Transcript of the interview:
Jessy: Okay, so welcome to this interview with the wonderful Judy. Judy is a body image coach. I have known this wonderful lady for so many years. She works with women who are fed up with wasting their life trying to achieve this perfect body image that we’re sold. And she helps them accept the body they’re in. So, they have more time and energy and headspace for actually what is important and what matters to them. This ties in very nicely with the book that I’m writing; Release the Wild Within. Because that is very much about stripping away the conditions that are put on us and being our very true selves in a sort of human form, rather than what we think we should be. So yes, welcome, Judy. And thank you for doing this interview with me.
Judi: Thank you so much for having me, Jessy. It’s great to have an excuse just to chat with you.
Jessy: I know. I do love our chats. We do them far too infrequently. We need to do it more frequently.
Judi: We do, absolutely. So, this is perfect to chat with you.
Jessy: Wonderful. I’ve always loved your work though.
Judi: Thank you.
Jessy: The first moment we met and you were talking about body confidence and body image and I think at the time I was doing photography things and,
Judi: That’s right.
Jessy: Yeah, really connected, didn’t it?
Judi: Absolutely, yes. And you were doing some wonderful photography with women to help them feel more comfortable in their bodies, you know? Sort of getting them familiar with looking at their bodies and just kind of recognizing the beauty that they have also within themselves as much as what you kind of see on the outside so. I remember a beautiful photograph that you had of a lady’s tummy and she had a little, I don’t know, maybe even been you I’m not sure, but you had like a little heart, right around the belly. And I think you allowed me to use that…
Jessy: Yes, yes.
Judi: On one of many websites that I had. I always remember that one.
Jessy: This is brilliant. Yeah, that was I think I did the jelly bellies project and sort of the bellies after childbirth, because that’s something that’s just not very public, sort of, after giving birth, kind of what happens to the bellies and things like that. So that was one of the moms I’d photographed and she’s done a heart on the belly. I forgot about that, too.
Judi: I always remember that you know, that. To me, it encapsulated what you did at the time, so yeah, yes.
Jessy: Brilliant. So really, this interview is more about you, because what’s always struck me about you and the way you work is, you’re very much your authentic self. You come across very true to sort of what work you do in your videos and your messages. And like the other day I caught the video of you talking about body hair. And…
Judi: Oh yes.
Jessy: Obviously as animals, we have body hair. When you look at dogs and cats, so things like that. So, what kind of got you onto this path? And tell us a little bit how you kind of got into this?
Judi: Yeah, that’s a great question. Well, I mean, I sadly struggled with my body image from quite an early age. So, I was bullied in primary school from quite a young age on my appearance. And so, I kind of grew up thinking that there was something unacceptable about the way that I looked. I was a bit weird. I was ugly and I you know, I was unlovable. And, that sort of carried through into a part of my adult life. Until I reached a bit of a turning point at the age of 30. I think I was 35. And I had just come out of a relationship which was emotionally abusive. And that was a turning point for me and at that point, I was fed up feeling, you know, unlovable, not good enough, and unworthy. I really decided that I wanted to do something about it. And my ex-partner had been very critical of my appearance, and he’d kind of been feeding off all of the insecurities I already had. And so, it left me in quite a difficult place, of a very low place. Um, it was around about that time that I discovered coaching and I went. I had some coaching myself, and I did a lot of research into coaching. And then I decided to train as a coach myself, but it was really that process, of being coached and learning about coaching myself, that enabled me to begin to transform how I felt about not just my body, but also myself. And so, the journey that I went on is the same one that I really want to help other women to embark on themselves. Because I just think and I see this with so many women. you know, women in my community and the women that I work with that, you know, life is just it really is too short to spend it, kind of hating your body and holding yourself back from doing all the things that are really important to you. In a nutshell, that’s my story of how I kind of got to become the body image coach if you like.
Jessy: Yeah, fantastic. And like you, say it’s not only about body acceptance. It’s those feelings that are coming up of being unworthy, unlovable, and, you know, it’s so much deeper than just the physical side of things, isn’t it?
