Expert Interview - Love Your Body with the Body Code
Many of us have struggled with body image and self-love at some point in our lives. Some are able to hide it better than others, but it's a common thread that links so many of us. If you've felt that way before, know you're not alone.
Today, I interviewed Heather Esposito, the author of 'Love, Yourself'. She is a certified health coach and natural food chef, who later went on to become a Master NLP Practitioner and certified Body Code Practitioner. In this interview, you'll find out a little more about Heather's own self-love journey, and how you too can start the path to loving yourself too.
Hi Heather! Thank you for taking the time to speak with us about how releasing trauma from the body can help with falling in love with oneself. Can you start by giving us a backstory of who you are and what you do?
Hey Jenny, thanks for having me!
My story begins with food - I was diagnosed as lactose intolerant at 8, then pre-diabetic at 16 and told to not eat sugar by the doctor. I was given no further instructions on how to do this or why it was important. Being a teenager in America, his instructions fell on deaf ears. I never knew what I should eat and I constantly felt exhausted and moody and stuck.
My lowest point came in December of 2005. Despite having a Master's Degree in Counseling, nothing in my life seemed to be working. The tools I had to get me out of a depression were not working AND I was eating pretty much nothing but sugar. There was a day when I laid in bed and thought of 5 different ways to end my life.
Not wanting to leave that kind of legacy for my nieces and nephews, I remembered that I had read somewhere that sugar causes depression. I made a deal with myself to not eat sugar for a week and see if I noticed a difference.
I told myself that if I still felt the same way at the end of the week then I could take my life.
I know, it sounds so depressing… but that's where I was at the time.
Within a few days, I could feel the fog lifting from my body, and I realized there might be something to this ‘food impacts mood’ thought.
Wanting to learn all I could about this, I attended The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and became a health coach. I then went to The Natural Gourmet Institute and became a natural food chef. (My family seriously laughed out loud when I told them I was going to culinary school because I was the worst in the kitchen.) I studied under amazing women such as author and TV chef, Christina Pirello, and founder of The Natural Gourmet Institute, Annemarie Colbin.
Along the way, I learned that in addition to dairy and sugar, my body also doesn't like gluten. This was devastating since I had a huge sweet tooth and it seemed like there was nothing left for me to eat. Longing for sweets, I decided to make baked goods that I could eat. This led to the opening of the country's first bakery that is 100% free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn and refined sugar. Here, we were featured on The Cooking Channel (Unique Sweets and Food(ography)) and The Food Network (Cupcake Wars).
In 2012, I sold my shares of the bakery and decided to get back into coaching. I expanded my training by becoming a Master NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) Practitioner, and worked as a coach for Tony Robbins’ company for 3.5 years.
During that time, I started learning more about how our subconscious is 95% of who we are, and that most therapy and coaching modalities only address the 5% conscious mind — so to work with the 95%, I became a certified Body Code Practitioner.
The topic we're talking about today is quite difficult for many of us. We are probably our own worst critic at times. What do you think are some of the biggest reasons that women struggle with loving themselves in general?
You are absolutely correct, we are definitely our own worst critics at times!
There are a few things that contribute to this struggle.
It first starts with our imprinting from our parents. Humans model the behavior they’ve observed. If a child grows up with a mother who is consistently devaluing herself, the child believes that’s normal. They then model the behavior, which becomes a habit….which becomes a personal reality.
Add in the messages women receive from society that say things such as “if you love yourself then you are self-centered, cocky and arrogant" - and if you are those things, no one will like you.
As humans, we have a primal fear of being rejected so we’ll do whatever we can to be accepted.
Have you ever noticed how it’s easier to connect with others through complaining than celebrating?
If someone asks you, “How are you?” and you reply with something like “I’m so tired, I’m so busy, I hate my body,” etc… typically the other person says “me too”. Now you feel like you have a bond with them as you share all of the negative things in your world.
If you answer the same question with “I’m really great! I have so many amazing things happening in my life. I’m loving how my body has been feeling,” typically the other person doesn’t know how to respond and there is nothing to connect on. This, for many, can feel like death.
I know it sounds like I’m exaggerating but it boils down to wanting to be accepted by others because we haven’t been shown a healthy model of what self-love is.
One of my favorite quotes on this topic is Marianne Williamson's poem from her book A Return to Love titled “Our Deepest Fear”.
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.”
When most women hear this for the first time they say, “Wow, that’s me! But it doesn’t feel safe to be powerful.”
And, as crazy as it seems, we haven’t created a culture where it is safe to have a healthy self-love.
