You would have to have a description of my friend, Barbie Dahl, to understand the irrationality of her decision. Barbie Dahl is not her real name, but it is so befitting this statuesque beauty with the piercing dark eyes and the stunning features. “Red carpet beautiful” – that’s how people always described her. “She is so beautiful she could walk the red carpet with ‘The Stars’ and fit right in!”
Barbie, as beautiful as she is, however, struggles with feelings of low self worth. Somewhere in the course of her life, she has developed the erroneous belief that all she has to offer the world is her good looks. As she was nearing 50, her looks were beginning to fade and she was SCARED!!! When she confessed to me one day that she “just doesn’t feel good” about herself because of the way that she currently looks and she had scheduled some plastic surgery because she believed it was just the thing that she would need to “boost” her self esteem, everything inside of me screamed, “NOT YOU TOO!!!” She already so closely fit society’s definition of the “Perfect 10” that if she felt the need to permanently and surgically alter her appearance than virtually no one is insulated from the lie that a woman’s worth is based on “how good she looks.”
Specific forms of therapy have proven to be very effective for those who struggle with any extreme eating patterns. You know the drill: the holidays hit, we overeat or eat all the nutritionally weak foods, then resolve, usually in January, to stop all sugar intake or eliminate total food groups like “carbs”. We’re disciplined for 2 or 3 weeks then our body feels deprived and we do a complete 180. Does this feel like banging your head against a wall? It does to me!
Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) offers 4 techniques to find balance in eating.:
1) Sequence NOT Elimintation. The order in which we eat foods does make a difference. Try to eat nutritionally dense foods FIRST, but don’t eliminate food groups altogether. Eliminating ALL SUGAR or ALL CARBS leave us feeling deprived and the psychology behind that process increases our desire for something. Often nutritionists recommend eating lean protein first because as it is more filling, then vegetables/fruits, then grains, then desert. One client I worked with 5 years ago lost 50 pounds just be adopting this technique. She lost her strong desire for sugary deserts over time because she didn’t feel deprived of them (she could have them if she wanted them….just after the healthy stuff). She set herself up to succeed not fail. It took 6 months, and by then it was a lifestyle for her,. Today, 5 years later, she still wears the same jeans.
2) Measure progress with Feelings not Numbers. Rather than weighing yourself everyday, try tapping into how you feel at the beginning of each day. Do you feel bloated? Do you feel fatigue? My guess is over time, after eating healthier, you will wake up feeling energized, more relaxed about food having a sense of control over your health. Scales increase anxiety whether you have lost or gained weight. If you are down, you become more anxious increasing worry about maintaining that weight; more rigid in food choices, and ultimately set yourself up to buckle under pressure.
3) Start and end your day with Breathing Techniques. Ideally, a trained therapist can teach you these skills, called “mindfulness skills”. DBT offers one skill called 4 Square Breathing which leads to balanced food choices throughout the day and relaxation at night.
4) Stay in thePresent Moment. When you make unhealthy choices, don’t dwell on it day after day or even hour after hour. Stay present and start making heathier decisions now. Beating ourselves up about poor eating habits only lead to extreme cycles once again. Stop the head banging once and for all! Personally, I eat chocolate cake to prevent binging! To learn more about mindful eating contact our office about enrolling in a 6 week DBT course.
Bethany Johnson*, a 25 year old young woman, sat in my office. Her presenting symptoms were near debilitating insomnia, hyper vigilance, hyperarousal, irritation, nightmares and flashbacks. This was classic PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), which was a bit surprising since Bethany wasn’t a soldier who had had come from a tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, but rather had recently returned from teaching English as a second language in the Philippines. But the circumstances of her experience explained what was causing her PTSD: the school she was working at was in the eye of Hayian, the category 5 typhoon that struck the Philippine Islands in November 2013 and, according to a CNN report, “was probably the strongest tropical cyclone to hit land anywhere in the world in recorded history.”
Julie Hanks joins Brooke Walker and other Studio 5 contributors to share what they have learned through the #Bodylove campaign. Listen as Julie and others answer questions about loving your body and what it can do for you.
Many of you have joined our Body Love movement, turning the negative self-talk into positive views of our bodies. Now, we challenge you to help your daughters feel good about how they look. Studio 5 Contributor, Therapist Julie Hanks, LCSW shares 10 ways to teach young girls the concept of body love.
Free Printable – 10 Ways to Teach Your Daughter Body Love!
What do you see when you look in the mirror? If the first thing that comes to mind is something critical, you’re not alone. This month on KSL’s Studio 5 with Brooke Walker, we challenge you to think positive about your body. Join the #BODYLOVE movement!
A couple of years ago, I lost about 40 pounds due mostly to a supplement I was taking. I quit taking the supplement about a year ago, because info I read led me to believe it might not be safe. I have gained back most of the weight and I’m mad at myself and feel that the people who had admired me for my previous weight loss are now disappointed in me. Ironically–since I made up my mind that I was going to try again to lose the weight–I am actually thinking about food more, craving high calorie food more, and recently have started binging. I almost gag when I try on clothes or look at my body in the mirror. I’ve already been through counseling for other issues, and feel like a failure going back again. I can’t afford exercise classes o gym or weight-loss group memberships. My boss has paid for me to go to a conference this summer, but am considering backing out of going because i don’t want to deal with adorable petite colleagues, feeling self-conscious and guilty about what I’m eating, and seeing the disappointment of people that thought I was doing so well with my weight, and clothes that don’t fit right. What am I supposed to do–I’m about to give up and accept that I’m an undisciplined fatso in a world made for petite Barbie dolls.
A: Thank you so much for writing in. So many people struggle to manage a healthy weight. I understand the social pressure to look and appear a certain way, but you seem to be equating your weight loss and gaining it back with your worth. Just because your weight loss wasn’t successful doesn’t mean that you are a failure. Watch the video for the rest of the answer.
Q: Hello. About four months ago I diagnosed myself with possible anorexia. I skip about 2 meals a day but I eat try to eat a full meal for dinner. I exercise for at least an hour daily. I am 16, my height is 5 foot 9 and my weight is 123 pounds. I want to ask for help from my parents but I am too scared they will be disappointed in me. I also do not think that my disorder is that serious. Should I ask for help?
Many people young and old, male and female, struggle with recognizing their self-worth and their true potential in life. Often we are our worst critics. Most of us would gasp in horror if we heard another person speak out loud the thoughts we tell ourselves because it would be considered abusive!
Recently, as I was speaking to a group of young people and their parents on the topic of self-esteem, we broke down the definition of what self-esteem truly means. This is an interesting concept and I think helpful to break down into segments.
To esteem something is to hold it in high regard, to treasure it, to value it.
The self is you, the individual
How amazing it would be to think of your self in this manner. Is it possible to hold yourself in high regard, to value yourself, and to treasure it – i.e. to treasure you, the real you?