Why ISN’T This Night Different?

matzohSeders and eating…a match made in…well, it all depends on your spiritual/religious perspective. Passover Seders will kick into gear this week and while the diversity of rituals is extensive, one common thread is singing the Dayenu song.  Dayenu, loosely translated means, “It would have sufficed, or it would have been enough.”  Rarely do we take time to check in with our lives and see what is working, what is good enough, and what is positive.  Too frequently we focus on what is left to be done, what is missing, what is not o.k., and obsess on fixing what we perceive as being broken.

Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover or nothing at all, consider taking time this week to acknowledge and appreciate the things about you that are good enough, o.k. wonderful, smart, funny, quirky, all of the things that make you YOU.  And know that without you, this world would be a less unique and wonderful place.  That is not egotistical, that is not bragging, that is just fact.

I will be taking a bit of a blogger vacation but would like to leave you with the blog I wrote last year for Passover.  I hope it gives you a chuckle and a moment of feeling, “I’m not the only one.”  I also want to appreciate my readers, whether you comment on “Dr. Deah’s Tasty Morsels” or not, for taking time from what are certain to be extraordinarily busy lives, to “visit” with me once in awhile.

Dayenu

Passover is one of the many Jewish Holidays that is celebrated with a ritual feast. A feast filled with symbolic foods and a prescribed schedule for when to eat which foods.  Depending upon how observant the participants are, there is a wide range of recipes for the ritual readings at a Passover Seder. Some read from ancient texts, others from more progressive versions. Some are tailored for passionate political discussion, others for children with short attention spans.  Despite the diversity of the Seder itself, there are at least three specific commonalities adhered to by the most liberal and orthodox Jewish celebrants.

There is no leavening used in any of the meals, there are at least four cups of wine, and when it is time to eat, there are no restrictions on how much you can eat.

As a kid growing up, dieting and caloric restrictions were an everyday part of my life. I was surrounded by dieters. The youngest of three girls, my two older sisters always dieted and both of my parents did as well.  The diets never really seemed to work, none of us were thin.  My mother often chortled, “Imagine how fat we would all be if we didn’t diet?”  And of course I believed her and followed suit.

Many young girls that diet wind up becoming sneak eaters and I was no different. Because we are forced to satisfy our hunger

and cravings privately, we develop the notion that we are beasts with insatiable appetites.  Our appetite for food is freakish and our need to satiate this hunger is so strong we must adopt furtive methods of feeding that monster.  It is a double bind.  We feel weak in our inability to resist the urges to eat the “bad” food and yet the part of us that is demanding the food is a formidable foe of great strength and power.  We are split and fractured around food.

Passover and other food centric holidays present a double bind for people already struggling with feelings about:

*what they eat

*what they don’t eat

*what they would like to eat if they were allowed to eat what they wanted to eat

And so we struggle.

The Double Bind of Feasts as Rituals: A Two Act Play

Act One:

The week before The Seder, we obsess over what to wear. An unsanctioned but equally predictable ritual of Passover is:

The Body Scan; everyone checking you out to see how you “measure up” to the last time you were all together.  In my family, despite the fact that very few of us were thin, there was still a hierarchy within the ranks that clearly labeled the “Always Thin” relatives as the better ones. The praise and attention was lavished on them. My jealousy dripped like honey in a nice glass of tea.

Then there were the “Always Fat.”  They were already “fats de complis.” They would always be fat and that was that, “Those poor people.”

Newly Thin” were the ones I envied the most.  The attention they received, the fawning, the exclamations of, “How did you do it? You look amazing!” They were the stars of the night. Somehow they had conquered the beast, they had become successful.

Conversely, the lowest caste of the crew was reserved for the “Fat Again” or “YO YO’s” those who had lost but gained their weight back plus more. The “tsks tsks” and “cluck clucks” of the tongues, the subtle shakes of the heads, the implied message of, no-more-diets“If I had lost that weight I would have kept it off,”… or more blatantly, “I knew she or he couldn’t do it.” They were the ones my heart ached for and the club I dreaded ever joining. (Of course I was in and out of that club numerous times until I realized that it was the dieting that was creating the largest part of my problem).

 

Act Two:

So I would go to Seders ready for my “close ups Mr. De Mille,” and often encased in tight body control top pantyhose literally binding my belly. But the second bind of the double bind was not far away.  After the reading of the ritual story of Passover, the feast would commence. Places everyone!  But wait!  It was as if they had replaced the cast with all new people and all new scripts.

All of a sudden size or weight was inconsequential.  There was a resounding chorus of, “Eat eat!” And, “Have more, what you don’t like my matzo balls?  This is no time to diet, this is Passover, forget about it for just one night, you look fine!”  And for the next couple of hours I felt normal. I felt happy. I felt I could eat with abandon and enjoyment. I could savor the pleasure of food, slowly, languidly and not worry whether I was leaving crumbs behind me like a guilty Gretel who subconsciously wanted to get caught eating Ring Dings in my bedroom.

I didn’t feel insatiable, or monstrous. I felt calm and in control. I had PERMISSION!

Why is this night different from all other nights?

Because on this night I was (and am) allowed to eat my fill in public…without guilt and with enjoyment. The control top panty hose are gone and replaced with self-acceptance.

Epilogue:

The irony of course, is once I really GOT THAT…Once I realized that I could live EVERY day and approach EVERY meal like that, there was actually one LESS reason why this night is different from all other nights! And that is a beautiful thing!

Dayenu.

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

If you missed the wonderful podcast I did with Kaila Prins, Finding Our Hunger, here are the links.

[PODCAST] http://findingourhunger.com/unmedium
[BLOG POST] http://inmyskinnygenes.com/unmedium

 Conferences of Interest

April 9-12, 2015: American Society of Group Psychotherapists and Psychodrama (ASGPP) conference in Philadelphia, PA. CLICK HERE for info.

April 16-17, 2015: National Eating Disorders Information Centre Conference (NEDIC), in Toronto, Canada. CLICK HERE for info.

April 25-28, 2015:  New York State Therapeutic Recreation Association (NYSTRA) 20th annual conference, in Sarasota Springs, New York. I am honored to be the Keynote Speaker for this event!  For info please contact Daniele Fish at: dfish@forthudson.com

April 30, 2015:  Deadline for CFP for the 3rd Annual International Weight Stigma Conference September, 18-19, 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland. CLICK HERE for info.

June 5-6, 2015:  Eating Disorders in Sport Conference, in St. Louis, MO.  CLICK HERE for info

July 17-19, 2015:  Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) Conference, in Boston, MA. CLICK HERE for info.

October 1-3, 2015: The National Eating Disorders Association’s (NEDA) annual conference in San Diego, CA. CLICK HERE for more info.

 

01. April 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Binge Eating, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Eating disorders, HAES®, recreation therapy, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Weight | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 comments

ThinKing of Robin King

Vitriolic, acerbic, egregious. Onomatopoeias.  These are words that sound like what they mean. And they basically mean mean.  If you say the words in the context of their meaning, it’s difficult to NOT find your face contorted in some rendition of a pursed lipped frown as if you have a horrible taste in your mouth.  Go ahead. Try it. Say, “Vitriolic”…Cruella Deville mouth right?

Well, these three words also describe the attitudes associated with fat people in the healthcare system. There is an indisputable disdain for fat folks seeking medical care.  It is almost as if they shouldn’t be treated because they got themselves into a poorer state of health intentionally by being fat.  There is blame, there is disgust, and there is a nauseating lack of empathy or sympathy for a fellow human being who is suffering from a medical condition that if presented by a thin person would garner positive attention, consoling, and non-judgmental healthcare solutions.

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a couple of years now, but the timing never seemed right and the subject loomed insurmountable in its magnitude. I wanted to write about it when my childhood friend died from complications of weight loss surgery that he undertook at the insistence of his doctor and family.

I wanted to write about it when my sister was on a Tolkien quest to find a surgeon who would do  hip replacement surgery without insisting that she lose 100 pounds beforehand.

And I wanted to write about it when I received a poignant email from the husband of a subscriber to my blog and Schmoozeletter.

