As a mother to a daughter and a female myself, I find the thoughts around body image and food ever present in my mind. Whether it is speaking to my daughter about “healthy choices”, discussing nutritional value of specific products with a friend or thinking about exercising as a way to receive extra endorphins… Today I am honored and excited to welcome Kendra Maruyama as a special guest to my blog… A Certified Coach and Eating Disorder Recovery Mentor, a mother and a wife. I found myself chatting with Kendra in a hallway of a fitness club (that we both attend) about food, nutrition and exercise a lot. I had asked Kendra if I could interview her for my blog as an attempt to share her service, wisdom and kindness. She kindly agreed. And now, I am happy to share with you Kendra’s secrets about life-work balance, about her caring service and what inspires her everyday.
Tell me Kendra a little about yourself, your background, your family.
I was born and raised in San Diego. I am one of three girls. My parents are both professionals (semi-retired now). As a family we enjoyed music, the outdoors, camping, art, water-skiing, and our horses. Throughout my childhood we participated in equine-centered activities and competition. I represented my hometown as Rodeo Queen in 1991, and was a contender in the Miss Rodeo California competition in 1992. I was also a devoted musician (percussionist) and found great satisfaction in pursuing my passion for music. Today, I am married and a mom – two of the greatest joys of my life. I still play music, paint, and love being in nature.
Please, tell our readers about your service.
I am a Certified Coach and Mentor. I work primarily with people navigating recovery from an eating disorder or other disordered relationship with food and body, including chronic dieters. I have a small private practice and also have the opportunity to connect with the larger community through volunteer work with the Eating Disorder Foundation, a non-profit based in Denver. Readers can learn more about my private practice at http://www.eatingdisorderrec.com/ .
Why and how did you make decision to create such service?
In my late-teens and twenties I had an eating disorder. After several years of battling it, I was very fortunate to find and accept professional help and my path toward recovery began. I learned, however, that the recovery path is not a linear one. It took many years for me recreate a healthy relationship with food and with my body. The acute intervention that was required at the beginning of recovery was crucial. However, an extended, long-term support, like that of a mentor or coach, would have been of great utility for me in what I consider the “secondary phase” of recovery. For an individual that has had an eating disorder, the very act of eating and making choices around food/exercise is incredibly anxiety-provoking. What I learned in the process of my own recovery was that I needed more than just behavior modification. I needed to re-imagine my relationship with nourishment, heal the toxic nutritional beliefs/food phobias that I’d held, and learn to navigate cultural and media messages in a way that properly supported me. When I was in the process of shaping my business, I had this secondary phase of recovery in mind.
How do you recommend we, mothers talk to our children (boys and girls ) about food and body image in order to guide the on the right path and not create any problems even though unintentionally?
This is a wonderful question, thank you! Children learn from their environment. We can help to shape healthy body image and food relationships by modeling healthy, balanced behavior and language. When parents body-shame themselves, or body-shame others, their children learn body-shame and, perhaps, a belief system that certain bodies are acceptable (lovable) and others are not. Celebrate with your child the amazing abilities of their body – to heal a cut, to restore health after having the flu, to stretch and run and throw a ball. Practice a lifestyle of balanced nutrition and movement. Allow mealtime to be pleasurable. Have kid-approved, parent-approved, delicious, nutrient-dense food options available. Be mindful not to moralize food – when we label foods (or physicality) as either “good” or “bad”, we risk creating shame in our children. (e.g. “I enjoy this sweet treat, but sweets are bad for me, so I am bad for wanting it”.) Shame around food can contribute to disordered behavior. “Good” and “bad” can be substituted with language like “more nutrient dense” or “less nutrient dense” to help your child understand nutritional guidelines and moderation. When helping our children develop healthy practices for life, I encourage balancing these 5 elements of health: Nutrition, Hydration, Sleep, Movement and Spirit. When we teach our kids to balance these elements, their bodies are properly supported. This helps to create a solid foundation for sustained health.
Why do you believe such service should exist? Who would use or could benefit from your services?
Statistically, the recidivism rate for people with eating disorders is notably high. In my observation, a multi-strategy approach to creating support for people in recovery is important for accomplishing sustained recovery. My services are designed to benefit anyone wanting to elevate their relationship with food and body. My services are certainly not limited to only those who had an eating disorder. I also enjoy working with the general population around healthy body image and a variety of food challenges.
What are the special programs/events that you provide (if any)?
I offer private sessions in person (for local clients) and by Skype (for distance clients). My services include personal counsel and support, but also pantry revision and meal planning. I offer body image workshops for larger groups.
What is your work-kids-life balance formula?
Balance is difficult. In short, I prioritize family. I believe in self-care. For me, that means connecting with my family and the communities that I care deeply about on a daily basis. Nutrition, proper sleep hygiene and healthy movement are pillars of wellness for me. I regularly revisit the intention of balance. It seems to be a moving target.
What is so rewarding about your business to you?
The foundation of my work is, first and foremost, being an immaculate listener. This requires a particular skill, of course, but I also invite exploration and experimentation. Oftentimes, I’m doing little more than facilitating a space for people to reveal their own wisdom to themselves. In life, we can lose track our internal teachers; we disengage from our intuition. My work is hardly rote and I try to approach each client with fresh eyes and curiosity. The path of recovery is, I find, unique to the individual. I love seeing the breakthroughs.
What moves you? What inspires you every day?
I’m inspired by art and creativity. I’m inspired by kindness. I love to learn. I’m inspired by the philosophy that we evolve and are in motion; we’re in the process of becoming the highest expression of ourselves. We’re never fully developed. There is space and opportunity for change when we choose it.
Thank you Kendra for sharing with us your caring service and your wisdom. For all those who would like to reach out to Kendra, she welcomes your contact via email firstname.lastname@example.org.