Good Trouble

Good Trouble

Good Trouble in a Classroom Setting       

Happy Black History month! Along with working with clients at Balance Health and Healing, I also teach a class at BYU called Cross-Cultural Families and Human Development. It is a class focused on race, ethnicity, families across the world, privilege, socioeconomic status, gender, etc. I am very passionate about this class and the way it added to my own education when I took it in my undergraduate career. It is an honor to be back in the classroom on the other end of things. I love the opportunity I have to help students navigate difficult topics with compassion, understanding, and research.

This winter is my third semester teaching the class. During one of my previous semesters, I had a student who disagreed with much of the material. She was very openly vocal and often told me I was wrong in front of the class. As a therapist, I naturally tried to take a compassionate stance while helping her to understand and interpret research. Much to my chagrin, she ended up being very dissatisfied with the class and it reflected in her final course ratings. I was initially devastated. I had spent time nurturing her education, having conversations with her after class about material, and seeking to understand her perspective. Why did the end of the semester review reflect so poorly on my efforts?

I talked about this with a dear mentor and someone integral to my understanding of race. I expressed to him how sad I was at the painful and harsh rating. He reminded me of John Lewis, a pivotal Civil Rights Activist, who frequently spoke of creating “good trouble.” He meant that it was important, and necessary, to stand up for the things that mattered, whether others appreciated or understood your message. Senator Lewis is quoted in saying: “Do not get lost in the sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Good Trouble + Eating Recovery

I sometimes feel like being in the eating recovery world requires me to get into a lot of “good trouble.” This is sometimes hard for someone who historically does not like to “ruffle feathers.” However, Senator Lewis inspires me to work harder to be an advocate in whatever my sphere, whether that gets me into trouble or not. Eating recovery is one of those areas that I have realized it is important to for me to work harder to get into “good trouble.” As a therapist who focuses mostly on eating disorders, I cannot sit by and be silent. Advocacy against the diet industry, media, skewed social beliefs, etc. necessarily involves “good trouble.”

John Lewis helps us understand some main ways we can use our voices to get into “good trouble.” This was originally discussed in advocating for equality in race but can also be applied to any important issue.

Focus on what you can do versus what you can’t

Changing a diet-culture and weight-centric world is no joke. It’s hard to know how to tackle a billion-dollar industry and deeply internalized ideas as just one person. The fact of the matter is that we do not have to take on changing the world and creating “good trouble” on our own. I always tell my class that it’s important for them to discover their role in advocacy and work within their spheres of influence. This is true for creating “good trouble” as advocates for eating recovery as well. Although we cannot change everything on our own, we can do what we can where we can. Perhaps this is in teaching our kids, setting boundaries with our family members, helping create policy, working in helping professions, using inclusive language, advocating for size diversity and inclusivity, etc.


When it comes to being an ally or advocate in any situation, it will require persistence. Eating recovery is no exception. The culture that tells individuals that they are not enough based on their body is not easily changed. Once we are able to find our voice and our role in creating change, we must persist!

Be optimistic about the future

I believe that our world is changing! Part of creating “good trouble” means believing that things will get better because of it! We must be optimistic about the prospect that our efforts are actually making a difference. I know that the work we do is creating a safer world for people in all bodies and holding onto hope is not a naïve thing, it actually enables us to move forward and continue to stir up “good trouble.”


In These Bodies

In These Bodies

“In these bodies we live, in these bodies we die. Where you invest your love, you invest your life.” -Mumford + Sons

Our relationship to our bodies is complicated sometimes, isn’t it? It’s easy to get caught in the traps of comparison, ingratitude, and criticism. It makes so much sense that we fall into these patterns of dissatisfaction with our bodies because of the societal pressure and influence to look a certain way. However, as we invest more of our love into our bodies we will be able to live out fuller and richer lives.

Old Habits

One place that it is easy for me to slip into old negative patterns of comparison is at the gym. It seems that someone is always faster than me, stronger than me, or less red-faced than me (if you know you know). I have gotten a lot better over the years at appreciating my own body and what it can do, but these comparisons still sometimes come: an automatic thought pattern that is hard to shake. I have done a lot of work here and can quickly move towards thoughts that are more in line with my values, but I’ll be the first to admit that sometimes that takes active work!

The other day I got a text message from my fiancé. We talk about body image and eating concerns frequently because of my job. He was at the gym and said the following: “Everyone thinks from time to time, ‘I wish I could have that person’s body, or just swap out a few features.’ First of all, swapping parts would just produce a lot of Frankenstein’s monsters. Secondly, why would you want to trade a body that you have spent a whole lifetime learning, protecting, nurturing etc.? All the sports you’ve played, all the people you’ve hugged and kissed. All the injuries and diseases you’ve gone through was in YOUR body. There is just too much history to just not want it anymore. Even people that have really broken bodies or broken relationships with their bodies have enough positive history to make it all worth it.’

Our Bodies

I recognize that people who have experienced trauma within their bodies may have a different experience. However, this text got me thinking a lot about what our bodies carry for us. Our bodies have been with us through every deep belly laugh, every hand hold, every excited & joyous emotion, every repaired bone or scar…our bodies have been a constant for us. They have been our partners throughout life and have carried both the good and the bad with us and for us. Our bodies have held our sorrows with us as they gushed tears of loss. They have felt our pain as they bled with us. Our bodies are incredibly protective and we, in turn, protect them as well.

Our relationship with our bodies is complicated and nuanced. However, if we can begin understanding our bodies as companions rather than antagonists, something changes. This perspective allows us a deep gratitude and appreciation for our bodies, including the scars and “imperfections”. I put quotations around that word because this sense of gratitude even changes the way that we view parts of us that may not meet societal expectations or standards. I think about my body and even specific parts that have been hard for me. Although I sometimes desire to “fit” better into what society expects, I think on a good day I would not trade my body or any part of it. We have grown together and loved together. In this body I will live and in this body I will die. I may as well invest more love into it if we’ll be partners for life.


Awake My Soul by Mumford & Sons