Runner Moms Podcast | Episode 12

Tips for Healing Negative Body Image and Improving Your Relationships with Food and Fitness

Can you remember a time when you didn’t feel like you needed to lose a few pounds? If you can answer yes to that question, you’re one of the few lucky ones, because most women can’t. 

This episode explores several topics that come up regularly in the Runner Moms community: Body image, eating disorders and unhealthy relationships with food and fitness. These issues are, unfortunately, very pervasive in our society thanks to the traps and lies of diet culture.

To explore these issues and provide useful and actionable advice to the Runner Moms community, Amy Harman joins the show as this episode’s guest. Amy is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified eating disorder specialist. She has addressed body image issues at many professional conferences and community events and recently released a book titled, Perfectly Imperfect. The book explores many of the topics that are discussed in this episode and provides compassionate strategies to cultivate a positive body image.

We as a community of runner moms can empower ourselves to escape the traps of diet culture and lead healthier and happier lives without worrying incessantly about the appearance of our bodies. We can also choose to view fitness as a celebration of what our bodies can achieve rather than as a penance for what we’ve eaten. Even more, we can break the cycle and prevent our kids from dealing with these issues. 

Connect with Amy Harman:

Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/RunnerMoms)

Episode Transcript:

Introduction:

Welcome to the Runner Moms Podcast where we help women embrace their inner strength, take time for themselves and lead healthier lives. So, settle in and soak up some inspiration. Then rise, lace up those running shoes and embrace your inner strength because, momma, you run this world.

Shayla:

Hey there Runner Moms, this is Shayla, founder of the Runner Moms community. As always, thank you so much for tuning in to the show. Also, thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave a review of the show through your podcast player. I greatly appreciate each and every one of you and I’m beyond happy to know that you’re finding value in the content of this podcast.

Today, I want to explore a few topics that have come up in nearly every conversation I’ve had so far with the show’s guests. Body image. Eating disorders and unhealthy relationships with food and fitness. These issues are so pervasive in our society. I’ve personally struggled with them and I’m realizing more and more that far more women struggle with them than we may think.

As you’ll hear in today’s interview, one question that really struck me recently was this: Can you remember a time when you didn’t feel like you needed to lose a few pounds? If you can answer yes to that question, you’re one of the few lucky ones because most of us can’t. My hope is that we as a community of runner moms can escape the traps of diet culture to lead healthier and happier lives without worrying incessantly about the appearance of our bodies. I also hope we can view fitness as a celebration of what our bodies can achieve rather than as a penance for what we’ve eaten. Even more, I hope we can break the cycle and prevent our kids from dealing with these issues.

To explore these issues and provide useful and actionable advice to the Runner Moms community, I’ve brought Amy Harman on the show today. Amy is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified eating disorder specialist. She has addressed body image issues at many professional conferences and community events and recently released a book titled, Perfectly Imperfect. The book explores many of the topics that we will discuss today and provides compassionate strategies to cultivate a positive body image. I’m excited to introduce her to you so with, that, welcome to the show, Amy!

Amy:

Thank you. I’m so glad to be here!

Shayla:

Yeah, so let’s start off with having you tell us a little about your background. Maybe how many kid you have, your professional background, all of that fun stuff.

Amy:

Yeah, so, I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist and I actually started working in the field before I had any kids. I started working in the eating disorder field in 2006 and I actually fell in love with that kind of work and I was working full time at a residential treatment facility and then several years later, I had my first kid and I took a little break from the field for a while. I still kept in touch with the work that I was doing by coming in for a little bit every once in a while. But, just as I had, I ended up having three boys. As I had them, I just started getting a little bit more and more involved back in the field until now, here I am in private practice in Virginia and I am just loving it. I am glad that I was able to stay in touch with the field throughout the time that I was spending most of my time at home with my kids and I actually like really cherish that time that I had with them but I also do love being involved in my career too.

Shayla:

And that has to be pretty awesome to be able to be in private practice and maybe be able to have a little bit more flexibility in scheduling to balance out the family needs and professional obligations.

Amy:

Oh yeah, for sure. I love private practice. I love being in charge of my own schedule.

