Monthly Archives: December 2012

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 ūüėČ
  • 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.

When Food is Your Other (or only) Lover

eatingdatingrejectionDo you ever come home after a long day of work or school and the only thing you can think about is just relaxing in front of the television set with a bowl of chips or a pint of ice cream? Or do you look forward to your husband or wife being out so that you can sit by yourself and dig in to a big plate of pasta? Do you ever feel like food is the only thing that you have to look forward to, that you look forward to your evening alone with food like a date night with yourself? ¬†Does food sometimes feel like your secret lover? Do you cherish your time alone with it?¬†If so, you might find that you’re having an intimate relationship with food rather than with your partner or with other people.

Today I was discussing with one of my clients how food serves as her closest relationship. She was reflecting on how she wanted to cut a date short so that she could go home alone and eat– she couldn’t well binge in front of him, and she spent the date thinking about getting home and ordering in so that she could eat the way she wanted to– alone.

She realized that she has been involved in a long, intense, tumultuous, close, unrequited love affair with food. She’s obsessed with food and loves spending time with it, but she knows that food does not make her feel good about herself.

Does this resonate for anyone else? Do you feel like you’d rather be alone with food than most anyone else? If so, you might be substituting food real intimacy.

So what to do?

Well, the first thing is to become aware of it. Consciousness is always the first step in transforming behaviors. When you notice that you are looking forward to going home and eating alone, remind yourself that food will never give you the love that you’re looking for.

Next, understand what your motivation for using food is. Are you having trouble finding intimacy in your current relationship? Are you and your partner not nurturing your relationship? Not spending time talking about your feelings? Are you using food to stuff your feelings? If so, you might begin to discuss with your partner how you both might change that, how you both might learn to sit down and discuss your feelings together. How you might “check in” ¬†with each other throughout the day and sit down together after work to talk about your respective days and your feelings.

If you are single, are you using food as a substitute for a relationship? Are you afraid of getting into a relationship or afraid of trying? Afraid of rejection? If so,  can you begin to look away from food as a companion and begin to look toward friends and possible lovers for companionship? If so, you will need to let go of your fear of rejection. Rejection is always part of dating and relationships and it happens to everyone. Check out this post on dealing with rejection.  

When you are with people, try to look them in the eye and really connect. Try to enjoy the people you are with, especially if you find that you are fixated on food, try to refocus on the conversation you’re having. Like in meditation, it’s okay if your mind drifts, but bring yourself back. Bring yourself into the present moment with the person you are with rather than leaving the conversation for your fantasy about being alone and eating. Don’t let that fantasy carry you away. Notice it and come back to the present moment.

If food really feels like the only thing that you have to look forward to, sit down and make out a list of the other things that you enjoy doing. Think about what you’d like to do when you are home and alone. Think about what goals you might have that you’d like to accomplish, things that you would be doing if you weren’t in this intense relationship with food. ¬†If this feels impossible, you might want to find ways not to be alone very much. ¬†You can invite friends over for a movie, you can meet out for coffee, you can go make a phone date to talk to someone. You can go to support group meetings or online or telephone into group meetings. The idea is to not let food be your companion or your best friend. ¬†You’re looking to integrate safe people into your life to help you feel more comfortable out in the world without using food.

Think about the following questions and see if they resonate for you.

Have you been using food to avoid intimacy? If so, how? Is this something that you’re ready to give up? If so, what would you (could you) be doing to create real intimacy instead of eating?


School Shooting

I’ve been heartbroken all morning since learning about the shooting in Newtown, CT. ¬†I don’t have words.

As a mental health provider, I just want to let you all know that grief, anxiety, stress, deep sadness, depression, and lots of feelings coming up as a result of this horrific tragedy are to be expected. Know that these feelings are normal.

Pray hard for those who are suffering and hug your children, partners, friends, parents, and pets tightly.

Please give me your opinion about a Facebook Group

As some of my readers might remember, I previously had a support forum up. Sadly that was an epic fail. It became overrun with spammers and was impossible to manage, so I had to shut it down.¬† I’ve recently opened up a facebook page for the blog. I am hoping that it can also serve as sort of a support group so that folks can get help and support from each other. I also want to use it to post articles and research.¬† My question is, would you use a facebook group as a support group? If so, what kind of privacy settings would you want? Would you want it to be a closed (private) group or open so that many people could join? Answer in the comments section to let me know your thoughts.

Meanwhile, here is the link: