In this episode I interview Canadian Fitness Professional and Food Freedom & Mindset Coach, Kim Basler. She shares how her journey into fitness started as a teen but was filled with struggles. How did she shift to the work she is doing now and advice she gives to moms, those effected by COVID body shifts and so much more.
Kim understands firsthand the struggles around emotional eating, chronic dieting and body image issues. With 25 plus years working in the health and fitness industry, she is invested in helping her clients and online international community find a balanced approach towards healthy living. Her training at the Institute for the Psychology of Eating enables her to use a mind body centered approach to nutrition as well as cutting edge eating psychology strategies. Kim believes in a holistic approach to health; moving beyond the number on the scale and embracing health through mind, body and spirit in a doable and sustainable way. Kim's friendly demeanor and heart centered approach to life is easily felt from the stages she speaks on. She is devoted to supporting her clients throughout their journey; releasing the inner critic and going after the dreams that their heart desires. Kim lives in Waterloo, Ontario Canada with her husband, 2 teenagers and her golden retriever Sophie. She is also a co-author in the #1 best selling book, Owning Your Choices
Kim on Instagram
Welcome to the breaking body biases podcast, where our goal is to destroy diet culture and help people be healthy and happy. In today's episode, I'm excited to welcome Kim Basler who is a food freedom & mindset coach. I had the pleasure of virtually meeting Kim last fall at CanFitPro Conference . I don't generally attend, but because of COVID and everything being virtually accessible, I attended can fit pro and I have to tell you, I was so excited to see that in an industry that for many, many years, I didn't feel very connected to being a, not a size zero being a fitness instructor and struggling with eating disorders myself. I found it very exciting to see a panel on body positivity and just the direction that the industry is going with panels such as the one that Kim was on. So let me introduce Kim. Welcome Kim to the podcast.
Thank you, Christine. Thanks for having me here. Happy to be here.
I've heard your story, but I want the listeners to first hear your story. You're so relatable and I just wish I would have met you sooner. I'd love for the listeners to hear your story and how you got into the fitness industry and what you shared at CanFitPro.
Thank you. And unfortunately there is far too many of us out there who have been in this. And I think, you know, I often think to myself, like, why did I struggle for so long?
But I think it's just because it's only recently that we're talking more about this. So we only know what we know and when we've been in the fitness industry for so long, it's sort of isolates us a little bit. The way I got into the fitness industry was, you know, I started my pursuit to change my body at the age of 12. And that's when I started dieting and like many people that might be listening right now, that's where it was modeled in my home. So I essentially just modeled what I saw and I began that relationship with the scale, right at that age. And I'm in, of course, I'm going to condense my story a little bit here for you.
But, uh, I struggled like, you know, when those 12, between 12 and 14 years old is where I, I was really looking at restriction. It was a lot of calorie counting, a lot of restriction and, uh, this, this push and pull with the scale. And then when I got, and I was doing like the home workouts on the television and doing all those things, and then I, the age of 14, I was able to join a gym and I paid for that membership with my own money. I remember it was $300 and I would take the bus there and I would go there after high school. And I went right into the world of group fitness at 14 years old participating. And when I turned 16, the, uh, the woman that runs the ran the program, she, you know, came to me and said, would you ever want to be an instructor? And I really didn't know what I was getting into, but I knew that I enjoyed music, music, and I enjoyed movement. And I also knew that it was a great way to, you know, keep my body strong and then let's be real. It was about keeping my body thin. So I went into that and it's really like, I've been in it a long time. I'm I'm 45 years old now. So I've been in the fitness world for 30 years. And as I love the fitness industry, I've worked in it in all capacities, personal training, team, training management, all of it. Um, but as we've, we're on a, we're on a conversation here about body image, run a conversation here about food relationships.
And the entire time I was in the fitness industry, I was battling with my body and everything from, you know, as you mentioned, eating disorders in high school, I, I, um, had a period of time with, uh, purging and of course with the purging came the bingeing. Cause that's often how the cycle goes is, are disordered eating or eating disorders. They don't just take one path. You know, we tend to move from one to the next and, and that's our body's way of trying to get what it needs. But I constantly, I don't think I really knew there was anything wrong with me because I grew up around this. Every woman, like you'd go into the change room at the gym. And every single woman was talking about the diet she was on or how much exercise she had to do because she had ate whatever she did for lunch and women of all ages, you know, like women into their seventies, in their eighties. Everybody's talking about the same stuff. So I think I just subconsciously took on that path, but we all know that this is an industry that's very fulfilling, but it's also very depleting at times. And especially for those of us that do it, full-time because this was my full-time profession was teaching group fitness and coaching. So it's the, if they're running from here to there, it's the shoving, the food in your mouth until you get to the next class or even potentially not eating or running off coffee or whatever it is we do.