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s amazing! So, you recently published a book titled, Perfectly Imperfect, that aims to provide readers with compassionate strategies to cultivate a positive body image. So, nearly all of the guests that have been on the Runner Moms podcast so far have spoken at one point or another about their personal battles with eating disorders and body image issues. These are also things that I’ve struggled with and I wanted to bring you on the show as an expert to talk through these important topics with the Runner Moms community. Unfortunately, even though these issues are widespread, in my view, a large stigma still remains with talking to others about them for fear of being judged or labeled. So, really, thank you for writing this book and also for being here today to discuss these important topics.

So, to start, what inspired you to write the book?

Amy:

You know, I’ve had an idea about writing a book like this for a lot of years. I speak to community groups and professional groups on body image a lot. So, over the years, I’ve just had so much information about body image and, of course, I was also running body image groups regularly and I just wanted to put it all into one place. It just so happens that the opportunity didn’t arise until this past year. I don’t know why 2020 would be lucky for me and know really anyone else but, for some reason, this opportunity arose and it was just so easy for me to put all of these ideas down and write it down because I’ve been thinking about it for such a long time.

Shayla:

Well, it’s a great book and a great resource and I’m excited to dive into the content of it throughout the episode here. So, I guess to start, negative self-talk really seems to be a social norm in our society. It seems that people are maybe scoffed at when they’re maybe too positive about themselves. So, just based on that, it can be really hard to recognize one’s own negative body image and negative self-talk just between those social norms and kind of just getting wrapped up in your own head and your own thought patterns. So, with that in mind, what strategies can listeners use to start identifying, as a starting point, where they stand with their body image and also to tune into their self-talk patterns?

Amy:

Yeah, you make a great comment that people are so used to speaking negatively about themselves and about their bodies that they almost don’t realize that it’s a problem. But, our brains really are listening. We hear the messages that we send ourselves and anytime that we get together with our friends or other family members and say, “Oh my gosh, look at me. I shouldn’t have eaten breakfast. I’ve been waiting all day for this dessert. Is this worth the calories? Should I eat this?”

We are sending messages that our body is not ok and we need to be aware of that. I think a lot of times we would never say those things to other people. We would never tell somebody else, “Well, should you really be eating that? Did you starve yourself before you had that dessert?” But, we feel totally justified saying it to ourselves. So, the first thing that I would suggest for listeners is that they pay attention to the way they talk about themselves and their bodies. If it’s not a way that they would dare talk to their friends, then maybe there’s something that you can change there. Maybe there is a way that you can talk differently about your body.

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s a great tip. I love kind of thinking, if you’re wondering if you have negative self-talk or body image, that’s a great tip to maybe just great yourself, think of yourself as another person for a while. Think, would I say this to my child? Would I say this to a friend? Yeah, that’s a really great starting point.

So, in your book, you write that the number one secret to a better body image is that it isn’t about the body at all. Could you talk a bit about that?

Amy:

Yeah. So, what I have found over the years working with clients who are struggling with negative body image is that the times that they have negative body image or the times that it is worse are usually times when things aren’t going well for them in their lives. It’s more about their own inner desires that have nothing to do with their body. So, for example, let’s say someone just had an argument with a family member or they had a breakup. A lot of times, it’s easy for people to say, “Well, if my body just looked different, things would be better. And maybe if I lose weight or if I just change this certain aspect about my body, things will be better.”

It’s a way to look for acceptance. It’s a way to look for belonging sometimes and when we can tune into those underlying desires, we are actually able to help the body image. Because, then people realize, “Oh, it’s not about my appearance. My body can be what it is and I can heal these other underlying issues and that will help me feel better about myself.”

Shayla:

That absolutely makes sense and through the conversations I have, women also bring up the notion that, speaking specifically of eating disorders, they often allude to, it’s the only way that they feel in control. It helps them to feel in control of their lives. Could you talk a little about that if possible?

Amy:

Yeah, absolutely. For sure. So, eating disorders are really a negative coping strategy for other things that are going on. Negative coping strategies, whether it’s eating disorders or substance abuse or some other form, really sometimes help us feel more in control but also disconnect us from our own emotions and feelings so that we do feel a little bit of relief from what is going on in our lives. So, if we look at body image the same way, negative body image sometimes can be like a negative coping strategy that helps us feel like we’re in control and we’re focusing on something that we can change rather than dealing with those underlying issues or dealing with our emotions.

