Holding the Numbers Lightly




I have a lot of conversations about numbers in my line of work. And not the numbers that my accountant or financial planner talk with me about (ugh) but the numbers that are used to help us measure our physical health.

My clients over the last decade have taught me that these numbers can be destructive, shaming, and spike their inner drill sergeant to start screaming awful things about their worth + value.

Working with those who struggle with eating disorders, negative body image, and disordered eating has taught me a lot about some numbers and how they can be draining and all-consuming.

I am referring to the number:

on your scale
of the size of your pants
of calories or points of a food item
on your labs (I like these numbers but they can often be used incorrectly)
of calories burned

While I believe our emotional, relational, and spiritual health are deeply enmeshed with our physical health, I want to address these numbers — particularly the number on your scale — and how you use them as you seek to make changes in your physical well-being.

When it becomes clear to me that these numbers are toxic to my clients and are preventing any real change from happening, I often ask them to take a big risk and leap of faith.

I ask them to get rid of their scale.

Sometimes they are not ready to get rid of it, so I hold it at my office (you should see the space under my couch) or they put it in the trunk of their car or have a trusted friend hold it or hide it.

Afraid of losing control without their scale, my clients ask:

What if I gain a ton of weight?
How will I know if I am making progress?
What will motivate me for change without the scale?

I always respect this resistance. I get it.

It’s a frightening idea to let go of this measure that helps them manage their anxiety + fear and has been serving as an emotional container for some time. But if they are in my office, I suspect this means of containing has reached capacity.

The scale simply does not serve as an effective means of control and in fact spikes obsessive thoughts about weight, food, numbers, and what other people think.

Stepping on the scale fuels the “never enough” crazy-making because:

  • If it is higher than you would like, you feel anxious, depressed, ashamed.
  • If it is right where you want it to be, you are excited but also paralyzed by fear of doing anything that will change that number in the wrong direction.
  • Even If you have achieved a weight in the range that is best for your body, sometimes the desire to go even lower gives a rush that is hard to resist.

Contrary to the many messages we are inundated with in our culture, weight is not a direct correlation to our health.  Last week, the results of a meta-analysis study of weight and mortality revealed those deemed overweight were associated with significantly lower all-cause mortality.

This study is more indication of the need to rethink how we define overweight and obese. I want to be clear, the results of this study are not a pass for those who need to make changes in how they care for their body. But shaming people to make changes to better their well-being is not effective and is destructive.

Determining our well-being is way more complex than a number on a scale or an antiquated formula or chart. These faulty formulas are pervasive in our culture and prey on those who are feeling pretty crappy about themselves, who are desperate for change and relief.

When the number on the scale is the primary measure of your success in achieving your goals, you are vulnerable to a shame spiral.

When this number has power over your worth and value, it is time to get off the scale until you can recalibrate that way of thinking and learn how to bench negative emotion so you respond to your pain in ways that are not harmful to yourself and others.

Many clients report a positive emotional benefit after taking a break from the scale. They report less anxiety and that their inner drill sergeant has dialed back the volume.

Let me be clear: I think it is important to own all of these numbers…

…at the right time in your healing journey.

At the wrong time, shame, perfectionism, impatience, and fear can take these numbers and wreak havoc on your sense of worth, your mood, your focus.

Megan Holt, Potentia’s Coordinator of Nutrition + Wellness, often monitors the numbers on the scale for our clients while working with them on strategies towards true health that are customized for each individual. (Note: We all need a Megan in this culture!)

When our worth gets tied up in numbers, we make changes — often needed changes — for reasons that do not support sustaining change.

Our goal is to help people really discover where their bodies have the most energy and function the best. We support people discovering their food preferences and moving away from calling food good or bad. It is so amazing to see people find a way to enjoy food while still nourishing well.

When we use eating, restricting, or eliminating food in unsafe ways to take away the pain or to numb, dull, and repel, we do not allow ourselves to develop the emotional muscle to bench the hard stuff in life.

Food — eating it or restricting it — is powerful. It can be fun + enjoyable, too.

