recovery

Q & A Friday- Is Paleo the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Is Paleo The Best Diet For Weight Loss?

Is Paleo The Best Diet For Weight Loss?

 

Is Paleo the Best Diet for Weight Loss?

Dear Leora, 
I’ve been in therapy for the past two months and my therapist sent me to a nutritionist to deal with my binge eating disorder. The nutritionist told me that the Paleo way of eating is the best diet for weight loss, for beating cravings and for having overall health.  I’m curious what you think about that. Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss? I’m torn. – Alicia in New York

Hi Alicia, 

If you’ve been following me for a while, you will know that I take a non-diet approach to healing from binge eating disorder. I do have a lot of thoughts about your nutritionist’s advice because I think it was both well-meaning and there is some wisdom in the approach, but I want to dissect it a little bit so that you can get the most out of your healing journey.  

The Paleo doctrine (yes, I call it a doctrine because some people treat Paleo like Tom Cruise treats Scientology) says that you should eat like a caveman. But let’s think about that. How did cavemen (and women) eat?  Well, they went out, they looked for food, and let’s say they came upon a lion carcass- they ate and ate and ate until they couldn’t eat anymore. Basically they binged. They went days without eating and then when they found food they ate as much as they possibly could since they likely wouldn’t have food later.  Now let’s think about that for a moment. Our bodies were biologically predisposed to binge eat because there would be times when we had no access to food at all.  Cavemen had no 1500 calorie per day diets. Your body was designed to eat more some days and less on others. Fortunately, in this day and age, most of us have unlimited access to food– so going days without eating is not a problem. However, because of our biological makeup, we still have the instinct to binge when we come upon food if we’ve not been eating. So that means if you are on a restrictive eating plan (no cheese or bread for instance- like Paleo) and you come upon cheese and bread, your caveman instincts will likely come in, club your willpower over the head and binge on bread and cheese. Will it happen every time? No, certainly not. However you will always find yourself in a fight. Your inner caveman and your willpower will be at odds with each other. Some days one will win, other days the other one will win. It’s not fun to have a constant internal struggle. You’re always fighting with yourself and you’re never finding peace. You will then look at other people who you believe have been “perfect” in their Paleo-ness and wonder to yourself, “why is it that everyone else can stick to Paleo and I can’t?” and you will beat yourself up for not being good enough. I have a secret to tell you. Nobody is perfect in their Paleoness. Or in their any dietness. As a therapist specializing in treating eating disorders, I can tell you this for sure. I have had rockstar yoga teachers come into my office (in San Francisco there are lots of rockstar yoga teachers) and tell me that on the outside they drink green smoothies and eat kale salads and seeds and do yoga all day every day, that they have a huge following, but at night.. they sit home and can’t stop bingeing and purging. I’ve had doctors, naturopaths,  nutritionists… all the same story, “I show everyone how to eat perfectly and I can’t do it myself. I’m a fraud and a failure…”   And they beat themselves up and feel horrible about themselves. And yet, it’s difficult for them to give up their identities, and the one thing that’s had them stuck in their eating disorder for so long, which is the belief that they should stick to one perfect eating plan. 

So, ideally, Paleo type diets seem great, but in practice, most people are not able to stick to them in the way they believe that they should be.  

So what is good about Paleo? Paleo takes a whole foods approach and recommends that you eat food in their purest form. So instead of apple sauce from a jar made with preservatives, eat an apple. Instead of eating high protein, high fiber cereal with milk for breakfast, eat some eggs and fruit. These are great ideas. However people tend to take ideas to the extreme. People like to interpret things to the most literal minutia and then beat themselves up when they cannot stick to it.  For instance, the bible. There are people who reject it completely and people who follow it to the letter. But what if everyone just took the parts of it that made the most sense to them, like “be kind, do unto others, don’t hurt people…” well then we wouldn’t have wars.  Dogma creates war. And when it comes to diets and eating,  it creates wars within you. You believe that you should eat one way and then you attack yourself when you don’t. 

What if you could take the parts of Paleo that did make sense to you and not call it Paleo? There are things that I do like about Paleo. I like that it encourages whole foods and lots of good fats from animal and vegetable sources. I don’t like that it restricts dairy, grains and legumes. I don’t like that if you happen to eat a piece of cheese that you believe you’ve messed up your whole diet and then you figure “whatever, I don’t care…” and you spend the day bingeing or beating yourself up for being a failure.  What if you could eat more whole foods more of the time?  I have also found some kick-ass recipes though Paleo cookbooks. They tend to have hearty, nutritious meal ideas.  

The other diet that we hear about being great for health all the time is the Mediterranean diet. Well that diet has you eating mostly beans and grains and not very much meat at all! The opposite of Paleo.  So really, what’s right?

The best thing to do is find what works for your body. If you find that your skin breaks out in eczema when you eat dairy, then maybe you should avoid dairy. But that doesn’t mean that everyone should avoid dairy. Do you hear what I’m saying? There is no “plan” that is right for you that your body hasn’t told you about. You need to listen to your body and let your body inform what is right. A good nutritionist should be helping you to listen to what your body needs and encouraging you to follow those cues. 

I believe that your nutritionist was very well meaning. But I also think that she likely doesn’t have a lot of experience treating eating disorders. If you ever go to a nutritionist who tries to have you restrict foods (even if you’re not allergic to them) then it’s best to find a nutritionist who specializes in treating eating disorders. I really like the nutritionists over at Be Nourished. They wrote a great article on the paleo diet last month.  I also really like Summer Innanen’s article on What Going Paleo Did to My Body. 

