110: Dorothy Beal on the Power of Self Love | Tanya Dalton Skip to the content
Dorothy Beal podcast interview on The Intentional Advantage
February 19, 2019   |   Episode #:

110: Dorothy Beal on the Power of Self Love

In This Episode:

Dorothy Beal is a runner, a writer, and a body-positive activist who believes runners come in all shapes and sizes, and that if you run, you have a runner’s body. She is the founder and creator of the I Have a Runner’s Body and I Run This Body movement. As a marathon runner, Dorothy believes that movement has the power to transform your life and that one of the biggest barriers that can hold us back is our own mind. Today, we talk about when she first became a runner, digging in on the harder days, changing the way we approach health goals, and what prompted her to start her campaigns. Today, you’ll get motivated to start your self-love journey – whatever that may look like for you – whether it’s going for a run or getting started on another goal you’ve been wanting to accomplish.

Show Transcript:

The Big Idea

Motivation can be hard, even for people who are motivated.

Questions I Answer

  • How can I motivate myself?
  • Why do I struggle with following through on my goals?
  • How do I find a new hobby or interest?
  • What’s a good goal instead of weight?

Key Topics in the Show

  • The benefits of discovering your new passion or hobby

  • How Dorothy pushes through the low points to get to the high points

  • Dorothy’s secret to dealing with the days when you don’t feel like showing up

  • Shifting our mindset to focus on health goals instead of getting caught up in numbers

  • Dorothy’s inspiration to start her “I Run This Body” & “I Have A Runner’s Body” campaigns

Resources and Links

Show Transcript

Welcome to season nine of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton, a podcast  focused on using productivity, not just to do more, but to achieve what’s most  important to you. Join Tanya has she kicks off the New Year with a special season  titled, New Year True You.   To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to  inkWELLpress.com/podcast.  And now here’s your host Tanya Dalton.  

Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya  Dalton, and this is episode 110. Today’s episode has been brought to you by  FreshBooks. Looking for a way to streamline your finances? FreshBooks has you  covered. Packed full of powerful features, it takes the stress out of running your own  business. And they’re offering a free 30-day unrestricted trial for my listeners. I’ll be  sharing the details about that later on in the episode. But first, I want to dive into  today’s episode because I am beyond excited to share the guest with you. Now, I met  Dorothy Beal months and months ago, and when I did, I thought, I have to have her  on the show. Dorothy is a marathon runner, and she is so inspirational. Now, even if  you’re not a runner, or you’re not into the health scene and those kinds of things, I  would encourage you not to push pause, not to move along. I would really encourage  you to listen because her message permeates way beyond talking about running.  You’ll understand once you hear this episode.  

Let me first give you a little bit of background on who Dorothy is. She is a  runner, a writer, and a body-positive activist. And she believes runners come in all  shapes and sizes, and if you run, you have a runner’s body. She is the founder of the I  Run This Body brand, and she’s the creator of the I Have a Runner’s Body and I Run  This Body movement. She is passionate about self-love. Her writing can be found on  ACTIVE, Well+Good, Women’s Running, Competitor, and her personal blog, Mile  Posts. She’s been featured online in Women’s Health, Runner’s World, Women’s  Running, Huffington Post, ACTIVE, Yahoo!, Allure, Shape, Health, basically, anywhere  and everywhere you can possibly talk about running and health.  

As a marathon runner, Dorothy believes the movement has power to transform  your life, and that one of the biggest barriers that can hold us back is our own mind.  You know I believe in that, right? She aims to encourage as many people as possible  to get and stay active. Otherwise known online as Mile Posts, she shares her journey  as a mother, a runner, and a self-love advocate on her various social media channels.  And she lives in northern Virginia with her husband Eric and their three children,  Chloe, Miles, and Colton. And now, let me introduce you to Dorothy.  

Tanya: Dorothy, I’m so excited to have you on the show today.  Dorothy: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.  

