Self-care isn’t like Godiva Chocolate – something to be indulged in from time to time. You likely put everyone in your family and community, including your pets, before your own self care and health. If we don’t start scheduling time for our own needs and pleasure our martyrdom continues and everyone loses: Our health, our partners, our children and our own self-image.
Today’s guest, Susan Hyatt, is passionate about helping women get more of what they crave – and stopping the downward spiral of feeling bad about their bodies.
What You’ll Discover in this Episode:
- The attitude about self-care that we need to stop.
- Why identifying YOUR needs are so central.
- How to still take care of yourself, even in transition.
- Why treating yourself like your best friend is game changing.
The way we think about and treat our bodies is often toxic. We unconsciously send negative message to ourselves, and by default to our loved ones. When living an international life, it is also tempting to use “transition” as an excuse to push back our own needs. This thinking severely limits how much pleasure we experience, our productivity and ultimately our happiness. Listen in to Sundae Schneider-Bean and Susan Hyatt as they discuss why this has to stop.
Listen to the Full Episode:
Featured on the Show:
- Susan Hyatt, Master certified life and business coach featured here.
- letsgetbare.com, Susan Hyatt’s website for “Bare”.
- Author, speaker, wayfinder – Dr. Martha Beck
- For free support in your change journey join my Facebook group Expats on Purpose.
Full Episode Transcript:
Welcome to the Expat Happy Hour, this is Sundae Bean fromwww.sundaebean.com. I am a solution-oriented coach and intercultural strategist for individuals and organizations and I am on a mission to help you adapt and succeed when living abroad and get you through any life transition.
Self-care isn’t like Godiva Chocolate something to be indulged in from time to time, and to be honest this took me 20 years to learn. I only realized this actually with the benefit of hindsight. It’s like one of my clients said to me “Sundae, I didn’t know I was stuck until I was unstuck” and I cannot think of a better person to join us for Expat Happy Hour on this idea of, how do we take excellent care of ourselves, than master certified coach and business coach Susan Hyatt. Her number one passion is helping women get more of whatever they crave; more money, more clients, more media coverage, more influence, more opportunities or more free time. She’s been featured on national TV and magazines like, O Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen and Woman’s World and coming out soon is her book “bare” which basically gives a middle finger to the diet industry and a hand to women who are trying to live their best life. The book is based on Susan’s seven-week process for women who want to lose weight feel amazing and become brave and unstoppable.
Sundae: Susan, welcome to Expat Happy Hour.
Susan: Thank you so much Sundae, I’m so honored to be here and can I just say; you need to go on tour with me and do that intro everywhere I go.
Sundae: It’s a deal! Susan one of the things that I don’t know if I’ve ever shared with you is that there’s something that I’ve always admired about you, now I’ve followed you online for over six years, you know we were Facebook friends and then I asked you to be my business coach starting last year and the reason why is you have this clarity of message that is uncompromising about taking excellent care of yourself, staying in alignment with who you are and standing up for what you believe in and there was just something that I really resonate with that and it was at that moment where, this is something I probably I think I might have mentioned to you, where I was actually wishing I was taking better care of myself as a business person because I felt like I was getting lazy with my health and that was impacting my patience as a parent and I was maybe working too much. I was like, “Ah, there’s got to be a better way” and that’s one of the reasons why I reached out to you and the funny thing is is I actually started taking really good care of myself before we even started working together. It was just like I just had to kick myself in the butt, you know, just say yes, so then we started working on other things. So thank you for joining us, I would love to have you talk about a few things on Expat Happy Hour that deal specifically with the challenges that my clients face in expat life, but before we do that, I think would be important for you to share a little bit more about who you are and how you got started talking about all of these things.
Well, thank you so much, and actually it means a lot to me that that self-care was one of the reasons that you hired me because honestly, I think that it’s an epidemic among women, which is of course why I wrote the book, but a little bit about me. I started on this journey, I’m celebrating my 12th year as a life coach and prior to becoming a coach I was a burnt-out real estate agent who was swinging through McDonald’s or Wendy’s or Taco Bell three times a day. So I was the opposite of really who I am today. I was swinging through the drive-through thinking, you know, I don’t have time for a real meal. I was, jokingly, I was a doctorate of couch potato’ism, I had such an attitude about self-care, exercise, eating well, I thought “Oh well that’s shallow, I have better things to do in the world”, which of course is ridiculous.