That was probably a very long answer to a short question. But in a word, no, to answer your question, “Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss,” I’m going to have to say that I don’t believe that Paleo is good way to lose weight or to decrease cravings. Yes, you might find that it is effective in the short term (one-three weeks) but in the long term, I know that a strict Paleo “religion” type diet is actually a good way to gain weight and increase cravings.   There is a way to include lots of yummy Paleo recipes and great Paleo ideals without “going Paleo,” and killing yourself to follow the diet to the letter. You can eat more whole foods more of the time, not be afraid of fat and complex carbs and learn some really amazing recipes. But to follow the doctrine as though it’s religion is absolutely not a good idea.  

Check out Dr. Janet Tomayama from UCLA who talks about diets and weight loss. 

I really hope that this helped to answer your question: Is Paleo the best diet for weight loss? Please don’t hesitate to write back and let me know what you think. 

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, or if you don’t want to meet individually and would prefer to follow a self-guided recover plan, check out Recover From Binge Eating. 

How To Be Confident

How To Be Confident: Even if You’re Scared Out of Your Mind

how to be confident

How to Be Confident

 

Have you ever felt like there was something that you wanted to do, but couldn’t do, that you shouldn’t do until you lost weight, until you became more confident? You couldn’t take swimming lessons until you like the way you look in a bathing suit, you couldn’t apply for a job until you lost 25 pounds, you couldn’t write a book until you took more write classes,  you couldn’t sell your handmade jewelry  on Etsy until you had a giant collection, you couldn’t invite people over for dinner or a party until your house was spotless… so many things that had to wait…

If only you had the… the confidence. Have you been trying to learn how to be confident? As though gaining the ever elusive self esteem was something that eventually came over you if you repeated enough mantras and enough affirmations…

The only problem was that you were waiting for it to come, and while you were trying to figure out how to be confident life kept moving forward…

 

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting.” –Millard Fuller

 

We try so hard to learn how to be confident that we can do the things that we want to do. But honestly, confidence is overrated. Some people will tell you that doing 100 push-ups in a row is how to be confident. But the truth is, you don’t need confidence, you need courage. Courage comes first and confidence eventually follows. Confidence comes from being so terrified that you are frozen but still trying something and failing again and again and again and again until you finally succeed. Confidence is not inherent, but fear is. We are all afraid, we are all terrified. But if you can feel the fear and not let it stop you, that’s how you  gain confidence. Fear is crippling, terrifying, and paralyzing. But when we know that  it’s going to feel that way no matter what and we understand that everyone has fear, then we can just allow it to come with us wherever we need to go. 

When I first started my private practice, I decided that I wanted to have a bulimia/ binge eating therapy group. I advertised all over. I put flyers all over San Francisco, I put ads all over Craigslist (it was a long time ago 🙂 ),  I couldn’t wait to have a giant group where I could really help people heal from BED and Bulimia.  Eventually, two people signed up for my group. Two. I was devastated. My first inclination was to cancel the group. But I decided to just do it, to just push myself. I was a young therapist, and the groups that I had done up until then were at Eating Disorder facilities and I had been leading with a co-therapist. This was to be my first group alone and I believed somewhere that nobody had any faith in my abilities. Nobody had ever heard of me and maybe I was just a fraud.  Each Wednesday, I felt a pit in my stomach before group. And I’d pray that my two clients didn’t show up. I literally had to drag myself to my office to see them. This went on for months. But as I continued to go, leading the group became easier, more enjoyable and more intuitive. Eventually the group grew until I couldn’t let any more people in and I wound up having a wait list.

My fear didn’t go away in order for me to gain confidence, my fear stayed. But eventually, after doing this group week after week and seeing that people were finding peace and healing I just allowed it to be there. I let it be there and eventually I began to feel confident in my abilities.

If you let your fear tell you what to do, you won’t get to the place that you want to be in life. Do things before you’re confident, do things when you’re scared and terrified and you have so much anxiety that you think you might pass out. Do that again and again and eventually the confidence follows.

When I was writing my book, each day I had to drag myself to my computer to write. Again, I kept asking myself, “who am I to write a book?”

One day I stopped writing and started my application process to UC Berkeley’s PhD in Neuroscience. I was talking to my husband later and he asked me how my day was, how my clients were, how the book was going.

“Oh,” I told him, “I’m applying to get my PhD in Neuroscience”

“Um, why?” he asked me?

“Oh well, I thought I would know more after I got my PhD so then I could write the book.”

My husband looked at me and said, “write the fucking book.”

“But I need to learn more!” I told him.

“You’re a licensed psychotherapist who’s been treating binge eating disorder for more than ten years, you know a s**tload…” he told me, “sit down and write the book. You’re not writing the book for a bunch of scholars, you’re writing the book for a group of people who need help, and I don’t think they want to wait another seven years while you get your next PhD. Go write your book, people need to hear what you have to say… you can go get your PhD in neuroscience if you want, but don’t wait to write your book, just do it now. You have what you need inside of you.”

So I took all my fear and I wrote my over 300 page book. I guess I did have a lot to say!

But I was so nervous that I didn’t tell anyone that I wrote a book! Not my friends, not my Dad, not my family…

And then one day, after my book was released in 2014, I finally put a small note on my personal Facebook group. “Hey guys, guess what, I wrote a book! It was released today.”

