psychology

Is it Possible to Recover From Binge Eating Disorder on Your Own?

Overeaters Anonymous Support Groups

Overeaters Anonymous Support Groups

I received an email from a woman who is currently reading my book and she asked me the question, “do you think it’s possible to reach recovery on my own?”

It’s a really good question and one that I thought should be discussed in more depth on the blog. I know what the reader means by that, she means is it possible to stop binge eating without dealing with a therapist or a twelve step group, can I just read a book and recover. The simple answer is yes of course. In fact, when you read the rational recovery material, they discuss how every day, active alcoholics put down their drinks and make a choice never to drink again and they don’t. Many people who smoke cigarettes  quit cold turkey and never pick up the habit again. So yes, it’s certainly possible. In fact, one would argue that everyone recovers on their own- by their own will and with their own strength.

But you don’t have to. And that’s what you should know. Just because you can recover alone, doesn’t mean that you have to recover alone. Eating disorders thrive in isolation. You do your eating disorder all alone, so when you recover, it’s nice to get out of the shadows of the disorder and have someone their to hold your hand, support you and be there if you need extra support. My friend and colleague Nicole Laby (producer of Erasing Ed, which you should totally see if you can) always says, “eating disorders don’t form in a vacuum and so you shouldn’t have to recover in a vacuum.” What she means by that is that there are a million varying factors that come together to make an eating disorder. There is family, there is society, there are your friends at school, there are traumatic events, there are food manufacturers creating and marketing unhealthy substances that we seem to feel addicted to and use like drugs, all these things come together as a perfect little recipe for a dysfunctional relationship with food. Awesome. So because of this, it is often very comforting to have people around you who are on your side instead of on the eating disorder’s side. These are folks who understand what you are going through and who have been there themselves and want to help you and need support too.

I wrote Reclaiming Yourself to be like a pocket therapist for people who didn’t have the means for psychotherapy. However, in the book, I do suggest finding your own support network, be it a best friend or an online network, or a group. It doesn’t need to be a 12 step group, it can be a group of people you form yourself to just give each other love and support around not bingeing.  When you recover all by yourself, you miss out on the accolades and the love that you get from other people who are supporting you. When you recover with support, if you should fall down, you always have someone there with an outreached arm to hold your hand and perhaps pull you up rather than you being left to climb up and out on your own.  That being said, there is more than one way to recover. You have to find your recovery style and choose what works for you.  I recommend trying several different things, 12 step groups, rational recovery groups (SMART recovery), online support groups, blogs, tumblrs, meditation and mindfulness groups,  whatever. There are a billion ways to find help. Or try it alone and see how it goes. You don’t have to make a decision and then stick to it, experiment and figure out what works for you.

What worked best in your recovery?

How to Raise Your Self Esteem

how to raise your self esteemI always explain to my clients that raising  or gaining your self esteem isn’t about harnessing some unknown force or creating something that doesn’t exist or gaining something new– rather than gaining something new, it’s about letting go of something old– old messages that tell you that you’re not okay, that you have to be better than you are, that there is something wrong with you. Self esteem is about being kind to yourself, accepting and loving yourself even if you’re not perfect. It’s about going toward greatness and allowing yourself to evolve, but loving yourself in that process. It’s about holding yourself with integrity to the best of your ability, always being kind, thoughtful, compassionate and loving to the people around you and to yourself.  So, when you hear the voices telling you that you’re not okay, telling those voices that there is no room for them or that you don’t have to engage with those thoughts as you strengthen those that serve you.

In 1994, Nathanial Branden wrote The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem which is considered the definitive work on Self-Esteem. Branden believes that to have self esteem, you need both self-efficacy and self- respect. Having self-efficacy is the knowledge that you have everything inside of you that you need to survive no matter what. Self-respect is being aligned with your values and knowing that because you are, you deserve to be loved, respected and cared for and to be happy no matter what.

When you have self-efficacy, you’re not afraid of being alone, you’re not afraid of being left because you know that you have everything that you need inside of you to survive. You have confidence in your own abilities to navigate life rather than fear of being in the world. When you have self respect, you know what your values are (for me they are always being kind and treating everyone around me with respect and compassion and consideration, not gossiping or spreading rumors, not judging or criticizing and living with integrity) and you do your best to live in alignment with those values. When you live a life aligned with your values, you feel better about yourself and being in the world.

