How to Raise Your Self Esteem in 10 Easy Steps

how to raise your self esteem

Last week, one of my clients said to me, “Leora, can you just teach me how to gain self-esteem? If I just had some self esteem my life would be so different…”  I knew what she meant. She tries to use her eating disorder to give her self confidence. She believes that if she were thin enough that she would be worthwhile and important, but if she is not thin enough, she is a worthless human being with no value. But she is never thin enough. And so her life has been spent waiting to feel valuable and trying to be good enough. Her focus is always on her weight and never on anything else. Her critic is always telling her that she will be better, more people will like her and she will be happier when she is thinner. She is already very, very thin.

What she thought was that she could “get self esteem,” like gain something that she’s never had before, something new.  The truth is, having self esteem isn’t about harnessing some mystical force or  acquiring 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.  Self acceptance can often become confused with settling for something that you don’t like. But that’s not what self esteem is about. It’s about accepting who you are in the moment and accepting that it’s okay to be who you are as you go toward  greatness (even more greatness!) and allowing yourself to evolve, but caring for yourself and being kind to yourself and even 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.  It’s about knowing what your values are and doing your best to uphold those values. So, when you hear the voices telling you that you’re not okay and that you won’t be okay until you… CLIMB MT. EVEREST, RUN A MARATHON, LOSE WEIGHT, FIT INTO A SIZE XX JEANS, READ WAR & PEACE, WRITE YOUR FIRST NOVEL, BECOME A BEST SELLING AUTHOR, MAKE 6 FIGURES, GET MARRIED, HAVE A BABY, QUIT DRINKING,  QUIT SMOKING, QUIT EATING CARBS, EAT NOTHING BUT KALE SMOOTHIES AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS, BECOME A VEGAN, HAVE CLEAR SKIN, GET YOUR MBA… Or whatever those voices are telling you, remember that you don’t have to engage with those thoughts. It’s not true and it’s not real. It’s okay to be okay with who you are in the moment instead of after you’ve done these things. People confuse acceptance with resignation and defeat.  Acceptance doesn’t mean resigning yourself to being stuck in your circumstances. It means accepting that you are in the place that you’re in now and you don’t have to wait to be who your are until after you’ve changed your circumstances. It means that you can be yourself now and thrive and be in the world while at the same time improving your circumstances. We all have goals to achieve, that’s part of what makes us psychologically healthy and what helps us move forward in life. But when you get into the cycle of “I won’t be okay until…” you set yourself to be unhappy and you have a very hard time finding happiness… because it’s never enough.

So, how do you do this? I’ve created 10 tangible steps to achieving self-esteem. You don’t have to do all of them right now. But just try one this week and see how it goes. When you start to feel a difference, try another one. I know that doing these exercises will be life-changing for you.  

1. Make a List of What your Values Are 

Think about what is fundamentally important to you and write it down. This could be being a kind and compassionate person, being the kind of person people turn to when they are having troubles, not judging or criticizing other people, living with integrity, having positive intentions. Knowing that you are never going to be 100% at all these things, when you are feeling badly about yourself, check in and ask yourself if you are doing your best to live in accordance with your values. If you are, then you can fall back on that foundation of strong values and strength. If you are not, give yourself a reminder of what your values are and try to live according to them. So, if someone does or says something to you that hurts your feelings or if you yourself say or do something to yourself that hurts your feelings, check in with yourself and ask, “am I living according to my values? Am I behaving and acting in a way that I can feel good about? Am I acting like the kind of person that I would want to have as a friend?”  And remember, we always forget to do these things and fail at them sometimes, and that’s normal, but having your values written down in a list form can be a great reference for you to come back to. It will help you remember what is truly important to you and when you remember and when you live according to those values, you find self-efficacy.

2. Don’t Compare Yourself To Other People

Your values and your dharma (path) are different than anyone else’s, so you just can’t compare. You can’t compare your money situation to anyone else’s, your relationships, your jean size… we were all born with our own individual paths. When you begin to look at other people’s paths and think that you should be like them or different from who you are, you fail to move along your own, or you reject your path. This inherently makes you feel bad. This keeps you from moving forward.  You also shouldn’t be comparing your backend to anyone else’s front end. Meaning, you can’t compare the knowledge that you have about your own situation to what someone else is outwardly showing you about their own. You never know what is going on with someone else. As M. Scott Peck says in The Road Less Traveled, life is hard for everyone, not just you. And once you remember that life is hard across the board, you can transcend the existential angst and pain that comes with the difficulties of life. You can understand that when things happen (you get a parking ticket, break your arm, get into a car accident, lose a parent) that it’s painful and it’s difficult- but you are not alone, that bad and difficult things happen to everyone who chooses a life of being human.