And then I closed my computer because I was so nervous for putting myself out there…  I didn’t look at my Facebook page for many days because I was having a vulnerability meltdown. 

A few days later, I finally looked at Facebook and saw that so many of my friends had made these really positive comments, they shared my posting and they were all happy for me. I realized that this was just something that I had to practice, I had to push myself to get out there. As an inherently painfully shy person, putting myself out there is not something that comes easily, but the more I practice, the less difficult it becomes.  

Success isn’t about never having fear, success is about being able to feel the fear and do it anyway. 

So how do you gain confidence?  You don’t wait, you walk into that vulnerable state, you put that bathing suit on no matter what you think your body looks like, you go to that job interview despite the fact that you don’t have that level of experience, you call that guy/girl even though you don’t think that you are “perfect enough,” for them… because life is too short to wait for confidence to come to you.

And the truth is, you might never be confident, but don’t let that stop you from having the life that you want and that you deserve. 

 

Q & A Friday- I binge eat and sneak eat to rebel

Q & A Friday- My Inner Rebel Doesn't Want to Stop Binge Eating

Question: 

Dear Leora,
I’m starting to identify that I use binging to rebel. I get a high from being sneaky and saying a big F-you to my mom, my husband, anyone who ever commented on my weight, etc. I’m doing what I want when I want with no one’s rules when I binge. I’m sure it comes back to my mom “catching” me eating her Snackwells cookies or crackers or ? … then my finding every opportunity to sneak food that she wouldn’t know about. My adult mind knows it’s ridiculous. I’m not “getting one over” on anyone by sneak binging now. But are there substitutes to get that feeling of doing something only I can do and decide? Most times I have the house to myself, I secretly “plan” a binge.
I also find that I’m struggling with the sneaking thing and find its just habit that I sneak good when I’m alone…even if I don’t crave it, it’s what I’ve always done. 
What’s up with that? Any insight would be appreciated! 
My Answer: 
This is such a good question and one that I think about A LOT.  You are NOT alone. I hear this a lot.  Many of my clients deeply feel that rebellious kick inside them  when they begin to heal. They become angry at at me for not corroborating with their eating disorder mind, but for supporting their healthy mind.
Logically makes no sense, right? They are paying me and coming in to my office weekly for therapy, yet they are angry at me. But why? Why would someone want so badly to stop bingeing and then be angry at me when I work to help them stop?  
There are a few different things going on here.
The first is that ED, the voice of the eating disorder begins to get really loud when your wise self comes in for help.  ED mind and Wise mind start to fight. That rebel is part of ED. It doesn’t want to go away and it will fight. 
The other part of this is that the behaviors are not logical because they are not coming from your intact adult self. They are coming from a very young place. Although realistically you know that it doesn’t make sense, your inner child believes that  someone is trying to take your best friend away. Something that has brought you joy and comfort for so long. Bingeing is your security blanket, it’s your favorite and  best coping mechanism.  So of course you are going to fight against that. It make sense.  Our coping mechanisms do something for us that is very important, they soothe us.  So when you believe somewhere that someone is stealing your coping mechanism, you get angry and try to go behind their back to get what you are being denied.  I think it’s likely very old, but also new in a sense. Is there anything that you’re being denied right now that you feel like you have to steal or sneak to get? (sleep? money? time to do things? affection? sex? etc…)  When you can’t get what you need, food is the easiest way to soothe. 
Sneak eating also is a lot about both habit and shame. It’s a habit that you’ve formed, where you know that the moment you are alone, you are supposed to get in what you can. So just being alone can be a trigger. Even if you are alone for moments, like bringing a pan of leftover food from the dining room table into the kitchen. With typical sneak eating, that 5 seconds alone in the kitchen can be you bingeing on leftovers that you weren’t even hungry for because the habit of eating when you are alone is so ingrained. That comes from being told that you were wrong or bad to eat. It makes you feel shame and then the shame builds on itself. So you feel ashamed for eating, your habit of sneak eating kicks in and then you feel ashamed of yourself for sneaking and then you eat more to deal with the shame. 
 
So how to help with that.
There is only one antidote for shame and that is acceptance. 
 
Bring in your adult intact self to talk to your rebel in the kindest and most loving way and remind her that she is safe and she has choice and she can do whatever she wants, but what does she really think would be the best choice for her? And when you come from a kind and loving place, your rebel little girl and even ED (who is ultimately their to protect you) will both realize that you no longer need them, that you have an adult caring self who will protect you and keep you safe. Make sense?  
The other part of this is to tell people around you that you trust that you have been sneak eating, that it’s an old habit, that it has nothing to do with them, but that because of that, you are choosing to air out this secret so it can no longer mess with you. Once the secret is out, you can ask for support. Like not being alone in the kitchen at night. Or whenever you find that you are being triggered to binge eat. Don’t be afraid to ask for support as much as you need. 

I hope that this response was helpful for you. 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. 

I know I shouldn’t want to lose weight, but I still do…

I consider myself a feminist but I still want to lose weight. Is there something wrong with me-

In Binge Eating Disorder recovery, one of the most common topics that comes up is weight loss.  People learn to take the focus off of weight loss and put the emphasis on health and healing and self-love, but that feels both wrong and uncomfortable. After all, the pursuit of weight loss is something that they have been doing most of their lives.  When I ask people to try to refocus their direction away from the scale, they often tend to get anxious or unhappy. That’s totally normal and I expect it. 