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s really powerful right there. Yeah, that definitely makes sense. So, for those who recognize that they have a negative body image, what are the first steps in changing? Kind of like what you were just talking about, I guess. But, anything to add to that?

Amy:

Yeah, so the first steps that I usually recommend for people is to stop trying to change your body and that means, this is easier said than done, but that means putting aside your desire for weight loss. Putting aside your habits of stepping on the scale. Putting aside your fixation on calories and numbers and all of that stuff. We just need to really separate this desire to change your body from the other things you’re doing. So, I wouldn’t suggest that you have to stop exercising. Right? Unless the exercising is tied to that obsession with changing your body. So, we really have to separate that desire to change your body with the other things that you’re doing in your life and kind of shift that mentality to be more positive toward your body.

Shayla:

For those who are kind of on a transformation journey to improve their self-talk, to improve their body image, their likely to encounter others, since negative self-talk is so pervasive in our society, they’re likely to enter conversations where others are exchanging negative self-talk. How can listeners navigate those types of conversations?

Amy:

Yeah, this is something that I have practiced over the years and I’m not always perfect at it. Sometimes you just ignore. So, sometimes I will just be totally silent and people will notice that I’m not participating in that kind of conversation. That’s a really easy first step. Sometimes you can change the subject. Sometimes I will even be really kind of blunt and, of course, a lot of my friends know me and know what my passion is and know about my body image desire to heal body image for everybody. But, sometimes I will just say, “Hey, we don’t need to talk about that. You’re fine, let’s not worry about that.” Or something like that. I think that people start to recognize that that’s just not something that you do.

Shayla:

Yeah, I really really like that. Kind of what you said about not making that the first comment you make when you see someone. There’s a lot of power in that. Also, just one thought that I had when you were talking about exchanging negative self-talk in conversations, being that advocate for yourself in those conversations but also for others. Many people probably aren’t even in tune with what they’re saying, again since it’s so pervasive in our society, so kind of being that voice of change brings a lot of power and can empower others to start tuning into their own thoughts as well.

Amy:

Yeah, for sure!

Shayla:

In your book, you talk about positive affirmations and I wanted to touch on that briefly. So, if you could, what are positive affirmations, how can listeners use them, and what power do they hold in change?

Amy:

Yeah, so positive affirmations are when you say something affirming or more accepting about yourself. I think these days we’re kind of shifting the language to talk about mantras and it can be a positive mantra. Research has shown that positive affirmations actually work. It’s because we are, kind of like I said early, we are truly listening to the way we talk about ourselves and we need to mindfully bring out positive things about ourselves if we want to truly accept ourselves and feel good about ourselves. I like to think of it as a relationship. That we have a relationship with our body and we need to give ourselves those positive affirmations just as we would nurture any other kind of relationship. A friendship. We would want to say positive things to help that friendship grow. So that’s the way I think about my own relationship with my body and positive affirmations.

Now, I think where a lot of people get hung up is my clients will sometimes say, “Well, I don’t really believe that about myself.” So, sometimes the work that we do is finding something, a mantra. Or finding a positive affirmation that you can believe about yourself. Even if you don’t it 100 percent, can you believe it 20 percent of the time or 10 percent of the time? And then start there. Start with something small and somewhat believable for yourself and go from there.

Shayla:

Yeah, I’m a big fan of the starting small and kind of building upon the momentum. Getting that root solidified if you will and then building upon it over time. That’s very powerful. So, in the book, you write that, on a journey toward a more positive body image, people may find that there are things in their lives that are no longer serving them. Two of those things that you write about are control and perfectionism. Could you tell us a bit more about that?

Amy:

Yeah, so, sometimes on the journey to self improvement, people can get really fixated on trying to control every aspect of their lives or striving, if you’re improving yourself, then you’re never done until you achieve perfection. So, it can kind of be a lot of pressure and maybe too much of a burden and too high of a standard. So, we have to sometimes relax those standards and tell ourselves that it’s good enough. What I’m doing is good enough right now, in this moment. It’s not going to be always my best that I could have been in the past or will be in the future but what I am doing today in this moment is good enough and that works. And that’s ok for me. I don’t have to be perfect all of the time.

