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July 02, 2008

Healthy Body Image: Body Hatred is Learned

Another excellent e-letter from our friend and consultant Karin Kratina. Karin and her colleague Amy Tuttle write how body hatred is a learned behavior:

Have you ever met a baby who hated her body? Somewhere along the way, we learn to dislike, and even hate, our bodies. How did we learn this?

With that provocative statement, they then go on to discuss the effect of advertising, female oppression in the workplace and the power of positive self talk. It's a worthwhile read -- check it out on their website Nourishing Connections.

Read more about positive self talk on Green Mountain's website, too. Giving ourselves positive feedback is a great way to start the day, and the more we do it, the more it becomes a habit that can change our lives for the better. And positive self talk is a key behavior for healthy weight loss and maintenance.

Here are a few suggestions from Karin and Amy for talking to yourself when you pass a mirror:

So, just for today, whenever you see your reflection, say something powerfully positive to yourself. Take a minute right now to decide what that will be. Some examples are:

• “Wow, what a wonderfully powerful woman!” • “Hey, bright and beautiful you!” • “Hello there sweet and wonderful person!”

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

June 24, 2008

Healthy Body Image - Give The Gift To Someone You Love

I spend most of my days talking to women from all over the world (literally), who struggle with feeling weighted down by the pounds on the scale, the way they see themselves in the mirror and how they feel physically and emotionally.

Women from every corner of the globe are looking to put to rest, once and for all, their frustration and preoccupation with food, fat and failure and in so many cases, these feelings begin all too young. 

The book recommended below speaks to this fact and to young women who can begin now to stop punishing themselves with negative feelings about their bodies and the negative images they create in their minds and hearts and focus on what will really pull them successfully through their lives - self love.

101 Ways to Help Your Daughter Love Her Body by Brenda Lane Richardson and Elane Rehr.

Another great read: Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters Perfect Girls, Starving Daughters by Courtney E. Martin

Posted by Cindy on June 24, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

June 03, 2008

Body Snarking on the Rise

1012237_laughing_at_photosTypically on this blog we talk about changing our own negative self-talk. Many of us have had a life filled with insults, criticism and jokes about our size and/or weight. The sad thing is, most of that haranguing comes from within. It’s the age old cop out, ‘if I say it first, no one will think I don’t know I'm fat, and therefore they can’t hurt me.’

Newsflash, it still hurts.

Negative self talk is dangerous and damaging – and very hard to exorcise the longer you do it. Done enough times, it creates a belief system which is ingrained and based purely on your own false perception of yourself.

Now, on top of our own negative self-talk, we have to contend with a more aggressive form of body bashing - ever heard of 'body snarking'? In a recent Wall Street Journal article written by Hannah Seligson, this new term (at least for me) was being bantered around. In a nutshell, body snarking is what girls have done for decades, make fun of the less attractive, chubbier, shorter, taller, badly dressed and unpopular - behind their backs. Only now, with the huge popularity of facebook and myspace, this offensive and self-esteem murdering behavior can be done for the whole world to see – and apparently with relish.

Apparently, Gawker owned Jezebel is taking a stand against body snarking , which I think is a start. However, hasn’t Gawker been a bashing, rumor mongering site since its inception? I guess you have to start somwhere.

Check out Seligson’s article here. If you’re like me – you’ll cringe.

Posted by Cindy on June 3, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

May 27, 2008

The Post Holiday Foodie Blues

Although its officially the 'day after'. I thought it might not be a bad idea to revisit a post about holiday eating  from a couple years ago. Even though the recent long holiday weekend is over, it's not unlikely that there are some of you out there who are dealing with some post holiday eating blues. If that sentiment rings any kind of tinkling truth, take a peek at what we had to say on this issue in 2005. Some things are worth repeating.


Don't Nit Pick at the Picnic!

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Posted by Cindy on May 27, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 20, 2008

Mindful Eating for Healthy Living

Mindful eating was all the rage a week or so ago after the NBC Evening News did a segment on it and then the Wall Street Journal followed up with its own version. The NBC segment was woefully inadequate -- didn't really cover much, but I guess that's the evening news for you. All about soundbites. The Wall Street Journal did a more in-depth piece, but I was disappointed they just used the same sources as NBC did for their piece. A lot more people have been promoting mindful eating -- and for a lot longer time -- than either of these media outlets gave credit for. Of course, I rank Green Mountain at Fox Run among those other people.

Another person who has been at the forefront of trying to change America's attitude about eating and food -- change it back to normal! -- has been Ellyn Satter. I've posted about her work on healthy eating before, and continue to respect her efforts to help in planning healthy meals and then eating them. Here's an example of her thinking from a piece she posted this week on her website about healthy eating.