But for many, tolerating joy is very triggering and even less tolerable than shame and fear. Going back to the dark space, albeit uncomfortable, is known. And our brains like known.

So, if you are starting off this new year and food + body issues are one of your primary goals to tackle this year, awesome.

But please hold the numbers lightly.

And if you notice the numbers on your scale or on food items you are eating or the size of clothes giving fuel to your inner drill sergeant, then take a pause.

Ask your dietician, your nurse, or doctor to do blind weigh-ins for a while and not to talk about numbers for a bit as you seek to recalibrate your thinking.

These numbers are one of many factors that measure your progress on the journey towards true health, but they are not the sole indicator of progress as they may fluctuate for a variety of reasons.

Hold the numbers lightly as you seek true health in your life, and fiercely guard your heart from believing your worth is tied into a number.

Cheering you on —


Slowing Down + Feeding Ourselves Well.

Source: potentiatherapy.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

Today is National Food Day.

The effort behind this movement is a “nationwide celebration and a movement for healthy, affordable, and sustainable food.”

We believe there is room for all foods in how we feed ourselves.  We also believe food is medicine.  When we nourish well, we feel well.

So many we work with have:

  • an obsessive;
  • a fearful;
  • a love/hate;
  • a distant
  • a frustrating

relationship with food.  Food does not have to take away your power.  Instead, it can empower you to live, be, and serve well.

When our clients begin to heal their relationship with food, they discover their food preferences, the joy of caring for their bodies and, yes, the joy of eating.

Eating well = fun + freeing.

Eating well = freedom from the loud voices in your head that shame you for eating a food deemed “bad”.

Eating well = energy, clarity, slowing down, enjoyment, community, connection.

The grassroots effort of the Slow Food Movement to maintain the diversity + quality in our food supply while supporting farmers through purchasing locally grown whole foods is exciting because it brings home the fact that how you feed yourself not only impacts you but those in your community.

Slowing down and feeding ourselves well: It’s good for our bodies, our community and our planet.  AND it’s totally affordable. (Seriously!)

Wow! A big part of healing your relationship with food, your body and your story involves being a part of something bigger in your life.  One simple way you can jump start that process is by checking out your local farmer’s market and connecting with those who grow/raise your food.

Several venues here in San Diego County will be hosting events in honor of National Food Day. Visit www.foodday.org to find an event near you.

Also, check out the San Diego Farm Bureau’s website to find your local farmer’s market. (or the FB in your local area.)

Go get some farm fresh tomatoes for your tomato sauce.  Or grab some fresh apples and free-range eggs for your apple spice cake.  Pick up some freshly harvested greens for your dinner salad tonight.

And if you see us at the market, please say hello!  We are honored to be a part of your community.

Slowing down and eating well –

Rebecca + Megan

Faith Fast or Crash Diet?

Source: google.com via Rebecca on Pinterest


I was recently asked to put together a handout for an organization getting ready to start a community-wide faith-based fast and I want to share this important information with you, too.

Spiritual fasts are a powerful and important discipline which can bring about some truly meaningful experiences and growth.

But in today’s culture riddled with the extremely high incidence of eating disorders and disordered eating, I encourage individuals and leaders to please consider the following when engaging in a spiritual fast:

• When fasting from food, daily hydration is essential for sustaining LIFE.
• Fasting can trigger eating disorder symptoms in persons, especially those who have recovered or are in recovery for these issues.

• If at any time the goal of a fast shifts to primarily losing weight, it is no longer a fast but a crash diet. Fasting should not be used as a tool to promote weight loss. It’s ineffective, and it also lowers metabolism.

• Many who struggle with food and body issues will engage in a fast as a mask for their disordered eating. Given the prevalence of eating disorders, disordered eating, dieting, and body shame in our culture, regularly focusing your community on the priorities of the fast is crucial.

• Food restriction tends to intensify food related obsessions and talk, and this can persist for some time even after the fast. This kind of talk can also be very triggering for someone struggling with food and body issues. Encouraging a “no negative food or body talk “ pledge during a fast is wonderful to include at the start of a fast.

