Your Say Yes to Life Monday Motivator: “Fat” is Not a Feeling But I FEEL Fat!

We all have “fat days”. Even if you are a man reading this, you probably are not scratching your head wondering what a “fat day” is. You know.

We all know. 

Fat days are like cold-and-flu season, garden weeds, or your dog’s next teeth-cleaning appointment – they are going to come. Inevitably. There is no sense trying to run and hide.

But what can we do? If having “fat days” is more about management than elimination, and we are all going to “feel fat” from time to time, then where is the dividing line between the inevitable and its amount of influence over how we feel about ourselves, our bodies, and our lives?

Once again, it boils down to knowledge…and choice. First, we have to understand and decode where “feeling fat” comes from and what it means to us. Next, we have to decide if this business of “feeling fat” still works for us, or if we would prefer to make a new choice in how we understand and deal with fat feelings, and fat days, in our daily lives. 

So where do we start? We can begin by exploring where feeling fat even comes from, how it started, and why it is so much a part of our culture today that we often accept it without question – and even welcome it in as a helpful, rather than harmful, regular houseguest.

In 1995, the Discovery Channel reported the sad but fascinating results of the introduction of western television programming into the culture of the little island of Fiji. Prior to receiving access to westernized shows like “Melrose Place” and “90210”, only three percent of Fijian females suffered from eating disorders. Three years later, 74 percent of Fijian girls reported feeling “too big” and 62 percent had gone on a diet.

We may not think the environment around us gets under our skin, but we don’t have to look very far to see how much influence it actually has on our day-to-day routines and perceptions of ourselves and others. We feel fat because anti-fat messages are everywhere we are. Billboards, television and movies, advertisements, even our daily dialogues with each other are full of labels like “thin” and “fat”, “good” and “bad”, “healthy” and “unhealthy” – and almost none of it is backed up by actual scientific facts.

In fact, most of the steady diet of fat-bashing that we take in has one purpose and one purpose only – to induce dis-ease so that we will spend our hard-earned cash to fix a problem that is all in our heads!

Okay, so now we know. We have been told to feel fat, and we have – up until now at least – very obligingly obeyed. But now we really do feel fat – so what options do we have to extricate the word “fat” from the very real and valid feelings we are having underneath?

First, we can start to access our power of choice by working hard to understand what “feeling fat” means to us. We have to recognize that “fat” in and of itself is NOT a feeling . More accurately, “feeling fat” it is an edgy little ache that grabs our attention long enough so we will trace it back to its source and deal with the real root issue. So when we feel fat, we can instantly snap to attention and begin our sleuthing process – tracing it back, and back, and back, until we uncover what triggered the fat-feeling so we can deal with that and move on to recapture our sense of health, wellness, and balance.

If you are struggling with or in recovery from an eating disorder, you may already be familiar with the technique of naming your fat feelings. This is a very helpful approach that involves building your emotional vocabulary. There are five major emotions – anger, fear, disgust, sadness, and happiness – and about a million permutations of each. For instance, if we know it is not “fat” that we are really feeling, could it perhaps be “anger”? Or is it instead a permutation of anger – maybe “rage”, “annoyance”, “hostility”, “displeasure”? In this way you can take your power back by naming what you are really feeling, and investigating what your real emotions are trying to tell you so you can work through them and return to peace and equanimity again.

You might also want to try another code-breaking exercise to figure out what “fat” really stands for in your life. In this exercise, you will complete two sentences. First you will write down: “Thin =” and complete the sentence with appropriate descriptions of what “thin” means to you in that moment (examples might include: good , happy, desirable, successful, popular, attractive, etc). Next, you will write down “Fat =” and complete the sentence with your assessment of what fat feels like to you in that moment (examples could include: disgusting, irresponsible, lazy, unattractive, unacceptable, lonely, unsuccessful, etc.). In this way you can backtrack to discover what you are really feeling, and begin to deal with those feelings.

At Southlake Counseling, we understand how painful “feeling fat” can be – we have spent years honing our skills for battling back against our culture’s focus on the socially-acceptable prejudice of weight-ism and helping others to do the same. If you are having trouble completing the exercises above, or if you try your hand at them and find that strong emotions are coming up and you need support to work through them, visit us at www.southlakecounseling.com. Let us help you to start your New Year off on an empowered note by saying “no” to feeling fat in 2010 – and saying YES to feeling what you really feel, owning your right to have and express your true emotions, and doing what you need to do to live the life of your dreams!