Branden identifies six philosophies that he believes are integral to living with self esteem. They are: living consciously, being self accepting, taking responsibility for oneself, being assertive, living with purpose and holding strong personal integrity

Living Consciously  is about being aware of your body, being aware of your choices, your environment, being mindful or your choices, your enviornment, your bodily sensations, your thoughts, your actions and your fears.

Those who have eating disorders don’t live consciously. They either binge or starve themselves, they don’t honor their appetites, they hate their bodies because they believe that there is something wrong with them. They completely reject themselves.

Check out guided visualizations on eating mindfully and loving your body and letting go of negative body image.

Being Self Accepting: When you accept yourself, you stop trying to be someone else, you embrace your strengths. Rather than comparing what you don’t have to what other people do have, you celebrate and strengthen what you do have. Check out these great tips on being self accepting. 

Taking Responsibility for Yourself: This is about not blaming other people for choices you made. Understanding that you have power and that you are not stuck and that just because you made a bad choice, you are not stuck in it because you have the power to constantly be rethinking and recreating your life.

Being Self Assertive: When you are self assertive, you stand up for yourself. You always treat other people with respect and you do not allow other people to talk down to you or to treat you poorly. If you have a boss, for instance who is verbally abusing you or yelling at you, it’s okay to look at them and say, “it’s not okay to talk to me that way.” It’s about standing up for others who might not have the ability to voice their own needs.

Living with Purpose: 

When you live with purpose, you take care of yourself, but your main purpose in life isn’t about getting thin or getting pretty or making money or trying to impress or look good to other people. It’s about having goals that feel purposeful, meaningful to you.

Having Strong Personal Integrity: 

What is it to live with integrity? In my opinion, it’s to be as honest as you can without being hurtful. Being honest doesn’t mean telling someone that they look fat in their new dress or that they’re acting like a jerk. That’s not honest, that’s your subjective opinion. Being honest is more like telling someone that your feelings were hurt when they didn’t answer your phone calls or respond to your messages. Being honest is not stealing, not lying, not purposely saying things to hurt people, not spreading hurtful rumors, and not using other people to achieve your own means. It’s about being kind, being helpful, but also not sacrificing yourself or your own needs for the sake of others. Personal integrity is about knowing what your values are trying to live up to them. What are your values? When you identify your values and do your best to live up to them, you will always know that you are okay and you won’t have to worry about what other people think about you.

For more help on improving self esteem, check out some of Nathaniel Branden’s sentence completion exercises.

Try this guided meditation download to help you to let go of those old non-serving thoughts and bring in higher more function feelings about yourself.

31 Easy Ways to be Happy Right Now

how to be happy1. Practice kindness in every aspect of your life. While you’re driving,  wave someone through who is waiting to get out of a parking lot into the road. Give your leftovers to someone who is hungry.

2. Do simple things to make yourself feel nurtured. File and clean your nails– maybe even get a manicure or pedicure. Take a nap,  clean your sheets and make your bed, shower, wash and condition your hair, shave, and let yourself relax.

3. Face your finances and deal with your debt. Look at how much you owe and how much you have. Make a plan to pay off your debt. It will just make you feel better.

4. Take a long, quiet walk in nature. Being in nature is good for your mind, body and spirit. 

5. Sit down and drink a hot cup of tea. 

6. Rent a funny movie and laugh a lot. 

7. Smile at 10 random people. You will instantly feel bright and joyous and full of love when you infuse good into the world and it will integrate it into your own psyche.

8. If you don’t feel like smiling, force it.  The activation of the muscles used to create a smile actually decrease stress in increase feelings of well-being.

9. Express gratitude.  One of the great tragedies of our psyches is that it is so difficult to appreciate what we have one we are wanting more. It’s important  to want more, but the way to really find happiness is to appreciate and love and be grateful for what you have. Don’t let yourself believe that you’ll be happy when… Be happy now. Be grateful now. Don’t allow your happiness to be held hostage by future events that may or may not happen. Make a list, even in your mind, of all the things you’re grateful for.

10.  Try self-hypnosis to bring joy into your world. This works because your world is created  by the thoughts you think.

11. Spend time with your pet. Being around animals and caring for them make humans happier. 

12. Pray to whatever deity you believe in, even if it’s your own higher self.

13. Jump up and down for 60 seconds. Your endorphins will release and you will feel good!

14. Put music on and dance like crazy. Even if  you think you can’t dance, just dance. My toddler loves to shake his head back and forth to any rhythm and it makes him deliriously happy.