But when I had my children back, my head, my children in 2002 in 2003, you know, it just became light. Just changed a lot because a lot of the, when you're just taking care of yourself, And you're young, you feel like you can do it all and you can, you can maintain the expectations. And nobody really knows that you're struggling. You just sort of think, well, I gotta work harder. I have to burn more calories. I have to eat less in order for be for me to be able to maintain this body size because I didn't understand back then that we're not all meant to look a certain way. I just felt I had to work harder to be able to achieve that look and.
You know, when that's where my struggles with my body. And I want to make this conversation relatable to what this podcast is about, but I want to just highlight the fact that when we have all of these expectations on ourself, and so many of us are trying to find approval, receive validation, receive compliments, we get them in this world of our bodies and how they look. But then on top of it, I took all that need into my profession and management into the people pleasing and the working like the workaholism and the comparison and all of this really compounded to the point that it started to impact my health. So here I am in a profession and I'm promoting to everyone, listen to your body all the time. I wasn't doing that. And I really think that I thought that I was. Some type of super women that I could do it, but it became a point that my body started to get sick. And for me, what that looked like initially was my sleep. I couldn't sleep anymore. My body. I know now it was all excess cortisol. Not only from the amount of exercise I was doing, but also for the amount of mental stress that I was carrying my body didn't know how to rest anymore. So it was very known for me that I would wake up every 90 minutes. Like I, I went for easily a year with not being able to ever sleep through the night. It was very pockets of sleep, especially when I was working until 11 o'clock at night, getting up at five o'clock in the morning, you can imagine how much sleep I was getting that then led into, um, A lot of like what I know now it was body hives.
Like I had a whole bunch of hides showing up on my body. I attributed those to some type of sensitivity with food. Cause that's what we often think it was all my body running. My body was running down. It was just depleting. And then it went into my mental health. Um, mental health started to suffer a lot. I had, you know, and I think it was just, you felt like your, I felt like my, my world was falling apart because. I was trying to make everyone happy. I had, you know, over 70 instructors that I was responsible for, uh, to lead them, to give them my best. Because I wanted that for them, but I also had a husband and I also had two children and I had lost myself in this pursuit of trying to be for everyone. And I got sick and my mental health started to shift and I'll, and I won't go in depth because I don't want it. I don't know who's listening, but you know, it just got to a point where my thoughts were scaring me and I didn't consciously choose. What happened to me, I believe that it was a higher power that took that over me because I was the queen of ignoring my body and burning out. And then like, sort of just taking a day, thinking a day is going to rebuild me and I'll be back in. And of course we, with that comes the identity I had, my whole identity had been built in this industry. What am I, if I'm not this? So I can't dare say that I need a break. I can't dare say I need to step away, but that is exactly what happened to me. Um, because there had been enough warning signs. There's tons of warning signs as I look back and I chose to take a leave of absence. And at that point again, things got harder before they got easier because I had built my entire life on a wheel of go, go, go. And then everything was stripped away from me. And I went into a massive depression, vulnerability, anxiety, just questioning what's next and falling apart. But with time and with help, I rebuild and I began this deeper understanding of who I am and I found a, an Institute I had never heard of before the Institute for the psychology of eating out of Colorado. Uh, that is where I took myself for a year virtually of course, and began to understand my relationship with chronic dieting and body image and emotional eating and. It is this deeper purpose because the food issues that we all have, yes, many of them have taught to have been taught to us through diet culture. But there's also usually an underlying symptom. They're like the food is the symptom. The body images of the symptoms is something under, underneath us that has led us into that, into that, um, that dark space. So I am now, you know, that was in 2016 was when I left the career, the full-time career. And it's, you know, we're 20, 21 now. And I've, I may we'll talk about it, but I have a, got a beautiful, beautiful business of helping women. I still teach fitness. And of course, right now, not in the gym, but I have an online space that I do that in, and I love it, but it's not my be all and end all every more. And you know, like I I've recognized that there's so much work to be done in this field, which is why I love that you have this podcast so that we can help each other.
