DeliveryRank has the pleasure of chatting with Kathleen Layer, a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and Health & Body Image Coach. Her goal is to help empower women and to “embrace every inch of their bodies, feel confident and connected in who they are, and make space for the things that truly matter and the lives they are meant to live.”
I think everything in my personal life has impacted the person I am today. Each season of my life has taught me something different and has allowed me to grow into the next version of myself. The happy moments and the time that I was (am) surrounded by loving, kind, intelligent, and passionate people have always inspired me to do more and be more as a person.
I feel very grateful to have grown up with such an incredible support system around me. And with such loving people. From my parents to family and close friends, I have an infinite number of people who are endlessly supportive of me and believe in me and I do think that matters.
You absolutely can find your own belief in yourself and I don’t think you should ever rely on someone else to believe in you in order for you to go out there and do your thing in the world, but I never thought I couldn’t do something. I never thought I wasn’t capable or couldn’t figure it out and I have to think that a lot of that belief started from looking around at the people in front of me and seeing what they saw in me. Or at least noticing that my belief in myself wasn’t being questioned by the people I loved most.
I would describe my core focus as building a different self-concept. Literally thinking and feeling about yourself differently. We all have a certain way we view ourselves. A way we believe we are in the world. Many of the women I work with believe they aren’t good enough, they don’t deserve the things they want, their needs don’t matter as much as others, and that the life they dream about is just that – a dream.
I focus on building a new way to see yourself. My clients will think that this change has to come from losing weight. It has to come from being smaller. But what I know and see over and over again is that every time we try and force ourselves to be smaller, what we actually do is make our life smaller. Our focus is so tied into what we’re eating, how much we’re working out, the number on the scale, and the size of our jeans that there isn’t room for anything else.
I help women go from seeing themselves as this body that needs to be fixed to knowing to their core that they are human beings who are whole and capable and deserving and worthy of anything they want and that their body is just this vessel that is along for the ride.
I think women today struggle so intensely with body image because of what we see and what we’re told from such a young age in our society. I have clients who can remember as young as being 5 years old and being told they have to go on a diet. A kindergartener. That’s ridiculous.
Our society looks at women and girls as an object that needs to look a certain way. Our purpose is to be aesthetically pleasing to others and to fit into this beauty standard that is impossible and extremely harmful for most people to obtain. We are taught that our worth and our value as human beings come from how closely we match the beauty standard. We are taught that good things happen to us if we do that. We’re taught that it’s part of the fairytale ending. If our worth and value are tied up in being a certain size and we aren’t that size then, of course, we’re going to struggle.
The beauty in this though is that we can start to rewrite the narrative and I think our society is shifting in the right direction. Yes, we have a long way to go, but conversations are being had, young women are seeing that they are more than a body, and we have a lot more resources focused on this work and a lot more people saying hey, guess what, your body is your body and that’s what’s beautiful. Let’s focus on who you are in the world. Let’s focus on the impact you can make. Let’s let girls and women live their lives.
The keys to body image work are awareness and trust. When you have been fighting your body for so long believing that it’s not good enough and that essentially it’s the enemy, it doesn't come naturally to trust your body. It’s quite the opposite. So, what I do with my clients is help them rebuild that trust. Help them see what happens when they start to work with their body instead of fighting against it.
Now, it’s pretty difficult to go from hating your body or disliking your body to loving your body. That jump makes no sense to most people. So, in order to build that awareness and trust with your body, I do a lot of work with Intuitive Eating. Helping women become highly aware of what their body needs. When we diet, we avoid what our body is trying to tell us, so oftentimes we lose the ability to notice simple things like hunger and fullness cues. Starting from a physical space like that – being able to feel what hunger feels like in your body for example – is really powerful.
This helps my clients see that their body can be that guide for them and tell them what they need and that their ability to listen to their body is still there, we just have to practice it again. From those physical sensations, we start to do the same thing with building mental and emotional awareness. Noticing our actual thoughts and feelings. Facing that head-on. Feeling comfortable experiencing uncomfortable things. The more we can understand our body and be there for our body the easier it is to access compassion for our body and start shifting the way we see our body.
I believe how we do one thing is often how we do everything. If you really look at your relationship with food you will probably see similarities in how you relate to other things and people. In so many ways our relationship with food influences our lives. I got into this work because of what I have gone through in my relationship with food. I struggled for almost a decade and when I started healing that for myself I realized how small my life had gotten. I realized how much energy I was putting into obsessing over food and my body.
Once that space opened up, I had the mental capacity to find out what I wanted to do with my life. I found my passion. I knew I had to share this with other women. I knew I wanted to be a coach and I wanted to help people with intuitive eating. The work that I do is so deeply rooted in compassion and I see that so clearly in my life now too. How much more compassionate I am with myself and with others. How much kinder I am. How much more curious and open and positive I am. How much better I am at setting boundaries and believing in the impossible. I think our relationship with food can be the thing that holds us back or the thing that sets us free.
I love this question. I love thinking about my business and what I hope for it in the future. I think about this stuff all of the time. And recently my thoughts have shifted a lot because of my 1-year-old son. This past year I became a mom and it has been the most difficult and exhausting and absolutely amazing thing I have ever done. I have learned so much about myself and about my body and I am truly in awe of women. I am in awe of our bodies. I am in awe of mothers. And I have experienced now firsthand the loneliness and heartache and struggles that come with being a mom. And I’ve experienced the strength and resilience and resourcefulness and beauty and love and joy that comes from being a mom too.
I have this vision of creating a massive community of moms in a group coaching container that helps them develop a self-concept that fits who they are and what they’ve done. The powerful, resilient, intelligent, creative, beautiful, strong person. I think the world instantly becomes a better place when women believe in themselves. When they feel confident to step up and lead. When they feel deserving of care and compassion. When they see the value and importance of what they contribute to the world. I would love to be a part of something like that.
If you would like to find out more about Kathleen Layer, visit https://www.kathleenlayer.com/