An Interview with Caitlin Boyle from Healthy Tipping Point & Operation Beautiful

Caitlin Boyle from Healthy Tipping Point and Operation Beautiful

Tips4Running.com is very happy to welcome Caitlin Boyle for an interview. Caitlin is a runner, author, and blogger. She recently completed her second marathon, running 4:22. This was over 30 minutes faster than her first attempt.

Caitlin is very well know for "Operation Beautiful." This is a blog that lead to a book which titled Operation Beautiful: Transforming the Way You See Yourself One Post-it Note at a Time.

The book is about leaving little random notes that as Caitlin states, "encourage a positive body image and mindset." Caitlin also blogs about living a healthy lifestyle at Healthy Tipping Point.

David Tiefenthaler - When did you start blogging, and what was your motivation for starting a blog?

Caitlin Boyle - I started to blog in July 2008 because I had been reading healthy living blogs for so long and wanted to be part of the community in a bigger way. I also was working at a job that I didn't love and needed a mental escape.

DT - You didn’t pick up running until you were in college. Did you participate in any other athletics in high school or college?

CB - No! I was a total bookworm and party girl. If you had told college me that I would run two marathons one day, I would've laughed in your face (and then chugged a beer). I was not athletic at all, and my idea of a hard workout was 20 minutes on the elliptical while I watched soap operas.

DT - I know you didn't use my beginner running plan, Start Walking, Get Running, Lose Weight Plan since I just released it in August (shameless plug)! What plan helped you to get started running?

CB - I used Hal Hidgon's 10K Novice Plan when I started to run. I went from zero to 6.2 miles in about three months. I could've never done so without a great training plan. Now that I know my body and abilities very well (I've done 30 races to date), I developed my own training plans, which is a lot of fun.

DT - You mention on your blog that a runner should follow a training plan. My favorite marathon plan is Marius Bakken's 100 Day Marathon Plan. What plan or plans do you follow for races like the 5K or the Marathon?

CB - I like Hal Hidgon's plans, but as I mentioned, I typically create my own plan nowadays. I usually run 4 days a week, including one long run and one speedwork run. I also try to go to yoga at least two days a week.

DT - Congratulations on completing your second marathon. Were you happy with your performance, and do you have any ultimate goals for your running? For instance, I will attempt a 1/2 marathon next fall, and I have a goal time in my mind. Is there a specific time for a set distance that you want to accomplish?

CB - I was SO happy with my second marathon. I ran my first, Disney 2010, in 4:54 and was pleased with finishing the distance, but was not thrilled with my time. 10 months later, I attempted my second marathon and crossed the finish line in 4:22. My time goal was 4:35, so I did much better than I expected. I think having a realistic time goal is good, but I also think you should set other goals (such as finishing strong, creating a negative split, fueling efficiently, having fun, etc).

DT - One thing I always am interested in when I read your blog is what you eat the day before or the day of a race. Is there anything recipe or food you highly recommend for runners the night before, or for the day of a race?

CB - I absolutely must eat a peanut butter sandwich with a banana before a race! I don't have any specific meals that I eat the night before, but I try to eat about 100 - 500 extra calories for dinner, depending on the race distance. Also, I avoid spicy foods or excessive dairy.

DT - I could ask running related questions all day, but there are a few other topics I’d like to touch on. A lot of people are probably familiar with your blog now because of the Marie Claire article about the Caitlin, and five other popular bloggers.

For those that are not familiar with the article, Katie Drummond, wrote an article questioning, “How Health Writers Could Be Putting You At Risk.” To sum up the article, Drummond basically states that readers of these blogs shouldn’t try to emulate their lifestyle because it could lead to “an arguably unhealthy obsession with food, exercise, and weight.” Were you surprised by this article? Also, has it turned out to be a huge positive for you instead of the negative that Drummond intended?

CB - I knew the article was coming (I was interviewed twice for it and invited the reporter to the Healthy Living Summit), but I am surprised at how one-sided it was. I cannot believe a national magazine allowed something that untrue to be published - it really makes me think twice about negative articles that I read. I think the reporter and magazine had their own agenda, but I think it's sad that we got dragged through the mud. It's actually ended up being a positive for me because it's brought a lot of new readers to my blog, and they find out I'm the exact opposite of what the article said.

DT - I was very surprised at Drummond’s take on the blogs that she mentioned. With such an obesity epidemic that America faces, what’s wrong with reading about healthy eating options and realistic workout routines? It’s not like any of you are training for the Olympics. If Katie wants to see people that are really obsessed with food and body image, I think she was barking up the wrong tree. She should read some of the blogs of elite runners to see people that are doing things that a regular individual shouldn’t try.

CB - I agree.

DT - Do you think magazine writers like Drummond has some competitive jealousy? I think this rap line is perfect for your situation - “Shake the haters off!” Your blog is popular for many readers because of its realistic and balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle. Is this her attempt to discredit all bloggers because she doesn’t consider blogs as a relevant source of information?

CB - I think Marie Claire sends extremely bad messages to women. A few weeks after this article came out, Maura Kelly (a blogger for MarieClaire.com) wrote about how watching overweight people walk across the room "disgusts" her. To me, Marie Claire is saying that women cannot be active and healthy or overweight. The only option that leaves is the unrealistically sized models they feature in their magazines.

DT - Let’s get back into the positive frame of mind! Can you explain “Operation Beautiful” and what was the motivation for starting this movement?

CB - Operation Beautiful is a website and book that encourages people to leave anonymous notes in public places, like the gym or library books. These notes encourage a positive body image and mindset with messages like You are Beautiful or Take a Diet from Negative Thoughts! I wrote the first note after having a really bad day, took a picture, and blogged about it. The concept went viral and now thousands of people from all over the world participate on a daily basis!

DT - Your currently working on trying to get enough votes for the Amway Positivity Project. If you win you plan on donating the entire $10,000 to Girls on the Run International. Can you explain what exactly is the Amway Positivity Project. Also, what is Girls on the Run International and how did you get involved with this program.

CB - I started to volunteer with GOTR because I love children and want to increase their self-confidence. Obviously, I love to run, too! So GOTR is a perfect fit for me. The Amway project is a national competition in which one person will win $10,000 to spread positivity. If I win, I'm donating the money to GOTR to help lower-income girls attend the program for free. You can vote here!

DT - Has blogging helped you lead a healthier lifestyle?

CB - Definitely! I've learned so many things by blogging and reading other people's blogs. It's a blessing and a great way to stay focused on being healthy.

DT - I imagine blogging is quite time consuming. I have reached the point with tips4running.com where I simply add one article every Monday. I am a teacher, so I’ll do a lot of work on it during vacation time (summer, winter break, spring break). My site is not a typical blog because the front page stays the same. With a blog, you tend to have to add more content. Do you ever get tired of maintaining your site by having to post so often?

CB - I blog 3 times a day, 7 days a week on Healthy Tipping Point, which is a lot! Sometimes it's hard but in general, it's just part of my life and I love it do it.

DT - Has the popularity of your blogs led to any other exciting opportunities?

CB - Yes! I was on The Today Show, the Oprah Winfrey Network, and in several magazines. You can see the videos here! Also, once I got to travel to California to see how POM Wonderful pomegranates are grown. That was pretty cool!

DT - What are your goals for healthy tipping point in the future?

CB - There are some big things coming down the pipeline, but my lips are sealed for now!

DT - Thank you so much for the interview Caitlin. You have a wonderful blog and are an incredibly positive influence on so many readers. Keep it up! :)

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