3. Do Things for other People Often

Performing acts of kindness actually makes you happier and boosts your self esteem, making you feel more valuable and more at peace. A study published in the Journal of Social Psychology showed that participants who performed directed acts of kindness every day for 10 days in a row showed an increased level of life satisfaction. Self-esteem comes from life satisfaction and feeling your value in the world. Doing things for other people can be as small as smiling at someone when you are walking down the street or as big as volunteering your time to help someone out. It can also be remembering to give loved ones around you big hugs, kisses and compliments and reminding them why you love them so much and telling them how proud you are of them.

4. Live Mindfully  – Mindful living is about being aware of your body, being aware of your choices, your environment, being mindful or your choices, your environment, your bodily sensations, your thoughts, your actions and your fears. Often, people who are suffering with eating disorders have a really rough time living mindfully. They reject their true needs to focus on the goal of weight loss or looking better and  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. When you are living mindfully, you are working to honor the needs of your body.

If you are signed up for the newsletter, you should have received your free mindful eating meditation. If not, sign up here to get it. You might also like the loving your body and letting go of negative body image meditation.  

Do check out this article on mindful living. 

5. Learn Self Acceptance:  Part of self acceptance is knowing what your strengths are and honing in on those and not punishing yourself for things that you are still working on. Make a list of things that you are good at and that you like about yourself. Be with that list and do more of those things. Make another list of things that you are not so happy with and that you want to change. Tell yourself that it is okay that you are where you are. And that it doesn’t make you bad and you can still like yourself and care for yourself as you are working to change those things. Get love and support and help for changing the things that you want to change. Change and healing is difficult all alone and in a void. But when you find other people who are working on the same change together, you have a group of encouraging, loving folks to keep you accountable and to be kind to you when you fall down. You can also do the same for others which will help you (see #3!)

6. Take 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. If you make a mistake, don’t shift the blame. Don’t say that you did this thing or said this thing because someone made you. For example, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but if you weren’t acting so irrational, I wouldn’t have.” You have just negated your apology and given away your power. Always take ownership for your actions. Knowing that you have it in you to make your own decisions based on your own values (see #1) is part of what gives you self efficacy and self-esteem. Saying that someone else made you yell or act mean or say something wrong basically says that you have no power to make your own decisions about how you behave. Remember that you almost always have the power to undo a decision that you made. 

7. Be an Advocate for Yourself:  When you have self-advocacy, 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.” You also stand up for others who might not have the ability to voice their own needs. If you are unable to stand up for your own needs and have your own voice, you find someone who can be an advocate for you. 

8. Live with Purpose: 

Consider your life’s purpose. When you begin to 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 long term feel important and meaningful to you and using your life to work on these goals that help the world at large. 

9. Have Lots of 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.  (See #1). 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.

10. Challenge Your Inner Critic- 

What would it be like to gently let go of the old thought patterns that you are so intensely holding onto? As I said earlier, self-esteem isn’t about gaining or building and changing, it’s about letting go. Imagine the beliefs that you have that plague you and make you feel bad,  (ie: “I have to be thinner, I have to be smarter, I have to be cleaner, I have to be richer, I have to be prettier…) and just choosing to disengage with them. Choosing instead to engage with the above ideas that are helpful and help you to feel better about yourself than the thoughts that intrude into your mind and keep you from living your life with zest and enjoyment.  That doesn’t mean you won’t have these thoughts pop up. They are old and part of old patterns. However, what about trying to hear them like background noise (like a fire engine siren outside) but not follow them. Let them fly through your mind, notice them and rather than grasping onto them, think about doing things that align with what makes you feel good about yourself. 

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

What about you? What are some things that you have done that helped you feel into your self esteem? 

 

The New Binge Eating Miracle Drug

Medicine background I’ve had a lot of people ask me to talk about Vyvanse, which is being touted as the new miracle drug for binge eating. The New York Times ran an article about it last month and lots of folks have been calling me and asking me if I recommend it. 

