The Body Course Case Studies. Hear what they have to say.

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This is what some of the women who’ve already gone through the course have to say about it:
 


 

Joanie’s experience:
Boston, Massachusetts

Before The Body Course

5 years ago, my body became a menopausal stranger I did not recognize. With the weight came shame and grief for who I once was, unsuccessful dieting, and a voice in my head that was mean and relentless. I did A LOT of body-mind work through various sources, but I still did not have the tools to make a significant change in my beliefs about my worthiness at this size. Until The Body Course…

After The Body Course…

I am saying yes more. I had cultivated the art of saying no, but now it’s time to say yes to opportunities to shine my light. I used to play the introvert card a lot. This class helped me examine when that serves me and when it isolates me. The Body Course has given me a new voice, and a more in-your-face attitude when I need it. Here’s an example:

About halfway through the course, I had a conversation with a family member about my body and specifically my new attitude toward exercise. After I explained myself, my relative said to me, “Wow. That’s the first time I’ve heard you speak so lovingly and protectively of your body and self.” I immediately started to cry. That was a BIG moment for me. The Body Course helped me get there.

What I loved most was…

For those of us already knowledgeable about body awareness, self-compassion, negative self talk, etc. this course is the missing link! It takes all of that awareness and puts it into tangible, forward motion… taking the work from your head to your daily life.

I loved Annika’s vulnerability and the way she made us all comfortable and at ease. She is sharp and intellectual, yet teaches from the heart. She is a wise and intuitive leader and facilitator.
 


 

Jillian’s experience:
Calgary, Canada

Before The Body Course…

There was so much uncomfortableness (and not the good kind of uncomfortable you feel when you’re growing) happening for me. Both my personal and professional relationships were not optimal, because I was constantly giving my power away to others because I felt that my body was something to make up for.

After The Body Course…

I have grown so much from this course. I celebrate me more than I ever have. I launched my business and made myself visible online.

I won’t start another diet ever again. I’m saying “no” when I want to. I’m more assertive than I’ve ever been in all areas of my life, and I feel so much less guilt than I did before.

What I loved most was…

Too many people say “Just love yourself!” without providing clear steps for how to actually do that. Annika gives you straight-forward, practical actions. She is so REAL, down to earth, and approachable. Her style is the perfect amount of light and groundedness.
 


 

Linda’s experience:
Portland, Oregon

Before The Body Course…

I have made huge strides in loving my body over the years but after struggling with chronic pain all summer, I was so angry at my body. I couldn’t take it anymore.

After The Body Course…

This course is one of the best investments I’ve ever made in my well-being!

I learned how to soothe and de-fang my nasty voices, and how to slow down. I am more positive and loving with my bad days. I’m better at asking for help. I’m more relaxed and I pay better attention to my body’s needs.

What I loved most was…

The best thing? Jeez, I can’t narrow it down to just one. I think the weekly body date would be at the top of my list. Taking an hour out every week to reconnect with my brain and body has changed my thinking a great deal.

Oh, also! I loved your insistence on inner AND outer work. It is very easy to get hung up on food and exercise and to ignore the rest of the systems that create pain (emotional and physical). Before signing up, I worried that the course might be more ‘boot camp’ style, so I was thrilled to find every part of the process was actually quite thoughtful and profound. I loved The Body Course!
 


 

Christine’s experience:
Santa Clara, California

Before The Body Course…

My body relationship was actually in a pretty good place. I’ve grown a lot over the years and have significantly improved my self-talk and self-image, but I couldn’t shake the recognition I had in the course description, so I decided to sign up because I wanted to face those things. There’s always room for growth. And having two young daughters was the push I needed to make sure I am the best example I can be for them.

After The Body Course…

I really do feel like I’ve shed another layer of self-doubt because even though I came into this course from a good place, I’m not perfect… This is ongoing work!

The tools I’ve learned are helping me to keep the momentum going forward.

What I loved most was…

The weekly body dates kept me accountable. It motivated me to carve out time to devote to myself every single week. Plus, it helped me realize that I benefit from guided internal work – someone else asking me to dive inside and see what’s going on is helping me grow. Thank you for putting together such a great course!
 


 
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WHY are you exercising? Seriously, why? The importance of movement clarity.

Every time I get on this mat or pull on these resistance bands, I ask myself “Why are you exercising?”

Not in that out of breath, almost sobbing, tortured “Whyyyy am I doing this?” kinda way that someone in a gym is whisper-screaming right now.

It’s a steady, straight question – one that no one ever taught me to ask about exercise (or much else). I ask and answer this question because I want to be certain that I’m sweating for the right reasons.

Most of us in the western world have been taught that exercise is the ‘solution’ for our bodies (because clearly, your body is one big shitstorm of a problem, right?).