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Tanya: Well, now I know I shared in your bio that you’re a marathon runner, but  let’s be honest here, I don’t think that label really is completely accurate.  I mean, my husband John ran a marathon 10 years ago, and he could  possibly call himself a marathon runner, but you, my friend, are in a  different category. So, let’s start off by answering this question, how  many marathons have you run?  

Dorothy: My friend, 38 so far.  

Tanya: Only 38?  

Dorothy: Only, I know, right? Well, to some people, that’s a lot, and to some crazy  marathoners, that’s not so many. But I think if you have run one  

marathon, you are always a marathoner for life.  

Tanya: I think that’s true. But your 38 marathons is an impressive  accomplishment. I think that’s amazing.  

Dorothy: Thank you.  

Tanya: Well, you’re welcome. But what I love about you is you aren’t a person  who is like, “Oh, I was born a runner, I always loved running.” It’s  

something you discovered a love for, right? Because I remember you  telling me that you struggled to prioritize your health growing up, even  through college. Is that right?  

Dorothy: Yeah, absolutely. I definitely was one of the last people that my friends  would have ever thought would become a runner, much less a  

marathoner. I definitely did not live a healthy, happy lifestyle in college.  And when I graduated from college, still kind of was in that space of just  not healthy mentally and physically and my mom convinced me that  training for a marathon would change my life. I wasn’t exactly sure how  it was going to change anything, but at that point, I didn’t have anything  to lose and everything to gain. So, when I graduated from college, I  trained for my first marathon, and I tell people that I was forever  changed the moment I crossed that finish line.  

Tanya: Yeah, moms are almost always right.  

Dorothy: I know, I hate to admit it. She’s always like, “I mean, all this is because of  me,” and I’m like, “Okay.”  

Tanya: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. But your mom does get the opportunity to  say, I told you so.  

Dorothy: Yes, she does frequently get that opportunity.  

Tanya: Well, what was it like then, when you first started running? And that’s  one of the things I really love about you, is that you discovered this love  of running because a lot of people say, I don’t know, I don’t know if I like  

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running. Or, I don’t know, you know, for any kind of hobby or passion  that they’re interested in pursuing. So, did you love it right away, like you  went for your first run and were like, oh my gosh, this is for me? Or what  was it like when you first started?  

Dorothy: Absolutely not. I started with the primary goal of losing weight and  running felt like the quickest way to do that. It also felt like the least  expensive. I just needed a pair of shoes and a good sports bra, and away  I went. I definitely did not like it. I mean, there was occasionally a run  here and there where I thought, oh, this isn’t so bad. But yeah, I mean,  running is hard, especially when you’re first trying it out I don’t think  there’s anything really that fun about it.  

Dorothy: But I started to notice that after runs, I felt better mentally, physically.  And I started making small changes in my life as a result of that. And so,  in a sense, it kind of just snowballed, and I focused on that after feeling,  which is what mostly got me through my first marathon. Yeah, but, I  mean, running is still hard to me. There’s runs that I go on that I’m like,  you know, I could never run another step and I would be happy. And  then there’s other runs that I go on that I just wish I could not stop, you  know?  

Tanya: Right.  

Dorothy: I think there’s a sweet spot for people. And for me, the first three miles  of any run are the worst three miles. And so, for a good portion of my  life, I mean, three miles is what I would have considered a marathon  distance. I never went over that, that was long and hard, and so I was  essentially always going through the worst three miles. So once I  realized that my sweet spot or the spot that makes me happiest is  passed that, it was easier to push through the runs that I was like, yeah,  this isn’t so fun.  

Tanya: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. You were really just running those  first three miserable miles for a while and then once you got past that  for you. In a way, it’s almost like a relationship. Right? There’s highs and  there’s lows. There’s good things and bad things. I love how honest you  on social media and other places where you talk about sometimes …  here you are, this amazing marathoner who inspires a lot of other  people to run, but you wake up and you think, I don’t really feel like  running today. I love that you’re not like yeah, it’s all sunshine and  lollipops. Everything is so easy. There’s days where you don’t want to  get out of bed.  

