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63: The Mary Cain Movement *Special Episode*

November 11, 2019

63: The Mary Cain Movement *Special Episode*

Juggling work-life balance can be a real three-ring circus, which Lauren & Jesse know first hand. Led by listener questions, the Work, Play, Love Podcast is all about sports, biz, and family. [ASK YOUR QUESTION]

63: Mary Cain, Creating A Healthy Team Culture, Eating Disorders, Performance And Nutrition, Picking A Program

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Last week, the athletic community was shaken by Mary Cain’s op-ed in the New York Times, I Was The Fastest Girl In America, Until I Joined Nike. The article outlined a culture of body shaming and abuse by one of the most elite running teams in the world. Lauren and Jesse discuss the article and how this story illustrates a far too common experience for athletes. They field questions about how you can create a safe and positive environment for athletes as a coach, parent, and teammate; and they offer advice for athletes about nutrition and performance, and what to look for in a coach, program, club or team when it comes to your health.   

What’s goin’ on?!!

Lauren’s just back from a long weekend in NYC for the New York City Marathon. She spoke on a panel with Alysia Montaño and Lindsay Crouse for the New York Times and joined a group of amazing women athletes for a live taping of the Ali On The Run Show. Lauren shares the excitement of her time with women activists in the city, and talks about where the feminist movement is headed.

Jesse spent some pretty great time solo parenting while Lauren was away and reflects on the first year he has been home with the kids alone more than Lauren. On the Picky Bars front? Everyone’s pumped because we. are. back. in. stooocckkkk!!!! Want Picky Bars? You got it. All flavors are currently shipping J

Other links:

Ali On The Run Show: Why It’s An Exciting Time for Women’s Running LIVE Show

Alison Mariella Désir (founder of Harlem Run and Run 4 All Women)

Lynne Twist


Tasty Bites

17:05 - Is there anywhere online I can watch the New York Times talk that Lauren did with Alysia Montaño and Lindsay Crouse before the 2019 New York City Marathon?

We don’t think so!

17:43 - Do you have any plans to restock or roll out new Picky Bars hoodies or sweatshirts in the merch section? My Picky Points are burning a hole in my pocket!

Yes! Keep your eye on the merch store. We’ve got some really fun new stuff coming your way. And if you’re not into apparel? You can use your Picky Points to buy some Picky Bars and donate them to a high school sports team, or some other folks who might need a healthy snack.

Meat & Potatoes

18:46 - What are your thoughts on the New York Times article by Mary Cain, "I Was the Fastest Girl in America, Until I Joined Nike”?

Eating disorder culture and negative-body-image culture are pervasive in the world of sports. Mary Cain’s brave op-ed in the Times rightly calls this out as a system of abuse that’s perpetuated by coaches and institutions obsessed with winning performances at all costs. Lauren and Jesse reflect on the article and discuss the implications of the op-ed at length, touching on why the article is so important, why it’s the right time for this story to be shared by a platform like the New York Times, and the potential impact it will have on the sports industry.

Cain’s Op-Ed in the New York Times

Alberto Salazar’s response to Cain’s allegations.

38:41 - As a high-school coach, how can I start conversations about RED-S and nutrition with my athletes? I want our athletes to feel supported and have some nutritional guidance. What’s the best way to create a positive culture around nutrition, fueling, and body image on my team?

It’s not unreasonable to have your athletes learn about nutrition and fueling. In fact, it can be especially useful for young athletes who are easily swayed by diet culture that may have a negative impact on their health and their relationship with food. Here are some resources that can serve as conversation starters for your athletes and can arm you with information you need to foster a culture of positivity and support for your teams. 

46:51 - In the wake of Mary Cain’s sad revelations, what should an athlete look for when deciding whether to join a college-level or elite-level athletics program?

Here are some things to check on when deciding to join a team, program, or coaching relationship.

  • Make sure the coaching staff has a clear understanding of male vs. female athlete progression, biology and physiology
  • Ask if they have a certified nutritionist as part of their team, or do they have nutritionists they recommend in your area
  • Ask what mental health support they offer athletes
  • Ask what happens with athletes who struggle with mental health or eating disorders on their team
  • Interview other athletes about their experiences on the team or with the staff 

49:24 - As a coach of female athletes, how do you make sure that weight obsession, eating disorders, and other unhealthy habits don’t arise for your athletes?

Having healthy athletes on your team means better immune systems, fewer stress fractures and other injuries, and more back-to-back seasons of building strength and making performance gains. Super important stuff! Here are some ways to maintain a culture of body-positivity and healthy nutrition as a coach:

  • Maintain healthy habits as a coach first! Be a great role model for your athletes when it comes to body image and nutrition.
  • Instead of focusing on an athlete’s body shape, gear your coaching toward their execution at practice, their acquisition of skills and other things they are improving on.
  • If you observe rapid weight gain or weight loss for an athlete, have an open conversation—ask how they’re doing and suggest bloodwork to make sure they’re in good health.
  • Set expectations around health and weight—indicating that health is far more important (and relevant to performance) than being on the razor’s edge of leanness, and that body weight is not something to obsess over. It’s important that women are having their period regularly, and that regular blood tests indicate robust health.
  • Have nutritionist(s) and mental health professionals either on your staff, or on a list of folks you recommend for your athletes.
  • Stress that lighter, leaner, smaller is not always better and reaches a point of diminishing returns when it comes to performance.
  • Talk openly and honestly about these issues without judgement with your athletes.



As always, submit your work/play/love question at pickybars.com/workplaylove - Thanks for listening!





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