Hi, I’m Rachel (that’s me over on the right).
If you’re new here, let me introduce myself and this podcast.
I’m a life coach and teacher who helps women gain a deeper trust in their hungers — both at and away from the table. In college, like many women, I had an eating disorder and through my recovery, I discovered the Health at Every Size movement, fat activism, and Intuitive Eating. These learnings lead me to see and believe that humans do not need to fit a certain size or shape, that our size is not a determinant of our well-being, that our well-being is not only about our physical self, that entire systems and industries exist to profit from making us spend our lives obsessing over food and our bodies, and most importantly, that we can actually trust our bodies to figure out what to weigh and what to eat.
In late 2017 my husband and I learned that we were expecting our first child and I found myself with a new question: why are the only times we celebrate a female belly when it belongs to a chubby baby, an adult with six-pack abs, or a thinner-bodied pregnant woman?
Even before my belly began to expand I was aware that I was likely to face two common rites of passages in our culture: the adoration of my pregnant belly and the shaming of my postpartum belly. Something about this simply didn’t make sense and it made me think about the broad range of experiences women have with their bellies throughout their lives in a body—and belly—toxic world.
So I set out to have a series of conversations with wise women about their bellies and how we all might find greater ease at the center of it all. These conversations make up The Belly Love podcast.
This is a capsule podcast—just 10 episodes start to finish—because I’m headed to maternity leave soon and I don’t know which projects will feel right to me on the other side of maternal initiation. In no way could these episodes capture every belly perspective or topic but I have tried to include a broad range. Hopefully, you will find something interesting and that helps you on your journey.
In addition to the podcast, I’ve created a powerful Belly Love guided meditation and digital workbook to support listeners in going deeper and exploring their own personal belly journeys. Both are available at the bottom of this post. Check them out!
Note: You can download or stream all the episodes below, or you can listen to them via iTunes or Stitcher.
Episode 1: Belly Activism and the War on Stomachs with fat activist Marilyn Wann
In this episode legendary fat activist Marilyn Wann joins me to talk about:
- Fat (belly) activism
- Taking down weight hierarchies
- The problems with stomach amputation (a.k.a. gastric bypass surgery)
Episode 2: Episode 2: My Belly Journey and How I’m Preparing for Postpartum Body Changes with Rachel Cole
In this episode, I, your host, share:
- My first memory of belly shame
- How I moved from belly shame to greater belly acceptance
- The way I approach all body changes and how I’m preparing for the unknown of my postpartum belly
Episode 3: Belly Acceptance and Joyful Movement with Melissa Toler
In this episode speaker, writer, and educator Melissa Toler and I talk about:
- Reclaiming movement and fitness from diet culture
- What the flat stomach ideal represents
- Redefining health beyond weight or muscle tone
- The non-linear path of body (and belly) acceptance and giving up dieting
Episode 4: When Fat Bellies Get Mistaken for Pregnant Bellies with Hilary Kinavey
In this episode licensed professional counselor and co-founder of Be Nourished Hilary Kinavey joins me to talk about:
- How bellies are pathologized
- Connecting (or not) to our belly through our family lineage
- Being with the unknown of how your body will change
- What to do when someone mistakes your fat belly for a pregnant belly
- How small-bellied allies can support bigger-bellied humans
Hilary’s article “On Being Asked If You Are Pregnant”
Episode 5: Living with (and Dressing) a Fat Belly in a Belly Judging World with Jes Baker
In this episode body liberation author and speaker Jes Baker joins me to talk about:
- Making bellies visible in plus-size fashion
- Dressing with a Visible Belly Outline (VBO)
- Dealing with body judgment from other people
- The difference between body positivity and body liberation
- The inherent vulnerability of our bellies
Episode 6: Belly Dancing, Embodiment, and Menopause with Bronwyn Simons
In this episode artist, astrologer, writer, belly dancer and co-founder of the Vivid Menopause Program Bronwyn Simons joins me to talk about:
- Belly embodiment and living from the inside out (rather than the outside in)
- The healing power of belly dancing and other movement practices
- Redefining what it means to feel sexy and sensual in our body
- Practical tips for navigating belly and body changes in menopause
Episode 7: Diastasis Recti and Belly Acceptance with Ariana Pritchett
In this episode strategist and mom Ariana joins me to talk about:
- What diastasis recti is
- How to navigate recovery from diastasis recti — especially when the medical community fails you
- The importance of talking about pregnancy and birth-related body trauma
Episode 8: Menopause and Belly Fat with Dr. Margo Maine
In this episode, clinical psychologist and eating disorder specialist Dr. Margo Maine joins me to talk about:
- How our culture’s toxic focus on women’s bellies is really about disempowerment
- Why women’s belly fat actually isn’t “the worst kind of fat”
- The health-supporting reasons behind gaining belly fat in menopause
Episode 9: Postpartum Belly Changes and Eating Disorder Recovery with Carla Korn
In this episode, psychotherapist and eating disorder specialist Carla Korn joins me to talk about:
- Going through pregnancy and postpartum when you’ve recovered from an eating disorder
- Postpartum belly changes and shame
- The non-linear path of body acceptance
- Practical tips for working with critical body thoughts
Episode 10: Making Belly Peace and Embodying the Divine with Ivy Felicia
In this episodeThe Body Relationship Coach ™ Ivy Felicia joins me to talk about
- Making peace with your belly (even if you don’t love it)
- The myth that black women don’t struggle with poor body image
- How a connection to the divine can help on the journey to body acceptance
- How to navigate anger and body-blame when you have a chronic illness
What’s next on your belly journey?
After listening to even one of the Belly Love podcast episodes, I imagine you might be swirling with questions and thoughts about your relationship with your own belly. So as not to leave you hanging I have prepared these two excellent next steps to support you in digging a bit deeper: a digital workbook and a guided meditation. In tandem, these resources give you a safe container to explore your past, present, and future belly experience.
Inside the workbook, you’ll find:
- Advice from experts on topics such as how to move towards belly acceptance, how to grieve the belly you used to have or never had; what’s worked for them in making peace with their bellies; how to move past sticky old belly stories, and more.
- LOTS of powerful writing and multimedia exercises to facilitate your belly exploration, healing, and active learning.
- A robust resource list of belly loving articles to read and experts to follow
The guided meditation is 15-minutes long and provides a safe container to drop into your real lived experience of your belly with presence and curiosity. The meditation is designed for ongoing practice, allowing you to track your dynamic relationship to your belly.
The Belly Love podcast episodes are free and the workbook and meditation bundle are available to purchase for $25.
Real talk: the United States is the only developed country with no nationwide paid maternity leave. As a self-employed woman, I’m lucky that I can take leave to bond with my child without losing my job, but that brings with it a significant loss of income. This workbook and meditation bundle are one of the ways I am funding my leave. I believe you’ll find great value in these resources and your support is greatly appreciated.