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know that I have a weight neutral approach to healing. Weight neutral is idea that health isn’t tied up with your weight. The common dialectic states that when one loses weight, their health will improve. The weight neutral approach states that when the weight is focused on, it takes attention and focus away from actual real health concerns and that people die from diseases that were ignored because they were told, “lose some weight and this will resolve…”  The other part of the weight neutral movement recognizes that when people primarily focus on their weight for health reasons, it only makes things worse by causing binge eating and rejecting other parts of life and certain foods that would increase  healthfulness. In fact, in a study done last June, it was shown that a weight neutral approach to healing actually increased health (by measurable standards such as lowering cholesterol), reduced stress and  increased life satisfaction more than simple weight loss programs.  We know that focusing on weight and weight loss increases frustration, increases binge eating, and ultimately increases weight, yet so many of us still just want to lose weight… 

Oprah lost 67 pounds after completing a liquid diet. Two days after this show was aired and she stopped the liquid diet, she admitted that she could no longer fit into those jeans.

Oprah lost 67 pounds after completing a liquid diet. Two days after this show was aired and she stopped the liquid diet, she admitted that she could no longer fit into those jeans.

So let’s discuss that. If  Oprah Winfrey, one of the most powerful women in the world, a billionaire, if she still hasn’t been able to let go of this notion, than you can know that you are in good company. But Oprah. Oh how I love Oprah and I love how human she is and I love how she’s publicly been sharing her struggle for all these years. I can use her struggle to illustrate why and how weight focus is so damaging.

1985

Oprah, (despite the fact that she has more resources than 99% of us) still has not let go of her desire to lose weight. She is not immune to it. And this doesn’t make her a bad person.  However, it does make her someone who has been fighting the same frustrating fight for at least the 30-40 years that we know of. And it’s likely been longer than that. Wanting to lose weight doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t make you superficial and it doesn’t make you unlikely to recover from your eating disorder. But the desire to lose weight, just like the desire to binge is a desire that would perhaps be better left to sit with than to follow down the rabbit hole to satisfy. Because like the desire to binge, when you follow and take action on the desire to lose weight, you will more often that not, wind up feeling uncomfortable in your body. Why? Because the pursuit of weight loss can make one feel very unstable and is almost never long-lasting.  It sets us up for failure. This is illustrated to the left by one of the most powerful women in the world. 

So let’s talk about acceptance. I don’t just mean body acceptance and body love, but accepting yourself as a whole. Accepting that you have these feelings, thoughts and desires that are directly opposed to everything you might have learned or believe in.

Maybe you think that the pursuit of weight loss is a waste of time and maybe you believe that it will get in the way of your recovery. Maybe you see how damaging it is. And maybe you still want to lose weight. That is okay, because you are human. And you have to balance and accept these very real human desires and feelings inside of you. 

I know you still want to lose weight. I know it. And I accept that and I accept you. You are human and all your feelings are important and valid. And, just because  you want to lose weight, that doesn’t mean that the pursuit of weight loss is necessarily a positive thing for you. 

So what can you do? You can be your own most powerful ally. You can do your best to fully accept that despite the fact that you have the knowledge and the understanding that dieting is not good for you that you still want to lose weight. You can know that part of self-acceptance is accepting the confluence of emotions and desires that are diametrically opposed to your beliefs and morals.  You can know that your desire to treat your body with love and respect and to feed it, nurture it and treat it with the utmost of kindness is in direct conflict of the messages that we get from the media and the medical community- messages that skinny is best, that if you had more discipline that you could be skinny, that you have to lose weight to be healthy. As we have seen, all those messages are not just wrong, but damaging.

So here’s the deal– I want to help you be accepting of yourself, of all your thoughts, and of your body. I want you to treat your body with love and respect. I want you to feed yourself when you are hungry and not restrict or reject foods unless you don’t like them or are allergic to them or sensitive to them. I want you to listen to your body. I want you to go toward health and wellness. When you do, your weight will likely land where it’s supposed to. As I’ve said before, that might be thin, that might not be thin, but it will be healthy. When you treat yourself with kindness, your body will come to it’s natural shape and weight. And even if  you still want to lose weight, it’s okay. Wants and desires are okay and normal. But when you redirect those desires, when you think about how you want to live your life and don’t let the pursuit of weight loss get in the way of that, when you do the things that you want to do in life and give yourself what you really and truly need this is where your healing comes from.  

Q & A Friday- How should I cook and shop to prevent binge eating?

friday-q-a-how-do-i-feed-my-family-healthfully-when-im-in-eating-disorder-recoveryThis question comes to us from Anna in Denver.

Question: 

Hi Leora,

I was wondering if you could recommend any good cookbooks you use to cook, or websites? Also, does your family and kids eat the same recipes? I would really love to start cooking just Whole Foods, maybe utilizing the Mediterranean diet mentality. I really want to stop tracking my food, but haven’t been able to yet. My hope is that I just fill my diet up with fruits, veggies, healthy fats and protein and I will no longer feel the need to track my food. Any advice? Also, I have thought about going to see a nutritionist for BED, but I’m worried she will just give me a structured meal plan. I have been struggling the last couple of days with overeating, and I just want extra help. What are your thoughts?

My Answer: 

Hi Anna, 

What a great question. 
As far as recipe sites go,  I do really like Whole Foods Markets recipes. http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe-collections and these recipes from the World’s Healthiest Foods are easy. http://www.whfoods.com/recipestoc.php – however, I rarely use them.  I will admit to you that I am a “lazy” cook. I don’t do a whole lot of recipes or follow cookbooks or recipes. I just don’t have time so I keep it very simple.  For me, easy is the only way to go. I know from the past that if I make eating and cooking too elaborate or try to do it perfectly, I will fail.  I once heard someone say that it’s better to succeed 100% of the time by doing something good than to fail 90% of the time by trying to do things perfectly. I think that’s a good rule of thumb. Make it simple and life will be easier. 
So to answer your question,  my kids eat the same way as we do. Usually breakfast is some eggs and some berries and fruit or (full fat) yogurt with museli, nuts and fruit or oatmeal with raisins, nuts and cinnamon. 
I also cook a lot of yams and winter squashes. I really do nothing to them other than put them in the oven for an hour and then mush them up. Sometimes I’ll add some olive oil and salt, but usually they are delicious and soft as they are. The kids love that too. They go through yams like crazy. 
I keep lots and lots of fruit in my house, mostly berries, pears and apples. The children will eat up to 10 apples a day. Seriously. Their dentist said that apples actually have the benefit of brushing their teeth, so not to worry. 
I will throw chicken tenders in a pan (I get them from Trader Joes’  http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article/2251) and stir them up with some cut up vegetable and beans (garbanzo) throw some salt, olive oil and curry powder in… and bake up a potato with butter or sometimes add cheese or sour cream if I want it. The kids will eat all of that too. They also love rice, so I’ll usually cook up some rice with garbanzo beans, salt and olive oil. 
Once a week we usually eat salmon and that is very simple, I just put it in the oven with butter and salt at 350 for 20 minutes and then sometimes cut up an avocado on top and some salsa and side is a potato or yam and spinach or broccoli. 
The kids sometimes like to snack on crackers with cream cheese (I give them Mary’s crackers), rice cakes, seaweed, string cheese, and lots of apples and carrots and Lara bars. 
 I have to make cooking easy and non-tedious because otherwise it will be a chore and I’ll wind up ordering take-out. I buy most of my vegetables pre-cut, I buy lettuce in bags and meat already cut so I can just throw everything on a pan or in the skillet.  
 But if we are out, the kids will definitely have hamburgers with french fries or pizza or a quesadilla or taco or cake at a birthday party and so will I!  
As they say in A.A. — KISS (keep it simple, sweetheart) and recovery will be smoother. Release perfection and let yourself be simple. 

When Your Critic Won’t Stop Attacking You

what-to-do-when-your-inner-critic-wont-stop-attacking-you-1

You’re so fat! Look at the size of your thighs, your butt is huge… what is wrong with you? Why do you have to be so…so…  so what? 

There’s that voice that sits inside your head and tells you that there is something wrong with you. The inner critic. The part of you that tells you that in order to be liked by people, you have to be thinner, smarter, faster, stronger, and if you’re not, you’re worthless.  Do you know how many people deal with that voice? Many. Probably at least half (or more) of the people you talk to daily. 

The problem with the inner critic is that she won’t be silenced by obeying her, it just makes her stronger.  When the you inside of you punishes you for being you… you’re in trouble ALL THE TIME. 

So what to do when you live with a punisher inside your head? 

Dismantle the critic. 

Step One: Analyze the statement with writing. Write down the day, time, and the event that was happening right before your inner critic began yelling at you. 

Step Two: When you hear the critic saying something to you, try to think about what her purpose is. What reason does she have to tell you she’s telling you? What is underneath the statement? 

Example: It’s Thursday afternoon at 1pm, you are on your lunch break and are scrolling through Facebook and you see that one of your best friends from college just got engaged. You get a pit in your stomach and you start hearing yourself saying “you need to lose weight, you have to go on a diet, there’s something wrong with you…” you instantly throw your burrito in the garbage can and berate yourself for not getting a salad instead. What happened there? Maybe you saw that your friend was getting engaged and it reminded you that you’re not currently in a relationship and that you want to me. Maybe you felt scared that you’d never be in a relationship. Maybe your fear of being alone for the rest of your life made you decide to take it out on your body, that the only way you could remedy dying alone was by beating yourself up. Beating yourself up isn’t going to solve the fears that you have. Telling yourself that there is something wrong with you and that you need to diet isn’t going to make you not scared. It’s just going to add an abuser into the life of an already scared person. What do you really need? 

Step Three: Replace your abuser with a kinder, gentler voice. Now that you know why you were so upset and abusing yourself, find the loving Mom inside of you, the one who holds you and wipes your tears and tells you that you matter, tells you that you are perfect, whole and complete just the way you are. Because you do matter and you are perfect, whole and complete just the way you are. 

Step Four: Disengage from the abusive voice. Just because you hear it, doesn’t mean you have to listen to it. Think of it as an irritating noise in the background that you tune out, like construction outside your office, or a siren zooming by. You can hear it, but you don’t have to chase it. You can choose to ignore it.

Step Five:  If the voice persists, tell yourself, “this is unhelpful and unneeded.” You might even picture a giant stop sign in your mind. Just tell the voice to stop. Tell the voice that there’s no room for it. This is part of cognitive behavioral therapy.  In behavioral therapy, we have urges or desires but we learn not to act on them or to stop them before they take over. In cognitive behavioral therapy, we take the cognitions (or the thoughts) and we choose not to follow them and not to allow them to control us. The principle is that controlling the  behavior of the thought will help to calm the difficult feelings  that follow the thought. When you disengage with painful thoughts, painful feelings decrease. And when the painful feelings decrease, you begin to live your life in authenticity, in the way that you know is valuable for both yourself and the people around you.

