Chakras & Chardonnay

Ep. 33: Challenging the Societal Narrative & Choosing Self-Love

January 31, 2024 Maria Mayes
Chakras & Chardonnay
Ep. 33: Challenging the Societal Narrative & Choosing Self-Love
Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 33 Maria is joined by Rachel Levin, author of "The Donut Diaries" and a personal trainer and health coach with over 20 years of experience. Rachel shares her background and the transformative journey she underwent while writing her book.

Rachel reflects on her initial approach to the fitness industry, where the focus was on achieving a smaller body size. However, as she grew older, she became tired of the constant pressure to conform to a particular body image. Turning 40, she realized that despite achieving a size zero, she was still unhappy. This realization led her to explore the concept of "health at every size" and the damaging effects of restrictive dieting.

The conversation delves into the importance of self-love and the challenges women face in embracing their bodies. Rachel emphasizes the need to shift the mindset and shares her personal journey of overcoming societal pressures and negative self-talk. Maria and Rachel discuss the significance of recognizing and challenging negative beliefs rooted in adolescence and the impact of seeking external validation.

Rachel introduces a simple yet powerful exercise for listeners to implement in their daily lives – using affirmations or proclamations. The conversation continues with insights into the ongoing journey of self-love and the importance of setting boundaries. Rachel encourages women to stop seeking external opinions about their bodies and shares mantras she developed to protect her mental health. The episode concludes with a discussion on the quote that has profoundly influenced Rachel's perspective on wholeness followed by a guided relaxation led by Maria intended to help you remember your wholeness. 

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Learn more about Maria and her work at Take5.Health and subscribe to receive tips and free Guided Meditations each Wednesday. Connect with Maria on social:

Maria Mayes: welcome back, Chakras and Chardonnay listeners. I'm so excited to be back with you, and today I have a special guest, Rachel Levin, and she is, of many things, an author of the Donut Diaries. So, so excited to jump into this conversation. So grateful to have you here, Rachel. Thank you so much for being here.

Rachel Lavin: Well, thank you for having me. I do appreciate your time as well. 

Maria Mayes: I'd love for you to share a little bit about your background, a little bit about what you do, and then we'll jump into the well being piece of it. 

Rachel Lavin: Of course. I am a personal trainer, a health coach. I've been in this industry for over 20 years.

I have loved every moment of it. And then when I wrote my book, I realized that my in this world was going to shift. And I had no idea how big of a shift that was going to be, not only for me professionally, but me personally. And, uh, again, I don't want to jump ahead [00:01:00] of you, but that's what I've been doing with my life for the past 25 years is, uh, helping people feel good about their bodies.


Maria Mayes: I love that. I love that because it's, it's something that we don't innately. Learn typically coming into this world, right? Culturally, it's just not, at least in the era we grew up in, right? It's just not something that we learned. So I'd love to learn a little bit more about that progression for you, the book and how that brought you into this personal journey and shift and how that transforms into the work you're doing.

Rachel Lavin: Absolutely. I think for the first part of my career, I was drinking the Kool Aid. It's like, yep, let's do what we got to do to get your body smaller. I was always trying to do that for myself. So it seemed normal. It seemed like it was something that was, I was doing the right thing. And as I started to [00:02:00] get older and Kind of got tired of in my industry, like you don't have the right body to be a trainer.

And then we would have to go and crash diet again and get smaller. And I mean, just the up and down for me. was something that my clients go through. And so it was just, it got to be so much that when I turned 40, I was literally a size zero and I was still miserable. And I said, something is not right here.

I have literally been on this quest my whole life. So now we need to pivot and go a different direction. And that's when I started researching health at every size and learning that. You know, the dieting that we are doing to our bodies is actually really damaging us in the long run. And it made sense why my body just never kind of felt Okay.

And the more that I researched it, I realized that I have been doing this to myself my whole life, [00:03:00] and then in turn, teaching my clients how to do this. And I just wanted to literally put a pause on that. And it's so funny because the universe answered with a big like, Hi, March 220. Here you go. You know, so I really had some time to it.

Sit with all this new information and that's when I took advantage of writing my book the donut diaries which is my story my personal journey of going up and down and and Restricting most of my life and how I realized I just don't want to do this anymore and how I got to where I am Today. 

Maria Mayes: Mm hmm. I love that.

That is so in alignment with chakras and chardonnay in terms of looking at We're all so different, right? We all have this unique makeup. So to expect one thing to work the same for all of us and this to expect us all to be the same [00:04:00] physical form is just so absurd, really, because we all come into this world with different makeup.

So I love that. So tell me a little bit more about in terms of how you're applying that work today now through this new lens of, you know what? Let's let's look at what health looks like for the individual, not what it not what the media or, you know, the world tells us health should look like. 

Rachel Lavin: Yeah, absolutely.

