An Interview with Erica Mather, Body Image Expert, Forrest Yoga Guardian

An Interview with Erica Mather, body image expert, Forrest Yoga Guardian for My Kind of Life

I met Erica Mather recently and we immediately connected, talking about out mutual passions for yoga, body image positivity, and making a change in the world. Erica is so kind and enthusiastic, and she invited me to be part of her Adore Your Body Telesummit May 9-19th. As a sneak preview for the incredible body-image series, I turned the tables around and asked her the questions that she posed to me. If you want to listen in to all of the powerful interviews, you can click here to sign up for this complimentary telesummit event. The people that Erica has interviewed are all self-confidence warriors in my book–a great way to spend 20-30 minutes each day listening to incredible inspiration over the next two weeks.

EN: Tell us about where your story of body image challenges and struggles began.

EM: I remember being pretty cool with myself as a little kid, but all of that started to fall apart around age eight. I grew up in the Midwest, and was the fastest-growing gal on the block. I was tall and busty at a very young age. Standing out, and standing apart made me self-conscious, and getting teased for having big breasts eroded my self-confidence. This was all compounded by the fact that I didn’t feel very accepted by the boys, and so I had a very bad impression of myself and my looks.

Looking back at this, it seems pretty unremarkable—it’s not like my story is either that tragic, or unique. And that’s the real point, I think. That pretty much everyone feels some kind of dissatisfaction or shame around his or her body, no matter whether they are close to the “standard” of beauty, or farther away from it. How can that be? Even more bizarre, is that even though I thought I was tall, fat, and ugly, I later came to realize that I’m in fact, pretty good looking! Again—how can it be that people in general are so unforgiving of their looks and their bodies, and tend to feel so bad? The answer is, in short: we’re taught to be. Satisfied people don’t make good consumers.

EN: Was there one thing that really changed the way that you thought about your body?

EM: A few years ago I experienced a twenty-pound weight gain. I remember the specifics of how it happened—it followed a heart-break and long loss of appetite. My body was pretty unhappy about being starved, even if at the time I couldn’t bring myself to eat. The boomerang effect was that once I got my appetite back, I gained a lot of weight. And, as many woman have done, numerous times over the years I had worked to control my weight through dietary means. In the wake of this weight gain, as I contemplated doing this yet again, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. Looking down that path I saw sadness and misery, and even if I did lose the weight, it would only be replaced with a fear of gaining it back. What kind of a life is that to live? So, I elected to stop. That was it. I looked down a path that I had trod many times before, and decided not to do it. Instead, I decided to live with my body, and to trust that it was recalibrating itself. And to wait patiently for it to heal, while behaving “normally” around food and exercise, meaning eating well, not too much, and maintaining the activity level that I ordinarily do as a yoga instructor, which is pretty high.

EN: What are your top three tips for a heightened sense of self-confidence and self love that I can share with my readers?

EM: Be consistent: If you think that you’ll love yourself more when you’re thinner, realize that LOVE does not care what you look like. If you want to truly love yourself, then hold steady with that desire through all seasons of your life and body.

Realize that this is the only body you’ve got. It’s not like you’re gonna get another shot. So, the options are: to love the one you’ve got, or not. What will you choose? And, if you decided NOT, then get interested in why being unhappy is a more attractive option than being happy.

Be forgiving of the people around you. If you have a tendency to judge other people for how their bodies do or do not look, know that you are really judging yourself, in disguise.

If you want to sign up for the Adore Your Body Telesummit, you can go to this page to sign up. You’ll get access to this free virtual event, which is happening May 9-19th! I’ll be speaking on May 11th.

Photo: Do You Yoga

Kind Contributor Erica Mather

Erica Mather, M.A., E-RYT, is a lifelong teacher. She has been teaching yoga in New York City since 2006. Erica created “Adore Your Body,” a Signature System for addressing body image challenges, and is the Founder of The Yoga Clinic NYC. Check out her website and follow her on Twitter and Instagram.

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oh darling, indulge a little