Introducing The Philly Disordered Eating Expert Who Wants to Help You Love Your Body Again
Meet Jenny Weinar, a Philly-based therapist who's cultivating a more body-positive culture, one client (and Be Well post!) at a time.
Jenny Weinar is a Philly-based body positive psychotherapist and certified yoga teacher who’s passionate about helping clients struggling with disordered eating, chronic dieting, over-exercising and weight preoccupation find their way home to their bodies. This is the first of a series of posts that will (hopefully!) help our readers do the same. Read Weinar on Be Well every other Tuesday.
It’s a bit surreal to be writing this, having been on the other side as a Be Well Philly reader for years. And yet, here I am, coming to you with the first of several posts intended to help take back “wellness” for everyone and inspire you to broaden your personal definition of health. But first, you might want to know who I am and how I ended up writing this.
I am a body-positive psychotherapist whose mission is to help people end the war with their bodies and find peace with food. This entails ditching diets and the pursuit of weight loss in order to live more fully in the bodies we’re in today. As a licensed clinical social worker, I take a strong social justice approach to this work, which means calling out weight stigma and acknowledging the ways various intersecting identities impact people’s freedom to take up space in the world.
I’ve worked in numerous medical and mental health settings and trained in various therapeutic modalities. I’m a licensed Be Body Positive facilitator, certified to teach yoga, and in the final stages of becoming a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.
But just as important as these credentials is my own experience in recovery from a more-than-decade-long eating disorder and many additional years of disordered eating. Disordered eating is a spectrum of behavior relating to food and weight that we’ll explore more in future posts, but for me this included an unhealthy obsession with “clean eating” and wellness.
For a while, I thought I was fully in recovery, even though my exercise routine was totally compulsive, and I lived my life around a set of strict food rules. And let’s be honest, these behaviors are pretty widely accepted, if not promoted, in the culture of #nodaysoff and keto/paleo/Whole 30. To truly recover meant to abandon any arbitrary, external rules about food and movement— what kind or how much I needed of either — as well as any intention of controlling my weight. And to begin a journey inward to find out how to really nourish myself, physically and emotionally.
Yes, I gained a few pounds in the process. But you know what else I gained? Freedom. The freedom to skip the gym and say “yes” to spontaneous plans with friends. The freedom to not scour nutrition labels and agonize over grams of sugar. The freedom to not spend more than I could afford on fancy ingredients for smoothies that never filled me up anyway.
Once I started to heal my relationship to food and body image, I realized I couldn’t engage with certain wellness platforms that perpetuated the thin ideal and the moralization of eating. But when Be Well Philly editor Mary Clare Fischer reached out about her efforts to cultivate a weight-inclusive, shame-free wellness space, I jumped at the opportunity to help her bring some of these messages to this community.
It’s important to note that the thin privilege afforded to me as someone in a smaller body, who doesn’t have to deal with fat shaming and weight stigma on a daily basis, makes it a lot easier to espouse body positivity. That doesn’t mean it’s always easy, though.
We are in a crisis related to weight in this country, and it’s not the obesity epidemic (a phrase I find highly stigmatizing and pathologizing of an entire body type). It’s instead a crisis of obsession over thinness that is disconnecting us from our bodies entirely. In the coming weeks, I hope to help you begin coming home to your body and tuning in to what it really needs — no matter its size.