Friday, November 21, 2014

How To Survive The Holidays - Part I















(Click the photo or HERE to listen to the interview).

It's that time of year again.  The holidays are upon us.  Perhaps that fills you with a sense of joy.

Or possibly dread.  

Or both.

If you feel conflicted about the holidays, you're not alone. 

Why are the holidays so difficult for so many people?

For one thing, we’re often saturated with media images of how it’s” supposed to be.”  At this time of year, TV commercials and magazine ads start showing happy, loving, close families (and by the way, they’re usually white and well-off), all gathered over a table loaded with food, beaming and grateful for their wonderful lives. 

If that’s your reality, consider yourself very lucky.  But for many people, if not most, this is a fantasy world that’s not even close to reality.

If it seems as if everyone in the world is living a perfect Hallmark holiday life, full of peace, love and happiness - and then there’s YOUR family, that can be painful.

The contrast can be really difficult especially if you think the picture perfect image is how it’s supposed to be, and it’s just not.  

That’s depressing for a lot of people, which leads to overeating as a way to numb or distract from the pain.  Or, because these families are often shown eating, eating or overeating can be a way of “feeling” like you’re part of the picture perfect holiday family.

Reality can be really painful.

Ever see the movie, Reality Bites?  Reality is often painful and can never measure up to an image, fantasy or idea about how things "should" or "could" be.    

These days, the term "reality" is associated with reality shows on TV.  And lots of families include people that are right out of a reality show.  There are certain types of characters that run in families:

Drunk relatives – either happy drunks or angry drunks; neither is fun.

Overly cheerful, aren’t-we-happy and isn’t-everything-perfect relatives that are usually living in denial of reality.

Jealous relatives – the ones who have a negative comment about everything you do or say.

Show-offs – they think they’re better than everyone else because they can outspend everyone else in the family

Then there are those who only talk about how great it used to be back in the day.  They just can’t handle being in the present.


No matter what the issues are in families, it can sometimes be depressing or upsetting.  That's when grieving is important, which means processing the limits of what you had and accepting what you will not experience.  The process of mourning involves a range of emotions, from anger, sadness, disappointment, to acceptance. 

When you allow yourself to think what you think during the holiday season, and feel what you feel, you will be less likely to need or use some form of distraction, such as food, to cope.



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Thursday, November 13, 2014

5 Ways To Deal With Disappointment


Does this sound familiar?

“I didn’t sign up for this.”
“I thought things would be different.”
“I feel so stupid for thinking it would work out.”
“I can’t believe I trusted that person.”

Paulette recently went into escrow on her dream house – and then the deal fell apart.   She said, “I feel so stupid for thinking things would go my way.   I can’t believe I let myself get so excited about the house.  I should have known better.”

A moment later she added, as if in jest, “I bet stuff like this doesn’t happen to skinny people.” 

Paulette was disappointed about losing her dream house.  Instead of processing the disappointment, she turned on herself, accusing herself of not being psychic, and joking that  thinner people don't have to deal with things not working out.  

In other words, if she changed her weight and became one of those "skinny people," she’d never be disappointed again. 

This is an illusion, because you cannot manage life situations by controlling your weight.

The definition of disappointment is, “the feeling of sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations” (Google dictionary).

Disappointment can be about a person or situation.  It is often more acute than "sadness or displeasure" because there are many other elements bound up in the experience of disappointment, including the notion of losing basic trust in others and in the world.

If other people and/or situations seem unpredictable or unreliable, you may be vulnerable to turning away from others and relating primarily to your body or to food.  

When things don’t work out or someone lets you down, you may also feel a sense of powerlessness or helplessness.  Focusing on your powerlessness over food, which you ostensibly can control, may be preferable to experiencing powerless in the context of your relationships or in the world.

If you’re disappointed in yourself for something that is food, weight or body image related, you may be displacing feelings towards others and turning them on yourself, as Paulette did.

Food for thought:

Ask yourself the following questions:

What situations and/or people are disappointing me?
What is going on in your life that is causing disappointment?   Perhaps a friend has let you down, or other things have not gone as planned. 

What does it mean about you? 
i.e., Perhaps you fear that you’re not good enough, not omniscient, that you somehow should have known better.  If so, explore the basis of your self-esteem and the meaning of powerlessness.

What does it mean about other people?
i.e., You cannot trust others, that they are inherently self-serving and will throw you under the proverbial bus?  If so, consider where you learned that people are inherently not trustworthy.

What does it mean about the world?
i.e., The world is an unfair, unsafe place and there are no rules.  Bad things can happen to good people.  If so, explore your life experiences and identify what you may be re-experiencing in the context of this situation.

What does it mean about the future?
i.e., Nothing is ever going to go your way and there’s no point in trying or trusting again.  If so, examine your ideas about hopelessness.

When you acknowledge your disappointment and process the underlying anxieties about your good enough-ness, powerlessness, trust, fairness, and hopelessness, you can move forward – like Paulette, who is now the proud owner of another house that she ended up liking as much as the first.

When you deal with the underlying emotions and conflicts that impact your sense of wellbeing, you make peace with yourself.  When you do that, you will make peace with food.


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Friday, November 7, 2014

Good-bye Sweet Scale...

Read Today's Guest Post by Laurie Weaver.

Good-bye Sweet Scale, I knew him well…

It’s day one of our separation, my former beloved scale and me. I’m surprised by how very much I miss our dysfunctional relationship and by how much I defined my life by trying to meet its irrational needs.

The closest thing I can compare the antsy, ‘don’t know what to do with myself’ feeling is to when I gave up smoking. Giving up smoking is HELL on WHEELS. I had to spend about 1000 months sitting in the bathtub eating Milk Duds because I never smoked in the bathtub and the sugar gave me a rush similar to the nicotine.

Lordy, I haven’t thought of that in years!

How can NOT stepping on a physical object give me withdrawal symptoms? This is NUTSO! Suppose I just hadn’t gotten around to stepping on it yet, I wouldn’t care. It’s the whole “quitting” thing. But what am I ACTUALLY quitting?

The scale is a symbol of my deeply entrenched diet/compulsive/binge cycle. It’s the arbitrator of when I do what actions in this cycle. It’s the Lord of my brain. The director of all. The Czar of potato chips or broccoli. How can I cope all on my own?

Hmm, even rereading these true feelings kind of gives me the willies.

Let me try logic to calm these feelings – doesn’t usually work with me, but let’s give it a go.

Self! Listen Up!
1.    Our body weighs whatever it weighs whether or not we are on the scale.
2.    The scale never changed one once of weight.
3.    We did that by our behaviors.
4.    We BASED our behaviors on the FEELINGS generated by the daily scale number
5.    How did THAT work out for us HMMM??

Hmm, logic is kind of bossy. I don’t think I respond well to bossy while in the painful throws of withdrawal. Let’s try empathy. More my style.

Self Honey, Come let me give you a hug!
1.    That scale has never been kind to us and we deserve kindness and respect.
2.    I love you self no matter what we weigh.
3.    It’s OK to be whatever size we are because we are MORE then just our body.
4.    I know it’s scary, but the scale can’t tell us how you feel inside.
5.    It’s going to be ok. We can trust our body to tell us what to eat.

Wow, I feel kind of better with the empathetic approach, but still suspicious and slightly pissed off. Like when your mom tells you that you are pretty when all of the kids call you names based on your looks, and when the therapist says how good you are when you are paying money for them to be “into your feelings”. Nice to hear, but I can’t quite let it in.

How about I try the rational “What the hell have we got to lose?” approach?

Self, let’s think about this together
Q. Self, what’s the Worse that can happen?
A. I can gain 100 pounds and not notice.

Q. On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being not a chance in hell, and 10 you can bet your life, how likely is that to happen?
A. Umm 2?

Q. How likely is it you will start to pay more attention to your inner feelings without a daily weigh-in?
A. Umm 10?

Q. And on a scale of 1-10 if this doesn’t work out for us, can we change our mind?
A. 10, but I would look like a failure and a fool if I changed my mind.

Q. What’s wrong with that?
A. I’d feel badly

Q. Why?
A. Because if I appear perfect and good and that all is well with me, people will finally accept me.
Q. Who has accepted you more? The scale or the brave companions who listen and participate in your show who know you are NOT perfect?
A. I guess we can toss the Milk Duds.


Addendum:

It’s now been over 3 months since I’ve set foot on a scale and I can tell from the fit of my clothing that my size has not changed. It’s a miracle! For the first time in over 50 years I have not let my mood nor my behavior be driven my that “Magic Number” of how gravity is reacting to my particular mass on any given day.

I still have days where I feel fat. These days usually occur if I ate salty foods the day before or if it’s a very hot day today, or when emotionally, I’m not feeling great about myself.  As I progress with learning to eat according to my own emotional and physical needs, I’m beginning to trust my body and myself.

