Topics covered in this episode:
- Misconceptions about working with a registered dietitian
- How can you refocus on intuitive eating?
- The relationship between trauma and disordered eating
- Why food is more than just fuel
Maria is a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN) and a Washington State certified dietitian-nutritionist (CDN) with a Master of Science degree in Human Nutrition and Food Science. She is the creator and owner of Inspired Eating, a virtual Health at Every Size® practice that helps people who feel anxiety and guilt around food, who engage in disordered eating thoughts and behaviors and those who are in eating disorder recovery make peace with food and eat in a supportive and nourishing way. Maria works with clients from a trauma-informed and Polyvagal Theory lens. Consults focus heavily on understanding behaviors, intuitive eating strategies, shifts in mindset and support.
Maria is also a professional mountain ultra trail runner for the shoe company, La Sportiva. Her athletic accomplishments include North American Mountain Running Champion, Trail Half Marathon National Champion, and member of multiple U.S. teams competing throughout North America and Europe. She lives in Bellingham, Washington.
Connect With Maria Dalzot
Please note that this is an automated transcription and may contain errors. Please refer to the episode audio for clarification.
Corrine Malcolm (00:06):
Maria. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Thanks
Maria Dalzot (00:10):
For having me Korean. It’s a pleasure to be
Corrine Malcolm (00:12):
Here. Yeah. I mean, we go way back. I miss you immensely. You’re one of my favorite training partners from when I used to live up in Bellingham, Washington. Um, so getting to see your face on the screen makes me so happy.
Maria Dalzot (00:26):
Corrine Malcolm (00:27):
But I wanted to bring you on after chatting with Elizabeth Carey last week, we talked a lot about how our social and cultural stigmas really impact body image and wellbeing and sport and how that is a timely topic right now. But it honestly, it’s an important topic, independent of what’s going on in the media. And so I wanted to bring you on to kind of continue that conversation because I think you have real expertise in how we, as people and as athletes relate to food. And, um, I think it’s a very tenuous balancing act there. So I think to start real quickly, we’re going to be addressing topics on this that could be uncomfortable for some that could, they might not be, you might not be in the mental space to take this on. And that is okay. Um, we’re going to be talking about disordered eating and I just want to try to keep this as obviously a safest space as possible for those listening. Um, but we just want to say that right now, this might not be a topic for everyone, and that is okay. Um, you can always revisit this topic down the road. And is there anything that you want to add to that before we dive in?
Maria Dalzot (01:35):
No, I think you, you, you hit it crim that, um, you know, it’s not up for us to, um, it’s, it’s for you, the listener, the viewer to decide what feels safe. And so, um, we can do the best we can to make that, uh, feel comfortable for you. But if it’s not feeling right for you today or tomorrow or the next day that’s okay. So make sure you just take care of yourself, um, um, as you, as you listen to this or if you decide not to.
Corrine Malcolm (02:05):
Yeah. Thanks. Thank you. I think it’s, I, I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of weeks about how I vocalize some of these things or talk about some of these things and what’s going to be safe for me versus say for someone else. Um, and it’s led to a lot of really interesting conversations even with just my running friends. So we’re going to continue that trend today, um, with Maria potentially correcting me if, uh, if I say something totally out of left field, but big thing here. So you’re a registered dietician. Um, and I know that by default, you end up working with a lot of athletes, a lot of runners, but I know you practice, um, kind of a form of nutrition that looks, I think, different than what a lot of people would expect given, given the, the people that you work with. And I’m wondering, um, if you can give our listeners some insight into how that practice looks for you and how that looks for you and your patients.
Maria Dalzot (02:54):
Yeah. I think when, uh, from, from what I’ve from what’s been experience is that when people reach out, uh, with the expectation of seeing a dietician there’s, um, sometimes the expectation that I’m going to analyze their diet or perhaps provide meal plans. There are others who, who think of a registered dietician as the food police or that I’m going to, uh, be very judgmental or even shaming of the types of foods and behaviors that they have. Um, other people reach out with, um, there’s a, um, a correlation between, uh, or an association between registered dietician and the pursuit of weight loss and, uh, body manipulation. And so, um, I do none of that. Um, and so I, I set up a free discovery call so that the expectation is clear on both ends when I first talked to people because oftentimes one of those things I just listed as what the perceived expectation of a registered dietician is.
Maria Dalzot (04:03):
And so, um, I am a, um, I am, I consider my practice more of a nutrition therapy. I don’t care so much. I don’t care at all. We actually never talk about food. I know I don’t care what you eat, how you eat, you know, what time you eat all of these things that are often associated with, um, talking with a dietician. Um, I care about the intention behind the food that you eat, how food makes you feel, um, from an emotional standpoint. Um, do you have in anxiety around food or your body, do you have a preoccupation with food? Do you feel scared around certain types of food? Um, do you feel like you need to follow food rules in order to be okay, so, um, so the, uh, predominant group of people that I work with while they all happen to be runners, I don’t explicitly work with runners or athletes.
