Monthly Archives: May 2014

Make a Pact to Detox from Looksist Gossip

don't let the media inform you how you're supposed to feel about yourself.

don’t let the media inform you how you’re supposed to feel about yourself.

Can we make a pact? I just did something that made me so mad, and I don’t want to do it again, so I wonder, will you make a pact with me not to support a media that exploits other human beings as a means to achieve their own ends?

This is what I did. I clicked on a link that said something like “14 Famous Celebs with Terrible Teeth.”  I’m not going to link to it.  And for some reason I started clicking through it and it made me angrier and angrier and angrier. Why? Why would someone just make fun of someone else (someone more famous and more accomplished than they are) just to get clicks and to get traffic? Why?  I guess because people click on those kinds of things.

But can we stop? 

 

Because I’m sick of people making money by making fun of other people. And I’m sick of people (celebs and non celebs alike) feeling insecure and ugly and not good enough because it’s somehow socially acceptable and even encouraged to trash on people’s appearances.

So can you join me and vow not to click on links that are purposely defaming people based on what they are wearing, how fat (or skinny) they’ve become, how much they’ve aged, what kind of bad plastic surgery they’ve gotten or whatever else they are gossiping about?

It’s up to us to change the way we are valued by choosing carefully what we pay attention to. And clicking on something is powerful. Choosing not to is more powerful.  When we choose not to click, we keep ourselves safe by not engaging in toxic looksist gossip. We might not be able to put an end to this type of cyber bullying but we may be able to feel better by not engaging in it. We disengage from a paradigm that is critical of ourself and of others.

If we want to really support our own positive body image, we have to stop supporting a media that devalues people based on their outward appearance. So can we make a pact? Can you “sign” this by putting a note in the comments vowing not to support a media that devalues women and men based on their appearances, and pass this along encouraging others to  vow to not click on those mean links.

Photo Credit to endlessorigami.com

An Open Letter to My Teenage Self

Morrissey and my teen angst

I have been noticing a lot recently that many of my readers (my teenage girl readers) have been linking some of my posts to their tumblrs.  If you’ve linked to me, I’ve probably read your tumblr. And every time I go through another tumblr of someone dealing with depression, an eating disorder or self-harming behaviors, my heart breaks.  Not because I feel pity for you, but because I’m having an empathy attack. Like you, I was once a teenage girl. And it sort of sucked. And a lot of the time, it super sucked. Being a teenage girl is its own kind of hell. Teenage depression is so… lonely.

It’s been close to twenty years since I was a teenage girl and I understand that it was a relatively brief time in my life.  But sometimes I find myself fantasizing about finding a time machine and going back to my teenage girl self to give her some advice.

If I could, here’s what I’d say:

You are fourteen years old right now and you’re in love. You are so in love that you ache all over. Your stomach is so tight that you can’t eat, you can’t sleep, and all you want to do is cry. You love him so much you want to vomit. You love him so much that you can’t think of anything else. You love him so much that the only thing that matters in the world is being with him, moving to Manchester and listening to the Smiths and drinking Earl Grey tea for the rest of your life. You love him so much that you want to slit your wrists in anguish. But he’s not worth it. In fact, if you want to know the truth, he kind of grows up to be a loser. Listen to me, you know what you should really be thinking about right now? Biology. And I’m talking about 7th period biology. You’ve really been blowing it off. Do you know that you only have one regret as an adult and it’s that you didn’t go to medical school? Okay, so pay attention and think about mitochondria instead of Adam. Side note, you totally get over him and you find someone awesome to marry when you become an adult, so all this worrying and crying is fruitless, be done with it and stop spending all this time and mind energy thinking about a boy. You are smarter and better than that.

You are fifteen years old right now and you hate your mother. She won’t let you do anything. All the other kids get to ride on the subway and go to parties at night and do all sorts of things that you can’t. You are pissed. But just let it go. It’s not worth the arguing and the angst. Your Mom is far from perfect but she loves you more than anyone else in the world does. And she’s not going to be around forever. In fact, I’m sorry to break the news to you, but you’re going to lose her sooner than you think.  So be nice to her.  She’s a single mom, and she’s stressed out and she’s tired and she’s just trying to keep her head above water and make sure that you are safe and well cared for. I know that she doesn’t let you do the things you want to do, believe it or not it’s because she loves you so much, too much some might say, and she wants to keep you safe. She might be going about it the wrong way but she loves you more than the people you want to hang out with. Be kind to her, this time with her is short and precious. She needs your love and she needs your support. I’d give anything to cuddle in bed with her on a Friday night and eat pizza. You should do that while you have her. And by the way- stop smoking. No, seriously, stop smoking- do you know how much money you spend on cigarettes? I’ve figured it out, between 1989 and 2004 you spent $17,804. Know how much you’d have right if you’d invested that? Lots. You’d have lots.