Shayla:

And I think that’s a very important message for moms to hear. I myself beat myself up all of the time about what I’m doing right or wrong as a mom and then that can kind of spiral into other areas in your life as well. So just, when things are spiraling out of control in the house or the kids are acting up or what have you, whatever it is, just pausing and thinking, “I’m doing the best I can right now. This is, I don’t have to be perfect in every moment.” Just giving yourself some grace. There’s a lot of importance and power in that.

Amy:

I hear you on the mom thing because I feel like I have been challenged so much since becoming a mom. Like, just facing my own weaknesses and my own desires for like cleanliness or perfection or like my children always behaving. And I’ve had to let a lot of that go and, like you said, offer myself grace as a mom because we just can’t be perfect. We’re going to make mistakes as moms and the only thing we can do is recognize where we must stop and try again next time and understand that it’s a process.

Shayla:

Yep, absolutely. Well, let’s turn to talking about nourishment. As I mentioned earlier, many women in the Runner Moms community have struggled with their relationship with food. In a recent group conversation that I had, someone asked, “When was the last time in your life that you didn’t think you needed to lose a few pounds?” That question just really struck me because I personally couldn’t think of a time and I know that a lot of women of all sizes would struggle to answer that question. And it really goes back to what you were just talking about, about this notion of perfectionism. That, you have this arbitrary number that you’re feeling like you have to get to in weight and, once you get there, then it’s like, well, no, I’m still not happy with this. I need to get to this weight and this weight and it just spirals over time and you’re never quite happy. So, could you talk for a bit about diet culture and, as you put it in the book, the new morality in which people feel virtuous for losing weight and guilt and shame for eating dessert?

Amy:

Yeah. So, diet culture is so pervasive in our society and I think diet culture is what is responsible for your readers saying, “Hey, I do need to lose a few pounds.” Because, diet culture wants us to think that way because then they will sell their products. So, it is really pervasive that everyone believes, “Oh, well, if I could just lose a few pounds then, blah blah blah blah blah blah.” I do think that diet culture is like 100 percent responsible for that and I do think of it as a new morality. So, I love that you brought that piece up from my book because it’s one of those things that I think people really need to be aware of because let’s say you do lose a couple pounds. Or let’s say you have the ideal body and you’re perfectly healthy. Sometimes, people believe that is like the ultimate achievement in life. That, if you eat clean, then you feel virtuous. Then you are righteous. Whereas, in the past, what made someone virtuous or righteous was their character.

Often, we’ll see little memes. Or at least I will because this is the kind of things I follow. We’ll see little memes on the internet saying, “Did you burn down an orphanage or did you just eat cookies? Something kind of to that effect and it’s because people are starting to feel more guilt for eating too much dessert than they feel for stealing from a store. I’m just throwing stuff out there. I don’t know. And, honestly I’m not trying to judge anybody. Everyone does things wrong and everyone feels guilt for different things. I just think that, in our society, what if we felt just as much guilt and shame for betraying our friends as we did for eating brownies? Or actually, I should put it a different way. What if we felt less guilt and shame for eating brownies and worried more about developing our character?

And I’m not saying that in a that I don’t think people have good character anymore. I don’t necessarily think that. I think that most people are really great people and they’re doing their best. Why I’m saying this is I want them to give themselves a break. I want them to understand that the way you eat doesn’t make you a bad person and you can be a really amazing, great person and not have the ideal body and maybe not even be healthy. There are many ways to be unhealthy and perfect health is not a requirement to be a good person.

Shayla:

And going back to talking about diet culture and the beliefs that diet culture as put into people. You know, talking about how diet culture has taught society that it’s virtuous to have this ideal body, if you will. But, you can feel virtuous for having achieved quote unquote, this ideal body, but you could have killed yourself along the way to achieving that body. You can have a great body and just be so unhealthy. So, that’s such a danger and such a damaging effect I think of diet culture.

Amy:

Yeah. For sure. Diet culture will tell you that a certain body type is healthy but that’s not even true.

Shayla:

Mm-hmm. Yep. So, movement and fitness are big parts of the Runner Moms communities. What are some cues that may show someone is using exercise as a form of self punishment or penance for eating?

Amy:

Yeah, that is such a great question. I think that, as we adopt exercise habits and exercise regimens, we really need to be focused on, how is improving maybe my physical health but also my mental health and other things? There are ways that exercise can become dangerous and one of those things is, like you said, if you’re using exercise as a way to punish yourself for what you’ve eaten, then that’s a sign that maybe your relationship with exercise is not really that great and it might be going in a negative direction.

