Listen to Your Body Podcast 337 - When Clean Eating Become a Problem w_ Mimi Cole

When Clean Eating Becomes a Problem w/ Mimi Cole

Have you ever considered that at some point, an obsession with healthy eating can turn unhealthy? Many of us struggle to understand what healthy eating really is and where it crosses the line into an unhealthy preoccupation. This is why I have brought my guest, Mimi Cole, onto the show today. Please be aware there is a trigger warning for weight loss and eating disorders in this episode.

Listen to Your Body Podcast 337 - When Clean Eating Become a Problem w_ Mimi Cole

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Key Takeaways

If You Are Ready To Reexamine Your Relationship With Food and Your Body, You Should:

  1. Start viewing food as neutral and not inherently good or bad
  2. Be real about your mindset when it comes to the foods you are eating
  3. Remind yourself what you are working towards and what you are living for
  4. Use mirror work to confront yourself when you feel uncomfortable about your body

What Is Healthy Eating? With Mimi Cole

Clean eating culture is intertwined with many nuanced topics such as fatphobia, orthorexia, and weight-centric care. The clean eating industry wants you to label your food choices as ‘bad or good’, which inherently misses what the fluidity of humanity really is.

By unlearning what diet culture has taught us, we can start to get curious about the dichotomy of the rules of food and begin to view food as neutral. When we understand that food does have to fit into the binary of ‘good and bad’, ‘healthy and unhealthy’, or ‘clean and guilty’, you can give yourself permission to follow your humanity.

Using Your Values as an Anchor

Society tells us that certain eating disorders are only applicable to certain body types. In reality, it is about the mindset of a person, not the size of their body, that determines their relationship with food. We need to do a better job of breaking these labels down and expanding these definitions to include every body.

Mimi suggests getting clear on your values to anchor you when you may feel discomfort about your body. Working on your body really means working on your body image, your perspective, and how you feel about your body. By reminding yourself what you are working towards and what you are living for, you can live a life more aligned with your values and stop focusing on all of the restraints that come with food.

Which of Mimi’s truth bombs today shocked you the most? What piece of her advice are you going to put into practice first? Share your thoughts with me in the comments below.

In This Episode

  • The inspiration that encouraged Mimi to embark on her current career path (9:39)
  • Why the term ‘clean eating’ is problematic and why it is so difficult to confront that un-comfortability (15:22)
  • Advice for those who are ready to break past their diet culture labels but are worried about the repercussions (18:06)
  • Breaking the stereotype around what someone with an eating disorder looks like (23:56)
  • A new perspective on how to get your body ready for summer (31:11)


“It doesn’t have to be either ‘this or that’, I think there is a lot of nuance to nutrition.” (8:29)

“It’s a lot more subtle than we think it is, and I think it’s a lot more intertwined with this clean eating culture. And so sometimes that push back where we say ‘I just want to eat healthy’ is really tied to different systems like fat-phobia and weight-centric care, and sometimes it looks like it’s a healthy thing, and it sounds like it, but it’s not really.” (13:25)

“There are some people that might say, ‘if you are going to be anti-diet, you need to do it all right now’. And I think I take on a slower approach where when we are unlearning it takes time and intentionality, and a lot of compassion for where we are at and meeting people where they are.” (22:20)

“Working on your body for summer means learning how to nourish it, learning how to accept it and collate the distress around it, learning how to put on a swimsuit and work towards your values of enjoying time with friends, enjoying time with loved ones and family members, and being able to move towards your values when you feel uncomfortable in your body.” (31:54)

“Moving towards a value doesn’t necessarily mean moving you away from things you don’t want to experience. So there is not necessarily less fear, but it means with that fear I can move towards those values.” (35:06)

Featured on the Show

Strength Workout Mini-Course

Mimi Cole Website

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How To Get Your Body Ready For Summer Post

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LTYB 275: The Anti-Diet Approach to Eating with Evelyn Tribole 