I mean, it's, it's still a shift in process to be perfectly honest with you because I. And still learning how to coach other women to meet them where they're at, because for me, like doing the work, kind of getting to this place of I love and respect my body and but it's still kind of healing from all these years of dieting that it may not kind of look the way that I want it to look right now, but to love my body through every stage is what is new for me.

And I [00:05:00] think so beautiful. So when I work with women who just were not on the same level in that way, I have to, you know, like I just said, meet them where they're at. I can't push, I can't rush your journey because no one could rush mine. But I do, I can, I love the fact that I can stay to most things. I know what you feel or I hear you or I've been there because I think the most the worst part of a woman's journey with their body is to we all feel alone at some point we all feel like only we have to deal with all this stuff going on and to be able to break that barrier and say you're not alone to me is so special and beautiful that even if that's as far as I get with it with other people then I'm okay with that and for me it's just.

Continually learning, continually getting comfortable in my own skin and [00:06:00] doing the work to my path and my journey of self love. I love 

Maria Mayes: that. And I think it's, you know, it's not something that's taught in school and God, I wish it would be in terms of self compassion, right? And self love. Because I think at the end of the day, a lot of us are looking or have looked in life to things to fill the hole.

To numb a pain, to take the edge off the anxiety, to use these external things, whether it be wine, which it was in my case, right? Whether it be food, whether it be social media, whether it be I'll, you know, you name it, it could become something that is used to take you external out of yourself rather than turning inward.

And I truly think it all stems from that lack of self love, right? And so if we can cultivate that within, um, that, that self love, then everything else ends up kind of [00:07:00] working itself out, 

Rachel Lavin: right? Agreed. 100%. Yes, 

Maria Mayes: take me kind of through how you approach that with a client or, or how on your journey, what you found like if we could look at let's say one tip that the audience could put into action today if, if they're listening to this and thinking, you know, maybe I'm not so kind to myself, or maybe I have been on this yo yo, let's say of dieting over the years, or whatever it might be, what can they do to just Just get started.

Rachel Lavin: The simplest, simplest task that anyone, anywhere can start, at any age, can start this moment is to accept that we do not speak kindly to ourselves at all. And we are our own worst critics. So, accept that. Forgive yourself, and you have to teach yourself how to shift that mindset, and you can call it [00:08:00] affirmations, you can call it positive self talk, I mean, I really don't care what you call it, but it's more of the action, because for me I wrote down things that I already knew in my heart that I did not believe about myself.

I think we all go through life, people say, like for you Maria, I'm sure people tell you all the time that you're beautiful. So you probably don't even question that about yourself. But maybe you don't think like for me, I didn't believe that I was a very smart person. And so I wrote things like you are smart, you are capable, your body is safe, right?

Whatever it was that I needed to kind of reteach myself. And reading it is not enough. You have to say it out loud. You have to make it an, you know, a proclamation. You have to say it knowing, and this is what I always tell women, that you are not, there's no way you're going to believe it right away and, and be okay with that and say it out loud until you do.

Maria Mayes: Right. Oh, I, that's so [00:09:00] interesting. And I'm just going to share what came up with me as you're saying that the first time I thought of myself as beautiful is when I saw it through the lens of my daughter because everybody's like, she's your mini me. She's your mini me. And, and, you know, and I'm looking at her, I'm like, she's, she's just this beautiful light.

Right. And then it's like, as you start doing that work and cracking open a little bit of the armor and the, the walls you put up and the blinders that you put on over time, then it was like, well, wait a minute. If she's this beautiful light and if she's literally my mini me. Then maybe, maybe I am, so it's so, um, you know, it's so, so interesting that we, we just fall into those habits, right?

And I think it's so beautiful you opening up with your vulnerability and any, anyone that. That steps into that and says, you know, the, [00:10:00] the expectations that we put on others. Right. And what we think, well, she's got it all figured out. She's smart cookie. She wrote a book for crying out loud. Right. And then, and then to find these things.

So that's, that's beautiful. And I totally agree. I mean, that first step and it's admitting we have a problem. Right. And that is. And, and just honoring the fact that we have this negativity wired wiring, right? We have this negative bias that we're wired with. So let's cut ourselves some damn slack around that and say, you know what?

This is the way my brain's wired. So how can I work to add some new wiring? So, yeah, absolutely. So are there certain tools that you use in doing that with clients or methods? I mean, you mentioned affirmations, maybe. Um, share a little bit more about that and using it as more of a proclamation versus just something that's written on a post it note and you look at every once in a 

Rachel Lavin: while.

Well, and that's why I say it's important to pick things that you know that you don't believe about yourself again. Anyone can say I have nice hair. Anyone can say [00:11:00] that I have pretty eyes. Let's get deeper. Like, that's why I use the smart one or Being a kind person or a good person or an honest person. I mean, I'm happy if you want to pick a body part because I know that that gets us down too.

