Is there a one-size-fits-all exercise amount? Do you feel stuck in a box, afraid to change, and afraid to stay where you are? What is the best, healthiest investment that you can make in yourself for your body, mind, and overall well-being? In this podcast episode, Dr. Cristina Castagnini speaks about unlearning diet culture with Sarah King.


Sarah King is a Health At Every Size (HAES) Exercise Physiologist and health coach who uses scientific facts and her own personal journey to empower other women to develop a permanent positive relationship with food, exercise, and their bodies.

Through her podcast, courses, online personal training, and coaching programs, she helps women regain their periods, find food freedom, and have a healthier relationship with exercise all while gaining body confidence. Her main mission is to help you ‘unlearn’ everything about diet culture so you can create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.

Visit Sarah's website, listen to her podcast, and connect on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

FREEBIE: Free Body Image EBook!


  • How much exercise do you “have” to do?
  • Exercise is not punishment
  • Learn how to self-regulate
  • Do you feel afraid of change?

How much exercise do you “have” to do?

The thing is, exercise is good for your body, mental health, and emotional wellbeing. This can include, walking, swimming, running, dancing, hiking, or anything that gets your heart pumping. The thing is: you have to be enjoying it. Once you start to exercise because you feel that you “should” or you begin to use exercise as a punishment for anything that you did or didn’t do, then it quickly becomes a slippery slope.
The healthy amount of exercise for you is very contextual to your health, if you have any health conditions that you’re managing, and your lifetsyle. Exercise should fit into your lifestyle, you shouldn’t make it the other way. You shouldn’t be making exercise the primary thing that you have to focus on at every waking moment, and other things in your life get missed out on because of that. (Sarah King)
Think about it as movement. How do you enjoy moving your body? What benefits do you notice that you can enjoy from it afterward, like an improved mood or mindset? The main way to get the most benefit out of movement that you enjoy is to do it for a little bit and to do it often.
If we’re looking across our lifetime, the benefits that we gain from movement come from [it being] little and often because that is usually the most sustainable. (Sarah King)
There is no one-size-fits-all. You have to learn about your body, and you need to commit to learning how to take care of yourself in a real, holistic, and loving way.

Exercise is not punishment

The classic diet culture belief that the diet industry tries to get everyone to believe is that exercise exists for the purpose of changing your body, and that you should exercise as a way to make your body smaller or to look a certain way. This is not true in a real, holistic, health-focused sense. First and foremost, exercise is a space that you enter into where you are more present with your body. You feel how it feels, you notice where it feels strong or weak or needs a stretch. Exercise offers an incredible opportunity for you to check in with your physical self.
Exercise is for the purpose of being in your body, and it’s for the purpose of … connection, so like social exercise like going for a walk with a friend, or it might be something that you see as one source of achievement in your life. (Sarah King)
When you believe the diet culture idea that exercise exists only as punishment and as a way to change or manipulate your body, it makes sense that you would avoid it. However, exercise in a genuine sense provides you with so many benefits such as connection and joy.

Learn how to self-regulate

How can we take that opposite action? And that opposite action is often incredibly uncomfortable … That voice [can be] incredibly difficult to ignore, because when you ignore it, you’re going to have to sit with some discomfort. [So] you have to build in distress tolerance skills. (Sarah King)
There will be challenges in life, that’s a given. There will be times when you have to go through hard situations, be tough, and try to get through.
The only way out of that compensation trap is through it, which means that you have to sit through those uncomfortable feelings. (Sarah King)
The best investment that you can make in yourself is to learn how to self-regulate and take care of your needs when things get rough because it lessens your chances of developing poor and even dangerous coping mechanisms to make up for it if you don’t. Commit to learning how to cultivate distress tolerance by learning how to self-regulate, and offer yourself self-compassion through it all.

Do you feel afraid of change?

Sarah’s three main tips for overcoming fear:
  • Working on self-regulation
  • Finding support in a community or mentor
  • Trying just one thing at a time
Try one small thing. If you don’t like it after seven days, then try something else. Initially, it may feel challenging, or even upsetting, but that’s a normal process. Good things can feel scary in the beginning, and our brains can struggle to separate them from the bad because the brain is usually nervous about any change. The more that you do it, the easier it becomes.



  I am a licensed Psychologist and Certified Eating Disorder Specialist. While I may have over 20 years of clinical experience, what I also have is the experience of having been a patient who had an eating disorder as well. One thing that I never had during all of my treatment was someone who could look me in the eye and honestly say to me "Hey, I've been there. I understand". Going through treatment for an eating disorder is one of the hardest and scariest things to do. I remember being asked to do things that scared me. Things I now know ultimately helped me to get better. But, at the time, I had serious doubts and fears about it. If even one of my providers had been able to tell me "I know it's scary, but I had to go through that part too. Here's what will probably happen...." then perhaps I would not have gone in and out of treatment so many times. My own experience ultimately led me to specialize in treating eating disorders. I wanted to be the therapist I never had; the one who "got it". I will be giving you my perspective and information as an expert and clinician who has been treating patients for over 2 decades. But don't just take my word for it...keep listening to hear the truly informative insights and knowledge guest experts have to share. I am so happy you are here!


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