Strong Women Series: Sarah Vance

I came across Sarah Vance’s Instagram account one day when I was searching the hashtag, #bodypositivity. I was blown away by her ability to really dig deep and truly discuss what is going on in our culture as it relates to body image. She has incredible insight about how our brains work, and what actions we can take to reclaim control over how we process…and how we can change…the messages we send and receive about women, their bodies, and what is “acceptable.”

She is smart and STRONG, for sure. Although I don’t “know” her, I feel confident enough to tell you, the bullshit stops here.

Take a moment and learn a little from this body image coach, ICU nurse, and strong woman.


Can you tell us a little about yourself? Where do you live, how did you end up there, and what does a ‘day in the life’ look like?
I live in Cincinnati, Ohio. I was born and raised in this general area. A day in the life depends on what day it is. I get up, drink my coffee, usually do some reading and then get to work with coaching my clients, writing for my blog, or interviewing people for The Reclaiming You Podcast . At the end of the day it is pretty typical.

I also work two days a week at the hospital as an ICU nurse. So my day looks completely different if I am there.

I’ve been following you on social media for some time now. I came across your instagram account in my pursuit to find body positive accounts to help reaffirm my own pursuit to change in that direction. Can you tell us a little about your lifestyle and thinking as it relates to exercise and diet, and how it has changed or evolved in recent years?

I used to only move my body for the purpose of shrinking, and I was always on a diet (or subsequently “off the wagon”). Until I developed disordered eating. At that point, about four years ago, I was miserable and extremely unhealthy. I knew something needed to change and that is when I went through the process of changing my relationship with my body, food, and movement.

Now I move my body from a place of body respect and enjoyment. I don’t diet – ever. I honor my body to the best of my ability with movement and eating. I live by no rules. Sometimes I move, sometimes I don’t. And my movement isn’t saved for one particular type. I eat what I want, and how much I want, whenever I want. I rely on my bodies guidance for both of these things. Our bodies are very intelligent and so many of us have become out of sync with them.

As part of my mission to further the Body Image Movement, I am committed to supporting and sharing positive roll models when I find them. I believe you fall into that category. What do you think constitutes a positive roll model for today’s women, and whom do you look up to for motivation and positivity?

That is such a personal question and will vary dependent on who you ask. For me, I think a woman who is showing up authentically and unapologetically is a wonderful role model. A woman who is just being her, in a world that so often tells us not to be who we are, is inspiring. I also think anyone who is being vulnerable and transparent about their struggles is also very inispiring.

I don’t often look at people for motivation, but guidance rather. There are so many women I look up to and find to be amazing role models. Erin Brown, Ericka Hart, Ivy Felicia, Brene Brown, Jes Baker, my mother, and my own coach too. Those are a few off the top of my head.

Can you share some thoughts about a pivotal moment in your life when you knew you needed to make a change with regard to body image and perspective? What were your first steps?

Part of my story is that I was a bikini competitor. One time I was out to eat with my then boyfriend for pizza, and I had a full blown anxiety attack over a slice of pizza. Another thing that occured was that I was out in California for a photo-shoot that I had been dieting for and the photographer said, “Don’t worry about your stomach, we can photoshop it.”

But there isn’t really an Ah-Ha moment, more of a collective of issues that built up. My body was fighting for my life. I didn’t have a period, my hair was falling out, my anxiety was through the roof, I was addicted to exercise, and I hated my body. I was tired of feeling like that, and I asked myself if this is what I wanted to keep doing for the rest of my life and the answer was ‘No’.

The first thing I did was throw my scale away, stop tracking my food, eat, and took time off of the gym. Along with getting rid of anyone in my social media feed that made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. It isn’t a linear process, and everyone’s looks very different. It is also a complex process to put into writing! But something I never regret doing.


I know my readers are going to be empowered by your message and passion. How can they find you on social media?


Any parting words of advice or wisdom?

You are a worthy human being period. That is inherent because you are human being. You do not have to abide by society’s standards or conform to the idea of “beauty” to be valuable. You are valuable because of who you are. Throw the scale out and discover your worth outside of your appearance, and eat the damn food. It is just food.