Be Well,

Kimberly

Your “Say Yes to Life” Monday Motivator: Finding a Reason to Recover, Part III

I hope you have been enjoying this three-part series on Finding a Reason to Recover. To recap, in Part I, we explored what a “reason” is and how to decipher the reasons we have for the choices we make. In Part II, we looked at the word “choice” and how the very natural human emotion of fear factors into the choices we make to stay stuck or move forward.

For the conclusion of our series, we will explore what it means to “recover”. Accepted definitions of this word include: “to get back, regain, to compensate for, recover losses from.” 

These definitions might resonate if we developed an eating disorder as an adult, and we have strong memories of what life was like, what we were like, and who we were before the eating disorder set in.

But what if we have been struggling with the eating disorder for so long that we can no longer recall who we were or who we could be again without that influence controlling our lives? Or what if we were very young when we first became ill, and today contemplating life without the eating disorder feels identical to contemplating life without….us?

In this context, recovery can feel like a scary, even impossible, concept to grasp.

So here is where we must start pulling together our reasons and our choices to stay stuck or break free and assemble them on the foundation of our sense of self – our personal identity. If we don’t have a personal identity, or don’t remember it anymore, then here is where we must start, because the simple truth is that we cannot recover, regain, or get back anything if we don’t know what – or who – we have lost.

If you enjoyed significant time free from your eating disorder before you became ill, then now is the time to put your memory to work and remember what life was like. What were you like? What did you enjoy doing? What did you look forward to? Whose company did you seek out? What did you think about when you woke up in the morning and went to sleep at night? How did you spend your time and energy? What were you curious about, fascinated with, interested in? Who were you? So spend some quality time this week getting to know you B.E.D. – Before Eating Disorder.

If you developed the eating disorder before you had a strong sense of self, then examine the people around you, especially the people whom you value the most and look up to. What do they enjoy doing? What do you admire about them? If you could be anybody, go anywhere, do anything, who/where/what would you turn your attention to? What causes move your heart? What makes you long to reach out and help someone else? Whose friendship do you enjoy and why? What societal groups tug at your heart strings and why? Who could you be – who would you be – if you had time and energy free from managing the demands of your eating disorder to be YOU? Spend some time envisioning you A.E.D. – After Eating Disorder.

Understand as you do this wonderful, vital work of reconstructing “you” free from the eating disorder’s influence that the priceless gift hidden within the hard work of recovery is the opportunity to wipe the slate clean – or to keep what is good from your past and discard what is harmful now and replace it with something better. You can literally create a fascinating new reality for yourself built on the strength of your determination to overcome your life-threatening disease and the knowledge that if you can recover from an eating disorder, you can do anything you set your heart and mind to achieve.

This is the best reason to do the hard work of recovery that you will ever find. Inherent in choosing to recover is the knowledge that you are worth recovering for, that life is worth recovering for, that you matter, and that there is a place for you and work that only you can do in this world. And even if you don’t feel that way now, don’t believe that now, or don’t see that in yourself now, if you long to be able to one day, then that is a good enough reason to invest the time and energy you have been giving to your eating disordered thoughts and behaviors into recovering from them instead.

Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, said it best when she stated, “It is time for every one of us to roll up our sleeves and put ourselves at the top of our commitment list.”

She didn’t say “when we feel like it, when we believe it is okay, when we have earned it.” She simply said “It is time” to do it. Now. Today.

It is always a good day to choose to recover. At Southlake Counseling Center, we know exactly how much courage, determination, and vision that decision requires, and we have dedicated our lives to supporting you in your recovery journey as we first were supported by caring and skilled others in ours. So contact us today at www.southlakecounseling.com to find out how to make 2010 the year that you say “goodbye” to your eating disorder and YES to your own precious, purposeful, and powerful life!

Be Well,

Kimberly

Your “Say Yes to Life” Monday Motivator: Finding a Reason to Recover, Part II

In the first part of our exploration of finding a reason to do the hard work of recovery, we investigated the meaning and purpose of reasons themselves. What is a “reason”? How do we begin to uncover our reasons for staying sick, and our reasons for getting well? Perhaps most importantly, what recourse do we have if and when we discover our reasons for staying sick conflict with our reasons for getting well?