But each time I sat down to write, it just felt too daunting; the timing wasn’t right, there were other topics to address, I was traveling.  My perfectionist inclinations along with my occasional  all or nothing thinking kept me from sharing some of these stories.  Maybe it is because I am a sucker for happy endings and there are relatively few happy endings in the world where fat meets healthcare.  Maybe it’s because I feel inadequate to address all of the nuances of the topic and honestly don’t feel like going into my research mode to provide reams of evidence based arguments and citations to support my point of view.

Maybe it’s because I wanted to just be able to say that it sucks that people are treated so poorly when they are feeling so poorly and there is no excuse for that no matter what the etiology of the illness is or what a person weighs.

But then two things happened…ASDAH, a non profit organization promoting Size Diversity and Health, released this incredible video created by Dr. Deb Burgard, Amy Herskowitz, and Stacey Bias. It addressed so many of the talking points that I wanted to include but so much more brilliantly than I could ever have done.   (Take a moment and see why the idea of a one size fits all approach to health is  barking up the wrong tree).

And the second…My sister lost 50 pounds. It took over a year. Her pain was pervasive and engaging in weight loss exercise regimens, out of the question. And still the doctor refused to replace her hip.  Until last week.  With perseverance and determination, she found a surgeon in Florida, not far from where she lives, that agreed she needed to be out of pain and conducted the surgery. I am thrilled to report she was just moved to rehab and is doing amazingly well.  With that piece of good news under my belt, I felt energized enough to tell you the story of Robin King and John J. Mccallion. It is a beautiful love story about connection, loss, acceptance, and anger.  There is no happy ending per se, but if you count finding out that you have more people in your community than you thought, well then, the ending is a bona fide happily ever after.

Last fall I received the following email:

Robin King

Robin King

“Dr. Schwartz, You have been emailing my LATE wife Robin.  I continue to visit her mail regularly.  This is her husband, John J. McCallion, writing.  Congratulations on the excellent work you are doing. I am disposing of the estate slowly and wonder if you or someone you know would care to acquire her books on size acceptance?  I feel those especially should go to an appreciative home – free of charge and posted at my expense.  I will make a list if you or someone you know might be interested.

Robin’s deteriorating condition (Primary Pulmonary Hypertension that afflicts only around 30,000 people in the entire US) led to an ultimate weight loss of 144 lbs. – a side-effect of the Remodulin medication she had to take. The bitter irony is that it put her in the establishment weight range that permitted her to be placed on the LIST for a double-lung transplant.  After all, we cannot have obese people survive, can we?  Did her body become so weakened that it could not stand the trauma of the surgery, despite initial reports that she emerged with her vital signs intact? The autopsy I permitted was inconclusive…………….  Can you imagine my reaction when I read about that splendid intellectual, Jessica Simpson, complain that she thought her life was over when she gained several extra pounds…. THEN hear my primary physician tell me (despite complaints from concerned acquaintances that I was looking poorly) that losing weight was one of the things to do to become healthy?!  I think part of me went through the roof and is still up there somewhere in orbit around the outer planets………………………
I wish we could have “met” under happier circumstances – and that we lived in a much less aggravating world.
John Mccallion – and Robin King, who will always be a part of me.”

I was filled with so many emotions as I read the letter and responded to John as best as I could.

“John, as good as I may be with words, there are never words to express condolences that don’t sound pat or cliche…so when I say I am sorry for your loss, it doesn’t come close to voicing my empathy for the grief you must be experiencing. Thank you for writing such a personal note, your story is enraging and confirms how our medical system continues to treat people poorly based on weight criteria.  The irony you describe is heartbreaking and asks so many more questions than it answers.  I would be honored to have Robin’s books and will treat them as precious reminders that connections are made via social media that are meaningful despite efforts of the trolls to banish fat/size acceptance advocates from the internet.
I will of course be happy to keep YOU on my mailing list if you want to continue to read my blogs and newsletters.  Lastly, if and when you feel up to it and if it’s something you would be interested in doing, I would be honored to post your story/tribute to Robin and what your doctor told you on my blog. What you have to say is very important.
All my best wishes and gratitude for contacting me. Deah”

John wrote back:

“…Robin’s passing happened in the cruelest possible way.  We knew that 70 percent of patients died before suitable lungs were available and 20 percent expired during surgery.  When the operation was announced to have been a success with the seventh set of lungs finally deemed good enough (she emerged with excellent vital signs) my brother in the old country cheered on the phone and promised the rest of the family would join him soon…It was to be a short-lived moment of triumph:  When she did not regain consciousness quickly, a brain scan revealed that she never would….She had suffered two MASSIVE strokes (a “very rare occurrence”) that had wiped out her faculties beyond redemption, and it was left to me to authorize removal of life support.  God, I MISS her desperately and am convinced beyond any shadow of doubt that I always will.
You have my permission to quote what I said and disseminate our story.  Robin was extremely unhappy to have slid onto the transplant list in such a random way, but I would not have let her refuse on principle EVEN if she had wanted to.  Best wishes, John”

Deah:  “Thank you John.  By the way, I just heard from a woman who is doing research on medical bias towards fat patients for her doctorate.  Is it ok if I share your story with her?  Also this article came out yesterday, I thought you may want to take a gander.  I promise not to bombard you with info on this subject. I’m sure it is all too new and sensitive of a subject.  But just know there are fat activists out here in the world calling the medical profession to task.  http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2014/10/doctors-must-examine-own-weight-bias-before-treating-patients-researcher-says/?utm_source=FacStaffDailyDigest  The book package arrived safe and sound. They are a fantastic collection and very dear. Thank you, Deah”

John:  “I am gratified that the books have arrived at such an appreciative and welcoming home…………The only other email that came at the same time as yours was one telling me to love my body again by eating something that would avoid the need to diet……………….God help us!  Have you seen this link? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kathleen-brooks/being-fat_b_6097544.html?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000592

Deah:  “Thanks John.  I hadn’t seen this one.  Isn’t it so awful that this woman survived an organ transplant and is unable to enjoy her “second chance” of life because of body hate?  It breaks my heart!”

John:  “Dr. Schwartz,…mingled with pride. Among the NUMEROUS papers Robin left behind I discovered tonight Certificates she gained for winning first prize in Rump Parliament’s first Writing Contest (Fiction) in late 1994. There is also a phenomenal amount of correspondence relating to levels of Mathematics I could not reach in my wildest dreams. That big girl married far beneath her station:  No wonder I miss her?! John.”

John and I continue to be in touch, sharing links from time to time.  He sent me two other links about him and Robin which I have included as well at the end of this post.* And I received a box of the Rump Parliament zines that brought me waaaaaay back in time.  It is difficult to look at the collection of books and magazines that John sent to me without feeling appreciative of the fat activist and size acceptance pioneers that clearly found their way into Robin and John’s lives.  Like a fat history channel documentary the boxes were filled with issues of Radiance, BBW, and books all about the importance of loving bodies of all shapes and sizes and rejecting the “tyranny of slenderness.”

I wonder how many other books would have found their way into Robin’s collection and whether or not she would have written more on the subject herself?  The collection pointed out to me that our movement is gaining momentum and our presence provides safety and support for so many folks.  And even if we think our blogs are not being read by anyone and our writing just goes into a vacuum somewhere because of a lack of comments or feedback appearing in our inboxes, we may be surprised at how much we are helping to create a community.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, It’s time to put the HEAL back into HEALth and the CARE back into healthCARE.
And thank YOU John, for caring and sharing such a precious part of your world.

photo_1(1)

Robin King and John J. Mccallion

*Here is a link to a perceptive obituary (scroll down when you reach it).
*The story of our life together is here:

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

For Schmoozeletter Refugees:  Important Dates and Announcements!

March 9, 2015: Deadline for CFP for the 7th Annual Eating Recovery Center Foundation Eating Disorders Conference, August 21-22, 2015 in Denver, CO.  CLICK HERE for info.

April 9-12, 2015: American Society of Group Psychotherapists and Psychodrama (ASGPP) conference in Philadelphia, PA. CLICK HERE for info.

