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BLOGS

Blogs are brief, to-the-point, conversational, and packed with information, strategies, and tips to turn troubled eaters into “normal” eaters and to help you enjoy a happier, healthier life. Sign up by clicking "Subscribe" below and they’ll arrive in your inbox. 

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The Big Event

Attending an event when you’re feeling crummy about your body can be highly stressful. You may refuse to go, waver back and forth on a decision, engage in a shopping frenzy to find the exact right thing to wear, or say yes and be filled with dread. The occasion might be a wedding, anniversary, birthday party, or some other family gathering that’s bound to include all the relatives. Or a high school or college reunion or get together with a group of colleagues or old friends. The big worry is how you’ll be judged if you’re above average size or if you’ve lost a major amount of weight regained it. You feel badly about yourself because you believe that people with think badly of you because of your largeness. This belief is partially accurate in that there may be people at the event who are judgmental or obsessed with thinness who...

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Being Fat and Feeling Fat

Once again, I’m grateful for the messages boards of Diet Survivors (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/dietsurvivors) and Food and Feelings (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/foodandfeelings) for giving me ideas for my blogs, this time on the difference between feeling fat and being fat. As a person with dysregulated eating and/or distorted body image, when you feel fat, you’re describing eating or believing you’ve eaten too much, being bloated or stuffed, and/or experiencing your clothes as tight, making it seem as if you are too large for them. Feeling fat does not necessarily correspond with weight or being fat. At 102 pounds, you can feel fat from “normal” eating, overeating or wearing clothes that are too small. Yes, feeling fat, a subjective, internal experience, can be associated with being fat, an external one. However, as a nonfat person, you don’t have the actual sensations of carrying around excess weight, being judged, stared at, stigmatized, or discriminated against because of your...

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Changing Weight

As we get older, most of us put on weight or have body shifts. If you’ve been slender most of your life, it can come as quite a shock to try on a garment you haven’t worn in a while only to find that it no longer fits. Or you may realize that you’re now more comfortable in a larger size than you previously wore, but find no major change on the scale. Either situation may generate an uncharacteristic, new focus on food and weight, even when you’ve not been previously concerned about them. Some people who’ve never had eating or weight problems make the transition to a larger clothing size and higher scale number fairly easily. They figure they’ve been fortunate for a long time and attribute body changes to age, decreased activity, and hormones. They may watch what they eat a bit more carefully and cut back somewhat on...

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It’s Not About Weight

If you have been heavy your whole life (or most of it), you may believe that your main problem is getting your body to a healthy, more comfortable weight. You may be convinced that your life will be dramatically different when you’re at your ideal size and that you can then kick back and enjoy life. If you are so obese that your size restricts mobility and activity, you may find that life does vastly improve when you reduce your size. Being more comfortable in your body and able to do more may be enough to change how you feel about yourself and put your life back on track. However, even if you lose the weight, you will still have many issues to deal with. My concern is that people who loose a tremendous amount of weight are not changing enough of themselves to become emotionally healthy. It is certainly easier...

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Body Self-Hate

I’ve been thinking lately about a comment an overweight client made in an offhand way that seems to capture the intense emotions women have about their and other women’s bodies. She mentioned that while shopping she’d seen a middle-aged woman with a “good figure” who was wearing short shorts. Her first reaction was envy that a woman in her 50s still looked so trim and “like a teenager.” However, when my client looked more closely, she admitted to experiencing “enormous satisfaction” that the woman had some cellulite on her highly visible thighs. My client went on to say that she felt terrible wishing cellulite on someone, but that that emotion was better than the self-hate that overwhelmed her looking at the woman’s seemingly perfect legs. In that moment of “satisfaction,” my client could finally quash the hate she felt toward her body by finding fault with that of another. I would...

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Thinness and Gender

As if we don’t have enough gender disparities in this society, I’ve been noticing lately how thin men and women are viewed and treated differently. Skinny men, whether they perceive their physique as unmanly or not, are basically left alone. Perhaps they’re not adored as hunks or hotties, maybe they’re covertly envied or even laughed at, but no one has all that much to say about or to them regarding their bodies.Thin women, on the other hand, are too much talked about and talked at, on constant display. They are perceived as having it all together and often are the recipient of envy and resentment. One day I overheard a store cashier say to a slender woman, “Oh, lucky you. You can eat anything. I wish I looked like you.” Another day I heard a trim woman mention to her friend that she’d gone to a spa. Her friend laughed and...

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Why Is Thin In?