Maria Dalzot (05:04):
I work with human beings and my, um, my clients who are on a, on a spectrum of ranging from people who are in active eating disorder, recovery, who engage in disordered eating behavior and who have, um, have been a part of chronic dieting for perhaps decades of their life. And they’re just to a point where they are so exhausted of the mental turmoil and the physical, um, fighting with their body, that they have had enough. And so it’s my job to help foster confidence and helping my clients learn to trust their bodies again, because we were all born with this innate ability to trust our bodies. It’s because of, um, our, you know, all these different, including trauma, including diet culture, including, you know, our, our upbringing that we’ve adopted, these external rules that, that teach us, you can’t trust yourself. And so helping foster trust in, in, in their bodies so that they can, um, um, break free from that kind of language. And instead turn into their body wisdom. There’s so much more I could say that we do, and I’m, I’m rambling already, but that I hope gives people, um, um, at least a very, in a nutshell, the difference between the work that I do and perhaps the perceived, um, expectation of what a, what a registered dietician does.
Corrine Malcolm (06:43):
No, but I think that’s really interesting this idea, this, this kind of rebalancing of this things should be intuitive, right? Food should be intuitive, but I think, I mean, even as a person sitting here who I feel like I haven’t necessarily struggled with, um, maybe at least an eating disorder, maybe disordered eating cause as a, as a 30 something year old, who’s been in sports for a long time. The likelihood of totally avoiding, disordered eating thought, even if it’s brief is probably like almost impossible. And so thinking about this, how can athletes, and we’ll dive further and further into this I’m sure. How has an athlete when particularly an endurance athlete or an ultra endurance athlete, how can we refocus on intuitive eating? When I think there are parts of our sport that naturally, or subconsciously force intuition out of it, either by forcing calories in or neglecting those signals, you know, I don’t always necessarily feel hungry. Um, and maybe that’s, you know, maybe that’s, uh, an, uh, like the buildup over, you know, decades of doing sport. Um, but how can an athlete re-engage in the intuitive side of eating if they’re feeling a disconnect there?
Maria Dalzot (08:01):
Yeah. And if I may cringe just kind of talk about, um, cause I think intuitive eating gets thrown around a lot, especially, um, it’s being adopted in, in wellness culture right now. And, and I think people mistaken, intuitive eating as another, either another diet or something that they can get right or wrong. And so I just want to clarify that, um, um, eating intuitively is, is an, is having the ability to recognize and respond to our current needs and predict our future needs. And I think a lot of the times it’s like, oh, you eat when you’re hungry and you stop when you’re full. But, um, and, and if I can just raise my hand of my own growth when I started, um, um, specializing in intuitive eating, I, I, I thought, okay, need to help people tap into their hunger cues and you know, not be afraid of fullness.
Maria Dalzot (09:00):
And then as I started working with clients who, you know, they, I started realizing that, you know, some of them can’t even feel hunger and it has nothing to do with athletic performance. It could be of years of ignoring hunger cues. And so we lose that ability. Um, a lot of my clients have experienced trauma in their life and understanding the effects that trauma has on our, our, um, biological response on our ability to eat normally is huge. And more than 75% of people who have eating disorders have experienced trauma. And so it was this big realization on my part that it’s like, of course, um, people are going to have trouble eating when they’re hungry, because hunger is a foreign concept. And so if you’re out there and you’re like, I can’t feel hunger, or I don’t know what that feels like to me.
Maria Dalzot (09:55):
I see you. I just want to validate that experience because it can feel really frustrating when you’re, um, and I feel myself getting kind of activated now, cause I get really fired up about it, but it’s really frustrating to me when I see messages on social media that I understand are well meaning, but it’s like, oh, just, just eat enough, just eat what, look at me, eat this burger, see how easy it is if I just eat this, when I, you know, I hear the frustration and the struggle and the depression and my clients, you see that. And either they think that doesn’t apply to me or that’s just too, too scary, or I don’t know how to do that and feel safe in my body. So, um, I don’t think I answered your question at all current, and I apologize for that, but, um, uh, I just wanted to, um, to validate that experience, that for those of you who, who hear or see things about intuitive eating and how, oh, it looks easy.
Maria Dalzot (10:54):
We, we were all born with this ability. Why can’t I do it? Well, you can’t do it because we’re, we’re all swimming in this, this, this to called diet culture. And also we have past experiences that are that biologically within our system change how we can interpret these things. So it is not a, a deficit of yours or a default of yours. It is something that, that can be relearned with practice. So, um, so I am not here to, to fix you. You don’t need to be fixed. And I think that’s another thing people come to a dietician for is please fix me, fix, fix me, fix my diet, fix my running, fix my weight. You don’t need to be fixing, you need to understand what’s happening inside your body. And, and once we bring some understanding into what’s happening, um, a lot of the shame and the blame and the guilt gets, um, gets quieter and we can bring in some more, um, grace and compassion.
Corrine Malcolm (12:03):
Yeah. I think that that’s really, really important. And I kind of want to dive, like dive into some of that here with the, with the relationship between trauma and disordered eating there, being a high correlation there in part, because I think it’s easy to sit here and be like, I’ve never experienced trauma. Trauma has to be this huge event. Like what hardship have I have I experienced in my life, but at the same time, we’ve all survived a pandemic. That’s
Maria Dalzot (12:29):
Corrine Malcolm (12:30):
True. That is traumatic. And so what, you know, having worked with many, many people through this, like what, and people sitting in my same, my same shoes, maybe saying what trauma I experienced, what does that look like? You know, little T trauma, big T trauma, as far as how we can relate things that might not have seemed significant at some point to maybe this disordered relationship with, with diet and, and food in general.