Eating is a complex brew of preference, habit, attitude, intuition, knowledge, and physical necessity. All must be considered in addressing eating, and critical to them all is enjoyment. Enjoyment of food and reward from eating are essential to having eating and feeding turn out well. When the joy goes out of eating, nutrition suffers. The common themes in all four parts of ecSatter are permission and discipline: the permission to choose food you enjoy and eat it in amounts you find satisfying, and the discipline to provide yourself with regular and reliable meals and snacks and to pay attention when you eat them.

With summer coming on, many of us start to worry even more about eating, given we'll be baring our bodies more while we're enjoying the wonderful times -- and food -- of summer. But if we approach it all mindfully -- understanding that mindful eating helps us eat in a way that truly supports us in feeling well -- we'll help ourselves sail through a fun summer free of distorted attitudes about eating and health...and our bodies will respond positively.

Happy Memorial Day! Hope you have a wonderful holiday weekend.

- photo by Patricia Dekker

Posted by Marsha on May 20, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 13, 2008

Mirror, Mirror On The Wall, Who's the Fattest of Them All?

911776_in_the_mirrorHere at Green Mountain at Fox Run, women who struggle with their weight (and dieting), tell us all the time that they feel disconnected from their bodies. They describe the disconnect as intentional. Imagine walking around all day just living in your head, doing everything possible to ignore the vessel that essentially houses your being. Never looking at their reflection in a window or standing before a full length mirror. Anything to ignore what they perceive to be the bain of their existance - a less than perfect body.

This week in an Australian paper there was yet another study published which speaks to the fact that a very high percentage of women - even those at healthy weights - who feel that their bodies are so outside the acceptable norm. The study surveyed 15,000 Australian women and uncovered that the majority felt bad about their weight to the point where they would actively avoid their own reflection.

Academic Lily O’Hara* is baffled by attempts to shame women into leading healthier lives.

“People tell me all the time they hate looking in the mirror or they don’t have a full-length mirror at home, and it is a symptom of deep dissatisfaction,” she said. “They are afraid it might confirm their innermost fears – that their body does not meet the socially constructed ideal being portrayed by the beauty industry and now, disturbingly, by the health industry.”

What that norm is, I suppose, depends on what magazines you read, television shows you watch or movies you go to...because more than likely you're not coveting the body of the woman next door. And why not?

*Ms. Ohara is a lecturer in public health at the University of the Sunshine Coast.

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Posted by Cindy on May 13, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 07, 2008

Binge Eating & the College Woman

CollegewomanbingeeatingAll binge eaters struggle with their weight, right? Wrong.

Studies show many binge eating college students appear to be at a healthy weight. So how do we know if we – or our college age daughters (and sons) – struggle with binge eating? And why do we care if it doesn’t make us fat? Our FitBriefing this month “Binge Eating & the College Woman” answers that question and more.

A brief excerpt:

Very different from the occasional overeating episode, which is part of normal eating, binge eating has psychological consequences also. People with binge eating disorder may also become depressed; research shows they report more problems with stress, trouble sleeping and more suicidal thoughts than people without eating disorders. Binge eaters often feel badly about themselves and isolate themselves to binge eat, missing work, school and social activities.

If you suspect you are a binge eater, or your daughter (or son) is one, seek help. It's not always about weight loss and it's not a problem to be ignored.

Posted by Marsha on May 7, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 30, 2008

Disordered Eating: The "New" Epidemic

Several years ago I was on a media tour in New York, visiting various women's magazine editors in an attempt to get them to think about publishing different kinds of stories on eating and weight loss and weight loss programs. My focus: That women (and increasingly men) were suffering from disordered eating -- too much focus on calories, fat grams, weight loss, even 'healthy' choices. The response I remember from one prominent magazine in particular was that the term 'disordered eating' was too 'scary,' that it was even too sensational for magazines (imagine that!).

So imagine my relief that they have finally jumped on board (although I do admit a bit of exasperation that they didn't even talk to me in putting together their story on the issue!). Self magazine recently published the results of survey that showed '65 percent of American women are disordered eaters." MSNBC published this story on the survey:

The disorder next door: Alarming eating habits

SELF poll reveals 65 percent of American women are disordered eaters

By Tula Karras, SELF

SELF's groundbreaking survey reveals that more than six in 10 women are disordered eaters. Another one in 10 has an eating disorder. Find out if you're at risk and how to get healthier, starting today:

Michelle Marsh, 32, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, seems like the perfect dieter. If you ran into the 5-foot-1-inch, 103-pound marketing specialist checking food labels for calories in the supermarket or powering through one of her seven weekly workouts, you'd envy her ability to control her intake and burn off any excess, too. But Marsh, who had her first baby nine months ago and is now below her prepregnancy weight ("I'm the tiniest I've ever been!" she says), could be the poster girl for an unrecognized epidemic among women: disordered eating.