Dorothy: Yeah, I think that I relate that to everything in life. I adore my children,  but there are some days that I just don’t want to be around them. I need  a break from them, or I’m sick of listening to them fight or whatnot.  There is nothing that exists in my life that I enjoy every single moment.  And I think sometimes people go into running or into a fitness routine  with the mentality that it should be something that you enjoy doing  

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100% of the time. And that’s simply not the case. I’ve made a career out  of running. I adore it, but there are days that I’m like, this is not fun I  don’t want to be doing this. Even though I know I love doing this, you  know?  

Tanya: Yes.  

Dorothy: I think if you can lower your expectations a little bit, which sounds funny,  but I think if you lower them, then you are pleasantly surprised on the  days that you are just feeling on top of the world.  

Tanya: Yeah, I love how you equate it to your children because there are days  when I think to myself, boy, you kids are lucky I sure do love you  

because this day would be a really rough day.  

Dorothy: I make jokes all the time that the reason they make you kids so cute, and  the reason there is a thing called unconditional love is because if they  weren’t cute and you didn’t feel this unconditional love, you might  question why you decided to become a mom.  

Tanya: Yes, so true. And I think that’s true, you’re right, there’s nothing that we  ever do in life that is always amazing, that we always love. Even when  we’re doing a job that we love or we’re doing a hobby or something that  we’re really passionate about, there’s things that we don’t like about it.  And there’s going to be these days that we’re like oh, do I have to do  that?  

Dorothy: Yeah, and it’s almost like a marriage or a friendship. There’s going to be  periods of times where you question this. I love this person next to me,  but gosh, did I really sign up to do this for the rest of my life? And you  push through the low points and then you get to high points and think  to yourself, I can’t believe I ever questioned this, I’m so happy and so in  love, and this is so beautiful. It really is a relationship with yourself, and  it’s work.  

Dorothy: Before I got married, I didn’t understand people that would give me  advice and say marriage is a lot of work. I didn’t fully understand what  they meant by work. Well, now I fully understand it and I think that your  relationship with yourself and with running or a fitness routine is work.  You know?  

Tanya: Right, it definitely is, it’s digging in on those harder days. I think that’s  one of the stumbling blocks that people come across. They worry about  the bad workout, or oh, I don’t know if I can give it 100% today, so I’ll  just stay in bed, or I just won’t try. I would argue that those harder days,  those days that don’t feel good are so important because then when  you go and do it, it means you did show up. You showed up for yourself  and that relationship, like you just touched on, that relationship with  yourself. Would you agree with that?  

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Dorothy: Absolutely. I think it spills over into your everyday life. When you can  push through those low points for something as simple as running, then  it makes it easier to push through other things. And when you believe in  yourself in that area, you can believe in yourself for other things.  

Tanya: So true. It’s like you’re creating this little track record for yourself of, see,  I showed up for myself, I showed up. I showed up. I showed up. And then  when it gets really hard, or it’s something else that’s really difficult, you  look back and you think okay, I did it all these times, I can do it again. It  really is kind of just creating a mental habit circle if you will, where  you’re giving yourself feedback of hey, I did this. And then you go to the  next thing and you conquer that. And once you’ve conquered those  things, then your body is like okay, well, I did that last time, so why  wouldn’t I be able to do it this time? You know?  

Tanya: So how do you deal with those days when you don’t feel like getting out  there? When you think, oh, you know what, it’s raining, I don’t want to  go, or it’s cold? How do you get yourself out of bed on those days that  feel harder?  

Dorothy: Well, most of the time I just focus on the feeling after and how happy I  will be to have gone outside and gotten some fresh air, or if I’m inside  on a treadmill to get a break from work or a break from my children or  whatnot. I focus on that after feeling versus the feeling of those first  three worst three miles that I was talking about. I also just give myself  permission to go out there and if I only run one mile and want to come  back home, then I can do that. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever done that.  There’s been times that I’ve maybe turned around at two miles and just  been like okay, I’m calling it a day. But more often than not, I have more  to give than I thought I had to give.  