Maria Dalzot (13:00):
Yeah. And I think it, for first helped to, to, um, clarify what trauma really means and when, when, when someone is traumatized or when we’re, when someone has experienced trauma, trauma is not about the experience that happened. It’s not what the event that happened. It’s what happens in the body as the, as a result of experiencing an event or series of events that your body was. It was beyond our ability to cope at the time and often without the presence of a, um, compassionate witness. So oftentimes one of the best definitions I’ve heard of trauma is a feeling overwhelm and being alone. And so we oftentimes trauma is talked about from a psychological perspective, but we also need to talk about it from a biological perspective. So, um, so you mentioned big T and little T traumas and I, and big T traumas are often times what people think of when they think of trauma.
Maria Dalzot (14:05):
So, so, um, uh, sexual assault getting in a car accident, going to war, being part of a natural disaster, those are all, um, what’s considered a big T uh, traumatic event, but they’re also what, what are referred to as small T traumas. And these are, um, this can be chronic stress, chronic stress can, um, look very similar to a big T trauma on our body. Um, trauma is also, um, small microaggressions that occur, um, throughout our childhood. Um, if you’re being told that your body is wrong, that your body needs to be fixed, that, um, if you are made to feel unwelcome in your body over and over and over again, that is trauma. Um, if you have caregivers that are inattentive, if you have unpredictable, um, parents, if you have, um, uh, dismissive parents, these are all trauma and they affect our nervous system.
Maria Dalzot (15:12):
And why that’s important is our, our nervous system. I like into, um, um, you know, how in our house, we have a fire alarm and our fire alarm just kind of sits there. It’s always there running in the background and we don’t, we aren’t aware of it, but it’s always there. And it’s constantly saying like, is there smoke? Is there smoke? Are you safe? Are you safe? Are you safe? Is this not? You know, do we need to get out? Are we okay? Are we okay? And that’s exactly what our nervous system does. It is constantly checking. Am I safe? Am I safe? Am I okay? Am I okay? And when we experience trauma, our nervous system is running on a fear setting and eating disorders is running on a fear setting. And so if you think about when you’re scared, when you’re scared about anything, it’s really hard to know, um, what hunger feels like when you’re scared.
Maria Dalzot (16:11):
Right. Um, I often tell people, you know, if you’re running on a trail and a bear is coming up to you, you’re not thinking, oh, I wonder what that bear wants. Right. Oh, isn’t he, you know, like there’s no, there’s no room for curiosity. It’s get me the hell outta here. My life is in danger. And so it’s hard to know what feels good to eat if a tiger is chasing you. And so my goal is to bring the implicit work of the nervous system into explicit awareness so that we’re able to be friend that, to bring some predictability and to know, oh, I have noticed that I feel activated and I’m, and I’m, I’m feeling some fight in me, or I, I, I noticed that I’m starting to shut down and start to notice a name, these things. And then we’re able to resource that and help people get into this place where they feel safe enough in order to, um, know what they need. And so I talk a lot about identifying needs and being able to, um, resource that from our body. So there’s a lot of sematic work in there as well.
Corrine Malcolm (17:22):
Yeah. That’s that fight or flight that rest or digest that dysregulation of the systems, which we need to work in order to, for our bodies to function, you know, normally to keep that regulation going. Um, I know I’ve told you in passing that I’ve been I’ve, you know, even as an adult, I’ve had people say, oh, you don’t look like an ultra runner. You don’t, oh, oh, what, like, what do I, in my mind, I’m sitting here, what does an ultra runner look like? And I say that with a lot of privilege, I’m sitting here in a smaller body, like, and that’s still, that impacts me. And like my, my view of myself and my, my view of belonging in this sport. And so what, you know, obviously little T trauma, cortisol, spike, feeling that feeling, internalizing that feeling, what can I do? What can other people do who are experiencing these things to reground themselves, or to find, you know, to come to settle the nervous system, if the nervous system is super heightened to this like fight or flight constant state.
Maria Dalzot (18:27):
Yeah. And I just want to, again, validate your feelings Corrinne um, because like you said, even though there’s a lot of, of privilege in your stance and I’m, I’m, I I’m in the same boat, right. We, we come with a lot of unearned privileges and I just want to say that if anyone comments, weight, whether it’s applauding weight loss, it reinforces, um, uh, flooding, weight loss, or weight or anything for anybody reinforces weight stigma for everyone. And so I just want to, and I’ll get to your, your question about regulating the nervous system, but I also want to just put this out here because I think it’s, um, uh, really crucial to look inside, which might make, um, others, uh, feel uncomfortable. And so I don’t say this in order to be shaming in any way, but, but just, um, inviting you to be curious about your own perspective about, um, uh, stigmatizing weights and seeing when you, when you say things unintentionally of, of, cause this is another thing that I see all the time, um, there’s this fear of runners getting fat.
Maria Dalzot (19:46):
And I see things again, while intention of like, oh, don’t worry, this, this won’t make you fat. And what that tells me is fat is bad, right? And fat is not bad. And, and, but that message is reinforcing the stigmatizing language of, oh, there must be something wrong. We must avoid this at all costs. And so we all have an anti-fat bias. And I am saying we all, because again, we’re living in a, a society that is, um, is, is, uh, a system of beliefs that values thinness and equates being thin to being healthy and moral virtue. And so I just invite you all to think about the messages that you perhaps are sending by saying, oh, don’t worry. This won’t make you fat. How does this make a person, a fat person feel, right? The terms obesity, how does that make a fat feel?
