UF GatorWell Services Promotes Body Positivity With Yoga

Natalie Rena talks to students about how to have to a positive body image of themselves at the Plaza of the Americas. (Victoria Smith/WUFT News)
Natalie Rena talks to students about how to have to a positive body image of themselves at the Plaza of the Americas. (Victoria Smith/WUFT News)

Giselle Palacios is no stranger to negative body image. There was a time where what she saw in the mirror did not match up with what she really looked like.

“As some who struggled with body image, I feel like it really contributes to how you talk to yourself and how you look at yourself,” Palacios said.

She is a yoga instructor at the University of Florida and serves as director of external programs for AWARE with the Counseling and Wellness Center.

To combat problems associated with body image, GatorWell Health Promotion Services held yoga sessions in February at UF’s Plaza of the Americas.

Palacios said that yoga is about focusing on the body and feeling good about yourself. Also, yoga is about doing what one can do at that moment with your body without competitions. 

“We’re getting people to come out, jump on a yoga mat, move their bodies, let them see how awesome their bodies are and hopefully give them comfort in their bodies,” Natalie Rella, health promotion specialist at GatorWell, said.

She said that body issues start at a young age. According to the National Eating Disorder Association, children as young as five to eight-years-old are already comparing themselves to others and being dissatisfied with their bodies.

“Without a healthy relationship with food or liking your body, we cannot have a healthy relationship with one’s whole self,” said Tracy Brown,  nutrition therapist, register licensed dietitian and attuned eating coach at Tracy Brown, RD Somatic Nutrition and Body Image Coach.

Brown said that being disappointed with your body decreases your eating for nutrition, pleasure and also stress management and coping.

Eating disorders impact millions of people every year in the United States. They are serious and life threatening illness, according to National Eating Disorder Association website.

GatorWell does a Health Gators Students survey every three years and most students don’t have eating disorders, but 28 percent of women and 14 percent of men report feeling fat interferes with their everyday happiness, Rella said.

“Being able to change some social norms I think is a quest that college campuses and various wellness groups can achieve,” Janis M. Mena, a registered dietitian at UF Health Science Center, said.

Mena said that people just have to be accepting with whatever body shape and features you have and work with that.

“If people do that they are able to make positive changes,” Mena said.

About Victoria Smith

Victoria is a reporter for WUFT News and can be contacted by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

Check Also

Hawthorne student-athletes and coaches reflect on the mental health conversation

HAWTHORNE, Fla. – Jazz Jackson is a senior at Hawthorne. She’s also an athlete. “You …