Monthly Archives: February 2015

How to Raise Your Self Worth

raise your self worthWhen we were in our very early 20’s, my friend Catherine and I were working together as tech journalists in Silicon Valley. It was the first tech boom, we were recently out of college and people around us had lots and lots of money. People who were 24 years old were worth many millions of dollars, but we, two grammar geeks who worked as reporters for an online dot com journal were worth much, much less. At least on paper.

One day, while we were working together on an article about the Diamond Rio Mp3 player (you could listen to 14 songs straight! No tape! No CD!)  Catherine, who had been the valedictorian at both her high school and her college just broke down crying. As I said, we were in our early 20’s and breaking down crying at work at that age is socially acceptable as it’s always okay to have an existential crisis. I asked her why she was crying and she said, “I have no idea what I’m worth.”
“What does that mean?” I asked her.
“Well, I used to know exactly what I was worth. Somewhere between 4.2 and 4.4. But now, I’m not graded on life and I only make $2,000 a month. So what am I worth? How will I know? How will I know how I’m doing in life without grades?”
“I think,” I told her, “I think we’re supposed to know how we’re doing by how happy we are, I think we’re supposed to let our happiness be a barometer of how things are going.”
“That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life,” she said.

And I guess that’s the thing. I guess that we all start out being graded and we just keep going with it. We let numbers dictate how we feel.  Whether it’s the number on the scale, the size of our jeans, the amount of calories or carbs we ate, the size of our paychecks, the number of men or women we’ve slept with, the square footage of our house, the cost of our car, the number of carats in our engagement rings, what kinds of grades our kids our getting, how fast our most recent marathon time is…

After healing from my food and body image issues, I had really felt that I stopped allowing numbers to dictate my life. But I realized that I hadn’t. A few weeks ago, I checked my amazon stats to see how my book was selling. For whatever reason, it happened to be a bad week for book sales.  I was crushed. I started to tie up my self-worth to my book sales, thinking that not only did my book suck, but I sucked. I really let myself get down in the dumps about information totally unrelated to who I was as a person, how I lived my life and what my values were. Later that evening, I got a beautiful email from a reader telling me that my book had changed her life. And then I remembered. I remembered that I wasn’t about sales or numbers or stats, I was a person. And that I do what I do because I care about other people. But I’d forgotten and I’d tied up my self-worth to silly things like book sales and blog stats. Then I realized the irony of it. I tell people all the time that their self-worth is not tied to some arbitrary number on a machine based on nothing and yet, I allowed my own self-worth to be tied up in that. It was a huge reality check for me.  So I asked myself a few questions.

1. What are your values?
2. Are you living up to your values?
3. What more could you be doing to be more of who you want to be?

I remembered that my values were about my husband, my children, my family and helping people, and that numbers had nothing to do with any of this. I remembered that I was living up to my values and that I didn’t need to be graded on this and I remembered that I wanted to do more of this. So I chose to stop looking at my book stats unless my kids were asleep and to make sure that my time with my kids was valuable and loving. That felt good and it felt right and it helped me to get out of the slump of numbers.

Your self worth is also not tied up in numbers.

Ask yourself these questions:

1. What are your values? Name the most important values in your life.

2. Where do you find your value?

3. What do you value in others? What makes others worthy and valuable in your mind.

4. Where do you find your worth?

5. What are things that you do or can do every day to help you feel your true and authentic value?

Write them down and answer them one by one, thoughtfully. Then, each day, ask yourself, “How am I being true to myself? How am I living in alignment with my value system? How am I being who I want to be? What can I do to be more in line with my authentic self? What is the one thing I can do today to help me really be me, the one thing that it is not number based….” Then do that thing, even if it is as simple as calling your Grandma, or hugging your kids or picking up a piece of litter in the street. When you define your intrinsic values and live according to them, you begin to really feel your self worth and you also let go of jealousy and trying to measure up. Try it!