Maria Dalzot (20:48):
Fat people take that as a slur. They take that as really harmful, hurtful. They won’t go to the doctor. They, um, uh, can, can, um, be participate in self-harming behaviors because of it. And so I just want to, um, again, I’m getting off on a tangent, but I, it’s just something that I, I want to say because, um, cause you’re giving me a mic here, Curran, and I just want to share these things that, that really kind of, um, get, get me fired up. But, uh, just, just stopping and thinking about, um, especially if you are a coach, um, especially if you’re a parents, these things that you’re saying, um, really be curious about your own thoughts and beliefs about, um, food and body and what has influenced you, what has influenced you? What can the message that you’re saying be perceived from the other person?
Maria Dalzot (21:44):
So, um, okay. I digress Korean, I’m sorry. I’ll go back to your original question. Um, which you, you were asking me about when we’re in dysregulation, how can we bring some regulation to our nervous system? And this is something that is, I don’t want to give the illusion that this is like a one and done, oh, you just do this and then you’re going to be regulated and then you’re going to be fine. And it’s a constant, um, we are constantly going in and out of regulation, dysregulation all throughout the day, it’s this constant, um, um, ebb and flow. And so the goal is not to stay in this regulated Zen safe place all the time, but it’s our ability to be able to come back to it. And so there are a lot of people who get stuck in these activated places of either being in fight or flight or being really shut down.
Maria Dalzot (22:45):
And so, um, so being able to come back to this place of safety, to be able to feel okay enough, the best thing that we can do to start off is noticing what’s going on and naming it because so often we’re just so quick, so quick to go throughout our day that we just kind of take it for what it is. And, um, don’t stop and be curious about what’s going on. So, um, so something to help bring regulation is to slow down, slow down, notice what you’re noticing, what you’re noticing, feel, what you’re feeling and name it, put a name to it. I noticed that I’m feeling really sad right now. I noticed that I’m having the thought that I feel really full. And this is bringing about thoughts of a fear of my body changing. I noticed that I’m having the thought that I’m feeling really upset right now. So saying it out loud to yourself, writing it down, but bringing attention to what’s happening in the moment will just help slow things down and take you into the present moment. So that’s a just basically mindful awareness can bring some regulation.
Corrine Malcolm (24:02):
Yeah. I think being that mindfulness is really important and it will bleed into other areas of running and of life in general, being able to slow down, being able to take a step back and exhale and ground yourself and say, okay, what, what is this? Why is this? I ask athletes to ask themselves why a couple of times I’m tired. Okay. Well, why am I tired? Okay. I’m tired because I didn’t sleep last night. Okay. Why didn’t I sleep last night to just ask themselves why a couple times. And I feel like that can be kind of taken into that practice too. Of, I feel really overwhelmed right now. Okay. Why, why do I feel overwhelmed right now? Just naming it and getting to that spot where it allows you to exhale and identify what’s causing these sensations
Maria Dalzot (24:47):
And each wire pulls back another layer, every why pulls back another layer.
Corrine Malcolm (24:54):
Yeah. But onions were onions pulling back layers of wise
Maria Dalzot (24:58):
Just to a bunch of onions.
Corrine Malcolm (25:02):
I like that.
Maria Dalzot (25:03):
Why I’m crying all the time.
Corrine Malcolm (25:05):
Yes. Yes. It’s not emotional dysregulation or anything. It’s, it’s definitely just being an onion and having to bathe bathe in those wise. Um, so I think one thing that I want to talk about is actually something that I got corrected on recently, which was really interesting. And it made me really reflect on my relationship with food. And this kind of came about with all, everything in the news about university of Oregon and me discussing these things publicly and, you know, talking about my own, I don’t know my own relationship, giving advice, um, that kind of thing. And, and I use the phrase, well, like food is fuel. You need it. Like you need it to do these things that you’re trying to do. And, um, a woman from Opal reached out and said, Hey, like food is so much more than that. And I was like, oh, okay. So my, like my individual relationship with food has been steered in this way and trying to re-establish what else my relationship with food might be, has been this kind of like this task over the last couple of weeks, um, since having this conversation, and I’m wondering if there are other people listening to this nodding along, how can they reestablish what their relationship or, or that food is so much more than, uh, what we think it might be in a narrow window?
Maria Dalzot (26:21):
Yeah. That’s funny that somebody from, from oval reached out to you, um, cause I gave a presentation at Opal talking about how to talk to athletes about, um, about food and nutrition. And my, I think my first point was food is not fuel and it certainly is. It certainly is Crenn. It definitely is. But oftentimes that’s the only context in which food is talked about. And I think the reason that that can be, um, um, you know, when taken literally it’s like, oh, well, if I’m just fuel, it kind of feeds on that other really terrible, um, uh, um, metaphor that is often given to athletes is, oh, you’re a machine. We gotta feed the machine. You gotta feel so it’s, you’re just a robot basically. And so I, and it takes away all the pleasure and, um, emotion and humanness away from food. And so kind of, um, even when I first started, started out, my whole kind of emo was widening our perspective on what food means to us so that we can have a more positive celebrated relationship with food.