In this second part of our exploration, we will look at the word “choice”. The most commonly accepted definition of this word is “the power, right, or liberty to choose; option”. Yet in many cases, the power of choice feels less like a right or liberty and more like a burden or obligation.

So stop for a moment now and think of how you commonly experience choice in your life. Does choice feel like a human right, a liberty, an option you have for exercising your own powerful, personal freedom? Or does choice feel like a burden, an obligation, an exercise in overcoming almost impenetrable fear?

Eleanor Roosevelt, a strong and empowered woman who lived through one of the most tumultuous times in American history as she supported her husband in rebuilding the hopes and dreams of a nation wrecked by economic depression, is famous for her choice to maintain her personal optimism in the face of the direst of circumstances. She once stated, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”

While it is unlikely that any of us will ever make a decision to “reach out eagerly” and not encounter fear, Mrs. Roosevelt’s statement points to the possibility that this experience is not impossible to achieve – but it is also not going to be easy to attain.

The simple fact is that each and every day we encounter many reasons that could support our choice to stay stuck, and we encounter just as many reasons to choose to pursue health, recovery, and wellness…and it is our power of personal choice alone that will determine which path we will take.

So the challenge then becomes to decide what is in it for us to make one choice over another.

As I have had the privilege of working with so many individuals over the years, it has become clear to me that human beings are most likely to choose positive change when the pain of staying stuck exceeds the perceived pain of breaking free.  I have witnessed how each of us, over time, develops a sense of our own personal pain threshold – the line in the sand over which we may be willing to step if the pain of staying stuck outweighs the fear of trying something new. This personal pain threshold is determined by our cumulative past experiences of hope, joy, triumph, frustration, disappointment, and emotional injury. When staying stuck does not inflict enough pain to push us above our personal pain threshold set point, we will most likely choose to maintain our status quo. However, when staying stuck pushes us past our own personal pain threshold, we may actually experience that we have no choice but to step across that line and try something new.

So now it is time to contemplate the impact it will have on your life if you exercise your human right and option to choose to stay stuck in close companionship with your eating disordered thoughts and behaviors. You can contemplate or even journal about how your own choice not to do the hard work of recovery will impact your life, your relationships, your career, your daily life, your valued activities.

Next, you can consider and jot down your thoughts about the impact to your life if you choose to invest your time and energy into meeting your recovery, health, and wellness goals.

Now, take a look at what is on either side of your line in the sand determine where your current pain threshold is. If you find that your threshold is not activated enough to make the choice to do the hard work of choosing recovery, then ask yourself what kind of support you need to help you access your human right to choose to give yourself the gift of recovered life.

 At Southlake Counseling, we have both the expert training and the firsthand experience to know that you have the power to say “no” to living with an eating disorder and YES to recovered life – whether you begin your recovery journey believing that recovery is possible for you or not. We also have more than two decades of clinical expertise in implementing the very latest treatment methods for helping our clients to achieve and even exceed their recovery, health, and wellness goals. Most importantly, over the last two decades, we have had the privilege of witnessing thousands of courageous individuals like you harnessing the power of professional support to help them break free from their fears and limitations and break through to recovered life. 

So this holiday season, visit us at www.southlakecounseling.com and give yourself the most precious gift of all –the gift of choosing YOU!

Be Well,

Kimberly

Holiday Meal Planning

Thanksgiving is over – but the Christmas holiday is only just beginning.  Stores are packed, UPS and FedEx are working overtime and holiday baking is in full swing.  Amidst this exciting, yet often chaotic time of year, it is important to remember to stick to a healthy overall meal plan, to keep your energy levels up and immunity strong.  Nourishing yourself with healthy foods, along with getting regular moderate intensity physical activity and plenty of sleep and relaxation time are usually your best bets to warding off sicknesses, managing stress and maintaining your energy levels.

Speaking of immunity, if you still have Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator, it is past time to throw them out.  According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), cooked meat and poultry leftovers are only fresh in the refrigerator for about 3-4 days.  Cooked stuffing is fresh about 3-4 days, too.  Gravy is only good for 1-2 days, so definitely throw any away if it is still lingering in your refrigerator.  For more information on food storage safety, visit http://www.foodsafety.gov.