15. Talk to the dead. Just get into a quiet mood and begin talking either out loud or in your head to someone you miss. Having conversations in your head with people who have passed away can be incredibly healing.

16. Compliment someone. Tell someone how beautiful they are, or what a good job they’re doing or how much you appreciate them. It will bring joy to their world and make you happy too.

17. Call someone you haven’t spoken to in a long time.

18. Drink a glass of water. Mild dehydration can cause a bad mood and pessimism.

19. Stretch your legs, roll your ankles, your wrists, roll your neck, get your body into a comfortable position. Stretching makes you happy!

20. Play in the dirt!  Gardening can make you feel happy. Mycobacterium, which occurs naturally in soil, has the same effect on your brain as anti-depressant medications.

21. Look at old pictures — for a bonus happiness boost, share them with someone you love.

22. Try to do a push up. If you cannot, try again the next day. Within a week, you’ll be able to do a pushup. Do this everyday and by the end of a month, you’ll be doing 5 push ups a day. After a year, you’ll be doing 50 pushups a day. You’ll feel super accomplished, not to mention strong.

23. Sing a song out loud.

24. Have only 20 seconds? Choose one. 

25. Hug someone. Human touch makes us calm, relaxed and peaceful.

26. Take a bath with epson salts. Magnesium relaxes your muscles and helps you have a sense of peacefulness making you happier.

27. Send wishes for the people around you to be happy, kind and compassionate.

28. Let go of people that make you unhappy. You can choose to let go with compassion of friends who feel toxic. It’s okay to do that.

29. Read the Alchemist. I read this book right after my Mom died and it changed my mood immeasurably. It’s an amazing mood lifting book.

30. Floss your teeth!

31. Take a nap. Being well rested is the best way to be happy. Get your sleep in order.

 originally posted at yourtango.com

How about Sexy Einstein for Halloween This Year?

Halloween is challenging for people with eating issues for the obvious reasons- all the candy and partying everywhere. But there is also the fact that for many women, Halloween is a time to put on their sexiest outfits and throw on some horns and be a “sexy devil,” or a “sexy cat,” or a “sexy cop” or a “sexy cheerleader,” or a “dead hooker,” or a “slutty nun,” or something else provocative. My own personal belief is that Halloween is a great time for people to embrace their shadows, and have fun with their sexuality within the safe containment  of the holiday.  However, this can also be incredibly challenging for many women. It’s a time when some women feel more free with their bodies and displaying more skin and some women begin to compare themselves and feel badly about themselves. Although many women with food and body image issues tend to make unfair comparisons between  themselves and other women, Halloween can create a scenario where the comparative thinking is extremely magnified.

Here are some tips for dealing with the feelings that might come up around that Catholic schoolgirl.

  • Find a Halloween costume that you love and that is fun and you feel comfortable in.
  • If you notice that you are comparing yourself to someone else, tell yourself to stop immediately and to just not go there. Just because someone looks good, doesn’t mean that you look bad. This is called compare & despair. You compare yourself to someone else and you immediately then beat yourself up. Remember that you are great, even if someone else is great too.
  • If you notice that someone’s outfit is triggering you, don’t berate them, even silently to yourself. That will create anger or resentment inside. Men aren’t the only ones who are capable of objectifying women. Sometimes women will label other women “sluts”  or “whores” if their appearance triggers comparative thinking or insecurity.  It might be good to talk to them and see that they are human, not someone to be objectified or degraded. They might be just as intimidated by you and your appearance. If this is someone who you’d rather not talk to, simply avoid them. Don’t let their outfit affect your good time.
  • If it’s too hard this year, don’t go out, or just invite some safe people over for pumpkin carving and hanging out. It’s okay to take care of yourself by avoiding a situation that can be potentially harmful.

Have Fun and Be Safe! Happy Halloween!

