Welcome Back To The War Against Self

Welcome Back To The War Against Self

Last blog I brought up the questions. Why do we reach outside ourselves for love? Is it possible to accept ourselves just the way we are and if so how?

Why?

The other day I had this amazing one-hour meditation, where I could feel the vibrations tingling from my fingertips down into my pelvis. Aaaaaand right when I broke meditation I went to my phone and checked to see if my lover text me. He didn’t! So immediately just like that my mind went, “you are not enough.” Well there goes my self-worth. In 20 seconds flat I went from spiritual bliss to “I am not enough.” I realized this had nothing to do with the guy or the lack of text. It’s the ongoing battle between Self and Self.

My example points out the fact that I am not reaching for my cell phone to find love. I am reaching for attention and validation that I am worthy of being loved. And that is were it gets tricky. For 20 years I told myself I was not lovable. That my body was not suitable for another person to hold or nurture. My eating disorder deprived me of the ability to learn to love. It feels at times like I am a 14 year old girl learning to be a women at 36. It is laborious.

One of the most delighting moments in recovery is when you realize you are no longer separate from the world or broken. Recovery teaches us how to be whole again. With time and a little self-introspection, self-love begins to appear. It starts when you decide to feed your body something nourishing and keep it down, or when you decide not to eat something you know will trigger you. These vital first steps are the keystones to self-love.

The answer is…I don’t know. What are we really reaching for? If love already exists inside each of us.

How?

I don’t know this either! That is my answer. In the three years I have been doing this (recovery) I can honestly say I’m still learning to accept “me”, just the way I am. When I asked my mentors what their thoughts were. Both of them replied with “acceptance.” Learning to accept you and others for our deep-rooted assets and grow from our character defects. I think Rumi explains it best in a poem called “The Guest House.”

This being human is a guesthouse.

Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

– Rumi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Self-Buckling

Self-buckling – Wikipedia  

Selfbuckling. A column can buckle due to its own weight with no other direct forces acting on it, in a failure mode called selfbuckling.

Failure mode,  I am way too familiar with this setting! Self-sabotage, is about to put its grip on my world again. Destroying me with explosive self-talk and flirting with my destructive nature. Anything to envoke heartbreak and excitement…I need a strike of dopamine!

When I get into failure mode it usually starts with self hate. A negative comment about being stupid or not being “enough”. Telling myself I am afraid and not worthy of love. Then… I like to ruminate about how dumb I am. “Will I ever get a decent job or be able to support myself?”

I don’t understand why I continue to go down this path of self-destruction. Especially when I know the tools of recovery and use them. This is the painful honest truth about mental illness. Recovery isn’t all sunshine and ladybugs. I have weeks where it doesn’t matter how many meetings I go too or how long I meditate, I still struggle. The question is why?

Lately, I have been reaching outside of myself for “self-worth”. Which isn’t even self-worth… It’s just worth! It’s begging for other people to love me, so I don’t have to try to learn to love myself. Sadly that separate’s me from Spirit. I know that isn’t the answer but it feels good and it’s easy. It’s a quick fix with a rush of chemicals to my brain.

In my addict brain I rationalize, “at least I am not restricting, or binging and purging. I am sober today!” But lets get truly honest about this. These are the types of self-loathing actions that make me feel like shit and eventually cause me to act out in one of my many addictions. It’s like circling the drain to a relapse or a first act to the main event.

Since I have been in recovery I have tried to push this darkness out of me. I’ve been, “Super Happy Chic, Spiritual Annoying Chic,” and I do have traits of those “chic’s” in me. My true nature is to be loving and silly but I also have a deep-rooted darkness inside. I don’t like it but it’s without a doubt part of who I am. Since I was a child I have felt this darkness. A neighbor sexually assaulted me at a young age and in that moment a seed was planted. It was like having a dark shameful secret, which could only come out through self-sabotage.

My goal for this blog wasn’t to be obnoxiously depressing. As such, 90% of the time I am optimistic and silly but I am not afraid to admit that I struggle with my depression. In fact, I think all of us do! If you are reading this, either you have an eating disorder or are recovering from one or know someone that is or you are my friend. Which means you are probably just as nutty as me. And thank God! I hate being alone.

Suffering is a part of life! The Buddha based a whole religion on getting out of it, not pretending that it doesn’t exist! The questions I want answered are: Why do we reach outside ourselves for love? Is it possible to accept ourselves just the way we are… and if so how?

The answers and more crazy will be in the next blog!

 

 

 

 

Grabbing Tissues instead of Cereal: Learning to Grieve without ED

Grabbing Tissues instead of Cereal: Learning to Grieve without ED

 

“Look Mom I am Grieving without Bingeing!”