Wouldn’t it be wonderful to start from scratch, without preconceived prejudices about what to think about fat and thin and make up our own minds? Unfortunately, we can’t completely erase our mental chalkboards or delete all our attitudes, but we can do a good deal to think clearly and for ourselves. First off, how ‘bout being conscious that we’re programmed to believe a certain way—that thin is better than fat? If you saw a dog or cat that was no meat and all bones what would your initial reaction be? If you’re honest, it would not be, “Gee, Fido or Whiskers is sure lookin’ good” or “What a fine looking animal!” Rather, you’d be alarmed that the poor scrawny thing might be undernourished and starve to death. And if you saw a slightly plump animal, I doubt you’d recoil in horror; you might even find it endearing and cuddly. So why...

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How Control Issues Morph Into Body and Weight Concerns

Control is a major issue for us all. We want to control our environment and people’s behaviors to help us survive and thrive. Although we have little control over either when we are children, we become more empowered as we mature. But, fact is, we will never have complete power over our lives, even as adults, and this is a crucial fact to remember so that we don’t keep questing after something that is unattainable. We cannot control the forces of nature or the actions of others. Accidents, life upheavals, and catastrophes occur no matter how hard we try to keep them at bay. The best we can do in these situations is whatever is possible to empower ourselves and accept our fate. Knowing that we are neither totally powerless nor all powerful is a platform for effective life management. For disregulated eaters, it may mean the difference between obsessing about...

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Anger at Your Body

The members of my  "Food and Feelings" message board often inspire my blogs and this topic is another example. Ever wonder why you seem to hate your body or why other people can love their body at any size, but you haven’t been able to? Well, read on. If you were a victim of emotional or physical (including sexual) abuse as a child, you may think that because your parents or other adults devalued and mistreated your body there was something wrong with or bad about it, and that you should treat it badly too. The example a board member gave was being awakened in the middle of the night to one of her parents who was angry at the other one but feared showing it beating up on. Then this parent reawakened this poor child later in the night to apologize! Imagine if this happened to you repeatedly. You would,...

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Air-brushing for Beauty

Many girls or women with eating problems look enviously at a model or celebrity photo in a magazine and say, “Wow, I’d love to look like her!” What you may not realize is that even she doesn’t look like her image because of a technique called air-brushing. After having received a link to information about it, I knew I had to pass it on to all of you. The link, http://www.catalogs.com/resource/airbrushing-in-catalogs.html, explains the technique, including why and how it’s used. “Airbrushing is…an artistic technique that relies on a special tool called an airbrush…utilized to spray different forms of media like dyes, paints or inks; this compressed air tool uses a procedure that is referred to as nebulization…the conversion of any sample that is vaporized into some atomic components. The problem…stems from the media’s constant overuse of it [airbrushing], especially on the images of famous women such as actresses, singers and models.”...

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Must See ED Video

I was fortunate enough to get a peek at a new video, ED101, produced by NORMAL (the National Organization to Build Resilience and Mindfulness through Arts Learning) and want to let you know about it. It’s a new, free (!!!), 35-minute, documentary style film that should be seen by no less than every man, woman and child in America. Here’s what the press release says about it: “The film is being circulated to schools and communities nationwide and presents a comprehensive overview of a widespread, yet highly misunderstood, mental illness through the lens of a compelling musical arts piece. Expert commentaries and insights are provided through interviews with clinicians, ED association leaders and family members who have been impacted by the disease.” The film also offers “hopeful journeys” from those who have recovered from EDs. Through music and photography, we meet and get to know people with eating disorders—anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating....

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Love Your Body Day Is October 19

Although every day could be Love Your Body Day, for many disregulated eaters, this is far from the case. Sadly, one of the myths that pervades our society and keeps us shackled to food problems and weight obsessions is that our bodies are imperfect, contemptible, ugly, and mercilessly uncooperative in looking the way we wish them to look. To counter this mindset, I propose that for 24 hours on Wednesday, October 19, Love Your Body Day, all of you give loving your body your full attention and affection. Let’s get straight what loving your body entails. First, it does not mean that your body is perfect. There is no such thing as a perfect body. Collectively, culturally, we’ve decided what a “10” body means, but that’s only a trumped up standard which alters according to time and place. Some cultures revere round bodies, others muscular ones, or tall, thin ones that...

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Weights and Dates

If you’re a large or heavy person and are wishing for romance, let me tell you about a friend of mine whom I’ll call “Clara.” As you read this blog, you’ll see what Clara has to teach you about weight and dates. Clara, an amazing woman in her 50s with a professional background and kids all grown up, was diagnosed a decade ago with a leg muscle disease and walks with the aid of crutches, using a small scooter for distances. To that she recently added a guide dog, and she talks openly about a time when she’ll be wheelchair bound. She works-part time which includes occasional travel and is a go-getter--the first to organize outings like kayaking, trike rides, and zip-lining. Divorced after a long marriage, she’s gone through many ups and downs before, during and after her split. She knows she may not be every man’s cup of tea,...

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Why Can’t Our Bodies Be Okay?

Often times I run into women—in my practice, in my life—who have everything going for them. They seem fit, look great, are brimming with pep and energy, yet are stuck on losing weight (they insist) in order to be happy. Maybe it’s three pounds or 15 or 100 they’d like to shed. Sometimes it’s enough that people would notice and sometimes no one ever would. Believe me, I recognize that it’s no fun being fat in this society, but it’s also no fun feeling badly about your body. The point is that I wonder what would happen if women let their weight loss dreams go. The “excess” weight doesn’t necessarily inhibit their being attractive, happy, healthy, or successful, so what’s really going on? Several things. First is that we have few if any role models of women feeling okay about their bodies. When was the last time you heard someone, a...

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Appearance and Weight Gain

Not a week goes by when I don’t hear a client, message board member, or friend lamenting her appearance. The truth is that there are folks who center their lives around how they look, others whose goal is to be presentable, and still others who barely put any time and effort into what constitutes their appearance. Which type of person you are will likely predict how you feel about your weight. If you’re a person who loves to gussy up and make a fashion statement, you might be really bothered by gaining weight. It makes sense if your appearance is of high import to you. Similarly, if you were raised to value intelligence, athletic prowess, strength of character, or creativity above all, you’re likely unduly self-critical about any perceived inadequacy in these areas. So stop and take a minute to reflect on the values you grew up with, that is, how...

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Don’t Buy Into Fat Hatred

It’s very hard in this society not to hate fat. I don’t mean the saturated or unsaturated kind, but body fat. Much as it’s nearly impossible due to institutional racism to be White and non-racist in this society, it’s difficult not to get sucked into the cultural and institutional bias that condemns fat as one of humanity’s worst transgressions. You have a choice, however, to buy into this absurdity or opt out. Stop for a minute and think about why you hate the fat on your body or anyone else’s. List the reasons by saying, “Fat is…” or “Being fat means…” or “Fat people are...” Now comb through your list and decide if there’s actual evidence to back up your claim. For instance, say you think, “It’s terrible that fat people are out of control.” Folks are out of control in lots of ways in this society: they work, spend, watch...

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People Who Shame Fat People

What kind of people shame fat people? Have you ever thought about it? By understanding why they do what they do, you can let of the hurt and shame you feel if it happens to you. Being able to do that will help you put the shame where it belongs. As far as I can see, people who shame fat people come in two varieties. First, are folks who struggle with eating and weight themselves. They have contempt for their cravings for “bad” food and out of control eating. They are virtuous when they eat healthfully and wicked when they eat unhealthfully. They try to hold themselves on a tight lease with food. Some of them succeed and some don’t. They come from a place of fearing fat so much that they must hate it to keep it at a distance. Their shaming is not about you but about themselves, as...

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Dealing with Fat Phobia

I don’t know what it’s like in other parts of the world, but, as we all know, fat phobia is alive and well and living in the USA. It is real, rampant, and culturally accepted. However, there are ways to deal with it that don’t bring you down and make you feel badly about yourself. Learning them might take time, but they do work. I had a client in Massachusetts who loved to ride her bike. Yes, she was technically obese, but she hiked and loved camping and just about anything to do with the outdoors. One day when she was coasting along, some boys started to tease her and call her something like “fat bottom.” She just kept on biking. No surprise that when she passed them another day, they yelled the same things at her. A feisty woman, she yelled something back like “stupid heads” or the like and...

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Health at Every Size

If you haven’t heard about the Health at Every Size (aka HAES) movement, you’re missing out on a critical approach to working through food and body issues. Described by Dr. Linda Bacon in HEALTH AT EVERY SIZE (in her new 2010 edition), this well-documented and enlightening guide to living healthfully at any and every size is guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself and your body.To quote from their website ( HYPERLINK "http://www.haescommunity.org/" http://www.haescommunity.org/): “Health at Every Size is based on the simple premise that the best way to improve health is to honor your body. It supports people in adopting health habits for the sake of health and well-being [my emphasis] (rather than weight control). Health at Every Size encourages: Accepting and respecting the natural diversity of body sizes and shapes; Eating in a flexible manner that values pleasure and honors internal cues of hunger, satiety, and appetite; and...

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Nix the Fat Talk

Much as I encourage clients and Food and Feelings message board members to speak their minds, I draw the line at fat talk which involves putting your body or someone else’s down because it is fat, large, or unshapely. This kind of talk is dangerous to self-esteem and mental health. Fortunately, we all can play a part in ending it. Psychological researchers define fat talk as “body-denigrating conversation between girls and women” (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, 6/4/13, “‘Fat talk’ can carry a steep cost” by Jan Hoffman, Health and Fitness, p. 28E). Of course, men can take part in these exchanges as well, but are less likely to do so. Hoffman explains fat talk as a “bonding ritual” that can be “contagious, aggravating poor body image and even setting the stage for eating disorders.” How many women participate in fat talk? One study concluded that “93% of college women admitted to engaging in...

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