Jessy: There’s a lot of external kind of conditions that have been put on you there and, you know, with your ex and all that. So, what are your processes of letting go of those stories or those external conditions?
Judi: Yeah. Well, I really feel like again, it comes back to the coaching. And, I really feel that in some ways, it really saved me. And it enabled me because I learned, it enabled me to understand that actually just because I think something about myself, it doesn’t make it true.
Jessy: Thought aren’t facts!
Judi: Thought aren’t facts. And also, I realized that a lot of the things I believed about myself didn’t come from me, they came from outside of me. And, and those coaching tools, they kind of teach you those principles. It was a complete revelation to me that I could control what I thought. I didn’t have to believe something about myself just because somebody else said it. And even my own thoughts weren’t necessarily, I mean, coming from me.
Judi: So it’s a truth I learned through coaching and that process of working through and understanding what are those beliefs that hold you back, and being able to let them go and in their place and decide what you want to believe about yourself instead, and put in place more empowering beliefs that are going to support you in your life rather than hold you back. So, for me coaching and that process of letting go those limiting beliefs was just, well, I don’t know what I would have done without it. I think coaching saved me from a lifetime of believing all this shit that I’ve been put on me from by other people and just through general life experience.
Judi: It’s what I am still doing today, you know? You know, you’re 40 years old and you suddenly realize that oh my goodness, I believed all this horrible stuff about me what’s taking you 40 years to get there? It doesn’t just go away. It’s a constant process of releasing it and…
Judi: creating new beliefs. But, you know, I’m a firm believer anything you can learn, you can unlearn it. And also, a bit of a science geek as well. And so, I love the whole area of neuroscience and that totally supports. That is the case because we’ve a lovely little concept called neuroplasticity, which means that our brains…
Jessy: Ignore the dogs.
Judi: It’s, you know, our brains can rewire to create different beliefs about ourselves. So yes, I think the coaching really got me on that path of challenging those unhelpful beliefs and deciding that I can choose what I believe about myself so that I can lead in a much calmer, more fulfilling and happier life.
Jessy: Exactly. And I love when you say all these things, because it resonates so much with kind of what I say and what I think this is why we’re friends because you know, our values and ethics are so similar. And I love that you’re a science geek and you just roll those kinds of science-y things off your tongue. But it is, isn’t it? It’s a proper rewiring. You know, I call it as, you know, like when you’re hacking your way through the jungle, you know?
Jessy: You’re making new sort of pathways in your brain, aren’t you? Is that right science geek?
Judi: It is. It is something similar. I talk about walking through like a field of like wheat or something and you thread it over time it gets trodden down. But it takes a while for it to kind of grow back again and sort of disappear. And then you can create another path through this similar kind of metaphor for it. Yeah.
Jessy: Brilliant. So, you know, who’s kind of influenced you? Or who’s helped you make these changes or what has helped you make these changes? And then you’ve covered it a little bit. Yeah.
Judi: Well, I mean, that’s an interesting question, because I was kind of thinking about how did I kind of get into coaching and understanding those principles in the first place? And actually, I can remember reading this book called Be Your Own Life Coach by Fiona Harrell. And I read it in the early 2000s which at that point you know, coaching wasn’t and its concepts weren’t totally mainstream. It was still kind of on the periphery. And I think somebody where I worked recommended it to me and I read it. And it really had a profound effect on me and the way I started thinking about things. Fiona Harold, who was kind of, I suppose she was one of the coaches, first life coaches that kind of gained any degree of prominence. And she wrote several books. And so the ideas that she came up with were quite influential. And, you know, she helped me realize that actually, we can take responsibility for our own lives and that we can actually achieve anything we want to we just have to believe that we can do it. And again, it comes back to those limiting beliefs of the things that really hold us back. So, she was very influential in me sort of wanting to make a change. But I just also think that obviously life experiences can be a catalyst for change and a real influence, can’t they? And for me, I actually think the more painful experiences have been big catalysts for change then sort of the happier experiences in life. So, for me, you know, splitting up with my ex who was emotionally abusive, that was a huge catalyst for me to change. Because I kind of felt like I hit rock bottom. Once you hit rock bottom, you kind of left I felt like well, I can only really go up now. So now is the time to make things so yeah, there’s life experiences, which at the time don’t always feel very pleasant and can be quite painful, can sometimes actually create a catalyst for amazing change and transformation.