Maria Dalzot (27:32):
And so if we, if we think of food as strictly just fuel, we’re denying ourself of our, of our humanity, of our needs, of our emotions, of our ability to connect with others. And, and so, um, food is, is so many things. Food is so emotional and again, in, in diet culture were told that being an emotional eater is a bad thing, but food is, is, is inherently emotional. It’s not something that is wrong with us. Think about when we’re babies and we’re crying. The very first thing that our mother does to comfort us is feed us. It’s within our biology, that food is comforting. And actually when, um, um, we eat food. When we put food in our mouth, it lights up the same area in our brain that a hug would. And so if you’re lacking connection or connection feels too scary, but you need that in your life.
Maria Dalzot (28:31):
So it is a fantastic resource to help feel that connection, um, food can keep people alive. I can eat a certain dish that my grandfather made when I was seven. He passed away when I was eight and he’s, he’s alive here with me again. And that’s really, really powerful. And so I, well, there’s certainly nothing inherently wrong by saying food is fuel because it objectively it is, but I don’t want to dismiss the fact that it is also tradition. It is culture. It is humanity. It is our ability to connect. It’s our ability to, uh, it’s a lot of people’s love language. And so I just don’t want to discredit all these roles that food plays, because there are so many, and oftentimes when I’m giving this presentation live, I love to go around the room and share like, what, what role does food play?
Maria Dalzot (29:23):
Like, what do you think of when you think of food and it, and it brings about this, you know, people start smiling and they start sharing stories and there’s so much emotion there. And so we’re often told, take the emotion out. Like that’s impossible because we are not robots. We are not machines it. And so that kind of, um, uh, of, of like, oh, we’re, we’re just fuel. And you got to feed the machine. It takes away the humanity out. And oftentimes that is part of the work that I do is reminding my clients that you are human with means and really recognizing, um, the, our, our own humanity in that.
Corrine Malcolm (30:05):
Yeah. I think even at a high-performance level, right? Like it’s saying, it’s saying food is fuel is, is too narrow of a window because even at a high-performance level, those are still humans. They still have other things going on outside of the, as we said before, we started recording the very small window a day that each of us is actually out running and wall. I think if I reflect on where that, where that sentence comes from for me probably comes from a place where I probably could have fallen into, under eating and under fueling, just like with high stress and trying to really perform at the, at the highest level that telling myself food is fuel, was a way to protect myself from, from under eating. But I can see how that’d be so easily turned on its head for someone else where it’s like, well, food is fuel. Like I didn’t really do much today, so I don’t deserve as much fuel or this is the best fuel that I can give. And it all of a sudden what this, you know, like the thing that makes me more angry than anything else it’s like when we demonize food, like even people I love sometimes demonize food.
Maria Dalzot (31:14):
We’ve been putting food on a pedestal Kerryn. I can’t stand it. I can’t stand it. Yeah. Um, yeah. Sorry. I didn’t mean to interrupt. No, no,
Corrine Malcolm (31:22):
No, no. It’s okay. It’s like the argument there of like, you know, how you talk about food is really important and you’re saying, you know, like, so how do we have that conversation with athletes when the ones, and this is, there are people listening will be coaches, they’ll be parents, there’ll be athletes who might just be sitting here nodding along in agreement. How do we talk about, you know, you’ve talked about, okay, what is, you know, if you just sit here with your eyes closed, what does food mean to you? And that brings about a smile, but how do we, how do we, as a parent talk to our kids about food, or how do we, as a, as an adult coaching high school cross-country or college cross-country or, or other adults, like, how do we steer that conversation? Shift that conversation from food is fuel, um, to something more substantial than that. Like, cause I think, yes, what we say is so important, but what we don’t say, or if we don’t say anything that also has implications. And so trying to balance that and not be, um, like a passive passenger in that like really like fake, like doing the best possible for our children, for our athletes, for our teammates, whatever that might be like, how, how do we shift the conversation under that lens?
Maria Dalzot (32:35):
Yeah. And I, I just want to say that’s a, it’s a delicate, right? It’s hard, especially if it’s a, it’s a, a foreign way of doing things, but, um, truthfully the best guidance I can give in regards to that is for parents, coaches, caregivers, um, to be curious about the, whether it’s the student athlete, the child, whoever, whoever it is, um, ask them do not make assumptions, do not make assumptions. You are not the expert. Um, Karen mentioned in an email before doing this, like you’re the expert. And I just want to say that’s, I appreciate that crim, but I’m not. I’m, I’m so far from an expert because I don’t live in the bodies of my clients. We can only be the expert of ourselves. I don’t live in your body. I don’t have your likes and dislikes. I don’t have your stress level.
Maria Dalzot (33:30):
I don’t have your past experiences, your relationships, your job, your career, your kids, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And so we cannot make assumptions about other people. And so ask them how they’re feeling, ask them, Hey, how did it make you feel when you heard, so-and-so talk about this today. Hey, how does this food feel in your belly? Hey, are you, you know, what are you in the mood for? How did you know, asking questions and getting curious, um, and an acute repeating, curious over and over again, because if we’re not curious or judgmental, and so making sure that it’s coming from a gentle place and not one of, of being, um, uh, uh, attacking, because then that can just make the other person become defensive and then you get nowhere. So coming from a very gentle place of, oh, Hey, how did, how did that feel today?
Maria Dalzot (34:22):
Oh, I heard, you know, if you’re a parent and I don’t know, you knew that the, yeah, how’s that coach making you feel, does that coach ever say anything that makes you feel like, like you’re sad or like something’s wrong. So creating a space to have an open dialogue, um, and being there and listening and taking their experience, uh, whatever it is. And so that’s the best guidance I can give. And in that situation is being curious, don’t make assumptions and create a space where your, um, your person who, if you’re, whether it’s a young person or an athlete or of any age or anybody, to be able to cultivate that a relationship that they feel safe enough to come to you and be like, Hey, I felt kind of, I felt kind of icky when they, you know, they, they commented on my, on my whatever, you know, and that just didn’t feel good. And so, um, yeah, I think that that would be the best guidance I can give in regards to that.
Corrine Malcolm (35:29):
Yeah. I love that. Be curious, cause I sort of curious is judgment or judgmental and I think that’s really important and it’s in a resonate with lots and lots of folks. Um, I think something that we’ve talked about on the trail for sure is what we consume and not consume as in, in what we’re putting in our bodies, but what we’re putting maybe in, through our eyes, in, through, in, through how we’re, um, relating to the world, be it Strava, be it Instagram, be it Twitter or Facebook or these things that inundate us that live on our phones that can be there twenty four seven, how this is the other side of things, right? You can model behavior. You can, you can talk to loved ones, all this stuff, but how is it at the individual now? Like I know personally I’ve had to do things like unfollow friends or unfollow call like peers in the sport because they don’t make me feel good about myself. And someone’s slid into my DMS and asked that same thing recently on Instagram about, you know, is it a responsibility to the people sitting there with privilege to not post these things? And my response was, well, you don’t have to like, maybe it’s us consuming it. That’s the issue. And I’m wondering what kind of advice you can give to those out there, listening about consumption of these ideas and these messages, right?
Maria Dalzot (36:45):
Yeah. It’s what we can and cannot be in control of. Right? Like we can’t control what other people post, what other people share. Um, if we try to control that it will be a losing battle and certainly not good for our own health. But the good news is, is that we are in charge of what our intake is. We are in charge of what we see, what we listen to, who we talk to. We can set boundaries there. We can have all other conversation on boundaries, but setting that boundary there. And I know that puts the, puts the responsibility on you as the consumer of these things, but it goes back to, um, sitting with yourself and seeing, oh man, I noticed that when I, when I’m talking to this person, I feel like I’m getting angry or I feel sad, or I feel like I’m just not good enough.
Maria Dalzot (37:34):
Or I feel like I have to change something about myself. If you’re having these activated feelings or just feeling off, be curious about it, ask like, what is it? Oh, this person is, you know, either making me feel bad, kind of forcing some, um, whether implicit or explicit message on me, you can mute them. You can unfollow, you can stop doing these things. And so you are in charge of what you are exposed to. And crane, if I may go off on a tangent a little bit, of course, thank you. Um, if your social media feed is filled with nothing but runners, please, please, please give it a makeover. My, my, your feed it. If you’re a feed is filled with just runners, your perception of the world is going to be very small and inaccurate. So my invitation to you is to make sure that you have a variety, all different shapes and sizes, fat people send people, people of all different shapes and sizes, animals, different content, a variety.
Maria Dalzot (38:46):
So please go through, um, if your feed and scroll through and see what you’re being exposed to every day. I mean, let’s be real. I’m going to be on time on Instagram all the time. If all I saw were runners, ah, I’d be like really depressed. I have, I follow very few runners. And so, because I know that that doesn’t make me feel good. That is a small part of my life. And so making sure that your world is being, um, uh, you have a correct, um, uh, uh, um, conceptualization of the world and not just, oh, everybody looks like this, or everybody needs to look like this. It’s no it’s. We were all born different shapes and sizes with different likes and dislikes. And the best way I can explain this is look at, look at dogs. We all love dogs, dogs come in all shapes and sizes and we don’t try to change them into other types of dogs. We love them, all of them, unless they’re mean dogs. You know, we don’t like the mean dogs, but most dogs, we all love. And so we should have a variety of, of, um, content in our feed. Thank you for letting me go on that.
Corrine Malcolm (39:59):
No, it’s great. I think it’s that appreciation of, of humans, right? And you’re right. I’ve tricked the algorithm into feeding me mostly puppies because puppies make me happy. But I did. I had to, I recognized all of a sudden that I was feeling stressed and not necessarily angry, but like I was all of a sudden I felt this feeling and I was like, oh, I know what this feeling is. And so I needed to remove a set of, of runners from my feed because that, that was the messaging I was getting. That was the, I think it was runners and CrossFitters. It was a bunch of athletes. And I was like, okay, this needs to go. Unless they are my close close friend, because it was not, you know, not to say that it was like, I was triggered by my feed, but I was, it, it, it provoked feelings in me that I did not like. And so it, it has changed my, uh, relationship that is still probably too strong with social media. But yeah,
Maria Dalzot (40:54):
It’s a great form of self care. And sometimes I forget that, that, that people are still have some troublesome feeds and become activated by them. And because I, they share, they tell me things that they’ve seen and I’m like, oh man, people are still doing that. Cause I don’t, I’m not exposed to it anymore. I don’t see. I don’t see the stuff that’s just anymore. And so when I hear people tell me that that still exists, it’s so disappointing because I, I, I, I, you know, in my world, it’s just stuff that makes me laugh and smile, which, um, I feel, I feel grateful that it’s gotten to that point. And I just hope that people can have a better, more positive experience with social media. And it is possible. You are in charge of that. Yeah.