As for the rest of your meal plan, too often, Americans throw a healthy meal plan out the window when the holidays arrive.  However, try to avoid the “all or nothing” mentality.  You can still enjoy a few indulgences here and there, while sticking to an underlying healthy meal plan.  For instance, it is fine to sample the holiday treats that local stores may offer, such as hot chocolate, cookies and pastries.  And, it is even fine to purchase a few for you and your friends or family to enjoy together.  Your body will best manage these discretionary (extra) calories if you are healthy and managing your weight with a basic healthy meal plan.

So, starting your day with a balanced breakfast is a good way to begin.  Think whole grains (in cereals, English muffins, breads, bagels), fruits and proteins.  Combining proteins with carbohydrates at all meals and snacks is the best way to manage hunger and satiety levels, reducing the changes that you will have strong cravings or urges to overeat later in the day.  Popular, healthful breakfast proteins include lowfat dairy products (i.e. milk, yogurt and cheese), dairy alternatives (i.e. soymilk), peanut butter, eggs and egg whites, lean meats and meat alternatives (i.e. soy sausage).  You also get some protein from grains.  Many grain products like cold cereals and breakfast bars contain extra protein (often from milk or soy protein ingredients) and fiber, too.  Fiber is especially helpful in preventing disease and managing satiety levels.

So, as you prepare for a day at the office, at the mall or at home doing chores, remember to keep your breakfast balanced.  Continue to eat healthfully throughout the day, too, and know that in moderate amounts, your body will be able to handle some discretionary calories along the way.  As with any time of the year, we should all focus on balance, variety and moderation to keep us healthy.

Be well,

Julie

Your “Say Yes to Life” Monday Motivator: Finding a Reason to Recover, Part I

If you have ever found yourself thinking (or saying), “I don’t have a reason to recover”, “I can’t find a reason to recover”, “What’s the point of recovering”, “I don’t feel worth recovering for”, then the first thing you need to know is that you are not alone.

Everyone who has ever tried to recover or emerge from some significant trial has felt this way at one time or another. It is part of the human condition – to struggle, to doubt, to rally, and, for those who persevere, to triumph.

But what sets those who eventually do triumph apart from the rest?

George Lucas, pioneer of one of the most beloved movie series of all times, gets right to the heart of the matter when he says, “You have to find something that you love enough to be able to take risks, jump over the hurdles and break through the brick walls that are always going to be placed in front of you. If you don’t have that kind of feeling for what it is you’re doing, you’ll stop at the first giant hurdle.

In this first of a three-part series on “Finding a Reason to Recover”, we will look at the power inherent in reasons. But what is a “reason”? The most commonly accepted definition is that a reason is “the basis or motive for an action, decision, or conviction.

So this basis or reason is where we start our journey. We start here because where we start is also what motivates us for every step we take after the first one. Once we understand this, it is easy to understand how where we start is often the greatest predictor for where we end up.

The good news is that our reasons can change over time, and when our reasons change, our prognosis and the outcome of our journey changes with it.

Using Star Wars giant George Lucas’ quote as a guide, let’s look at how reasons and, as Mr. Lucas says, “find[ing] something you love”, interact. The interesting thing about this dynamic duo is that, in the intersection of our motivation and emotion, there we also find CHOICE. This is what Mr. Lucas is referring to when he says that you have to find something that you love enough to take risks – risks to promote, protect, and preserve what you love, and risks to say no to what stands between you and the fulfillment and continued protection of that love.

Recently model Kate Moss was asked what her motto for life is. She replied, “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. This shocked the world, not just because Moss appears to be advocating for pro-eating disorder culture, but primarily because Kate Moss is a mother herself to a seven-year-old daughter.

This is what happens when we are not willing to acknowledge that all of life comes down to a series of choices, and that two opposing choices cannot continue to indefinitely occupy the same space. For instance, what is the prognosis for Moss to maintain her current stance in the future if her impressionable young daughter takes Mommy’s words to heart?

In other words, how will Moss’ reasons change when they begin to affect her own daughter?

For that matter, how will your own reasons change when you realize that, whether you currently believe you are worth recovering for – can recover – can even see the point of recovering – that you will never have the chance to find out if you don’t act NOW to save your own life?