You are sixteen years old. And you’ve caught that love bug again. I don’t even remember this one’s name or who it was, but seriously, stop thinking about boys and focus on school or sports or some kind of hobby like jewelry making instead. Really. You can’t expect someone else to make your life better or to make you happy- especially not a boy. You have to learn to do this for yourself. Find something you love doing and do it often.. It will make you feel so good about yourself. Try lots of different things! Take saxophone lessons, join a band, start building furniture, start running track, play volleyball, take gymnastics, weave on a loom… who cares, just learn many different things and have lots of fun hobbies and do things that you are about you. It’s not that love or being in love is bad- in fact it’s the most amazing thing ever. But don’t wait around for someone who doesn’t seem to feel the same way about you as you feel for him. It’s just going to make you feel worse. And the waiting, the wishing, the hoping the pining after someone… it’s so much wasted time. Once you learn to make yourself happy and to love yourself, you will stop looking outside yourself for someone else to complete you.

You are seventeen years old. You think you’re fat. You start a diet pretty much everyday. You eat nothing but black coffee for breakfast and sprouts and popcorn for lunch but you’re starving by the time you get home and you binge on chips and ice cream. Then you hate yourself. You think that if you could just be skinny that your life would be better. You live on processed foods and Diet Coke. Stop dieting now and never, ever go on another diet again. You are fine and you always were. You are perfect, whole and complete just the way you are. You don’t need to change the way you look on the outside to make someone love you.  Just be kind to yourself both emotionally and physically.  Eat real foods, eat whole foods, eat nurturing, healthy, life sustaining, excellent fresh foods. And eats cookies sometimes too! And don’t feel guilty about it. Eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied and you’ll always be okay.

Don’t worry about what other people think about you. In fact, the truth is, most people are not thinking about you at all. They are too busy worrying about what other people are thinking about them. The only person whose thoughts you really know for sure are your own, and those are the thoughts that affect you the most, so you might as well make them good thoughts.

Don’t try too hard to impress anyone or many anyone else proud of you, not your teachers, not your parents, not your friends. Figure out what your values are and make yourself proud.

Don’t gossip about your friends. In fact, don’t gossip about anyone at all.  Everyone has it rough in this life. Seriously, life is hard for everyone, so give people around you a little break. If you have something mean to say about your friends, then you probably shouldn’t be friends with them. It’s totally okay to let go of people in your world who are toxic. In fact, it’s imperative. There’s no reason to spend time with mean people. Friends who talk about you and who make you sad and who hurt your feelings are not friends.  Being around them is poorly spent time. There are plenty of nice people you can spend your time with. In fact, most people are nice, but in high school, people wear invisible coats of armor to protect themselves because everyone is so vulnerable at that age, so be nice to everyone.

Life is short and kindness is a path to happiness. Be as kind as possibly can to everyone you meet. Everyone including teachers, doctors, parents, friends’ parents, siblings… everyone!  If you go out of your way to be kind to people, people will be kind back to you. Kindness returns to you a million-fold.

 

I wish I’d been able to go back to my teenage self and tell that girl these things. But- she probably wouldn’t have listened.

Ten Differences Between Compulsive Eating and Mindful Eating

It’s not super easy to recognize when you are eating compulsively. Sometimes we get so entrenched in our habits and our lives that we just forget about taking time to really nurture ourselves.  Food and eating becomes habitual, mindless, and unhealthy. Of course it’s normal that you are not going to be eating mindfully all the time, sometimes life dictates that we have to eat in the car, or we have to get takeout or use the microwave. However, if you find that in your life you are mostly doing compulsive or mindless eating, it might be time to look closer at that and try to make a change toward mindful eating.

courtesy of eatingmindfully.com

courtesy of eatingmindfully.com

 

1. When you are eating  compulsively you: Scarf your food down quickly and without thought and without noticing what you just ate.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Eat slowly noticing the tastes and textures of your food and take note of the way it feels in your body. You also notice what your body feels like and how much you actually need.

 

2. When you are eating  compulsively you: Eat while you are driving.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Do your best to create time and a break for yourself to sit and eat your food.

 

 

3. When you are eating  compulsively you:  Eat in front of the TV, eat in front of your open laptop, or eat while staring and thumbing through your iPhone.

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Are paying attention to your food, your thoughts, your feelings, and taking time to savor the moments of peacefulness and quietude that you have to yourself or on pleasant conversation with another human being.

4.When you are eating  compulsively you: Heat up your food in the microwave.        

 When you are practicing mindful eating you: Take time to cook or heat up your food in the oven or on the stove.

5. When you are eating  compulsively you: Grab take-out or fast food most of the time

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Take time to shop for and cook with fresh or seasonal ingredients.

6. When you are eating compulsively you:  Automatically get food whether you actually want it or not out of habit

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Assess whether or not  you are hungry and whether you actually want the food that you are going for rather than eating it out of habit (like grabbing popcorn at the movies).

7. When you are eating compulsively you: Eat until you are uncomfortably full

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Pay attention to your body and stop eating when you are comfortable, satisfied, and before you are full.

8. When you are eating compulsively you: Often eat food that is devoid of nutrition

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Eat food that is nurturing to your body and contributing to your overall health

9. When you are eating compulsively you: Often didn’t even notice that you ate something and then find that you’ve devoured the whole thing and you’re sitting with an empty plate, you wonder, “did I just eat that? I barely noticed.”

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Focus on the intention of eating and notice how much you are eating, how quickly you are eating and  figure out if you’d like to slow down or not, you think about whether or not you are enjoying the meal.

10. When you are eating compulsively you: Munch on snacks that are set out in bowls in front of you just because they are in front of you, such as pretzels, M&Ms, peanuts, hard candies, whatever…

When you are practicing mindful eating you: Think about whether or not you’d like to be eating what’s in those bowls, whether or not you are hungry for these things or if you want to eat these things or not.  If you don’t want to eat those foods and you are finding that you are feeling too impulsive when they are in front of you, you either move to bowl or move away from the bowl.

To start out with a mindful eating practice, just set one intention before a meal. That intention can be anything, such as “I’m going to let myself taste my food and experience it more fully,” or “I’m going to eat slowly,” or “I’m going to notice my hunger and satiety in this meal.”  Maybe at your next meal you will set a different intention. Just try it once and see how it goes for you. Once you become mindful and conscious of your eating, things totally change. Food no longer has a hold over you because you have brought consciousness to what was once a compulsive or unconscious behavior.

You might additionally check out:

Guided Visualization for Integrating Mindful Eating

The Center for Mindful Eating

Dr. Susan Albers Blog (Psychologist specializing in treating eating disorders using mindfulness)

Mindful Eating as a Way to Fight Bingeing

 

Ten Myths About Binge Eating Disorder

Ten Myths About Binge Eating1. All binge eaters are obese

Completely untrue. In fact most of the people I see in my practice are considered a “normal weight.”  Food is their drug and bingeing is something they do in private and something people will go at lengths to hide, including maintaining a normal weight. In fact, I’ve  had clients who were downright skinny but who binged on food often and felt completely out of control with it.

2. All obese people are binge eaters

Actually, binge eating affects 8% of the obese population. Which means that 92% of obese people are NOT affected by binge eating.  In fact, despite the media’s belief that all fat people are unhealthy, there are many, many people who are both fat and fit. 

3. People who binge eat need more will power and self-control

People who binge eat usually have incredibly amounts of will power and self control. And though this is not true for every binge eater, for the most part, people who binge eat tend to be extremely high achieving and controlled in many aspects of their lives, including controlling their food. It’s this control that tends to sometimes backfire causing an all out rebellion against  the person’s inner critic. What a person who binge eats actually needs is more self compassion and support, not more rules and self control. Learning to support oneself in a positive way, not in a pejorative way will empower the binge eater feel more comfortable around food and less likely to be overpowered by an all out binge.

4. People who binge eat purge by vomiting

Not everyone who binge eats purges by vomiting. Some people compensate by over exercising, some compensate by fasting, some compensate by dieting, some compensate by taking laxatives, and some don’t compensate at all.

5. Binge eating is a bad habit and not a true disorder

Binge eating is more complex than simply a bad habit, it’s actually an impulse control issue, although it is not technically classified as and impulse control disorder.  However, using similar techniques as are used in certain other ICDs (like compulsive shopping) binge eating can be healed.  I’ve seen wonders done with DBT and mindfulness training.


6. Men don’t binge eat

Actually, Binge Eating Disorder affects 2% of men.  However, men don’t tend to get help as often as women. In fact, it’s stigmatized as a woman’s issues, so men tend to shy away from support and feel that they have to just stop or do it alone. In his blog about healing from binge eating, Alan Standish says, “Guys, Binge Eating Disorder affects us just as much as it does women. Don’t be embarrassed.”

7. Binge eating is incurable

It’s really not as grim as it’s made out to be. In healing from binge eating, you really heal your life in so many different ways. You become more organized in your thinking and more thoughtful and mindful. You can come to a place where you are able to let go of your feelings and fears about food. Food becomes nurturing instead of the enemy. I’ve seen it happen over and over again with my clients and that has certainly been my own experience.

8.Binge eating is caused by chronic emptiness

Just because you are binge eater, it doesn’t mean that you are broken. It doesn’t mean that you have a bottomless pit that you will never fill. However, having binge eating disorder can feel hopeless and you might feel as though you are totally out of control and a total mess. But you’re not. You need support, you need compassion and you need some help to get you passed it.

9. Drinking a glass of wine can help curb binge eating

Sometimes people will have a drink in order to calm down the urge to binge eat. But it often backfires. This is what I call “the solution becoming the problem.” If you drink to feel more in control, your problem might then become the drink. And more often than not, people wind up bingeing if they have drank too much- if not that night, then certainly the next morning to deal with a hangover and the shame that often accompanies it.

10. Quitting carbohydrates can help stop binge eating

No. It doesn’t. It really doesn’t. I’m very much a proponent of eating whole foods as much as possible and eschewing processed foods for the most part. So, eating lots of foods out of a box, probably not the best idea for overall health, however, unless you have sugar issues (as in hypoglycemia or diabetes)- it is not advisable to give up fruits and vegetables- even yams and potatoes. Your body runs more efficiently when you are eating a variety of whole foods. If you wind up on a very low carb diet, it’s likely that you might find yourself bingeing on carbs. It’s not because you have no lack of control, it’s because your cells are screaming for glucose and your body will push you into getting what it  needs for survival!