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March 20, 2009

In Pursuit of a Healthy Weight: One Woman's Green Mountain Experience

3293903618_273fdc0958 Today's post comes from Beverly Dame of Lyndonville, Vermont. After staying at Green Mountain at Fox Run for a week, she wrote a letter to friends and family to explain her experience with our program. We're sharing parts of it here to give women an idea the kind of changes that they can expect when they begin to make themselves a priority. Thanks for sharing, Beverly!

It has been almost a week since I came home from my week at Green Mountain at Fox Run.  It was such a wonderful experience (life-changing, paradigm-shifting, revelatory) that I want to write about it. Women come from all over the country and the world to stay at Green Mountain.  Honolulu, Hawaii; Chicago, Illinois; Alexandria, Virginia; Kingston, Ontario; Montreal, Quebec; northern Georgia; Brooklyn and Manhattan, New York; New Haven and New Canaan, Connecticut; and Croatia all had women there.  Young women in their 20s and women like me in their 60s and in between.  All had been dealing with food and body issues for most of their lives.  Some like me were staying for one week; many for two and a few lucky ones for a month or more. What we came for was a comprehensive way of dealing with the size and shape of our bodies.  Notice, I’m avoiding the use of the word “weight.”  

At Green Mountain it is about mindfulness: being aware and in the moment as we confront choices about food, exercise and responses to all the stresses of daily life. The week combined classes and discussion groups with exercise opportunities.  Women who are in their first week have “required” classes including: fitness soul search: the return to intrinsic movement; are you ready for change? Introduction to the behavior component and to mindfulness; the principles of mindful eating; redefining healthy eating; and understanding the emotions that lead you to eat. 

I was most impressed by the time and attention the program and staff devoted to sending each one of us home with the materials and support to put all we learned into daily practice.  Including the idea that as far as exercise and mindful eating goes, “Something is better than nothing,” and “there will be days.”  

We identified the energizing people in our lives and the energy-drainers and talked about how to deal with them.  I came up with strategies for dealing with dreaded cocktail parties.  I paid for an extra session with the fitness director.  We put together a weekly plan combining weight training and cardio. 

I also came away with human support.  There were six of us of about the same age who formed a group that I loosely dub the “Green Mountain Girls.” Sorry Ethan Allen.  We’re emailing each other with support and understanding.  Staff encourage us to stay in touch with questions.  I’m to check in with my fitness guru at the end of the week after we return from France.  She also gave me hints and suggestions for working out while traveling even if the hotel doesn’t have a gym.  

Before going I would weigh myself every day; how demoralizing, depressing and defeatist.  I’m working on unlearning that habit.  Told myself this morning that I could get on the scale but why?  I’ve been exercising every day, working on eating more slowly, and having a balanced snack in the afternoon to keep from getting too hungry.  And I did well at two eating out occasions this week.  All of that is really more important for my long-term health and success than a number on a scale. 

How is Beverly doing today, about one month after returning home from Green Mountain?
"I'm trying to stay off the scale.  Hard, hard, hard.  I know there's a lot of psychological baggage going on with wanting to weigh myself every day. 

I think the hardest thing to is being in charge of my eating.  I do the cooking and have been trying new healthful things (actually had bison burgers last night) but I can feel that my speed of eating has increased.  Need to start putting down that fork or spoon between bites.

And my husband and I need to set a time for an evening meal.  He's a chaotic eater and I'm a dieter.  Not a match made in Green Mountain heaven.  Of course, tonight there is a business dinner which always is a challenge.

The one thing that is much better is that I've stopped beating up on myself for my size and weight.  Actually, I'm finding out that there is more to life.

Posted by Emily on March 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2009

On Meghan McCain, Tyra Banks & Hope

1150786_85005404 Have you been following the Meghan McCain body size debate over the last week?  If you've somehow missed it, Lesley at Fatshionista has a good review of what's gone on.

My take on it has to do with dismay, gratification and optimism.