You deserve to be treated with respect by yourself and by the people around you. But you can’t control the people around you, so let’s start with you.  (Your next step is to disengage with toxic people.  As long you are choosing not to treat yourself poorly, no one else should be able to make you feel like crap either.)

 

10 New Years Resolutions that Will Actually Change your Life. And not one of them involves losing weight.

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Did you know that each year 62%  of Americans make New Years Resolutions and of those 62% only 8% are able to stick to them? That means that almost 197 million people make resolutions and 140 million of those people give up on those. This makes setting resolutions a pretty big set-up for failure and unhappiness.  

Do you know what the number one most common New Years resolution?

I’m sure you can guess that one easily — lose weight!

Unfortunately though, despite your best intentions for improving your life, New Years resolutions tend to make people miserable as people usually fail at them by the second week in January. 

Let’s not do that same game again. Let’s forget about any resolution that has you thinking in terms of all-or-nothing.  Instead,  I want to you to try to think about increasing happiness and joy and kindness to yourself. Here are ten ways to do that:

1. Resolve to stop supporting a media that devalues women.

How to do it: Stop buying fitness magazines and supporting “health and fitness” sites that tout the same tired articles on how to: lose 10 pounds this month!  Torch 500 calories in one workout!!  Finally! get rid of cellulite for good- the new secret workout that plastic surgeons don’t want you to know about.  There are only so many diets and  workouts available, yet these magazines and websites seem to be able to repackage the same information over and over again for years and decades on end. 

How it will change your life:  You will save money on magazines,  you will save the earth by not contributing to waste and you will create more time and space for yourself to think about other things and to enjoy your life. You will get rid of the clutter in your house. You will stop beating yourself up for not following varying and contradictory advice that those magazine give.  You will find relief of feeling as though you should be something else, you will stop dealing with the stress of seeing digitally enhanced images that portray an unrealistic version of what a woman is supposed to look like.  You’ll  be able to relax and just breathe and just be you…

2. Resolve to stop comparing yourself to other people. 

How to do it: When you find yourself going to the place of,  “my life would be so much better if I made as much money as…”  or “everyone has someone to spend Valentines Day with except for me…”  stop yourself immediately. Think of a big stop sign in your mind and say to yourself, “no. I’m not going there.” Remember that everyone has their own path, their own Dharma. When you look to someone else’s path you stop moving along your own. You become paralyzed and you’re unable to allow your life unfold the way beautifully and the way it’s supposed to.

How it will change your life: You will actually be able to focus on going forward in your life given what you have. You will be able to appreciate and enjoy the things and the people who are in your life rather than feeling disconnected to what you do have. You will find that when you look at and enjoy what you do have rather than what you don’t have you will generally be happier. You will also be able to enhance and make more of the good things in your life because you will be moving forward in joy and able to appreciate those around you rather than stuck in envy.

3. Resolve to stop spending buying money on miracle potions. 

How to do it: Stop looking for the next miracle skin cream or beauty potion that will make you perfect. Stick to one simple skin care regimen that you enjoy and that you can afford. Keep your diet healthy (lots of fresh fruits and vegetables) and get fresh air and exercise.

How it will change your life: It will take away the stress and anxiety about buying something every time you see a commercial or read an article about how different your skin will look and be when you get this one product. It will reduce waste in your life and it will keep you from spending excessive cash on something disposable.

4. Resolve to let go of gossip and criticizing other people

How to do it:  So, this means that even if you happen to be present for a conversation where someone starts talking about someone else, you make the decision not to engage in that conversation and you don’t allow someone to chide you into idle gossip. You choose not to criticize people around you either to their faces or behind their backs. You don’t talk about how someone looks, about their life choices, about their parenting skills, you just let people live their lives and you live yours with kindness and integrity. If people start to talk about others around you, you can just say, “I have this New Years resolution to let go of judgment and criticism of others, so I don’t want to go there.”

How it will change your life:   Letting go of negativity and criticism will feel better in your body. You will feel lighter and more at peace. You will also find that people around you trust you more. They will know that their secrets are safe with you and that they are able to talk to you without fear of judgement or criticism. It will take a big weight off of you and give you more mind space to concentrate on yourself and your own needs. The people around you might just decide to jump on your bandwagon making your circle more pleasant to be around.

5. Resolve to stop engaging in Fat Chat

How to do it: Stop talking about how fat you are. Stop talking about how much weight you need to lose. Stop talking about diets. Stop talking about who has gained or lost weight. Stop commenting on other people’s weight either to their face or behind their back, even if it’s “Wow you lost so much weight…”  Make a choice to not engage with any talk about other people’s bodies or your own.  

How it Will Change your life: You are choosing not to participate in a society that judges women for the way their bodies look and for how much they weigh.  You create a positive example for those around you and you have done something to change the way people judge people by looking at how much they weigh. When you engage in fat chat, you are contributing to the continuing exploitation of women’s bodies, making it okay for the media to perpetuate the myth of the perfect female form.  Change starts with you.