April 16-17, 2015: National Eating Disorders Information Centre Conference (NEDIC), in Toronto, Canada. CLICK HERE for info.

April 25-28, 2015:  New York State Therapeutic Recreation Association (NYSTRA) 20th annual conference, in Sarasota Springs, New York. I am honored to be the Keynote Speaker for this event!  For info please contact Daniele Fish at: dfish@forthudson.com

April 30, 2015:  Deadline for CFP for the 3rd Annual International Weight Stigma Conference September, 18-19, 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland. CLICK HERE for info.

June 5-6, 2015:  Eating Disorders in Sport Conference, in St. Louis, MO.  CLICK HERE for info

July 17-19, 2015:  Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) Conference, in Boston, MA. CLICK HERE for info.

October 1-3, 2015: The National Eating Disorders Association’s (NEDA) annual conference in San Diego, CA. CLICK HERE for more info.
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04. March 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Blogging, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, NAAFA, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 comments

The Bee’s Knees

Just Being a Pelican!

This is the third and final part of my three part Bee Here Now Series about cultivating a positive body image via Walkie Talkie sessions.  In part one, “A Bee in my Bonnet,” we talked about the buzzing of the obsessive mind as it relates to body hatred and weight obsession.  In part 2, “Buzz Off: Tackling the Buzz Kill,” we learned about quieting the buzzing and finding room to let in other thoughts and feelings about our bodies.  In part 3, “The Bee’s Knees” we re-unite with Cora as we explore the idea of body positivity and appreciation.

The expression “bee’s knees” has been around since the early 1900’s and there are many theories as to its origin and meaning.  The most common meaning is that when you say something is, “the bee’s knees,” you are expressing admiration for something that is of the highest quality. One of the reasons for this is that bees have sacs on their legs and use them to carry pollen back to the beehive in order to make honey.

As our Walkie Talkies continued, Cora spoke a great deal about her body hate, her rituals with food, and her obsession about her weight. There were “aha moments” of discovery sometimes followed by walking in silence after a particularly old and forgotten fossil was uncovered. We also explored all of the societal and familial factors that reinforced the perpetuation of the self-hate of her body and inability to appreciate that she was the bee’s knees!

We always walked around The Lake in the same direction and by doing so we were, in a sense, creating a parallel process as we talked about the repetitive cycle of dieting; the endless loop of the weight cycling process that feels unbreakable and eternal.  But concurrently, Cora was also seeing how the loop eclipsed so many other aspects of her life.  As she slowly learned how to appreciate her body as an intricate part of her unique being, she became more aware of the ecosystem of birds, people, trees, and flowers that were surrounding us during our walks.

One of the benefits of doing Therapeutic Recreation outdoors is access to nature.  Now hold on to your hats, I am going to get a bit corny right now and maybe a bit too woo woo for some of you, but hear me out…The ”buzzing in our bonnets” can sometimes define us and define our world. When we are running on body hate as our fuel we are preoccupied with thoughts about what I ate, what I am going to eat, what I can eat, what I can’t eat, what I look like, what I want to look like, why I don’t look like I’m supposed to look, how much I weigh, how much I used to weigh, how much I want to weigh….reload and repeat.

Our world becomes very small.
Now here comes the woo woo part….

When we take some time to be out in nature we can access a larger perspective.

                                                                        That wasn’t so bad was it??

Now, please, don’t think I am saying you need to go backpacking in the Sierras or take a ramble in The Outback Down Under.  Nature can be found by sitting on top of a hill in the middle of a city and looking around you, or in a park, a backyard or merely changing up the route you take walking to work or driving to pick-up your kid from school. What’s important is interrupting the loop and noticing that the world is bigger than our obsessive minds and self-loathing.  So it did not surprise me when one day, at the beginning of a session, Cora asked if we could walk in the opposite direction.  This has never been an intentional part of my “session plans” for Walkie Talkies.  It does, however, seem to occur organically with all of my clients when they are ready to take more control over the direction they are taking in their lives and break some unconscious repetitive behaviors and thoughts.

Changing directions opens up new perspectives and if we are paying attention, we will see things that we may have missed even though we are basically still in the same exact environment.  Needless to say, our walk lasted longer the first time we switched directions. We giggled each time Cora pointed at something and asked, “Has that always been there?”   Inside I was bursting with gratitude at how blessed I am to have access to a lake in the middle of an urban setting to do my work.  Every session offers my clients and me a chance to challenge the memes of beauty and weight stigma that are being drummed into our heads from all directions.

Exhibit A:  This pelican was hanging out at The Lake the other day.

Just Being a Pelican!

Just Being a Pelican!

Now, it would be arrogant of me to assume that I know what any animal may really be thinking. Anything I come up with would be pure projection…but my hunch is that this pelican was NOT ruminating about the bump on his nose making him look uglier than the other pelicans. This guy was strutting his stuff to all who would notice…and many did. People stopped in their tracks, disregarded their fit-bits, forgot about timing their miles and counting calories burned, in order to appreciate the grandeur of this bird and his fabulous feet!

 

 

Exhibit B: This heron is not, I would imagine, wishing she was bluer, or taller, or different in any way.  She is just being a heron.

Just Being a Heron!

Just Being a Heron!

 

 

 

Exhibit C:  These lemons have NO idea that they look like gigantic testicles on a tree. They are just being lemons.

IMG_8662

Just Being Lemons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And don’t get me started on the geese!!  (Click here if you want to read about the geese).

The diversity we find in nature is expansive and typically greeted by humans with oohs and ahhs of appreciation and without negative judgement. Why then is it so difficult to apply that same acceptance and awe to the wonderful variety and vast array of shapes, sizes, skin-color, hair-color, etc. that humans come in? And what better place to start than by accepting and loving ourselves?  In the Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, The Ups and Downs of a Compulsive Eater one of the fat actresses in the show comes to a place of self-acceptance.  She looks in the mirror and lovingly says,

“There are many beautiful flowers in the garden.  I’m just a large flower.”

Now THAT is the bee’s knees!!!

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

P.S. DATES to REMEMBER!!!!

February 14-28th:  I will be one of 32 speakers participating in a two week webinar series called, Brave Body Love organized by Michelle Hess.  Bringing Women from All Over the Globe Together in an Epic Online Event to Awaken Our Collective Feminine Power and discuss body image.  CLICK HERE

February 22-28th: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week:  CLICK HERE for more info.

March 21-25th: in Oracle, Arizona Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Retreat (and Therapist Training) Facilitated by Michelle May, M.D. and Camerin Ross, Ph.D.  All-inclusive 5 day, 4 night retreat with workshops, small group therapy, delicious mindful meals, mindful movement, connection, and relaxation!  Retreat info: http://amihungry.com/mindful-eating-for-binge-eating-retreat/

Upcoming Conferences and Calls for Proposals!

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February 28, 2015:  Deadline for CFP for Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) Conference, November 5-7, 2015 in Hollywood, Florida. CLICK HERE for info.

 

March 9, 2015: Deadline for CFP for the 7th Annual Eating Recovery Center Foundation Eating Disorders Conference, August 21-22, 2015 in Denver, CO.  CLICK HERE for info.

 

March 31, 2015: Deadline for CFP for the USABP Conference, in Rhode Island.  CLICK HERE for info.

 

April 9-12, 2015: American Society of Group Psychotherapists and Psychodrama (ASGPP) conference in Philadelphia, PA. CLICK HERE for info.

 

April 16-17, 2015: National Eating Disorders Information Centre Conference (NEDIC), in Toronto, Canada. CLICK HERE for info.