When Clean Eating Become a Problem w/ Mimi Cole FULL TRANSCRIPT

Steph Gaudreau
When does healthy eating blurt into an unhealthy preoccupation with healthy eating? This is a huge question. And it’s one that my guest today, Mimi Cole is going to help us tease apart. Being in the nutrition space for so many years now, over a decade has really opened my eyes to the struggles that so many of us have with understanding what is really healthy eating for us, and where does it cross the line into an unhealthy preoccupation. And before you roll any further into this show, this is a content warning that we will be talking about weight loss and eating disorders. So if this content will not be supportive for you, I highly recommend that you skip this show and maybe go back into the archives and find a topic that sounds more supportive for you today. Alright, let’s go ahead and do this. The next evolution of Harder To Kill Radio is here. Welcome to the Listen To Your Body podcast. On this show, we’ll explore the intersection of body, mind, and soul health, and help you reclaim your abilities to eat and move more intuitively, hear your body’s signals, and trust yourself more deeply. I’m Steph Gaudreau, a certified intuitive eating counselor, nutritional therapy practitioner, and strength coach. On this podcast, you can expect to hear expert guest interviews and solo chats that will help you deepen your trust with food movement, and your body. Remember to hit the subscribe button and share this podcast with your friends and loved ones. Now, on to the show.

Steph Gaudreau
Hello, my dear listener and welcome to the podcast. I’m so glad that you’re joining us today, my very special guest Mimi Cole. She is a therapist in training who specializes in disordered eating and eating disorders. And today on the show, Mimi is helping us traverse this very wide and not often well-understood topic of a preoccupation with healthy or clean eating, how this can become a condition called orthorexia. She’s also talking about understanding the stereotypes that go into eating disorders and who have eating disorders and why that needs to change. And she’s also providing you with some tips for navigating a summer body and the pressure to look a certain way as you potentially show a little bit more of your skin and enjoy the summer weather. This podcast is so important for so many reasons. It may even bring up some uncomfortable feelings in you. And it may challenge some of your beliefs, especially if you’re newer to the idea of eating with fewer restrictions. And you’re not quite used to that. If you do experience feelings from this podcast, I really encourage you to reach out to your support networks. Perhaps your therapist, if you have a coach or you’re working with a nutritionist, or a dietitian can be really helpful for you to process your feelings about this show. One last thing before we hop in, make sure you grab my free strength workout mini-course. If you’re looking for some free strength workouts to get started, I have you covered just go to and you’ll be able to sign up for this free mini-course. Right on my website. Alright, let’s do this.

Steph Gaudreau
Hi, Mimi, welcome to the show.

Mimi Cole
Thank you. Hi, Steph. It’s so good to be here.

Steph Gaudreau
Thank you so much for joining me today on this podcast. I’m really looking forward to digging into your zone of genius, your area of expertise, and the things you love to talk about because we’ve talked about a lot of these things on the podcast before but not quite in the way that you really dig into these issues out in the world and you bring a really unique perspective to it. So I’m just really pleased to have you here and so glad that you said yes to coming on the show to the listeners maybe and I met in a body image group that we were sort of professionals and really just got to learn from each other and I have been just fangirling secretly over Instagram because you the way you share things and the way you process, the stuff that you do and sort of present it And the way you write about it is just so to the point and yet nuanced. And I find that that is, that’s such a skill to be able to communicate these really big topics in a way that makes sense for people, but yet exposes and challenges the reader to the nuance of the conversation. So my hat’s off to you as a content creator and somebody doing work out in the world to like, I know, that’s not easy. So you do it really well. Thank you so much. I appreciate that. It’s, it’s hard, but it’s good. I feel like that’s, that that sums up all of the work that we all do is like, and we were just talking OFF AIR about this like this work is so challenging. Because we’re going against, really the grain of diet culture, which I know some people sometimes say it feels like I’m swimming upstream. And I’m like, in baby swimming upstream against a tidal wave, right? It’s, it’s not like a gentle stream, it feels like sometimes there’s a fire hose on you. And you’re just trying to, you know, it’s just trying to push back against this wave. How does that how do you feel about that kind of in the day-to-day, do you ever need to sort of rest and like step back? Because of how forceful diet culture feels? Or do you feel like you, you have the strength and you’re standing your ground, and you’re gonna fly your flag about what you believe in?