6. Resolve to do the things you love more often

How to do it: Make doing things that you love a priority. Carve out time for them every day. If you love to write, give yourself 1/2 hour a day to write. If you love to knit, or sew, or ride your motorcycle, or take photographs, or garden or play with your cat, or go swimming, or draw, paint or sculpt, or sing, make sure that it is something that you do several times a week. It’s so common that people prioritize cleaning the house and paying the bills and never feel like you never have time to do the things that you love. You have the power to make your life enjoyable. When you go into super-functional mode and stop paying attention to the things that give you pleasure, you feel as though you’re just moving through life crossing things off your “to do” list. Some things should be done not to get them done, but for pure pleasure. Don’t reward yourself by vowing to draw after the dishes are done, make drawing a priority. Put it on your list for sometime during the day, not in the evening after all your chores are done. Do it on your lunch break. Make time for you.

How It Will Change Your Life: It will help you to appreciate and enjoy your life, it will make you an active participant in your life so that you can enjoy the day-by-day, not be bored waiting for the next thing to happen.

7.Resolve to work on letting go of what other people think of you

How to do it:  Remember that nobody’s opinion is any more important or any better than your own. So try to have a high opinion of yourself. Hold yourself with integrity– become the person who you admire. When you are holding yourself with integrity (that means being compassionate, kind, not lying or stealing or hurting anyone, holding the highest intention for good), you will know that nobody else’s opinion of you matters because you are a good person.  Remember that most people don’t have the time or the energy to spend time thinking about you– they are spending most of their time thinking about themselves. If they are wasting their time thinking about you, well then congratulations,  you’ve got lots of power!

How it Will Change Your Life:  You will have the freedom to live your life the way you want without the weight of the fear of criticism of others. You will feel lighter and enjoy life more.

8. Resolve to spend more time with people or animals who have less than you

How to do It: Do volunteer work at the SPCA or your local homeless shelter or soup kitchen. Find something that you’d be interested in doing at [http://www.volunteermatch.org/]

How it Will Change Your Life:  Studies have actually found that people who volunteer have lower mortality rates and less chronic pain and heart disease. This is because of the sense of community and sharing volunteer work creates. It also reduces isolation (key in healing from eating issues) and increases self esteem and life satisfaction. 

9. Resolve to take at least one month to go on a “spending fast.”

How to do it: Take 30 days to go on a spending fast where you buy nothing except for true essentials, such as food and hygienic products; no fancy bottled water, no takeout, no fancy meals, no bottles of wine, no fancy soaps, no new clothes, no new jewelry, nothing– just what you really really need.

How it Will Change Your Life: You will find some relief in not having to worry about what dress to buy but knowing that you have a dress at home. You won’t worry about walking into Target for a bottle of shampoo and coming out having spent $150 on razors and lotion, and you won’t have to deal with a late night pizza binge. You will find relief in not having to think too much about what to buy. A spending fast, even for a month is a huge relief.

10. Learn to Recognize Your Emotional State

How to do it: Use mindfulness to check in with yourself throughout the day. Set a timer on your phone to go off once every few hours. When it goes off, stop and ask yourself, “what am I feeling?” If you don’t know, check this list of feelings . Then practice just sitting with that feeling without doing anything to change it.

How it Will Change Your Life: As you learn to be aware of what you are feeling throughout the day, you won’t surprisingly find yourself engaged in activities that you have previously done to avoid feeling, for instance, you won’t find yourself eating when you are anxious because you will know that you have the capacity to sit with uncomfortable feelings.

What do you think, can you make a few of these changes? You don’t have to be perfect or do them all the time, but I’m betting that if you chose even just one of these, it would make significant positive changes in your life. Try it! Let me know how it goes. 

Get Through December Without Bingeing Day 28

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Here we are – just 4 days before 2017 starts. How has December been going for you so far?

Todays Tip

Don’t “last hurrah,” it. These last few days are rough. There are lots of leftovers, lots of big boxes and tins full of cookies and baked goods, and the temptation to say “Screw it, I’ll just binge until New Years Day and then start my diet on January 1st…” is big. The problem with that is – that you feel terrible on New Years Day. You feel sick to your stomach, you are bloated, you are depressed and your body just feels not right. And then you start the whole cycle over again. You tell yourself that this is your year, that in 2017 you’re finally going to lose the weight. And then you diet for the first week or so of January and then you’re bingeing again. You don’t have to do that again. If everything in December leading up to Christmas was about food – everything in December leading up to New Years is about weight loss and fitness. It’s okay to be fit, but fit has nothing to do with pejorative dieting. It’s about creating balance for yourself. It’s about finding within you the most easy way to live both physically and emotionally, it’s about not eating too much and not eating too little. It’s about not going to sleep hungry and distraught or full and distraught. It’s about finding satisfaction in being even. What about deciding not to go on a diet for New Years and not to last hurrah it in the days leading up to New Years? What about saying at this moment that you are finding your balance. Right this second. You don’t have to wait, you can do it immediately. Balance is as simple as quieting down all the talk around you and quieting down the mind that tells you to binge or diet and asking yourself, “what do I need to be the kind of me that makes me feel peaceful? Not too much, not too little, but okay just being me?” and then trust that. You might hear that you need to relax more, you might hear that you need to take more walks, you might hear that you need to drink more water or eat more fruit or talk to your mother more or dance or read or stretch more… What is it that can help you at this very moment be the you that you really are? What is inside of you that helps you be you? Put your hand over your heart and breath deeply and ask yourself, “if my heart knew exactly what I needed right now, what would it tell me?” and then listen to your heart. You will learn something amazing about yourself.