Here I am again sitting at my computer with a box tissues and a head full of introspective, psychological thoughts that only make me, “koko for Coco Puffs.” Hmmm, yummmm, coco puffs!! Cereal killing sounds good right now. No, I am not going to go on a killing spree! Cereal killing in the ED world is when you sit in bed with a box or boxes of cereal and watch movies. While you deny every emotion and isolate from reality. Focus Lara! What is it about going through a break up that makes me trip out about my past? Probing for the Holy Grail of my, “not enoughness.” And why in heck do I turn to food? Or my personal favorite self afflicted starvation and a punishing workout for a solution to an emotional problem? Where does this insanity come from?

So, the food thing I inherited from the women in my family and the media. I remember as a child my mom disappearing upstairs with a book and a bag of chips and chocolate very vividly. As though she was going on a vacation from her problems. I am not trying to criticize her for coping this way. Isolating with food is a learned behavior that has been passed down from generation to generation. My family isn’t exclusive to this behavior. Have you noticed in a movies when the main character goes through a loss, whether it be a break up, death in the family, loss of a job, cat dies, etc., The following actions habitually are consumption and isolation.

This is the vicious cycle that most Eder’s/addicts get stuck in. I know when I was in my eating disorder, “when the tuff got going, I went for cereal.” It wasn’t until my second year in recovery that I had major break through. Rebecca Cooper, once again coached me through something so simple, that it seemed ridiculously over looked. The Grieving Cycle! Naively, I thought that humans only grieved when processing death. This is not true, grief can occur in many situations. The power is being aware, knowing the five stages, and have healthy coping tools.

The Five Stages Of Grief and Coping Tools:

1. Denial and Isolation- denying reality and hide from the facts.

This should be a temporary response that carries us through the first wave of pain but unfortunately this is the phase some of us get stuck in. The numbing phase. Shock and denial provide emotional protection from being overwhelmed at once. Being aware of this will help with the pain you may suffer. It is important that you experience the pain fully and not hide from.

2. Anger- a strong feeling of annoyance.

As the masking effects of denial and isolation begin to wear, reality and its pain re-emerge. The intense emotion is deflected from our vulnerable core, redirected and expressed instead as anger. The anger may be aimed at inanimate objects, complete strangers, friends or family. Self afflicted anger and self-pity may arise. Rationally, we know better and do not want to be hurtful. Emotionally, however, we may resent other people, and ourselves. We feel guilty for being angry, and this creates angrier. Remember, grieving is a personal process that has no time limit, nor one “right” way to do it. Releasing anger in healthy and constructive ways is important in recovery. I like to get creative and paint but I also recommend having a support team.

3. Bargaining- attempting to alter the outcome or timing.

The normal reaction to feelings of helplessness and vulnerability is often a need to regain control. And EDer’s love control!!!

If only I did this…

They should of listen when…

I can’t I stop…

How could this?

Why me?

At this stage I recommend writing all of the annoying, nagging, ruminating questions and or thoughts that pop up in your head down on paper. Instead of clinging to the threads of the past and trying to change an outcome. This is an opportunity to look at our part in the situation.

4. Depression- moody or loss of interest.

In this stage, we begin to realize and feel the true nature of our emotions. Often times this stage gets prolonged due to the fact that our ongoing struggle with mental illness is heighted by our grieve. It is important to reach out and ask for guidance and support. Recovery form ED is sensitive to self-harm and punishment. The stage of depression usually needs support.

5. Acceptance- the action or process of being received as adequate.

Reaching this stage is like a breathe of fresh air. One day you wake up and feel enough. Understanding and being aware is the first step to acceptance. In my journey with recovery, miracles grow in painful experiences. Only in acceptance can there be recovery.

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but don’t know where to place it. All of that unspent love gathers up inside your body, waiting for you to reach acceptance. Knowing that love always has a home inside you and your body.

 

Brace Yourself Winter Is Coming

Brace Yourself Winter Is Coming

Winter Is Coming!!

Most of us learned about the four seasons when we were younger, about spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Considering I grew up and still live in Southern California, there are really only two seasons: beach season and cute boots/sweater season. Now that I am entering my third winter in recovery from an eating disorder, I am experiencing a hunger thingy that seems biological. Trust me when I say, at first this totally freaked me. My ED seasons usually consisted of binging and purging from October to May. Then restricting, while working on the perfect tan from May back to October.

Being in recovery I am more aware than ever before of my natural body cues for hunger (that hunger thingy), so this puzzled me. Obviously, we are humans but we aren’t squirrels hoarding nuts for the winter. We SoCal folks don’t have cold winters, so why do we crave more food in cold weather? Is this biological? Or is it more of a social tradition? Here is what the Scientists say.