  • I'm appalled that a woman dissed Ms. McCain about her body size.  Guess I shouldn't be.  But I like to think that women are leading the way away from size prejudice, and it's just disturbing to see my belief so publicly challenged.
  • I'm pleased Ms. McCain had a prominent, beautiful woman like Tyra Banks as a model for fighting size disparagement.  Let's face it, if Tyra weren't beautiful, she wouldn't have as much clout in this issue.  But that gets into another subject.
  • I'm hopeful these kinds of attacks are becoming more recognized as wrong -- or at the least, politically incorrect.  My hope stems from the fact that we've seen what began as a small number of voices over 30 years ago snowball into the Health at Every Size (HAES) movement, which is gaining significant momentum. 

The basic tenets of HAES are the future of self-care, which is ideally what healthy weight is all about.  The tenets -- eating intuitively, moving our bodies regularly in order to feel well, taking care of ourselves in other basic ways, and accepting the bodies that result -- are, in a way, about optimizing our genetic destiny.  And accepting we are all different.

Hope, optimism, destiny.  They're all good words to help us keep on keepin' on

What words describe your feelings about the state of size acceptance?

Posted by Marsha on March 18, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 16, 2009

Treat Yourself to the Right Bra

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According to experts and studies about 80 percent of women are wearing the wrong bra size. I recently read an article in New York magazine that touched on the problem many women face. In the middle of a bra fitting, the saleswoman told the author she needed to lose weight. "Nightmares like this have kept me in ill-fitting bras for years," wrote the author. Many of us are reluctant to be measured and prodded by a stranger, but wearing a well-fitting bra can bring unexpected results. It's a little something that you can do for yourself that can mean the difference between feeling great and feeling uncomfortable in your skin. The right fitting bra can improve body image, ease back pain. And remember, there's a bra out there for you. Here are a few tips to get you started.

While many women wear a compression or "short top" bra for physical activity, the bra experts at Intimacy recommend a medium to high impact bra with seams, shape and cup-depth like the La Breeza Sports bra for most physical activities and sports. Many fuller-busted women tend to try to wear minimizer or compression bras that may not offer enough support, especially for higher impact activities. Consult this primer on choosing a sports bra from the Women's Sports Medicine Center.

Make sure the back band is snug. The back band should provide 90% of a bra’s support while the straps should only provide 10 percent.

Check out Intimacy's Top 10 Bra Mistakes. It may surprise you to learn that you're wearing the wrong cup size.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: Don't blame yourself for an ill-fitting bra. "The truth is that every woman blames her own body for the fit problems she has," writes Susan Nethero at Intimacy. A bra should be tailored to your body, not the other way around. Don't let embarrassment self-blame or stop you from finding the right bra.

Other bra resources:

Title Nine

Bra Smyth

Bare Necessities



Photo by tracyhunter on flickr.

Posted by Emily on March 16, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 23, 2009

National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

NEDA_Poster-Awareness_09-05-08forWEB On A Weight Lifted, we often blog about women who struggle with body image, binge eating, emotional eating, and unhealthy dieting - all issues which relate to more serious and sometime life-threatening eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we -as a society - could prevent more people from undergoing the same difficulties?

The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to ultimately prevent eating disorders and body image issues while reducing the stigma surrounding eating disorders and improving access to treatment.

What is NEDAwareness Week?

NEDAwareness Week is a collective effort of primarily volunteers, eating disorder professionals, health care providers, educators, social workers, and individuals committed to raising awareness of the dangers surrounding eating disorders and the need for early intervention and treatment.

How NEDAwareness Week Works

NEDAwareness Week participants organize events, share stories and distribute educational materials at schools, fitness centers, offices, community centers, places of worship and more mainly during the last week of February each year. As an official NEDAwareness Week participant you can be involved in any way that works with your schedule, resources, community, and interests. For example, you could donate copies of GO GIRLS!™ and Healthy Body Image: Teaching Kids to Eat and Love Their Bodies Too! to schools, ask your workplace to participate in the NEDA Wear Your Jeans to Work Fundraiser, coordinate a first annual NEDA Walk, or arrange interactive and educational activities such as panel discussions, fashion shows, body fairs, movie screenings, art exhibits and more.  These events and activities attract public media attention - on local, national and international levels.

Until Eating Disorders are History....

