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November 05, 2008
Women's Healthy Lifestyles: Self-Esteem & Loving Ourselves
We've written a lot about self-esteem and self-acceptance over the years we've had this blog. The issue is that we spend our time apologizing for who we are because we are ashamed or otherwise feel bad about our body size. But for the last 36+ years, we at Green Mountain at Fox Run have been trying to move women beyond the issue of body size and women's weight loss. We have always proclaimed that we are much more than our body size and to be successful in achieving a healthy lifestyle and living a healthy, happy life, we need to like ourselves for who we are, regardless of our body size. Thelma, our founder, began our program with the phrase "You're going to like you!" Sounds simplistic but is so at the core of the issue.
October 22, 2008
More on Healthy Weights & Reading
A couple weeks ago, I posted about research that showed reading books that young girls could identify with helped improve self esteem and might be a good way to reach them with helpful fitness and health information. Emphasis on the helpful, which to us at Green Mountain means health at every size [HAES] messages.
For anyone who can use a primer on what HAES is all about, I'm thrilled to report that Linda Bacon has published her long-awaited book (long-awaited in HAES circles at least) "Health at Every Size, The Surprising Truth about your Weight." Excerpts from the website:
Fat isn't the problem. Dieting is the problem.
A society that rejects anyone whose size or body shape doesn't meet an impossible ideal is the problem.
A medical establishment that equates "thin" with "healthy" is the problem.
The solution? Health at Every Size
Health at Every Size is not a diet book. Read it and you will be convinced that the best way to win the war against fat is the give up the fight.
This is a book with helpful messages that anyone concerned about womens healthy living -- or anyone else's, for that matter -- can really use.
October 08, 2008
For Healthy Weight Loss, Read a Book?
According to a women's health website, Duke University researchers this week released results of a study that showed young girls (age 9 to 13) who were part of a weight loss program fared better after reading a novel that featured a story line about a young large size girl who worries about going on an outdoor school trip but ends up doing well on the trip, improving self-esteem and physical activity levels along the way. The researchers said that the study shows a novel way (pun intended) to reach young girls with positive weight loss information.
In my book (pun intended again), it sounds like this is all about identifying with others, finding others that deal with similar issues and seeing how they successfully navigate their way to taking care of themselves. We see that all the time at Green Mountain. Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of taking part in our healthy weight loss program is bonding with other women who are here, learning that we are not alone in our search for how to take care of ourselves and gaining the powerful support of like-minded women who can help us see our options.
Peggy Elam, PhD, clinical psychologist, is founder and president of Pearlsong Press in Nashville, Tennessee. It's a wonderful source for fiction that features story lines starring large size women that may be able to help provide inspiration, insight and support for other large size women. At the least, they're entertaining reads.
April 01, 2008
Triggers for Emotional Eating
Emotional eating is something we all engage in from time to time. For example, it's normal to celebrate with food, and sometimes nothing is more comforting than food. Still, it can get the best of us if we turn to food too often.
1. Feeling disempowered to change your life
2. Feeling overwhelmed or trapped and not knowing how to move forward
3. Unresolved stress and anxiety
4. Perfectionist attitudes or fear of making mistakes or failing
5. Loneliness or Boredom
6. Having a sense of insecurity
7. Feeling undeserving of the abundance and pleasure life has to offer
8. Low self-esteem or poor self-image
9. Eating to hide an emptiness inside
10. A sense of feeling deprived caused by dieting or "being good" with food
Lists like these are useful because it can be hard to figure out what's driving emotional eating sometimes. But that's the first step in overcoming emotional eating -- becoming aware of why we're doing it. Only then can we come up with strategies that will truly help us.
Check out Annette's site and her books for more useful information on emotional eating and other issues that get in the way of our being the best we can be. Check out our Green Mountain site, too, for articles we've written on emotional eating that offer specific strategies for a myriad of reasons we emotionally eat.
October 31, 2007
Requiem for a Fad Diet Author
I just learned that the author of the Beverly Hills Diet died a few days ago. There's nothing in particular I have to say about this, or the diet, that wasn't brilliantly summed up in a post on diet blog. Briefly, the post talks about formulas for these types of books: pseudo-scientific theories, celebrity testimonials, a sexy title named after a city, and a dose (large) of insecurity about being larger than the societal ideal.
The big question for me is why we keep falling for fad diet schemes like this? It does seem easy to follow the rules of these diets, which are so restrictive; we don't have to think about the choices we're making. But for the most part, we know any weight loss we achieve isn't lasting, or for that matter, healthy.
Whether we're trying to lose weight to improve our health, such as following a type 2 diabetes program, or whether we just want to fit into a pair of skinny jeans, the only answer is changing our lifestyle if it's unhealthy, or changing our minds if we're not genetically destined to fit into skinny jeans. And taking a step back, I keep asking whether research clearly links problems like type 2 diabetes with weight, or is it linked with the behaviors that lead to more weight than is good for us? I keep getting equivocal answers about this, according to whom I ask, which makes me suspect that the latter is the case. And if that's true, fad diets are the last thing that are going to help. All they do is focus on the weight, and for many people, end up creating disordered eating behaviors that plague us in our efforts to get and stay healthy.
Here's one way to implement that healthy lifestyle that includes healthy eating behaviors: Go trick or treating with the kids tonight -- taking those long walks through local streets. If you feel like eating a piece of candy or two, go for it. Bingeing on the candy obviously isn't normal eating...it's just one example of the disordered eating that diets like The Beverly Hills Diet has driven many of us to.
October 17, 2007
Learning to Cook for Healthy Weight Loss
Here's a bit of weight loss information you might already know about: The research is pretty clear -- those of us who eat out more often seem to be destined to have a harder time maintaining a healthy weight. And when it comes to healthy weight loss -- fuhgeddaboutit! (Okay, so the Sopranos are over, but some things just won't go away.)
So if we want to keep our healthy lifestyles intact, whether it be for healthy eating in general or specific problems like maintaining a type 2 diabetes program, it's also clear that we need to make food at home. That's a challenge for many reasons, not the least of which is that many of us just don't know how to cook. So Green Mountain has two solutions.
First, we're sponsoring a series of healthy cooking workshops this fall with our executive chef Jon Gatewood and sous chef Lisa Fennimore. Both are seriously talented in not just making good food, but also in teaching others how to do it themselves, even within time and financial budgets. Plus, fall is a great time to come to Green Mountain. The season is changing to winter, and it offers a special feeling that you don't find other times of the year. What's more, our rates drop. :-)
The second solution is more likely for most of us, I suspect. It only involves buying the new First Kitchen Cooks DVD and popping it into your computer to quickly learn how to make some basic dishes that you can then expand on. Alta Engstrom, RD, our communications director, has formed her own company to produce this valuable tool. It's targeted at young people -- her niece Allison stars in it, and being a 20-something, talks to her peers in it -- but it's really useful for anyone who doesn't know their way around the kitchen. Check it out on Alta's website First Kitchen Cooks; you can see a video clip of it there.
So do you already know how to cook? Then consider the DVD as a holiday gift for the young person/people in your life. Chances are they're still kitchen novices, and who knows, you might get a dinner invitation out of it!
October 10, 2007
Healthy Eating or Disordered Eating in Teens?
We get a lot of questions from our participants at Green Mountain at Fox Run about how to help their children avoid eating and weight problems. It's a good question. "Since the 1980s, disordered eating has become so common that it affects the majority of adolescent girls," according to Marcia Herrin, EdD, an eating disorders specialist who has updated her book The Parent's Guide to Eating Disorders: Supporting Self-Esteem, Healthy Eating & Positive Body Image at Home. It's affecting boys much more commonly, too.
As someone who struggled with disordered eating and eating disorders earlier in my life, I was intent on making sure my two children (girl and boy) didn't follow in my footsteps. I don't think they have, but it's been a challenge even with my professional understanding to help them develop healthy attitudes about food, exercise, their weights, their appearance. Our society is just too distorted about these subjects.
I found Marcia's book a good review of how to help our children avoid, or recover from, disordered eating and eating disorders. It's not easy to keep them healthy on this subject...but it's well worth the effort.
July 17, 2007
Give Your Daughter the Gift of a Positive Body Image
101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Lover Her Body
By Brenda Lane Richardson and Elane Rehr
From birth to her teenage years, help your daughter to develop the confidence, physical strength, emotional maturity and respect for her body. You may even pick up a few pointers on treating yourself more kindly too! This book shows you how to inspire your daughter to participate in sports, challenge media messages, deal with difficult emotions and 98 other ways to encourage her to love herself.
To order this book or Green Mountain’s cookbook, Recipes for Living, which includes more than 50, delicious and healthy recipes, visit www.fitwoman.com or call Green Mountain at 800.448.8106.
May 30, 2007
Another No Vote for Weight Loss Diets
'Tis the season...for diets, that is. With summer fast approaching, I can almost hear the collective worries of American (and other countries) women who begin fretting anew over what they look like in shorts and bathing suits. Body image issues ignored, the collective answer generally runs towards starting another weight loss diet.
With that in mind, I thought I'd pass on a few diet book reviews, books that are competing for the attention of weight-worried women this summer. The reviews are direct from The ADA Times, a publication of The American Dietetic Association.
- 21 Pounds in 21 Days -- The Martha's Vineyard Diet Detox -- The claim: Detox allows the body to release toxins and excess weight. The method: Liquids only, including 64 ounces of distilled water daily, plus supplements. The facts: Some of the book's recommendations, such as food combining and colonic therapy, have no scientific merit for weight loss according to the ADA. Our take: Weight lost quickly -- and it will probably be lost quickly when just drinking liquids for three weeks -- returns even more quickly. The health effects of such yo-yo dieting are nothing to toy with.
- The Serotonin Power Diet: Use Your Brain's Natural Chemistry to Cut Cravings, Curb Emotional Overeating, and Lose Weight -- The claim: Raising serotonin levels will cause you to lose weight. The method: Eat high-carb, low-protein, low-fat meals/snacks the first two weeks. Subsequent weeks vary the protein content and number of snacks. The facts: Whether this plan actually boosts serotonin levels has not been evaluated. The ADA also notes that most readers will probably lose weight as they would with any calorie-restricted, low-fat diet that encourages regular physical activity. Our take: The extra-ordinary attention needed to eat like this stands in the way of doing it long-term, and that makes it another wasted effort for most people. Not sure whether raising serotonin levels is the real problem for most folks, either.
- The Snack Factor Diet: The Secret to Losing Weight by Eating More -- The claim: Monitoring portions, proportions and levels of hunger and choosing nutrient dense foods will help you lose weight. The method: Monitoring portions, proportions and levels of hunger and choosing nutrient dense foods. The meal plan excludes fruit entirely and allows only two starch servings a day. The facts: The method sounds good until you get to the carbohydrate limits. Our take: Ditto. Much too restrictive, and hence not realistic.
- Joy Bauer's Food Cures: Easy 4-Step Nutrition Programs for Improving Your Body -- The claim: Proper nutrition fuels your body; balanced meals with the 'right' calories for you helps you maintain a healthy weight. The method: Readers are taught to estimate their energy needs and choose among balanced meal plans of different calorie levels. The facts: The ADA likes it. Our take: We certainly agree with the premise of proper nutrition, but disagree with the focus on calorie counting. Too many women have come to Green Mountain after years of failing at calorie counting. It just doesn't work for the vast majority of people.
Of course, these few books are probably only a drop in the ocean that are flooding bookstores right now. Our take on all of them: If they've got you doing anything other than normal eating, they're probably just going to exacerbate struggles over the long term.
Have a happy, healthy summer that's diet-free!
April 16, 2007
Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters
I’ve spoken several times on the perils of going to the gym. It is a place rife with stories of women who are in the never-ending search for the perfect body, or perhaps even more illusive – someone else’s body.
Not too long ago I was going nowhere on the stationary bike in my gym and noticed two young women cycling their brains out in front of me - they couldn’t have been more than 14 or 15. Both dressed rather provocatively, in the shortest of shorts accompanied with t-shirts tied tightly in a knot under their sports bras with lots of beaded bracelets (Lindsay style) and spray on tans. They didn’t strike me as young athletes in training, but rather two friends in the gym trying to improve their bodies – bodies that were by anyone’s standards already beautiful. Well, this is America afterall (and a fat America at that), so who says two teenage women shouldn’t be spending their spare time in the gym?
Ok, me. When I was 14 never, never, would my friends and I have considered the gym a fun way to spend a sunny afternoon - so what do we suppose brought these two young women to the gym? A lack of athletic opportunities, no physical education in the schools, or something more sinister?
A wonderful new book has just been published this March, entitled, Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters: The Frightening New Normalcy of Hating Your Body published by Simon & Schuster's Free Press. Courtney E. Martin a talented young writer, has written a book about disordered eating and body image from a new and fresh perspective. From Courtney's website:
"Filled with information from expert psychologists and hundreds of interviews with women with eating disorders, Courtney E. Martin's Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters is a wake-up call to women of all ages and races to recognize the epidemic of eating disorders and what it's doing to them, their daughters, friends, and relatives. Courtney Martin argues passionately that women must commit themselves to developing new attitudes about their bodies, and redirect the negative energy they spend on denying themselves contentment in order to become re-engaged with the possibilities of a better life." - Simon & Schuster
This may be the perfect gift to give that special young woman in your life who just doesn't think you get it.