Dorothy: And that one mile, distance is all relative, so you know, me saying oh,  only run one mile to somebody that maybe your half marathon distance.  Do you know what I mean? Whereas, one mile is a long way to go. So I  think, don’t get stuck on what other people consider long and short.  There are days that I truly know that I need to just rest or that I have  other priorities that day and so if I don’t feel like running. I honor that,  and I honor that as a decision rather than an excuse, and that way I  don’t feel bad about it. So when I go to be, it wasn’t that I gave up and  didn’t run because I made all the excused why I couldn’t, it was that I  made a choice that day to prioritize other things and not go for a run.  Yeah, I really think focusing on the after, how you’re going to feel later.  

Tanya: Yeah, one moment at the later on.  

Dorothy: Yeah, and I’m a really good believer in that one good decision can lead  to another good decision. And then that second good decision can lead  to three or four more good decisions. So for me, I know that I have a  choice to go out and run. It’s not just choosing running, it’s choosing  making good choices that make me healthier and happier all day long.  

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Tanya: Yes. And you touched a little bit about not getting caught up in the  numbers, and I want to revisit there here in just a second because I want  to take a break really quickly for our sponsor. But then I want to talk  about that idea of numbers.  

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Tanya: So, Dorothy, I love what you said just a few minutes ago about how it’s  not about the numbers, like how far you’ve run, that’s not what gives us  our self-worth. It’s really about how you feel. We can get caught up in  the numbers, whether that’s numbers on a scale, or numbers for our  race time, or how far we ran. How do we shift our mindset so we’re  focusing on goals for health and not getting caught up in these  


Dorothy: I think a lot about comparing and competing, and I think that running is  a sport that if you choose to run races, you are a competitor in that race  whether you’re competing with yourself or competing with someone  else, you are competing. And so I think, at times, it can be hard for  people to realize that you can compete without comparing, and I mean  both comparing yourself to other people and comparing yourself to  yourself.  

Dorothy: I think that once you can separate out those two things, it’s a little bit  easier to not focus on the number. It’s been a lot of work for me to find  my self-worth and to understand that … anyone listening to this show  right now, you don’t know how fast I run or how slow I run. You are  listening to me for me. And if I was a faster runner, does that mean I’m a  better person? Does that change my life? Some could argue yes if you’re  faster there are opportunities that might happen. But I’d argue the same  way, opportunities will happen regardless of your speed. In terms of  weight and all that stuff, all the same thing. What is it? Comparison is  the thief of joy. Life is way too short to put your self-worth into a  number.  

Tanya: So I love what you say there about how you start to question yourself,  and even how race photos have this way of making you question, do I  

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look weird, do I have too much cellulite and so on. And one of the things  that you have done, is you’ve posted side by side images of you on the  same exact day in the same exact race, and each of those pictures tells a  little bit of a different story. One you look oh, amazing like you’re on the  cover of Runner’s World. And the other one is like oh my gosh, I’m just  making it kind of a thing. I love that vulnerability to share the not so  glamorous along with the inspiration because I think you’re right. We  have this tendency to really question ourselves to really forget to focus  on that feeling of feeling good about our health or feeling good about  what we have accomplished.  

Dorothy: Well, first, thank I for saying that. But I think we have, at least I have,  grown up in a society that somewhat makes it uncomfortable to take a  compliment. We constantly have to say oh, well, thank you. If someone  says, oh, I like your dress. Oh, thank you, I’ve had it for forever, or it has a  hole right here. You know, you point out the flaws instead of just saying  well, thank you and taking a compliment. And I think that those side by  side photos, I’m trying to show people that, A, it’s just a moment in time.  B, you are no different of a person. The photo on the left is still me. The  photo on the right is still me. And so to just change your perception of  who you are as a person and not just look at what the photo captures.  Do you know what I mean?  

Tanya: Yes.  