Should I throw my scale away?

destroy your scale

When I was in college, I knew a beautiful woman. She was beautiful because she was kind and thoughtful and she spent her summers in Haiti helping young pregnant women and new young single Mommies. She also spent many afternoons playing with children in a nearby shelter. She was raucously hilarious, and scary smart in a Bill Gates/Steve Jobs sort of way but with social panache and kindness. She was (is) incredibly adorable and honest and everything that you’d want in a friend, a good listener, a confidante and loyal to the end. 

But each morning, when I asked her how she was doing, she would say, “I don’t know yet…” and then she would go weigh herself. If the weight was above a certain number, she was doing crappy. She was depressed, she was quiet, she wouldn’t eat, she had a terrible day. If it was below a certain number, she was good. She could like herself and go on with her day.  

Despite the fact that she was an incredible person, beautiful inside and out and everyone knew it, she still used the scale as a meter to tell her how she should feel about herself. Then she used that number to abuse herself. 

 

If your scale tells you the way that you are supposed to feel about yourself, you should just throw it out. THE NUMBER ON THE SCALE IS NOT AN INDICATION OF YOUR WORTH. Some people look at the number on a scale and it tells them one thing, it tells them how much they weigh. That’s it.

However, it doesn’t work that way with lots of folks. 

Do you know what I’m talking about?  Does this describe you? If the scale is 1, 2, or 5 more pounds than you wanted it to be, do you have a terrible day? Do you hate yourself? Do you wind up crying, bingeing, purging or just feeling plain crummy?

If so, then it’s just not worth it.

Don’t let the number on the scale tell you how to feel about yourself. Some people can look at the scale and it means nothing other than what it means, that they weigh x number of pounds. If you are not one of those people, then throw out your scale. If your scale tells you whether or not you are going to have a good day, then It has too much power over you and you need to get rid of it. You need to take care of your body to the best of your ability by nurturing it with healthy food and healthy exercise and healthy thoughts and healthy habits. 

How do you think my friend’s life and her days would have been different if she had not weighed herself every day? She probably would have been able to like herself more without an arbitrary piece of machinery to dictate her feelings for her.  She probably would have had more good days. She probably wouldn’t have spent so much time beating herself up because she felt that she didn’t measure up. 

I’m happy to say that this friend has since recovered from her body image and eating issues, and she’s still a beautiful person inside and out. I asked her if she weighed herself anymore and she told me that the freedom that she feels without a scale in her life is like being out of an abusive relationship. She can really live again and feel like it’s okay for her to make her own decisions about how she is feeling. 

What do you think? Can you go a week or a month without your scale? 

Q & A Friday- How can I stop Binge Eating on Weekends?

i can't stop binge eatingThis question comes to us from Sarah in New York. 

 

Leora,  

I just can’t seem to want to take care of myself all the time.  It’s just easier to not think about whether or not I’m hungry, so if I’m stressed, or particularly tired, or angry at the world, that’s what I do.  Things are fine when I care about myself, when I’m focused on listening to my body.  But I can’t seem to stay in that frame of mind.  I feel so good maybe Monday through Thursday, and things fall apart over the weekend and I binge eat and self-loathe.  This seems to be a pattern for me; without the structure of school I often fall apart and fall deep into hating myself and deal with this by eating a lot.  I hate going through these self-destructive phases every so often, but I can’t seem to break the cycle.  How can I stay positive more consistently?

Hi Sarah,

 I’m so glad that you reached out for support. You ask “how can I stay positive more consistently?” and I will address that, but I’d like to break your question down a little bit because there are a few different things at play here:

  1.  Despite the fact that you want to participate in self care rituals, you feel like often you just can’t when you are too tired to. 
  2. Weekends are a huge trigger for you because of the vast amounts of unstructured time.  

 

I’ll address the first part, which is you being angry at yourself because you are not consistent with the way you care for yourself. I think that it’s really easy to get caught up in the “shoulds” of recovery, “I should always be paying attention to my cues for hunger and satiety, I should never binge, I should always be on it…” etc. But the problem is, that recovery is not perfect, and sometimes you just don’t feel strong enough to do the things that you need to do to recover. And that is okay. In those moments, the most important thing that you can do for yourself is be kind, not beat yourself up and forgive yourself, because that is what recovery is about- learning compassion and kindness for self. So when you are tired, stressed and angry at the world, you might ask yourself, “what can I do right now? what do I have the strength for?” perhaps you have the strength to sit back and relax and watch a TV show that will change your focus, perhaps you can call an inspirational friend, and perhaps you don’t have the strength for anything. If you can’t do anything, that’s okay. In that moment you can just acknowledge it and forgive yourself. Self love and self directed kindness is a way to be more positive more often. When you are kind to yourself you feel better.  And when you feel better you become stronger and your recovery becomes stronger. 

 

Weekends are an extremely difficult time for many people in recovery because of how open it is.  I am of the mind that planning ahead is the easiest way to bypass a binge. Since you know that weekends are your trigger, it might be a good idea for you to write out a loose plan on Thursday evenings of what your weekend is going to look like, what activities you have planned and also to plan your meals. You can also try to make sure that you have lots of activities with good friends to keep you busy. Connection is the opposite of isolation and eating disorders thrive in isolation. If you need to study over the weekend, plan study dates and always get out of your space and go to a library to study. Make sure that you schedule in lunch breaks with actual time parameters around them. Such as: 10am-11- work on x project 11:00-12:30- work on x 12:30-1:30 lunch. 1:30-4pm – work on x project.   Planning in this way will help you to feel more structured and less antsy/bingey. 

 

I  hope that this was helpful and Thank you for your question. 

 

Warmly, 

 

Leora

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started. 

How Not to Binge On Superbowl Sunday

bingeing and superbowl sunday

You might be at a superbowl party right now feeling totally anxious about the giant display of 7 layer dip, tons of chips and ridiculous amount of beer, wings, pizza and whatever else there is there. You might not even care about football but be more interested in the food display.  Okay. Stop and take a deep breath and step away from the food table.  Let’s strategize a little bit here.

 

 

 

How Not to Binge on Super Bowl Sunday

1. Start by assessing the situation.

2. Look around at the snacks and decide what is it that you really want to eat.

3. Look around at the snacks and decide what you don’t want to eat.

4. Think about what sized portion you will eat, eyeball it by thinking about the size of the palm of your hand (fingers not included) and use that as a serving size.

5. Don’t eat more food than will comfortably fit on one plate. One plateful of superbowl goodies is enough to get a sampling and not deprive yourself or restrict, but not too much that you will wind up bingeing.

6. Don’t sit right in front of the food. Choose a place to sit that is away from the food, where you would have to get up to get something. This will cause you to interrupt the compulsion to eat food just because it’s there.

7. When you eat, try to eat S.L.O.W.L.Y.

8. If there is fruit or crudite there, get that into your system first. This way you are getting your vitamins and fiber in before you eat the typical superbowl less than healthy fare. Starting out healthy just changes your mind-set to, “I want to keep this healthy and safe.”

9. Enjoy the game! And if you’re not interested, find someone else who is not interested to chat with or find someone who is interested to explain it to you.

10. Bookend your game with supportive phone calls. Call someone and tell them that you are not going to binge at the game, give them your strategy and then call them back later and tell them how it went, it will give you some accountability. Don’t have anyone to call?  Call me. 415-820-1478 Call me and leave me a voicemail telling me what your no binge game plan is. Then, after the game is over, call me back and tell me how you did. Seriously!

11. After the party, when you go home, eat a HEALTHY and light dinner, like a salad with some protein or a rich full of veggie stir-fry, drink some tea and go to sleep feeling good.

Good Luck!