Meet Brad Zehring, one of our speakers at the Circles of Change Conference on March 18th in Phoenix, AZ.
The Circles of Change Conference is an invitation to come together and change the conversation and culture around health, beauty, and body image, and our speakers live that out in action.
ONCE WE HAVE AN UNDERSTANDING OF OUR NEEDS - LET'S GO TO WORK AND DELIVER SELF-CARE THAT CAN BE DIFFERENT FOR EACH PERSON. | Brad Zehring
Brad Zehring: Psychiatry Resident and Associate Clinical Instructor of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona College of Medicine
What are you most inspired by at the moment?
Neuroscience. It used to be thought that once neurons (cells in the brain) were damaged they could not regrow, but we now know that they do come back and can flourish. It is a very exciting time to be in Psychiatry because we are learning ways to heal the brain. Examples of this is the research being done on the gut-brain and the role of nutrition, movement, stress, and inflammation can have on being parts of the healing formula for mental illness and eating disorders. It is fascinating to be reminded that the body works in concert and is dependent on each part to function optimally.
When did you first know you wanted to do this work?
Having had a personal connection to eating disorders kept my eyes open when I entered medical school. From that point it was hard to “un-see” what I had seen. I saw a population of patients who were marginalized because their disorders were misunderstood or not understood altogether. I saw a population that was suffering and, conversely, I met professionals that were inspiring because I saw the impact they were having and the unbelievable response from patients. I knew the impact that I wanted to make and the rest has been history.
We think it’s so important to encourage women and girls to speak up and be heard, to move beyond the fear. How have you been able to move beyond it?
I think it is important for everyone to speak up – girls, women, boys, and men. As we know, loving your body is difficult for males and females. I think when we begin to engage men in this discussion they begin to develop empathy for females and they begin to recognize their own shortcomings. Once they have insight into themselves they have the power to speak up against the objectification and sexualization that has been a part of female world for so long. They begin to see the negative impact that it has had. By engaging both sides we empower a society that has been sold a lie of what it means to be beautiful and healthy. My hope would be that everyone comes together and pushes back on societal ideals of beauty and health.
What do you most embrace about yourself?
Having a wife and two children are a perfect reflection for me. I want them to love their bodies and to be confident in who they are and what they want to be. I embrace, and consciously embrace daily, believing about myself what I tell them to believe about themselves. In other words, I try and practice what I preach.
What does it mean to you to reclaim health?
Mindfulness. I know that is a common word these days, but for each person to slow down, take measure of their surroundings, and work on developing an understanding of their needs. Once we have an understanding of our needs – let’s go to work and deliver self-care that can be different for each person.
To redefine beauty?
It is unique to each person and should be defined by that individual. Self-love, empowerment, and being able to embrace who you are at any given moment is beautiful.
To restore your relationship to your body?
I find that through purposeful movement I gain the most useful knowledge. Squat cleans (i.e. whole body movement, Olympic lifting) is my new favorite way to have purposeful movement. At the beginning of the session, they let me know where all my aches and pains are located. However, throughout the duration of the movements they go away and I am able to feel each part of my body work as one unit and become free. Through activity I am reminded how amazing the body I have is and I am reminded to be thankful for the capabilities that my body provides for me on a daily, minute-to-minute basis.