Another way to know if exercise is a positive thing in your life or a negative thing in your life is how rigid you are about keeping those routines. I know that there’s a lot of fitspiration out there that talks about no excuses. But, honestly, there are legitimate excuses for not exercising every single day. Right? I mean, people get sick. There’s a pandemic. Maybe you just don’t feel like it. Maybe you’re balancing out your sleep needs with your physical activity needs. There has to be a balance there. If you’re not sleeping because you’re exercising so much, that’s not really healthy because sleep is also an important factor when it comes to health. So, we have to kind of look at these things and understand why you are doing this. It really is about your motivation. When I work with my clients, often times, we will stop exercise altogether and kind of restart in kind of a slow way and help them understand, ok, when you were exercising, what kind of thoughts were coming up for you? Some of my clients have been really committed and they say, “Ok, if I’m exercising and I start having those thoughts of like, I’m changing my body. Or, now I can eat more calories.” Things like that, they they will just stop their work out and go home.  So, those are just a couple of ways to know whether exercise is really functioning in a healthy way in your life.

Shayla:

Yeah, those are great tips and for anyone who worries that they may have an unhealthy relationship with exercise, are there any additional steps that they can begin taking?

Amy:

Yeah, so, kind of like I said, I think they do need to cut back on exercise and maybe stop it altogether and kind of restart. Another thing I mention in my book is kind of noticing the things that you actually enjoy. So, let’s take running for example since this is your audience. There are some people who love running and some people who absolutely hate it. I’m a person who is kind of in the middle. I like running short distances and I like running outside. If I find myself on a treadmill, I know that I am not using exercise as a positive force in my life. I’m doing it maybe as more of a penance or because I think I should. So, I think that we have to get in tune with the ways that we actually enjoy moving our body. For that reason, I don’t actually like using the word exercise a ton. I’m trying to shift my language to call it something more positive like enjoyable movement and so, if we’re doing things that we actually enjoy, then I think that adds to our life. But, if we’re doing it because so and so on Instagram does it and they have a beautiful body and so I should do it too… mmm, I don’t think that is a great way to engage in joyful movement for yourself.

Shayla:

Yeah, I really like the thought of switching from, evolving if you will, from using the term exercise to something that’s more positive. Yeah, there’s a lot of power in that. How can we begin to make the shift from diet culture to tuning into and trusting our body’s cues for hunger? And, one thing that comes to mind that someone might think or say when we talk about trusting your body’s cues for hunger, going back to how diet culture has made us mistrust our bodies, they might say, “Well, my body is telling me to eat donuts and cake all day and that can lead to a lot of health problems. So, can I really trust my body?” Anything to add on that?

Amy:

Yeah, so I do think that it’s really important that we have a more relaxed approach to our eating rather than trying to, again, this goes back to those issues of control and perfectionism. Rather than trying to control exactly what we’re eating and eat perfectly every single day, we need to understand that being relaxed and tuning into our hunger cues and maybe our cravings even, is ok. And is probably a more natural way to eat anyways. Tracking macros is like totally new. Right? Like, that wasn’t even a thing when I growing up in high school and college. So, if you think about all of the centuries that humans have been alive and that humans have been eating, they have been tuning into cues of hunger and fullness. We have the blessing of having access to so many different kinds of foods that people even a hundred years ago didn’t have access to. So, we have these desires and cravings and I think it’s ok to honor those. In fact, sometimes it’s more healthy to honor those and more kind to our body. When we frame it as being kind and relaxed in our eating, I think that we can start reestablishing that positive relationship with food. You said that people say, “Well, if I just let myself eat whatever I’m craving, I’ll eat donuts all day.” I hear that all of the time.  

The fact is, I’ve been doing this for years and years with my clients and that just doesn’t play out. So, I will have clients who begin to allow themselves to practice more of this relaxed eating, or intuitive eating, I know intuitive eating is really huge and I love it. I totally support intuitive eating. They will eat more of certain foods that they’ve been restricted once they give themselves permission. But, after a while, that desire and that craving is satisfied and it goes away and you will naturally begin to eat more of a variety of foods and start craving different types of foods. If you continually tell yourself that you are no allowed to have, let’s say donuts because that’s the thing that people talk about and I think you brought that up, Shayla. If you continually tell yourself that you can’t eat donuts, it will always be a craving for you. That’s just the phycology behind eating. You have to tell yourself that you can eat donuts. You are allowed. And pay attention to what you’re really craving.