So this is where we start. When interviewed, fully ninety percent of those who attempted suicide by leaping off of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and survived told their interviewer that they realized on the way down that the problems they were killing themselves to escape were really quite solvable.

The same goes for you. And for us all. Life hands us problems – that is part of what life does. How we respond, however, is up to us. We can choose to respond with hopelessness or with positive action, and our outcomes will differ accordingly. Your eating disorder is but one of many ways in which, in the past and possibly still in the present, you have chosen to respond to the stresses and unknowns of life. Maybe you believed – still believe – that the eating disorder was the only way that you could adequately cope with your daily life.

But there are other ways that you can learn for responding and managing life’s uncertainties, and they are available to you if you want to learn them. However, you can’t learn them until you know what function and role the eating disorder serves in your life. It is helpful in this process of assessing your reasons, motivations, and choices to make a list of all the things that you believe your eating disorder provides to you. For instance, maybe your eating disorder provides you with a sense of protection, with a simple system to make sense of life’s complexities, with clear-cut daily goals….just make your list, and continue adding to it as new ideas arise.

Next, it is time to look at the cost of life with an eating disorder. What has the eating disorder prevented you from experiencing, seeing, or doing? Who would you be close to if the eating disorder did not consume so much of your attention and time? Who else that is important to you is being affected by your eating disordered thoughts and behaviors in a way that makes you worry for their wellbeing even if you feel disconnected from worry or concern for your own?

You will always be able to find reasons to stay sick. And, if you look for them, you will always be able to find reasons to get better. Your recovery prognosis really comes down to one simple act – which set of reasons will you choose to follow?

At Southlake Counseling, we understand firsthand the devastating effect than an eating disorder can have both on your life and on the lives of those who love you. We are pioneers in providing state-of-the-art, clinically-proven treatments for eating disorders in the Lake Norman area because we believe that every person has the right and ability to say “no” to the slow death of an eating disorder and YES to their own unique and precious life. If you or someone you love is struggling with disordered eating or an eating disorder, please contact us today at www.southlakecounseling.com. We look forward to your call, email, or visit very soon!

Be Well,

Kimberly

Tips To Help You Manage Thanksgiving Menus and Appetites

With Thanksgiving approaching, surely you have given some thought to your holiday menu.  Whether you are dining in or dining out, food seems to be the main reason we even celebrate Thanksgiving anymore.  Menus exist everywhere you turn.  From Martha Stewart to your internet home page, recipes and holiday tips abound, trying to either overdo or lighten your holiday food consumption.

When traditional Thanksgiving menus include all the favorites like turkey, sweet potato casserole, rolls, stuffing, potatoes, butter, gravy and pie, it is hard to fit in anything else – especially that chestnut butternut squash stuffing or broccoli cheese casserole which you found the recipes for just yesterday.  Grocery stores are filled to the brim with all the trimmings, too.  Holiday displays make them all the more enticing, encouraging you to buy more items.

But, taking a minute to step back and remember what Thanksgiving is all about does not hurt.  Sure, it sounds a bit cheesy, but taking the time to be thankful for all the foods we have available to us would not hurt.  And, what about the rest of the season?  After all, Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations take up a good two to three months out of the year.  We do not have to overstuff ourselves this Thanksgiving and on December 25, simply to “fit in” all of the delicious foods the season has to offer.  Why not try one or two new recipes per week, knowing that what you do not eat today will still be around tomorrow.

As for Thanksgiving Day, remind yourself that small samples of a variety of foods are just fine and can fit into a balanced diet.  Our bodies will do a great job managing the food we eat, so long as we are healthy and remember the importance of moderation.  The bonus is that you can have lots of leftovers after Thanksgiving to enjoy the following weekend, thus saving on cooking time for guests and allowing your body to enjoy the flavors of the season without becoming so full that you feel ill.

So, try new recipes this Thanksgiving or stick to your traditional fare.  You may even wish to find ways to lighten your favorite recipes, making them more healthful.  Whichever route you take, balance the table and plate with a color of foods, just as you should the rest of the year.  If you enjoy the excitement of a table full of variety, then go for it.  Just remember to keep your hunger and satiety in check so as to avoid becoming uncomfortably full.  And, know that increasing the emphasis on the importance of gathering with family and friends may be more beneficial to the happiness of your loved ones than whether the turkey came out too dry or whether you had room on the table for another pecan pie.

