Helen Phelan on why exercise is about so much more than what our bodies look like
Hi all! Welcome to our sixth episode! (Un-be-lieve-a-ble!) Keeping in line with our theme of non-diet January, this week’s episode takes a critical look at how exercise fits into our lives.
Today’s guest, Helen Phelan, is an intuitive pilates instructor with an anti-diet approach to exercise. Since most of us have—or once had—a complicated relationship with eating and/or movement (thanks celeb culture, ugh), this episode will help expose SO MANY of those old beliefs and get us excited about the true purpose (and JOY!) of moving our bodies.
Deep inside, we all know it: Movement shouldn’t be about what we look like or how many calories we burn. That messaging belongs in the dumpster. Because it engages both the dopamine and endocannabinoid “reward” systems, exercise has so many more benefits than what we were brought up to think (ESPECIALLY as women!). It can bring clarity to our minds, lift our spirits when we’re in a funk, reduce alcohol craving, get us back into nature or our communities, and so much more.
I mean, it feels like every single day there’s new research extolling the mental health benefits of movement, so that’s why we’re so excited to have Helen on the pod. And we are STOKED for you to hear her words on why pilates can be such a fun experience!
So want to kick ass, feel strong but also ditch the toxicity of diet culture? There’s a lot to unpack so let’s get to it!
About Helen Phelan:
Helen Phelan is an intuitive pilates instructor with an anti-diet approach to exercise. Growing up in the dance world, Helen found her love of movement and her distaste for diet culture were always at odds with one another, so she created an online pilates platform to make space for people who enjoy challenging workouts but have no time for body shaming.
Today, Helen is 100% focused on her online studio, Helen Phelan Studio, right now—and there’s a free 10 day trial for anyone interested in checking out what body neutral cueing looks like! She’s stayed away from seasonal “challenges” in the past because they can get diet-y quickly but she’s structured her programs to be a mix of 15 min pilates, stretching, meditation, and journaling, which can be done in whatever order you like. This way, you don’t feel pressured to work out on days that your body isn’t asking for it.
She aims to help people get clear on what they really want from their movement practice—and start to shed some of those diet culture beliefs around working out! Helen also teaches weekly Zoom classes where you can check out her style before committing to a membership!
On this episode we chat about:
- How leaving the dance world changed Helen’s view on movement and eating.
- Why movement or choosing healthy foods should NEVER be treated as “punishment.”
- How to find yourself on the path of body acceptance despite what others are selling.
- How to incorporate mindfulness into your movement practice, regardless of the intensity
- A brief outline and history of Pilates: what it is, and the benefits of such a well-rounded practice.
- The non-weight benefits of moving on a more consistent basis (hello mood + energy!)
- How to avoid the coupling of feeling like a “better” or “worse” person because you worked out or didn’t work out. Pssst that’s not what movement is about!
- How to land at feeling worthy in your current body, even if you know there are changes you want to make. Those changes will NOT make you more worthy, even if there’s benefits to them.
A huge thank you to our amazing sponsor, Botanica Health!
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Connect with Helen Phelan:
Helen Phelan’s Recommendations:
The Joy of Movement by Kelly McGonigal
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Cultish by Amanda Montell