So let's try to delve a little deeper. Right. And I always like my clients, whatever their favorite color is to find a package of post its in that color, because you're going to be attracted to it, right? So you're going to be attracted to a hot pink or yellow or blue. So get a package of postage, write down all these things.

And you must place them in places that you know, you look at every day. And so the bathroom mirror is one of my spots. Uh, when I leave the front door, that's one of my spots, just places where I know I have to look every single day. And when I see it, I have to say it out loud. I cannot move on to a different task until I say it out loud.

And I honestly still [00:12:00] use that tactic for myself when things start to get overwhelming or a new feeling comes up. I, I just really believe that. Saying it gives it so much power, just like saying something negative gives that so much power. I'm just saying something kind to myself. 

Maria Mayes: There's that whole energy behind it, right?

The ability to shift the energetics based on the audible spoken word of this proclamation. I love the word proclamation. I'm going to start using that rather than affirmation. 

Rachel Lavin: I just feel like women also, too, if they've been told, even if it's one time, something negative about themselves, we just take that on as our, our own belief.

So even whatever that belief is, you know, someone, you're fat. And I would say, I am not fat. And say that out loud until again, I believe it. It's just, I think as women, we are so traumatized by other people that we have to kind of Work through that as [00:13:00] well. 

Maria Mayes: Yeah. And do you find with your, a lot of your clients that it's a lot of those things come from adolescence in terms of words that were heard?

Yeah. Oh, yeah. Just when you said that it triggered, triggered a memory again, in my mind of, of a tennis coach telling me that I had fat arms in high school when I was like a buck 10 and you know, it's just, so my twenties, I never wore. A sleeveless shirt and the absurdity at that. I mean, now looking back, it's, it's completely absurd, right?

But in the, in the moment with the, the way the adolescent's brain is developing, right? Um, it's just, it's such a precarious time, I feel like. And, um, you know, I'm a mother of two teens. So it's front and center and work with some teen, um, teen groups in an outpatient center. So, um, how. How do we take that and then take it to the next level?

So I love the, the post it notes. I'm a [00:14:00] fan of those too. I love putting them in, in the, in a color that you love and putting them on different places. The bathroom mirror, the door, the fridge, those are kind of my go tos as well. Do you use the same one on each post it so that you're really reinforcing it or is it different?

Or does it matter? 

Rachel Lavin: I didn't think of it that way. Um, for me, it was I had a few I had like a rotation, but I'm happy to suggest that if it's one thing that's really kind of affecting your day to day life, I'm happy to have the same thing on 10 different in 10 different places. So yeah, that's actually a great idea.

Maria Mayes: I guess there's there's some that are pretty ingrained that I've had to work through so I've had to have that repetition. Um, but how do then we take it from there, um, to that next step of, okay, it starts to become a little easier to just even say the words, right? Because sometimes it's hard to even to say it out loud and, and it'll feel like you're faking it till you'll make it.[00:15:00] 

And that's what we got to do sometimes as we're rewiring, right? So how, how do you then kind of guide your clients through that next piece of it? What's that next step or, or, or just give us an example of what that might look like. Of 

Rachel Lavin: course. So, I mean, once we've been saying something consistently for a few weeks, it's like, okay, let me hear it.

Say it out loud. Say it, say it to me with conviction. And if there is still like some hesitation or this is so stupid kind of thing, then it's like, all right, we're not done with this part yet. You got to keep going. But I think another partnering piece of that is You have to stop asking other people about you, you know, that was a huge thing that I did for most of my life, whether it would be my mother or the man in my life, like, do I look fat?

Do I need to lose weight? I mean, all the Things that you can imagine just [00:16:00] continually giving my power away. And so when all this kind of started to shift for me, I realized that that was something I had to stop cold turkey. I had to stop asking people what they thought of me and my body. And so now I've created a couple of mantras for myself.

It's like anytime people want to talk about my body, it's like my body is not up for discussion or my body is none of your business. Like, I just don't entertain that conversation anymore with anyone. That's good. That really kind of saved my mental health in so many ways because, like I said, looking back and realizing how much of my power I was giving away, trying to feel good and feel okay when all that I, I've learned now that I can only do that for myself.

It's. It's sad. It's very sad. 

Maria Mayes: Yeah, it is. And you know, I've been there too, [00:17:00] right? And it just goes to the point that it's an inside job, right? So if we look to object referral or the external world for happiness versus our internal and I think I really feel like energetically 2023, a lot of people are at a point now where they're ready.

This is kind of the year to step into our power to stop outsourcing our health, to stop outsourcing our happiness and start insourcing it. So what's, what's a way that you cultivate that for yourself? I like the boundaries. That's a huge tip. I think. Take away for our, our listeners is just setting those boundaries of this just actually isn't a discussion point because you know what, you're not living in this vessel.

