Updated: Oct 2, 2020
Over the next several months, I will be sharing excerpts from my memoir that I'm writing, titled Digesting Life. The story of my struggle and recovery from an eating disorder is the basis for what led me to create the KARMA Method, the signature coaching and therapeutic method used by Bespoke Wellness Partners. My hope is that maybe some of these stories will resonate with you or make you more aware of where you are on your specific journey with whatever struggles you may be facing.
"I returned from my parent’s apartment back to the kibbutz in the summer of 1989. I was able to hide my food restrictions and manipulate everyone, into believing that I was consuming more food than I actually did. I was determined to lose weight. My starting weight was approximately 127 pounds and my goal was to weigh 115 pounds. I felt ugly, stupid, and fat and I convinced myself that if I lost weight, I would feel less ugly and stupid.
I made a decision to become the best student and put all my attention into my schoolwork, and whenever I thought about eating, my energy was redirected to running, swimming, and studying. I was fascinated by the human body and biology and was learning as much as I could about physiology and nutrition.
Six hundred calories was what I allowed myself to consume on any given day. From the fridge, I took two fat-free crackers and fat-free cottage cheese and placed them on a plate. I spread a little bit of cottage cheese on the cracker and placed a thin slice of tomato on top. I looked at my plate and took the notes I wrote at the library about the calories that the food I ate contained. I quickly calculated the calories on my plate. About 150 calories. I ate it slowly because I read that if I did I would feel full faster. In the next few weeks, I lost about eight pounds, and people around me started making comments about how great I looked..."
It’s no great surprise that we live in a culture that promotes, praises, and even worships a thin, physically fit body. Do you ever think about how you may be contributing to the negative stigma associated with people who are overweight? How about promoting a culture that emphasizes thinness? In one of my previous blogs, I mentioned the various comments that many people make about other people’s weight or shape. This starts at an early age and undoubtedly causes and promotes unhealthy behaviors.
To go along the line of learning and awareness, which is the first step of my KARMA Method, I’ve had the most incredible experience with one of my clients that I would love to share. Fat phobia is a real fear that millions of women have had for over 10 years. Early this morning I got a call from Alison, an 18-year-old I work with who is about to go to college. She was having an anxiety attack after looking at herself in the mirror and repeatedly telling herself how fat she was and this experience was getting worse after she tried on a pair of jeans that she said used to be baggy on her when she was skinny. When I asked my client what is so scary about gaining weight, her association with being overweight went as followed
1. Lack of control
2. Lack of self-confidence
3. No self-love
As an eating disorder specialist, I agree that traditional interventions focused on weight loss, such as dieting, do not always produce positive health outcomes. There ARE benefits to lifestyle interventions like eating nutritious food and exercise, but while those benefits are real and concrete, they are independent of any weight loss that they may cause. The focus should not be on the weight loss itself.
Advocates of HAES (Health at Every Size) believe that health is a result of behaviors that are independent of body weight and that favoring being thin is considered to be discriminatory against overweight and obese people.
Obesity researcher Stephan Rössner argues that targeting weight loss can lead to drastic fluctuations in size, which can result in worse physical and psychological damage than obesity alone. It’s important to understand the numerous social and economic factors at play when we talk about obesity. Therefore, advocates of HAES are trying to challenge “Fat Phobia” and instead celebrate body diversity, honor the many assets that we all possess as humans, challenge society’s expectations, value our own bodies, and focus on compassionate self-care practices—which include things like physical movement and eating in a healthy way that involves listening to our own internal cues.
As an eating disorder specialist, I agree with looking at this bigger picture and wanted to share my own four steps for overcoming the body shame that you may experience:
4 Simple Tips to Overcome Body Shame:
1. Write down things you appreciate about your body.
For most people, it is easier to consider what they don't love about their bodies. I encourage you to stand in front of the mirror and be thankful for three things that you appreciate about your body. It might be challenging but the more you invest in being thankful and grateful, the better you will feel.
2. Be aware of your negative self-talk.
Take a minute to think about your body and write down the conversation that you are having in your head. What is the nature of your inner dialogue? How are you treating yourself? Are you showing yourself and your body the right respect and love that it requires? If not, challenge yourself to release your inner bully and create inner conversations that are filled with love and respect.
3. Be selective of social media messages.
Many of us spend hours staring at the screens, so we are surrounded by negative messages or images or unrealistic people or places. Remember that you have a choice to surround yourself with messages that promote body positive and acceptance. Invest the time in connecting with people and organizations that promote what makes you feel better and more empowered.
4. Remember that there’s more to life than your looks.
Sometimes the best thing you can do when you feel that you are lost in your thoughts is step away and consider other things or people in your life that make you feel good. Can you think of two things that make you feel good? Consider making deeper connections with others that go beyond the superficiality of looks.
These steps can help you develop Awareness, an important step in the KARMA Method, of not just your thoughts, but how those thoughts are tied to your emotions and behavior. Sometimes it takes a trained professional to help you work through these things—I did not get here on my own! If you’re looking for help, it can never hurt to reach out.
If you would like to read more about my journey to recovery, subscribe to my weekly blog at the bottom of this page!
With much love,