I’m Alissa Rumsey, MS, RD
and I’m a food and body liberation coach who helps people get free - both individually and collectively - from our society’s oppressive systems, and from the shame and pain of chronic dieting, so that they can live their most authentic, connected, unapologetic lives.
All bodies are inherently worthy.
All bodies are born worthy and valuable, but the systemic oppression that is baked into our culture has created a society where not all bodies are safe or respected.
My team and I strive to create a space that is inclusive and equitable for all body shapes and sizes, races and ethnicities, gender identities and expressions, sexual orientations, and abilities.
While we acknowledge that each of us holds a great deal of privilege, we are committed to supporting people who hold identities that are routinely oppressed or marginalized.
We do not stand for any overt or covert bigotry or body-based oppression including racism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-fat bias, or ableism.
Read more about our commitment to anti-oppressive practices here.
You are not a problem to be fixed.
What presents as a problem with food or body image is much more deeply rooted. The problem is not you. The problem is our oppressive culture that was not built for us to thrive and instead conditions us to feel body shame.
We create a safe and supportive place to help you move from “fixing” to allowing, feeling, healing, and growing. Because you are enough, just as you are.
You are the expert of you.
We are not here to tell you what to do or to require certain outcomes. Rather, we are here to guide and support you, on your terms. Only you have the unique wisdom to know what your body needs.
We are here to provide a safe, non-judgmental, supportive space in which you can uncover and reconnect to that wisdom so you can live a more rich, fulfilling life.
There is no 'one size fits all' when it comes to health and wellbeing.
We accept and respect the inherent diversity in body sizes and will never prescribe weight loss. Health is multifaceted: it encompasses physical, mental, emotional, economic, and spiritual components and is not determined by the number on the scale.
We help you discover and (re)defining what health means to you.
Health is not a moral imperative.
Our culture's rigid, narrow, biased version of “health” is not accessible for most people. Regardless of how close or far someone is to “health” (by whatever standard we are measuring it by), they deserve to be treated with respect.
No one is morally obligated to pursue health.
Food is meant to be pleasurable.
Food is so much more than just nutrients or fuel. Food is pleasure. It is joy. It is yummy. It is fun. It is coping. It is memories. It is community. Food is meant to taste good.
You don’t have to choose between enjoyment and pleasure and health and wellbeing. We help you explore and experiment with food so that you can eat in a way that feels joyful and nourishing, without a side of guilt or shame.
The ‘status quo’ must be challenged.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that to be loved, accepted and valued in society, we must strive to be thin (and young, white, beautiful, perfect). On an individual level, this cage makes us lose sight of ourselves, to abandon our intuition, needs, and desires. On a collective level, it functions as a way to oppress large swaths of the population.
We are here to help you challenge what you’ve been taught to believe about health, nutrition, bodies, and worth and - ultimately - change the status quo.
Liberation is possible.
Your relationship to food and your body are a powerful entry point into exploring more about yourself and what you truly want out of life. As you start to question and explore your beliefs about food and bodies, you will begin to question all sorts of other thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Liberation with food leads to liberation from all the other societal ‘shoulds’ and ‘supposed tos’ that you’ve been taught.
By determining the difference between should and want, you get to decide how you want to live so that you can live your most unapologetic, liberated life.
A bit more about me...
I’m a registered dietitian nutritionist by training
(which means I had to take a LOT of science classes in college and *somehow* managed to make it through two semesters of organic chemistry), though that really doesn’t describe the work that I do anymore.
In reality, now I am more of a:
- Nutrition therapist
- Self-trust coach
- Embodiment guide
- Liberation worker
Through my practice
the Rumsey Education and Training Collective,
We provide online group programs, virtual 1:1
counseling, and trainings
for individuals, clinicians, and organizations so that everyone can have access to respectful, non-stigmatizing care, redefine health for themselves, and break free - both individually and collectively - from body-based oppression in order to build a world where everybody is able to live their most
unapologetic, liberated life.
When I was in first grade, I was sent home with a report card that said I needed to be more "agreeable". This was the first in a long line of messages that I received telling me I needed to be less bossy, not dominate projects or conversations as much, not be as assertive.