Dark Days Mean More Food

The tendency to overeat during the winter might come down to basic biology. Ira Ockene, MD, a cardiologist at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, told NPR that winter eating could just be our primitive impulses urging us to stockpile for the cold months ahead. A 2005 study Ockene conducted and published in the journal Nature found that food intake patterns do vary season to season, as does body weight. Researchers found that study participants consumed an average of 86 more calories per day in the fall, as compared to the spring. In fall, participants also ate the highest total amount of fat and saturated fat. The lowest levels of physical activity were observed in the winter.

In his interview with NPR, Ockene also said that less light prompts us to seek food and eat it faster, offering another explanation for why we eat more as the days get shorter.

This gives a scientific explanation of seasonal food patterns, but there is more to it.

Warning Winter Memories May Cause Munchies

According to some scientists, winter weight gain is just a product of our environment, not biology. From Halloween to Super Bowl there are gatherings centered on tasty treats. Humans naturally socialize around food. From primitive man to modern, people have always gathered around the “campfire” to socialize and celebrate.

Our winter eating habits could also be born from opportunity. I feel like if that is so then the opportunity for food is all year long. In our country, we celebrate weekly with shopping trips to the grocery store, or you could just go to Costco and celebrate yourself. I have done that.

The reason I bring this to light is because food, especially during holidays triggers strong memories. This plays a major factor in binge eating, emotional over eating, and other disordered eating behaviors.  The holidays sometimes bring strong associations with foods. Whether it’s cake, cookies, turkey, or pies, these foods are often tied to memories good and bad. If they are good memories, one may keep eating the food in a pursuit to recreate a moment with loved ones. If it is a bad memory, the holidays could trigger some depression. Just like the old saying “misery loves company,” well, food can be that company.

Moderation is the Answer, but ED doesn’t Care

Health experts say that moderation of holiday goodies and festive drinks, along with moderate exercise and sunlight will chase those winter blues away. But what about those of us with eating disorders or recovering from eating disorders? Moderation is a beautiful idea, but our brains are not chemically wired the same as “normal folks.”

Certain chemicals ferry signals around the brain. These messengers are called neurotransmitters. Some play important roles in stress, mood and appetite. Serotonin and dopamine levels are not balanced in people suffering from eating disorders. This causes many issues for someone who is suffering to STOP when they are full or STOP feeling the panic attack around the Thanksgiving Day table. Our Brains are different. This isn’t an excuse. It’s real science. Google: sciencenewsforstudents.org.

Let’s Get into Solution

Whether you are a client, a sponsee, friend, or family member, when we talk of issues, we must talk about SOLUTION. Here is my top 6:

1.Black stretchy pants (just kidding)- But maybe cute clothes that make you feel comfortable and stellar about yourself. Not some skanky number you think other people want to see. Be you and work that thang.

2.Support Team- Who is in your support team? Who and where can you go when you feel unsafe or just off? For me I go to support groups weekly, and I am so blessed to have a circle of friends in recovery. Together we support one another daily. This has been a major game changer in my life.

3.Be open and honest with you family- Letting a trusted family member know about your struggle is hard, but it may be helpful around family meals. I do advice that you feel safe around mealtime. Be vulnerable and let someone help you.

4.Preset appoints with a professional eating disorder specialist- Therapist, Dietitians, Coaches, there is specialist out there that wants to be of service. I recommend looking into this.

5. Be Creative- The holidays don’t have to be about food. Suggest or create other ideas for friends and family to gather. When I was newly in recovery, my family would go to the Grand Canyon to Hike. The point of the season is share time and memories with one another. Those are some of my favorite memories.

6. Embrace Hygge! – Which is Danish for acknowledging a feeling or moment, whether alone or with friends, at home or out, ordinary or extraordinary as cozy, charming, or special. Hygge literally only requires consciousness, a certain slowness, and the ability to not just be present – but recognize and enjoy the present.

 

Childhood Obesity Month

Childhood Obesity Month

With nearly one in three children in the United States being overweight or obese, now is the time to support the health of our next generation. First let’s get informed or as the kids say, “schooled!”

What does obese mean?

Means a child is more than 20% over their ideal weight, which considers the child’s height, age, sex and build.

What does overweight mean?

Means a child is above a weight that is considered normal and healthy by a medical doctor. Being overweight as child could lead to obesity as an adult or could be the well-known “awkward stage” called puberty.  I will address this later in the blog.

Consequences of Childhood Obesity:

Obese and overweight children are at risk for a number of serious health problems such as:

Diabetes: Type 2: Diabetes was once called adult-onset diabetes. Now with the rise in childhood obesity, there is a dramatic rise in the number of children suffering from type 2 diabetes. Untreated, this can be a life-threatening condition.

Asthma: Extra weight can make it harder to breath and can inflame the respiratory tract. There is a rise in childhood asthma, and children with serious asthma are more likely to be overweight.