Mimi Cole
It’s really hard, even little things like picking which hashtags to use, and which ones I know might rile people up. And even picking which words to use because I know like the negative pushback or the feedback I might get. And so it can be hard when I’m writing a post or when I’m thinking about something. And there’s a part of me that’s like, yes, of course, this is true. And I believe it wholeheartedly. And am I okay, with the feedback that I know, I’m going to get? And am I going to be grounded in what I know? And so that can be hard. Like, recently, I had to post about normalizing juice, because people seem to think juice is the worst thing in the world. Straight sugar, whatever. But I love juice. I drink it every day. And I was just waiting for those comments to come in that like, no juice is bad for you juice is this. And so just being careful about like, yes, it’s important for me to speak what I know. But also be prepared, for negative feedback that I know I’m going to get and being able to manage that.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I’m just nodding because I’m like, I completely relate to that. And sometimes I find myself and I don’t know about you making all these disclaimers ahead of time? You know, and do you feel like that that ever gets tiring? Or do you feel like that’s part of, I guess, kind of the obligation that you might feel to doing this work of like, there’s all these things to consider? Does that ever factor in?

Mimi Cole
Oh, definitely. Like, I thought about thinking out for this juice example that I’ll probably stop talking out soon. But like, you know, juice might have more sugar than eating a piece of fruit. And you can incorporate fiber, for example, or eat a meal with it, you know, it doesn’t have to be either this or that. I think there’s a lot of nuance to nutrition. Maybe you like to water down your juice because it tastes more tolerable or less sugary, which is fine. But I think that the morality piece is what’s important there. And the shaming that sometimes goes along with food and body and being careful that we are, you know, one of the principles of intuitive eating is honoring your health. And so maybe if you drink, like, I don’t know, juice, like for every single meal all the time, that might not be helpful for you, and you might not feel good. But saying that, like juice is bad or that like you shouldn’t eat or drink something is more harmful to your health than, you know, actually eating or drinking that thing. So yeah.

Steph Gaudreau
I appreciate that. So let those of for those of my listeners who haven’t yet followed you on Instagram, and started to read all of your brilliance. Give us a little bit of background like where are you right now in your training? How did you get here? What inspired you to take this kind of career path that you’re on? And how did that all come about?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, so currently, and then I’ll backtrack, I’m in North Carolina. I’m halfway through my master’s program in clinical rehabilitation and mental health counseling, so I’ll be a therapist in about a year. But I’ll start seeing clients in the fall which is exciting. I started this work of learning about intuitive eating and health at every size and an all foods fit mentality about three years ago when I started therapy, and my therapist was thankfully a weight inclusive provider who was haze aligned, and she was just incredible. She named an eating disorder for me, taught me a lot about everything that I know right now. And, and prior to that a little bit, I had actually wanted to be a nutritionist, because I thought I could help people eat clean and healthy. And I was in a nutrition lecture, actually. And we had Emily Murray if y’all are familiar with her come in, and she talks about orthorexia. And it really clicked for me and orthorexia being an obsession with clean, right healthy eating. And something in me was like, maybe that’s me, and maybe that’s not really healthy.