 

April 25-28, 2015:  New York State Therapeutic Recreation Association (NYSTRA) 20th annual conference, in Sarasota Springs, New York. I am honored to be the Keynote Speaker for this event!  For info please contact Daniele Fish at: dfish@forthudson.com

April 30, 2015:  Deadline for CFP for the 3rd Annual International Weight Stigma Conference September, 18-19, 2015 in Reykjavik, Iceland. CLICK HERE for info.
June 5-6, 2015:  Eating Disorders in Sport Conference, in St. Louis, MO.  CLICK HERE for info.
July 17-19, 2015:  Association for Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) Conference, in Boston, MA. CLICK HERE for info.
October 1-3, 2015: The National Eating Disorders Association’s (NEDA) annual conference in San Diego, CA. CLICK HERE for info.HWW-fitwoman-badge-largewego badge 2blogging-badgeWEGO awardWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014illuminating-blogger-award

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21. February 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: ASDAH, ASGPP, BEDA, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Eating disorders, HAES®, NEDA, recreation therapy, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

MIXED NUTS

Mixed Nuts: A Re-Post about Valentines and True Love

mixed nutsMixed Nuts.  That’s how I feel about Valentine’s Day.  Like a can of mixed nuts.  Remember those cans of Mr. Peanut Planter’s mixed nuts that would magically appear once or twice a year in the living room?  At first glance they looked like the regular dark blue can of roasted salted peanuts, easy for me to ignore, peanuts were never my “fave.”  Why I love peanut butter but can live in the same house with a can of roasted salted peanuts without any temptation for noshing on them still mystifies me.  But this can, upon closer inspection, was the bonus can of “Mixed Nuts.”  If I was lucky to get to the can before my dad, there may be some filberts left.  I LOVED the filberts.  If I got there before my sister, I could still “score” some pecans.  But the true treasures for me were the cashews.  Even rarer was finding a cashew in its entirety and not just a chip of the crescent or a split half; but the full cashew.

I believe my earliest experience in mindful eating came the first time I ate a cashew.  It was the perfect combination of salt, crunch, flavor and texture.  Sweet and salty at the same time and rich with a smoothness of oily munchy goodness.  YUM.  But mostly, the can of mixed nuts was stuffed with peanuts, and someone else always seemed to get the cashews and I was left feeling somewhat…empty…disappointed…and craving something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Valentine’s Day over the years has meant many things to me.  Before I went to school, it was an art project that my mom and I did together, cutting out lacey doilies and scribbling over the textured paper with red waxy crayons to see what shapes came out on the white paper beneath it.  Then my mom would do the most amazing thing.  She would fold the piece of paper in half and cut the paper and when she was finished; she would reveal a heart, filled with my scribbles.  I couldn’t understand how she could cut a piece of paper and still have it come out as a full piece and not split in half.

Valentine’s Day was about miracles with my mom and it was indeed a cashew.

Later on, once in school, Valentine’s Day was about bringing valentines to every kid in your class and your teacher.  The first year I remember diligently cutting out valentine after valentine, my mom having taught me the scissor trick and bringing them into school eager to hand them out.  To my horror, everyone else had brought in Snow White or Sleeping Beauty Valentines, glittery, each in their own perfect tiny envelope; except the one for the teacher which was much larger.

My valentines were the peanuts and I left school that day feeling somewhat…empty…disappointed…and craving something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

In Junior High, while the tradition continued to bring in the mass marketed valentines, now available in super heroes, Barbie, and Charlie Brown versions, what was written on the back of the valentine was the true valentine.  Most of them were just “peanuts” signed by the person who like me had used the class list and written name after name on each card, so as not to leave any one out or hurt someone’s feelings.  But once in a while, you would get a note on the back that was different.

“To the prettiest girl in Homeroom, Love, Gary”

Wow…that was a cashew, a filbert and pecan all rolled up in one!!!

Into adulthood and Valentine’s Day became about true love, romantic love, intimate sexy hot passionate love.  And of course if that was not in your life, it became about, “Why am I alone? Why don’t I have a valentine?  Where is my Gary now?  If I were thinner, I’d have a Valentine,”I would think to myself as I mindlessly and angrily ate a piece of heart shaped candy that was given out at the hospital where I worked.  This whole February 14th thing is just a Hallmark Opportunity to sell cards and make money.

NUTS!!!!

When my son was three, he and I sat at the kitchen table dutifully making valentines for all of the kids in his preschool.  Surrounded by doilies and red crayons and construction paper, we scribbled and cut and pasted enough valentines for each and every kid in his group and made special bigger ones for his teachers.  I showed him how to fold a piece of paper in half and cut it so it came out in ONE piece shaped like a heart.  His eyes were wide with wonder and glee.  We used glitter and stickers and he made one extra for himself.  I smiled when I saw that.  It had never occurred to me to make a valentine for myself, but somehow it felt right.

When I dropped him off the next morning, all of the other kids were marching in with their arms full of valentines.  Some were home made some store bought, I grinned.  I left feeling somewhat…full…hopeful…and satiated…as if I had had my fill of cashews.

Whatever Valentine’s Day means to you, whether we like it or not, we will be bombarded by the media’s message that it has to do with buying the right gift, and being loved or loveable enough.  I say, it is about connection.  And the most important connection we can make is with ourselves.  That is not selfish, that is not narcissistic, and that is not arrogance.  It is healthy.  The most important valentine we can receive is the one we give ourselves, from a place of self love.  Then we can open up to the love of others and be able to love others as well.

Imagine having enough cashews to go around?

Love Your Body: Lia Schapendonk

Love Your Body: Lia Schapendonk

 Til Next Time,

Dr. Deah

P.S.

IMPORTANT DATES TO REMEMBER!!!

February 13th is Natural Day.  Sanah Jivani started this campaign when she was 16 years old as a way for all people to celebrate themselves without feeling the need to change something about their bodies or appearance in order to fit in or be considered “beautiful.” Watch this moving video to find out more about Sanah’s project. It is worth your time and it is NOT a coincidence that it is  happening the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day!

February 14-28th:  I will be one of 32 speakers participating in a two week webinar series called, Brave Body Love organized by Michelle Hess.  Bringing Women from All Over the Globe Together in an Epic Online Event to Awaken Our Collective Feminine Power and discuss body image.  CLICK HERE

February 20th:  Kaila Prins of In My Skinny Genes will be interviewing me for her Podcast.

February 22-28th: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week:  CLICK HERE for more info.

March 21-25th: in Oracle, Arizona Am I Hungry? Mindful Eating for Binge Eating Retreat (and Therapist Training) Facilitated by Michelle May, M.D. and Camerin Ross, Ph.D.  All-inclusive 5 day, 4 night retreat with workshops, small group therapy, delicious mindful meals, mindful movement, connection, and relaxation!  Retreat info: http://amihungry.com/mindful-eating-for-binge-eating-retreat/

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12. February 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Eating disorders, HAES®, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 comments

BUZZ OFF: Part Two of Tackling the Buzz Kill!

busybrainThis is the second part of a three part series on one approach to treating the clinical diagnosis of Beeinurbonnettopathy (soon to be included in the DSMXXXV).  If you didn’t read part one you may want to do so by clicking here.
We last left our protagonist Cora (not her real name) learning how to vocalize the chatter in her head about how she compares herself to others and how much energy that takes. We also saw that the persistent act of this “measuring” herself against others keeps her from noticing things in her world that may NOT be worth missing. Here is another video example of how many of us use comparisons to establish our self-worth (or lack of).

 

One of the focuses of the Calmanac Approach™ is CALMing and replacing the buzzing in our minds.  It isn’t easy. It takes practice. Calculating our self-worth based on comparing ourselves to others is something we were taught to do from a very early age.  Here is what Cora’s next session was all about:

For last week’s “homework” I asked Cora to draw or collage a timeline of when she started noticing that she was feeling “less than” others in terms of her body, appearance, or any other skill or personality trait.  I asked her to be as specific as possible and to also include what she remembered about her thoughts and actions before the comparative thinking kicked in.  I also explained that these were most likely very early memories and may present themselves in smells, sounds, and quick images and not to worry about whether they made sense or not.  Just find a way to express them on paper and bring the timeline or a summary of it to our next session.

The focus of doing this exercise was primarily to point out what was replaced by these new learned behaviors.  Typically, and Cora was no exception, we start off living our lives in concert with our bodies and what we do.  We are playing, we are spontaneous, we are mastering skills, and learning what we like and what we don’t like. We are seekers, explorers, and for the most part integrated people.  There isn’t a sense of a mind body split. We are one.

Once the comparisons are introduced and we feel we have to be as good as or better than another person or standard; THAT is when a separation begins to happen. We no longer set our own goals or standards for feeling competent and happy.  Learning becomes more competitive instead of about growth. And negative feelings about our bodies and sometimes food begin to grow like weeds in our self-image and the buzzing in our bonnets gets louder and louder.

As we walked around the lake for our Walkie Talkie Session, Cora spoke about her memories before the comparisons took over. Her affect fluctuated as she rediscovered the sense of excitement about what she could do now if she didn’t compare herself to others and anger at how she had lost track of herself in the process.  As Cora continued, she realized that she appreciated so much more about her body than she knew; and as we walked, she vocalized gratitude for what was uniquely her.  She remembered some of things she enjoyed doing as a child that she stopped doing because she was told that only thin girls could do that.  She talked about how there was no middle ground in her family for accomplishing something. For example, she loved to dance. But if she wasn’t going to be able to be in a professional dance company there was no reason for her to take lessons just to enjoy herself.  The same was true for gymnastics.

As we finished our walk, Cora noticed how much less than last week she had compared herself to the other “lakewalkers”and that she felt better about her body and herself as a whole person.  This active practice of gratitude had replaced the buzzing even if it was only temporary.  (Remember, it takes practice to change old ingrained habits.)  For homework I suggested she try to find a way to to engage in one of the things that she had loved as a child but stopped doing because of the intrusion of competitive and comparative thinking.  We parted ways both of us feeling excited about what was to be discovered next.

So what was the next step with Cora?  Find out in my next post of this series…The Bee’s Knees.

Bee Here Now!

Bee Here Now!

Til next time!

Dr. Deah

P.S.

IMPORTANT EVENTS TO KNOW ABOUT.

This week is Healthy Weight Week. It is not a week about losing weight to find the healthy weight for you. It doesn’t even really focus on weight per se.  In fact, it needs a new name.  But until that happens, here is the mission of HWW and each day there is a focus for participation that you can find HERE.  Today’s focus (January 20, 2015) is learning about the Slim Chance Awards. These are symbolic awards presented to the worst weight loss ideas of 2014.  It is infuriating to see the desperate measures that companies promote in order to boost their profits and eradicate the horror of having a single fat person living joyously on the planet.  I know it takes sanity points to read about some of these procedures and products, but what I do is transform my feelings about them into an opportunity for activism. I write letters to the companies, or programs. I blog about them. I do what I can to expose them for what they are…fraudulent and bigoted.  So perhaps you can do the same, it feels very empowering!

January: 28th:  8 am Eastern / 9 am Central / 10 am Mountain / 11am Pacific HAES® University: Bringing a Weight-Neutral Message to Campus with Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD, Patti Watkins, PhD, Rebecca Concepcion, PhD CLICK HERE for more info.

February 5-7:  Please join me as I present with an outstanding line up of professionals in the fields of Eating Disorders and Expressive Arts Therapies at the EDRS Conference. This year’s theme is: Creative Methods Get Spotlight on Treating Eating Disorders:  New tools bridge art and science in eating disorders treatment. Creative Methods–from ancient wisdom traditions to modern expressive therapies.

February 13th is Natural Day.  Sanah Jivani started this campaign when she was 16 years old as a way for all people to celebrate themselves without feeling the need to change something about their bodies or appearance in order to fit in or be considered “beautiful.” Watch this moving video to find out more about Sanah’s project. It is worth your time and it is NOT a coincidence that it is  happening the day BEFORE Valentine’s Day!

And speaking of body acceptance, redefining beauty, and moving on to a different attitude about body types, check out this fantastic article by Clarissa Sebag Montefiore about dancing. Imagine the CHUTZPAH!!!  A fat woman dancing?????  “The Horror The Horror!”  Here is the link:  http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150116-can-fat-be-beautiful 

Toby Burrows

Toby Burrows

February 14-28th:  I will be one of 32 speakers participating in a two week webinar series called, Brave Body Love organized by Michelle Hess.  Bringing Women from All Over the Globe Together in an Epic Online Event to Awaken Our Collective Feminine Power and discuss body image.  CLICK HERE

Feb 22-28th: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week:  CLICK HERE for more info.

Two Conferences are calling for proposals!

The Association of Size Diversity and Health (ASDAH) is having its conference in Boston, MA from July 17-19, 2015. Call for proposals ends on January 31, 2015.  This year’s theme is:  Difficult Conversations: Building Relationships in the HAES® Community and Beyond.  CLICK HERE for more information.

The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) is calling for speaker proposals for their 2015 Conference to be held in Hollywood FL, Nov 5-7.  The full RFP can be found at Annual Conference | Binge Eating Disorder Association.  The call is open between now (1/19) and February 28.HWW-fitwoman-badge-largeWEGO_Health_GuestPin_Badge_png_2014wego badge 2blogging-badgeilluminating-blogger-award112-dr-deah-s-tasty-morsels

21. January 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: art therapy, ASDAH, BEDA, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, dance therapy, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, drama therapy, Eating disorders, EDRC, EDRS, Guilt Free, HAES®, Healthy Weight Week, Men and Eating Disorders, movement therapy, NAAFA, NEDA, recreation therapy, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

A Bee in my Bonnet!

fighting-beeIt’s like a bee hive out here in the world of body image and eating disorders right now!  Not a happy hive where all the critters are humming along doing their apian choreography.  More like one that has just, out of the blue, been rammed into by a chain saw and now all of the occupants are trying to regain their equilibrium.

You see the New Year brings with it all of the body shaming associated with resolutions that are disguised as “good for my health” but are in fact rooted in misconceptions about health and body size.  In addition, the number of ads bombarding us seem unavoidable if you happen to be a sports fan, or a cop show fan, or a cartoon fan, or well, a fan of  watching any TV at all.  And to make matters worse, some of the ads for weight loss corporations are becoming more confusing as they opportunistically “plagiarize” the language of body acceptance and body love; but if you read the fine print it is so you can lose weight and finally “be yourself and be happy.” Adding to the chaos are the articles about new ways to attain your New Year’s Resolution weight loss goals.  These siren like calls to the cult seem to be materializing at an exponential rate in newspapers, magazines, E-zines, and radio news broadcasts. And there is no limit to what interventions are being proposed!

In the NAAFA newsletter, Peggy Howell, writes,

“They” are at it again, or should I say still? “They?” Take your pick: the pharmaceutical industry, the diet industry, the FDA, the federal government and the list goes on. All these entities appear to have devoted themselves and their resources to finding a way to wipe out fat; whatever it takes. No matter how ridiculous the procedure or device may be…”

And I couldn’t agree with her more.  Just this week alone I read and or heard of about seven new gyms and diet programs available, a new FDA approved weight loss drug, and a new Bariatric surgery called POSE that is designed for folks who just want to lose 25-75 pounds because, as one person says,

“I’m just tired of wearing a size 14 bathing suit. I want to wear a 6 or 7 like everybody else….”

I’m not sure where this woman lives, but in my world the average bathing suit size is 14 and up.  But if we look more closely at her comment,  we see that one of the culprits is the habit of comparing our bodies to other people’s bodies.  We are coached to do this from a very young age until it becomes a persistent buzzing bee in our bonnets, distracting and seemingly unstoppable.

“Comparison is the source of all unhappiness.”
~Soren Kierkegaard

When I meet with a new client on one of my Walkie Talkie Sessions* (for those of you unfamiliar with Dr. Deah’s Walkie Talkies scroll down for a description) one of the first things we address are the comparisons.  As we walk around Oakland’s Lake Merritt, I have them say out loud what their inner voice is saying each time we pass someone walking in the opposite direction.  People are a bit hesitant at first because these inner voices can be cruel, catty, mean, judgmental, etc.  Rarely are they shared out loud…they are secret bees in our bonnets.  But I remind the client that I am not there to judge; and this is just data for us to comb through over the course of therapy. What soon becomes clear, however, is that almost all of the comments are based on comparisons.  A typical scenario is as follows:

Cora (not her real name) on her first Walkie Talkie session verbalized her inner voice’s comments about the people walking or running around the lake.  “I wish I looked like her.  Her butt is nicer than mine. I’m not as fat as her, thank god! I wonder if I could ever look like her.”  Even her comments about children were, “I wasn’t that fat when I was a kid, That poor kid is so fat, no one will love her.”  After a while Cora said, “Oh my god, I haven’t even looked once at where I am walking! I am completely obsessed with the comparing!”  We went on to discuss how dismissive the voices are of who she is now and the lack of appreciation for her body.  And then as she reviewed each statement she was struck with how toxic the train of thought was.

As we finished our walk, I assured her that she could work on changing the voices in her head. That the negative messages are fertilizer for growing body hate.  Then the hate becomes fertilizer for the voices, and before you know it you’re brain is a buzzing hive  that has lost its equilibrium and it feels as if your body image is in the hands of those around you.

Before I end this post, part one in a three part series, I want to be clear that I am NOT here to judge anyone’s decisions about what they want to do with their weight loss goals.  If people want to lose weight so be it.  But I would like them to be certain that their choice isn’t based on the concept that being thinner makes anyone a better person than someone of any other size. I would like them to know that their choice should not be contingent on adopting dangerous exercise regimes or extreme restricted dieting, taking new UN-researched diet pills, or undergoing the latest fad in gas-trick bypass surgery that has no longitudinal studies re: side effects and efficacy.  I would like to see the practice of negative comparisons replaced with positive self-affirmations no matter what they weigh at any given time.

So what is the next step with Cora once we vocalize the inner voices?  More about this in my next blog post, BUZZ OFF!

*For those of you unfamiliar with my Walkie Talkie Sessions, the short version is: instead of sitting in an office and talking about body image I walk with my clients so there are more opportunities to integrate the mind and body.  The walks are not aerobic, they are weight neutral meaning that they are not part of any weight loss program.  They are to introduce the concept of pleasurable physical movement in a safe accepting situation.

Til next time!

Dr. Deah

P.S. Here are some upcoming dates in January and February that you may be interested in!  They are also posted on the calendar on my website and on my Pintrest Board, “Upcoming appearances”.

Here is the link to an article I wrote for the magazine Happier Healthier Women. It is a short monthly guide with tips to manage body image challenges throughout the year.

January 11th:  HAES(r)ed and Confused:  On going group led by Jessica Wilson, MS, RD,  in Oakland, CA.  CLICK HERE for more information

January 13th:  I will be presenting on a panel discussing Ragen Chastain’s new book, The Politics of Size (I wrote one chapter in this two volume book that is filled with amazing author’s contributions). The panel is at Santa Clara University. CLICK HERE for more info.

January: 28th:  8 am Eastern / 9 am Central / 10 am Mountain / 11am Pacific HAES® University: Bringing a Weight-Neutral Message to Campus with Dawn Clifford, PhD, RD, Patti Watkins, PhD, Rebecca Concepcion, PhD CLICK HERE for more info.

The third week of January in the U.S. and the fourth week of January in Australia is Healthy Weight Week

And the Slim Chance Awards were just announced (the worst weight loss ideas of 2014)!

February 5-7th:  Eating Disorders Recovery Support Inc. (EDRS) is having their annual fundraising conference. I will be presenting on Friday. CLICK HERE for more info.

February 13th: Created by Sanah Jivani,  Natural Day is just what it sounds like. A day to celebrate ourselves as we are and to promote self love and eradicate bullying!   CLICK HERE to see a video of Sanah explaining more about ND or CLICK HERE for the website.

February 14-28th:  I will be part of a two week webinar series called, Brave Body Love organized by Michelle Hess.  More information on this event will be included in my next blog post.  CLICK HERE for info about Ms. Hess.

Feb 22-28th: National Eating Disorders Awareness Week:  CLICK HERE for more info.

BEE here now!

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09. January 2015 by Dr. Deah
Categories: ASDAH, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, EDRS, HAES®, Healthy Weight Week, NAAFA, NEDA, Size Acceptance, Weight, Weight Stigma | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

Lose Wait Now! Ask me How?

My only weight problem

http://drdeahstastymorsels.files.wordpress.com/2012/03/carrot-on-a-string.jpgMost of us have heard it.  Many of us have said it.  And sadly, the majority of Americans are still doing itIt is waiting.  Waiting to live our lives until our scale hits the magic number.  Waiting to live our lives until we finally wriggle into the coveted dress size or effortlessly slip into (or out of) the “perfect” pair of jeans.

I’ve written about it several times, my favorite renditions being Please Hold which gives a glimpse into my experience with learning to manage my wait.  And again in  Spare Change where I discuss a former a patient’s “aha” moment of leaving the waiting room and moving forward with her life.

But as a baby boomer, I have become acutely aware of my aging process.  This has been a slow revelation because there seems to be a glitch in the time space continuum.  I can’t explain it, but I know it is there.  For some inexplicable reason, (where is Carl Sagan when you need him?) the generation ahead of me and the one behind me are all getting older.  In my son’s case, like some real life version of the song Circle Game, the years have indeed flown by and now MY boy is firmly planted in his mid-twenties. My dad is 90, and I haven’t aged a day since college.  Unfortunately my body doesn’t always agree with my perception and has ways of telling me that I am not getting or staying any younger.  It whispers to me through my knees, wrinkles, and cynicism that, “Time, indeed, waits for no one.”

Well, if time isn’t waiting for me, then I am no longer willing to squander this opportunity to live my life fully and without apology.

Clearly, I need to lose some wait.

I know I am not writing about anything ground breaking or especially profound but I feel compelled to remind people that it is time to take your wait problem seriously.

Why now?

Frequently we establish these waiting patterns early in our lives when we are more impressionable to other people’s feedback and more invested in pleasing those around us.  If we get the message that we don’t look good enough or are too fat to go swimming, scuba dive, dance, date, travel, or express our sexuality, then frequently we begin our “bucket” list of what we will do when we are acceptable and permitted to dive into new experiences.  Even if we were daring non-conformists in our youth, we may have been chastised for our audacity! We were shamed and embarrassed and this may have squelched any future attempts to try new things unless we had a guarantee that no one would laugh at or admonish us for crossing the line.

But as we grow older we tend to let go of some of our concerns about how others see us and gain some insight that even if we manage to attain that perfect size or number on the scale we will never look like the models in the magazines; who by now are half our age.  There is a freedom in aging that many people write about and that I didn’t believe until I turned 50 and adopted the motto,“f*#k you I’m 50!”  Honestly after half of a century of living, does someone have the power to dictate what I can or cannot do because of what I look like? More importantly, why do I give others that much power over what I do and how I feel about my body? I know this sounds easy, and it isn’t.  It takes practice, it takes courage, and it takes WILL power.

Why now?

Why not now?  Seriously, when was the last time you took an inventory of your belief system?  How much of the waiting is habitual at this point?  What would happen if you took a quiet moment to reflect on the things you have wanted to do in your life that you wouldn’t let yourself do because of your negative body image and see if they still interest you?  Some may be old and no longer seductive, others may be newer additions that just fell into the instinctual knee- (or no) jerk reaction.  As you review your waiting list, consider whose voice it is telling you that those things are off-limits?  Look at the situation from the present moment; in the here and now.  Are the risks still as scary as they once were?  Are you still willing to deprive yourself? I found that the voice telling me to wait had no real power over whether or not I chose to listen to the other voice that was beseeching me to stop waiting for a time that may never present itself.

It’s too bad in some ways that it took me as long as it did and I’m certainly not going to beat myself up for not having done this sooner.  I wish things in our culture were less stigmatizing and shaming towards those who do not fit into the narrow definition of beauty.  Even more, I wish that beauty was not such a valuable currency in our world. There would be so many juicier lives being led and fewer people obsessing about their weight and dieting.  But whatever age you may be, I ask you to consider walking out of the waiting room and making arrangements to fulfill some of your dreams, wishes, and goals.  If it’s too scary to go it alone, there may be someone who has been waiting to find someone else who was ready to stop waiting!  You never know…the important point is that you get moving…now.  Small mindful steps are better than no steps. And remember that you, not Jenny Craig or Nutri-Anyone are in charge of your Wait Management Program.