Judi: So, I have to thank him. Even though he was a bastard. So, thank him for that.
Jessy: Well, this is it, isn’t it? You know, when we’re going through those difficult times, well, your life is literally being pulled apart, isn’t it?
Jessy: Your insides feel like they’re falling apart and like you say, you hit rock bottom. But then, there’s that motivation of, I can’t stay here forever and needing to make that change. And I’m glad you, you did. Because well, in a way, yes, thanking him because without you going through that experience you wouldn’t now be helping other women, you know, nipping it in the bud before they get to the point you got to even.
Jessy: You know?
Judi: Absolutely and like because sometimes women don’t feel good about themselves, and they have poor body image, they can find themselves in these particularly horrible relationships because they don’t think they deserve any better. So, before you know it, they’re in, I mean, I was in an emotionally abusive rather than a physically abusive, which, you know, they’re both not great. They’re both bad. But yes, I mean that that can happen because you don’t feel like you deserve any better. So yes, absolutely, if you can get to them before, you know, they get into those situations, but that’s an amazing thing to be able to do.
Jessy: Yeah… yeah, definitely. And, you know, what practices do you use? Or, you know, what do you do to sort of stay connected to your true self and to keep that voice? You know, having been in such a relationship, you know, I can imagine you’ve gone through so many processes and things but what strategies kind of would you share with others?
Jessy: Good question isn’t it?
Judi: It is. I have to admit. Clearly there was a time when I wasn’t tuned into my inner voice, or even if I heard it, I didn’t pay any attention to it. I tried to push it down and actually with my ex, that’s one example of a time I didn’t. Because I know very early on there is a voice inside of me saying there were these little red flags. I just chose to ignore them and push them away.
Jessy: So, your instincts were shouting out to you really.
Judi: They were. At the beginning of the relationship, they were there and just before ended it, they were screaming at me.
Judi: And at that point, my voice was screaming so loudly that I did something about it. But one of the things that I have been really trying to do over the last few years is find a way to connect to that inner wisdom, that inner voice, my true self and really discover who that is. And one of the things I’ve been doing recently and really enjoying and finding useful is doing more journaling to kind of almost connect with, you know, my soul and what does it need me to know. What does it need me to be or what does it need me to do? Like it’s whispering to me, what is it saying? And I’ve also started using which I really love and I wouldn’t say I’m generally someone who’s all that woo but I’m loving using a beautiful deck of Oracle cards just to help pick one and then journal on that. The conversation started and I feel like it’s fine to make me have a conversation with my inner true self.
Judi: And so, I’ve really been enjoying doing that.
Jessy: I love that you say the cards are woo.
Judi: Yeah, I think they do. Like people say about it but I actually read. I’m so into it now. And like if I don’t pick one every day now, I feel like it incomplete, There’s, something missing from my day. So, I love doing it now.
Judi: But I know that that inner message has always been there because it’s the me and this is what I tended to ignore as a very, it might have been a voice but it’s also a very physical feeling.
Judi: And I realized that my tummy or my gut is a very good guide of whether I should be saying hell yes or hell no to something. Because it’s that physical feeling, you know, is it excitement. Yeah, let’s do that. And this is good, or is it like that sort of sick feeling that feeling of dread, like no. And that was what I wasn’t good at listening to. But now it’s kind of my initial reaction. I’m like, Okay, I’m going to trust that. Because something is either. Yeah, that’s really good. Or that’s, that’s not right.
Jessy: Brilliant. And that is kind of what my message is, as well. It’s that sort of, you know, we’re almost trained in society to just ignore those messages. But really, that is where the truth is.
Judi: It is.
Jessy: And like you say it manifests physically and, in your gut, and you know, I’ve got that as well with had so many conversations about this. You know, when you’re not in a good place you can quite physically get quite poorly can’t you? If you’re not listening.