My early life taught me that I should exercise to ‘fix’ the problem that was my body, to ‘work off’ food, and to make myself conventionally attractive. Thankfully, I grew up enough to realize that those reasons can suck it, so I regularly question my movement motivations, and I wait until the answers ring warm and glowy in my entire body. Answers like:

Because I want flexible hips for great sex. Because if someone around me gets seriously ill, I want to know I can deadlift their body into the backseat and book it to the emergency room.

Because when I get to that reallyreally challenging point and I pull off another 3 reps anyway, it reminds me that I’m a powerful motherfucker and gone are the days of letting other people define my body, my worthiness, my business, my life.

I’ll sweat for reasons like that. Only those.

5 Tips For Finding Your Way Through Holiday Events That Have Historically Stressed You The Hell Out.

At their best, holiday gatherings are joyful spaces of community and relationship building.

At their worst, the noise, stimulation and stirred up energy of lots of people can often embolden our wounds (and our bullshit) to show up.

Considering that, here are my 5 Tips For Finding Your Way Through Holiday Events That Have Historically Stressed You The Hell Out:

  1. The bathroom (or guest room or any empty space, really) is your friend. Steal away for some deep breaths. Mantras. Look at your reflection in the mirror and tell yourself the good, loving things that you need to hear in that moment.

    (I’ve done wall pushups and squats in the bathroom as a way of burning through fiery emotions that I didn’t want to spew on the dining table.)

    Especially for us introverted peeps, find any small slice of alone time you can. It helps.

  2. If anxious eating is something you’re working on…

    Beforehand, visualize yourself standing in front of the mountain called the buffet table, and see your spine straighten and your head lift up high. Feel yourself standing in front of all that food like a queen making discerning choices. You’re immune to anyone’s pressure or expectations. You’re in charge of this eating experience. Powerful, not powerless.

  3. If people pleasing is something you’re working on…

    “No thank you” is a complete sentence. If someone tries to shove a glass of this or a bowl of that in front of you, you’re NOT an asshole for simply saying “No thank you”. Consider this an opportunity to practice working your no muscle.

  4. Bookend these events. Plan something for before and after that feels calming and nourishing. Quiet cuddles with the doggies. A walk in nature. Listening to an audio of ocean waves.

    I’ve often meditated in the car before particularly energy-intense gatherings. Helped a ton.

  5. If this is the year you tell Aunty So-and-So that you’d like her to enjoy her brussel sprouts and stop commenting on the size of your plate, I’m standing at your back with pom-poms and a brand new fog horn. *bap*bap*

    ALSO. Fuck the self help tutorials that say ‘Authenticity means that you always tell people exactly how you’re feeling!’ or ‘Stepping away from a confrontation proves you’re emotionally damaged’.

    Choosing to be silent, changing the subject, or leaving the room are not less noble options. There are times for stepping in and times for stepping out.

    Imagine me, putting a spoon of cranberry sauce in my mouth, staring at you with eyes that say, “You have every right to choose what’s best for you. EVERY right.”

I hope something on this list helps you connect with your people without losing yourself in the process. That is my only (and always) wish for us all. ❤

Also… I won’t be posting for the next week but check my IG Stories! xo

Worried that people will reject or criticize your vulnerability? Read this.

I wrote a while back about my tendency to pull out my machete (It’s a metaphor! I don’t actually chop heads.) when my feelings are hurt.

But right before publishing that, a voice in my head said:

“If you do this, from now on, whenever you tell someone no, or create a boundary, they’re gonna prattle on about how you’re making wack choices because you’re stuck in your pattern of rejecting people. This will give people license to pathologize your no, and that’s mighty dangerous.”

Thankfully, another voice in my head said this:

  • You can talk about your struggles without being defined by them for all eternity.
  • You can acknowledge an unhealthy pattern of behavior and then make a ton of choices in that same area that rise above that pattern.
  • You can acknowledge that you’re a work in progress without becoming a project that people need to psychoanalyze or ‘heal’ unrequested.

And also: So what if they disrespect your choice?

I’m here for truth – not to be the class favorite.

“No” is a complete sentence. People can judge or make fun of it as much as they want, but that doesn’t the change that you said it, and (assuming that you meant it) it’s valid and stands.

So friends, in a nutshell:

Please share whatever you want. Speak your truths out loud. And if someone tries to chain you to any of it, come borrow my machete. Anytime.

She thinks I’m a raving ganja smoker. I’m totally good with it.

She walked into the house shortly after I’d burned this sage and yerba santa bundle, and she thought the smell was weed.

Her religion says marijuana is an evil drug so she was visibly upset at the thought that I could be a toker.

My immediate instinct was to say, “Oh no, it’s sage! Spiritual medicine n’ stuff!” but I literally bit my tongue to prevent me from speaking.

Because I knew those words were about trying to prevent her from looking down on me the way she looks down on green smokers.

I was going to say it as a means of getting back into her good graces; getting her approval.

But for the rest of my life, I will fight like a mother lion to re-teach the tender part of me that thinks I was born to be convenient and appropriate.

People-pleasing is wired into us, but every day we have the option of choosing to reinforce those ideals or whether we want to go another way. Today, I went a different way.

And now that person thinks I’m a raving ganja head and I’m completely good with it. #puffpuffpass

Part 2 of the editing story:
It’s not about you.

A while back, I told you about that former editing client whose agent asked her to re-format her entire book.

Here’s what I didn’t tell you:

The stylistic change the agent recommended was almost exactly what I suggested to my client right when we started working together.

She heard me out, and decided she liked the format she’d chosen, so she declined my suggestion and went ahead with the style that most resonated with her. I didn’t belabor the point. It’s her book, after all, so she can write it however she likes. We moved on with the editing process and didn’t talk about it again.

Then, after hundreds of hours of work, based on her agent’s suggestions, she was now going back to the drawing board to make the changes I’d suggested months prior.

Whenever I think about her, I remember this situation and one of the biggest reminders that it offers me.

There’s no room for “I told you so” or petty validation-seeking, because despite all the additional work she’s now putting in, I don’t think she did anything ‘wrong’ at all. She did not waste her time. She did not sabotage herself. She did not screw up the chances of her book’s success.

What did she do? She trusted herself.

And whether it’s business or it’s your spouse or your sister, if you really want the best for someone, that’s the first thing you should ever want for them – for them to trust their instincts, value their impulses, and for them to believe in the worth of their own ideas.

It’s not about you. They’re living and choosing based on what feels right for where they are, and no matter what implications or problems you might see in it, their choice should be respected because at that time, it’s their truth.

I’ve built a career on telling my stories and giving people advice based on those stories, but whether you’ve got a job like mine or not, we all need to plug into this truth for the health (not to mention, longevity) of every single one of our relationships.

Speak your mind, without being attached to how others engage with your words.

Offer support, without fixating on whether or not they grasp your extended hand.

Give what you have to give, and then let go.

 

Strong boundaries – without becoming a coldhearted monster.

I’m not a naturally forgiving person.

When my feelings are hurt, my immediate response is to reach for my metaphorical machete – not because I want to cut a bih (not a natural fighter either) but because I want the other person to clearly understand my intention, which can be summed up with “Get the fuck away from me!”.

Some people try to pull the other party closer; their instinct is to reach across the divide to reconnect and realign the relationship. I have no idea what that’s like.

I do not ease into softness and second chances. I harden. I pull up the drawbridge to my castle and delete your number. I’m done so fast.

And let’s be realistic – there is enormous power in our “No”.

A strong, boundaried response can be healthy and serving and it’s helped me in a ton of situations, so I’m not throwing away my machete. AT ALL.

But the world would probably be a better place if that feisty blade spent more time in her sheath and less time being wielded in these streets. 🤺

This is one of the most important things I’m working on.

Holding onto my high standards (because I’ll never apologize for them) while also giving humans more grace to be human.

Boundaries and compassion.
Discernment and empathy.

It’s complicated as shit, and most days, the urge to revert to my machete moves is the loudest voice in the room. But this is a fight we should all be fighting.

Because love.

Because cultivating kindness instead of doubling down on exclusion and rejection is what we came here for.

But mostly… because love.

The part of my story I’ve never shared before.

Can you remember the last time you had an epiphany?

I think about epiphanies all the time. Breaking points. Lightning and thunder moments that bang! change your life in an instant.

I probably think about them so much because I’ve had so few of them.

Most of the big transitions that mark my life didn’t pop up like a fast blaze. Their heat was a long time coming. A little friction. A little question mark. A little resentment. And then more and more, until it felt like my skin was sizzling from the discomfort of the situation, which eventually made me desperate enough to do something about it.

This is how it was when I made the decision to figure out why I hated my body and how I was going to un-hate it.

People often talk about the shame and pain of body insecurity. I definitely felt that, but the breaking point that pushed me to finally take action wasn’t either of those things.

It was the exhaustion.

Almost every waking minute, I was conscious of how my body looked from multiple angles.

Whenever I went out in public, I assessed the eyes and facial expressions of the people walking by, searching for a glimmer of disapproval in their brow or cheek.

It was pretty much a full-time job managing the lies and excuses I used to turn down invitations, or I’d commit to something but then cancel at the last minute.

I don’t think I’ve ever been more tired.

Maintaining the facade of being ‘fine’ when you’re actually judging and criticizing yourself nonstop is EXHAUSTING.

I carried Exhaustion like a necklace of concrete blocks until I just couldn’t anymore. I released it because I was tired of being tired.

I’m sure the time those older kids laughed at me for wearing shorts to a dress-down day at school was also a factor. And the time a relative suggested that I have a can of Slim-Fast for dinner. And the time a boy I loved told me I needed to run more. I’m sure those were all factors too.

But Exhaustion was what changed me.

Exhaustion wore me down until I had no more fucks to give.

“Sure. Go ahead and scorn these thick thighs. I’m done with giving a shit.”

I was defensive if anyone said anything about my body. (I still have a dose of that in me, and it feels honest and healthy, so it’s staying, but back then, it was gushing out like a firehose gone berserk. Ragey and resentful.)

And then… Well, I guess I did sort of have a breakthrough moment, although I can’t name a date or place, but there was definitely The Time Before (when I thought my body was the field of a silent, internal angst) and The Time After.

In The Time After, something pried my eyelids open and I saw a truth I’d been blind to.

How you feel about your body is how you feel about your life.

The body impacts more than our fashion and our sex. The body impacts everything.

When we’re in pain and shame about our bodies, we carry those things into our businesses, relationships, the way we eat, the way we think about money, and our political and social engagement (or lack thereof).

The body is not siphoned off into a separate category. The body is in EVERY category.

Because I’d been believing that I was too much (too tall, too big, too opinionated, too passionate, too emotional), I hadn’t just silenced myself physically. I’d silenced myself in every way.

  • I made career choices that kept my creative ideas and ambitions on pause, year after year.
  • I made friend choices that filled my life with people who only wanted a sliver of me, because I’d been believing that no one could truly want (aka: handle) all of me.
  • I made romantic choices that stifled my opinions, my sexuality, and my biracial identity. More accurately, my most frequent relationship choice was to avoid relationships altogether, because they required a level of visibility and vulnerability that terrified me.

Exhaustion made me stop fixating on what you thought about my body.

But The Time After made me determined to go beyond the defensive rebel posture, and instead create a whole new body dynamic.

Seeing that my body was directly tied to stifling myself professionally, creatively and romantically, made me obsessed with creating the opposite body experience – for its own sake, and also so that those life areas would in turn start to evolve too.

Instead of detachment or even neutral acceptance, I wanted connection, trust and hot-damn-feels-good-to-be-alive-ness.

Where Exhaustion made me throw my hands up and declare I was done with the body, The Time After made me want to meet her, make her a cup of tea, and help her heal and move forward.

If I didn’t figure out the root of my body insecurities and then DO SOMETHING with that awareness (a lot of us think that awareness is sufficient in and of itself, but it never is), I don’t actually know what would’ve happened. I can’t imagine it.

I can’t visualize an existence where I sank into another layer of silence, hiding and feeling so utterly alone – again. And I’m glad I can’t see it, because I didn’t come here for that life.

You didn’t come here for that life.

We’re here for so much more. More aliveness. More joy. More creativity. More bliss.

We’re here for the MORE.

xo
Annika

[This post originally appeared in Issue #13 of The Unmistakeable Effect]

What to do when the self help stuff sounds a little too woo woo…

If you were raised in a conservative and generally cautious community…

If you grew up in an academically-obsessed family or culture…

If practicality is a high value for you…

Some of the body love and other personal growth practices out there might sound a little cray cray to you. But here’s a thought:

  1. Put your actual risk in perspective.

    Really, what’s the worst that could happen? You trying a body practice that sounds a little woo-woo is not going to cause a landslide, or hurt the puppies. The puppies will be just fine.

  2. Lead with the question, “What if…?”.

    What if great things could happen here? What if something unfamiliar could lead to healing? What if… The humility to admit that the universe is full of lots of weirdness that’s actually really good and healthful, is the height of strength.

Open up.

Try something new.

Take a chance.

Sure it could fall flat, but doesn’t the possibility that it could lead to greater esteem, peace of mind, or body connection make it worth the effort?

YOU are worth the effort.

The sacred discipline of showing up for your work in the world.

In a previous career, I edited people’s books.

I recently got an update from a former editing client. She’d sent the manuscript to her dream agent, who loved it and excitedly signed her. And then…

The agent asked her to re-format the entire book. Same content, but a whole new structure. This meant way more work on top of the hundreds of hours she’d already put in.

She haaaaated the idea of going back to the drawing board on an already completed book (plus, it’s a pretty raw, emotional subject), but after considering it, she decided the agent was right. The new structure would showcase her stories more powerfully, so she sat down, put in the extra hours, and made the changes.

I think about her choice at least once a week.

The humility to change your mind when you’ve been so certain about something for so long.

The courage to return to the dark parts of the past in order to create something to help other women heal.

The early mornings and late nights. The sacred discipline.

The SHOWING UP.

Shout out to all the writers, entrepreneurs, artists, makers and ceiling-breakers who are SHOWING UP every damn day.

You inspire me to keep going.

Keep writing.

Keep using my voice.

Keep standing up. And out.

You inspire us all.