So that we understand that, you know, there is concepts like health at every size. There is another way of eating, like intuitive eating and so that we can start to educate ourselves.
So, what do you find are some of the biggest shifts? Because I know that you mentioned that a lot of what you were doing early on, especially before you realized that your sleep wasn't right, your mental health wasn't right, I'm assuming that it was a huge focus on fitness on, on the physical aspect of fitness, meaning the way our body looks. And you just thought that, you know, You were doing what everybody is doing, that you never thought anything was wrong because it's so normal to want to shrink our bodies and to want to look like fitness. But when you started having these issues with sleep, which a lot of people don't factor in as health or, or wellness is they, again, I get people that come to our studio that wants to just look a certain way when we factor in things like mental health and, and. Our sleep and, and the other aspects of wellness, like what were the, some of the, the things that you find that have shifted in your original focus on wellness to now.
Yeah, certainly at the beginning stage of my time and fitness, it was about keeping my body small. It still stayed present, but in the more into the latter part of my time, it then shifted into how fit can I get? How strong can I get? Um, what can I see? What can I make my body do? What is my body capable of and nothing wrong with those goals? Except that when we take them to the extreme. So the biggest shift for me in order to take me from where I was and that the pain and the suffering that I was into, where I am now has been a focus of the fact that health is not a one way train and that health is going to look different for all of us.
And it's supposed to like, you know, there is nobody, health does not have a look. Health does not have it's it's all, and it's all personal. Like what's going to be health for you. And what's fitness for you is going to be different than for me. I had to get off the scale. The scale for me and my journey has been the biggest pivotal point because I needed to stop attracting my health and my fitness to a number it's a very masculine approach. And I have learned to be more feminine with my energy, which means I'm listening to my body on a regular basis, listening to what it needs, how does it want to move? And that's been a really healing approach too, so that I'm able to do this long-term. And the other thing I want to share is just the fact that we are so much more than our bodies. We are so much more than our bodies. I had wrapped up my entire life into talking about fitness and it's awesome. And it's great. But there's more to life than that because, you know, it's very, it's a very one-way street. And I have learned a lot and I've met incredible people in the last few years and they have allowed me to see all of the other things that are my strengths, all of the other ways that I can lead and inspire people. And be a support and shine my light that doesn't have to do about my body.
Right. So I think that that's a thing, right. Is for women? It's like, how do we look? And am I attractive to people? Well, we have a lot more to give to the world than that.
And it's funny because men are never faced with that. Men are never. Spoken about because of like, if they do something it's not referenced how they looked when they were doing that, but we, of course, as women are. Now, I do want to question something about, you spoke about having children and I've recently had a child, and I know that my thoughts on, body image and movement and on a lot of areas of wellness changed. So how did things change for you when having children? We have many listeners that either are pregnant right now and, or maybe just recently had children or maybe had children 10, 20 years ago, but we know that things change and there's a huge focus, especially on new moms to get their body back. So did that, , come up for you, did you feel like after you had children, you wanted to get your body back or you were faced with that and knew that, that wasn't something you wanted to pursue. Talk to me a little bit about what those changes were for you when you had children.
Yeah. Well, my children are almost 18 and 16, so back then, I didn't. No any other life I was on stage and you, you, we all know, not only do people want their bodies back, you are, you are praised for getting your body back. We want to be noticed so often we want to be complimented, praised. I got a lot of that and I got a lot of that. How did you do it? How do you do it all? How are you a mother? When you do all of this, what I want to say? To anyone now, our bodies are doing beautiful, beautiful things when they are raising and birthing a baby.
Okay. And everything is beautiful. What I want to say is. I know there's the desire I'm going to speak right now to the woman who does too. Does it feel like her body is hers right now? Because it's so different, you know, and I understand that and I have empathy, empathy to that. Our bodies will take care of themselves. They really, really well. If you come back too quickly, if you come back to fast, you actually can do more harm than good. And I also know of a lot of women who have felt regret. Like I remember this so clearly my daughter didn't feed very well breastfeed very well. She was a cluster feeder, so I literally would have to nurse her and then I'd have to nurse her again, get to the gym. Get out of the change room and get onto a treadmill. I'd maybe get 15 minutes and she'd want a nurse again. And I would be in there sweating, trying to get milk into my baby so I can get back out and get more working out in. And I look back at it and it's just, it's just chaos. And. Our bodies will take care of themselves.