Judi: You can. And I think that’s why people end up with you know, I guess if that physical feeling for them is in their gut, they keep ignoring it perhaps that’s why they get conditions that relate to the guts. I don’t know whether that would be ulcers or you know, some kind of irritable bowel syndrome because they’re just not you know, listening to what their body’s telling them when the body is very efficient at going right, If you’re not listening to me on, I’m shutting shop or I’m doing something so you have to listen to me because I’m gonna make you have to lie on the sofa or on the bed knock it up.
Judi: Until you listen.
Jessy: And I love your journaling. You know, because this is what I say as well is that connection with your inner self, your soul, and your prompts are fantastic. Because, I mean, I use cards as well. And, you know, my family tease me because they’re quite logical scientific people but it’s about having that connection to something bigger, isn’t it in a way.
Judi: Absolutely. And that is so useful because I think especially if you do it first thing in the morning before you dive into anything else. Because it just kind of makes you realize the bigger picture.
Judi: You know, like any sort of niggling worries you have. It’s like well no, you’re part of something bigger and you know, the universe has got your back and it. I don’t know. To me, I just find it very settling.
Judi: Way to get into the day. So, I love that.
Jessy: Love it because what journaling is, it’s a minefield in itself, isn’t it? There’s so many different ways you can do it. But you know, essentially it is about that relationship with you and getting those messages from your soul. Absolutely. Fantastic. And is that a practice that you kind of stumbled upon or you know, how long have you been doing it for?
Judi: I mean on and off. I’ve been doing it for quite a long time, but not consistently and it’s only bizarrely and maybe not bizarrely, but during lockdown. I don’t really know what happened, but I became a lot more introspective and a lot more focused on trying to listen to the whispers of my soul. And so, I have been doing it very consistently. And like I said, if I don’t do it now, I feel like I didn’t do that today and something doesn’t feel quite right. And I want to go to my Oracle cards and pull one out and, you know, sit down and write about it. So, it’s something that I have maybe done in the past when I’ve just got to the point where I feel like my head’s gonna explode, or I just need to get all this out. And so, it’s kind of taken over my headspace so much. And it’s something that I’ve always said to clients to kind of journal about their feeling just to help them let them out. They don’t want to come out, but I haven’t always been great, you know, taking my own advice. But yeah, the last the last few months I’ve been very consistent with it and I love it.
Jessy: Brilliant. Have you felt the change in that, in being consistent? Have you felt any shifts or any difference in that?
Judi: Yeah, absolutely. I do feel like I’m a bit more in tune with me and what Judi really wants. And actually, I’ve never been great with boundaries. So, I can let people’s energy or their needs and wants to kind of invade my own. Sometimes when you work the sort of work that we do and you’re working with people and you really want to help,
Judi: It’s easy for those boundaries to kind of be stepped on or invaded or however you want to word it. And I feel like doing that journaling and tuning into what I want and having that time is actually made me a bit more like, No, I have this boundary for a reason. And I’m kind of standing up for it a bit more than I would have done. So, I can see that shift is happening.
Judi: Because if you know what you want, and you need more, you’re more likely to stand up for it, aren’t you? And to create and make sure you honor that boundary. But if you don’t know, then it’s very easy for other people’s stuff to come at you from all sides. Before you know it, you’re completely overwhelmed.
Jessy: Definitely. So, the journaling sounds quite simple, doesn’t it? But it’s really made you connect with your true self, your inner self, or wild self as I call it. And really have that clarity of what you stand for. And then that means that you know, the boundaries are coming easier because it’s sort of, no because I’m standing for this…
Jessy: And you need to protect that and have that sort of clarity and vision not being stepped on or interrupted or anything and fantastic. Gosh.
Judi: Absolutely. I mean, I can’t in all honesty say what would happening up in a heist situation where like, somebody needs something. Yeah, definitely. I feel like there is a shift taking place.
Judi: Well, I think you know, I’ve been on this planet for 49 years. So, I really want to get better at boundaries before I get too much older.