No, she doesn't starve herself to an unnatural weight (like anorexics) or throw up daily (like some bulimics), but she doesn't seem to have a healthy relationship with food or her body, either. "I spend about half my time thinking about food and meal planning," she says, although her meals don't require much planning — she usually restricts herself to the same foods every day (oatmeal, brown rice and two small corn tortillas with chicken and a sweet potato). "I weigh myself every morning, and if the scale goes up a pound, I exercise more. If I gained 5 pounds, I'd be very upset."

To read the rest of the story, go to http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/24295957/. They even have tips at the end of the story for moving away from disordered eating and achieving healthy weight loss, if it's in your cards. The tips echo what we've been saying at Green Mountain at Fox Run for years. It's nice to know they've gone mainstream.

Posted by Marsha on April 30, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2008

Overcome Self-Doubt to Build Self Esteem

My daughter first looked at me strangely when I mentioned to her that her "I feel fat" thoughts really weren't about her body. I explained that fat is not a feeling; instead, when we think we feel fat, we're usually distracting ourselves from something else that's bothering us. For many of us, negative body image often has to do with feelings of insecurity -- we're worrying about how we're falling short in some area.

To the rescue: Tips from one of my favorite e-letters -- that from Annette Colby. She recommends we try the following tips when fears and self-doubt threaten to overwhelm us.

1. Awareness Recognize the fear and doubt within you. The first step to overcoming doubt is to be willing to face the situation. By being honest and admitting that you have doubts can you seek alternatives.

2. Acceptance
Understand that it is all right to have doubt. What matters most is that you love yourself enough to overcome your doubt by taking calculated risks.

3. Explore Your Fears
Take out a piece of paper and write down a list of your fears. Explore your doubt, examine your fear, and look at the areas in your life where they get the upper hand.

4. Examine Your Excuses
Write down your reasons for not pursuing a personal challenge or moving forward on something important to you

5. Say Good Bye
Write a goodbye letter to your doubt, then bury it, burn it, or release it in some other creative way.

6. Mirror Mirror On the Wall
When your doubt pops up, go to the mirror and talk to yourself. Positive talk isn’t the entire answer, but without we haven’t got a chance of success. People are more successful when they talk to themselves in a reassuring, compassionate, and loving way.

7. Build Self-Esteem
Keep reminding yourself that you are valuable, that you have worth, and that your life matters.

8. Take Positive Action
Take positive action in the direction of your dreams. You can put doubt in it’s place when you take action on the activities and goals that are most important to you.

9. What's the Best that Could Happen
Imagine the best possible outcome. Practice allowing yourself to envision yourself being the person you want to be.

10. Take Care of Yourself
Take some action every day that allows you to feel better about yourself.

No matter what self-doubt is blocking our way to -- whether it be successful weight loss or going after our dream job -- these tips can help us move forward. The bottom line is believing in ourselves because our minds are the most powerful tool we have to help us achieve our dreams.

Posted by Marsha on April 23, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 16, 2008

Meditation for Healthy Living & Healthy Eating

I recently began meditating as a way to help myself move forward in life, to find what I want to do with the rest of my life and get out of the rut that I felt myself in. So on the vacation that I just returned from, it was good that my two girlfriends were as interested in meditation as I was. We took time each morning we were in Sicily to spend time focused inward. I do believe it made our time there more fun, as I certainly felt calmer and more able to deal with the anxiety of navigating a country in which I do not speak the language -- and not many of the folks there speak English that well.

We've talked about the value of meditation before on this blog and covered it in length in an article on mindfulness in meditation Here's how we describe the value of meditation:

The practice of meditation is about relaxing in order to focus: a daily session in which we intentionally focus our minds on something, such as our breath or a word. When the mind inevitably strays to a thought or emotion, we bring our attention back to the chosen focus. By letting thoughts and feelings pass without judging them, most regular meditators describe feeling more relaxed, less anxious and therefore less disturbed by negative thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.

Meditation can also help us with eating struggles, such as binge eating, eating to manage type 2 diabetes, or just plain eating well. To wit:

Meditation can be very useful for people who struggle with eating. The relaxed, upright posture produces a calmer, more balanced emotional state. Watching the mind, being aware of thoughts, feelings and sensations, and bringing the mind back to a focus gradually trains us to be a “witness” rather than “victim” of our own states. Every time we bring the mind back to the focus, it is like exercising a muscle in the gym—the ability to let go of disturbances and focus the mind grows stronger. Gradually, we recognize that thoughts and feelings are temporary experiences, arising and falling away like waves in the ocean.

I try to spend about 20 minutes a day meditating, but shorter or longer periods are useful, too. That's just the amount of time that seems to work for me. And now -- excuse me -- I need to go meditate. I've got a lot of catching up to do after being gone for two weeks, and meditation will help me approach what seems like an overwhelming amount to do in a more relaxed fashion.

Ciao for now!

Posted by Marsha on April 16, 2008 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack