I take regular digital breaks. The digital world is filled with a lot of noise that can have harmful effects on our self-esteem and sense of self. Digital breaks help me get away from all the noise and check-in with myself regularly. These breaks are opportunities to hear my own thoughts without external influences.
As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Demi Dee, Fitness Trainer and Health Coach, and Founder and CEO of The Knockout Room. The Knockout Room (TKR) is a lifestyle brand for tween and teen girls that offers online holistic coaching in fitness, nutrition, and wellness. Body confidence, self-esteem, and joie de vivre are important elements of emotional wellbeing and the heart of the TKR brand. Demi Dee is a Canadian fitness trainer and health coach, and the Founder and CEO of The Knockout Room. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Professional Writing from the University of Toronto and a Master of Business Administration degree from Copenhagen Business School. Demi loves learning new languages, traveling to new places, and exploring her imagination in her creative writing. She would love to have a greenhouse one day to grow her own fruits and vegetables. Demi and The Knockout Room have appeared in several media outlets including UpJourney, CEO Blog Nation, Insider, Business Insider, Elite Daily, Bustle, 24life.com, Women on Topp, Authority Magazine, Thrive Global, and BuzzFeed.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
My pleasure! I’m thrilled to be part of this self-love series.
My experiences in the last few years set me on this career path. Between taking care of my grandfather who was terminally ill and then moving to Copenhagen to pursue my Master of Business Administration degree, I had many opportunities to reflect on my life, my purpose, and what matters most.
As my grandfather’s Power of Attorney for Personal Care, I spent quite a bit of time in the palliative care unit of our local hospital. I witnessed the last moments of many patients’ lives as they came and went from our shared hospital room. I witnessed my grandfather slowly slip away. It was both a terrifying and humbling experience. My own health deteriorated in the process; I wasn’t sleeping or eating well. I learned that I have to take care of myself before I can take care of others. I’m reminded of the airplane analogy where you’re told to put on your mask before you help your child. I took this lesson with me to Denmark where I had a new outlook on life and found that I didn’t sweat the small stuff anymore. No matter what challenges I faced in this new country by myself, they paled in comparison to the tough end-of-life decisions I made back home (in Canada) in that hospital room. My year in Copenhagen was a healing year in many ways because I was able to reset emotionally, physically and mentally. I was in an intense professional degree program during this healing year, but it was the daily challenges of the program and of expat life that tested my values and showed me what was truly important. I made time for self-care. I made time for things that made me happy. Living in a health-conscious country helped the healing process; I adapted to the Danish lifestyle quickly and established new healthy habits. My desire to pursue a career in health and wellness stems from this evolution of learning to love myself.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
I am! I’m creating my first online program for girls struggling with body confidence and self-esteem. These are two big issues for young girls, and for people in general. My program will give participants a system they can follow to skyrocket their body confidence and self-esteem by addressing the underlying factors that lead to low levels in both these areas. When girls are confident, they relate better to others and have more meaningful relationships. When girls are confident, the sky is the limit. Their overall wellbeing increases because they have the tools and the know-how to achieve their goals and dreams.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?
The self-love journey is a life-long journey. We learn about ourselves as we go through life and face new challenges and experiences. It’s these challenges and experiences that shape us and teach us boundaries.
I enjoy helping others and sharing resources and information. Over the years, I have met people who take advantage of my generosity and kindness. Some will take and take and take. My tipping point came when I felt exhausted, emotionally-drained, and overextended from being accommodating and giving my time to so many people. I began to feel resentful and questioned whether I needed to change. After a lot of self-reflection, I realized that it wasn’t about changing who I was at my core, but rather establishing some much-needed boundaries, such as saying “no” more often. People-pleasing is exhausting and can lead to burnout. Self-care is now my priority.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
Some of the causes might include:
a) Unrealistic and unattainable looks and lifestyles on social media
Between Photoshop and filters, Instagram feeds end up portraying enhanced and fragmented versions of our lives. It’s easy to compare yourself to these enhanced images and then to rate yourself subsequently as less attractive by comparison.
b) North American culture
We live in a society that continues to value certain body types and artificial enhancements. We see this on magazine covers and reality TV, and in article headlines and celebrity influencers. We are bombarded with messages that insist that there is something wrong with us, but luckily there’s a quick fix available and everyone, including your favorite celebrity, is using it. So, what are you waiting for?
If you have low self-esteem, this pressure to fit in can be overwhelming and ultimately something that you accede to.
c) Standard American Diet
We know that diet is a key factor in determining how we look. Yes, our genes play an important part in our appearance, but what we eat each and every day is reflected in our complexion, our hair, our physique, our energy levels, and our overall wellbeing. The Standard American Diet includes a lot of processed foods and sugary drinks. This diet no doubt contributes to feeling unsatisfied about your appearance because it is a recipe for obesity.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
- You’re able to process criticism in a healthier way.
You’ll face some form of criticism on a regular basis. You’ll never please everybody nor should you attempt to do so. At the end of the day, you have to be able to live with yourself and your decisions. When you learn to trust your intuition and to love yourself, you’ll be able to see the criticism for what it is — reflections of other people’s insecurities and fears. It’s not about you; it’s about them.
- You consider your own needs, wants, and desires. When you love yourself, you’re saying that you matter. You no longer put yourself last in order to satisfy everyone else’s needs.
- Your relationships improve. Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship of your life. When your needs are met, you are able to give yourself to others.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
I think people stay in mediocre relationships for various reasons. It could be a financial reason; if you’re in a relationship and cohabitating, perhaps it’s challenging to sustain a household on one income. Breaking up, in this case, might mean breaking up and living off of one income only.