Sundae: I was super judgy too about people who exercise three times a week are like fitness freaks.
Susan: I used to call them work out queens.
Sundae: What is that about? I mean how bad, it was like a way to justify the fact that I’m not working out three times a week.
Susan: Exactly, an I honestly would also snottily call them pool mom’s pool, like they hang out at the pool and honestly, I think women are constantly judging other women, which I know you’ve probably talked about on your podcast many times, but I think it’s a way, yes to justify hiding from yourself and a way to justify the spot that you’re in, that you’re feeling so trapped and so overwhelmed that you couldn’t possibly do something for yourself because it’s painful to look at it first. “Like why am I not taking any time whatsoever for what I think is important and and why am I refusing to do basic things for my health?”
Sundae: So what was your turning point? I mean you were flying through the drive-through, I’ve seen you know before and after pictures of you involving turtlenecks, which that’s a whole nother story, but what was your turning point?
Susan: Really my turning point was, so I became a coach which is a podcast story for another day, and I realized when my life really started changing and I was helping other people change their lives, that the one big area that was still looking me right in the face was moving my body or eating with better care and I knew that there were things to tackle or issues underneath that that I really needed to face if I was going to walk my talk as a coach and so I was picking my kids up from school. They are 18 and 20 now so they were little at the time and I remember they were sitting at the dining room table with their after-school homework worksheets and I was in the kitchen treating myself. I’m using air quotes to a wheel of Brie, who doesn’t love cheese and some wine and I remember looking at it and thinking this is an every afternoon occurrence, what is this about? And I’m like, “Okay, that’s it”, you know, “I can’t my this is called expat happy hour”, right, my quote unquote happy hour every afternoon to deal with after school responsibilities was to have wine and stuff myself full of a wheel of Brie and I realized okay there’s something to be done here. And so when I started looking at it, it was fear of feeling boredom, admitting that I was bored with these motherly activities that I had arranged my whole life to be available to pick them up from school and then, oh wait, “Like I don’t actually enjoy doing after school worksheets what now?”
Sundae: You know, there’s so many people that I’ve talked to about this idea of motherhood and one of my work workshop participants likened it to what happens in a market and Burkina Faso when you when you offer a price and the the one who’s selling their goods doesn’t think it’s high enough they say in in French and I’ll say it really bad West African French, C’est bon mais n’ai pas arrivé, which is like “It’s good, but it hasn’t arrived yet” and you can’t say that out loud as a mother, like motherhood is good but it’s not enough, like you would get stoned in public if you said that.
Susan: Right, and I think that for me, I started out my parenting Journey as a stay-at-home mom and then I re-entered the workforce as a residential realtor thinking “Oh, I’ll be able to set my own hours, ha ha and this will be great” and then found myself, I had built this real estate practice that was super successful, but I wasn’t available like I wanted to be for my kids and so that led me to coaching which was great and I still work for my home office, It’s been amazing and it also led me to realize that there were different ways I wanted to connect with my kids and show my kids I love them, than what I thought the traditional parenting models showed us we should do.
Sundae: Right, like it’s okay to love your kids in different ways right that I think there’s so much pressure that people have of how do you show up? But what does this have to do, I mean so here I want to connect it to the expat context. And for the people who are listening, they’re like, “Yeah self-care is great idea, but actually, you know, “I’ve been living in temporary housing for three months, I just spent two months on my mother-in-law’s air mattress and we don’t know where we’re going to live, I don’t have any way to get around the city, I don’t even know where to buy vegetables because it’s all in Korean or they’re dealing with like massive transition.” So the idea of self-care feels miles and miles away and the other thing is, self-care seems to be tied to routine. So you’re like the master of taking excellent care of yourself, what advice do you have for people who are in transition, how can they start making themselves a priority?