Kiss my Ass…I’m just fine the weigh I am!

So…what are you waiting for?

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

The Calmanac just turned 1 ! If you missed it for 2014, great news!  It works for 2015 also!!!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah's Calmanac!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah’s Calmanac!

Dr. Deah’s Calmanac: Your interactive monthly guide for cultivating a positive body image.  (FOR A PEEK AT THE BOOK CLICK HERE)

For signed copies order on my website: Dr. Deah’s Calmanac
You can get unsigned copies online at:
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CALIFORNIA INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE!
In San Francisco:  Books Inc.
In Alameda:  Books Inc.
In Berkeley:  Lewins Books, Berkeley
In Los Angeles:  Skylight Books
If you are shopping for sizes over 14 visit In Full Swing on College Ave. in Oakland!!  Great Clothes and they carry The Calmanac!

23. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, diets, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, End Fat Talk, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

Eating Disorders Recovery Support: It’s Not sELFish to Ask for Help

Elf Promotion

Elf Promotion

I am reluctant to use my blog for sELF-promotion.  Sure, I always include links to where to buy my book, it is an author’s obligation these days to market their books in any way possible.  But rarely do I use my contacts to ask for money.

But before you click off the page, I am NOT asking you for money…

I’m asking you to share information about the the upcoming EDRS conference.  I am now a board member, for Eating Disorders Recovery Support (EDRS) a non-profit organization that provides treatment scholarships to Californians with eating disorders, while promoting community awareness and professional education and collaboration. Being elected to sit on the board is a huge honor but it is a volunteer position (see my previous blog about how I am trying to learn to say, “no” and feel free to be my sponsor in Volunteeranon). But in the meantime I am working tirelessly to let people know about the EDRS conference in February in the Bay Area.  You see, this annual conference is where EDRS raises most of the money it uses to provide treatment to folks who desperately need help with Eating Disorders.  The myth is that only upper middle class white girls suffer from eating disorders with unlimited insurance and deep family pockets to cover the costs. But eating disorders knows no socio-economic boundaries and now impacts males and females at a younger and younger age; AND, often re-emerges in women who may have been in recovery for years, when they go through menopause. So the need is there and the money is needed!

I’M STILL NOT ASKING YOU FOR MONEY! 

Remember in my blog post about the Pros and Cons of Professional Conferences I wrote about reasons to attend or not attend conferences as either a speaker or participant?  Well this is one of those PROfessional CONferences where the PROs outweight the CONs and I’m asking you to let any therapists, doctors, clinicians, nurses, expressive arts therapists, nutritionists, dieticians, HAES(R) professionals, or anyone that may benefit by attending and who may not know that this conference is coming up, to REGISTER NOW. They will gain valuable knowledge, CEU’s, resources, contacts, and warm fuzzies knowing that just by attending, EDRS will be able to continue its vital work.  Seriously, without a successful conference this year, there is a good chance that EDRS will not be able to continue next year.  And that would be a huge loss.

If you are interested in volunteering to help or contribute in any other way CLICK HERE and explore their website.

EDRS CONFERENCE INFORMATION

Get out your pens or computers!

Spread the Word!!!

The Intersection of Art and Science in Eating Disorders Treatment

Exceptional Opportunity for Northern California’s Mental Health Community

From the United Kingdom, Hawaii, and points in between, leaders in eating disorders treatment will share their expertise with professionals and families for three days in Santa Rosa. More than a million Californians struggle with eating disorders, according to conservative estimates.

The conference—The Intersection of Art & Science: Integrating Creative Methods into the Treatment of Eating Disorders—explores the recovery role of dance, movement, art, writing, yoga, visual arts, expressive arts, and other modalities.  There will be at least one session on Health at Every Size (r).  Hundreds of mental health providers and family members are expected to attend and learn effective ways to address eating disorders, among the most complex and misunderstood mental illnesses.

Top Speakers include:
Lucy Aphramor R.D. Ph.D. Pioneer of HAES® in the UK National Health Service
Ovidio Bermudez, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Eating Recovery Center in Denver
Carolyn Costin, MA, MEd, MFT, Founder of Monte Nido Treatment Center in Malibu
Anita Johnston, Ph.D., Director of the Anorexia & Bulimia Center of Hawaii
Ann Kearney-Cooke, PhD, director of the Cincinnati Psychotherapy Institute
Adrienne Ressler, LMSW, V.P., The Renfrew Center Foundation in Philadelphia

There will be more than 20 additional in-depth presentations—many by leading Bay Area eating disorders experts. (INCLUDING Dr. Deah!)  :-)   I added that, I didn’t make the flyer.)

This annual conference is the largest fundraiser for Eating Disorder Recovery Support, Inc.’s scholarship fund. The nonprofit EDRS provides treatment scholarships to Californians with eating disorders, while promoting community awareness and professional education and collaboration.

What: 9th Annual EDRS Conference. The Intersection of Art & Science: Integrating Creative Methods into the Treatment of Eating Disorders
When: February 5 – 7, 2015
Where: Hyatt Vineyard Creek Hotel and Spa, Santa Rosa, CA
Register at: www.academeca.com/Conference/Reg.aspx?seminarId=5

EDRS President Dr. Barbara Birsinger emphasizes the dual role of the Conference—education and fundraising: “We have increased our scholarship funds more than forty-fold since our first conference in 2005. Over the last few years, we’ve provided nearly 100 grants to help individual Californians get professional eating disorders treatment. For more information, contact Dr. Birsinger at edrs.conference@gmail.com.

THANK YOU!

Til next time!

Dr. Deah Schwartz

The Calmanac just turned 1 ! If you missed it for 2014, great news!  It works for 2015 also!!!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah's Calmanac!

Happy Birthday Dr. Deah’s Calmanac!

 

Check out my BOOK!, Dr. Deah’s Calmanac: Your interactive monthly guide for cultivating a positive body image.  (FOR A PEEK AT THE BOOK CLICK HERE)

Available at my website: Dr. Deah’s Calmanac

Amazon online

Barnes & Nobles online
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL CALIFORNIA INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE!

Laurel Bookstore, A Great Good Place for Books, Oakland, (Montclair Village) Books Inc. Alameda, Books Inc., San Francisco, Lewins Books, Berkeley, , Diesel Books, Oakland, and Skylight Books, Los Angeles!

And if you are shopping for sizes over 14 visit In Full Swing on College Ave. in Oakland!!  Great Clothes and they carry The Calmanac!

About Dr. Deah

Dr. Deah Schwartz, clinician, educator, and author specializes in Expressive Arts Therapies, Eating Disorders, and Body Image. Deah is the author of Dr. Deah’s Calmanac: Your Interactive Monthly Guide for Cultivating a Positive Body Image and co-author of the NAAFA award winning Off-Broadway Play, Leftovers, and its companion DVD/Workbook Set. An outspoken “New Yawker,” Dr. Deah believes that it is everyone’s responsibility to point out and eliminate size discrimination even when it means battling the mainstream media, and even more challenging…family members! To find out more about Dr. Deah’s work or to book a session visit her website at www.drdeah.com

Categories: Aphramor & Bacon, art therapy, ASDAH, BEDA, Binge Eating, Body Image, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah’s Calmanac, Eating disorders, EDRC, HAES®, Men and Eating Disorders, NEDA, Renfrew, Self Esteem | Leave a comment | Edit →

 

20. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: art therapy, ASDAH, BEDA, Body Image, dance therapy, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, drama therapy, Eating disorders, EDRC, EDRS, HAES®, Men and Eating Disorders, Mindful Eating, movement therapy, NEDA, recreation therapy, Renfrew, Self Esteem, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Curtain Up! Female Bodies on the American Stage: Enter Fat Actress

Jennifer Scott Mobley's New Book
My favorite professor at UNH! Carol Lucha Burns, author of Georgia, A New York Story

My favorite professor at UNH! Carol Lucha Burns, author of Georgia, A New York Story

I was a theater major at the University of New Hampshire for my B. A., a creative arts education major for my M. A. and a therapeutic recreation/expressive arts therapy major for my M.S. at SFSU.  It wasn’t until I sank my teeth into my doctoral program at USF, that the gig was up. Despite the years of rigorous academic studies that I completed, most of my classes were experiential and textbooks just an occasional irritation.

