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?

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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.

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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.

Rebecca,
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.

Amen.

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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?

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The ABC’s of Self-Love: B is for Beauty

                                                                       Source: everythingfab.com via Rebecca on Pinterest

 

I am excited to participate in my first ever Blog Crawl (find out more about The ABC’s of Self Love Blog Crawl + Treasure Hunt here), hosted by Molly Mahar of Stratejoy  celebrating the upcoming launch of her Fierce Love program.   I really appreciate Molly’s commitment to helping others discover the power of truly healing your relationship with your body and your story.  Molly would say how important it is to “adore yourself” in such an infectious and genuine way that you can’t help but take pause and believe she is on to something.   So when she tapped me to be the writer for the letter “B” with the topic of Beauty in her Fierce Love blog crawl, I was humbled and excited

Beauty. It is a tricky word and hard to define.  Defining beauty is very subjective, personal, intimate.

There is also a narrow standard of beauty, dispensed by the multi-billion dollar advertising industry, which has left those who believe this definition with intense body hatred, low sense of of worth, depression, depleted bank accounts, anxiety, fear of intimacy and dangerous food and body issues.

Some of the many lies perpetuated from this narrow definition of beauty state that you will be loveable, feel more confident, life will be more tolerable: if you weigh a certain amount, your body looks a certain way, you dress a certain way, you play by everyone’s rules and act a certain way, your (fill in the blank) is (fill in the blank).

It is time to stop the crazy-making, take back the power that has been externalized to the opinions of the “collective other” and (re)claim how you define beauty.

How do you define beauty?

I must confess, I spent years believing a flawed definition of beauty.  I was a slave to what other people thought of me.  I worked my body hard and rested little.  I hated what I saw in the mirror and was an approval junkie.  I was unsatisfied, frustrated, disconnected from God and my own values and dreams. I was lost.  And really tired.  All because I wanted to be beautiful in the eyes of others with the hopes I would then in fact be beautiful.

I thought the world’s definition of beauty = being enough.  I was just drinking the Kool-aid.

But thankfully, I healed some infected wounds, fought some battles, had a gun held to my head (twice – that is another story) and experienced some fierce love from myself, God and some incredible people.  I woke up to the lies I was telling myself about my worth and value and regularly fight back the desire to play the lose–lose game of comparing myself to others.

I now revel in the awe-inspiring beauty of courage, generosity, gentleness, kindness, sacrificial love, compassion, vulnerability, motherhood and respect.

I discovered confidence, the power and importance of surrounding myself with safe people. I say, “No thank you,” a lot and “yes” to my calling on this planet therefore putting the “shoulds” and “have-tos” in permanent time out.

I regularly push back on the lies shame tells me and now know that being perfectly imperfect is a whole lot more life-giving than striving for perfection. (This one can be tough on some days…)

I believe the state of my heart, character, integrity are more powerful indicators of beauty verses my outside image.

How do you define beauty? Is your definition is keeping you stuck, in pain and shame or is it is life-giving and freeing?

What changes are you going to make in how you talk about beauty so you do not inadvertently collude with the world’s definition of beauty?

With fierce love –

Rebecca

 

 

Find out more about  Molly’s “The ABC’s of Self Love Blog Crawl + Treasure Hunt” here.

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(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.

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Be Kind to Your Body: A Case for Yoga

(Image via Etsy: Dazychic’s store)

By Kelly Schauermann, CPRYT, Yoga Instructor, Potentia’s Yoga Coordinator + Founder of Beulah Wellness

In the past weekend I have come across 2 separate forms of media that emphasize the danger of yoga. As a yoga instructor and practitioner, there is a bit of me that wants to turn defensive at anyone that puts down a practice that has changed my life.

But when I allow myself to step back, and listen to the wisdom and words of others, I see a greater whole that definitely needs to be addressed. In a way, this mirrors my post from Friday about grace; but this grace is more specifically for your body.

What I have gathered from these different sources is not that yoga is necessarily bad to practice. There are SO many different styles and levels, it’s likely that just about anyBODY can find a physical practice (Asana) that will enhance their journey to knowing their bodies. Instead, it’s more about being cautious.

