Monday, September 17, 2012

Character over vanity...

" “Fat” is usually the first insult a girl throws at another girl when she wants to hurt her I mean, is ‘fat’ really the worst thing a human being can be? Is ‘fat’ worse than ‘vindictive’, ‘jealous’, ‘shallow’, ‘vain’, ‘boring’ or ‘cruel’? Not to me; but then, you might retort, what do I know about the pressure to be skinny?
I’m not in the business of being judged on my looks, what with being a writer and earning my living by using my brain…I went to the British Book Awards that evening. After the award ceremony I bumped into a woman I hadn’t seen for nearly three years. The first thing she said to me? ‘You’ve lost a lot of weight since the last time I saw you!’ ‘Well,’ I said, slightly nonplussed, ‘the last time you saw me I’d just had a baby.’ What I felt like saying was, ‘I’ve produced my third child and my sixth novel since I last saw you. Aren’t either of those things more important, more interesting, than my size?’
But no – my waist looked smaller! Forget the kid and the book: finally, something to celebrate!
I’d rather they were independent, interesting, idealistic, kind, opinionated, original, funny – a thousand things, before ‘thin’. And frankly, I’d rather they didn’t give a gust of stinking chihuahua flatulence whether the woman standing next to them has fleshier knees than they do. Let my girls be Hermiones, rather than Pansy Parkinsons." - J.K Rowling ♥
--Thanks to J.K. Rowling (author of Harry Potter if you don't know and live under a rock) for reaffirming and reassuring all who read this (I hope) that there really are far worse things in life than being "fat" or overweight or not the size of the average but not-so-average-American supermodel for that matter.
I'd rather be passionate, caring, kind, philanthropic, giving and overweight than rude, inconsiderate, negative, conniving, selfish and "skinny".
Priorities, y'all.
Healthy does NOT always mean skinny. And, besides, character over vanity.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Mindful Eating - How to & Why to...

Food. What a beautiful thing yet, it can be so full of suffering for some... 

Those of you that know me and this blog know that historically, food has been something I have used to satisfy my mind rather than my appetite. I have also used it to try to fulfill an emotional void... key word: try, because that doesn’t work, by the way.

Food is something funny in our society. It’s funny because it is everywhere and seems to have multiple purposes. Think about it. When was the last time you celebrated, mourned, watched sports, had a “girls night” or “guys night”, had a meeting, attended a seminar or training, greeted a new neighbor, lent a hand to someone who has recently experienced loss... what is a common denominator in all of these varying events and circumstances? Yep, you guessed it... food.

I think a lot of us tend to lose appreciation of the food we consume. We simply skip the appreciation part, and we move right onto consumption. For a lot of people, their food consumption is on-the-go and moves quickly. 

Question: When was the last time you sat down and slowly ate bite by bite, morsel by morsel... when was the last time you actually experienced your food consumption? Ever? Do you even know what I mean by having a “food experience”?

Well, I have a project for you. It is a project I have done several times, and something that is always good to go back to and do again.

A Mindful Eating Experience


Step 1: Set yourself up with a plate of food. It can look like mine above, with a variety of foods, or it can be one meal you absolutely love.

Step 2: Sit down. Get comfortable. Get quiet. You may even want to play some serene and relaxing music while you prepare to truly enjoy and actually taste your food.

Step 3a: Eat one bite, one morsel at a time and do it slowly. Take note of the texture, the smell, the taste, the intensity, the bitter, the sweet, the sour, the savory... take note of every single aspect of each and every bite. 

Step 3b: Notice how you experience the food differently this way. Notice what you notice about the food items that you might not have noticed before. Pay attention to how this experience of eating is different from most times you consume the same or similar food items. Were there food items you didn’t enjoy as much as you thought you would? Were there food items you enjoyed more than you ever have before?

Step 4: Notice how you experience satisfaction. Notice how you feel as far as becoming full or feeling as though you have had enough and feel satisfied. Did you eat more than usual? DId you eat less than usual?

Step 5: How do you feel after your mindful eating experience?

I encourage you to take notes during this time. I encourage you to do this as often as possible. And, I encourage you to remember your feelings and your experience when you are in a time where you might feel more out of control in your eating, or when you feel you might be eating to quickly or to “on-the-go”. 

I challenge you to consider how you can take this experience and use the memories and what you have learned about what being mindful can do for your overall experience and enjoyment with food.

Don’t just eat food. Enjoy food. 

Enjoying food is a whole lot more fulfilling the chewing and swallowing...

---> Stay tuned for the next blog on my own Mindful Eating Experience!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy - my go-to approach in treating eating disorders... this is why

This blog is a discussion post I submitted for a class in my graduate program called Counseling Theories and Practice. I thought some might find it of interest... Our professor posed a question:

-What is the main theory you would choose as a framework for practice? Why?
a) How does this theory reflect your beliefs about human nature; what makes people "tick"?
b) How does this theory reflect your personal style, qualities, strengths, and values?

This is how I answered:

    The theory I most gravitate towards when thinking of my goal as a future Eating Disorder and Body Image therapist is Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy. Eating disordered thought revolve around faulty thinking, catastrophizing cycles, and self-destructive emotions. The words “should, ought, must” are staples in the vocabulary of a disordered eater. Because of their irrational beliefs and standards, they set themselves up for failure; when they do fail, it is an utter catastrophe in their eyes.
     I fully agree with the statement in the text on p.251 that "people's cognitions are the primary source of their difficulties." In order to get someone to think more rationally, distorted thoughts have to be identified, evaluated, disputed and changed in order to facilitate a switch in perspective from irrational to rational in order to improve resulting emotions and behaviors. Albert Ellis developed an easily approachable solution that a therapist would initially teach a client to use so the client can continue on to self-treat throughout their lives. This, of course, is the ABCDEF Method in which irrational belief systems are disputed and the client can recognize that they ultimately have the choice. 
     I like that REBT goes further than that though as well. REBT recognizes that frustration tolerance is key to being able to cope as it stresses that life will not always go as planned. No kidding, right? This is needed to avoid catastrophizing and becoming easily disappointed. For example, in the eating disorder world, one might attempt to restrict. This makes for high levels of anxiety in their pursuit of “being good”. Once the restrictor fails to restrict by overeating or “binging”, extreme, awfulized and catastrophic beliefs take over which cause depression, anger, disappointment, guilt, etc. I thoroughly believe that if an eating disordered individual is taken through the steps in the ABCDEF model, they can restructure by disputing their irrational and catastrophic beliefs which will allow them to recognize they have a choice in how to label their beliefs. In turn, they can build a more rational belief system and develop new feelings and behaviors which can ultimately stop their eating disordered cycle.
    One of the three levels of insight described in the text states, "The insight to see that we choose to upset ourselves" (p.255).  REBT also recognizes that we, as individuals, always have a choice. Once a client can recognize their irrationality and distorted beliefs, they can choose an alternative and rational thought. Once someone is able to process their phenomenological view and how it may involve some irrationality, they can become their own therapist and dispute faulty thinking and live a much more serene and positive life in the present and future.
    My idea regarding human nature is certainly that all people are innately good. I am a firm believer that societal standards and negative life experiences can make any person lose sight of rationality and an ability to self-control. I believe that when one sets absolutes (shoulds, oughts, musts) about themselves or their lives, they are setting themselves up for failure. Failure, irrationality and recurring awfulizing thoughts make people tick, and jerk, and spaz... Once the sight of logic is lost, so is the nondefeating, appropriate and rational mind.
    As a future eating disorder therapist, the theory of REBT reflects my values, strengths and qualities in many ways. On a personal level, I have suffered through an eating disorder and I know very well the irrationality surrounding it’s perpetual cycle. My strengths are reflected in the sense that I will have the ability to be patient with a client in this disputation process. I feel as though I am good at educating clients and pointing out self-defeating thought processes empathetically. My personal style, in fact, is based around education. I thoroughly believe that if a client has not learned something in therapy, simply talking about their problems and faulty beliefs won’t make a bit of difference. In fact, it could make them worse off. Education is needed to promote recovery or problem solving. And, education and awareness are needed to promote prevention of relapse or future problems.
    Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy; although it is similar to cognitive therapy, I prefer the structure involved in the disputation process of REBT. I will bring disordered eaters into recovery with this theory, of this I am certain.