Triumph Over Body Image: A Wrestler’s Journey to Self-Acceptance and Intuitive Eating

From the Mat to Self-Love: Professional Women’s Wrestler Redefines Health and Body Positivity

Tackling Body Image and Food Concerns in the Wrestling Ring: An Inspiring Talk with Jenna Burkett

Every athlete’s journey is unique, not only in the achievements and titles they amass but in the personal battles they fight along the way. This truth is vividly illuminated in our latest episode of “Beyond Intuitive Eating,” where I, Beth Basham, had the incredible opportunity to sit down with Jenna Burkett, a former professional women’s wrestler with an extraordinary story.

Wrestling with Perception: Jenna’s Reflections on Body Image

Jenna Burkett’s name may resonate with fans as a symbol of strength and resilience in the wrestling world, but her victories extend beyond the mat. As she opened up about how receiving positive reinforcement for her appearance at a higher weight jolted her self-awareness, I couldn’t help but reflect on the profound nature of this conversation. Jenna’s candor in reevaluating her self-view and extending compassion towards her past self is a brave act many of us could learn from.

The Core of Worthiness

Throughout our talk, we continuously circled back to an essential truth: our worth is intrinsic, not contingent on external factors such as body size or appearance. This core principle of worthiness is a pillar of the intuitive eating philosophy and a message that Jenna passionately echoes.

Intuitive Eating: A Transformative Approach for Athletes

It was fascinating to hear Jenna and me explore how intuitive eating could revolutionize the relationship female wrestlers have with food, potentially ushering in a new era of healthier attitudes towards nutrition and self-worth. We discussed the damaging effects of restrictive eating patterns on body awareness, and Jenna shared her own transformative journey toward food and body acceptance—a testament to the power of an intuitive approach not just in nutrition, but in all aspects of life.

Advocating for Change in Wrestling Culture

The pressures and health consequences associated with extreme weight-cutting in wrestling can’t be overstated. Jenna recounted the stress of managing weight in her early career, a challenge compounded by the sport’s rigid weight class structure. But, as she shared, the path toward embracing her athletic build and nurturing it shone a light on a crucial paradigm shift we need in how we approach food and body image in the wrestling community.

Jenna and her wife are championing this shift, advocating for the idea of food as fuel and placing focus on athleticism rather than appearance. It’s a movement that seeks to honor the body for its strength and capabilities, not just its conformity to idealized standards.

Celebrating Non-Physical Achievements

Praise for weight loss can be addictive; Jenna didn’t shy away from discussing the toxic behavior and mindset ingrained in the wrestling community regarding weight and physical appearance. By promoting a culture that avoids focusing on appearance, Jenna is spearheading a healthier, more inclusive environment that aids mental and physical wellness.

Embracing the Present and the Power of Self-Care

Jenna’s insights into self-compassion—fostered through therapy and reflection—showed us the enduring strength found in self-kindness. Her appreciation for her body, for carrying her through injuries and triumphs, serves as a poignant reminder to value our present selves, not simply the outcomes we achieve or the shapes we take.

As Jenna transitions into coaching and mental performance coaching, her experience and empathy will undoubtedly be a guiding light for many. Follow her journey on Instagram and Twitter (linked in the show notes) to stay connected to her inspirational path forward.

Join Our Food Freedom Journey

If Jenna’s story resonates with you, or if you’re seeking support on your own journey toward intuitive eating and body acceptance, remember to check out our free Facebook group and private coaching opportunities. The reopening of my group coaching program, “peace with food and soul,” is a space where we dive deeper into achieving food freedom through intuitive eating, emotional mastery, functional medicine, and neuroscience.

Final Thoughts

Professional wrestling may be Jenna Burkett’s arena, but her message is universal. On “Beyond Intuitive Eating,” we’re committed to exploring and supporting stories like Jenna’s that inspire and motivate. As we tackle these crucial conversations, we are reminded of the inherent worthiness we all possess.

Tune into Episode 34 to hear our enlightening dialogue and remember that you’re not alone in your quest for a life unshackled by food and body concerns. Be sure to check the show notes for all the resources mentioned, and, as always, see you next time.

You can listen to episode 34 here


00:00 Accomplished wrestler and an inspiration to many.

06:04 Invited to Olympic training center at 15.

08:13 Wrestling is the best sport, weight classes.

12:01 Wrestlers regret focusing on appearance over athleticism.

15:53 Weight loss praise can become addicting; toxic.

19:17 Wife led intuitive eating revolution in wrestling.

21:58 Relearning hunger and fullness in restrictive cycles.

24:39 Improving self-compassion, credit for body.

26:41 Accept and work on small improvements daily.

31:34 Group coaching program for shedding food guilt.

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