Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Love the Life You Lead

Coach Melinda Abrams asked me to be a part of the Love the Life You Lead 2012 blog series.
You can find the Facebook page at Love The Life You Lead Facebook Page

14 Days. 11 Expert Coaches. Loving the life you lead.

Becky Henry/ Theme: Forgiveness
Question: How do I forgive myself for not being able to help my daughter recover from an eating disorder?  What is the VALUE in forgiving myself?

Forgiveness is an act of love—towards ourselves. While it may seem a selfish endeavor it is actually a generous gift, to our own life, peace, joy, happiness and those around us. There is great value in spending the time asking powerful questions, asking for help, admitting we felt powerless, and taking the steps to learn how to forgive.
Loving someone who is seriously ill and not being able to "save" or "fix" them can lead to a host of negative emotions. It can lead us to become a lifetime "victim" who no longer loves life and embraces fun.
Seeing that we don't have that kind of power can actually be freeing and can give us the wings we need to fly away from the burden of being a victim.  Then and only then, we can live a joyful live despite our history. 

Becky Henry
Founder and President, Hope Network, LLC

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Jessica Setnick Blog Interview

This is the second in my blog interview series. This time it is Jessica Setnick, MS, RD/LD, CSSD who was a guest professional on one of our tele-classes in November.

Jessica Setnick Blog Interview
  1. Your website, http://www.understandingnutrition.com/ shows your passion for helping folks with eating disorders.  Where does this passion come from?

It is a combination of wanting to help others and wanting to understand the human condition in some way that would help me understand myself. I learn so much from my patients, and the continuing education that I have pursued has been as applicable to myself as it is to my work. The other aspect is that I feel that I have been given a gift, a gift that I may not have identified on my own, but that the incidents of my life brought to my attention. I am grateful to have found the intersection of what I like to do, that I am good at, that helps people, that I can do for a living. It is my mission and I wouldn’t feel complete if I didn’t act on it. Over time my mission has evolved into helping other professionals to help solve eating disorders, and most recently into helping build a treatment center, Ranch 2300, to do the same.

  1. What is your philosophy on effective eating disorders treatment?

Ah, my philosophy. My philosophy on effective treatment starts with my philosophy on eating disorders themselves. I believe that the nomenclature we use for eating disorders stinks. I think it was developed to facilitate research and description but it does not describe the human experience. So we are not treating individuals with eating disorders as well as we could be because the research is based on artificial distinctions. Anyone who is familiar with the field realizes that two people with “anorexia” might have very different situations – different causes, different skill deficits, different needs – but yet we continue to look for the one “best” treatment. There might be two people whose eating disorders look very different, but they have a lot in common. The treatment must be individualized to what each person needs. But I think that if we did a better job of describing eating disorders, such as “Depression-related eating disorders” and “Anxiety Spectrum Eating Disorders” and “Post-traumatic eating disorders” instead of the way we do now, we could also do a better job of recommending treatments rather than the trial-and-error approach.

The most important factor in treatment that lasts is recovery protection, ie the systems and skills that someone needs in order to thrive outside of a treatment setting. That has been the most fun part of designing Ranch 2300 – thinking of all the skills that someone needs to “make it” in recovery, and figuring out ways to teach those skills in the safe environment of treatment.

  1. What is your opinion on full recovery?

I prefer to use the word “remission,” since it seems to fit the paradigm of eating disorders better than recovery. I feel recovery can begin the very day someone realizes their eating disorder is killing them and they want to change, but that is no guarantee of a change in the parameters we tend to measure. On the other hand, an individual may be weight-restored and seem to be “in recovery” while internally they are not recovered at all.

Remission indicates that while bodies heal faster than minds, both the body and mind have recovered to the point that eating disorders stay in the thought stage only and do not transmit into behaviors that are problematic. In other words, I believe that I am in remission because when I have eating disorder thoughts, I am able to manage them before they lead to behaviors, and on occasion under extreme duress when I have an eating disorder behavior, it is no more severe nor lasting than the average American. It does not lead to guilt or shame, or a repetitive cycle, and I use it as a clue that life is not in balance and a cue to re-evaluate my situation.

My opinion on Remission is that it takes up to 7 years of compliance with treatment from the day an individual with an eating disorder enters treatment to advance to the stage of Remission, where the eating disorder is genuinely and for all practical purposes “in the past.”
  1. How have people used your boot camp to treat their eating disorder?

Well I did not intend it for that purpose, it is a training program for professionals treating eating disorders. But after some of the workshops, professionals who attended would come forward and tell me that after attending the weekend they recognized their own eating disorder, or recognized that it was no longer congruent with their lives, and they asked me to help them find treatment in their area.
  1. What do you tell people who care about someone with an eating disorder to say to encourage their loved one to seek treatment?