It is strange to be driving without an external map, floating freely without an external compass and to be living an authentic life based on how I feel inside vs. what society or the latest diet theory is directing me to do or feel. At first I felt lost. Now I feel free. In the space that used to be reserved for endless calorie counting, or food equations or obsessive worry about what restaurant my friends might pick and could I eat there, or would I be a killjoy, I now have time to live.

I’m studying voice acting and singing lessons for the first time. I joined a writers’ social and writing exercise group and I actually attend. I say yes to social invitations and ask other people about their lives. I enjoy the food I choose to eat. I regret no food. I lash myself about eating no more.

My weight?

My physical body is still over 200 pounds since 208 was my last recorded number and my size has not changed.

My emotional weight?

Light as a feather.


Biography:


Laurie Weaver is the creator and host of the popular podcast and blog, Compulsive Overeating Diary which is based on her real and truthful ongoing journey to learn how to live a life free from the fear of food, where she enjoys food and where she builds authentic relationships vs. using compulsive eating behaviors to push people away.


Following a serious biking accident, Laurie retired young from a corporate job in technology and dove headfirst into learning what retirement had to offer. Laurie is also a formally trained educator. She’s created and presented many diverse educational seminars ranging from teaching techniques, to programming concepts for the non-programmer to how to discover your retirement identity.  Laurie’s known for her sense of humor and for making even the driest topic sizzle. Now she’s out to bring that fun and joie de vivre to retirees, brave companions and other adventure seekers.




Twitter @AdventureLaurie

Friday, October 31, 2014

5 Tips On Treating Yourself On Halloween

This post was originally published on 

Entertain Me By Michael Shinafelt

Check out Michael's Entertain Me site for weekly entertainment and information.

Dr. Nina's Tips On How To Treat Yourself On Halloween 


Dr. Nina has made a house call to Entertain Me a couple of times before.

Dr. Nina specializes in eating disorders by digging to the root of where the problem lies. She encourages people to Win The Diet War by finding the real issue at hand. Last year I had her dole out her wisdom about how to navigate what I like to call "The Eating Season," you know that time between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve.

This year I got to thinking that no one ever really addresses Halloween. So I paged Dr. Nina and asked her if she would be willing to take on my favorite day of the year with her usual flair in the spirit of the season.

I promise this is not a trick, Dr. Nina is here with some awesome tips on how to treat yourself for Halloween!

1.  Afraid of the dark?  The scariest thoughts are the dark ideas you have about yourself.  Keep out thoughts like, "I suck" or "I'm too fat/stupid/ugly" or "Who would love me?"    Those thoughts just make you feel terrible about yourself.  And that's truly frightening.

Boo!
2.  Got ghosts?  If the ghosts of the past are haunting you, it's time to deal with them.  If you had a critical parent, teacher or sibling, and you find yourself being equally critical to yourself, that critical voice belongs to others, not to you.  Find your authentic voice, and view yourself as you are, not as others treated you.

3.  Give yourself a treat.  If you find yourself saying, "I'm going to be good this Halloween and not eat a single piece of candy," or "I was so bad because I ate that pumpkin cheesecake," then you're connecting your character to what you eat.  Allow yourself to eat candy on Halloween without feeling guilty.  Deprivation or anticipation of deprivation leads to overeating.   If you give yourself permission to have candy you may actually eat less! 

"Just Say No"
4.  Living a zombie life?  Do you feel as if you're the walking dead, doing the same thing day after day, not truly enjoying your life to the fullest?  If so, bring yourself back to life.  Think about one thing that you've been waiting to do "one day" and make today the day you start working towards doing that thing.  If you want to run a marathon, go for a walk or a short run.  If you want to start dating, go online and check out some dating sites.

5.  Be playful.  Remember the fun of going out with your friends on Halloween?  This occasion is about being with other people, dressing up, and having fun.  So, have a great time.  Happy Halloween!!

About Dr. Nina:  Nina Savelle-Rocklin, Psy.D. is a Los Angeles-based psychoanalyst who specializes in weight, food and body image issues.  She is a recognized expert on eating disorders, interviewed and quoted by the Los Angeles Times, Prevention, Real Simple, and many other publications.  Dr. Nina writes an award-winning blog, Make Peace With Food, hosts a popular podcast, Win The Diet War with Dr. Nina, and can be seen on her YouTube video series, The Dr. Nina Show.  She was one of 20 thought leaders in the field of eating psychology invited to speak at the 2014 Mindful Eating Summit.  Dr. Nina is currently writing a book for Rowman & Littlefield on the psychoanalytic treatment of eating disorders.  For more information, please visit www.winthedietwar.com.