Inspirational Quote

“Until you value yourself, you won’t value your time. Until you value your time, you will not do anything with it. M. Scott Peck (From one of my favorite books, the Road Less Traveled)

I love this quote because it reminds us that we waste so much of our time and energy trying to change ourselves. When we value ourselves for who we are, we stop wasting time on trying to make ourselves different. It is only then, out of self-love not self-hate that we transform ourselves. When we try to change ourselves, we come from a place of “I’m not worthy until I lose weight, get thin, fit into a certain size…” and we put off doing our lives. When we value ourselves we use our time now and we participate in our lives now and ironically, that’s how we enhance, improve and evolve.

<<—Go To Day 27

Go To Day 29—>>>

Get Through December Without Bingeing Day 23

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Are you deep into the December crazies yet? Where you feel as though you are jumping out of your skin waiting for Christmas and Hanukkah and Kwanza et al? Either you’re super excited or super dreading it. But whatever it is, I’m betting you’re a little stir crazy by now.

Todays Tip

When you have nothing to wear. Hi Leora, Any advice about when the stress comes from not having anything appropriate to wear because nothing fits? It’s just about feeling bad about myself and not wanting to socialize. It takes so much energy.

I have been there. My body and my clothes have been many, many, many different sizes throughout my disordered eating. This is what I have to say to you. As part of your recovery process, find clothes that fit you and are comfortable and make you feel beautiful. I know that shopping can be triggering in its own way when you are uncomfortable in your body, but I find it crucial in terms of self care to have things that fit you and that you love. You don’t have to lose weight to buy clothes, you just have to find clothes that fit you. When you are actively engaged in recovery, your body will return to its right and perfect size and will stay there and then you can have all the same clothes for as long as you want to. But don’t punish yourself by having ill-fitting clothes that are not comfortable in your house. That’s both punishing and depressing, of course you don’t want to go out when nothing fits you. Treat yourself and love yourself. You deserve it. You really do, no matter what size your body is at.

Inspirational Quote

“There is nothing more rare, nor more beautiful, than a woman being unapologetically herself; comfortable in her perfect imperfection. To me, that is the true essence of beauty.” Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

<<<—-Go To Day 22

Get Through December without Bingeing Day 22

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Todays Tip

In yesterday’s post, I asked people to send me specific questions that they want addressed in the December series. I got some great questions so I’ll be doing my best to answer over the next few days.

Dear Leora, I am at work, and there is food EVERYWHERE. It’s the holidays, and people have brought in cheesecake, toffee, chocolates, brownies, cookies and cupcakes. I have put on weight because I cannot resist this food, and I feel ugly and terrible about myself. Do you have any advice for *not* eating this stuff?

This is a big one at the holidays. People bring in baked goods and treats all the time. The office is full of sugary treats that make people happy- unless they have a dysfunctional relationship with food. Then it makes work a living hell.

The way I work with clients around this specific issue is to help them create a healthy boundary around the holiday treats.

For example. Someone might tell themselves that their healthy number for holiday treats is two each day. So what they can then do is plan what time they are going to go into the kitchen to get the treat. Perhaps it’s after lunch at 1pm. At 1pm, they walk into the kitchen or staff room and they take a look around and figure out what it is that they really, really want. They take that on their planned break, sit down and allow themselves to enjoy it. To taste it, to chew it to swallow it. Perhaps they enjoy that treat with a cup of tea and some music for a five minute break. Let yourself be satisfied and enjoy. Then, at 4pm, they can do it once more. Then you know that the next day you will have two treats again, so you don’t have to worry about getting everything in all at once. You have to figure out what your number is (maybe it’s one treat a day, maybe it’s three), but it’s important to plan ahead so that you don’t become black and white about it.

If you for instance say that you aren’t going to have any and then you go into the kitchen and accidentally grab something– it might set you into a sneak eating, bingey tailspin.

If you absolutely feel unable to make reasonable boundaries around the holiday treats this year, then you might instead decide to avoid the places where said food lives. For instance– “Bob has candy canes on his desk, can’t go talk to Bob today…” or “No kitchen today, gotta leave the office and get my coffee from Starbucks…”

I do suggest that if you are able to though, if food is honestly everywhere, it would be a relief for you to allow yourself to eat a little bit of it in a controlled and moderate way rather than telling yourself no and then feeling out of control with it.

It’s often in the restriction and the resistance where we find the most stress. Giving an allowance will reduce that stress.

Another practical tactic is to keep a big bowl of apples on your desk. Here is why, for most people apples are not a binge food. [But If apples are your binge food then read no more. Though in my two decades of treating Binge Eating Disorder I’ve never seen apples be anyone’s binge food, so I’d be surprised. If apples are your binge food, you have to reply and let me know]. But I digress… the bowl of apples on your desk will be easy for you to grab, so if there is binge food all around you and it’s unavoidable, having a non-binge food at your disposal and easily reachable will help you to fend off a binge.

Inspirational Quote

Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of a habit.-William Somerset Maugham

I love this humorous quote by Somerset Maugham because it reminds us that sometimes “messing up” is just human. And that it’s the way that we react to the excess that will hurt us more than the excess. For instance, I ate a brownie- I’m so stressed out about it that I’m going to binge on more brownies- rather than- oh, I ate a brownie– it was great- Now I’m going to relax in a nice tube tonight and watch The Gilmore Girls.

 

<<—-Go To Day 22   Go To Day 23–>>