And there is things that we can do, but really, to me, let's focus back on the benefits of movement, the benefits of the self care, because as a mum, you're giving so much and you're adopting and coming into this new role that, you know, you're learning about. But, uh, let's make that movement. Let's let that exercise. Yeah. Whatever you want to call it, be something that restores you that gives you energy back versus something that's depleting you because so many new moms, they are not getting the same sleep that they used to. And I also want to just say that, you know, if your children are five and six and seven years old, and you're like, why? I don't know, then I get my body back. I want my body back. I hear this so often I see those pictures from before children. That's the body I want. Well, I'm sorry to say that there are some people genetically who can return to that body, but most of us can't, especially as we get older. So to me, the whole piece around us is being able to begin to accept and respect our bodies for where they are and give them the love that they need the love and deserve the respect that they deserve. And then let our bodies take care of us the way they're intended to versus us trying to manipulate them, restrict them, punish them. Cause it's just, you know, you and I both know it like it is a losing battle. And you miss out on so much of your life when you are in this pursuit of something that maybe might never come, because you could have two people who exercise the same, eat the same way, and they are not going to have the same outcome and we're not supposed to.
Yes. And those children are going to see that and pick up those habits. I mean, I remember hearing my mom wanting to get her body back and that's something that I remember that stays with me. Um, I had my children a little later in life, so luckily I didn't have those same feelings, but if I would have had my son, when I was younger, I likely would have repeated that pattern and done it in a very unhealthy way. Like all my weight loss throughout my life was extremely unhealthy. So we need to remember that these children are witnessing everything and absorbing it and taking it in. So I want to talk a little bit about the advice you would give to clients that you see. Because I know you see clients and we're all seeing clients virtually now. And I know that the big buzz is people are so scared they're putting on their COVID 15. So what advice would you give to listeners that are struggling right now with body image, with the way they're feeling with the way they're looking, such an important question during this time.
I always go the route of compassion, and I know that people, people feel that if they're kind to themselves and if they, they support their thoughts, that they're going to gain more weight, they think that that's going to give them an excuse. But our bodies, our minds, they want to be treated nicely. They don't want to be like, you know, treated in poor ways. So what I want to say to any, any listener right now who has, who has lost the fitness that they used to have, whose body has changed. I want you to know that we're all in that position together.
So I want to just. Acknowledge the fact that when you go back to the gym, if, and when that time comes, you know, we're all going to be there and you have to meet yourself where you are from a body image standpoint. I really want us to focus on being able to see our bodies from the place of what our bodies can do. It is so common for us to just look in the mirror and pinpoint those places that we hate, but we are not just one part of our body. We are a whole, and. I'm a big advocate for mirror time. That's been a big part of my healing is being able to see myself in a mirror for who I am and recognizing all the things. And I know that we here, Oh, you know, look at my legs. They carry me up and down the stairs, but really that's what we have to think about. If we are focusing just on our body being like something that's supposed to be attractive, then we're going to hold ourselves back. From an eating standpoint, all I can say. And I'm going to just touch on this briefly because I know we're, we're coming up on time. Here is just understand that right now, food always plays a role in our life. And right now, many of us have lost our jobs. We're living alone. We'd lost our outlets for recreation, for activity, for excitement, and that is a part of suffering. And that is a part of something we've not experienced before. So give yourself some compassion for that. And then I always say the biggest thing, first of all, is ask if you're, if you're eating and you're like, Oh my gosh, I keep eating. I keep eating. If you're biologically hungry. Yes. You need to eat, ask yourself that question first, because that's what our body needs is to know we can trust it.
But then the second question is if I'm still eating, like what is it that I'm actually looking for? Cause there the food is the symptom, right? So we have to give ourselves those questions because no, we don't want to just like, I work with people who do you have eating challenges and they can't afford to keep gaining weight and gaining weight.
You have to be willing to sit and understand what is it, our bodies meeting, what do I need to ask for help? Do I need to be willing to call up a friend and say, you know what? I'm really lonely right now. And I just want to have a cry. Can I have a cry with you and give ourselves that permission? But, um, the other thing I'm going to take a complete swing here is just to recognize we have to be able to do what we can right now.
And if you miss your exercise and you miss the things that you used to do at the gym, we all are in the same boat. I mean, people are using soup cans. People are using jugs of vinegar, like. Find a away. It's not going to be the way it looks in a gym and it's not going to be nearly for most people as fun.