I am. 

Rachel Lavin: Yep. I think for me to continually and I love the word cultivate because it really, I think your listeners need to understand that this is not a one and done kind of thing. It's it's going to take a long time. And I can't really put a stipulation on that. [00:18:00] But when I do have my hard days, because again, I felt like this about myself and my body for almost 40 years.

So how can I expect You know, three years, five years down the road. Oh, I'm all healed now. No, I still have my days where I don't like to see what my image looks like. I don't like what my body has done. And again, I just have to be kind to myself. And remember, I am still healing. And my body is still trying to find homeostasis and that I also know that the universe still wants to kind of test me to make sure that this stuff is sticking.

Right. So it's just like, you know, you kind of have to continually say kind things to yourself. And there might be a point in time where it It's more or less, but it's still something that I think we as women have to learn how to do is take care of ourselves. Absolutely. I think 

Maria Mayes: that whole [00:19:00] concept of self care is much more than going to get a massage or going to Pilates every once in a while, right?

It's the words that we use, it's the, what we're saying when no one's around to herself. The dialogue within the head. So I love that you're describing it as this journey too, because I think that is, you know, you hear stories of people getting this overnight healing or this enlightenment in a moment. And my journey certainly wasn't that mine's been a long ongoing and I'm just scratching the surface, baby.

I feel like it's just this start of, you know, this continued evolution. So I love that. And I love the fact that going back to just. I'm just, this has been a theme this week, so I'm just going to throw it out there. It's one of my favorite quotes, which is, uh, by, uh, the Sufi poet Rumi, I'm not this hair. I'm not this skin.

I'm the soul that lives within. And so I had written that on a board and in a outpatient facility that I'm teaching at right now. And [00:20:00] it's a, it's a quote that kind of guides my life. Um, so is there a quote like that, that just is really resonant with you, that's kind of a guidepost for you? 

Rachel Lavin: Yes, many years ago, I don't know if you remember, but Oprah had this show on, it was called Masterclass, and it was where the person doing the interview was actually in the room alone, just kind of talking to the camera, or so it seemed.

Yes. And she had Jane Fonda on, and Jane Fonda is kind of going through her life story and talking about this. And she said this and I literally just started bawling at that moment. And I just, I love it so much because we are not meant to be perfect. We are meant to be whole. And I was just like, what, you know, and it's just so beautiful.

And I love it. And I use it all the time. It's one of the quotes in my book because I just, I love it so much. 

Maria Mayes: I love it. And I felt it. I felt your energy when you said it. I feel it. And that's, that's what it is a return to wholeness. [00:21:00] Right? Because the thing is we're already whole, but we just need help remembering that.

And so we need guides like you to help us remember that. So, before I have one more question for you before I do, if let's say someone's listening to this and this is really resonating with them and they're like, I want guidance from Rachel, how do they get ahold of you? Where do we find 

Rachel Lavin: you? Well, please find me anywhere on the social media under racial love and wellness.

I've made it very easy and my website is The same name, Rachel, 11 wellness. com. And all my contact information is there. And I, I mean, even if you don't want a health coach or a trainer or anything, and you just want to talk, like I love that. And I'm happy to conversate with anyone and talk about this journey because I know more than anything, especially in the beginning, it's like you need support.

And that's what I'm here to do. And I know that 

Maria Mayes: love that. So all those, uh, details will be [00:22:00] in the show notes for our listeners. And now I'd love to know what mindful or what wine to mindfully explore, if any. 

Rachel Lavin: So I did my best to be a wine drinker and I just could not. I just can't find one in any flavor that I like.

And I just don't think that I am a drinker. I just don't think that's me. 

. It's just like for me, it's a, I'm a texture person. I'm a taste person. And if I just can't, after a few times of trying something, if it just doesn't resonate with me, I just why 

Maria Mayes: there's too many other things to explore out there to even worry about if, if wine's not your thing, right?

It's not. Yeah, absolutely. Love that. Well, thanks for sharing that. And thanks for being with us today and Those notes, um, the show notes will have all the ways to get a hold of Rachel and her book, Donut Diaries, is out available now. They can find [00:23:00] that through your website. Can they find it in other places as well?

Rachel Lavin: Yeah, uh, the, it's on Amazon, but my website will take you right there. Okay, 

Maria Mayes: beautiful. Beautiful. Looking forward to checking that out. And just so grateful for you coming on, sharing our wisdom. So everybody get yourself a stack of your favorite colored Post its. And start with those proclamations. We've all got something we want to shift.

No matter how evolved we are, we still have stuff we want to shift and we're working through. So why not slap it on a post it, see it, read it out loud, proclaim it. I love it. Yes. Awesome. Thank you so much, Rachel. It's been a joy. 

Rachel Lavin: Thank you.