How to Slow Down

how to slow downThe other day, one of my clients and I were discussing her impulses. She vibrates at a very fast level. She’s got a lot on her mind, a lot on her plate and she does everything fast. Like really fast. This includes eating too much too fast and letting it turn into a binge, having sex with people without getting to know them, drinking too much too fast, and falling in love with people before getting to know them and then being stuck in heart-wrenchingly painful one-sided relationships with people who don’t love her the way she thinks she loves them. Now don’t get me wrong, her impulsive side has helped her to be very successful in life. She’s smart, she’s beautiful, she’s successful and she’s got lots of great friends who love her. However, she sometimes finds herself in the middle of something that she doesn’t quite want to be in because she leaped in too quickly. Certainly this happens with binge eating, she will kind of snap out of it to find herself in the middle of a binge, but it’s also other things in life, a trip up to Tahoe with people she barely knows, finding herself drunk and in bed with a guy who she met earlier that evening, being $5000 in credit card debt due to the purchase of a very expensive purse that she really didn’t need, but really thought she needed in the moment. This inability to take life slow, though certainly exciting in the moment, makes life more difficult on the other end. There are ways to simply slow down and not get caught in the cycle of undoing a mess that you’ve somehow found yourself in.

 

1. Recognize that the sense of urgency is fake. There is very little in life that has to be done immediately. Is it possible that you will regret for the rest of your life not buying those Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes  that were on sale for only $400.00? Possibly. But probably not. When it’s something like this, walk away for at least 24 hours. If you don’t have 24 hours, if it’s a one-day sample sale, walk away for 2 hours and give yourself some time to think about it. There is very little that you actually need. Most purchases are driven by desire and want, which is fleeting.  Debt however is not.

2. Don’t sleep with someone that you don’t know when you’ve been drinking. Seriously. Just don’t. Get a number give a number and if it’s meant to be, you’ll meet up again when you’re both sober and you can figure it all out in a more clear-headed way. If he or she doesn’t call you later, you can imagine how they’d be if you had slept with them.

3. Take a week to not give any yeses. Instead of saying yes immediately to any requests, give the answer, “give me 24 hours to think about it.” Then, take some time to think about whether or not you actually want to do what is being requested of you.

4. Try to give thanks before eating. This doesn’t have to be about praying or saying grace. It could be as simple as thanking the earth for growing the lettuce you’re about to eat or thanking the salmon that you’re about to eat. Just taking a moment to express gratitude.

5. Slow down while you’re actually eating. Try implementing mindful eating techniques during meals so that you can eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied.

6. Stop your mind from chaining together cause and effects and long stories that aren’t true. Anxiety is caused by taking what ifs, stringing them together and then following the path to a disastrous end. And it all happens in an instant. What if I leave the house, get hit by a car, wind up in the hospital paralyzed for life, have no one to take care of me and die alone?  Your mind can be a very dangerous neighborhood, so tell it to slow down and to help you stay in the present. Imagine a giant stop sign telling you to just stop the irrational thinking.

What ways can you practice slowing down?

How To Be a Better Person

You don't have to run yourself into the ground to be a good person. Save some life for you!

You don’t have to run yourself into the ground to be a good person. Save some life for you!

I have this client who is really afraid that she’s not a good enough person. But here’s the thing, she’s a really good person. But she’s always afraid that she’s not good enough. She’s almost “too good,” she does everything for everyone else,  she covers other people’s shifts when she’s tired, she cooks dinner for her family every night despite having been on her feet for 12 hours (she’s an ER nurse) she takes in strays (people, pets, and projects), she listens for hours on the phone while her friends cry about the pain of life. She’s a perfect mom, friend and wife. She never says no to anyone. She is the President of the PTA, she does every cancer walk, AIDS run, she heads every committee, has big glorious parties, belongs to three different book clubs and she sacrifices her own needs for the sake of others constantly. She’s really that good. And she’s exhausted. She has explained to me several times that she’s not this good out of an altruistic sense. It doesn’t come easily to her. She feels that she has to be that good otherwise she’ll be abandoned, fired, divorced, rejected, cast aside. She wants people to like her and she believes that who she inherently is has no value so she has to constantly do and be better than everyone else to make herself invaluable and indispensable. She fears that without this quality, she would be nothing.

The title of my blog post is more irony, because I have seen in my practice that many people suffering from eating disorders have the co-occurring obsessive desire to be be good. To be better. To be better than anyone else. To be a precious commodity.

It is possible to be a really, really, really good person while still holding yourself and your health in highest regard. So how do you do that? How do you choose to be a good person without sacrificing your own self?