I was speaking to my husband about this, and I likened it to skydiving. I have been once, in the Swiss Alps, but not alone. Having never been before, I had to go tandem, or I probably would have died. Since you don’t know what you’re doing, but you really want to learn to skydive, you find people that are well trained, certified and knowledgable to help guide you through the process. You don’t jump onto the first plane you can catch, strap on a parachute and jump, right?

Yoga is the same way. In the West, yoga has become so prolific, that it’s difficult to know if what you’re doing, where, and with whom, is going to benefit your body. But here’s the thing: yoga isn’t necessarily about finding your guru, accomplishing the splits or being vegan. It’s about being present FOR, and listening TO yourself. If you are practicing that, you will know, from the inside out, that how you’re moving your body is helpful or harmful. If you get consumed with the competition and fitness aspect of yoga, you will likely stop listening with the same intent, and get injured.

A wise teacher, Soleil Hepner, who I have had the pleasure of meeting and gleaning wisdom from put it very well: the word YOGA (in this NY Times article) should be changed to ASANA. She gives a great explanation of her thoughts on her blog, and it’s well worth the read, but it essentially states what I have mentioned here all along: Yoga is more than just moving your body. Asana is prep for meditation, as a part of the 8 limbs of yoga. Asana is an opportunity to value your body as an innate teacher during your precious time on earth. Seen in that light, wouldn’t you like to do everything you can to care for it?!

So, have some grace. If you are in Down Dog and your hamstrings are screaming bloody murder, bend your knees! If you have a sensitive neck, don’t practice shoulderstand, please, dear God, don’t practice it. If one day you can touch your toes, and the next you can’t, it’s OK. We aren’t judging you, so maybe ease up on yourself and question the judgment you may be passing on yourself.

All that said, relish every moment of your practice this week, whether seated in meditation, upside down in headstand or resting in savasana. This journey is a lovely one, and you don’t want to miss it.

xo- Kelly

NY Times- “How Yoga Can Wreck Your Body”

PS. If you want to check out Potentia’s Yoga classes make sure to register soon, as space is limited.

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(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? 🙂

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It’s My Body by Jenni Schaefer

 

Jenni Schaefer

I saw this poem by Jenni Schaefer last year in one of her newsletters.   I love it and she graciously gave me permission to post it.  Soak up this powerful push-back to the lies that can clutter our minds and our culture.

 

It’s My Body by Jenni Schaefer

It’s my body. If I am overweight by societal standards or some height/weight chart, my body does not need to be starved in order to fit in. My body will be the size it is supposed to be if I am taking care of myself. I will not fight it.

It’s my body. If I go out on a date and a guy buys me dinner, I do not owe him a kiss or anything else. A simple, “thank you,” does the job just fine. Despite what society might say, my body is not my currency.

It’s my body. If I overeat at a party today, because the food is just so good, I do not need to restrict or over-exercise tomorrow. My body needs to be nourished, everyday, and never deserves to be punished.

It’s my body. If I have been abused, my body does not deserve to be hated. My body is not disgusting because of what someone else did to me. My body is not something to feel ashamed of or to hide. I cherish my body.

It’s my body. If I am sick, I need to give my body rest and do whatever it takes to get well. My body is not invincible. It is fragile. I must not abuse it with food, alcohol, drugs, or anything else. I must take care of it.

It’s my body. Today my organs are nourished and can function properly. I get enough sleep. I am strong. I do things that feel enjoyable like hiking, swimming, getting a massage, yoga, or even kissing my date — when I choose to do so.

It’s my body. I do not look like you or anyone else. You might be taller or thinner than me. By societal standards, you might be prettier than me. But you are not me. And I am not you.

It’s your body. Respect it. Nourish it. Love it.

If you have not already checked out Jenni’s books, “Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too” and “Goodbye Ed, Hello Me: Recover from Your Eating Disorder and Fall in Love with Life.” I encourage you to add them to your library.  These books are incredible resources for those in struggling with an eating disorder and those who have a loved one with an eating disorder.

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Is your definition of health keeping you unhealthy?

I had the chance last weekend to meet Jess Weiner, a self-esteem and body-acceptance expert.  It was a real treat to meet her as I have been aware of her advocacy work for some time and I have come to really respect her voice on issues dear to my heart.   She authored an article published in Glamour that hit the stands on Monday in the states that is bold, courageous and honest.  I encourage you to check it out.

Jess expressed some trepidation with being so transparent about her shift in ideology that involved a newly focused attention to her weight and her labs.   I could see she was bracing for criticism and comments of betrayal by many as she boldly stated her previous definition of health was keeping her very unhealthy.  Personally,  I think Jess’s story brings up some important issues around health and numbers.

As an eating disorder treatment expert, I have worked for years helping men and women detox from the diet mentality and the shaming effect of our “thin” obsessed culture.  Part of their recovery journey is the process of letting go of the stronghold of numbers (on the scale, sizes on their clothes, calorie counting) which have become entrenched in their identity.  For many, the Healthy at any Size movement created a space to seek true health while not focusing exclusively on scales and charts, such as the antiquated BMI.

I speak and advocate to my clients and large groups on theses principles of the HAES model:

1. Accepting and respecting the diversity of body shapes and sizes.
2. Recognizing that health and well-being are multi-dimensional and that they include
physical, social, spiritual, occupational, emotional, and intellectual aspects.
3. Promoting all aspects of health and well-being for people of all sizes.
4. Promoting eating in a manner which balances individual nutritional needs, hunger,
satiety, appetite, and pleasure.
5. Promoting individually appropriate, enjoyable, life-enhancing physical activity, rather
than exercise that is focused on a goal of weight loss.

Yet, discussing numbers is a touchy zone for those of us treating those struggling food and body issues.  On one hand, there is an importance to letting go of the numbers that can plague us and rob us of our peace and true worth.  But for many, if and when the individual is ready to manage this information appropriately, gaining awareness of how one’s body is functioning and performing ( ie: knowing labs and weight) can often be an important part of recovery in healing one’s relationship with food and their body. Truly empowered body acceptance involves making sure your body is operating at it’s best.

This can be a scary place for many who spent years obsessing about the number of calories they ate or burned at the gym. Many people, like Jess, who are in recovery from an eating disorder, understandably swing to the other direction and want to avoid numbers and doctors as they were a significant trigger and source of shame. It comes as a welcome break to not think about the numbers and many end up avoiding good health care for fear their brain will grab onto the numbers like the jaws of life if they go there.

Yet, denial is not a part of true health.

Neglecting your health is not true health. It may take a while, but finding the right doctor, as Jess did, who is knowledgeable and not shame based about such matters may be an effort but is necessary.

I remember when I was first asked by a client, “Is it ok for me to want to lose weight?”. I have since heard this question frequently in my office from women and men of all shapes and sizes. I respond by asking “What are your motivations and what is the meaning for you if you lost some weight?” Flushing through the answers to these questions is important to assess as you seek to make sure your definition of health is not going to keep you stuck or do your body harm.

The sole focus on weight in regards to health has and continues to be harmful. Shaming someone for being overweight does not motivate someone to make true change and reduces the chance of someone hearing important information about their body.

I still despise the scale. It really is a trap. Yet, totally neglecting our physical health in the name of health is not wise or recommended. For many, if their labs are ok, it gives them a reason to still engage in their eating disorder behavior. I see this a lot. If an individual is using numbers as a reason to avoid doing important deep soul work, than it is time to re-think this approach to living life because it will eventually spiral to a dark place.

I believe Jess is adding an important and much needed dynamic to the size-acceptance discussion. She is taking ownership of her choices and putting herself out there sharing what she has learned. I also believe she is doing this responsibly by giving out information with full disclosure and context. I am excited for a provocative discussion to follow up as a result of her leadership.

This is a nuanced and highly personal topic for many.  I am always inspired when I meet someone who walks their talk.  I especially admire those who have put themselves out there and adjust previous held beliefs while holding their head high and standing strong.  The journey towards true health in the public eye is a gutsy one and I thank you, Jess, for being you.

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