Episode #76: Staying Positive at Home with Corinne Dobbas

Staying positive at home with Corinne Dobbas

Today’s guest, Corinne Dobbas, is an amazing Registered Dietician that works in the intuitive eating & health-at-every-size space. Rather than stick to our original plan, we decided to pivot with this episode! Since we’re still sheltering in place, we discuss staying positive, stress, boredom, and self-care strategies that can help you through Covid-19. Rather than dreading each day, let’s talk about ways to enjoy the slower pace and time at home.

(Also – a HUGE shout out to every essential worker that is helping to keep us safe at home! We appreciate all you’re doing!)

For those of you interested in ending the diet cycle and learning to love your bodies, my Food Freedom and Body Confidence Challenge is open! You can learn the basic elements of intuitive eating, and take part in a fun challenge each day. And if you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed? Don’t worry about adding more to your list. The challenge will be around later too; feel free to focus on self-care right now!

Let’s Meet Corinne

Corinne shares that her early diet experiences were usually geared around eating as little as possible. The whole goal was to look like women in the media. Since she was obsessively reading celebrity magazines, she would often to try implement their food related “tips” into her life as well.

In her later teens and early twenties, Corinne realized that she had a borderline eating disorder. She had enough awareness to ask for help, as she realized that she needed outside guidance to navigate her ideas about food and exercise.

Looking back, she realizes that a lot of her journey was about finding her value outside of her body size. Slowly, she was able to untangle food, exercise, and self-worth. It sounds simple to talk about now, but there were so many pieces involved in that process! Corinne doesn’t feel she would be able to live her day-to-day life now if she was still dealing with those early food struggles. As a mom with a young toddler at home, she is so glad she has the freedom to eat what works for her, with no restrictions or food “rules”!

Her Work in the World

As a Registered Dietician and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Corinne calls herself a “Nutrition Therapist”. Essentially, she works with clients using various counseling tools and therapeutic practices, in combination with nutrition education and intuitive eating principals.

The goal of her work is to help clients make peace with their bodies in a way that is not attached to their weight or size. Instead, it’s about individual connection to body and self. Her clients learn to eat and move in the world in a way that aligns with their own values. However, this isn’t where her practice started!

Corinne shares that her own struggles with food, eating, and movement are what initially led her to the field of nutrition and dietetics. She wanted to be the healthiest person she could personally be. At the time, she didn’t understand that her definition of “healthy” was extremely disordered. So even though that is what led her to dietetics, she still had a lot of internal processing to do in order to grasp what health actually was.

Eventually, Corinne’s own healing work, as well as her changing understanding of nutrition and health, started to feel unaligned with her client work. She realized that, as a dietician in a health club, she had a lot of internalized beliefs about weight. This included fat phobia! So much of her beliefs about eating and nutrition were tangled up in weight and size. It began to feel unethical and uncaring to spend her career moving people towards dieting and weight loss when that wasn’t what she was practicing or benefiting from in her own life.

For a time, it seemed that working as a dietician was not going to be compatible with her new beliefs about bodies and health.

As she started learning new counseling tools, Corinne started learning new ways to work with clients that had nothing to do with body size or weight. She was grateful to learn more about things like intuitive eating, somatic body work, self-compassion, and more. As her awareness grew, she started working with clients who were dealing with body image, eating disorders, and other struggles.

Almost 10 years later, the work that she started out doing is not at all like the work she is doing now! Having experienced healing herself, she is now able to help others heal themselves. Rather than leaving the field altogether, she is so glad she focused on staying positive and contributing an alternate way of thinking.

Emotional Eating

Since staying positive can feel hard right now, lot’s of people might be dealing with emotional eating related to stress, boredom, fear, or some other emotion. So let’s talk about that!

First off: emotional eating does not have to be “good” or “bad”. It just is. Sometimes we eat from emotion, and we don’t have to feel shame or guilt about it! It’s really normal for ALL people to experience this. Also, in times like this, it’s normal for pretty much everyone to see a change in their eating patterns.

Wherever you are right now, you are absolutely okay. You can sit with your feelings, and do your best to accept yourself in this moment. You can eat food without feeling guilty or ashamed.

Corinne shares that, in her client work, she often uses the concept of zooming in and out to shift focus.

Instead of thinking about all the BIG things going on in the world, try to zoom in on yourself. What do you need right now? What could help you respond to yourself in a way that feels aligned?

Corinne likes to ask clients:

+ What are you feeling right now?

+ What would be the best way to respond to that feeling right now?

If the honest answer is that food would help, then go eat! That’s okay! The idea here is to create a pause and check in with ourselves. And then once we have that answer, we try to honor ourselves by giving ourselves what we asked for. Staying positive becomes so much easier when we can trust ourselves to listen for and honor our own unique needs.

The Fear of Weight Gain

There have been so many conversations online about the fear of gaining weight during this time of staying home! If you’re stressing about that, Corinne wants you to know that that is pretty normal too.

Our culture puts a lot of focus on weight, and also assigns a lot of meaning to size. People who are more prone to diet culture and the diet world are often very sensitive, and have a lot of concerns about how we will be seen by others. Those fears can feel so real! When it comes to weight gain or size, however, the more we can connect to what is actually important to US, the more we can remove ourselves from what others might be thinking.

What characteristics and traits do you value in others? 99.9% of the time, you don’t mention their appearance or body size! When you try to consider what truly matters most, body size usually has little to do with it. So if you’re feeling really worried or stressed about your body size, I’d love to ask you to consider:

+ What are you really stressed about?

Often, we find our real worries are about rejection, acceptance, or belonging. We may assume that what we care about is weight, but that is rarely the root!

However, worrying about weight loss can also be a concrete, tangible area to focus on in times of uncertainty. When life feels out of control, weight can feel like something we CAN control.

Corinne validates that this IS normal; we’re looking for things we can control and pour energy into.

So…how can you sit with those feelings, and still make choices that feel right for you and your body? She notes that by evaluating what truly matters to you, you can refocus on things that align with your greater values. She also encourages you to be caring and compassionate with your body and your thoughts right now. There’s a lot happening, and we’re processing so much on a daily basis!

Remember to zoom in on yourself, and make decisions about what matters to you in this moment. At the end of the day, staying positive and practicing self-care will help you get through this crisis!

Staying Positive at Home

Right now, we’re able to connect with people online without having to think about bodies. Many of us aren’t wearing makeup; instead we’re wearing comfortable clothes, and we’re experiencing less pressure to look a certain way in order to show up to work, school, or social events. That can be so freeing! It’s a great time to realize that you are loved and worthy, regardless of your size or weight.

Many people are also realizing how much calmer they feel now that they don’t have to worry about what other people will think about them day in and day out. Staying positive is so much easier without the constant fear of criticism!

Wow! Isn’t that interesting? When the only thing that changes is our environment, we can feel better in our bodies.

This is a great opportunity to zoom in and reflect on our own perceptions of our bodies, our sizes, and our health. We might find that there are so many things we honestly love about ourselves – things we too easily forget about in the midst of day to day life.

Final Covid-19 Tips for Staying Positive

Corinne shares she is doing her best to limit news consumption. She’s staying current, but not getting consumed by the 24/7 news cycle.

She’s also doing her best to add in elements of normalcy. Getting up and getting dressed in the morning might help her feel a little more “on track”, even if she technically wouldn’t have to.

Self-care practices like journaling, eating well, and resting on a regular schedule can all help keep things moving along. Play around with what works for you! Ideally, you’ll find your own mix that allows you to stay positive while also processing what’s happening around you.

Food, water, rest, and support are the basics you want to be sure you’re getting enough of! Personally, Corinne, is operating from a place of basic self-care as much as possible. She finds getting fresh air in her backyard is helpful, as is allowing herself to feel her feelings.

Her final advice: Find something you really look forward to doing, and give yourself space for joy.

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