Jessy: Really, it’s all about working at your pace isn’t it? And the right things come at the right time. So, you know, your journey has been such a font of learning hasn’t it you know? From that relationship to accepting yourself to having a voice and then helping other people. So, this feels like the next step and I think boundaries is something you know, I talk about that as well in my book but it’s something that I think we’re all learning all the time about boundaries and then do people kind of do different things at different times. And so, I think it’s a forever learning thing, anyway.
Judi: Yeah, absolutely. I think you’re right. And the other thing about boundaries is, and I think, I don’t know who said it, but it kind of was during this business mentorship with Katherine Walking. Selling from the heart is her business.
Judi: And she talks about the only thing you need to do is really to take care of yourself. And I think boundaries is a huge part of that because if you don’t protect yourself, you can’t be there for your family, your partner, your clients, your friends.
Judi: I know. It’s kind of a revolutionary thing to me. It’s like, what my main job is just to look after myself. It’s like, Yeah, because then you’ve got the energy and the, you know, and you’re kind of fired up to do things. Because you’ve taken care of yourself and your own needs. It’s like, wow, that’s a revelation.
Jessy: I know. And this happens when I talk to my clients, and they’re like, what self care? You know, but that selfish. So, it’s even that idea isn’t it? Again, it’s so simple, isn’t it? But extremely powerful. But like you said earlier in the work we do, we give so much of who we are, we need to look after ourselves. Well everyone and it’s not selfish, you know? Self-care element is massive. Because that is meeting our needs on a very basic kind of on an animal kind of level, isn’t it?
Judi: Yeah. And actually, if you look at animals, I know that their brain is set up very differently to ours and the way that they approach things is very different. Because I guess they’re operating more from the lower level needs of like survival.
Judi: But actually, the way they behave I guess we could describe it as selfish but it’s not. They’re just doing what they need to do to survive and take care of their young and all the rest of it. So, it’s interesting.
Jessy: Don’t you think in modern society we are pretty much in survival mode? A lot of the time, aren’t we?
Judi: We are, yeah. We are because actually, we’ve been thrown so much information. And actually, I think there’s been some it’s probably not just one piece of research, but there’s lots of research to support that our brain is not designed to cope with the volume of information we get and so we go into that fight or flight mode, just because we’re overwhelmed with information and then we do like we’re trying to do survive all the time.
Judi: To so many plates to spin and so many expectations to meet and it just becomes way too much. So, it’s hardly surprising if a lot of us feel like we are surviving rather than thriving.
Jessy: Yeah, definitely. Oh, I love it. Brilliant. So, I won’t keep you too long. But one last question. if you were an animal, what would you be and why? We’ve got to get into the animal theme here.
Judi: I mean I love animals so it’s difficult to pick one but actually, it would definitely be something that is feline. So, whether it would be just for domestic moggie or a more wild cat, big cats. And interestingly, I can remember doing I think it was on one of Nicola Humba’s workshops a few years ago when she was still in Southampton. And I went along to that, and she did a visualization and I saw myself as this tiger and I just loved it. And what I love about all types of cats is, they kind of stand in their power. They’re unapologetic,
Judi: They’re not trying to impress anyone, they just are what they are, and they’ve kind of got that strength and poise about them. And they’re very independent as well, which I love about them. And I’m not saying that I am standing in my feline power by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s definitely an aspiration.
Jessy: Oh, I think you are. You’re standing in your power brilliantly. You do it so well.
Judi: I mean I might just be like the sort of the Tabby stray at the moment, you know. Even they’ve gotten lots of poise for that. So, I’m getting there. I’m haven’t quite earned my tiger stripes yet. Something about the feline and one of my favorite songs, pop songs is Roar by Katy Perry. I love it. I don’t know if you know it.
Judi: I love the lyrics and it’s all about, you know, being heard and having a voice and…
Judi: You know? I guess not allowing people to trample all over you and, you know, to sort of invade and push down your boundaries. So, yeah, I think that sums up to me why I want to be a lot more cats.
