HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!
In honor of this special day, allow me to introduce Rachel Aldrich Rader, author of the just released, Stop Making Yourself Miserable, How to Climb off the Diet and Exercise Hamster Wheel and Step Into Authentic Wellness. I’m especially thrilled to be bringing this interview to you on Valentine’s Day because Rachel is all about Self-love and Self-care and how these are the absolute starting point to authentic wellness. Welcome Rachel and her timely message!
Q. Rachel, I love the title of your book. Where did it come from?
A. I am glad that you love it because coming up with the title was the hardest part of writing the book for me!
I spent 7 years working as a personal trainer in gyms, studios and people’s homes. Most of my clients were women. They were different in many ways but the one thing that everyone had in common was that they were unhappy with their body in some way and hoped that a good fitness routine would be the thing that finally clicked for them.
It made me realize the subtle messages that women receive from our culture. We have this vague notion that our bodies aren’t quite right and we need to fix them. We do that with some combination of diet and exercise and when we don’t see the results that we think we want, we change that combination a bit and try again. Over and over and over again. The result is that we’re stuck in this cycle of thinking “I just have to get it right, this time it will work!” In the meantime, we remain unhappy in our bodies convinced that the problem is us trying to force ourselves through diets and fitness plans that are not authentic.
I wanted to wave my arms, jump up and down and yell “Stop!” There is so much noise out there in the fitness and wellness world. Women spend a tremendous amount of energy on trying to change their bodies. And most of the time, it doesn’t make them happy! My message is all about noticing the patterns that we are stuck in and intentionally opting out.
Q. There truly is so much noise out there—I completely agree. To that point, you let us know right off the bat that we’ve been lied to and worse, that we’ve bought into the lies. What are the lies that are really aggravating you these days?
A. One big misconception is that fitness or wellness has to look a certain way. That it has to look like a fitness routine and a diet. Generally when a woman feels unhappy with her body, she’ll start thinking about one or the other. Or if she already has those things as part of her life, she’ll try to tweak one or the other to make it just right. Again, getting stuck in the cycle of looking for “The Answer” in one of these places. What happens is that she adds to her stress and takes away from her wellbeing. The truth is that wellness is individual. “The Answer” looks different for everyone.
This leads to another misconception. That is that if something works for one person, it will work for someone else. We are so connected with each other through social media. It is an easy trap to see what someone else is up to and think, “Oh, she looks great, I should do what she’s doing,” without considering that her lifestyle, her body, her goal is completely different. Any habit that you set out to create has to be in line with who you are, not based on someone else’s life.
Another major myth is that diet and exercise are the big pillars of a healthy lifestyle. And if you find yourself believing this one, you’re not alone and it’s not your fault! Weight loss is a 60 billion dollar industry. Just think about that. This is an industry based on convincing you that your body is wrong and you need to fix it - and they have just the product or plan to help you out! It’s easy to see how we have come to believe that if our body looks a certain way and we’d like it look different, we just need a new diet or workout. The truth is that of course nutrition and movement matter, but they are only two pieces of a big puzzle that, again, looks different for everyone. Stress plays a huge role on how the body’s systems work. Sleep makes a difference. How you monitor your thoughts and manage your emotions matters. It’s worth taking the time to look into all of the things that affect your health. You are a whole person, you’re not just your calorie count or your workout schedule.
Q. Rachel, you’re so clear about addressing the whole person, the whole self on a very personal journey to health and wellness. What are your specific steps for us to stop making ourselves miserable?
A. The first is to take a realistic look at where you are now. What types of messages are you internalizing from outside sources and from your own thoughts? Is your inner monologue empowering or discouraging?
Next is to sift through those thoughts and weed out which are the messages that you’re receiving from this weight-obsessed culture and which are your own voice. This sounds easier than it really is! When you’ve been internalizing these message for years, or decades, it takes a bit of introspection to decide what you really, truly want for yourself.
With that internal guidance, it’s then possible to create an authentic goal or vision for your life and your health and decide what you’re going to do to get there.
Setting the strategy involves looking back on what you’ve done in the past and pinpointing which elements have worked well and which haven’t. It all requires being very, very honest with yourself and recognizing that you really are the boss. It’s not your trainer or your friend or even your doctor. You are the one with the power to unapologetically live this lifestyle that you want, and it really has to be what YOU want. Oftentimes, women are stuck in “shoulds”. It takes a little bit of time to be really real.
Don’t rush and don’t give up on whatever it is that you truly desire for your life.
Know that things will not work out perfectly, they never do, and that’s ok. There will be times when you’ll have to regroup or even completely change your plans and neither of those things equal failure.
Q. Rachel, your message and your method are so inspiring and so hopeful! What’s your hope for your readers?
A. My hope is that my readers will feel empowered. A lot of women go through life with this vague notion that whatever they are doing in terms of fitness and wellness is wrong. They are pretty sure that they know what they’re supposed to do, what they’re expected to do, but they just can’t quite get it together enough to get it done and reach this magical place where all is well and they are at peace with their body. The message of my book is to take notice of that thought pattern, to stop it from continuing and to build the lifestyle that brings them joy.
Q. Rachel your book needs to be in the heads, hearts, and hands of every woman in this country--where can we get a copy?
Rachel, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your wisdom and caring with us on this Valentine’s Day. Your book is a loving gift to give ourselves and I’m so grateful you wrote it! Thank you!
Rachel Aldrich Rader is a Wellness Coach, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and a former perfectionist. She is a lover of Mexican food, red wine and crime novels, and is grateful for a career where yoga pants and sneakers are considered professional. Rachel lives in New England with her husband, three boys and one judgemental cat.