Be Well,

Julie

The Dangerous Downside to the DSM-IV

For many who suffer from deadly eating disorders, the Diagnostic Standards Manual (DSM-IV) has become a bible of sorts.

Let me explain.

The DSM-IV is the official diagnostic tool that standardizes how to diagnose and address certain sets of symptoms for healthcare professionals the world over. So, for instance, if you are diagnosed with anorexia nervosa in Nevada, but then travel to Singapore, the healthcare professionals in Singapore will be able to reference your diagnosis and treat you appropriately. And if you then travel on to Canada, the healthcare professionals there will be able to take up where your Singapore team left off.

This is the upside to the DSM-IV.

However, as I write this post, the DSM-IV is once again undergoing scrutiny and tremendous revision, and a new version is anticipated by May 2012. While revision to the DSM is normal and does happen every so often when new information becomes available and our knowledge of mental illness increases, for those of us with eating disorders, and those of us who treat eating disorders, the revisions simply cannot come fast enough.

If you have an eating disorder, or suspect you have an eating disorder, you are likely all too familiar already with the stringent diagnostic criteria the DSM-IV outlines to categorize the severity of your illness and the impact it is likely to have on your overall health and wellbeing. For instance, a diagnosis of anorexia nervosa comes only when the individual can meet the following criteria:

Refusal to maintain body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height (weight drops beneath 85% of ideal or fails to achieve expected body weight for age and growth rate)
Intense fear of gaining weight or becoming fat, even though underweight
Undue influence of body weight or shape on self-evaluation or denial of the seriousness of the current low body weight
Amenorrhea (the absence of at least three consecutive cycles), with periods reappearing only with hormone administration

From the very first bullet point we can see where the problems begin. Insurance companies look to the DSM-IV to determine whether they are required to pay for care, and how much care they must pay for. Doctors cannot provide care (for the most part) without the promise of reimbursement, and they frequently must rely on insurance coverage for that reimbursement. So an individual suffering from restricting-type disordered eating is literally forced to lose 15% of his or her body weight before being eligible for care! Furthermore, it is very common for individuals suffering from restricting-type to label themselves as “not sick enough” to even reach out for help or support until they can meet all four of these diagnostic criteria.

After my own eight-year battle against an eating disorder and almost two decades treating individuals for disordered eating and eating disorders, I can assert with utmost authority that eating disorders come in all shapes and sizes, and that eating disorders can be deadly at any stage of illness…and the dangerous downside to the DSM-IV is that current standards do not reflect that*.

I will give you just one final example to prove my point. The DSM-IV currently lists the following criteria as a prerequisite for a medical diagnosis of bulimia nervosa:

Recurrent episodes of binge eating: Eating, within any 2-hour period, an amount of food that is definitely larger than most people would eat under similar circumstances; A sense of lack of control over eating during the episode; Inappropriate compensatory behavior in order to prevent weight gain (vomiting, laxatives, diuretics, enemas, fasting, excessive exercise, etc.)
The binge eating and inappropriate compensatory behaviors both occur, on average, at least twice a week for 3 months
Self-evaluation is unduly influenced by body shape and weight
The disturbance does not occur exclusively during episodes of anorexia

Yet there have been documented instances of death due to cardiac arrest after only three purge incidents. The DSM-IV criteria gives individuals who suffer from purging – and their insurance companies – free rein to assume that they are not in need of critical care until they have been purging at least twice a week for 3 months.

Some individuals who suffer won’t make it that long.

If you are suffering from any level of disordered eating, if food has taken a place in your life beyond simply giving your body the nutrition it needs to function, if you feel trapped or imprisoned by your food-related thoughts and behaviors, and if you know, deep down on the inside where no one else but you can see or hear that you are struggling regardless of what the DSM-IV criteria are, then you need to get help.

You deserve help. Life is too short to live with an eating disorder as your constant companion. And life is too precious to lose it to an eating disorder when help and hope is available.

Here at The Southlake Center, we know what it feels like to live through an eating disorder. We know how dangerous eating disorders are, and how deadly they can be. If you will let us, we can help you say a permanent “no” to your eating disorder, and say YES to your own unique and precious life!

Be Well.