1. Set boundaries. Rather than saying “yes” right away, whenever you are asked to do something let people know that you will see and you’ll get back to them in 24 hours. Then, in those 24 hours, ask yourself the following questions.

a. Do I really want to do this?

b. If so, why do I want to do this? Do I want to do this for the accolades that I will get or for my own personal enjoyment? If it’s for the accolade, if you are trying to control or manipulate what other people are thinking about you, you should experiment with saying “no.”

 

2. Ask yourself this, “If I don’t do it will I feel guilty? If I do do it, will I feel resentful?” If it is a choice between guilt and resentment, go with the guilt. There’s no reason to do something for someone just to resent them afterwards. Sit with and work through your own guilt. This is about you and your need to be better.

 

3. Do things that are in line with your goals and desires for who you want to be. For instance, if you feel as though being kind and non-judgmental and holding yourself with integrity is important, then know that as long as you stick to that goal, you’ll be fine. Getting angry at someone and talking about them behind their back while still driving them to the airport won’t necessarily make you a better person. Telling them that you’re not able to and being an advocate for yourself will. Don’t worry, they will find another way to get to the airport. I promise!   You are invaluable and indispensable for who you are, not for what you do, so when you choose to be aligned with the qualities of high integrity, you just feel strong within yourself. You don’t need to constantly do for others to be better.

 

4. Always be kind. That doesn’t mean always do everything that people ask you to. It means being okay with people’s requests and being kind and compassionate when you tell them you cannot.

How to Stop Caring What Other People Think of You

taken from http://www.happyologist.co.uk/

taken from http://www.happyologist.co.uk/

A lot of women think that they can control what other people think of them by controlling what their bodies look like. They believe that if they look a certain way, people will think of them in a certain way. Sadly, the media reinforces this belief for us. A few years ago, Hillary Clinton was asked who her favorite designer was. Her reply- “Would you ask a man that question?”  My sentiments exactly. I throw that example right in the beginning because I cannot think of a more poignant example of the media’s portrayal of women. HIllary Clinton, a Yale educated attorney, a former US Senator, the former Secretary of State– all these crucially important positions held and we question her taste in designers. Is that necessary? No.  Is that ridiculous? Yes, it’s more than that, it’s insulting, it’s disgusting, and it’s a terrible commentary on how American society views the whole gender.

 

There is only one way to put an end to this stupidity, and it’s to not buy into it. It’s to avoid and ignore it. It’s to not worry too much about being what society (currently) deems is right for a woman to be. We don’t have to walk around in Lululemon eating just sprouts and coconut water all the time trying to get thin. It keeps women in a box. It keeps women from taking over the world. But not Hillary.  Unfortunately, not buying into these things is probably not going to have a huge affect right this moment, but the more you choose your own path, not the path that popular American culture has mapped out, the more people will learn by your example and new road maps will be formed. Just think, less than 100 years ago, women didn’t even have the right to vote, or wear pants!  But the suffragettes helped change that. Just think what you could do for the future of this society by choosing to cast your own net and do what you wanted to do without worrying about other people’s opinions. It starts with you.

You can never control what other people think of you, but you can control what you think of yourself. And you can do everything that you need to do to hold yourself in integrity. You can be the kind of person that you like. You can be the kind of person that you respect and admire. Rather than thinking about how to be the kind of person who other people would like, think about the person who you would admire and respect—that’s the person you can be. Life is too short to waste time trying to make people like you. If they don’t, keep being the good person that you are, and move on. You are perfect, whole, and complete just being you! And each day, each moment, you can evolve more and more deeply into that being.

So how do you do this?

1. Write down what your values are.

For example: I value integrity, kindness, intelligence and compassion.

Keep that list close to you, so that when you are confused as to how you should behave in comparison to what you think someone else expects of you, you can look to see if you are behaving in line with your value system.

2. Write down some of what your goals are for want to do in this lifetime.

For example: I want to read a lot of Dostoyevsky and write a historical fiction romance novel about the French Revolution and travel to Haiti and work with sick babies.

Then, if you hate yourself because you ate chocolate cake or if you feel that you’re not good enough because you haven’t gone to Bikram class, then you realize that being skinny isn’t your actual lifelong goal, you have other things that you’re focusing on. You can then refocus on who you are and what you want to be doing. Sadly, being skinny can be a lifelong goal for a lot of women and it prevents them from seeing more of what they want.

3. Stop analyzing other people’s thoughts.

For example: If you find yourself at a party thinking, Oh, he thinks I said something stupid, she thinks I’m fat… etc. You are projecting your own thoughts about yourself onto other people. You have no idea what other people are thinking about you. And, as they say, what other people think of you is none of your business. The only thoughts that you know for sure and they only ones that matter are what you think of yourself, so it’s important to do things that make you like yourself. And, the truth of the matter is, people are too busy thinking about themselves to worry too much about others. And if they are sitting around thinking about others– well then what a boring life they must have!

4. Don’t second guess yourself, it can make you paralyzed and unable to move forward. Even if you make the wrong decision, know that you have the ability to take care of the situation, no matter what. You can persevere. Life is never straight forward, there are so many ups and downs. Expect them and welcome them.

5. Go forward on your own path. Accept who you are instead of wishing you were like someone else. Everyone is given their own journey on this lifetime. Instead of looking at other people’s paths and journeys, keep to your own. When you spend time wishing you were like others or thinking you should be more like them, you stop growing on your own path.

6. Don’t be snarky. Just as you are following your own path, allow other’s the freedom to follow their own too. Let go of judgment of others, it will just keep you down and stuck.

 

For some guided visualization on raising self esteem and letting go of jealousy, check out this download and this download. 

How to Stick to New Year’s Resolutions

In a session today, a client said to me, “Every year I make all these great New Years resolutions, and every year I fail at them. What am I doing wrong? Everyone else knows how to stick to their new years resolutions, why can’t I? I feel like a loser.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does this feel familiar? Does anyone else deal with this?

First off, everyone else definitely does not know how to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. In fact, according to Wikipedia, “52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals.”

I think that many people don’t really know how to make attainable or realistic New Year’s resolutions. What I see often are people creating very rigid black and white New Year’s resolutions that are set ups to failure.

New Year’s resolutions are great! They are a way to reflect on the past year, think about what worked and what you want to bring of into your life and a way to think about what didn’t work so well and what you want to let go of in your life.

People often make resolutions that sound something like this:

  • Lose 10 pounds.
  • Be more confident
  • Stop eating sugar
  • Quit drinking alcohol
  • Make more money
  • Go to therapy every week and never miss a session ;)
  • Get a boyfriend/girlfriend
  • Quit smoking
  • Stop wasting time on the internet
  • Quit drinking diet coke
  • Go to the gym every day
  • Save more money

But come January 4th, when you’re back at work and stressed out and that guy walking down the street puffing on a Camel light passes you, and you compulsively bum a cigarette off him, well then you’re screwed. 2011 is ruined. You now have to wait another year to quit smoking. Okay, that’s extreme, but often that’s how black and white it can be with resolutions. A better way to make resolutions is to try and create more of a life that you want by integrating more of the kinds of behaviors that you have seen worked for you in the past.

For example:

  • I will work on decreasing my binge eating by calling supportive people when I know that I’m heading into a challenging situation and by eating three meals a day and by getting enough protein.
  • I will join Quitnet to get some support in helping me quit smoking.
  • I will try to be kinder to myself. When I notice that I’m being mean to myself, I will take a breath and promptly stop.
  • I will decrease the amount of processed sugar that I eat by integrating more fruit into my diet and letting go of processed sugary snacks.
  • Rather than drinking 6 diet cokes a day, I will drink water, kombucha, green tea, and allow myself to have 1 diet coke each day if I choose.
  • I will set a timer to allow myself 20 minutes twice a to waste time on the internet.
  • I will let people know that I am interested in being introduced to a potential partner or start dating online.
  • I will decrease the amount of alcohol that I am drinking. If I find that I cannot do that, or if it is a major problem for me,  I will consider my treatment options.
  • I will prioritize my therapy appointments, though I understand that things come up at times that are beyond my control.
  • I will look for jobs or think about ways to increase my earning potential by talking to people who have skills that I admire or by going back to school or being open to suggestions from other people.
  • I will find an activity partner to go hiking with or I will join a run club/tri-club.
  • I will bring lunch from home twice a week and take the money I save and put it in a savings account.

Resolutions should be flexible and malleable. Not rigid and fixed. They should have wiggle room and the ability to grow and evolve. Integrating small changes can have a snowball effect.

Rather than expecting to be one person acting one way on December 31s and an entirely different person on January 1st, think about yourself as a small snowball. As rolls down a snowy hill,  it picks up more snow, gaining speed, power, strength, mass, surface area and momentum. Eventually it becomes a gigantic ball of snow.  You can create a snowball effect by implementing small, doable changes that become very large grandiose changes.  Start small, implement more changes, get some momentum and let it take on a life of its own.

