Tiana Dodson Renard: Was my body size really the main determinant of my health?

“I left my family, career, and country for love. It landed me in Germany, where I wasn’t just a foreigner, but so foreign with my big, curly hair; big, easy smile; and big, space-taking body, that I attracted bold, slack-jawed stares wherever I went. A pocket notebook I kept with me helped me navigate the language and culture barriers I encountered each day. It was always hard, always complicated, and not often rewarding. But I was given a chance at a do-over, an opportunity to take my passions for nutrition and helping others and make them into something real.

So I entered a space where people were actively trying to eradicate the epidemic of bodies like mine. I hid, feeling like an imposter; a fat person in a room full of yogis and vegans, quietly absorbing my lessons about food, exercise, and health from the shadows of the Internet.

I pushed through my training, becoming increasingly disillusioned with the contradictions. One week green smoothies were the be-all and end-all, the next week we would talk about how most bodies actually aren’t set up to digest that much fiber all at once. The one thing that saved it for me was the concept of bioindividuality––the idea that one person’s health tonic is another person’s poison, and I wondered if that could also apply to the actual, physical body. It got me wondering… was my body size really the main determinant of my health? Through this questioning and questing, my body became my ally and eventually my friend; a transformative difference in our lifelong, adversarial relationship.

It’s wonderful on this side of embodiment––so much so that I work to bring others over to experience the same through self-compassion, self-care, and self-appreciation. Life is better when you and your body are one.

Today, I use blogging, podcasting, interviews, videos, and coaching, one-to-one and in groups, to dismantle the underlying ideologies framing fat phobia and fat shaming, cultivate radical self-compassion, and show up as an example of a fat person of color in full agency of her body, living life in the best, healthiest way for me.”

TianaFat Health Coach


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