Kimberly

* There is a diagnostic category in the DSM-IV called “eating disorders not otherwise specified (EDNOS)” that allows for less severe symptoms that do not fit into the three major categories of eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder). However, many insurance companies have been slow to recognize this category and incorporate it into coverage provided to policy-holders.

Say, “Yes” to Life!

Providing inspiration, motivation, and encouragement for doing the hard work of recovery so that you can “Say ‘Yes’ to Life!”

Hello! My name is Kimberly Krueger, MSW, LCSW. I am the Founder/Director of the Southlake Center in Davidson, NC.

I am excited about sharing my experience, strength, hope, and expertise with you through my new “Say Yes to Life” Blog.

I have nearly two decades of experience helping people who struggle with eating disorders, body image disturbance, self injury, trauma, substance abuse, interpersonal relationship challenges, depression and anxiety. Beyond that, I know what it feels like to struggle from the inside out, because I have been in  recovery from an eating disorder, anxiety, depression and low self-esteem – for almost 20 years!

I do this work because I can see past the temporary struggle to the whole, healthy, vibrantly ALIVE human being underneath. I see you – and I know that just as I overcame my own battles, YOU CAN TOO.

This is why I have made it my life’s work to use my professional expertise and personal story to help and inspire as many people as possible who want to learn to say a firm and decisive NO to disordered thoughts and coping behaviors…and say YES to life!

I will look forward to hearing from you as we explore all of the ways you can say YES to recovery, to hope, to help, and to your own life. My colleagues will be blogging along with me on complementary topics – all in an effort to provide you with a comprehensive source of recovery, health, and wellness information!

As we go along, please feel welcome to share your comments, ideas, requests, and suggestions here, and let me know how I can support and encourage you.

Be Well.

Kimberly

Anorexia and Trauma: What Happens When Bad Things Happen to Good People

Trauma and Stress are Culprits

Though there is no one particular cause of anorexia nervosa, stressful and traumatic events can and often do play a role. Since events like this leave you feeling out of control, the need to regain control becomes paramount. For some people, overeating, or in the case of those who suffer from anorexia nervosa, restricting food intake, is one way to regain a feeling of personal control.

When something traumatic happens to you, you may feel badly about yourself. Instead of seeing the event as bad, you begin to see yourself as bad too. For instance, if you have been assaulted, you may believe you are the cause of the assault. You may feel that you deserved it. Though not true, these negative thoughts can cause all kinds of problems – usually problems with how you see yourself and how you take care of yourself.

Bad things that can happen can be huge, such as being sexually assaulted or having a potentially deadly disease like cancer or being in an accident or house fire. Bad things can be smaller, too. They can be things like being in a bad relationship, having a job failure, ongoing stress, or witnessing a terrible event. Whether the event is big or small in the eyes of another, in your own eyes, it is very big and very real and leaves you feeling out of control.

Trying to Gain Control

When something bad has happened to you, your body responds. Sometimes it responds with headaches or stomach pains or even lots of colds! You may also take out your distress on your body. With anorexia, you do this by not eating, using laxatives, or exercising too much. When your body produces symptoms, it is manifesting the stress. When you take out your distress on your body, this is your way of showing the effect the stress and trauma has on you without ever having to really talk about it or confront it.

Since the trauma or stress has left you feeling out of control, you may be desperately trying to regain control. The problem with using food as a way of gaining control is that you actually lose control of your body, your life, and even your emotions to the relationship you are forming with the food!

In the end, using food to control your life does not work. Starving yourself or only eating certain foods or over-exercising seem to work in the short run by comforting or soothing you, but these behaviors have so many long term consequences that practice of them leave you worse off than before. What you will need to do is find other coping methods that help you feel better but don’t cause health or safety issues.

This is easier said than done. If you knew a better way, surely you would already be doing it, right? That is why asking a professional for help may be the answer.

Face It and Get Through It

To find a new way to express the pain of the events that triggered your eating disorder, you will need to make changes in how you think about the event and what you do for control. To do this, you will need to seek support to learn new, healthy ways to cope with emotional pain.

Traumatic events happen to everyone. In order to move beyond the pain, you will need to remember that the event was bad. You were not bad, you did not deserve the pain, you were not the cause of the pain, and you deserve to get better, feel better, and say yes to life!