Validating and encouraging other non-food options for fasting can help people struggling with eating disorders and disordered eating have the freedom to participate in a fast with their community.
• Many report feeling like a “bad Christian” or “not a good enough Christian” if they choose to not participate in a fast “perfectly” ie: fasting from food. Helping individuals in your community to make the best decision for their mind, body, and soul is respectful and empowering.

• Fasting is not recommended for active persons that wish to continue with exercise during the fast. Our bodies need the fuel (and electrolytes) before and after exercise, and throughout the day!

• Certain groups should never participate in fasting, and these include: children, elderly, pregnant women, persons with a history of disordered eating (or currently struggling) or are undernourished, persons who have problems with blood pressure (or are on medication for blood pressure), kidney disease, diabetes or are prone to hypoglycemia, persons with unique nutritional needs or nutrient deficiencies (just to name a few).

What are your thoughts on this hot topic?

I would love to hear about your experiences with spiritual fasting in the comments below.


Call to Action


Wow!  Potentia has had its own brick and mortar space for a little over 9 months now.

And it has been so crazy-busy-fun-amazing-blessed wrapped in some stress, grace, clarity and relief.

This new space has been a dream call to action on my heart for several years.

After waiting, and waiting and waiting for the right time, it just flowed when I signed the lease for the new space last June.

Once the lease was signed, I was compelled and consumed by a vision to create a unique space where healing could happen supported by a specialized and collaborative team of professionals.

When I first got the picture for Potentia’s expansion, I wanted to act immediately, jump ship, make it happen.

It felt intolerable at times to just sit with this call and not. do. a thing. other than pray+clarify + prepare.

The posture of waiting is not the stance I have assumed for most of life.  My husband teases me often how I love to jump first and then think.  But sometimes I was jumping not just for the adventure but because it did not feel good to wait.

Patience has not been a strong virtue of mine.

Nonetheless, I have been building up emotional muscle to bench the gift of patience and it has taught, and continues to teach, me a a lot.

My change in professions, marriage and parenthood started to

  • shift the value I saw in the virtue of patience,
  • (re) define my definition of productivity,
  • and challenge what I valued as worthy and enough.

Prior to signing the lease, I spent a lot of time over-riding the call on my heart with fear, doubt, logic, over-thinking, over-processing and more.

I had found many reasons to not honor this simple, pure and clear call to action vision for Potentia’s next phase of growth.

Until I could not tolerate it any more.

To be authentic, vulnerable, to trust the gentle but firm nudge from God, I had to believe. I had to surrender staying on the side lines and playing it safe.

After much prayer and a significant beat down on my own fears and doubts, I felt I had permission to move forward. To grow.  To draw attention.  To make some noise about how our definitions of health and worth are keeping us sick; how we are keeping ourselves imprisoned by narratives that lie and cheat us from true health, freedom and peace.

At Potentia, We Can Do Hard Things.

And Potentia’s expansion infused a new jolt of faith, inspiration and passion to walk with, equip and respect those who are fighting their own personal battle mind, body + soul.

I love how the team at Potentia joins with our clients to give witness to their courage, pain, battle wounds, inspiration, frustration, fatigue, fear and more.

When they do not have hope, we wave the hope flag.

When they achieve a victory, we cheer (sometimes really loud. seriously.).

When they want to give up, we nudge, respect and reflect.

Yes, those who enter the doors of Potentia can do hard things.

And those who are not sure about starting that work I believe you can, when you are ready, live the life you are called to live.

I encourage you to not devalue or minimize your struggles and not let shame keep you in isolation.  You have our respect and we have not even met you yet.  🙂

Below is a slide show from some of the events and meetings we had at Potentia to celebrate the expansion. It warms my heart and fires me up.  I now truly love and embrace the call to action that has been placed on my heart.

What is the call to action on your heart today?  How are you responding to that call?  Have you shared it with anyone in your inner circle yet? 

If not, I encourage you to give voice to it TODAY, no matter how crazy, random, unrealistic you may think it is.  The call to action on your heart needs you to give it voice.  No matter how much it scares you.  Write it down.  Shout it out loud. Whisper it to a dear friend.

Your soul is calling you to stretch+grow+heal.

Being stagnant is not safe.  It is stifling.  The unknown is scary but staying stuck can be scarier.

Honoring the call,


ps:  If you want to stay connected and up to date on the latest happenings at Potentia, please sign up for our newsletter at www.potentiatherapy.com “like” us on Facebook or follow me on Twitter (#rbassching)

Five Reasons to Ditch Dieting

Source: google.com via Rebecca on Pinterest


By Megan Handley, MPH, RD and Nutrition+Wellness Coordinator at Potentia

  • For the last time, diets don’t work! A group of researchers out of UCLA analyzed studies that followed dieters for 2-5 years, and found that the vast majority of participants gained back the weight, and then some, by the end of the follow up period.

  • Diets rely on external cues to guide our eating, rather than teaching us to listen to our body’s hunger and fullness cues.  Food is fuel for our bodies and should be enjoyed, savored and appreciated!

  • Diets are often based on testimonials, rather than on sound scientific studies.  The suggested eating plan is often rigid, and does not translate to real-world living.

  • Diets often require that we severely restricts calories or entire food groups, putting us at risk for nutrient deficiencies, and robbing our bodies of the energy that we need to be active.

  • Intense feelings of deprivation and hunger set the dieter up for binge eating patterns, which are then followed by feelings of guilt and dissatisfaction.

The following links are wonderful resources for you as you seek to (re) define health in your life:

Academy of Eating Disorders
American Dietetic Association
Finding Balance
Health at Every Size  
Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight by Linda Bacon
Intuitive Eating
The Center for Mindful Eating
The National Eating Disorders Association 

Diets can be a polarizing topic of discussion these days as many seek relief from real physical and emotional pain.  What do you think about diets? Have you had positive or negative experience with a diet?  Do you agree that diets do not work?

Is Authentic Going the Way of Awesome?


By Molly La Croix, LMFT Trauma Expert at Potentia Family Therapy

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal (“Keeping it Real at Facebook” 2/12/12) the author lamented the use of such phrases as authentic self.

She states, “Unless you start out fake you don’t need to learn to be genuine, right?”

While she was talking about overinflated egos and verbiage resulting from stratospheric levels of success, I found myself worrying that soon the word authentic might go the way of the word awesome.

We all know awesome has become one of the most overused adjectives, losing meaning and weight in the process.  It used to be used to convey a sense of wonder and majesty, and now it just conjures up the image of a preteen boy on a skateboard with his hat on sideways.

Why do I care that authentic might go the way of awesome?

Because our fundamental challenge as human beings is to figure out who we truly are and then live out that unique self in relationships where we do not have to pose or hide or morph into someone else.

Being an authentic self is not something to be mocked, or trivialized, or derided as a fad.  It is a worthy ambition.  It is a destination on a journey that is fraught with obstacles and challenges, requiring courage and perseverance.  It is a goal demanding stamina and a supportive community.

If being authentic means being real, genuine, and true – among other things – what makes it so difficult?  As the author said, “Unless you start out fake you don’t need to learn to be genuine, right?”

The difficulty lies in universal experience of shame when we venture forth as our true self and we perceive rejection of that self.  That can start as early as infancy when the baby cries and does not receive comfort.  Perhaps the self really was rejected by a harsh parent who called us stupid. Or, perhaps the child just interpreted a benign remark as a criticism of that self.

The issue is not whether the person meant to shame us.

The issue is that we all internalize a degree of shame about our core, authentic self.  That shame prompts all of us to be fake sometimes.

For some, the degree of shame is so great they live each day flooded by it.  For others, the negative beliefs associated with the feeling of shame, such as, “I’m not good enough, not loveable, not worthy…” pop up occasionally.

I don’t believe any of us entirely escape the influence of unhealthy shame, the kind that causes us to want to hide our authentic selves.

Just think about the last time you took a risk to take a stance with someone who is important to you – spouse, parent, partner, child, co-worker. Any anxiety crop up?  Any fear of rejection?

Depending on the weight of the issue, and the degree to which you internalized negative beliefs, that anxiety might have been great enough to silence your voice.

And that brings us back to the importance of being an authentic self.  It is not trite, it is essential.

Shame will silence us.  Those brave enough to be intentional about authenticity deserve praise and celebration.

But I’m Still Beautiful…

                                                                    Source: Uploaded by user via Rebecca on Pinterest


I received this email yesterday and was so moved that I immediately asked permission to share this story.

When I read this email at our staff mtg later in the day, I choked up with tears reading through it again.

Inspired as a mom and as a therapist, this story is a reminder for me to keep in check my struggle with sprouting cynicism + doubt that the work we do at Potentia is really making any kind of difference.

I am grateful for this reminder.  I do believe that every effort to help people on their journey to understanding their true worth and value is meaningful + fruitful + powerful.

Now go get some Kleenex before reading further.  You have been warned.

I have to share with you that happened at work yesterday.  I know you’ll appreciate it as much as I did.
Yesterday, as I led one of my middle school speech groups, my heart smiled as I witnessed something I wish all girls could say about themselves.
I was working with three Special Ed students.  And mind you, these students have little filters on what words flow from their mouths. 
The one boy in the group made a comment under his breath about one of the girl’s ‘mustache.’  Because she did not hear, I let it go as to not draw attention to the hurtful comment; instead, choosing to pull him aside after the group to talk about his choice in comments. 
But immediately following that comment, another girl piped up and said to the girl, “Do you wash your face?”
The 7th grade girl, who is a miracle of life that was born less than a pound 13 years ago, has acne covering her whole face. 

I saw the train wreck happening before my eyes and was scrambling to decide how to intervene and respond.

The girl dropped her head, dejected, and said quietly, “I wash it every day.  But sometimes I forget.  My mom helps me.  I have medicine to put on my face too.  But sometimes I forget to put that on too.” 
My heart ached for her. 
She said, “I have bad acne.”  But then she looked up from behind her thick glasses with her crossed eyes and said,

“But I’m still beautiful.”

Indeed.  In so many ways.  My heart smiled. 
Kudos to her parents.  And kudos for her innocent spirit that undoubtedly believed that truth. 
All I could say was, “You are absolutely beautiful.” 
After I told her she was absolutely beautiful, she smiled at me and said, “I know.”  haha…love that girl.  

If only we could all say that about ourselves with such confidence.


Everybody Knows Somebody

2012 Theme: Everybody Knows Somebody

In a few days, National Eating Disorder Awareness Week will kick off.  I am always blown away by the power, the emotion, the dedication of so many who participate in this week through speaking, writing, creative events through multimedia and more.  So many have been touched by eating disorders and the disordered eating spectrum.  And that includes you.

Eating Disorders and the Disordered Eating Spectrum continue to be misunderstood, glamorized and minimized.  The truth of the matter is, you know someone struggling with their relationship with food and/or their body.

Everybody knows somebody.

You know somebody.

Food and body issues are tricky. They are sneaky and sly and operate under the guise of health and productivity or laziness and undiscipline.  Be very clear: eating disorders are killing and disabling at rates that are scary.  Eating disorders are the most deadly of all mental illnesses. Do not let someone you know be another statistic.

You know someone on the diet roller coaster or obsessed about eating healthy to such an extreme their lives have become a prison to irrational fear, rigidity and control.

You know somebody who repeatedly talks negatively about their body and believes their worth and value are directly correlated to the number on the scale.

You know somebody who is depressed, anxious, suicidal because they feel so out of control with their behaviors and thoughts about food and their body.

You know somebody who is slowly dying inside physically, emotionally and spiritually.

You know somebody who wants to be loved and seen beyond their looks, their grades, their performance, their weight, what they eat.  You know someone who wants to be seen.  Period.

You know somebody in this kind of pain.

And there is hope and healing available for those who want to live their lives in peace and joy.  I get to work with the most amazing professionals at Potentia and at treatments centers around the country who are passionate about helping people heal from their eating disorder.

Eating disorders are complex and their causes reflect this complexity: genetics, family of origin issues, culture, temperament, physiological issues, traumatic events and more.  There is not a quick fix and no one to blame but the sooner someone starts the process to change, the better for their long term prognosis.