I care about you is a good start. I care about you and I would like to help you find treatment is even better. I care about you and I have made an appointment with a counselor to talk about how hard it is to watch someone I love hurt themself is the best way of all. Because then you are not only expressing yourself, expressing how deeply this is important to you, and how you are willing to stick by this person “in sickness and in health,” but you are also role-modeling self-care and reaching out for help, two things that everyone with an eating disorder needs to see more of.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Women over 50 and body image

Given that I am a proponent of the Health At Every Size (HAES)- size acceptance model, I was intrigued when I spoke with Thea Sheldon about women over 50 and their long and too often rugged relationships with their bodies.  I had recently written an article about women over 50 with eating disorders and we got talking about her work in helping women be happy with their bodies.  Wow, someone who cares about women over 50 and how we feel about these bodies that look so different from when we were younger!  I decided to do a blog interview with her to share her wisdom with you.

Thea started noticing when walking up a few stairs to her office she would be out of breath by the top.  All of her medical tests were fine.  Instead of prescribing fun movement or activity her doctor said she needed to lose about 30 pounds.  Thea hadn’t heard of HAES but she knew she wanted to be less winded and be able to do more fun physical activities—regardless of her size.
Thea began focusing not on dieting but on her health and reclaiming what brought her joy.  In the process of adding fun movement Thea’s body did shed some weight. More importantly she gained peace with her body as well as newfound fun and freedom in her life. As a coach she developed programs helping other women to find the peace with their bodies that she had found. 
Regular readers of my blog know that I do not promote losing weight – only gaining health.  Some people when they start making different health choices will gain weight, some will lose and some will stay the same.  Even though Thea has the words, “weight loss” in her materials I am sharing what she does because I see her helping women to “create a long-term, sustainable change in your relationship with your body.”  And when we love ourselves and our bodies that is when we can regain health.  I hope my HAES colleagues and fellow eating disorders advocates understand that she is using those words in her marketing because that is what women initially think they want.  Thea helps them find something so much better.
Here is my interview with Thea:
What shifted recently in how you treat your body?
Now I am better with boundaries in relationships with people and in my relationship with food.  I am able to draw boundaries with food and ask for what I really want, both in planning a menu and making choices in a restaurant. 
What has given you the ability to set these boundaries with food?
  1. Knowing much more clearly what I want.  Health!  I want Radiant Vibrant Health.  I’m responsible for what I put into my body and there is a real correlation between that, and how I feel, and my health numbers.  It was making a commitment to my health. Realizing I have a choice.
  2. I developed habits via steps.  Gradually I started making better choices. Trying to be perfect is no longer necessary. Now I feel much better and that keeps me motivated to keep making choices that are good for my body.
  3. I was totally open to the idea of experimenting. I know there isn’t one RIGHT way for every woman.  I became intimately familiar with my own body. I observe and respect what feels good and what doesn’t for my body.

As a result of these changes, what is now present in your life that wasn’t there?  
For 18 months now I've been doing all kinds of fun activities I hadn’t been able to do so easily before. Now I can flow into yoga positions I just couldn’t do because of the bulk on my body.
Thanks to my newfound body respect and awareness I recently participated in a community modern dance performance, even though I’m not a trained dancer. I had confidence that I could learn the moves. I wasn’t concerned about how my body looked on stage. I didn’t compare myself to others. I had so much fun! I never would have done this before I started taking charge of my body.
Now when we go on extended canoe trips I am able to carry my food pack across the portages easily. I don’t have to stop every few yards and rest. Cross- country skiing is so much more fun. I can get up some speed and feel more fluid and graceful skiing. It’s easier to get in and out of the car. On a practical note, I can easily carry my groceries. I don’t feel weighted down. I am much more flexible.
What is no longer present?  
When I am walking down the street, I no longer sneak little peeks in the window reflections to see how “fat” I am.  Now if I see my reflection it is no longer negative. I smile and say, “Wow you look great!” 
How have you changed the way you respect your body?
Now, more than ninety per cent of the time I don’t criticize my body and am genuinely grateful for my body.  I notice I am gentle and soft even when washing my body – not critical but appreciating my strong arms for example.  This is a huge change.  Previously I was unkind and really abusive to my body – scrubbing it hard and not in a kind way.  Now I love this body!  Accepting the changes of aging makes life so much easier. 
My language has changed.  I no longer say, “I shouldn’t eat that.”  Now I will consciously ask myself, “Hum, do I want to eat that? Am I hungry for that?  Is this going to taste as good as it looks?”
What have you created in your business as a result?
Over the phone I offer Body Breakthrough: Wise Weight Loss, Management and Momentum. Locally in Ely, Minnesota my co-leader Kathy Cyriacks and I offer Choose to Lose, a support group for women. Both programs emphasize making lifelong changes in your relationship with food, your health and your body. I tell women, “You will come to appreciate and love your body for the amazing gift it is.”
Thank you Thea for doing this Blog Interview with me. 
Thea Sheldon can be found at True Voice Coaching of Ely, MN http://www.theasheldon.com/body-breakthrough.html