Seven years ago Somerville resident Rachel Estapa decided she was tired of hating her body. So she took a one-year self-described “hiatus from modern life” to learn how to love herself.
“My own story is of being overweight and always feeling guilty,” Estapa said. “I had to learn all of these things no one ever taught me. I had to learn how to love who I am.”
Despite being an honor student who was involved in all kinds of school activities, Estapa found herself apologizing for what those around her called a “weight problem.”
She asked herself, “even if I never lose weight, can I still love myself?” After a self-guided journey where she stopped dieting and started healthy habits that make her happy (exercising and doing yoga, taking the “good” or “bad” labels off of food, surrounding herself with supportive people), Estapa discovered the answer was a resounding yes.
And she found herself wanting to share her experience with others going through the same thing. So Estapa founded More to Love, a community to help plus-sized women learn to love their bodies. Now she is actively involved in the body-positive movement both around the world and right here in the Boston area.
“There were very few individuals doing what I am,” Estapa said of the local health and wellness scene. “I’m widening the definition of what health and wellness can look like.”
More to Love has several components including an active online community, one-on-one life coaching and one-on-one mentorships. Estapa also partners with others in the local health community for events, speaking engagements and maintains an active blog.
When Estapa first started her journey to body acceptance, she found few resources to guide her. So she created an e-course through More to Love “devoted to being curvy, healthy and happy.” The course starts on April 1 and enrollment is now open.
“It’s 28 days of body positive education coupled with sharing with the people in the class,” Estapa said of the e-course, which covers topics ranging from food and fitness to dressing up sexy and the mental aspects of body acceptance. At its heart, the course is a safe space for people to learn to love themselves.
“I’ve always known that I’m great at bringing people together,” Estapa said, adding that while her experience is the spark for the conversations happening in the More to Love e-course, it’s really the participants who inspire each other through their courage to share their stories.
In addition to the e-course, Estapa, who works at Harvard during the day, offers one-on-one coaching. After an initial phone conversation, Estapa crafts a three-to-six-month program specifically tailored to the client’s needs and desires.
“It’s a very focused look at themselves in a way they may have neglected for a long time,” Estapa said.
More to Love also offers one-on-one mentorship coaching for those looking to get started in their own body positive business. Estapa enjoys working with others who have the entrepreneurial spirit and knows how difficult it can be to get started.
“It’s hitting a nerve with a diverse group,” Estapa said of More to Love’s message. “Women are tired of hating their bodies but don’t have the tools to do it.”
Images courtesy of More to Love.