. Magnanimous is deeper than unconditional love. It goes to the depths that include compassion and kindness — true depth.
Diets don’t work. Love does.
Negative emotions cause nervous system chaos, while positive emotions bring the nervous system into alignment. We make better choices for our lives and for our health when we come from a positive emotional space. And we feel it right here.
Did you know we have on average 70,000 thoughts in a single day? And did you know that 98% of those thoughts are repeats from yesterday. And that about 80% of them are negative towards ourselves or somebody else.
How do you think all that negativity is making you feel?
It’s one of those first things we feel, but while we go through these experiences in life that shut us down a little, I want to get closer to you so I compliment you, I’m in awe of you. And yet little bit by little bit we get closed down, we get shut down.
I feel very fortunate to have had an experience like I did. Upon being born, I was removed from my parents shortly after, and they were told that I had a heart defect. I was not all-right, I had to be taken away to be put in the incubator, and true fear came over them, as it would any parent.
What I didn’t realize at the time and only now looking back at it was that all the attention — all the love, healing, the worry, the positive vibes that were sent to me growing up, in all my many visits to the hospital, checking up on me, making sure I was still okay — unbeknownst to me, this actually strengthened my heart.
Did you know positive emotions actually strengthen the integrity of our heart, our arteries?
We can literally harden our own arteries of our heart through negative emotion. It’s quite fascinating.
We’ve learned a little bit about this today, and we know it is that secret ingredient. I feel very grateful that my mortality was shown to me from a very young age.
You have a problem. Let’s make sure you are always okay. I wasn’t sure there was always going to be a next day. So I lived in gratitude. And I knew the feeling when my mom didn’t like my compliments or didn’t receive them, that I didn’t want to do that to others.
These were two really great lessons in my life.
Interestingly enough, though, it wasn’t until the biggest life lesson, of pregnancy and postpartum, came to teach me something that I had not yet learned. The true depth of self-love.
Day after day, thousands of babies are being born, and moms are feeling the pressure. Feeling the pressure of needing to lose weight, of looking a certain way, of doing certain things to make sure they measured up.
But we don’t really want to lose weight in that time of our lives. We don’t want to focus on things that we should be superficially obsessed about. We want to focus on the love, connection and bonding with our babies.
But I, too, fell prey to our weight-obsessed culture, and I was worried after I had gained over 50 pounds in my pregnancy, worrying that, “What would people think of me if I was a trainer and I was overweight?”
And I had all these preconceived notions of things I had to do. What I needed to do to keep up. What I made sure that I should do so that I could tell others to do this.
And you know what I did? I gave myself a really, really, really horrible injury. I injured my back to the point where I ended up in the hospital twice in a single week.
My babies were just one and three at the time. I was not able to lift them. I was not able to bathe them. I was not able to care for them in the way that me, as a young new mom, would have loved to.
This brought up in me more than I ever could have bargained for. I didn’t even realize how much I often justified, “Well, sure, I’ll eat this, because then I can go work out and I’ll work it off.”
And I had all these weird stories and messages that I didn’t even realize were happening in my head. Not being able to exercise, not being able to work up a sweat, and even having pain just breathing allowed me to learn the true essence of what was necessary.
It’s the innercise, the inside work, that was absolutely necessary for me to rehabilitate from this experience of having babies. From the time that I hurt myself, I learned everything that I could about the core.
I wanted to understand exactly how I could rehab my own back, and through this, I learned about pelvic health, I learned about the deep versus the superficial core, I learned how to rehabilitate it and breathe in a way that was actually supportive to me.
And this, after years of training and teaching mom-and-baby bootcamp to new moms who now knowing — If I knew then what I knew now, that was the most contraindicated thing that these moms could have done. I actually put them in front of danger, as well as myself, without knowing it. This is the lesson I learned.
I was able to write a book called “The Love FitMama Way,” knowing that being a fit mama all starts with love. It’s not about all those superficial external things that you think you need to do, have to do all the time.
It’s all about slowing down, trusting your gut. This is our second brain right here. And after the trauma so many moms go through, we just shut it down.
We want to be in our heart space feeling love but instead, we’re in our heads feeling shame, regret, “I shouldn’t do that,” “I didn’t go to the gym,” “I’m horrible, oh my gosh” — it never ends.
This does not need to be the way. And I truly feel that we as a collective can transform the core of motherhood through education and through inspiration and through giving them a different alternative.
I specifically wanted to target our weight-obsessed culture. Weight loss, weight loss, weight loss. We judge people over and above what is necessary.
What if instead of weight loss, we did judgement loss? What about letting go of all that scarcity that we have, that feeling of unworthiness. That should never be up for debate. You are worthy.
You began that way. You will end that way. That never needs to change. Trust that. Trust that knowledge.
We have such ingrained patterns, neural pathways that we have created, formulated from all those stories we’ve told ourselves, all those experiences where we made ourselves the bad guy.
Did you know there is no survival adaptive benefit to being your own worst enemy? None, whatsoever. We can give it up. It’s going to be uncomfortable, but it will feel good as you lay down those new neural networks filled with self-love.
Once a symbol of loving, fun celebration, now a poster-child for words like guilt, shame, regret, cheating, bad!
I want to tell you about a study done with chocolate cake. They had two groups, and they asked them how they felt about eating chocolate cake. They divided them into two groups after that.
One group was the guilty group. “I’m guilty, I’m bad, I ate the chocolate cake.”
The other group that ate the chocolate cake did so in celebration and fun. That was their mindset. They didn’t put the mindset on them.
Those were the two groups that had those mindsets.
What they found when they later tested was that the guilty group was significantly higher in the stress hormone cortisol, which we all know is a sign that you are way stressed out, if your cortisol is shooting through the roof.
Now not only is the guilty group feeling negative emotions and feeling more stressed, but in fact, in the longer term, those guilty folks had a harder time losing weight and weighed more in the long run.
Guilt: also not a positively adaptive emotion.
There is no cheating, just choosing. Choose the foods you eat. Don’t use them, but choose them consciously. But not from your head, where you are thinking, “Oh shoot, is this part of my diet?” “That person said that’s bad.” “Oh no, I’m not eating that this week.”
Get it out and bring it down, bring it down into the positive emotions of the heart, remembering a time when you felt true deep love.
This is where the magic is. It starts from the heart. It moves into the core, where you trust that the beliefs and the values that you live by are worthy.
All we want is connection. We want love. We want to feel loved and connected to people, not because of how we look, but because of who we are on the inside.
We want to connect with amazing people, high-vibe people, living it up, and yet we are down here saying, “Oh no. No, I’m ugly. I have shame. I have regret. I shouldn’t have.”
Low… Low… Low vibration. Those two are not going to connect.
I want to leave you with three things that I do, because I don’t recommend things to others that I first and always don’t do myself.
The first thing: positive self-talk only. Under no circumstances do you deserve to be berated for the fact that you missed the gym or you ate a piece of cake or you did anything. You don’t deserve it, most especially not from yourself. Make a pact.
Number two: Remember those 98% of your thoughts that you repeated from yesterday? Let’s ditch them. That leaves you over 68,000 thoughts that you could instead say the words: thank you, thank you for this day, thank you for my friend, thank you for my heart beating.
You could find 68,000 thanks in a day that are for sure going to positively impact your life and inspire you much more than those negative thoughts.
And third: take time every single day to breathe. Breathe into that heart space and feel the love. Positive emotions will keep your heart strong.
Breathe into your core. Understand how it works. Get deeper than the superficial. There’s always more than meets the eye.
And lastly, I am going to leave you with this quote, that:
“If you can love the body and life you have, you will have the body and life you love.”
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