Susan: So I love this because when I was when I was in master coach training and I was learning to write I remember that many of us were complaining to our instructor like “Well the kids were home from school and it was chaos and I really need quiet and I need alone time and blah blah blah” and the instructor. Dr. Martha Beck who trained both of us, you know, best-selling author. She was like “Hey, if you’re waiting to be able to sit down at the table and light candles and play classical music to write you are in for a rude awakening” and so our homework assignment was actually to go sit in the busiest coffee shop, hotel lobby, annoying place we could and write under those conditions, because that’s real life and these expats who are in transition, it’s an extreme version of interruptions from life, but what the point I’m trying to make is for all of you listening, if you can start carving out five minutes at a time for yourself now and devote to your self care. You are going to be a pro once you do get settled and get a routine handled. So this is actually a great discussion, It’s almost like self-care boot camp. If you get is this way, you can do it anytime and the thing that I have to say, is that what’s interesting about women that I work with, who are not women in transition the way the listeners of this podcast are, is that their minds will create obstacles out of nothing. So even though they’re not sleeping on their mother-in-laws blow-up mattress and trying to read nutrition labels in another language you would think that they were because just taking the dog to the vet is an excuse for someone who wants an excuse not to take care of themselves. I was that person “Oh, I have a papercut today, it might get infected I better not sweat at all.” So,
Sundae: You know I just read research where people actually take better care of their animals than they do themselves.
Susan: It’s true, It’s true, and so for all of you listening, that’s one step, is awareness, is to look at everything that you do and it’s massive its massive everything that you do for your kids, your spouse or partner, your pets, your community at large, even online communities come before typically a woman’s self care and health and I want you to just recognize that you do not need more willpower to do this, you just need to understand that what’s missing the missing link is pleasure. So it’s also reframing self-care from something that you consume or you know, a scheduled activity per se and it’s more of an attitude of being devoted to your own needs and your own pleasure which flies in the face of what were culturally brought up to do.
Sundae: Right, and what I would add here is my clients don’t even know what their needs are. So before we start being devoted to them we need to name them and I have people they’re like “But where do I go? Where do I begin?” So what do you think, are the core needs that you think that that people have that they’re just not meeting?
Quiet, which I know everyone listening is probably rolling their eyes, but if you can start with giving yourself five minutes of quiet so you can hear yourself. I mean, that’s exactly what you said spot on, most women are like, “Okay, okay self-care. I’m going to book a massage.” So this is without consuming something else we’re bringing you back to yourself. So five minutes so that you can hear what you really need and so some of you it might be “I need sleep or my gosh I need actual vegetables or I need to turn off in my environment the noise”, you know the TV, the radio whatever’s coming at your senses. So there’s a little bit of when you allow yourself to take just 5 minutes, 5 minutes folks, then you can start looking around your environment and do what I call an environmental diet, which is “what’s going on in my space, even my temporary space that is not supportive of where I want to go?”
Sundae: I like that to even think, you know, when I was in transition from Burkina to Switzerland on our way to what we didn’t know at the time South Africa. We got a temporary apartment and it was all white like a hotel room and I had the hugest lump in my throat because it just reminded me of how I wasn’t at home and I wasn’t with my husband and that sort of thing. So what I did is I took a friend a dear friend Karen, she took me to a K back within like 75 minutes because I had an appointment and I bought like a colored rug for the bathroom, fake flowers and I think a candle just to bring color and that was a way to really get my environment in harmony with what I needed even though I was in transition. So I love that idea because most people don’t even think about that.
Susan: Right, and it’s physical space but it’s also what’s coming at your senses. What are you watching? What are you listening to? What are you reading? Most people are on default mode where that’s concerned and really curating your physical environment but also what’s coming at you so that you can just come home to yourself and then move into, I know there are plenty of your listeners who are thinking “You can’t make me exercise.” That was certainly me, “I don’t have time to exercise!” but one little idea I just want to plant is that even in transition there are so many amazing apps, fire up your laptop or your phone, just move for five minutes and in my work with “Bare” It’s not about, most women will say “Five minutes, what good does that do I need to have, you know ABS by Friday or I’m not doing it!” and that was my attitude as well but this is about dropping the transactional relationship with your body. Meaning “Oh, I’ll move my body this way if I get this” which is a loss or ripped or shredded or whatever word is in their mind
Sundae: My God, I have no idea what those are, I love that one, no muffin top, I know that one.