Before I discuss my thoughts and feelings about the drug itself, lets discuss what it is. Vyvanse is an ADHD drug and it’s an amphetamine. It’s been used for years for folks with ADHD. So, these ADHD drugs are cognitive enhancers, meaning they increase focus and decrease impulsive behaviors. If you’ve ever seen a kid before and after his (or her) ADHD meds, you know how different they show up with an amphetamine in their system. It works the same with BED, it increases focus and decreases impulsive behaviors, so one is less driven by their desires and urges, and for many folks it will decrease bingeing and help them find some peace around food. 

 That being said, I do have some feelings about it.  The very first is that amphetamines have been prescribed and abused for weight loss for decades. Most people with BED don’t purely have Binge Eating Disorder, they also deal with severe food restriction, exercise addiction and obsessive dieting, so being on this drug might feed their desire to restrict. Without the drive to eat, they might find themselves depriving themselves of food or not eating at all. 

And although I’m saying this theoretically – the truth is, that I know of a lot of women who abused drugs like Ritalin and Adderal to keep themselves from eating- and when I was in college, I was definitely one of them.  

 If someone is taking this to stop binge eating, they will also need to learn how to use mindfulness and cognitive behavioral therapy to stop binge eating because when they stop taking the medication, their impulses will return because they are not getting the dopamine effect that they were getting from the drug.

 

Next, it’s not a benign drug, it’s an amphetamine which does have addictive consequences, so people with BED might be switching out one addiction for another. There are also side effects to consider like sleeping issues, anxiety, constipation, and others, but those are the main side effects that have a massive contraindication for people with BED.

 So do I recommend it? I don’t know. I have heard from a few women that it’s been heaven for them- that they feel finally free of their urges to binge. As with all medicine, you have to weigh the risks with the benefits.  I definitely wouldn’t say that I’m against it, but I think it would better for very short term use, to get over the hump of BED and teach you that you actually can be free those urges and impulses, but at the same time, learn through therapy how to stop those behaviors.

If you have tried Vyvanse for binge eating- please do share your experiences and what it’s been like for you in the comments. Thanks!

10 Ways to Train your Brain to Stop Overeating

10 Ways to Train your Brain to Stop Overeating

top ten ways to train your brain

train your brain to stop overeating

 

You know how sometimes it’s not even noon but you know that you are going to have a binge when you get home from work that night? You begin planning it, thinking about what stores you’re going to go to, what foods you’re going to get, where you are going to eat it, what you’re going to do when you eat it, what it will feel like in your mouth, what you will be doing while you’re bingeing (will you be watching television? will you be searching the web? will you be on the phone? or will you just be sitting alone with the food?) You begin to get excited and your amygdala (the part of your brain responsible for emotional reaction) lights up with excitement. Just the anticipation and desire of a binge creates activity in your brain that basically brings you to the binge. So your actual binge starts about hours, sometimes even days before the binge starts. It’s those first thoughts about it, the anticipation which just carries itself and basically makes you feel as though you don’t have a choice. The thoughts of bingeing carry you straight to your binge. But that’s not the only thing that the anticipation does. Just think about food and you flood dopamine into your nucleus accumbens (the pleasure center of the brain) which then excites you, calms you and motivates you to go for the food that you are thinking about.  Just like the drug addict who starts to think about cocaine which then motivates them to score their drug of choice despite whatever dangers lurk. So, not only are you addicted to the binge, and those pleasurable feelings that come with it, but you are actually addicted to the process of bingeing, the thoughts about food, the plans that you make to get food, the thoughts about food. Each thought that you have has a biochemical reaction.

Which makes quitting binge eating as difficult (or more difficult) than quitting heroin or cocaine. When food is your drug of choice, you can’t just stop eating, you have to learn to stop overeating and stop abusing food.

SO HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE ADDICTION PIECE OF ALL THIS IN ORDER TO STOP OVEREATING?

When you first have those thoughts and the pleasure center in your brain begins to light up with anticipation (it’s not unlike the process of flirting, or hooking up with someone pre-sex or orgasm), it feels as though it’s over. You’re going to binge. However, when you check in with yourself and say, “oh yeah, there are those thoughts again, I’m planning my binge…” you can slow yourself down. You can tell yourself that just because you are planning your binge, doesn’t mean that you have to go through with it. Just because the process part of the addiction has begun does not mean that you have to go through with it. Remember, this is the SAME EXACT function that cocaine addicts go through before they score their drug, it’s the same process that sex addicts go through when they are looking for a prostitute, it’s the same process that gambling addicts go through when they are selling their wedding ring for money to put in a slot machine.

So what we want to do here is slow your brain waaaayyyy down. Even though it’s just noon and you are at work in front of your computer, your mind is at home in the refrigerator or in front of the television with a pizza.

So what can you do?

1. First, recognize “oh, I’m having THOSE thoughts again…” And say it out loud, “there is that urge to binge…”

2. Remind yourself, “I’m not in the middle of the binge yet, I’m right here at my desk.”

3. Ground yourself, look at your feet on the floor, look at your hands, put your hand over your heart and breath into your belly. Be where you are, not where your mind is taking you.

4. Remind yourself why you don’t want to be on the other side of the binge. Think to yourself, “I don’t want to be in bed tonight with my belly hurting, feeling bloated and uncomfortable, I don’t want to wake up tomorrow morning feeling bad.” Then let yourself feel those bad feelings of how you feel after a binge. Reliving them will be a deterrent for you.

5. Think about alternatives, think about what it would be like to wake up the next morning without a binge, let that process excite your mind. Imagine yourself eating a healthy dinner in a healthy way and see yourself in bed that night feeling comfortable and waking up the next morning with a spring in your step.

6. Plan something equally relaxing for that evening ie: date with friend, bubble bath, taking a long walk outside while listening to music or podcast

7. Call someone and tell them that you have a binge planned and you don’t want to go through with it.

8. Get on the forum and ask for support.

9. Remind yourself that you have a choice. It doesn’t feel like you do, but you do, the thoughts and the desire can’t make you binge, they are just thoughts and desire. You have thoughts and desires a million times a day that you don’t act on.

10. Calm your brain down and slow down your thinking with deep breathing and meditation.

Eating disorders are notoriously rough because they hit you on lots of different levels, process addiction, food/sugar addiction, trauma relief, bad habit… there are a million different reasons that people binge, but if you can bring some mindfulness into the equation, you have an amazing chance of not only being able to stop overeating over and over, but also from recovering and not having to deal with the urges and the pain of bingeing anymore.

How to Raise Your Self Worth

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your self worth is also not tied up in numbers.

Ask yourself these questions:

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

2. Where do you find your value?

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

4. Where do you find your worth?

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

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

Should I throw my scale away?

destroy your scale

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

If so, then it’s just not worth it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Leora,  

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

Hi Sarah,

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Warmly, 

 

Leora

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

How Not to Binge On Superbowl Sunday

bingeing and superbowl sunday

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

 

 

 

How Not to Binge on Super Bowl Sunday

1. Start by assessing the situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good Luck!

 

 

 

How to Stop Dieting

bingeeatingtherapy.com“As soon as I stopped focusing on losing weight, I healed from my eating disorder…”  or “As soon as I stopped dieting I lost weight…” I’ve heard this from clients again, and again and again and again. 

Why do you think that this is true for so many people? I know that focusing on weight loss keeps people pulled into the bingeing and restricting cycle and pulled into the “I’ll be better when…” syndrome (and there’s never an ending to the when…), but it’s also because the focus on weight loss is always inherently focusing on something negative… losing instead of gaining. One thing that I help people do in their recovery is to focus on adding  instead of subtracting and gaining instead of losing.  Like adding healthy, life affirming foods instead of taking unhealthy foods away, like gaining strength and health instead of losing pounds, like adding positive behaviors instead of subtracting negative behaviors away. The hope is that the positive behaviors and thoughts will eventually crowd out the less desirable behaviors and thoughts… and it works! And it’s so much more enjoyable to feed yourself healthy, loving foods, thoughts, and actions than punishing yourself, criticizing yourself or restricting yourself. 

What would it be like if you took JUST ONE WEEK and decided to not focus on weight loss at all, to not even think about it.

It’s my one week challenge to you.  See what happens and then report back. 