When I was 10 years old, I wrote in my diary (which yes, I still have):
"I wish I wasn't the bossy type. I want to change, but when I say something bossy I don't even know. I made a list of how I want to act and I'm going to try to follow it."
While I don't have that list (oh I so wish I did!) my guess is that it included something along the line of being more agreeable.
A quick internet search finds that synonyms for agreeable include:
- To one's liking
Now let's think about this:
pleasing to whom?
To who's liking?
Consenting to whom?
Compliant to whom?
Not surprisingly, I soon internalized the idea that my worth and value were:
a) Something determined by other people
b) Closely linked to my ability to be pleasing
Which, for women* in our society, is often a code word for thin and beautiful.
*By women, I mean all people who have been socialized as girls and women and subject to misogyny, including cisgender women, transgernder women, feminized bodies and gender nonconforming bodies.
As women, we are culturally conditioned from a very young age that we must be nice and pleasing, and thin and beautiful. These messages - about what bodies are worthy in society and which ones are not - come at us in a multitude of ways: from our caregivers, our teachers, the media we consume (80s and 90s Disney movies anyone?), the books we read, and more.
Oftentimes these messages are so subtle that we only notice it when we violate these cultural gender "rules" and get feedback - like on my report card - that this isn't ok, that something is wrong with us, that we need to change. To be more agreeable. More compliant. To shrink ourselves.
When we internalize these socialized gender roles, we end up applying these expectations to ourselves. This is why 4-year-old Alissa looks so unrecognizable to me now - because I spent the next 30+ years policing myself. Shrinking and silencing myself, worrying about what other people were thinking about what I said, how I acted, what I did or didn't do. Trying to be more agreeable.
This eventually affected my relationship with food and my body when I went through puberty and gained the (completely normal) weight that accompanies that phase of life. I then - like many people - turned to dieting and started to worry about what others were thinking about the size of my body, how I looked, or what I ate. For many years, my sense of self was tightly bound to what my body looked like and what others thought about me.
I spent so much time - and so many years - worrying about what I was eating, rehashing the previous days food and exercise quotas, obsessing over what my body looked like. Trying to be pleasing to others.
We are socialized to not be ourselves.
Trying to be amendable, pleasing, tractable - doing this all the time gets in the way of pretty much everything.
This affects our relationships, the jobs we take, the salaries we make, and our world as a whole. It's related to many people's chronic dieting, disordered eating, and/or eating disorders. It affects our confidence, our assertiveness, and our ability to be compassionate and accepting of ourselves. Plus, whenever we are trying to be agreeable - in a way that overrides our own body's wants and needs - we aren't able to be our full selves.
If you relate to any of this, I want to reiterate: this is not your fault. The blame lands squarely on the shoulders of our culture.
Think about it: who benefits when women are taught to be compliant and agreeable?
We live in a patriarchal culture, where - for thousands of years - men (groups of white men specifically) have controlled institutions and held the power. When women are socialized to be agreeable and compliant, and then internalize this and police themselves, it helps uphold our social hierarchy where men are on top. (Patriarchy harms men too - read more here).
Note: the socialized gender examples I shared here are common in white, middle-class society (which is where I was raised), but gender expectations and socialization can vary greatly between cultures.
My Journey As a Dietitian
My first foray into dieting - and the praise and validation I received as I lost weight and got “healthy” - prompted me to go to school to be a registered dietitian and personal trainer. After years of schooling and training, most of which was fraught with weight bias, I began practicing as a dietitian.
Then, after working in a variety of healthcare settings for close to a decade, I stumbled upon an intutitive eating training course. That is when everything changed for me.
Thinking intuitive eating was similar to mindful eating, which I was very into at the time, I signed up. Needless to say, I was in for a surprise (and a HUGE business - and life - shift). From day one of the course, learning about weight science, intuitive eating, and the truth of health and weight research, I was shook.
How had I been a clinician for so long, and never learned this?
How had a been a human, and never seen this?
As I later learned, this was in large part due to my privilege as a white, thin, cisgender, young woman. While I, like most of us, grew up in a culture of injustice and had internalized many of these oppressive beliefs, I had never faced systemic oppression. But once I began to learn about the racist, colonialist, sexist roots of diet culture and our society’s obsession with weight, I knew I couldn’t go back to the way I was practicing nutrition (or to who I was) before.
That initial Intuitive Eating course then led to trainings in:
- Weight-inclusive care
- Weight stigma and bias
- The Health at Every Size (HAES) approach
- Somatic work
- Body image work
- Motivational interviewing
- Trauma-informed care
- A variety of therapeutic approaches including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT), and Internal Family Systems (IFS)
...and a whole lot of clinical and professional supervision.
I am now committed to reframing what is possible in practicing as a dietitian.
Because a “problem” with food or your body is not actually a problem with those things (or with you): it’s a problem with our culture.
The work that I do now includes:
- Helping people unpack and question everything society has taught them so that they can find their way back to their body, their inner wisdom, and themselves.
- Helping people live outside of the constraints of who they are told they should be or are perceived to be, so that they can just be who they are.
- And - ultimately - helping people get free from the pain and shame of chronic dieting, so that they can live their most authentic, unapologetic, liberated lives.
Starting to question and explore these things can be scary and overwhelming at times; it can also bring about grief.
(I frequently wonder how my life may have been different if I hadn't been forced to be "agreeable" all the time or spent so many years consumed by dieting and exercising).
But questioning, unlearning, and relearning new truths for yourself: this is how we get free, individually and collectively.
If you’re interested in healing your relationship with food, reconnecting with your body, reclaiming yourself, and stepping into your full, unapologetic power, I’d love to work with you.
Learn more about how I can
help you get free
- Fiona Sutherland
- Kelly Diels
- Marci Evans
- McKensie Mack
- Evelyn Tribole
- Sonya Renee Taylor
- Ragen Chastain
- Resmaa Menakem
- Christy Harrison
- Lindley Ashline
- Lindo Bacon
- Audre Lorde
- adrienne maree brown
- Hana Jung
- Brianna Campos
- Eva Glamaris
While I do not know all of these people personally, their work and their words have contributed to my growth as a human and as a coach.
My values, both personal and business-oriented, include:
I believe in, and my work is aligned with, fat liberation, anti-racism, intersectional feminism, dismantling white supremacy and the patriarchy, gender-affirming care, as well as gender identity, gender expression, and sexual orientation outside of the restrictive binaries created by society.
My Business Practices
As someone who holds a lot of privilege in this world, I am committed to redistributing the power that was given to me unjustly in a variety of ways:
- I offer a variety of free and low-cost options for people to learn from me including my email newsletter The Unapologetic Life, my blog, my free downloads, my Instagram, podcast interviews, and regular workshops and events.
- For every 5 individual coaching clients my team takes on, we offer our services for free to a person who has at least one marginalized identity and is low income; we also offer partial scholarships.
- Each year at least 20% of the spots in my programs are offered as scholarships or pay-what-you-can.
- As of fall 2021, I offer payment plans that do not require extra investment in order to increase financial accessibility to coaching programs and trainings (as of 2020 I charged ~10% free on payment plans to cover the costs for software and processing fees that it takes to offer payment plans)
- I redistribute at least 10% of my income annually to charities, causes, or individuals.
- I invest in trainings, supervision, and coaching from people of diverse races, gender identities, abilities, experiences, and backgrounds.
- Within my programs and content, I invite and pay speakers and contributors with marginalized identities and am committed to amplifying the work of marginalized voices in my curriculum and resources.
- I participate in accountability groups with other colleagues to continue to deepen my committment to anti-oppression, growth, and change.
- I pay all my contractors an absolute minimum of $25-30 per hour and prioritize the hiring of people with non-dominant identities.
- I prioritize paying for goods and services from BIPOC owned businesses.
- As of 2021, I have pledged not to speak at events or on podcasts where the speakers are or have been disproportionately white (h/t to Kelly Diels for inspiring this).
- I am committed to the lifelong process of unlearning and relearning, to making mistakes, to naming and uncovering my implicit biases, to constantly strive to do better. I value feedback, critique, information sharing, and ‘calling in. I commit to not getting defensive and striving to take time to process any feedback, learn from it, and integrate it into my business and my life (another h/t to Kelly Diels for this language).