Dorothy: But I think, and I work on this with my children, is being comfortable  saying thank you when someone says a compliment and to also, at the  exact same time, shoving yourself down, and I think, especially women  have a hard time doing this whether it’s something to do with her family  or a work thing. It’s always oh, I got lucky instead of saying well, no, I  really worked for that. I earned that. So I think it’s all tied up together in  a little package.  

Tanya: Yes, absolutely. And I think that’s one of the things people get caught  up in too, is that if you’re a runner, I have a particular body type in order  to really call yourself a runner. But you have a campaign called, Run This  Body, and I Have a Runner’s Body, where you post pictures of runners  on Instagram regardless of their shape, regardless of their size, their  height, their age. Tell me a little bit about what inspired you to do this.  

Dorothy: Yeah, so I ran my first marathon in 2003. And when I looked around at  the magazines that were on the shelves or even some of the people that  I saw standing around me, I felt as if I didn’t quite look like a runner. And  I probably did look like a runner. I just witnessed a spot where I wanted  to try to fit in, so I wanted to emulate what I saw other people doing.  And I had struggled on and off my entire life with my weight. So I felt  that I was heavier than people that were around me.  

Dorothy: And one of the great things about running is that if you do desire to lose  weight, it is a somewhat effective way to lose weight, combined with a  

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healthy diet. I had shared before that I wasn’t exactly the healthiest in  college. And so when I first started running, it was for weight loss, and it  was effective. And then I took it too far and for completely underweight  for my body, and also not a healthy mental space.  

Dorothy: When I was in that spot, I was complimented all the time, wow, you look  like a runner, oh my gosh, yeah, I could totally tell you run marathons.  Those compliments kind of fueled in my head this notion of okay, this is  what a runner looks like. Well, then on the flip side, when I started to  realize that I wasn’t in a healthy space, and started to gain weight back  to a completely normal average, I’m by no means overweight, I started  getting comments like oh, you run marathons? I thought marathoners  have to be really skinny or are you sure you didn’t grow up playing ice  hockey. Or gosh, you must’ve played soccer, you have really big legs.  

Dorothy: And those comments were so, so hurtful because what does a runner  look like? A runner looks like anybody who goes for a run, regardless of  their size, their background, their ethnicity, their gender. And so I  realized if I was getting these comments said to me, that I couldn’t be  along, that other people were having these same things said to them.  And I just didn’t want other men and women out there to be  

discouraged about their own bodies by insensitive and, frankly,  

downright wrong comments that other people made.  

Dorothy: I started I Have a Runners Body as an affirmative thing that you can say  and show the world that I have a runners body. Runners really do come  in all shapes and sizes. No one body is better than another. Being  thinner does not equate being more of a runner than somebody who  weighs less or is taller, or shorter, or any of those different things. So I  hope in sharing those photos and sharing other people’s stories that  other runners will find more self-love for themselves.  

Tanya: Absolutely. I truly love that this is at the heart of your mission of what  you do. It really is this idea of ultimate acceptance of yourself and other  people regardless of how they look. We’re all in this together, we’re all  runners. It doesn’t matter if you are this weight or that weight, or if  you’re tall, or short, or heavy, you are a runner. And I think that  

inclusivity and really looking past those out features really is such a  beautiful message.  

Tanya: And I think it’s something that a lot of people need to hear because I do  feel like some people have this imposter syndrome when it comes to  their health if they’re a little bit overweight, that we have to be stick thin  to be totally healthy, and we don’t. As long as we’re making good  healthy choices, and as long as we’re really taking care of ourselves, and  whether that means our health or mentally, in all different ways and  shapes, it really is about becoming the best version of you possible.  

Dorothy: Yeah, I 100% agree. And I think you would agree with this, that you can’t  look at somebody, and based on their appearance, know how healthy  

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they are. And so I hope that 15, 20 years from now, this is a silly  

conversation and that people think wait, people were judged by the way  that they looked, you know, that it’s almost laughable.  

Tanya: Yeah.  

Dorothy: Because truly, you can be various different sizes and be healthy.  

Tanya: I think that’s so true and I hope you’re right, I hope that one day we do  look at this and say, I can’t believe this was something that we dealt  with.  