Corrine Malcolm (41:44):
Social media is not, it might be mostly bad, but it’s not all bad and that there’s good in it. But you get to, you are in charge, you are the captain of your social media ship and that you get to choose what messaging is coming in through that. And kind of on that theme, this is a busy time of year for all of us. It’s the holiday season. Things are speeding up and slowing down all at the same time somehow. Um, I know you are very busy and in part that is because we are being inundated. I listened to the radio, we were being inundated by marketing campaigns and employees. And it’s just, it’s really, really stressful, I think for, for all of us to get this supplemental messaging constantly in and around the holiday season. And so I’m just wondering what can the listeners at home do to either combat what’s currently going on or prepare for what’s coming over the next, you know, four to six weeks as we make our way through the holiday season,
Maria Dalzot (42:40):
The holiday season is the Olympics of diet culture. It is very difficult. It’s very difficult for people all along the spectrum on their relationship with food. Um, whether you’re, you know, fighting diet culture messages, or you’re visiting family that you haven’t seen in a couple of years because of COVID. And, um, I’ll do, I’m doing a lot of work right now with my clients around setting boundaries and how difficult that is, but how absolutely crucial it is to set boundaries with the people that you are around. Um, especially if you’ve been working on your relationship with food and, and oftentimes these situations that we’re going to with family, it’s predictable, you know, who’s going to say the things that are going to bother you, whether it’s your mom, it’s your weird uncle, like it’s predictable. And so what can we say to combat those, um, inappropriate messages so that we don’t shut down or become into a threat response so that we can stay grounded and stay present?
Maria Dalzot (43:46):
Um, so setting boundaries with, with those people or setting boundaries with yourself, understanding what it is that you will and won’t accept is, is really important. So I just want to just validate, uh, all of you who are dreading. I have a lot of kinds of dreading going home, going to see family that they haven’t seen a long time because they are perhaps going to the place where they were first experienced traumatic messages that they weren’t good enough or their body was wrong. And so, um, it’s very easy to all of a sudden, be 10 years old. Again, when you’re being put back in the situation and feeling like you have no choice. And so I just want to be here to remind you that if, and when you go to a place that, um, causes a lot of discomfort and a lot of pain, you are in charge, you can set boundaries, you can decide who you talk to, who talks to you if you want to stay, or if you want to go, you have choice now here in 2021, you are not a child anymore with no resources.
Maria Dalzot (44:49):
So I just want to, um, kind of, you know, just my thoughts and compassion are with all of you who are struggling with that. Um, the other thing that I want to, um, uh, offer you all is, is to offer yourselves self-compassion during this time, because it is so hard and it is so stressful, um, between the people, the food, the constant moving, like you said, the slowing down and speeding up, it’s this kind of a dichotomy of all the things. And so, um, it’s something that I, I like to do. And I, um, it’s, it’s something that’s very simple. If I may share Kerryn is just a really simple, mindful self-compassion practice. And, um, if it feels okay, um, for, for the listeners or our viewers watching, if it feels good, you can put your hand on your chest. And if you’re feeling activated or you’re feeling just like overwhelmed, you can say, this is a moment of suffering.
Maria Dalzot (45:52):
Suffering is a normal part of being human. May I be kind to myself? And then you can say a kind statement about yourself. Like, um, this is really hard, but I’m trying my best, or I’ve gotten through this before I can do it again. I can do hard things. And just that pause that moment of reflection of reminding yourself, oh, okay. This is, I’m having a human experience. We all, we all suffer. And there collectively there’s, there are a lot of us out there suffering right now for many reasons. And so, um, for me, this practice just helps remind me, like, okay, I’m not alone. This is a human experience and I can slow down and still be kind to myself because, um, beating ourselves up. Doesn’t get us anywhere.
Corrine Malcolm (46:43):
Yeah, I think that’s, and that’s something that you can take into setting those boundaries can be about anything, right? Like I know in, and around my injury this past year, I had to set boundaries with my loved ones because they really wanted to know how I was doing. And when I was going to race next and what was going on, and I had to say, Hey, I, I care about you. This is not something I want to talk about. Like, I’m getting a lot of questions about it and it doesn’t make me feel good. And I just, I, I would really prefer not to talk about it right now. And that saved me. The being short, being angry being mean because that’s how I would be or how I would get, if I fought through that conversation and setting that boundaries important, be it around your body, be it around food, be it around, whatever it is. Like you get to set those boundaries and it’s okay to set those bad.
Maria Dalzot (47:33):
Absolutely. And if you don’t set them people, aren’t going to know. And so they’ll,
Corrine Malcolm (47:38):
They don’t know what’s stressing you out. They don’t
Maria Dalzot (47:40):
Know. And so, um, my favorite quote around boundaries is actually from, um, Cheryl strain. And she said, um, boundaries teach people how to treat you and they teach you how to respect yourself. And so ultimately if you set boundaries, oftentimes people think it’ll bring you further apart. But if you set boundaries in a way that is kind and in a way that is, um, when you’re not in a threat response, like you’re not defensive, it can bring people closer together because then they know what’s okay for you and, um, and your respecting yourself. And so you can be a better person to them.