Steph Gaudreau
Well, thanks for sharing your personal experience, too, you know, in all of that, and I think, when we have those experiences, where like, we hear about these things, and they start to kind of click into place, or as it can be, maybe feel like, Okay, I’m not just alone in this, or there are other people who are going through this. And yet perhaps a little bit disconcerting that there’s, this is a thing, right. So you mentioned orthorexia. Can you give us a little bit of a definition you said sort of like obsession with clean eating, but what does that really look like are what are some of the other signs of that? Because I know there’s going to be people here listening who are like, but I care about eating healthy, or I feel better when I don’t eat these foods. Like, what are some of the distinctions between orthorexia and what we might just consider, like a concern for health?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, so orthorexia is not in the diagnostic manual and so it’s not necessarily recognized by everybody, by a lot of eating disorders, treatment centers will treat it and therapists as well, and dietitians. And so I like to think of a couple of different characteristics. So for example, if you find yourself not being able to celebrate at restaurants, and you’re so worried because you’re so worried about what’s in the food, how they prepared it, asking questions if you are skipping parties and celebrations and gatherings with friends and family, because you don’t know what’s in the food, or what’s going to be served. If you are constantly planning and thinking about food and trying to make sure that the location that you’re at is healthy and organic, and farm stable and local, and all the things that need to be clean and healthy, and really missing out on being able to engage in life with friends and with other people. I think those are symptoms and signs of orthorexia. But I think it’s a lot more subtle than we think it is. And I think it’s a lot more intertwined with this clean eating culture. And so sometimes that pushback where we say like I just want to eat healthily is really tied to different systems like fatphobia, and weight-centric care. And, and sometimes it looks like it’s a healthy thing, and it sounds like it, but it’s not really.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, I appreciate your kind of running through some of those descriptions, because I feel like that can those things can get blurry for people. And I remember, a couple of years ago, I was talking about the problem with the term clean eating, and there was a lot, there were a lot of unhappy people who I it was a post I made on Instagram, there were a lot of really unhappy people, including people whose brands were about clean eating, or it was like in their brand name. And even myself coming from the Paleo space and rebranding in 2018, and kind of stepping back and seeing do I want to continue to, you know, feed into this, or do I want to choose a different direction. And somebody recently asked me, you know, how did you decide when you were going to change? And I said, I don’t think it was a moment, it was more of a question that I kept mulling over which was I don’t want to continue contributing to this aspect of diet culture or do I want to try to move away from it and, and help to like, be part of the change that helps people step away from diet culture. So that, that really you know, when people have that kind of a defensive reaction to that later Oh, well, this is just like who I am. Or maybe it’s part of their Instagram name, you know, we sort of see like, this becomes people’s a part of people’s identity. From a therapy perspective, why is that? difficult when, you know, we take that like, named a diet or that way of eating, and it becomes like that piece of who we are. Why is that a problem?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, I think it really becomes our identity, like your talks about and who we think we are. But it really is especially tied to how good or bad we think we are. And it gives us kind of a, a gauge for who is good and who is bad, that’s really easy, instead of doing the work of like, figuring out like, values and who is maybe effective and helpful in our lives and contributing. And so, for example, if you have to really get to know someone to understand if they are, quote, good, or quote bad, then that’s going to be a really hard process. Whereas if you can just say like that person eats clean, like, they are good, or that person, and it’s not, as you know, over as like, Oh, they eat clean, like they’re good. But I think there’s that subconscious, like, okay, these people care about their health, and so they care about their bodies, and so they care about willpower and discipline, etc. Whereas, I think when it comes to even that idea of like, dichotomous, good and bad, it’s really easy. And so with foods, it’s labeling, it’s either good or it’s bad. I either can’t have it or I can. And I think that’s how we want people to work. And we want life to work, there’s a good choice and a bad choice. And I think when we work on those binaries, we really miss a lot of the nuance and the fluidity and the in-betweens, that are what humanity is. And so it’s important to understand that, yes, cleaning and gives us community, it gives us this sense of goodness, it gives us a sense of purity that’s been allowed for a long time in association with eating a certain way with deprivation. But really unlearning those ideas about pleasure and out, giving ourselves permission to follow our intuition is really important.

Steph Gaudreau
On the flip side, I know that there have been people who are considering easing the way they eat in such a way that it no longer tightly aligns with what they’ve taken on that piece of their identity. So for example, I know people who have eaten a vegan way of eating for a really long time, and then they start to want to experiment with animal products, and they feel so conflicted. Or if you were paleo, and now you start to eat bread, see it from personal experience? I’m not enough not having celiac disease. You know, there can be this, as this change of people where they feel really conflicted, or they’re hiding it. Do you have any advice for those people who are feeling like it’s time to sort of break past this label, but I’m worried other people will judge me or how I’ll be perceived? Or will people think I’m a fraud or a failure? Do you have any advice for those people who are struggling with that aspect of leaving behind a strict label?

