#21: How do I teach my child to love movement?

with Sasha Gorrell, PhD

listen here


In this episode we discuss…

  • dr. gorrell’s background as a professional dancer and path to researching eating disorders in elite athletes

  • her research implementing the body project with female dancers

  • misconceptions about loss of a menstrual cycle in athletes

  • the female athlete triad / relative energy deficiency in sport

  • defining and identifying unhealthy exercise practices in young athletes

  • the importance of finding joy and fun in movement

  • how to respond when your child’s coach speaks about bodies, performance, or food in an unhealthy or unhelpful way

  • the power in how parents frame exercise (such as for weight loss vs. for pleasure)

  • children who build a sense of identity through participating in sports - and possible risks and rewards

  • the benefits of movement and exercise for kids

  • the debate about whether to specialize early in a sport or try many sports as a kid

  • sasha’s answer to the million dollar question

Dr. Sasha Gorrell joins us to discuss how parents can help their children develop healthy relationships with movement, sports, and exercise. She draws on both her research and her own experience as a professional dancer to illuminate risk factors and strategies for parents.

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Dr. Sasha Gorrell earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from the University at Albany in 2018, after which she joined the University of California, San Francisco Eating Disorders program team. She is currently a T32 postdoctoral scholar, funded by the National Institutes of Mental Health, and part of the Clifford Attkisson Clinical Services Research Training Program. In addition to her research at UCSF, Dr. Gorrell is treating adolescents and their families in a research trial testing an adaptation of Family-Based Treatment for anorexia nervosa. She received a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University and an M.A. from New York University, prior to which she had an 18-year career as a professional ballerina with Boston Ballet and American Ballet Theatre. At University at Albany, her research included investigation of compensatory eating behaviors related to alcohol use among undergraduates as well as a study of local competitive runners, exploring gender and training level differences in body image, athlete identity, and exercise compulsivity. Her doctoral dissertation consisted of a pilot intervention promoting healthy eating and exercise behavior among female professional ballet dancers. Her current research is focused on investigating specific risk factors for eating disorders in adolescence, as well as exploration of unhealthy exercise behavior within the context of eating disorders.

Connect with Dr. Gorrell on her website.

Jordan Best