You know someone who needs to begin this journey.  Now.

Resources like edreferral and Gurze are wonderful sites to find practitioners at all levels of care who specialize in treating the whole spectrum of food and body issues.  Gurze is also a publishing company dedicated to provided resources on these issues. I would also check out The National Eating Disorder Association.  I love the commitment of the NEDA team and value their role in starting and promoting National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.  Hang out at these websites. Learn something new.  And share it with someone you know.

Potentia joins the many individuals, families, treatment centers and providers in promoting eating disorder awareness.  At Potentia, we will be doing a week long event asking people to write on a piece of paper (we have cool artsy paper, pens and more for those who want to get creative) an apology to their body or a thank you to their body.  We will hang these note cards around the space and make a slide show of them at the end of the week.

If you want to contribute to this event, feel free to stop by and add your contribution to our display.  And if you live far away, feel free to send me an email and I will make sure your words are added.

Sororities and other local groups are already contributing.  I would love to add your voice to this display.  And all contributions can be anonymous.

Our hope is this display gets everyone thinking a little more about the seriousness of disordered eating and helps those struggling know they are not alone.

And yes, to be clear, you know somebody.  Now it is time to talk about it.

How are you going to use your voice during eating disorder awareness week?

(re)defining health at Potentia…one word at a time

I recently discovered Wordle and it has been a very entertaining time-suckage of late.  One of the many “wordles” I put together was the one at the top of this post with the words most often heard by those who enter the Potentia world. I believe in the power of words – spoken and written – and how they can do great good and also great harm.  At Potentia, we use words to heal, to challenge old ways of thinking, to fight back against the lies we have been told and are telling ourselves.  If I missed any words you think deserve to make Potentia wordle-status, post the word in the comments below.  And please share any wordle you make that is meaningful to you.

(re) defining Failure


We live in a failure-phobic culture.

We are so terrified to be seen as deficient, less-than, weak.

We want to avoid admitting failure and experiencing failure at all costs.  And when we do fail, instead of acknowledging it, we have learned how to spin it away with rationalizations, justifications because the belief is that accepting failure is like accepting defeat.

But what if our failures are important experiences that help us find our victories? Against popular belief, failures are often intrinsic with the path to a victory.

Without failures, there would not be cures to diseases.

Without failure, we would keep dating the same guy again and again… Sometimes this takes a lot of fails for us to finally date a different kind of person. (I know this one from experience.)

Without failure, we would keep going down a path that keeps us stuck and in pain.

Failure lets us know that things are not working, that we need a change, to do something different.

To risk failure takes courage, faith and trust.

To never risk failure is living in fear; not healthy fear but irrational fear that strips us of our power, our identity, our worth.  Many live in constant awareness of what “others” think while trying to get approval from this collective “other”.  That is exhausting and speeds up the tail spin to feeling really out of control.

Failure is not a final destination but provides navigational information.

Failure is often, but not always, subjective.  If you need to get 70% to pass an exam and got 65%, you failed the exam.  But YOU are not a failure.   A failing grade is an indication there is  room for growth, change and maybe a need to ask for help.

Failure is a guide post and data. Failure means something is not working and gives opportunity, hope and direction.

Failure doe not always mean defeat, the end, shame. (Shame says you are not good enough, you are not worthy of connection, you do not have meaning unless you perform a certain way deemed “enough” by culture.)

Failure can be a powerful support; a built in ego check and even an inspiration.

Risking failure means being open to triumph.

Therefore, (re)defining failure is crucial.

I often hear people say that they are a failure if they:

  • lose or gain weight (depending on their struggles with disordered eating);
  • cry;
  • stay single;
  • are not perfect;
  • don’t just suck it up and move on;
  • show vulnerability;
  • make mistakes;
  • do not appear to have it all together;

and the list goes on.

If we look at failure as something to avoid, then we cease living the life we are called to live and become prisoners to court of public opinion.

It takes guts to feel bad, to admit flaws and to make mistakes.  It takes even more courage to push back and fight to believe a truth that no one may know but you.

How do you define failure?  Does failure inspire you or paralyze you – or a little of both? 🙂