Mimi Cole
I mean, first, that’s so hard. I really found a lot of identity in being good. And in eating clean and healthy and stepping away from that felt like I was all of a sudden a bad person. And it wasn’t just tied to what I ate. It was like, who I was, and you know, you find your identity in gyms and in packages and types of diets and things like that. And so it can feel really scary. And I think taking small steps of you to know, maybe shopping in a grocery store that isn’t Whole Foods, sorry, Whole Foods. You know, maybe working with a therapist or non-diet dietitian is something I always recommend to unlearn and identify those narratives that you’re believing about yourself and your identity. Because I think it’s important to first bring awareness to like, who you are and who you find your identity in, or what you find your identity and, and being conscious of how you can step away from that. And I think really understanding that it’s going to be uncomfortable, and distressing and not running away from those feelings.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, sitting in the suck as we, as we would say, and for people who are starting to question or see that maybe they’re starting to realize that the way they’ve related to food is very like you said dichotomous right. There’s a binary of good and bad, of healthy and unhealthy of, you know, clean and not I mean, I don’t know what the opposite The people say is like dirty or sinful or guilt, you know, guilty or guilty pleasures and things like that. How, what are some ways that people can start to maybe get curious about that or start to like maybe bend the binary a little bit better and find a little bit of wiggle room in there because I know sometimes the leap from like, there are no good bad foods to like, or from food is good or bad to like, all food is neutral for people, it sounds good in their mind. And then they’re like, oh, gosh, okay, this impacts everything I think about food. So are there ways that people can start easing into it and starting to unlearn, as you were mentioning?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, I always think that reading was a really helpful thing for me and podcasts like this one. And so hearing that message over and over again, like food is neutral, and practicing it in reality. So you know, going to the store and buying a variety of foods and sitting with the fact that people might be judging you and thinking, like, Oh, my gosh, what are you eating? Or what are you buying and, and being okay with that, and sitting in that uncomfortable mess. And I think another great thing to do is to make a hierarchy of like, which foods are the scariest and start incorporating them slowly. So maybe, all at once might seem like a big jump. But maybe each week, you incorporate a new food that you were scared of before, that you considered bad and throw it into, like, something you think is good, and like, mix up the good and the bad and make room for that guy in between.

Steph Gaudreau
Going slow, I think is important, especially because there’s this perception, and I don’t know if you’ve seen this of like, if we’re gonna do it, we got to go all in rip the band-aid off cold turkey, like, boom, and almost like it’s another diet, right? Where we’re just like, we have to be on track with it. Do you see that too?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, definitely. And I think that is interesting because, you know, there are some people who might say, like, if you’re going to be anti-diet, you need to like do it all right now, I think I take on a slower approach where when we’re unlearning it takes time, and it takes intentionality, but a lot of compassion to for where we’re at in and meeting people where they are.

Steph Gaudreau
Yeah, absolutely. And then, you know, like helping ourselves do that, too, right, like helping ourselves have kindness and compassion for this journey that we’re on. And it’s been, you know, for most of us pretty much a lifetime of seeing and hearing these messages.

Steph Gaudreau
If you’re listening to this podcast and thinking, yep, you convinced me Steph, I want to get stronger, I am ready to take that next step. Or it’s just been a while since I’ve worked out and I’m ready to get back into it. Then I want to invite you to sign up for my free strength workout mini-course, not only do I walk you through all of the incredible benefits of strength training, but I’m also giving you three workouts completely done from start to finish. With all of the tips and pointers, you need to make sure that you are executing them as well as you can and getting all of the benefits out of them. So if you want to get this free strength training mini-course, it is super simple. Just hop over to, that’s, and get enrolled in my free strength workout mini-course.