Susan: Right, but if that happens if we can drop that and say “No no, no, I’m moving because moving my body, my body’s a creature and stores emotion.” So there’s so much emotion, right? You just talked about being interested in transition, having a lump in your throat, recognizing who I am in this white-walled space, I’m not with my husband. We’re processing emotion all the time and if you’re not moving your body, it gets stuck in the body which leads to illness, depression, exhaustion. And so five minutes just to move and get that emotion out.
Sundae: Yeah, one of the things that I it’s worked really well with my kids around moving, is we would do, this is so embarrassing to admit to everybody, but we would do like a dance party at five in the afternoon. We put on black eyed peas and just like go crazy because we were kind of trapped in some apartment for a week and it was dark and we didn’t have a car but it was it’s one of some of our fondest memories in the beginning and it got it gets you moving and it’s also a great way to connect a connect with your kids, you know little dance parties.
Susan: Absolutely, that’s such a great suggestion and I have a membership community for “bare” and that’s one of the easiest things to get my members to do as well is, hey because weather can come up as an obstacle for people, time, so many excuses in the mind and right so like “We’re stuck in an apartment, we don’t know where we are”, so dancing around your space is available always.
Sundae: And your kids will love it or they will think you’re totally nerdy and that’s also okay. One of my clients jump ropes because you can do that in a hotel room and you can do it to music. And there was one thing I want to just point out to my listeners. I had this interaction and one of my clients she said “I can’t wait to get our lives back.” and I said “This is your life” because it’s like we put our lives on hold when we’re in transition, but that is our life and what you’ve said is be aware, be creative on how you create quiet with for yourself but also in the environment around you we can also also control if we scroll Facebook or not, what music we listen to, what news we consume and then move your body not for a transaction, but just to move your body to move the emotions or to create positive emotions. Those are all free.
Susan: Absolutely, and that’s that’s really what I want to help with this “Bare movement” what women understand is that you don’t have to consume something to feel better, so much of what is going to help you transform your life, your body, your help, is free and available to you at all times and it’s putting your body in the leader spot instead of some external diet plan,
Sundae: Right and it’s also getting out of your head. Most of my people live from the chin up and this is getting into your body.
Susan: Exactly exactly, the mind wants to create all sorts of reasons and obstacles. and it’s just what the mind does. and as soon as you recognize that and start reframing and telling yourself instead of all the reasons why you can’t, asking the question like “Well, how can I become a woman who takes exceptional care of herself? How can I be more devoted to my own pleasure?”
Sundae: Right, so I’m going to read something from your “Bare” and one of the openings you say, “Get ready to shed everything that’s weighing you down, take care of your body like a beloved friend and seize each day like you mean it!” And I love that because, you know what? I want everybody who is listening right now to think; “If your body was your friend, would it unfriend you right now?”
Susan: It would, it would block you right now.
Sundae: My body is like “Where the hell have you been for 20 years, like you’re super good girlfriend right now, but you’ve been a bitch for 20 years, why did you only now start taking care of me?!”
Susan: Right, well, and here’s the answer. The good news is that your body is there, has always been there, and always will be there and wants to line up with you but we’re trained to disconnect, you know, we’re trained that the mind and intellect is everything and to not trust the wisdom of our bodies, especially as women. And so this really is about reconnection rekindling and I love it right, like If our bodies behave like our minds, for sure our bodies would be like, ”Who’s this? Excuse me? You’ve been a mean girl for my whole life and now you want to join up?” But the good news is the body’s like “Finally, thank you.”
Sundae: Yeah, totally and so this is such an important topic a lot of the women that I work with who are looking for more purpose and meaning in their life start by taking better care of themselves because it’s like ”If I’m going to get serious about my life, I’ve got to get serious about my body.” So I think it’s really important.
