Monday, July 19, 2010

Relax--relapse is part of recovery

A lot of my clients are addicts with serious addictions. I've noticed that they all relapse at some point, some more than others. Even the clients who have been sober the entire time I've worked with them and who I view as very stable, went through phases of relapse after relapse. This article confirmed what I have been telling my clients for a while. Don't get so down on yourself about a relapse; it is part of the recovery process.

What is most important is to learn from the relapse and to catch it as soon as you can. Because you relapsed the one time, doesn't make it okay to go on a bender! Ask yourself questions about it: what led to the relapse; did I try all of my coping skills first in order to avoid relapsing; what was I telling myself in the moment I decided to relapse. The answers to these questions will help the next time you are faced with a similar situation.

I am using the words addiction and relapse, and many of you may be feeling like this doesn't apply to you, however, we all struggle with things that we wish we could have more control over. This could be smoking, eating too many fatty foods, or avoiding exercising. It's up to you how you want to see these issues and if you are ready to make permanent changes.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mindful Eating

This is a great article on increasing mindfulness when eating. Well, it introduces the idea of being more aware when eating, although it doesn't actually give suggestions on how to do it. We do seem, as a culture, to promote disconnecting our minds and our bodies. Everywhere we see commercials, billboards, and people we know multitasking rather than tuning in to what we're doing. Especially when we are eating. If we enjoy food so much, why don't we pay more attention to it? So rather than focusing on work or the TV during meals, try enjoying and tasting the food. You might notice yourself getting full.

The article also has suggestions for how to make food last longer in our systems, such as eating more fiber, protein, and fat. It is actually possible you could eat more than you think you should; you just have to know what to add to the meal. When reading the article, try to ignore the suggestions for other articles to read that they sneak into the middle of the article you're reading. This tends to take away from the initial message they are sending.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Fatty Food = Cocaine

Interesting article. It would be rather challenging to treat compulsive eating as an addiction, though, since we have to eat to survive. A person can cut out alcohol much more easily than food. I guess it goes back to trying to be responsible in our choices. When you are an alcoholic and go out to eat, you can't order a drink. Perhaps when you go out to eat and you know you cannot stop eating the mac and cheese once you start, you have to order something different.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Improve Self Esteem and Mood in 5 Minutes

I came across an interesting article in Psychology Today: This study finds that people are benefited by just 5 minutes a day of outdoor activity. The study also claims that the benefits decline when increasing the amount of time spent on and intensity level of the activity. Apparently the purpose of the study was not to measure physical health but to focus on mental health instead.

There are some good points to be taken away from this, however. If you are a person who feels like there's little point in exercising if you can't fit in a full hour, it may be time to reconsider your approach. Even 5 minutes will help you feel better about yourself. When I have been talking to people lately about body image, overeating, and exercise, I have been noticing how often the concept of needing to "fix" a "problem" is brought up. We tend to view our weight gain or food issues as a huge imposition on our lives and our happiness. It quickly becomes overwhelming and frustrating to think every day about all the "shoulds" and "should nots" or the "good" and "bad" choices we make.

If you are making changes in your life, start slowly and define small goals. I think we all have experienced how the "all or nothing" approach works in our lives: "I ate that donut this morning, so I might as well just have McDonald's for lunch and start over tomorrow" or "I didn't work out on Monday or Tuesday, so I'll start fresh next week and work out 5 days in a row." Instead, try to think about it as having a new chance every moment to make choices that epitomize what helps you feel good and support who you want to be. So exercise for those 5 minutes and eat that donut, and maybe you will exercise for another 5 minutes later today and have a salad for dinner.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Post Traumatic Body Image Disorder

I have been thinking about the barrage of "perfect" images, ideas of what we "should" look like, eat, drink, do that are constantly shoved in our faces daily. We're all suffering from the impossibility of living an ideal that no one actually embodies. What would we tell our dog or cat if he wanted to look like a wolf or a tiger? "You're perfect the way you are; it's not possible for you to be that." Well, it's not possible for me to look like a model. I will never grow 5 inches and lose 20 pounds (which, by the way, would be really unhealthy). It's not even possible for most models to look like their pictures. It's all airbrushing and makeup.

It is possible, however, for me to be happier, more self confident, and more self satisfied than any model. How do I do this? By accepting myself, as I am, in this moment, and doing things in my life that are true to who I am and want to be. This is not easy, but there is good news. In each new moment, we have another chance to try again.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Coping With Those Bad Days

The last few weeks were rather rough for me, and I have been wondering what was different that caused them to feel so challenging? What could have helped me to get through the day? I think a big part of it was the level of perceived support from others in my life was lower than what I normally feel.

I could probably have remedied the situation by simply asking for more support. Most of the time, the people who love us are perfectly willing to be there if we tell them we honestly need them to be. They cannot read our minds, though, and it actually shows a lot of strength and humility to know when we need help and to ask for it.

There are times when a friend is not available, so it is also good to have some back up ideas for when it is only up to you. The following article has some suggestions for simple methods of improving one's mood: You may have some similar skills that already work for you. The trick is to make them readily accessible for those days when you are sitting at your desk about to cry!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Waist to Height Ratio vs BMI

If anyone has ever calculated her BMI, which only takes into account one's height and weight, it may have been frustrating that the BMI ignores gender and muscle mass. These factors make a huge difference in a person's perceived health. I'm sure we've all seen some female trainers at the gym who look rather thick because they are SOLID MUSCLE! If we look at these women's BMIs, they may border on the obese categorization, which is ridiculous.

Review this article about the Waist to Height Ratio: This hopefully will replace the BMI, as it more accurately calculates a person's health. Apparently the most dangerous area to carry one's weight is in the waist, which is why this measurement is more useful. This is unfortunate for those of us who happen to gain weight first in the waist region ("No I'm not pregnant; I just look like it when I gain weight!"). There is some wiggle room, though. There are more categorizations, such as basically 3 ranges of healthy weights, one for underweight, and 3 ranges for overweight. This at least feels better to look at than the BMI chart, in which one is either healthy or one of 3 labels for overweight.