Steph Gaudreau
One of the things that I really appreciate that you talk about is how eating disorders can affect people in all bodies and how the because of things like systems of oppression, fatphobia racism, etc. There is oftentimes this very narrow, ideal, or very narrow picture, I should say, of what someone with an eating disorder looks like. Can you speak a little bit more about that? And in your experiences, like how that plays out with people?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, so I think it’s important to name those things. So people usually associate binge eating with being out of control being in a larger body and eating more food, meaning you have a bigger body. And people usually associate anorexia with eating nothing ever starving yourself fasting, and being in a small emaciated body, as if our genetics don’t protect us and have different like qualities and mechanisms of working. And so, Dr. Gaudiani is a great resource and she talks about how our bodies are genetically predisposed sometimes to protect us from weight loss. And so some people’s bodies are more prone to weight loss and some And pupils are not. And that doesn’t mean that those behaviors are not the same or worse. And so anyone can have anorexia, for example, no matter if they’re in a fat body or a small body because anorexia isn’t really about being at a low weight, it’s about weight suppression, as well as restrictive eating, malnourishment, disorder, cognitions. And so those core symptoms are really critical. And it’s, I think, the only diagnosis in the DSM, which is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual that has a weight criterion. And it’s been changing over the years, too. So it used to be less than 85% of your ideal body weight to meet the criteria for anorexia. And as it stands, it’s significantly low body weight, which is really up to the discretion of the provider. But a lot of studies show it’s really a lot more important to consider like, how much weight has been lost and how recent the weight loss has been. And so I think it’s important, also that not everyone with an eating disorder loses weight. But I think really shifting that perspective that, you know, a lot of people actually do experience a lot of weight loss that might not bring them to the underweight category, but it’s still significant. And the malnourishment piece of restricting your caloric intake is important. The disordered cognitions thinking that, like they’re good and bad thinking that I must be small to be good, things like that.

Steph Gaudreau
And from a, from a sort of, like, diagnosis, treatment support, kind of place, what are some of the impacts of people who are don’t fit into that stereotypical look? Because I feel like this is one of the missing pieces, or one of the pieces that our community at large, especially in the nutrition space, does not talk about, or even know about, is, you know, what are the real impacts on people who don’t fit the look?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, there’s a lot of misdiagnoses, I’ll come back. I’m going to put a pin in that for a second. But, for example, people who are in fat bodies or who are not underweight or emaciated, who exhibit are displayed behaviors of restriction usually get a diagnosis of what’s called otherwise specified feeding and eating disorder. And that goes into five different categories. And then one of those is called atypical anorexia, which is where you meet all the criteria for anorexia nervosa except for being clinically underweight. And we know that research shows us that less than 6% of people with eating disorders are underweight. And so that atypical label is really not as atypical as we think it’s about several times more common. So about 3% of the population is estimated to struggle with this atypical anorexia label. Whereas anorexia that is, quote, typical is less than 1% of the population. So it’s important to consider that people who get this atypical label feel like there’s something different about their anorexia feel like there’s something less than about it, and often will try to pursue more behaviors in order to get that typical label. There’s a lot more research on anorexia nervosa, as opposed to a typical anorexia nervosa. And it’s really important to understand that it’s such an invalidating label for people. And so personally, I know I was misdiagnosed at first. And I think part of it came into like, I wasn’t emaciated or underweight. And it’s hard when you get that label of a typical because you think, you know, maybe I should try and get the typical one and be like, you know, the one to receive more help and, and be seen and feel sick enough.