(One of the exercises I give my clients is finding the whole poem and re-write it in first person, then say it out loud every day. It’s amazing how it can shift our perspective!)
These struggles may come in a few different forms. Do you find that women struggle more with loving their bodies or who they are, such as their personality/soul/spirit?
What I’ve found is that many women say they struggle with loving their body, but the deeper issue is not loving who they are as a personality/soul/spirit.
Sometimes, maybe because of the way relationships are portrayed in movies, we may think that it's our significant others' or spouses' job to love us and that we don't have to love ourselves. Why is it important to "love yourself?"
So true, Jenny!
When we are always looking for things outside of ourselves to validate us, it’s like chasing the wind and keeps us in a state of fear wondering “will I be rejected?” … which is exhausting!
Depending on what culture you live in and the people you hang around with, there are different rules and standards that tell us how we ‘should’ be. Striving to receive everyone else’s approval keeps us in a place of self-doubt because the rules and standards are always changing.
When we make a decision to love ourselves first and not need validation from anyone else, we actually experience the peace, joy, and acceptance we’ve been searching for. From there, we get to decide who we want to be and what we want in our lives… which is empowering.
To go back to the Marianne Williamson poem, when we “...let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same, we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”.
Our topic today is obviously around trauma. So what is trauma, and how does it impact self-love?
Trauma is an emotional response to an event. It’s often categorized by Big ‘T’ (i.e. life-threatening experiences) and Little ‘t’ (highly distressing events).
As humans, we tend to label every experience we have, traumatic or not, as to what it means about us and to us.
If someone does something ‘to’ us (i.e. any form of abuse), our go-to thought is “Something is wrong with me that caused them to do that,” instead of thinking “Something was going on with the other person who did that. It had nothing to do with who I am, I just happened to be in their line of fire.”
As kids, we don’t have the ability to think that deeply; we are solely thinking about ways to survive. When we think that we are the ones that are ‘wrong,’ it gives us a level of protection and safety.
When these events are compounded over the years, it chips away at our self-love and creates a personality of self-loathing and doubt. This ends up perpetuating the cycle as we keep looking for ways to prove that we aren’t lovable.
I'm curious - and I'm sure the readers are too. What in the world is the Body Code, and how does it help you love yourself more?
The Body Code is a form of energy medicine that identifies and releases trapped emotions and trauma from the body.
Emotions are energy in motion.
When we feel an emotion powerfully and not process it fully, it can get stuck in the body and distorts the energy field of the body. (I like to think of it like a damned river.)
When we feel an emotion, we feel a vibrational energy and every emotion has its own specific vibrational frequency. For example, shame and guilt are different vibrations than love.
The more unprocessed emotional baggage we have, the more we continue to repeat the patterns that hurt us in the first place because we are conditioned to the familiarity of that feeling. This leaves us in a state of shame and guilt rather than love.
My clients and I use the Body Code to identify and release those trapped emotions and trauma that are connected to the memories and beliefs that have told them they are unlovable, in order to shift the vibrational energy in their bodies from shame and guilt to love.
Can you elaborate a little more on what a Heart-Wall is and how it prevents us from loving ourselves?
A Heart-Wall is a wall of emotional energy the subconscious mind creates to protect you and your heart against heartache and pain. This is a great thing when you are experiencing trauma - we need protection to survive!
However, when the trauma is no longer occurring, if we continue to carry that protection it will prohibit us from experiencing many things in life. Just imagine a soldier back from war walking around in civilian life in his full armor.
+ block the ability to give and receive love
+ create depression and other problems
+ hinder you from success
+ prevent you from experiencing self-love
Because we are so guarded, we are constantly looking for things that might hurt us instead of looking for the good. When we are consistently looking for the bad, we will consistently find it! When a Heart-Wall is released, the thing I hear the most from people is "I feel so much lighter, happier, it’s crazy!"
Not everyone believes in energy. I do, but I know many people who don't *ahem - my husband* - which is totally okay. So can the Body Code still work for someone who isn't so woo-woo?
I totally get that! I’m a skeptical person and I ask a lot of questions. I was not one who believed that “everything is energy”. (I thought that idea was ridiculous!)
When a friend of mine was working on her certification, and asked to work on me, I agreed, solely to help her. I was 100% certain it wouldn’t do anything for me. To my surprise, within 2 weeks, I was feeling a tightness in my chest that I had not felt in a long time. As I looked into it more and skeptically used it with my clients, I began to see that they were experiencing shifts that they weren’t when we were solely using coaching tools.
So yes, it can still work for someone who isn’t woo-woo, because I was definitely not someone anyone would call “woo-woo” before my friend used it with me!