What are some things you can focus on instead of losing weight? I’m glad you asked: 

1. Gaining strength
2. Gaining inner peace and calmness
3. Being self loving
4. Going toward health and well being 
5. Filling your evenings with self-soothing rituals (ie: baths, good books, foot massages and cuddles)
6. Breathing into your belly or meditating when you are feeling stressed or anxious  
7. Getting more sleep

There. There are seven things you can focus on for the next seven days. Each day choose one and by the end of next week, see how you are feeling, see what it was like to spend a week totally not focusing on weight loss. 

How To Love Yourself: 41 Tips For Self-Love on Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day is Self Love Day!  But do you know how to love yourself?

Here are 40 ways to love yourself on Valentines Day and Every Day!

How to Love Yourself

self love day

1. Give up the belief that you need to change in order to like yourself. You are perfect, whole and complete right now at this very moment. Take a breath, be still and just for 30 seconds be with the essence of who you are. Meeting goals and evolving is what we naturally do as humans, that won’t change if you self-accept. In fact, you might find that you are more efficient because you are not bogged down by thoughts of worthlessness. Getting stuck in the trance of unworthiness is a way to go through life without being who you were meant to be. It’s important to accept and know how to love yourself exactly as you are in this moment.

2. Make a choice not to compare yourself to others. Looking at what others have or what others are and telling yourself that you are not okay because of what your life is or what you look like or what you have is a good way to hate yourself. Instead, try to consider that your path, your gifts are very different and your journey is very different. Then, try to look ahead at your own journey and keep creating it the way that you want it to be. When you look to others to define your own worth, you won’t feel good about yourself.

3. Take care of yourself. Make simple changes to help you to be more healthy. Take your vitamins, groom your nails. Do things that help you to feel valued by yourself. Show yourself that you are worthy. Self care is a big way in teaching yourself how to love yourself.

4. Put yourself first. When someone asks you to do something, rather than instantly saying yes, tell them that you’ll give them an answer in 24 hours. That way you can think about whether or not this infringes on your boundaries. It helps you to understand whether or not you are sacrificing your own needs for someone else. So often people who don’t like themselves try to be indispensable for others. In the process though, they completely lose themselves. Keep yourself whole by being there for you first.

5. Forgive yourself. You have made mistakes. Of course you have. You are human. We all make mistakes. But being able to say, “okay, I messed up, but I can’t go back, I can’t stay in the past, I can only go forward…” is the way to move on with your life.

6. Let yourself do the things that you want to do. Think about what it is that makes you tick, the things that make you feel alive! Is it knitting? Is it martial arts? Is it cooking? Is it painting? Writing? Gardening? Whatever it is, even if it’s just something that you do as a hobby, allow yourself to follow your passion. When you do, you will find more joy in being you. This is a great lesson in how to love yourself.

7.Let go of wanting. It’s normal to have desires. But when what you want equates to whether or not you are happy, you will never feel satisfied with who you are. When who you are is equal to what you have, you will never like yourself because you can always want and always have more. When you are grateful for what you do have, you can truly find peace. Try making a gratitude list. This is like counting your blessings. Just write down everything that you are grateful for and read it over and over. Feel it. Believe it. When you focus on that rather than what you don’t have, you will find a lightness like never before.

8. Let yourself be totally silly. See what it’s like to let down your guard. Try to let go of what other people are thinking. If you can’t, go into a room by yourself and just do the dumbest dance that you can possibly do, just to let off some steam and find some playfulness within. This is a way to enjoy your own company and just like being with yourself a bit more.

9. Don’t judge other people. Take a day to think of one nice thing about each person you come into contact with. You will feel lighter in your body. Letting go of judgment of others is one of the best ways to stop judging yourself.

10. Spend some time just being. Sit and try to follow your breath. Don’t force yourself to take deep breaths. Just close your eyes, put your hand on your heart and feel the way your breath. Do this for 1-5 minutes. You will find that your mind and body begin to relax. Your thoughts of having to do, do, do will fade and you will just be with you. This is another way to just accept who you are in this very moment.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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 and it is crucial in learning how to feel better and feel more solid. That kind of self care is a huge part in learning how to love yourself. 

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

15. Sit down and drink a hot cup of tea. Sharing a cup of tea with yourself is a great lesson in how to love yourself. It’s very nurturing and self-loving.