Because you like to be around people, but find a way, join groups, be on virtual, like go get outside. There is ways to move our bodies and that is going to help us with our mood and our emotions as well. When we are experiencing those, those sad feelings during this pandemic.
Yes. And for those that are on Instagram. You need to follow Kim because she spoke about the, the, um, the mirror messaging and she just the motivation that you put out on your social media. And of course we are big fans of dance here, so she, Kim likes to dance. So she's, uh, always, um, dancing and stuff on her Instagram. So I'll put her social media handles in the links below and in our show notes. A few rapid fire questions I want to finish with here. Just so people could get to know you a little bit better. And I just think it's fun to know. like people's favorite workouts and all that kind of stuff. So just a few quick questions. What's your favorite way to move your body that brings you joy.
I would have to say, if I had to pick one thing, it would be dance. I love, I love dancing, you know, and that's, that's been a big element for me. Again, I never used to dance the way I have since I've respected and learned to love my body. When you love your body, you move it in new ways and you can, you can have some fun.
Any favorite music, for dance or for anything?
For I'm a big, big lover of music and it's everything across the board. Uh, but anything with a good, strong beat. I love my Latin music and if anybody follows me on Instagram, you know, my, my reels are all usually Latin-based cause I love that music. So, and even with a good beat, some motivational lyrics too. I love lyrics that motivate me.
A favorite food. What food do you really, really enjoy?
Hmm. I have to say, I love a good steak. And I'm like, I'm like, I like a steak. I like my meat. Sorry for those that don't want to, but I like a steak, you know, it's something that I enjoy once in awhile. I do try to watch my red meat, but I like a good steak, especially in the summertime, you know, when you can get it on the grill and yeah.
Yes, looking orward to some summer weather as we sit in winter. Then your favorite social media platform, where do you feel, what platform do you feel is a platform that you love sharing?
Well, I'm a Facebook and Instagram user, but I think that the feature of Instagram, if I had to pick one, it would be Instagram because I've really had fun playing with the stories and sharing parts of my life and getting to know people. I would have to say that when it's, it's more relaxed and mind you, I have to learn how to write my posts. Shorter. That's always hard for me, but I have fun. I have fun playing in there for sure.
Well, partial blog, partial Instagram. People like the visual and they'll they'll read. And then finally, this is not necessarily a short question, but if you could tell yourself something like now your younger version of yourself now, um, what would you tell your, and you could pick any age. It could be your 16 year self, 16 year old self, your 25 year old self. What would you tell a younger version of yourself?
There's a few things I want to share here, but I'll keep it short. I'm going to actually go a different angle here. And I'm going to go back to that time where I felt like my world was falling apart, you know, in 2016, when I was 41 years old.
Um, if I look back at the last few years, That was the most pivotal moment for me. So when we experienced something that is really, really hard and you might, some of these listening right now might be going through something really hard. Uh, just to understand, we are learning something about ourselves in this moment.
And sometimes the most traumatic, challenging experiences can be the ones that completely change the trajectory of our life. And I'm so proud. I'm so proud of that younger version of myself who was willing to. To press pause. And as I say, in the most strength, strong way, I surrendered, I surrendered to, to the lifestyle that I couldn't do anymore.
And it took a lot of courage for my younger self to do that. And I'm so very proud of her. And then that, that person has allowed me to see what's possible for myself now moving forward.
Wonderful. I'm sure the clients that you serve are better because they get your experiences, get your expertise. And the fitness industry, I know personally is better having people like you that are leading the way and sharing your story. And also again, your expertise to help shift into a much happier versions of ourselves, a much happier and healthier way of being as opposed to maybe what the industry used to be like.
Yeah. And, you know, ultimately that's what we want. Don't we want all, we want us all to be feeling healthier. We know that exercise and movement does make us feel better. So we need to be able to create a bigger picture of what that looks like, so that people feel like they can reach it. Because right now, sometimes it's so far from where somebody is.
That's sitting on their couch. It's such a far rage that they don't even know where to start. So if we can just make things a lot more, um, open and approachable in terms of, you know, looking at it from a, um, more place that inclusion and, um, supportive. That's what we need to, to get more people feeling, feeling in the fields from fitness.
Yeah. So hopefully we can all make fitness, wellness, much more accessible and enjoyable. And I thank you so much, Kim, for joining us on the breaking body biases podcast. Check out the show notes, follow Kim. And we can't wait to have you on the show again.