Find out more how you can volunteer, obtain information, and show your support. Visit the National Eating Disorders website and get involved!

Posted by Laura on February 23, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 20, 2009

Body Image: And the Award Goes To...

3001714590_5a895d93fd On Sunday, much of the country will be glued to their televisions watching celebrities partying at the Oscars. But many of the Hollywood A-list appear to have looks that few of us can achieve. If you're watching the red carpet frenzy and feeling like the standard of beauty you see is unattainable (and unrealistic), here are a few things worth keeping in mind:

  • First and foremost, silence your inner critic. At Green Mountain we talk a lot about size and self acceptance. Comparing yourself to others isn't useful. You are your own standard. You don't have to live up to anybody else's. If you feel good and are healthy, that's what matters most.
  • Many of the "normal people," not the super-celebs, but the costume designers, composers and other production artists that make it onto the stage look a lot like you and me. They're regular people with careers in film who may not be Angelina Jolie, but still look elegant in an evening gown. Why some of these women don't make it onto the red carpet pre-show is beyond me.
  • Whether it's crash diets or pills, many celebs slim down before the award season in dangerous ways. Would you want to be "thin" if it meant gambling with your health?
  • Take your cue from the lovely Oscar-nominated Kate Winslet, who recently told Nightline : "I've decided I'm going to start loving my backside."
  • All the women are wearing Spanx body slimmers and other modern-day corsets squeezing them from all sides. While Spanx can't give you a new body, it certainly smoothes out problem areas. But would you rather be sitting in your living room in sweats or wearing an uncomfortable air-tight body suit with heels?
  • Root for first-time nominee Melissa Leo for her starring role in Frozen River. Leo plays a single mom struggling to make ends meet. She doesn't look glam even once in the film, which she performs in entirely without make-up. Some reviewers thought it was harsh to make her look so stark, but hey, it's reality.
  • Celebrities are people, too. Best Supporting Actress nominee Viola Davis lamented to the New York Post: "Now with all the parties and wine and cheese, I have to watch myself. Can't be going bald and shoveling it in with all those skinny-ass gorgeous girls at the Oscars." Wow, an Oscar nominee that worries that other actresses are skinnier and more gorgeous than she is. No matter how famous or successful, we're all insecure!
  • No matter what your size, try to be Happy-Go-Lucky and let go of all the small ways that you judge yourself on a daily basis. This undermines your success and generally brings you down. Focus instead on the positive changes that you're making and have made in your life.  
Photo by cliff1066 via flickr.

Posted by Emily on February 20, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 30, 2009

When I Grow Up, I Want to Be an Old Woman

Some things are just too good not to share.  This video is one of them.  It encourages us to get mammograms.  That's good, too, although not why I posted the video.  Watch it; I'm sure you'll understand my why.

One other good thing I want to share:  a blog called The Gimpy Girls: Solutions for Baby Boomers, the Disabled and the Just Plain Lazy.  That's where I found this video.  Now I'm looking for time to read more of the blog.

Have a great weekend!!

Posted by Marsha on January 30, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 21, 2009

Tomorrow is Women's Healthy Weight Day!

470286_behind_the_shutter Each year, the Thursday of Healthy Weight Week (third week in January) is devoted to women, to honor size diversity and "confirm that beauty, health and strength come in all sizes, and that talent, love and compassion cannot be weighed." Awards this year go to two winners.

Developed at Trinity University in San Antonio, this research-based program combats media images of female beauty.  As part of its national launch, Fat Talk Free Week was created, featuring a viral video email to raise consciousness about Fat Talk and body dissatisfaction among women.  Research shows it's seeing success: 48% of women at one college who said they "felt fat almost every day" reported eight months later they felt that way never or less than half the time).

Best website: Love Your Body
Sponsored by the National Organization for Women Foundation, this website provides encouragement, and perhaps more importantly, tools to help girls and women "just say no" to destructive media images. It also raises awareness about women's health.  Its message: "...be healthy and love yourself regardless of what the scale says."  In 2009, it will collaborate with the Reflections program to sponsor Fat Talk Free Week in October, the month that NOW promotes its own Love Your Body Day.

Check out both these websites for great information on what you can do to promote size acceptance and good health among women tomorrow and every day.  While you're at it, also consider signing the HAES (Health at Every Size) pledge on Linda Bacon's website Health at Every Size. She's also developing a registry to help folks find HAES resources throughout the country.

Another subject entirely:  For a good laugh, check out The FitBottomed Girls blog post on the Celine Dion Workout!

Posted by Marsha on January 21, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 14, 2009

Healthy Weight vs. Normal Weight: Who's to Say?

1077713_scale_series_5 I had such a hard time deciding on a post topic this morning.  There are so many good/important things to post about. What finally won was another discussion of Oprah's weight.  

But no salacious comments here. 

The question at hand is not Oprah's up-and-down battle with serious weight loss but the measure by which many of us define success. Is it the government's definition of 'normal,' which is defined by the body mass index?  Or is it a weight at which we feel well, function well, and at which a variety of health parameters (such as blood glucose or cholesterol) tell us we're doing fine?

For a great discussion of this, check out the article by Paul Campos, author of The Obesity Myth, in Rocky Mountain News.

If you can get on board with this, I vote that we all give up talking about our weight (and weighing ourselves -- toss out that scale!).  If we want to talk, let's discuss our healthy lifestyle habits instead.   Positive = Forward.

Posted by Marsha on January 14, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (11) | TrackBack

December 17, 2008

Women's Weight Loss: 'Tis the Season to Be Kind

I had a wonderful interaction with a family member this morning.  Amazingly, it was echoed in my horoscope today on DailyOM, the site I've mentioned before that is often uncannily relevant to what's going on in my life.  Won't get into the generality of horoscopes -- I know they often can apply to anyone. But the words I get in a daily e-letter from DailyOM seem to go beyond that.

But to my real reason for even mentioning this. The horoscope talks about doing something for others with a 'kind and open heart.'  It brought to mind for me the need for women struggling with body image and healthy weight loss and maintenance to be kind to themselves.  Because once we begin to treat ourselves gently, we find we can treat others much more gently -- especially those with similar struggles. And when it comes to healthy lifestyle management, fitness and diet, there's a real need for gentle treatment.  

Of course, one of the things we're most tough on ourselves about during the holiday season is our desire to eat all the great treats of the season -- and our indulgence in doing it. So it bears repeating on this blog that is all about learning to take care of ourselves well, that indulgence is good for us in moderation.  So go ahead, indulge!  Here are a few tips from our article "Go Ahead, Indulge!" that talks about holiday overeating.

  • Feed yourself.
  • Be choosy.
  • Eat mindfully.
  • Cultivate a discriminating palate. 
  • Keep moving. 
  • Enjoy the season!  
For details on doing all that, read our Fitbriefing that defines healthy weight loss foods a bit differently.

Posted by Marsha on December 17, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 03, 2008

How Much Stress Do Weight Worries Create for You?

The contribution of the holidays aside, stress is a constant in our lives.  What we often don't realize, however, is how much concern about weight can cloud all we do, adding stress to even the happiest situations.

A timely example:  You're invited to a holiday party but don't have anything to wear.  You don't want to go shopping because you know you'll have a tough time finding anything that looks good on you. Plus, you worry about the food.  Will it be rich?  Will you be able to resist eating too much of it, giving up all hope of managing emotional eating as you reach for yet another bite?  Will you gain weight as a result?  Will all eyes be focused on you as you eat -- you know they'll be wondering why someone who looks like you has no willpower, or someone who has type 2 diabetes or who just 'lost all that weight,' would make the choice to eat such food. 

Whether your worries are founded in reality or not, the issue is the same.  We add enormous stress to our lives with such thoughts, that are ruled by our image of ourselves as fat, undeserving and unacceptable.

One of our oldie but goodie FitBriefings -- Accept Your Wonderful Self -- speaks to the issue of body image, self-esteem and liking who we are -- which is much more than what we weigh.

Are you aware of how much weight worries create stress in your life?  Isn't it time to begin supporting yourself with your thoughts instead?

Posted by Marsha on December 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack