What is Beauty?
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roseThe following poem is by one of our past clients, Shelby Leiding, that delivered this as a spoken word performance at the recent Juno House Girl Power Hour fundraiser raising awareness and support for mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders and self-harm in adolescent girls and young women. I was blown away by Shelby’s performance and brilliance in this spoken word. Please take the time to read this and share with your network:

What is beauty?

By Shelby Leiding

What is beauty but the ultimate of democratic illusions? In a society that values the tangible above all else we’ve become slaves to an unattainable ideal of physical perfection; where beauty can be broken down into factors and formulas. The precise combination of adherence to social norm and genetic luck of the draw somehow culminating in the consummate physique.

What is beauty but an obsession with the manipulation of perception? A little more here, a little less there… Deceiving the eye of the beholder in the hopes of gaining an affirmation that is powerless to give true validation. Hiding behind masks of foundation and water-proof mascara we convince ourselves we can be whoever we want to be… each blemish made to disappear under layers of cover-up. And all in service of what? A societal construct that can’t even be empirically defined because it doesn’t exist outside of the mind?

What is beauty but a product of education and economics? A pursuit of the first-world that has long since surrendered its pursuit of freedom and equality to the slow decay of complacency and boredom. Where everyday we are bombarded with new products promising sex-appeal yet diminishing self-worth. Reducing our dynamic, living beings to mere objects to be compared to the starving, air-brushed, lipo-suctioned, silicone bodies presented on glossy magazine covers as the arbitrary symbol of human evolution. Imperceptibly influenced by an industry insidious in its ability to induce insecurity and seduce its consumers into swallowing its artificial prescription of reformation. Nip, tuck, compress, enlarge, enhance… alterations to nature’s innately immaculate creation.

What is beauty but a religion of exclusion? Where only those with perfect facial symmetry and an ideal waist-to-hip ratio may worship and each diet, cleanse, or chemical peel is just another punishing ritual in the sacred quest for salvation; communion in the form of the latest, neatly packaged product. In a generation already plagued by segregation we allow a definition to encourage isolation. And alienation being the factor that breeds ugliness and hate, is it any wonder that we exist in a society rampant with anxiety, depression, suicide, eating disorders and addictions? Maybe its time to step away from the mirror and into the world. To awaken from the numbing trance of obsession with the superficial and embrace beauty as an experience, not a virtue.

Connection, Compassion, Courage… these are the virtues that you can’t manufacture, that won’t sag with age or wrinkle with time, that don’t promise what they can’t fulfill or exclude those who don’t fit into their narrow mould. What is beauty if not what’s real? What’s here? What’s now? What’s felt? What is beauty, but yours to define?

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"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

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