I am so excited to share this exclusive interview I got to do with the beautiful and inspiring Gina. For some that might not know, Gina has one of the most amazing Instagram accounts (@nourishandeat). I hope all of my readers find this interview as inspiring as I do. Also,thank you so much Gina for taking the time to do this with me. Everyone be sure to give her a follow on Twitter and Instagram, you won’t regret it!
Xo Diva D
David: First off, I want to thank you so much for taking the time to sit and answer these questions because it means so much to me! I am a big fan of yours so this is amazing. Where did you come up with the idea to start such an empowering and inspiring body image social media platform?
Gina:Honestly, I didn’t start it to be empowering or inspiring… I made it as more of a means of outletting my anxiety and feelings about my ED recovery. I posted things that I knew in my heart were the right things, but couldn’t get my brain on board with them. The night I decided I needed help, I’d found a tumblr account called LETSRECOVER (which is amazing, and still the website I recommend to everyone looking for guidance in their anorexia recovery), and I found the creator on instagram. I was so amazed by her strength that I created my own account and followed her.
David: You are very open about your past struggles with body image acceptance and an eating disorder and I find that incredibly inspiring. How did you overcome your struggles and what helped you with your recovery?
Gina:I wouldn’t say I’ve overcome my struggles entirely. Just like I won’t ever call myself completely recovered. I don’t think anyone who’s suffered from something as horrible as an all-consuming eating disorder can just ‘turn it off.’ But I definitely control my struggles – that’s the key. Whenever I feel disordered thoughts or habits cropping up, I know how to manage them. I have a toolbox at my disposal that has been carefully outfitted by therapy and body positivity and friendships made within the bopo community. Something I try to do when I feel myself questioning my body, or feeling down about myself, is to really dive into it. What specifically am I picking on? If it’s the shape of my arms, for example, I ask myself ‘have my arms really changed at all since the last time I felt good about them?’ – ‘what specifically do I not like right now? why does that make me less of a worthy human being?’ I remember all the things about me that have nothing to do with the shape of my body, and all the people who are shaped differently than me who I think are beautiful wonderful humans. Really diving into it helps me see how silly those thoughts really are. I also talk to the people around me who I know can help build me back up. Hearing those words from different people can hit you in a way your own words can’t.
David: You recently spoke at Cast Centers who is on tour with Demi Lovato & Nick Jonas, how was that experience getting to do that?
Gina:It was amazing! It was actually my first time ever speaking in public – I was so nervous! But when she asked me to it, I didn’t even think – I just said yes. And knowing that she had my back, and that all those people were going to be there because they were taking charge of their lives and wanting to get help, or talk to someone, that really made my decision easy. When it was over, people lined up and wanted to talk to me and take photos with me! I felt like a celebrity! And I absolutely loved getting to meet everyone and hear their stories. It made me want to do it again!
David: When you’re feeling down or upset, what’s one thing that can comfort you?
Gina:It depends on how I’m feeling, really. I find that different coping mechanisms work for different feelings.
If I’m sad, I’ll watch one of my favorite movies (Little Women – the one with Wynona Ryder, or Waking Ned Devine, or the original Winnie the Pooh) and sit under a blanket.
If I’m anxious, I’ll put away all my technology (phone, apple watch, etc) and make a worry list (where I write out all the things I’m thinking about, and then ways I can change my thinking about them.
If I’m feeling disordered thoughts crop up, I’ll reach out to my BoPo community for support, or look back on old posts of either my own or other peoples, and I’ll distract myself with things like coloring, or playing with my dog. I’ll also make efforts to eat the things my brain tells me not to, even if I’m not hungry. If my brain says ‘don’t eat so many carbs’, I’ll have a piece of toast.
David: Do you have any role models of inspirations that you look up to that give you confidence?
Gina:I have SO MANY role models! If I started talking about them, I’d never stop – but they are a constant source for inspiration, and the people I reach out to when I’m feeling down or need support, and Some of which are friends of mine, like @bodyposipanda, @goofy_ginger, @anastasiaamour, @jewelzjourney, @chooselifewarrior, @amalielee, @ddlovato, @iamiskra, @franhayden, @yourstruelymelly, @frances_cannon, @dothehotpants, and @curvesbecomeher and @notoriouslydapper and @satelite.years and @mindsetforlifeltd … And then there are others who inspire me that I’ve never met, like @theashleygraham and @whitneywaythore and @themilitantbaker and @fyeahmfabello and @tessholiday , and so many others that I know I’m forgetting to list right now.
David: What is a normal breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack for you?!
Gina:I try to eat intuitively, and I don’t count calories. The only restriction I put on my diet is that I am gluten-free because I am allergic, but I’ll eat anything and everything else!
Breakfast: right now I’m really into having egg whites + veggies + sweet potatoes + goat cheese, but other times I’ll have oatmeal + nutella + banana, or greek yogurt + honey + granola
Snack: usually some sort of fruit, or yogurt if I didn’t have that for breakfast
Lunch: I love salads with hot potatoes on it, or any kind of leftovers from the night before, or lentil soup!
Snack #2: sometimes a little candy, or chocolate, or chips
Dinner: Pizza! Sushi! Zucchini boats filled with ground turkey and cheese! Spaghetti and meat sauce! Tacos! Everything 🙂
Snack #3: Maybe a little ice cream? or toast with butter and honey
David: What is one quote you live by?
Gina:One of my favorite quotes will always be “I am whole as I am,” which is from @frances_cannon. I’m thinking of getting it tattooed on my body to be a constant reminder.
David: Is there any specific songs that give you confidence?
Gina:I always feel especially confident when I hear Demi’s ‘Confident,’ which is cliché but true nonetheless. I also love listening to Beyonce and Rihanna and Nikki Minaj when I need that little extra boost.
David: You’ve also been open about being bullied as a child and I can really relate to that. How did you deal and overcome with being bullied?
Gina:I didn’t overcome it, in the traditional sense. I moved schools when I was in the 5th grade. I’d had my nose broken, I was teased and mocked constantly, and bullied both physically and mentally – and it was all girl on girl crime. I remember sitting in class and having girls walk behind me and snap my bra through my shirt. They’d knock my lunch tray out of my hands and step on my food. They’d ransack my locker and rip pages out of my notebooks. They’d pretend to be my friends one day and then no one would talk to me for weeks. It was really horrible. Most days I’d call my mother and fake sick so I could just come home.
And I wish I could say that girls like that grow out of it, or that those kinds of things don’t happen anymore, but unfortunately it’s not true. There will always be bullies. There will always be people looking to tear you down, in order to lift themselves up. But whats important is to recognize that you are brighter than their darkness. Whatever they do to you, you can choose to rise above it. Whether that means letting their words roll off you and being the bigger person, or taking steps to ensure that you’re not in harms way – you have the power to protect yourself. Don’t be afraid to use it.
David: What’s the best advice you can give to someone like myself and others who struggle with body image acceptance?
Gina:You are so much more than your outer packaging. The shape of your body does not determine who you are, and it does not determine your worth as a human being. There is no perfect body – we are all meant to be differently shaped and colored and abled. Your body is the one you’re meant to live in. Treat it with respect; honor it; give it what it needs – food, love, and fresh air.
Surround yourself with people who inspire you to be a good person. Eliminate from your life the people who make you feel less than, or unworthy. Stop equating beauty with a pant size, and start recognizing the good in differences. You are the culmination of your passions and your emotions and the things that make you laugh and the way you love others. You are so much more than what you look like.