Shayla:

Yeah, I really like that. It’s kind of along the same line of, if you’re told not to focus on white cars, or see white cars, that’s the only thing you can see on the road. If you take the power away from something, you’re no longer focusing solely on that thing and you take the power away from it. Yeah, that’s awesome.

So, kind of going back to your comments a bit ago about social media, many of this podcast’s listeners are moms with young kiddos and they don’t have much free time for socializing with friends. Through that, many may turn to social media for that outlet of building and maintaining friendships and also just to connect with others. But, we also know that social media can bring really damaging effects, especially when comparing your life to the polished versions of others on Instagram and other social media sites. So, do you have any advice for how to balance those two sides of social media?

Amy:

Yeah, I’m definitely not one of those people that preaches the evils of social media and tells everyone to get off social media. I believe that, like you said, it has a positive benefit for us. The thing that is important and it’s kind of like you said, is balance. So, on my social media, I curate my feed. I call it curate, like it’s a museum. But I curate my feed so that I’m only seeing things that I want to see on my pages. So, if there’s an account that represents women’s bodies in a way that I don’t think is positive, that I think maybe is demeaning for women, or only uses super skinny models, I’m not going to follow that account.

In fact, I have a presence on social media and, from time to time, I have accounts reach out to me and they say, “Hey, we want you to do this and that with our account. Let’s team up and work together.” And then I go and look at their account and it shows only skinny people in swimsuits, then I don’t work with that account. So, I have to hold myself to a standard and I think this is what everyone is going to have to do. You have to have that balance and really pay attention to what is showing up on your feed and stop following those accounts that are not positive for you. Sometimes, that means, stop following accounts that aren’t brands but are actually people you know that maybe just aren’t a positive influence for you on social media. Maybe you can be friends with them IRL, in real life, but on social media, it’s not working for you. I’m a huge advocate of setting those boundaries on social media and only looking at those accounts on social media that are uplifting to you.

Shayla:

Yeah, that’s a great approach to take. And a thought came to mind when you were talking. People often talk that we’ve never had more access to information or possibility for connection than we have now which can bring dangers. But, it also, if you look at it the way that you were kind of talking about it, if you look at it that you also have a lot of power to curate the information that’s coming towards you. In the olden days of my youth, if you set down in front of a television, you didn’t have control over what was being fed to you. Of course, you could turn off the television or change the channel, but there was very limited control. Well, today we can really tailor our social media followings and places we visit online to be those positive influences in our lives and things that lift us up instead of making us feel bad how our reality compares to the curated version of someone else’s. Yeah, absolutely.

Amy:

Yeah, I like that you brought up that, even though we have more social media, we really do have more control over what we consume, you know, back in the day. So, we should take advantage of that great blessing that we have.

Shayla:

Yeah, 100 percent. Well, as a community of mothers here, do you have any advice for how we can kind of start breaking this cycle of negative self-talk being so pervasive in our society? Negative body image, all of this stuff that we’ve been talking about today, how can we work to begin breaking this cycle and help our kids avoid dealing with these issues?

Amy:

Yeah, that’s such a great question and I like to talk about the concept of positive body image heritage. To me, that means that some of us may have inherited, inherited in quotes, a positive body image from our families. But, a lot of us haven’t and that’s because our families haven’t inherited positive body image, you know. And the diet culture, like we said earlier, is just so pervasive, that it really invades our thinking and the message that we pass on to our children and the messages that we’ve received from our parents.

And so, it’s up to us, if we want to be a different generation, if we want to raise a better generation, it’s up to us to break that cycle and change that. You have to start with you. If you want to make a change, you start with you and, no matter whether you inherited positive body image from previous generations or not, you can make the efforts and change it for yourself. Then, when your children see that you’re just going about your daily activities, not talking negatively about your body or worrying about what you look like, they’re going to start internalizing that. You don’t even have to say anything, and they will notice that.