Jessy: And it sums up your journey as well, isn’t it? Because you were kind of held down and you were just like, no, this is not happening. And then you came up with a roar and,
Jessy: Sharing that roar with everyone else. So, so yeah, if you are right, I’m sure those tiger stripes are there. You just need to look.
Judi: I’m getting one in my hair now. Like I’m getting a silver stripe there so I am getting there but they’re just silver rather than black ones so.
Jessy: Maybe that’s the human form of tiger stripes.
Judi: Could be like if I start getting stripes along all through my hair, I will figure the universe is definitely trying to tell me something.
Jessy: It’s when you start getting the gray hair in your eyebrows and then you think oh gosh, okay, this is a new chapter for sure.
Judi: Those are your wisdom hairs.
Jessy: Is that is what is called, is it?
Judi: Yeah, that’s your wisdom for sure. It’s the sign that you know you are this wise, wise woman. You’re always a wise woman. We’re just getting wiser.
Jessy: Well, we’re stepping into that power. We’re stepping into that wisdom just by simply the self-care and you know, connecting with ourselves and just listening to those instincts. I think that’s the core message. You know, certainly that I’m saying and you’re saying as well as isn’t it? It’s that acceptance of who we are and trusting our messages.
Judi: Absolutely. And just honoring who we are and what we need and not trying to be something that we’re not or something that you know, doesn’t really fit with us.
Judi: You know, I don’t have an unlimited amount of energy. So, I have to really honor my energy levels and kind of just make sure I do everything I can to minimize overwhelm and getting too tired. And I used to kind of beat myself up about that, but now I’m like, well, I’ve always been this way. You know, it’s something I’m going to work with, I need to honor myself and take care of myself. So, I guess that’s what happens is you kind of step into that wisdom.
Judi: Though I certainly wasn’t doing when I was 30 something. I’m just pushing against it all the time.
Jessy: Yeah, no, definitely. And this is it, isn’t it? I think this is the change that almost needs to happen is that we need to go through that bit to get to the wisdom, in a way.
Judi: It’s there. We just have to tap into it, don’t we?
Jessy: Brilliant. Yeah. Just look at animals. They’ve got it in buckets, haven’t they? And we just get distracted by media and all these messages of we’re not good enough. And we have to do X, Y and Z to have the perfect body blah, blah, blah. But actually, none of it matters, does it?
Judi: It’s like you imagine cats going oh, well, you know, you look like you put on a bit of weight…you fur is not very shiny, is it? I mean, you imagine it’s just ridiculous.
Jessy: I love that. That would be so funny. I wish they could talk, it would be amazing.
Judi: I know what would they say?
Jessy: I know, brilliant. So, are you kind of wanting to promote anything at the moment? Are you working on anything that you want to kind of let everyone know about?
Judi: Well, I mean, I’ve actually got my book here which is The Little Book of Body Confidence, 52 Ways to Feel Good in Your Body, which is a nice introduction to body image work. It’s very accessible. It’s very simple. It’s got 52 simple yet effective strategies to help you just feel more comfortable in your body. And you don’t even have to read it cover to cover if you don’t want to. You can just look up the chapters and go with a couple of strategies and contents and go Okay, what do I fancy trying today? And so, they’re short chapters with little coaching questions at the end. It’s very accessible. So, there’s that really the best sort of introduction to my work. And if anyone wants to know more about me, they can go to thebodyconfidencecoach.co.uk find out more about everything else and how my coaching work.
Jessy: Fantastic. And I’ll pop the links somewhere around the video as well. So, if anyone is interested that would be an easy way to find you. As ever, thank you so much, Judy. I love connecting with you always.
Judi: Pleasure, likewise. So nice if we could make it like all afternoon, that would be great.
Jessy: I know. It would, wouldn’t it? Well, I’m sure we’re gonna have so many more kind of connections and interviews and whatnot. But I think for now, if we close this, it’s a good place. And yes, thank you so so much for your time and wisdom and gorgeousness.
Judi: Pleasure. Thank you for having me. Lots of love.
Jessy: Thank you. Take care