Fear may be another reason for staying in a mediocre relationship. Fear of change. Fear of having to put yourself out there again in the dating world. Fear that you won’t meet someone else. Fear of being single and the stigma that goes along with that. Fear of being alone and having to take care of yourself by yourself.
What advice would I give to your readers? You’re stronger than you think. You owe it to yourself to be happy. Better to be single than to settle for a relationship that does not fulfill you on every level — mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times, self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
Some tough questions you can ask yourself include:
a) Am I genuinely happy?
b) Am I holding myself back?
c) Am I lying to myself?
d) Am I afraid to be alone?
e) Am I living my life with integrity?
f) Do I believe in myself?
g) Do I forgive myself for my mistakes?
h) Do I love my body?
i) Am I my authentic self with others?
j) Am I doing ________ for external validation only?
k) Am I making excuses to avoid taking any accountability in my life?
l) Is there something that I really want to do now that I have not done yet because I fear what people will say or think?
m) What are the true cost and payoff of my decisions?
n) Am I my own worst enemy?
A few years ago, when I was working in a corporate job that involved long hours, little pay, and a lot of stress, I asked myself one night after another long day: “Is this the lifestyle that I want? Is this fulfilling my soul on any level? The answer was a depressing “no.” Luckily, we each create our life and can make the empowering decision to change it, one step at a time. I made a promise to myself that I would make healthier choices and work toward creating a lifestyle that would give me more freedom, more joy, and more impact.
So many don’t really know how to be alone or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
This is very important. We need to have the capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone. Being alone teaches us to listen to our own thoughts and intuition and to find our own path, to figure out who we are and what we are meant to do in our life.
I believe people are afraid of being alone because of the stigma that comes with it. If you are alone, you may be seen as “uncool” or “a loser with no friends.” Solitude is not loneliness. You can be alone without being lonely. You can have plenty of friends and still enjoy your alone time. Some people, myself included, prefer to recharge alone, so solitude is essential for their self-care routine.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
When you understand your own needs and take care of yourself on all levels, you are able to connect with others in a deep and meaningful way because you are not looking to others to complete you or to validate you. In a romantic relationship, your partner does not complete you; you are whole and complete as an individual. Together, you and your partner are able to bring out the best in each other and to add to each other’s life.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
a) For individuals, self-reflection and alone time are crucial. Self-reflection allows you to get to know yourself and to face situations or topics that you may find confronting. An honest self-assessment of your fears and doubts is the first step toward overcoming them. Spending time alone naked is also a great way to start loving and accepting your body.
b) For society, it would be great to see more organizations and brands taking a lead in encouraging self-care — including downtime, alone time, and self-reflection — and celebrating different body types.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
- I keep a private journal. This helps me express myself and maintain awareness of my feelings. I note my achievements, my fears, my joys, etc. Writing down my thoughts helps me acknowledge those feelings and love myself through words of affirmation.
- I take regular digital breaks. The digital world is filled with a lot of noise that can have harmful effects on our self-esteem and sense of self. Digital breaks help me get away from all the noise and check-in with myself regularly. These breaks are opportunities to hear my own thoughts without external influences.
- I take time each day to do something for myself. For example, I take care of myself physically through exercise or I unwind mentally with a book that I love.
- I say “no” to things I do not want to do. Saying ‘no” is a form of self-love that is very empowering and freeing. Saying “no” to things I do not want makes time for things I do want.
- I spend time alone regularly. Alone time helps me build confidence because I have the opportunity to make decisions based on my own intuition and guidance. I am able to develop as an individual and form a strong sense of self that helps me better connect with others when I am socially engaged.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
Here are some of my favorites:
- The Love Codes online program by Evolving Wisdom
This program is very much about self-psychology because learning to be intimate with another human being starts with learning to be intimate with yourself — i.e. knowing yourself on all levels: what drives you, what holds you back, etc. Once you uncover these barriers, you are able to begin transforming your way of being with others. This program really resonates with me because it encourages participants to dive deep into their past experiences and to face topics that they may find confronting at times. I love the insight and self-reflection that comes from the program exercises and the supportive online Facebook community.
- Lauren Frances, Love and Relationship Expert
Her book Dating, Mating, and Manhandling and all of her podcasts are amazing. She brings a wealth of knowledge to all things dating and relationships. Her advice is authentic, realistic, straightforward, and up-to-date, and it comes from a place of deep understanding and compassion. You can’t go wrong with her Ornithological Guide!
- The Five Love Languages by Dr. Gary Chapman
This book has been really helpful in understanding myself and how to relate to others. We need to love people the way they want to be loved, not the way we want to be loved.
- Madly in Love with Me by Christine Arylo
This book takes you through a series of exercises that will challenge you in the best way possible to celebrate the most important relationship in your life: your relationship with yourself. Christine brings years of experience and insight to her life-changing step-by-step guide.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it.
I would love to inspire a TKR-mindset movement around the world! At TKR, we believe in creating a space that is free from negativity where you can be your authentic self, where creativity thrives and confidence soars. Self-esteem and mindset are key; they kickstart everything you do in life. A health transformation is possible when you learn to love yourself. My goal is to reach as many young girls as I can. I want every girl to have a strong sense of self.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
My favorite “Life Lesson Quote” comes from American entrepreneur Derek Sivers. He said, “If you’re not saying ‘HELL YEAH!’ about something, say ‘no’.” This decision-making process is a form of self-love because it ensures that my decisions reflect my needs, wants, and desires. Your readers can adopt this life rule to help them create a life they truly want to live. With each decision they face, they can ask themselves whether agreeing to or participating in something is in alignment with their goals and desires (i.e. “Hell yeah!”) or not (i.e. “No”).