16. Rent a funny movie and laugh a lot. 

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

20.  Try a guided meditation to bring joy into your world. This works because your world is created  by the thoughts you think.

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

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

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

24. Put music on and dance like crazy. Even if  you think you can’t dance, just dance. My kiddos love to shake their heads back and forth to any rhythm – makes them deliriously happy.

25. 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.

26. 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. Sending  love and positivity to others is a great way to learn how to love yourself.

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

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

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

30. 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.

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

32. 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.

33. Sing a song out loud.

34. Have only 20 seconds? Choose one. 

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

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

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

38. 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.

39. 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.

40. Floss your teeth!

41. Take a nap. Being well rested is the best way to be happy. Get your sleep in order and aim for 7-9 hours of sleep each night.

I hope that you’ve found some good information here on how to love yourself! Any other recommendations? Add them in the comments!

 

Top 10 Binge Busting Foods

Top Ten Binge Busting Foods

Do you ever feel like recovery is impossible because you will binge on whatever foods you have in your house? Even if you refrain from keeping your trigger foods in your house, you still feel unsafe unless your cabinets are empty? But sometimes an empty refrigerator is even more unsafe because a starving brain will behave in a compulsive manner and order take out or delivery and binge in a way that you never prepared for. 

Stay prepared by keeping your house a binge free zone by having lots of high density nutrition safe foods that will keep your body and your brain fed. 

1.)Apples- The crunchiness and time it takes you to eat an apple will help you pause before a binge and figure out if you were really hungry or if you just wanted to crunch and chew to relieve anger or stress.

2.)Avocados- The good (monosaturated) fats will keep your appetite sated and as a plus helps to raise HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. 

3.)Eggs- Hard boil a dozen eggs and just keep them in your refrigerator for when you are getting bingey. Peel and eat one and wait 20 minutes. Feeding the protein to your brain will help you make a clear minded decision about whether you are choosing to binge or not. 

4.)Frozen grilled fully cooked chicken breasts or chicken strips (like these). Chicken is a great high protein food to have in the house, but difficult to cook after a long day at work. Just throw a handful of chicken strips with a bag of frozen vegetables into a pan and viola! A healthy meal. 

5.)Raw Unsalted Pumpkin Seeds – Pumpkin seeds are a great source of high density nutrition and include iron, zinc and healthy fats. They will keep both your body and mind nourished. 

6.)Yams – The easiest and most delicious side dish ever. Just wrap up a yam in aluminum foil and throw it in your oven at 350 for 90 minutes. If you have a timer on your oven, you can even do it before you leave for work in the morning. Then come home to a potassium, fiber, magnesium, b-vitamin rich, delicious snack. 

7.)Cans of Tuna and Salmon – Easy peasy. Canned salmon (I like boneless, skinless pink) is wild and not farmed. You can just throw a can onto a bed of raw greens, throw some olive oil or dressing on and have an easy lunch. 

8.)Lots of bags of organic frozen vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, corn on the cob,   etc.) Make sure there is nothing added besides the veggies themselves. Just throw these in a wok with some soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos or a little bit of salt and pepper and olive oil and you have a great little stirfry. Throw in chicken and a grain or potato or yam for a complete meal.

9.) Bags of raw greens, raw spinach, etc.- Super easy to make salads with this. Just empty into a bowl and toss one of those hardboiled eggs in, some of those pumpkin seeds you already have, maybe some capers and dressing, and you have an easy high protein, high fiber snack. 
 
10.) Lots of bags of frozen fruit- This makes smoothies easy and, like frozen vegetables, it keeps you from having to worry about your fruit rotting if you don’t eat it fast enough. Just throw your frozen fruits into the blender and there you have your instant smoothie without doing too much of your own chopping work. The biggest pain will be cleaning the blender. 

Bonus # 11.)Condiments, (ie: miso paste for warm soup, broth, salsa, butter, bragg’s liquid aminos, tahini, mustard)

Remember to start each morning with a big, gigantic meal of high density nutritious foods to feel satiated and energized and to keep the urge to binge away. A high density nutritious breakfast could be something like 3 eggs, an avocado and a piece of fruit or a nice big bowl of oatmeal with bananas and walnuts and berries or even a few links of nitrite free chicken or turkey sausage with some fruit and eggs. 

Enjoy your food! Feed yourself well and often and feel good!