I noticed that about my mother, that she would get in her swimsuit and have fun even though her body wasn’t the ideal body and that’s rare. I think a lot of people don’t have what I had growing up. But now it’s my job to pass that on to my children and I want to get in a swimsuit when it’s appropriate and go out and have fun with my kids. I want to wear shorts in the summertime, you know, whatever it is. Then, when they see that example, I’m hoping that they will continue that on. But, I think even more than that, is we are going to have to educate our children. We are going to have to increase their media literacy, as I call it. Help them understand how to set boundaries with social media. Help them understand what’s real and what’s not real. Have frank conversations with them. In fact, my children will sometimes come home and say something about, “Well, so and so is fat.” And so, we will talk about that and I will say, “Well, is it bad to be fat? Can fat people be good people? Who do you know that is fat?” We have family members who are not thin and they are still wonderful, great people and we have good relationships with them. I look for those opportunities to also have conversations with my children about other people’s bodies and how to be respectful of other people’s bodies and the differences that they may have. And it’s not always just about being fat. Sometimes it’s about race. Sometimes this is about ability and disability. But, we have to have those conversations with our kids so that they understand. Because the other messages that they are receiving may not be that positive.

Shayla:

Yeah, 100 percent. We’re having those conversations in our house now as well because two of our children are of school age and they’re of the age when their peers may be starting to say things and they’re hearing things at school. So, there are so many learning moments at the end of the day when kids come home and they make comments. Just pausing, and, when a child says something about someone being fat or what have you, just using those moments as learning moments to really, as you put it, shape their views of the world moving forward.

So, is there a final message that you’d like to leave with the Runner Moms community today?

Amy:

You know, I just want people to know and I think this is, again, why I wrote the book, I just want people to know that they are good. That you are ok. It doesn’t matter what your body looks like, you can be a good person and a good influence to other people and you can live an enjoyable life. There is so much in life that you can enjoy and it doesn’t require a strict exercise regimen or a strict eating regimen or a thin body. There are many things to enjoy about life and, when we let those other concerns take over, we miss out on that. So, that’s kind of what I want people to know in the end, is that, you’re a great person where you’re at in the body you have today and you can find good things in life and be a positive influence for others in life in the body you have today.

Shayla:

That’s a great takeaway, thank you for that. Well, we touched on only a portion of the goodness that’s found within Perfectly Imperfect and I encourage everyone to dive into the full book. So, if others would like to purchase your book or connect with you online, where should they go?

Amy:

So, my book is available on Amazon and other online book sellers. You can also follow me on Instagram. I’m @amyharmanlmft and Harman is h a r m a n. A lot of people get that wrong and they do o m, so you’re not going to find me if you look for that. So, it’s @amyharmanlmft and you can follow me there and I’ve also got links on my Instagram to my book. And then I have a website, it’s www.reflectwholenesstherapy.com.

Shayla:

Wonderful! And I’ll be sure to link to all of that within the episode show notes so people don’t land on the wrong Instagram account or anywhere. Well, thank you again for being here today, Amy. We talked through a lot of important topics that I know are going to resonate and help the Runner Moms community. So, again, thank you for writing this book and thank you for talking with me today.

Amy:

You’re so welcome! I appreciate you having me on and I love that you’re doing this great work with the Runner Moms in your community. Everyone needs a place of belonging and a space and so I think that’s really awesome that you’re being an inspiration to them.

Shayla:

Ah, thank you!

Shayla:

I really enjoyed today’s conversation with Amy, and I hope you took away some useful insights and advice as well. As I said at the beginning of the show, my grand hope is that we as a community of runner moms can rise up and resist the traps of diet culture by appreciating our bodies as they are and also by using fitness as a celebration of our body’s abilities rather than as punishment.

I don’t want my kids to have to deal with these issues and I know that you don’t either. I hope that we as a community of moms can rely on each other to cultivate habits that embrace body positivity and focus less on our bodies and more on creating a supportive and inclusive world.

That’s all for today’s show. While you wait for the next episode to be released, head over to runner moms dot com and check out all of the latest content, including energizing recipes, motivational articles and much more.

Until next time, happy running and happy momming!

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on google
Google+

Leave a Comment

BLOG CATEGORIES

Stay in Touch!

Join the Newsletter

Have Runner Moms articles and news delivered right to your inbox.

Looking for something?

RECENT POSTS