Dorothy: Yeah, I think about that all the time because there are things that are  silly. I mean, in the past 100 years, women weren’t allowed to run  marathons and now that’s laughable because there are so many females,  oftentimes more females, running marathons than males in many large  US races. So I hope we get to a point where it really is something that  we can laugh about.  

Tanya: Right? Yeah. And I think, really, that’s why, for me, for this season of the  podcast, I called it, New Year True You because it’s not about changing  who you are. It’s not about becoming a whole different person. It’s  about helping my listeners find their true selves, and bringing their best  attributes to the forefront so they can really shine. So I have one final  question for you, do you have any advice on how listeners can find their  true self?  

Dorothy: Yeah, I think it starts with self-acceptance, of accepting who you are in  the day. And in that acceptance, knowing that it’s okay to want to  change, it is okay if, in 2019, you want to make some changes and do  things differently than you did in 2018. That’s completely fine. I think the  issue arises when you think of yourself as needing fixing. You aren’t  broken, you don’t need to be fixed. And we don’t need to trade you in  for a newer model. I think it really starts with just accepting where  you’re at and putting your self-worth and your value in yourself as who  you are on the inside.  

Dorothy: And if there are things that you want to change, absolutely. Take small  steps, set side goals that are small because those small goals, achieving  them can turn into achieving big goals. But I think that my rambling  answer, I think it absolutely all just starts with accepting yourself, who  you are.  

Tanya: I think that’s so true.  

Dorothy: And really knowing that everything that you’re searching for is inside of  you. You hold the key to make whatever changes that you want to make  this year. You don’t need to become a new person.  

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Tanya: I love that. You’re absolutely right, starting with self-acceptance. And I  have to say, your feed on Instagram, it really is inspirational. I am not a  runner, but I love Dorothy’s feed because it’s so encouraging. And the  way that you talk about running, first of all, I love your passion for it 

Dorothy: Well, thank you.  

Tanya: … but just to see the way that you encourage women to find that self acceptance. So I will definitely have the links so my listeners can follow  Dorothy on the show notes. So, Dorothy, thank you so much for coming  on the show today. I was so excited to have you on.  

Dorothy: Thank you.  

Tanya: We spent some time together when we were in New York City. And you  and I just clicked so well, and I was like, I have got to have her on the  show because I wanted to share you with everybody because I just love  what you’re doing.  

Dorothy: Thank you.  

Tanya: Didn’t I tell you that you would love her? I think she is amazing. And I  was telling her after we shut down the interview, I was telling her that  I’m not a runner, but I love following her on social media because her  posts really are so inspiring. We touched on that a little bit in the  podcast episode, but truly, I would encourage you to give it a listen. You  can get all the links to connect with Dorothy at inkWELLpress.com/ podcast, and just look under episode 110.  

Tanya: Okay, last week I shared with you that I’m starting a new segment at the  close of the podcast where I am sharing a review that someone has left  me. Each time I read a review, if it happens to be yours, send me an  email and I will hand wrote you a thank you note because I truly appreciate you taking the time to share a review, to share on Instagram,  or share on Facebook, or wherever you are sharing and spreading the  love about this podcast because I truly believe when we can get more  people to listen, we can help these messages to spread. And we can  really encourage a movement of people who understand that  productivity really is about living your very best life.  

Tanya: So this week’s review was left by Mom of Two Sparrows. And she says, “I  love taking time each week, or more, to fit in a podcast with Tanya. Her  tools and insights empower me to take back my time for the important  goals in my life. They’re practical and easy to implement.” Well, Mom of  Two Sparrows, send me an email, I would love to send you a thank you  note to tell you how much I appreciate you leaving a little love for me.  

Tanya: Alright, we are going to continue our season of New Year True You with  next week’s episode, How to Organize Just About Anything. So if that’s  one of your goals or something you’d like to get a little bit better at, be  

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sure to tune in next week. And until then, have a beautiful and  

productive week.  

Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s  valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to  inkWELLpress.com/podcast.