Archive for December, 2009

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Body Year-Round

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

I was reading Therese Borchard’s post on seven ways to celebrate Christmas year-round, and I was inspired to create my own list of suggestions for celebrating our bodies in 2010 and beyond. Hope you find it helpful!

  1. Reflect on how you’ve treated your body and yourself in ’09. How have you treated it well? How have you treated it poorly? Did you listen to your body when it was hungry or hurting? Has your body image improved or gotten worse? What events contributed to that?
  2. Reflect on how you’d like to treat it in 2010. After thinking about the past, consider the present and future. What would you like to do right now and the rest of the year to improve your body image, to celebrate your body and yourself? What are things that continue to challenge your efforts in improving your body image? How can you overcome those challenges?
  3. Promise to take good care of yourself. Celebrate your body by caring for it and pampering it. Be sure to eat well by feeding your body the necessary vitamins and nutrients. Choose activities that you love, that move your body (dancing, yoga, Pilates, walking, running, kickboxing, jumping rope, biking, running around with your kids, hiking, golfing, swimming, playing sports). Get enough sleep.  Treat yourself to a manicure, spa day, a long walk, a day of vegging out.
  4. End the inner “fat talk.” Sometimes it feels like the negative thoughts will never stop. Bashing your body may seem like it comes naturally to you. Even so, you can still stop these thoughts. Whenever a body-bashing thought pops up, take a minute to think it through and then throw it away. Here’s one way to banish negative thoughts. Here’s a list of other ways to tackle different types of cognitive distortions.
  5. Wear clothes that make you feel confident. Find clothes that fit your shape. Avoid wearing oversized outfits, because more often than not, these don’t make you feel that great, anyway. Comfy, maybe; confident, not so much.
  6. Meet yourself in the middle. Dara Chadwick of the blog and book You’d Be So Pretty If…talks …

The Reality Behind 6 Weight Loss-Related Resolutions

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

Most of us will be making changes in our food and fitness routines for 2010. And one of the biggest motivating forces for said changes is finally being thin. We associate tons of positive things with thinness. Namely, health, happiness, attractiveness and success.

But before you start working toward your goals, here’s the reality behind some of the most common weight loss-related resolutions.

1. The resolution: I’ll give diet pills a try to help accelerate weight loss. Alli has been FDA-approved and is available over the counter. It works by preventing the body from absorbing fat.

The reality: According to Linda Bacon, Ph.D, in Health At Every Size (a book I highly recommend!): “The problem is you also miss out on absorbing many fat-soluble nutrients essential for good health. You are also unlikely to lose much weight. Plus, soon after taking Alli, your weight may ratchet back to where it started, if not higher.”

There’s also some unpleasant side effects you may not expect. Bacon writes, “Alli-oops, as some people say. And ‘anal-leakage and ‘dumping syndrome’ are the official medical terms. The drug company that makes Alli even issued an advisory: ‘You may feel an urgent need to go to the bathroom…It’s probably a smart idea to wear dark pants, and bring a change of clothes with you to work.'” (Interestingly, I don’t remember that mentioned in their commercials).

2. The resolution: Natural supplements seem like a healthy way (they’re natural after all) to lose weight, so they’re on my list of things to try.

The reality: There’s no watchdog over supplements (even the “natural” ones), which means companies can essentially put whatever they want in their products without telling you. Reading the label helps little, because it’s not an accurate list of ingredients. You have no clue what you’re taking. No governmental agency or any agency for that matter checks the bottles for safety or efficacy. Taking these supplements can be very dangerous. Here are some startling facts:

“Many of these ‘herbal’ weight-loss remedies — 69 at last count — are tainted with prescription drugs or mixtures of drugs, including laxatives, diuretics, and anti-seizure medications. And that…

Some Notes on New Year's Resolutions

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

There’s a good chance that many of you will be making some diet or exercise related-resolutions. You may be super-excited at the very thought of a thin transformation. Maybe you think thin and see happiness at the end of a dark tunnel.

