17| Christine DeFilippis, HAES-Aligned Fitness Studio Owner, Body Liberator, and Fitness Industry Disruptor: “Let’s Ditch Diet Culture.” 

Christine DeFilippis is a Movement Motivator, Body Liberator & Unconventional Fitness Pro. Owner of Pop Fit Studio, a HAES-aligned fitness studio in the Philadelphia suburbs, Creator of FitProEd, an online education platform for fitness professionals, and the host of the Breaking Body Biases Podcast she is passionate about changing the narrative around fitness.

Christine was a competitive dancer and danced for the nationally ranked Temple University dance team and taught group fitness classes while an undergrad. After making fitness her full-time career she struggled with fitting in and looking the part. Years of body dysmorphia, eating disorders, and a disordered relationship with exercise, she discovered Health at Every Size and began a journey to find peace with food, movement, and her body. 

She is now on a mission to create inclusive spaces for all bodies to enjoy movement and ultimately destroy diet culture.

Connect with Christine
Fit Pro Ed  
Pop Fit Studio

In this episode, we talked about…

  • The origins of Christine’s disordered eating patterns 
  • What her eating and exercise looked like when she was training to try out for a pro dance dream. Spoiler alert: this time in her life is the reason she still can’t eat chicken. 
  • Christine’s journey to rejecting diet culture 
  • What is diet culture? 
  • How COVID played a role in shifting her fitness studio toward a HAES-aligned mission 
  • The conversations we need to be having at fitness conversations 
  • How fitness looks different at her HAES-aligned studio 
  • What her life is like since she rejected diet culture. 
  • Why Before and After pictures can be so toxic 

I wasn’t dancing because I enjoyed how it made me feel. I liked the praise that I got when I perform, and I liked the adrenaline rush when you get done performing or competing, but it was very disordered.

I used to always believe that my disordered eating and exercise, all that baggage came from dance, because it’s just easy to blame the dance world and easy to blame the dance teacher that was criticizing my body. But when I look back, it was way more what I heard growing up.

I had nowhere to go but to be in diet culture and be wanting to shrink my body because of what I heard from everyone. 

I avoided every situation that had food. 

I wanted to stop dieting. I knew it was bad. I hated it. I hated myself.

Diet culture is all the billion-dollar industry selling the idea that we need to be smaller, that we need to be a particular look and usually selling fitness products, pills, potions, meal plans,  products that are just going to make you smaller. So for me, diet culture is all of that stuff that we see on commercials and in media television; any TV show you watch probably has diet culture in it, There’s not much diversity of shapes or when they do have someone that is in a larger body, they’re used as like the sidekick. They’re not the leading lady. It’s the idea that health is just a small person. 

COVID really shifted me in a lot of ways. I got to sit back and see how society was body shaming everyone and then rewarding all these people, putting them on pedestals for people that upped their game

We don’t have any Turkey burners or holiday fat-burning classes. We don’t coach or teach in a way that body shames.  We don’t comment on anyone’s body ever. We don’t weigh anyone. There’s no scales. There’s no connection to food and movement. An instructor isn’t going to say,  we better do one more so you can have that extra beer. 

Come to the better side. Let’s ditch diet culture.

I think about how much time I spent counting calories, obsessing about food, deciding this is good food, this is bad food, punishing myself. 

 I enjoy going to places that have food rather than avoiding them.

When I hear people putting themselves down when they’re out with girlfriends and saying like, “Ugh, I’m so fat.” Those conversations are so draining. And, you don’t know how that makes someone feel when someone in a smaller body says that, and then you’re in a larger body and you’re thinking, oh gosh, if they think they’re fat, what do they think about me? 

I really have a different way of handling food and movement around my son.

I’m never going to judge or criticize because I believe in body autonomy. You can only go into every situation with empathy and just try to be kind. 

You have to continue to learn and grow.

[Rejecting diet culture] is constant work and it’s a journey. I want to meet people where they are and help them connect to different people.

I don’t want to be mean to my body. 

We do put a lot of morality on healthy foods and junk food and putting them, then we label the person good or bad because they choose the healthy food or the junk food or the good fat, good food or the bad fat.

Never stop learning. Always be open to learn and grow and reflect, not just read a book and just have that knowledge, but reflect on what I believe currently, what is that based in? Can it be challenged right now with this new information that I have?

Our struggles make us who we are.

Health at Every Size
Intuitive eating 
Melissa Toler’s podcast
Lindo Bacon (formerly Linda Bacon)
Body Kindness by Rebecca Stritchfield 
More Than a Body by Lexie Kite and Lindsay Kite
Origins of the Body Positivity Movement, how it’s been appropriated since, and why that’s problematic
Brendan Burchard
Simon Sinek
Embrace (movie)
Team in Training
Bungee workouts 

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