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
- Connect with Dorothy on her website, Instagram, or through the #irunthisbody campaign!
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?
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?
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: FreshBooks has generously offered a free unrestricted trial for all of my listeners. Simple go to freshbooks.com/paradox. And in the section that says how did you find us, type in Productivity Paradox. It really is that simple.
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?
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.
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
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.