Steph Gaudreau
Wow, even when you were just saying this, those statistics, that was surprising to me, because I hadn’t I didn’t know about that. So I appreciate your sharing. And I think that having this conversation or conversations like these and continuing to see how, and hopefully the research will be coming along with this as well to give this validation to people who feel like they don’t fit the diagnosis, or there’s something wrong with them because they’re not presenting in the way that you know, society thinks that this you know, this eating disorder will, will present in them is, I mean, I hope that we keep having these conversations and bringing this to light because it’s really, really important. Okay, I want to switch gears just a tiny bit, and I appreciate I appreciate all of that. So I know that recently, he made a post and it did catch me a little bit. I was like, Wait a second. Like it caught my eye because I knew who it was coming from. And your post on Instagram was called How to get your body ready for summer. And I was like, Okay, once this sort of like, the, you know, disruption in my brain was like, Wait a second. I was like, Okay, I want to read this post because it’s really great. And there are right now, we’re at this time in the year. Okay, so just for everybody listening, we’re recording this, like, at the end of May. We are definitely about to officially slide into summer, we’ve had so many people feeling anxious and, and just unsure about seeing people again, because they may have had body changes. And there’s always this resounding chorus this time of year about like, be get Beachbody ready and all this shit from diet culture. So I’m wondering if you can share with us your perspective on how to get your body ready for summer, what you meant by that, what are some of the tips, or the work that people can do in order to do this?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, it’s really hard, is what I’ll say, first, I have a lot of compassion and admiration for people just working on this. But working on your summer body, to me means something very different than I’m sure probably came across in that first slide. And so working on your body for summer, to me means learning how to nourish it, learning how to accept it and tolerate the distress around it, learning how to put on a swimsuit and work towards your values of maybe enjoying times with friends, enjoying times with loved ones and family members. And being able to really just, like I said, move towards your values when you feel uncomfortable in your body. And so it doesn’t mean changing your diet, unless it means you’re moving towards a more intuitive perspective on food, or exercising more to tone your apps or likes or whatever. To me working on your body really means working on your body image and your perspective about it, and how you feel inside of it. Because it’s the one body that we get. And so I think some tips I have for working on getting ready for summer include exposures, which is basically where you will kind of like, well, there’s several different types of exposures, but the one I’m thinking about is kind of where you mimic that, that discomfort and you go in and do the scary and the hard thing. And you don’t try to use compulsion or so you don’t try to reduce your anxiety through exercising or eating less or apologizing and explaining your body to people, you just kind of sit with the discomfort in the swimsuit, you sit there or swim, you know, and you understand that like, I may be uncomfortable, people may be judging me, all these bad things could be happening and I can cope and I can move towards my values.

Steph Gaudreau
I love that. I think the values piece is really important it is often I feel like the pieces missing, right? Because sometimes we’ll have this idea that if we’re going to, you know just wear the swimsuit or do the thing, you know, where the shorts were the body-conscious clothing or whatever it happens to be that we just have to be like, brave and courageous enough to do it. But there’s sometimes that that missing anchor piece to the values. How do you recommend that people get more clear on what those values are so that they have that peace to really anchor them when they feel the discomfort?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, there are a lot of great lists online. So if you just type in like ‘list of values’, they should come up with like hundreds of examples. And so one thing I like to do is pick out first, or my therapist kind of taught me to do this, but pick out first all the values that most resonate with you. And you can do as many as you want. And then from there hone in on 10 different values that are most important to you. And then really easy to even carry those around in your bag, or you can tape them up somewhere on a mirror or wall and just remind yourself of what you’re working towards and what you’re living for. And, and what is important to you. And so for example, one of my values is bravery. And it’s important to me that I move towards bravery instead of moving towards, you know, ignoring discomfort or like tapping easy buttons out. And so I think that really excites me because when I feel fear, I can also move towards value. And I think it’s important to understand too, that moving towards the value doesn’t necessarily move you away from things that you don’t want to experience. And so there’s Not less fear, necessarily. But it means with that fear, I can move towards those battles.

Steph Gaudreau
I love that. And thanks for sharing that value of yours and also how it plays in when fear is present. Because I think what I’m trying to say before is that people are like, well, just you have to be fearless in order to do the thing, and how that is ultimately, I guess, so scary for people or they’re like, I still feel afraid. So I, you know, I’m not gonna do the thing right now. And I love how you share that. It is sometimes like its present. And I can lean into this value that I have to carry me through.

Mimi Cole
Definitely, yeah, I think moving with the fear and the discomfort and the distress is so important to highlight because sometimes people say, like, we talked about that, like, I’m afraid, so I can’t do it. But instead, I think we practice doing scary things every day. And so that we’re able to do things with fear.