But instead of (or at least in addition to) making diet or workout goals for 2010, try something new, something a little different. Some ideas:

  • While making resolutions to “transform” your body, make one to transform your body image and self-acceptance. Consider doing a few things each week or month to boost your body image.
  • Resolve to appreciate yourself. Start with a compliment a day. Consider keeping a journal of daily compliments. How great to read that by the end of 2010!
  • Consider keeping a journal of gratitude: You might write “Today, I’m thankful that my body let me run…I’m thankful that I had an awesome day with mom…I’m thankful that I kept a positive attitude, even though it was a rough day.” You can elaborate as much or as little as you want but resolve to write every day or at least a few times a week. Here’s a list of 11 questions to ask yourself.
  • Avoid resolutions that call for punishing workouts and restriction. Why? In addition to being potentially detrimental to your health, neither grueling exercise nor calorie restriction makes a sustainable lifestyle.
  • Avoid making resolutions about weight (i.e., lose 10 lbs. by springtime). The number on the scale says nothing about your health. Instead, think of habits that contribute to your overall wellness and a healthy lifestyle. And consider avoiding the scale altogether.
  • Be kind to others and yourself. Whatever resolutions you make, approach them with kindness to yourself. Hopefully you’re creating resolutions because you’d like to improve your life or the lives of others. Do that from a place of genuine kindness and self-care, not from a place of self-hatred and self-loathing.
  • When making resolutions, ask yourself: “Can I continue these resolutions long-term, as a lifestyle change? Are they truly good for me?”

Q&A with Julie Parker of "Beautiful You"

Monday, December 28th, 2009

I hope everyone had a very happy Christmas and a wonderful weekend, with minimal post-celebration guilt (if you’re still struggling, check out these six tips).

Today, I’m happy to present an interview with body image expert Julie Parker of the fabulous blog Beautiful You. Below, we talked about her work, tips for building a healthier body image, myths about eating disorders and more.

1. In your bio, you write that you’ve worked in the body image and eating disorder field for over ten years. Tell us more about your work and yourself.

I started out my career as a counselor and soon noticed many girls and young women coming to me for issues related to self-esteem, body image and eating disorders.  I chose to read and study further and quickly found myself incredibly passionate about wanting to be a body image advocate and do more for those who were desperately suffering.  This eventually led me to working for The Butterfly Foundation – Australia’s largest charitable foundation that supports people with eating disorders and negative body image.  I have also experienced my own body image and self-esteem battles and can very much relate to the wide reaching issues they can create and sustain in someone’s life.

2. What led you to start Beautiful You?

While I am very privileged to have a ‘voice’ in the eating disorder and body image field with work, I wanted to share more of my personal thoughts.  I wanted Beautiful You to be a space that was inspirational and life affirming, but also challenged the many insidious and exploitative practices that detract from us having positive body image and self-esteem.

3. What are some of your tips for building a healthier body image?

Love yourself as you are.  Stop believing your life will be perfect if you are thin.  Don’t weigh yourself.  Don’t diet.  Seek ways to lead a balanced life.  Enjoy food.  Find a physical activity you love to do.  Never compare your appearance to someone else.  Become media savvy and literate.  Embrace size, gender, age and cultural diversity.  Recognize your absolute uniqueness.

22 Last-Minute Gift Ideas

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

So it’s Christmas Eve Day, and you may be thinking, “Margarita, it’s way past last-minute anything,” and you’re probably right – though I think some men will argue with me (when I worked at Godiva in college, most of the shoppers on the 24th were men..sorry).

Hopefully, you’re done with your Christmas shopping. Instead, let’s talk about last-minute gifts for yourself that you can give today, on Christmas, all weekend and beyond:

1. 10 minutes of yoga or your favorite physical activity.

2. Reading from your fave inspirational book.

3. Giving yourself a compliment.

4. Giving yourself a hug (cheesy, maybe; comforting, yes).

5. A quiet few minutes to yourself.

6.  A letter of appreciation to yourself.

7. Reading from the Bible or other religious text.

8. Meditating.

9. Taking a long bath or shower.

10. Forgiving yourself.

11. Thanking your body for being there for you, no matter how hard you are on it.

12. Making yourself a promise to be kinder, especially to your body.

13. Buying yourself a spa card.

14. Journaling or buying a journal (No matter what kind of day I’m having, browsing at Barnes and Noble always cheers me up, especially when I’m picking out journals).

15. Going out for coffee, and reflecting, if you like, on anything…this year, what you’re thankful for, excited about, what you’d like to change, what you love.

16. Buying a CD or listening to your fave music.

17. Getting up early on Christmas morning and taking a walk.

18. Sleeping in.

19. Writing out inspirational messages to yourself. They can be words of wisdom, words that say something positive about your body, your favorite quotes, motivating messages, scripture, excerpts from the Torah.

20. Praising yourself for something you did recently.

21. Eating intuitively.

22. A month of anything. When I asked my boyfriend about a last-minute gift he’d give himself, he excitedly said golf 365 days a year. Then, after studying my face for a minute or so, he said golf for a month. Think about what you’d love to do for a month, something really special for yourself, and do it.

What last-minute gifts will you give yourself?

I wish everyone a very healthy, happy, merry Christmas! Thank you so much …

This Holiday, What's Your Food Hiding?

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009

Do you wear food as a mask?

While replying to the amazing Jess Weiner (a great body image and self-esteem advocate) on the first post in the holiday series on how to recognize healthy eating advice, I had a thought about food and its deeper role.

Jess wrote:

I think the choices we make around the holidays are so totally loaded with other emotional layers that sometimes it’s just not about the food — and advice that skims the surface of the deeper issues for women – does a disservice – not only in perpetuating stereotypes for women and food but also for cutting us off from some of the more complex conversations that need to take place so we can finally unload those layers once and for all!

Here’s how I responded:

It’s interesting: Just like sometimes we use food to blunt and push down our emotions, we can do the same around the dinner table with food talk.

Instead of having the complex conversations we need to have, we talk about calories, others’ weight and how we have to work out ASAP. Food becomes a mask almost. We don’t talk about being upset with a family member, or being stressed out, or hating our bodies. Not that we should be all doom and gloom around the table. But it seems easier to talk about food and calories than what’s truly going on inside.

What do you hide with food talk? Talk of how fat you are, how much you’ve gained, how many calories are in the dessert, how so and so has lost tons of weight, how you’ll have to chart across the country just to work off the holiday meal, may be masking other things.

Perhaps you’re really saying I’m anxious today. My self-esteem is dwindling. I’m angry with you but instead of expressing that (it’s the holidays after all), I’ll eat this cheesecake and stuff my rage. I feel lost, especially with the New Year just days away. I’ve always been jealous of your body. You’re wasting away. I miss your friendship. I hate our distance. I wish we could get along.

Sometimes food is just food. Sometimes …

Getting Through the Holidays When You Have an ED

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

The dinner table can become a big source of stress for those of us with eating disorders or who’re currently in recovery. In the third post in our holiday series, I’ve rounded up some excellent advice on eating and having stress-free (or at least less stressful) Christmas and New Year celebrations. These tips also are helpful for anyone with disordered eating or body image issues.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) lists twelve pointers for negotiating the holidays. Below is an excerpt. You can see the rest of the list here.

Eat regularly and in some kind of reasonable pattern. Avoid “preparing for the last supper.” Don’t skip meals and starve in attempt to make up for what you recently ate or are about to eat. Keep a regular and moderate pattern.

Worry more about the size of your heart than the size of your hips! It is the holiday season, a great time to reflect, enjoy relationships with loved ones, and most importantly a time to feel gratitude for blessings received and a time to give back through loving service to others.

Have a well thought out game plan before you go home or invite others into your home. Know “where the exits are,” where your support persons are, and how you’ll know when it’s time to make a brief exit and get connected with needed support.

Write down your vision of where you would like your mind and heart to be during this holiday time with loved ones. Take time, several times per day, to find a quiet place to become in tune again with your vision, to remember, to nurture, and to center yourself into those thoughts, feelings, and actions which are congruent with your vision for yourself.

A few from The Center for Eating Disorders at Shepphard Pratt. You can read the rest here and here.

Remember that there are no “good” or “bad” foods, even at a holiday meal, but be prepared for others to make comments about food, weight gain/loss and diets during holiday gatherings. Decide how you will respond if this happens. A range of responses could include a silent mantra that …

Eating This Holiday (and Beyond) with More Enjoyment and Less Guilt

Monday, December 21st, 2009

Last Friday, we talked about the slew of guilt-inspiring, restrictive advice we typically get from health-related magazines and websites. Registered dietitian Marsha Hudnall, MS, RD, from A Weight Lifted laid out some great tips on how to tell if you’re getting good, genuinely healthy eating advice.

Today, let’s talk about that genuinely healthy advice. Let’s talk about how we can approach eating with enjoyment and keep our body image (and mind) in tact and guilty feelings out the door.

What would happen if you actually enjoyed what you ate and didn’t feel guilty? If you went for a piece of cake or the higher-cal food purely because you wanted to? What if you ate slowly and savored every morsel? And no pangs of guilt ever came up?

Sadly, these are novel thoughts. Usually, we’re told we can enjoy what we eat – with some culinary conditions: be sure you eat low-cal, low-fat, low-sugar; you avoid bad foods; you work it off right away; and you dare not get up for a second helping.

The problem with all the “healthy” holiday eating advice and how we view food is that we usually don’t give ourselves permission to eat. And many of us don’t have a healthy relationship with food in the first place. We’re typically afraid that if we eat what we want, it’ll morph into a free-for-all. We’ve also lost our instincts. We’ve forgotten how to listen to our bodies and taken the power away from ourselves and given it to others.

You may have to relearn how to eat instinctively, but I think it’s a healthy way of approaching eating during the holidays and all the time. Here’s a wonderful list of tips by physician Michelle May, M.D., author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, posted on her website.

Dr. May writes:

  1. Care for yourself physically by getting adequate sleep, exercise, and nutrition.
  2. Create a self-care buffer zone by regularly nurturing your body, mind, heart, and spirit.
  3. When you’re hungry, consider what you want, what you need, and what you have to eat before choosing food.
  4. Decide how you want to feel when you’re finished eating; serve …

How to Tell if Holiday Eating Advice is Truly Healthy

Friday, December 18th, 2009

What would you rather eat: dark turkey meat or white turkey meat?

Let’s say you love dark meat.

Now if it appears like this in a magazine:

The Chubby Choice: Dark Meat Turkey
Three ounces of dark meat (about the size of a deck of cards) contains 165 calories and unhealthy saturated fat.

Slim Swap: White Meat Turkey
Three ounces of white meat contains only 100 calories. Bonus: Lean protein like white meat increases satiety, making you feel fuller longer.

Calories saved: 65

What would you rather eat: the chubby choice or the slim swap?

Sounds like the decision has already been made for you, right?

Sure you may reach for the dark meat, anyway, but you may think twice or feel a pang of guilt.

According to Cosmo, where this helpful advice comes from, you can totally pig out – but only on the virtuous foods like that white turkey meat, steamed veggies and “healthy” mashed potatoes, which are the slim swaps, of course.

To make matters worse, these are the first two sentences of the article: “The average T-day meal packs a whopping 3,000 to 4,000 calories. Add in second and third helpings and you can end up looking like someone stuffed a pumpkin into the back of your skinny jeans.”

Is the pumpkin comment supposed to be funny or a serious word of warning?

Even the American Dietetic Association gives us the same old diet-type of tricks – cloaked in seemingly “healthy” advice – like running away from the buffet table; only having a taste of something to satisfy a craving, which I’m assuming means a measly bite (why can’t I have an entire piece of cake again? what’s so horrible about that exactly?); and choosing low-calorie foods. Yawn.

Michelle of The Fat Nutritionist (a fabulous blog) included the above infuriating links in her post on following eating rules and regulations versus putting your trust in…you.

If I didn’t know better, I would’nt know what to do during the holidays. Do I eat what I want? No, I can’t! That’ll make me gain ten pounds. Do I bring my own  low-fat food to the party and eat that? No, that’s silly. Do I …

Another Way to Look at Your Body Image

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

Do you live your life with purpose?

“Numerous studies have shown that people who have a sense of purpose have better health, better relationships and a higher overall sense of well-being, ” body image expert Sarah Maria writes in her book Love Your Body, Love Your Life.

So what does this have to do with body image exactly?

According to Sarah Maria, without a sense of purpose, we’re more likely to experience a poor body image, or what she terms, “negative body obsession or NBO.” Living your purpose is the last step in her book on ending NBO.

This is how I think of it: When we’re stuck in a cycle of body bashing, something that may help us is to see the bigger picture. Your purpose is that bigger picture. For me, I get joy and purpose from my writing. It helps me realize that I’m more than my physicality. I’m more than my body. I’m more than the sum of my parts. So are you.

I was inspired by a recent post by Therese Borchard, who blogs for Beyond Blue and Psych Central (if you remember, she also shared her story with us about recovering from an eating disorder here).

Last week, Therese discussed a very simple three-step process for creating a life statement and shared hers in this video. While tutoring at the Naval Academy, Therese reviews many papers on life mission statements. The Academy’s professor of leadership has everyone create a statement in just one sentence (for wordy people like me, that’s truly a challenge!) But I love this idea.

To help you find your purpose, ask yourself these three questions:

1. Do what?

2. To whom?

3. In what ways?

My life mission statement is similar to Therese’s:

1. To inform and hopefully inspire

2. Individuals who have negative body image or disordered eating issues

3. By providing reputable information, helpful tips, comfort and compassion.

(Definitely wordy, but I promise it’s still one sentence.)

But what if your statement isn’t exactly crystal clear? Sarah Maria features several exercises in her chapter on purpose. For starters, try to identify your desires. What do you love? If you could do anything in …



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