Corrine Malcolm (48:19):
That’s such such a perfect way for us to, I think, slowly wrap things up today before I just keep you on zoom for forever and ever. But I’ve got a few short questions that I’d love to ask before I let you go. And they’ve been kind of a cool question to ask a lot of people, um, like who, who span, you know, their relationship to sport in a lot of different ways. And so the first one has two parts. And the first question I like I’ve been liking to ask people is what is something that you wish that you knew when you first started trail running? And then what is something that you wish you knew when you first started working as a registered dietician, alongside runners and athletes?
Maria Dalzot (49:01):
Okay. Um, what I wish I knew when I first started trail running is that there’s room to problem solve. You can walk, you can literally take a nap and get back up and finish the race. And honestly, I, that, that is so true, truthfully, what I wish I knew when I first started trail running, because I coming from a competitive track and cross country background, like it was completely foreign the concept of, of having room for error. And that’s such a cool thing about, uh, as you know, grin with our sport is there’s room for error. You can stop in and figure things out. And, and, um, and there’s a lot of grace with our sport and I just think that’s so cool. And that’s something that I wish, wish I knew, um, that it was okay to walk. It was okay to slow down.
Maria Dalzot (49:59):
It’s okay to stop. And, and yes, I have taken a nap in the middle of a race for an hour, got up and finished. So all things are possible. I wish I knew that. Um, part two of your question, what I wish I knew before I started working as a registered dietician. Um, again, if I’m being truthful, I wish I knew I didn’t want to be a registered dietician. I resonate more with the therapy side of things. And so actually have applied to grad school next year to become a trauma psychotherapist. And so I am grateful for the journey that being a dietician has, has brought me, cause it, it truly brought me to what I feel most passionate about, but going back it’s I never felt, um, like it never made sense to me to be telling people what to eat. And when I started going deeper and deeper and things started making sense to, and I owed that to my clients for being my, um, inspiration and teaching me, and I feel forever grateful for them.
Corrine Malcolm (51:01):
That’s I think really, really special. And I think that what a cool thing to marry together as well, because there is so much trauma tied up in all of this. So that will be amazing. I’m so happy for you. And so excited for this next chapter. Um, a question, another question I really liked to ask is what is something that you’ve read, watched or listened to recently that might resonate with the listeners?
Maria Dalzot (51:24):
Okay. Um, uh, may I offer a couple? Yes. Okay. So for listen, um, a really great podcast that my clients and I like just love it’s called maintenance phase and they, um, debunk just diet culture, BS in the most thoughtful, smart, sassy way. Um, a lot of F bomb. They’re like, if you’re like at all, like repulsed by the word, don’t listen because it’s like every other word, but it’s awesome. They’re so funny. Like they, they make you laugh in their Stu it it’s, they’re just awesome. And there’s so much power to the words that they say. So I can not recommend that podcast enough. It’s called maintenance phase. And as far as, um, books go, I, um, one thing that is, um, very impactful and I just want to just, um, also say that if you decide to read this to bring a lot of, um, uh, kindness to yourself, uh, because it’s a really powerful and, uh, emotional impactful book, it’s called what we don’t talk about when we talk about being fat.
Maria Dalzot (52:37):
So that’s by Aubrey Gordon and it talks about a fat person’s experience living in this world and the stigma that they receive. And it is very, very difficult to read. Very, um, uh, like I said, just very emotional. And so I just want to put that out there that, um, make sure you’re in a good space before reading that, but I think it is just so, so, so important to read. So those are my, those are my two recommendations. And again, that book is by Aubrey Gordon and, and coincidentally, Aubrey Gordon is one of the co-hosts of maintenance phase. And so those two would pair very nicely together.
Corrine Malcolm (53:14):
That’s awesome. I’m adding them both to my list. This is the second recommendation I’ve gotten from friends and otherwise for maintenance phase. So I’m really excited. Oh, you want
Maria Dalzot (53:22):
Me to give it an essence? You will not be disappointed. Awesome.
Corrine Malcolm (53:25):
I’m looking forward to it. So the last question I have is obviously you’re a very busy person. You’re running, you’re working, you’re doing it all. Where can people find you if they have questions, if they’re curious about what you do, where can people find you?
Maria Dalzot (53:38):
Thank you for, for asking that I I’m super easy to get hold of. I’m just my full name, Maria Delzod on Instagram. You can also go to my website, which is Maria Del dot RD. The RD stands for registered dietician. Um, there’s our contact page there. You can reach out to me. Um, as I alluded to at the beginning of our conversation, there’s an option to do a free discovery call. If you want to share with, if you have any interests that have some hesitations concerns, um, I, I it’s, it’s truly such an honor to work with people and to hear this very vulnerable part of themselves. And it is just the ultimate ultimate privilege for me. So I just, um, I just, I guess I’m just thinking I’ll all the people that I do work with. And if you are interested in working with me, I just thank you for your, your courageousness in reaching out.
Corrine Malcolm (54:35):
We will link all of that in the show notes as well. So if you didn’t have a pen and paper ready, you can find that in the show notes for the show. Maria, I want to thank you so much for joining us
Maria Dalzot (54:44):
Once again. You’re so welcome. Thank you, Crenn.