For those of you who haven’t encountered Susan Hyatt before, she has a book coming out and I know it’s going to be amazing. I want to talk more about it and I want to do it from a little bit of an interesting angle. Some of the people who are listening are they are that women out there who wants to take better care of herself is looking at maybe even aging, you know that age between say 35 and 50, and thinking “If I continue on this route, maybe I’m not going to be happy with how I’m taking care of my health!” At the same time, there’s women who maybe have daughters, or men who are listening have daughters and want them to treat their bodies better, right? So, can you tell us a little bit more about the the “Bare” perspective and how we can use that to not only empower ourselves, but also the young people in our lives.
Sundae: That is such a good question, I’m so glad you’re bringing this up because in my career the reason that I became all in on, “Okay, I’m going to really focus on this “Bare” message” is because I have a daughter, she’s 18 and when she was in the fourth grade, she came home from school and she had absorbed enough. She had listened to me talking enough that she knew my philosophy on food and body and she came home and she said “Mom, every girl at the cafeteria table today said she was on a diet.”. So we’re talking 10 years, and she was she was genuinely confused. Like “What, why, I don’t understand don’t they know,” you know, she’s raised by this body positive life coach and she said “None of them have even been through puberty, like none of them have any reason to think that they need to be on a diet!” and I said “Well, unfortunately they’re learning it from magazines, from social media and maybe their moms or their big sisters or their aunts” and you know I basically said, “Here’s what you can say when you go back,” y because she said they were all not eating their lunches on top of it. They were all saying they were on a diet and “We’re all making a pact not to eat” and she did in that situation, she was like, “Well I’m eating” and every day after that it was almost like a mini life coach going into the school cafeteria because she talked about all the things that would happen to your body if you don’t eat and why it’s important to eat and the difference between power food that fuels you up and pleasure food. And it’s so she she basically was educating her fourth grade classmates, but I thought “Wow, okay this is a sign that I need to go full throttle on this” and when I talk to my daughter about it today what she says she feels, in addition to young girls and women getting constant messages. If you if you all start paying attention to commercials and lyrics and songs and Instagram and photoshopping, you’ll see that the constant message that girls are fed is that the smaller you are the more valuable you are and the way that I think it’s important to combat that it really does start in the home and asking yourself, “How do how do I talk about my body in front of my kids? Do I talk about the latest diet all the time and my constantly changing clothes and lamenting about how fat I am?” or something else that my clients do is they refuse to be in photos. So they’ll take the photo and so that’s another thing to really assess for yourself. “How many photos on the last family vacation was I willingly in and if I was in it was I’m making sure that I was in the back camouflaged”, kids pick up on all of that, they hear you talking about your body how you’re dressing how you’re eating. And so for those of you listening who have kids many of my clients come to me because they start to observe how the dieting culture at large is affecting their kids and their daughters and they want it to stop so we can all make a pact like “This is going to stop in my family with me” at least in terms of how I’m talking about it.
Sundae: And that’s true if you have boys too because you’re also teaching boys what it means to value a woman. What are the criteria to value a woman?
Susan: Exactly, and honestly eating disorders among boys and men is on the rise. And my suspicion is we can thank social media for that, boys and men are getting increasingly destructive messages from magazines and from social media that you’re only a real man, if you know, fill in the blank, and I think that it’s important for all of us to celebrate what real bodies look like, what aging looks like and have discussions around food and image and how you want to independently move through the world that is separate from whatever culture at large is telling us that needs to look like.
Sundae: And it’s such an interesting point when we think about, you know, the international nature of my clients, because you know the definitions of beauty vary so much. I know when I was in Burkina Faso we had we had someone in the beginning that was cooking for us and he kept putting massive amounts of oil in the food and that was like, ”Can you please not put so much oil in” and it kept going on. I said it one more time, I was like, “Would you mind not putting in so much oil?” and he’s like “My Madame don’t you realize if you walk around like that people are going to think that your husband’s being a bad Paton” like he’s not taking care of me, you know, like it isn’t true that skinny is something that changes based on culture and as our kids, you know cross cultures, they’re exposed all of these bodies and ways of being and we can also be very aware in our language of when we see groups of people that are different than we are that we don’t say that from a judgmental perspective. So I think it’s fascinating. I think it’s super fascinating.
