She may be petite in stature but her passion for joyful movement and wellness in the plus-size space is GIANT!
Our cover model Jessie Diaz Herrera is one of the people you feel like you have known your entire life from the moment you meet her. After getting to know her, it’s no surprise she has such a loyal following of people who trust and adore her. Her story is like many of ours who grew up in a society that limits us based on our size. In this case, Jessie decided to make her own way and spread her message of plus-size wellness to anyone who will be open to it.
For those that don’t know you, how would you describe yourself?
Formally I would say I’m a plus-size fitness advocate and body-positive dance fitness instructor. But informally, I’m a Latina shorty, 80’s music-loving, breakfast obsessed, NYC mom that loves to move because it helps her body physically and mentally.
January is such a difficult month for many of us because traditionally we are bombarded with diet messages and media stories about how simply living in a smaller body will make life fabulous. Can you talk about fitness, true fitness, and how personal fitness actually is for all of us?
For many people, working out feels scary or even triggering. Because of diet culture, it has led us to believe that fitness is solely used for the basis of losing weight or gaining muscle. However, fitness it’s so much MORE than body image, and I would even argue that it’s not even about body image at all! I can geek out about the science of fitness but to put it briefly, the meaning of fitness itself is the ability to perform activities of daily living without getting too fatigued. Literally, look it up! It’s about endurance, strength, and performance. It’s just so misunderstood, which is why I have gravitated towards the word ‘movement’. I love one of the things you have in your IG BIO ‘Joyful Movement’. Can we talk about this and what it means to you?
When you strip away scales and counting calories, fitness/movement becomes fun. Suddenly there is no weight goal, there is just a goal to have fun, to get the moves, or to feel joy. There is so much joy in movement. Moving your body releases happy hormones like dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin, and even pheromones! My goal in my movement work is to ignite those hormones that make me (and others) feel good. And in many ways, it restores peace in my body and mind.
We have so many “terms” being used in the community, in media, etc. How should people approach the journey of self-confidence?
I think there is no one “right” term, but what definitely holds true for me is that self-confidence happens when you begin to truly get to know who YOU are. And that comes with really spending time with your mind and body. Yes, we live in this body but do we actually KNOW it? I encourage you to take time to listen to your body, look at it in the mirror, count your birthmarks, journal your thoughts, move your body and feel it, get to know YOU. For me, that was seeing what my body could do physically and being amazed at my strength, power, and force.
Let’s talk about balancing motherhood, entrepreneurship, being a wife, and self-care. What are the things you find the most challenging and how have you been able to manage and balance it all?
I’ll be honest, I still don’t think I have the right balance yet, but I’m progressing every day to get there. But what has worked for me is knowing when my brain is the most productive. Because of my ADHD, I have an added layer of chaos so timers, calendar blocks, movement practice 3-4x a week, and prayer has kept this tired mom alive! I’m also learning to ask for more help which in turn will give me more time back to either spend with my family, my home, or myself.
You lead your life with positivity and goodness and this past year has been superb as you expand your reach. Can you tell us about your work with Athleta, Power Plus Wellness, Free The Jiggle, and all the other exciting things you are doing and how we can take part and follow you?
2021 has truly been an awesome year for movement!
– We created Power Plus Wellness which curates and hosts plus-size fitness and wellness events in NYC. Thank you again Maddy for partnering with me on this. It has been a joy to be able to move alongside plus bodies. As an instructor, I love when I’m able to take a step back and be able to enjoy fitness with other people who look like me. We’ve done some amazing things like aerial yoga, underwater cycling, salsa classes, and meditation. Also grateful to Athleta for sponsoring and hosting our events in their studio. If you would like to move with us, follow us @powerpluswellness and click the link to get on our email list!
– Free the Jiggle is my joyful movement class I teach online and in-person. Free the Jiggle is a joyful movement class online and in-person where we dance to feel joy, connect with our bodies, and affirm how amazing our bodies are and what they can do. You can join us on Interval and follow us @freethejiggle
Lane Bryant has been such an incredible partner in the wellness space for many of us in the industry. Can you talk about the campaign you did a few years back and your favorite pieces during our shoot?
Jessie: I will always credit Lane Bryant for really catapulting my dance fitness career. I was part of a campaign that really changed the game in the modeling industry. This was back in 2016, where most plus models were mostly a size 14 and hourglass-shaped. This campaign for their Livi Active line starred models that were up to size 28, that was short and apple-shaped (hi, it’s me), like it was a game-changer. I had just had my daughter less than a year ago and was really going through some body dysmorphia and PPD. I honestly thought I was being scammed when LB first hit me up! Yet it was exactly what I needed at the time. Honestly, I didn’t give permission to myself to move again after having my daughter, up until then. We did some fitness videos with them (link here), that are still up and people have left beautiful comments on them! When people ask me about where to find a good plus-size sports bra, I always recommend Livi’s products because of their amazing hold, bold patterns, and durability over time. The LIVI Medium-Impact Seamless Sports Bra is a top fave and feels so comfortable.