What actually happens when we release trauma from our bodies? Can you share with us a little more about what it can look like - what to expect?
Every type of modality that releases trauma will look a little different.
With the Body Code, people can experience feeling a bit more emotional for a few days, they may have crazy dreams or may feel physically tired or get a little sick. It’s similar to doing a food detox and experiencing what’s called a ‘healing crisis’, where a few days into the detox you feel worse because the toxins are leaving your body. That's a beautiful thing, as it’s clearing out the old cells to make way for healthy cells.
One of my clients had a lot of trapped emotions in her colon. Right after our session, she texted me and said she just had the biggest bowel movement she’s had in a long time!
And, some people don’t notice much but then say, “I do have more energy” or “that thing that used to bother me doesn’t anymore!”
So where does coaching and therapy fit into all this? Why do you combine Body Code work with coaching and therapy tools?
Each of the modalities on their own has some great things but are not complete in and of themselves.
I’ve had so many people come to me saying, “I’ve tried therapy and all I did was tell the same story over and over. So, I went to coaching and they kept saying forget about the past, but I can’t seem to stop doing the same things over and over."
When I worked as a therapist, I found that it was helpful for people to have a safe space for their story to be witnessed… but, they needed more tools than what I had as a therapist to help them move past their story to create a new, empowering future.
When I worked as a coach, it was all about forgetting the past and creating a new, empowering future. However, if the past wasn’t fully processed and healed, they would continue to repeat the same patterns over and over.
We need our stories to be witnessed. We need someone to help us see a different future AND tools to help release what’s keeping us stuck in the past, preventing us from creating the future we desire. That’s where I see the Body Code come in.
Combining all three of these tools, I’m able to give my clients space for their stories to be witnessed, and release the trapped emotions and trauma to help them create their future. It’s a beautiful combination of all 3 modalities!
Aww, thank you!
Years ago I was working as an intensive in-home therapist for kids. My ‘client’ was the child who was displaying behaviors that were causing stress in the family, but my job entailed working with the whole family.
During one of these sessions, I was specifically working with the 14-year-old client's mother and step-father. The couple had a 1-year-old daughter together. The mother and step-father were talking about how much they were fighting about various things and there seemed to be no end to it. At the end of the session, as we were talking about action steps to take between sessions, I gave them this assignment: Whenever they fought, they had to fight in their room and they had to do it naked.
As soon as I said it the step-father said, “Oh that will never happen. She never lets me see her naked.” Internally my thought was “WHAT??? You are married! You just had a kid together. Why do you not want your husband to see you naked?”
Being a professional, I calmly and compassionately asked the mom, “What’s going on that you don’t want him to see you naked?” She proceeded to say that she doesn’t like how she looks since she had the baby and is embarrassed by her body.
This made me so sad, but I remembered that there was a time when I hated my body and myself too. I started wondering what changed in me that brought me from a place of hating myself to loving myself. From a place of being embarrassed to be on camera to loving it. From being uncomfortable with my body to fulfilling a dream of becoming an aerialist… and so the book was born!
Thank you so much for answering my questions! Before we part, where can people find you and learn more about the great work you are doing?
Thanks for having me Jenny!
Well, you know I am going to ask you this. What are your favorite Roses and Azalea products that you've personally tried and how has it helped you?
Ohhh, my standing favorite has been the face serum. But, I recently started using the Honey Gentle Cleanser and Konjac Sponge and I have to say, even though I only drink water and eat really healthy, my face is definitely looking way more hydrated since I started using those as well!
If you have any questions or concerns on this topic, please feel free to reach out to one of us! Heather would be happy to speak with you about the Body Code or how you can start your personal journey. The link to her personal calendar is here, or she is available on social media.
Know that no matter where you are in your journey to love yourself, you're not alone. We are here for you. I hope this interview with Heather brought you one step further in your journey and provided you resources to help along the way.
Positive vibes and well wishes, always❣
After attending The Institute for Integrative nutrition and becoming a health coach, Heather Esposito also attended The Natural Gourmet Institute, becoming a natural food chef. She studied under Christina Pirello and Annemarie Colbin. She went on to open the country's first bakery that is 100% free of gluten, eggs, soy, corn and refined sugar, and featured on The Cooking Channel and The Food Network. In 2012, she became a Master NLP Practitioner, and worked as a coach for Tony Robbins' company. During that time, she became a certified Body Code Practitioner. Heather went on to write a book about self-love, 'Love, Yourself', based on her personal journey. When she's not coaching others, she can be found at the Aerial Studio climbing silks or on the Lyra, suspended in mid-air.
Instagram | https://www.instagram.com/heather_m_esposito/