Steph Gaudreau
One of the other things you talked about is mirror work. And I know that there are lots of people right now who are trying to avoid mirrors or their reflection, you know, like if you walk by a store, and it has a big window, and you can see a reflection in that. And I even have some community members right now who are struggling with this idea of seeing themselves, you know, they’re like, I’ve stopped weighing myself, or I’m not pinching my body or measuring my body and body checking like I used to. But now when I see myself, it’s just bringing up a whole bunch of stuff. So what is the mirror work that you talked about in that post?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, and I think it’s important to recognize that there’s something to be said about avoiding your body. And there’s something to be said about obsessing over your body. And so body checking, you know, constantly degrading yourself or saying things to yourself is not helpful. But mirror work is somewhere in between where you intentionally look at your body in those parts that are hard to look at, and you say neutral or grateful things about them. So, for example, My stomach is something that’s really hard for me. And so I might look at it and say like, you are, estimate, you are just what you are, and you helped me digest food. And I’m grateful for your presence in existence. And it doesn’t have to be about the functionality. It doesn’t necessarily have to be like a positive statement if you’re not ready for that. But I think it’s really important that we expose ourselves to those parts of our bodies, so we’re not avoiding or ignoring them. But we’re really head on really challenging those ideas about them. And so I think that’s an important piece to remember that it’s not about avoiding, it’s not about obsessing. It’s about really just coming to a reality of like acceptance around your body.

Steph Gaudreau
I love that. I hope that people listen to this and get curious about what that could be like for them. because like you said, avoiding your body is really hard to do. Right, it’s there all the time. And you’re inevitably going to see it at some point. And so that idea of meeting it with more neutrality and gratitude is really, really powerful. I appreciate you sharing that. And we’re going to link to this post of yours in the show notes. So people want to check it out, or just head to Mimi’s Instagram and look for it, you’ll see it and you know, save it, put it in your bookmarks so that you can go back to it later when you feel like you need it. It’s a really, really great post amongst all the other amazing stuff that you share. This has been incredible, we’ve covered so much ground here from orthorexia, and you know why labels are not helpful to sort of breaking the stereotypes about the types of bodies that can be dealing with eating disorders and how we need to really do a better job with talking about an expanding those definitions. And then obviously ending with this summer body-ready discussion, which I love because it’s going to be on so many people’s minds. This has been wonderful, will you please tell people where they can first follow you to work with you and learn all about all the great stuff that you’re doing?

Mimi Cole
Yeah, thank you so much for having me and you can find me @the.lovelybecoming and I also am offering a workshop on June 13 and throughout the summer as well on OCD, and then that’s open to clinicians, people who suffer & their family members, etc. And then if you are interested in consulting and clinician, I do that as well. And yeah, that’s where you can find me.

Steph Gaudreau
Awesome. We’ll link all of that in the show notes so people can click over as well, if they’re driving or who knows what they’re doing when they’re listening to this. Multitasking, perhaps, this has just been so lovely, maybe you’re just such a bright light. And I appreciate you so much as a human First of all, and secondly, as somebody doing work in this space, and really striving to break down the walls, the stereotypes that we have the places where we need healing, and we can ultimately start to live a more aligned life to our values, and one that does not include all of the constraints that come with food. I just appreciate you so much. Thanks for being on the podcast.

Mimi Cole
Yeah, thanks for having me.

Steph Gaudreau
That is a wrap on this episode with the wonderful Mimi Cole. I’m so grateful to her for sharing her knowledge and expertise, about orthorexia eating disorders, especially the stereotypes that we’re trying to break down as a community, and some really practical stuff that you can do as you work to meet your body with more kindness as we’re going into swimsuit season and the pressure to have a certain summer body to get the show notes for this episode, which includes all of the links that Mimi mentioned, how you can work with her, how to get her workshop and also the transcript for this episode, head over to my website, which is There you can also sign up for my free workouts. If you’re ready to get moving. You want to do it in a way that is weight neutral and really welcoming and inviting and focusing on why strength is so amazing and why I’m here for it and why I want to invite you in as well. You can do that on my website or just go to Alright, you’re going to enjoy next week’s podcast so much as well. We’re going to be digging into mobility to go lower. So if you have aches and pains and you want to figure out how to move better, don’t miss that one next week. Thanks so much for joining me and until then have a wonderful week ahead.



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Hi, I'm Steph!

Lord of the Rings nerd, cold brew drinker, and depending on who you ask, crazy cat lady. My mission is to help you fuel for more, not less: bigger muscles, strength, energy, and possibilities. We’ll do it with my signature blend of science, strategy…and a little bit of sass.

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