Food Psych #140: How to Heal from Over-Exercise & Find Joyful Movement with Jessi Haggerty

Jessi Haggerty

Anti-diet dietitian and personal trainer Jessi Haggerty joins us to discuss how to make the transition from instrumental exercise into joyful movement, why it’s so important to have a trauma-informed approach to movement, ableism in the fitness world, the shape-shifting nature of diet culture, embracing a Health at Every Size paradigm, and so much more! Plus, Christy answers a listener question about how to deal with the desire to change a particular body part.

Jessi Haggerty is a Registered Dietitian, Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, and Certified Personal Trainer with a private practice in Somerville, MA. She specializes in treating people struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating using using a customized, therapeutic, non-diet approach that combines nutrition and movement therapy, and also offers virtual recovery coaching.

In addition to her practice, Jessi has a podcast called the BodyLove Project where she hosts conversations about intuitive eating and body acceptance, with a special interest in how eating disorders and body dissatisfaction intersect with other tough-to-talk-about subject such as addiction, trauma, and postpartum. Despite the heavy topics, the BodyLove Project is about how to come out the other side, and live an authentic, embodied life.

Most recently, Jessi has launched an online workshop series for personal trainers, called Nutrition & Body Image Coaching Skills; How to Help Without Harming. This series is designed to empower trainers to coach from a HAES perspective, screen for eating disorders and disordered eating, and refer clients to a higher level of care when necessary. Find her online at

Grab Christy's free guide, 7 simple strategies for finding peace and freedom with food, to start your intuitive eating journey. You can also text "7STRATEGIES" to the phone number 44222 to get it on the go :)


We Discuss:

  • Jessi’s relationship with food growing up, including being exposed to diet foods at a young age, and becoming preoccupied with dieting and weight loss early in life

  • The effect of watching our parents struggle with weight gain

  • How important it is for health professionals to acknowledge their own disordered reasons for pursuing dietetics

  • The problem with making weight loss and health the responsibility of the individual, rather than acknowledging the systemic factors that influence these outcomes

  • The initial safety and community that can be found in diet culture, and ultimately what diet culture takes from you

  • Strategies for breaking down the stereotypes surrounding dietetics as a Health at Every Size practitioner

  • Jessi’s experience being a personal trainer at 17, her attempts at body manipulation through exercise

  • Jessi’s eventual exploration of physical therapy and personal training as a path to recovery, joy, and healing, rather than punishment

  • Practicing and marketing your business as a Health-at-Every-Size, anti-diet personal trainer

  • How to engage with movement as someone struggling with an eating disorder or wading into eating disorder recovery

  • How to find joyful movement, and using yoga as a baseline to explore boundaries around exercise

  • The ways in which fitness tech takes us out of our body and into our heads, and how that interferes with embodiment

  • The importance of safety when exploring whether or not movement is right for you, and prioritizing a trauma-informed movement practice

  • The issue of mirrors in exercise studios

  • Ableism in the fitness and exercise world, how to work with different abilities in the personal-training sector, and the need to question typical gym marketing on the basis of gender, size, ability, race, etc

  • Respecting everyone’s body’s abilities within movement practice, giving options for people in differently-abled bodies, and making room to modify for all different bodies

  • How our body image can be affected by our movement ability, especially when our ability changes over time

  • Jessi’s work as a nutritionist, and her efforts to eradicate diet culture from the personal training profession

  • How to navigate sports nutrition as an anti-diet dietitian

  • The shape-shifting nature of diet culture


Resources Mentioned

Some of the links below are affiliate links. Affiliates or not, we only recommend products and services that align with our values.


Listener Question of the Week

Is cosmetic surgery a better alternative to dieting? How do we love a body part that feels unlovable? Are there some strategies out there to help us appreciate different kinds of bodies?

(Resources Mentioned: Jes Baker’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Sarah Harry’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Lisa DuBreuil’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Jes Baker’s Instagram guide, Meredith Noble’s Instagram guide, The Body is Not An Apology, Sonya Renee Taylor’s Food Psych Podcast episode, Everyday Feminism, The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf)

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