Okay, so I know you have the Bare Manifesto that really sort of embodies what you believe in, can you give us just one or two ideas from the manifesto of what core messages you’re trying to share and build in this community.
Susan: Absolutely, so one of the things I love to talk about is that we are saying no to obsessing about food and we say yes to savoring our food and we say no to postponing experiences until we’re thin or more thin and we say yes to charging after those big goals making exciting dates and vacations and experiences and making memories right now. Those are a couple of my favorite.
Sundae: Yeah, and it’s about you know, not postponing what’s important to you. It’s about starting now with the kind of life that you’re hoping you would get if you were different, right, it’s already doing it already living it.
So I would encourage anybody who’s connecting with this message to check out “Bare”, It’s going to be released this year from benbella books and I will just read a quick excerpt from from the book that kind of shares the backstory. It says, and I’m quoting was Susan here and “Bare” “I share my story of surviving sexual assault, using food to cope with pain and stress, gaining 40 pounds, trying every pointless diet under the sun and eventually trying the most radical thing of all treating my body like a friend.”
So if any of that resonates with you and you’re looking for the middle finger to the diet industry that actually helps you take excellent care of yourself and exude positivity about who you are and and being in your body and that will impact our daughters and sons. I would definitely encourage you to check it out because it’s pure empowerment and it could be actually applied to any sort of thing that you’re focusing on, not just body positivity, the messages there are like, you know warrior calls to go forward.
So Susan any last words you’d like to share with our audience when you know, these are people who are doing their best to serve NGO’s, embassies, corporate entities, missionaries around the world. Maybe they fell in love with their partner and they live in a totally different country long-term. What is the message that you’d like to leave with them tonight?
Susan: The big message is that you have absolutely everything that you need inside of you to create the life that you want, you don’t need an external plan to do it, you don’t need to buy anything to do it. What you really need to do is listen to that amazing Godpod of a body and the messages that are coming from it over the mind. You can trust what your body has to tell you a hundred percent.
Sundae: That’s so true, It’s something I try to tell my boys all the time. I’m like ”You guys just listen,” I’ll point to my chest and “Just listen to right in here you guys”. If I could give anything as a mother, it’s just listen to your body.
So where where can people find you? You have many things going on you’re going to be on a big tour. If people are interested in learning more, where should they go next?
Susan: Thank you so much, so I have a couple of websites, but the website for “Bare” is called letsgetbare.com you can find out about the book tour dates, you can pre-order the book, lots of events and programs for the book if people are interested in diving deep and of course, I’m on social media @ Susan Hyatt on Instagram and Facebook.
Sundae: Thank you Susan for being part of Expat Happy Hour, It’s been wonderful having you and I’m really excited to see what happens next.
Susan: Thank you so much, It’s my pleasure.
All right, you guys that was Susan Hyatt, I’m so excited that she joined us. The things that I’m taking away from today, that I’m going to quickly recap; one is awareness of getting into your body, this is something that 10 years ago I struggled with and now I can’t ignore it, my body is like this heat-seeking missile, which tells me which direction to go. So it’s definitely worth it. I would encourage you to walk away from today’s episode thinking of how you can steal five minutes of quiet, I don’t care if you have to lock the door of your bathroom and hide there and pretend you’re not there, just get five minutes of quiet because that’s when you start really getting clear and more grounded. And then think about some of the ways that Susan has offered to start being a better role model for yourself and for those around you about being in your body and how you want to treat your body like your best friend.
You’ve been listening to expat happy hour with Sundae Bean, thank you for listening. I know Susan is a huge fan of Beyonce, so I’m going to close today’s show with two of her quotes “The world will see you the way you see you, and treat you the way you treat yourself” and finally “It’s not about perfection. It’s about purpose.”