Kimberly Krueger, MSW, LCSW is a therapist and the founder and director of Southlake Counseling and The Center for Self Discovery in Davidson, NC. Kimberly may be reached at kkrueger@centerforselfdiscovey.com. This article may be used but original content must be kept in tact and full credit must be given to author, including contact information.

Just Say No: For Those With an Eating Disorder, 
It is More Than a Cliché

Just Say No. If you are a teen or a parent of a teen, or even watch TV for that matter, you have heard the slogan. It refers to a person’s ability to say no to sex before marriage and/or no to drugs and alcohol. Since this slogan is so prominent, those wishing to say no to these things may experience that they have an easier time doing so, in that negative peer pressure is less evident in these instances.

Yet, sex, drugs, and alcohol are not the only things you can or need to say no to.

Picture in your mind the busiest woman you know. She is working or stays home with her children, a Girl Scout leader, a Sunday school teacher, cooks at least 2 meals a month for someone she knows that is sick or having a hard time, baby-sits for parents who just need a break from their kids, and on and on. This person may love her life and all that goes on it in. She may also feel as if she MUST do all that she is doing and simply cannot “just say no.”

Why Saying No Is So Hard

We learn early on that what we do affects others and can even affect what they think of us. Therefore, especially as children, we try to please those that are important to us. As we get older, we find that we are still trying to please those around us because it has become a habit. It is fine to want to please others. The problem comes when you do so at your own expense. The easiest way to set boundaries that allow you to please others, yet give yourself the freedom to do for yourself, too, is to “just say no.”

This is easier said than done. Many of us learned that saying no was wrong. Society looked down on it. Our families disapproved when we said it. If we are females in this society, we may have also learned that saying no is aggressive and that aggression is bad. We may have learned that we will be rejected or that someone will get even with us if we say no. We may have learned that we will be labeled as selfish or worse. We may have learned that saying no leads to abandonment.

Whatever we learned in our past about saying no, it affects us now. Changing such long-standing beliefs is not easy, so we keep saying yes over and over again even if we really wish we could say no.

Saying Yes and Anger: How They Relate

If you say yes to something that you don’t really want to do or feel uncomfortable doing, you will feel resentful and angry. If you do not feel that way now, you will be gin to at some point in the future. Repeatedly saying yes when you want to say no may also have the ripple effect over time of making you feel depressed and out of control of your own life.

When you feel these things, you want to strike back. However, most of us are far too socially-minded to strike back at others. Instead, we tend to self-destruct by striking back at ourselves.

If you have intense anger at a situation that you feel helpless to control, you may begin to take it out on yourself by engaging in self-harm, drug or alcohol abuse, or by misusing food. These are all ways to express anger and frustration without having to actually talk about it. While it may feel worthwhile in the short-term to engage in these behaviors, over time the behaviors themselves can have a devastating effect not only on your relationship with yourself, but in all of your relationships.

So, what can you do about it? Learn to say no.

Learning to Say No

Saying no is not easy, especially if you believe that others will be disappointed or angry with you. If you are feeling this way, you may not make your message clear. You may hesitate and say no with a questioning voice. Saying no firmly is not aggressive but assertive. Just do it in a firm but empathetic way – “I won’t be able to watch your twins on Saturday. I have plans with my family.” If you would like to offer help at a later time, you can then say something like, “I have the first weekend in October free if you’d like to plan for 3 to 4 hours away on that Saturday.”

Most importantly, do not apologize for saying no to someone else so you can respect your own need for you-time. You have the right to say no. You have the right to have time free just for you. Saying you are sorry, such as “No, I can’t watch the twins. I’m sorry” states that you believe you should and you are seeking affirmation from the other person that you should be feeling guilty for saying no. The truth is that you can say no any time you need to, even without an excuse!

As you learn to say no, you will feel more control over your life. As you practice this valuable skill over and over again, your own stress level will decrease and you will find that you like yourself more – and enjoy your own company!

Just say no. It is more than just a slogan or cliché. Use it for your benefit!


Kimberly Krueger, MSW, LCSW is a therapist and the founder and director of Southlake Counseling and The Center for Self Discovery in Davidson, NC. Kimberly may be reached at kkrueger@centerforselfdiscovey.com. This article may be used but original content must be kept in tact and full credit must be given to author, including contact information.