Heart Failure: Being overweight makes the heart work harder. Overweight children are more likely to grow up to be overweight adults who develop heart problems.

Bullying: No one that has attended grade school is surprised by this fact. What is surprising, however, is that obese children are bullied more often even if they possess good social skills and a great sense of humor. Even students who come from wealthy households suffer from bullying.  Other students and adults can do this bullying.

Depression: traditionally depression and obesity have been compartmentalized as separate physical and emotional conditions but evidence suggests common pathways between them. Obesity and depression are diagnosed differently in children compared to adults. If a child has changes in sleep, appetite or psychomotor activity, an adult should take them to see a doctor to see if these changes are due to depression, not just a physical cause.

Why Childhood Obesity Now? What Changed? What Happened?

I grew up in Southern California in the 80’s. When I get in my DeLorean DMC-12, I didn’t see a lot of over weight kids. In fact, I remember roller blading until the streetlights came on, and my mom shouted at me to get my tush inside. I would sit down to a dinner of green beans, some type of meat, and Dad’s mashed potatoes from a bag. It wasn’t what I wanted or liked. The meal wasn’t perfect, but it was healthy. (My dog sure liked it.)

So what happen in the generations to come? There is no single reason for the rise in childhood obesity, but there are a number of contributing factors:

Television and Media: Screen time is a major factor contributing to childhood obesity. It takes away from the time children spend being physically active, leading to increased snacking in front of the TV. It provides constant influences on children with advertisements for unhealthy foods.

Marketing: The psychology behind marketing food products to kids is influenced by colors and fun friendly sounds and activities. It’s easy to show these advertisements on the screen. Hence its impact is number one for promoting unhealthy eating habits!

Lack of Daily Physical Activity: Apparently streetlights go on really early for this generation! Most adolescents fall short of the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommendation of at least 60 minutes of aerobic physical activity each day. Only 18% of students in grades 9—12 met this recommendation in 2009. Daily, quality physical education in school can help students meet the guidelines. However, in 2015, only 33% of students had access to and attended daily physical education classes.

Increased Portion Sizes:  Portion sizes of less healthy foods and beverages have increased over time in restaurants, grocery stores, and vending machines. Research shows that children eat more without realizing it, if they are served larger portions. This means that they are consuming a lot of extra calories, especially when eating kid friendly high-calorie foods.

Limited Access to Healthy Affordable Foods: Some people have less access to stores and supermarkets that sell healthy, affordable food such as fruits and vegetables, especially in rural, low-income neighborhoods. Unfortunately, it is more expensive to buy healthy food than canned or frozen items. Natural and organic items in this country are grossly over priced. This is a tragic struggle.

Make Health a Cool Habit:

Be a Role Model: If you eat right and value your nutrition, your kid will too, with encouragement. You are the most influential person in your child’s life. Say positive things about your own body. Let your eating habits be the example. Encourage a child you love to choose a balanced lifestyle while avoiding extremes.

Get Moving: Physical activity is an essential part to being healthy and having fun. Get creative with it! Don’t make it a chore! Play with your kid. (I believe they still sell roller blades.)

Make Healthy Food Choices: So here is a fun tip. Eat the rainbow. Kids love color and fruits and veggies come in an array fun shapes and colors. Have fun with eating healthy. Use the Internet for ideas. Guide children in making their own healthy snack and lunch selections. (Don’t take the easy way out for a school lunch and deliver McDonald’s.)

Teach Moderation: Moderation and reasonableness are key to creating balance with both nutrition and exercise. Encourage our youth to listen to their bodies.

Lastly I want to discuss, “The Awkward Stage” aka pre teen puberty. Did you know that children can gain anywhere from 5-40 pounds between major growth spurts? Appetite increases and often kids become heavier before their height takes off. The extra weight gain can concern parents and even the kid. Should it?

It depends says, licensed therapist and certified eating disorder specialist Rebecca Cooper. “Today kids watch TV and play computer games instead of playing sports or being active. They are exposed to highly processed sugar-dense foods instead of foods without labels. It is normal for adolescents to gain weight before their growth spurt, but some kids are put on a diet that sets them up to disregard their appetite signals. Without a strong sense of self, they are easily persuaded by media and friends to obsess about changing their weight. These behaviors are the breeding ground for eating disorders. By making a few changes early in life, we can help our children avoid going down this path.”

With the health and wellness of the future generations at stake. Society has indeed become saturated with extreme forms of thinking, leaving little room for the promotion and practice of my new but good friends, MODERATION and BALANCE. Yes, learning to delay gratification (Road Less Traveled, a great book for parents) for something more enduring later has been a powerful practice in my food recovery. That doesn’t mean if I eat all my veggies then I get cake. It means if I eat mindfully and with balance then I am feeding my body for the future as well. When I do eat cake, it is done with a purpose and in moderation.