What kinds of things worked for you in 2010? What didn’t work for you? What do you want to bring in more of? What do you want to bring in less of?

Telling people about your resolutions and talking about the changes you are making can be helpful in growing them. Joining with people who have similar goals and resolutions can also be helpful.

What kinds of resolutions do you have and how do you plan on implementing them?

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating disorders? 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.

Friday Q & A- My mom doesn’t believe that I have an eating disorder

Question:

Hi I am Sam. I have been suffering through a binging disorder for over 5 years now. I made a lot of progress over the years; I could go without binging for over a week, or sometimes when I would binge I could catch myself in the middle and be able to stop. But since the last two weeks I have been binging every single day, feeling uncontrollably helpless! My weight is just piling on and on. What do I do? They say journal writing helps, but it hasn’t been working for me. I feel so awful right now. Please tell me what to do? The more I think I’m a binge-eater, the more I binge. Also, last month I confessed to my mom about this issue. We live in Pakistan and eating disorders is something hardly anyone is aware of. So when I’m like I have this disorder and I’ve researched a lot on it, she’s like don’t be ridiculous..it happens to those who weigh like 400 pounds. And she’s like don’t read about it anymore on the internet and also that ‘you can control it yourself too if you try! I mean does she think I haven’t TRIED? This is purely ridiculously irritating! She did agree to take me to a psychologist, but only God knows when! She is very lazy and cool at things; which by the way pisses me off a lot.
I need help! I’m stuck in this cage with no one to open it! What do I do?

Answer:

Hi Sam, I’m sorry that you’re not getting the support that you need from your Mom nor your community. If she is not supporting you in getting the appropriate help, you might have to take it on yourself to get support. I would definitely recommend joining an online support group to help you discuss what’s going on for you with others who are dealing with the same thing.  Try to have an honest discussion with your mother. Tell her that you have something serious going on and that it’s very painful for you when she dismisses your feelings. Explain to her that you have a very serious problem and you need her help, not her denial.

As for your eating, journaling is a great start. You say it’s not working for you, but I would encourage you to keep at it. Healing from binge eating is a process and it takes practice. When you are feeling like you are ready to binge eat, grab your journal and just write, draw a picture, anything. Tell yourself that you can go eat after 20 minutes of writing. After 20 minutes, you might find that the urge has diminished.

You might try mechanical eating to start with. That is, making sure that you are eating 3-5 meals per day by the clock. For instance, you know that every morning you eat your breakfast at 7:30am, a snack at 10:00, lunch at 12:30, a snack at 4pm, then dinner at 8pm.  This will ensure that you don’t get too hungry and binge out of hunger and desperation.

Do lots of diaphragmatic breathing. For instance, each hour, on the hour, take 60 seconds to breath into your belly. In less than a minute you should be feeling relaxed, when you feel that you are about to go toward a binge food, stop for 60 seconds and breathe.  This mindfulness integration will give you a bit more time to make the choice as to whether or not you want to binge rather than the binge choosing you.

Try adding a little extra protein at each meal. This can help your digestion slow down and help keep your blood sugar stable and your belly fuller longer to keep your urges/cravings a little bit more controlled.

The following  websites have online support groups:

http://www.pale-reflections.com/register.asp

http://www.recoveryourlife.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=31

http://www.dailystrength.org/c/Eating-Disorders/support-group

http://binge-eating.supportgroups.com/#

By discussing what you are going through with other people, you won’t feel alone, and you will learn different recovery techniques. You can also use the forums as a place to turn when you’re wanting to binge, it can be your support and your distraction as well.

Eating Disorder Therapy

What exactly happens when you go to therapy to heal from an eating disorder? What is therapy anyway?

This is the first of a series about different levels of treatment.

Unfortunately, most people who suffer from eating disorders don’t get treatment, either because they don’t have the money, the time or they feel that they should be able to heal from eating disorders all on their own, or that their particular issue isn’t severe enough to warrant treatment. What is important to remember is that it’s always okay to get help. Your eating disorder thrives in isolation and reaching out and getting help is what will heal it. Trying to work through it alone often perpetuates the issue. It doesn’t have to get to the point of totally unmanageable before you ask for support. You don’t have to hit bottom. You don’t have to be vomiting all day long, or starving yourself down to nothing or eating constantly all day to get help. It’s really common for someone to come in and feel embarrassed that they’re asking for help because they feel that they’re “not sick enough” or even “not skinny enough” to qualify for an eating disorder. If food feels hard for you, if you find that you’re simply overthinking eating, if you’re uncomfortable in your body, or you just want someone to talk to in order to suss out your situation  and figure out if you even need help and what kind of help you need, it’s okay to call someone. Going to therapy or to treatment doesn’t mean you’re crazy or that you “need help.” Therapy is a place for you to take care of yourself. It gives you time and space to think about your needs and to act on them. It’s a way to take care of yourself.

 

You can choose to see a Psychologist (Psydoc), a Licensed Social Worker, (LCSW), a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist, (MFT) or a Licensed Mental Health Professional (LPC) or a Psychiatrist (MD).  Psychiatrists are the only ones who can prescribe medication, but many psychiatrists don’t do counseling. If you need meds, your therapist will usually consult with your psychiatrist, so that you are getting med management one place and therapy elsewhere.

Before a therapist becomes licensed, she or he must see patients a certain amount of hours (usually 3000) and then take some exams in order to be licensed in their state. This process can take anywhere from 3-6 years after finishing from graduate schools. Before getting licensed, these interns are supervised by licensed professionals while seeing clients. If you would like to see an intern, they usually charge much less than those who are licensed.

When you go in for eating disorder treatment with a therapist, they will often want to treat you along with a nutritionist and sometimes a psychiatrist.

So what happens in therapy? That’s difficult to say. First off, a therapist will not fix you. Therapy isn’t a magic cure, but it’s an open space that gives you the opportunity to think about your situation and strategize ways to improve it. There are a million different ways that therapists work to heal eating disorders. My own personal brand of therapy is eclectic integrative, which means I draw from many different modalities of psychotherapy to create  my own brand. I most often utilize a mixture of psychodynamic therapy  - which is more of the classic Freudian approach- where we discuss your family dynamics and past events in your life and how they have contributed to your current ways of existing in the world. This is incredibly helpful because it makes the unconscious conscious. It allows you to understand why you are behaving in ways that you’re behaving rather than purely reacting as you always have. It gives you some perspective and the ability to step outside of yourself so that you can make better choices about your behaviors. This goes well with cognitive behavioral therapy- which then takes your unconscious that you have now made conscious and enables you to make a choice by giving you options of different ways to think about your situation and react toward your situation. I also utilize somatic therapy and mindfulness which both make you more aware of the feelings that you are holding in your body so that you can work with the actual feelings that you are having rather than hiding from them by acting out with food. I also utilize hypnotherapy which is another way of increasing mindfulness and making you aware of your behaviors and the choices you have.

When you start with a therapist you will begin by education your therapist about your specific eating issues, how long you’ve been suffering, what your behaviors are and the severity of them. They might take your weight and find out how many times a day, week, or month you’re bingeing or bingeing and purging. Understanding the severity of your eating disorder is key to understanding what kind of treatment you will need. You might need weekly therapy sessions as well as sessions with a nutritionist and/or group therapy and a psychiatrist, or weekly sessions might be enough. It’s also possible that  you might need a higher level of care, such as an IOP, a PHP, residential treatment or hospitalization. But your therapist can help you to assess that. Sometimes, if you don’t seem to be on track with your healing, you might need a higher level of care as therapy goes on.  With eating disorder treatment, the first course of action is working to reduce the behaviors, as those decrease, you then begin to work on the feelings or the issues that trigger the behaviors. Often, as the symptoms decrease, challenging feelings increase.  I personally believe that it’s very helpful to stay in therapy after the symptoms (eating disorder behaviors) end in order to work deeply on the underlaying issues. This helps to prevent relapse and also helps you to continue moving forward in your life and achieve the things that you couldn’t before because your eating disorder was taking over.

To find a therapist who treats eating disorders, you can look on ED referral, Something Fishy, or  NEDA.

You can also search on Good Therapy or Psychology Today. Look for someone who specializes in treating eating disorders.

It is possible to find low-fee therapy. You might want to call a University near you that probably has students and interns in counseling centers. You might call a local hospital or mental health agency. If that fails, call a local therapist who probably knows where to refer you go.

Next up: IOP (intensive outpatient treatment)