     “Why read books on ‘how to act’ when we could just be on stage learning by doing,”

I would whisper to my friend Meg in the library.  Props (pun intended) to actors and authors Uta Hagen, Brian Way, and of course Viola Spolin for their genius, but when I was obligated to read their books for class assignments…well…let us just say…it was the early 70’s and I found more experiential ways to occupy my time.

Academic writing is an entirely different language.  You can make it through K-12 + 4 years of undergraduate school and never have to use the words epistemology and zeitgeist in a sentence. Once you are in graduate school, however, not knowing that “data” is a plural noun is embarrassing, and using the word “since” in any context other than temporal is, as John Cleese from Monty Python would say, “right out”.  Due to an inherent interest in language and blessed with a propensity for learning other languages I was up for the task.  It’s a genetic thing. My sister is fluent in several languages and my son seems to have that “super power” as well.  So (despite popular belief you can start a sentence with a conjunction) I was able to learn the language. I didn’t love it.  It wasn’t nearly as sexy as speaking French in Paris or Creole on a Haitian beach…but I got by, aced my classes, and have avoided academic papers and textbooks ever since.

I don’t want to give the impression that I don’t keep up with the latest in research findings and I do subscribe to several journals in my field.  It’s important to have THOSE data at your fingertips when you are trying to educate people about the fat phobic, anti-obesity zeitgeist of our times. My preference, however, is to sit down with Dr. Deb Burgard with a glass of…anything really…the beverage is inconsequential, and have her translate things for me.  It is like having those United Nations earphones on…effortless understanding of what is being said about outcomes, correlations, and methodological flaws.  Clearly, however, the universe has other plans. This became apparent when two textbooks came across my desk for me to review. The one I am writing about today is titled Female Bodies on the

Jennifer Scott Mobley's New Book

Jennifer Scott Mobley’s New Book

American Stage:  Enter Fat Actress, by Jennifer-Scott Mobley, published by Palgrave Macmillian 2014.  (No that isn’t APA style…sue me) but all joking aside, I LOVED IT!  Here’s what  happened.

Before opening the book I took a quick inventory of what made me an appropriate candidate to write a review in the first place?  I think I was trying to talk myself out of it so I wouldn’t have to slog through a tedious text about theater and suffer flashbacks to Dr. Bach’s class at UNH.  My list included:

  • I am an actress and a member of Actor’s Equity
  • I have a degree in theater
  • I have taught theater, improvisation, and creative dramatics to children and adults
  • I have been passed over for roles entirely based on my body type
  • I am on the board of the Fat Studies Journal

Okay, why not me?  Confidence bolstered, I opened the book and was immediately hooked by the dedication,

“For all of my beautiful students, especially those friends of ED, you are perfect.”

Many actors (the preferred word for any person who acts) suffer from Eating Disorders and it’s not frequently discussed openly.  Because we know that correlation is not causation I am not saying that the pressure in the industry to be thin is the cause of an Eating Disorder.  It’s more complicated than that.  But disordered eating behaviors and restrictive dieting are the norm for actors trying to land a lead part.  The majority of the “good roles” are written with a thin actor in mind and someone’s talents often take a back seat if they don’t “look the part.”  Looking the part is typically based on stereotypes, and the cycle continues.

I turned the page and read the Table of Contents…okay…Dramaturgies, Subjectivities…uh oh…here it comes…this is a text book after all…must keep going…and I did.  And that was a good thing!  Jennifer Scott-Mobley has written a book so relate-able, so read-able, and comprehensive that it should be required reading for every theater professor and student.  It would also be a great addition to syllabi in Women’s Studies, Fat Studies, and Popular Culture tracks.  She covers difficult territory including Queering Fat, Fat Black Miscegenation, and Fat Phobia vis a vis the difference between an audience’s experience with fat actors on stage as opposed to in the movies or on television.

“Unlike film or television, spectators are in the presence of the performers full body. There is no directing the spectator’s gaze or disguising a performer’s shape through camera angle or artful cropping of the frame.”

We get a history lesson about the evolution of cultural attitudes toward fat women on stage including the impact of the “obesity epidemic” and the relationship between health and fat.  Stereotyping and typecasting are discussed at length, and we learn about fat dramaturgy and are provided with examples of plays written specifically to show a fat woman dieting as the core plot of the script.  I am not saying that Female Bodies is void of academic jargon.  The author most definitely struts her stuff with observations such as:

“…Fat prejudice is a culturally constructed subjugation produced discursively and through various social practices and institutional hierarchies in American culture.”

I agree with that statement completely by the way, after reading it a few times (I told you I was rusty!) Truthfully, however, if the entire book had been written in that style, let’s just say I may not have finished it.  But Female Bodies on the American Stage is written with a perfect balance of “Academicese”, English, and excerpts from an extensive collection of pertinent scripts that provide historical and current cultural examples from movies and television that allow this book to be not just eye-opening and educational, but a damn good read!!  (Oooh, that last sentence was bit long…does anyone feel like editing it?  A gerund, a comma, or semicolon perhaps?  Frannie Zellman?) But I digress, Jennifer Scott Mobley’s wonderful book, is really a treat for anyone in or out of Academia with an interest in the theater, popular culture, and size diversity.  To find out more, CLICK HERE.

Til next time!
Dr. Deah

*I was honored to be invited to sit on the board of Fat Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Body Weight and Society and my first assignment is to review Body Studies, the basics by Niall Richardson and Adam Locks. I suppose this means I am about to re-enter the belly of the Academia Beast, but after reading Ms Scott-Mobley’s book, I’m feeling much LESS (cue fat actor John Goodman, “out of my element Donnie.”

P.S.  The Calmanac turns one year old on December 13th!  Thanks to all of you who have been a part of helping me spread the message of  cultivating a positive body image.  I look forward to continuing the trend in 2015!!  Remember, unlike a traditional almanac, The Calmanac is not tied in to any specific calendar year.  To arrange a reading or book signing event email me at drdeah@drdeah.com

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12. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Body Acceptance, Body Image, Dr. Deah, Obesity, Size Acceptance, Social Media and Weight Stigma, Weight | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 comment

“Bird by Bird”

ada bird

Art by Ada Breedveld

One of my favorite authors is Anne Lamott and one of the many Anne Lamott words of wisdom that I live by was in her book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  I read the book about 20 years ago and I am paraphrasing so if some of the details aren’t exactly correct, feel free to let me know in the comment section.  Here is what I remember.

Little Annie, a self-proclaimed procrastinator is up late at night writing a report on the birds of North America.  The paper is due the next day and she is just getting started on what she had been expected to be working on for several weeks.  She is distraught and asks her father how she is possibly going to get through this project?  It’s so huge, it’s un-doable, it’s impossible!  Her father reassuringly tells her,

“You will do it bird by bird.”

I love this.  I find it calming, loving, and perhaps most importantly, I find it non-judgmental.  The lesson to not procrastinate is already being processed by Annie because she is experiencing the repercussions of not having made the best choice about managing her time. Kudos to Dad Lamott for resisting the parental temptation to rub it in her face.  Instead he chooses to advise her to take small steps, one at a time, until she reaches her destination.  Quitting is not an option; managing the circumstance as best as she can is the prime directive.

I am not a procrastinator by nature.  I am not certain how I learned this approach to life, but for me being on time for a meeting is arriving 15 minutes early; and meeting a deadline is having something finished a week before the due date.  I don’t think this is a trait that is to be admired or makes me any more functional or superior to those who are more last minute types.  Like Charlie Brown who sings emphatically about his book report in You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.

I think it is a coping strategy that I adopted for managing my anxiety and my need to please other people. Arriving early for an appointment means no disappointment by keeping them waiting.  Handing work in early removes any chance that the recipient will think that I am not reliable.  So my affinity for the bird by bird philosophy is not associated with learning about time management, it is more akin to learning the lesson of how to assess and honor my own self-worth.  In other words it is about choosing how many birds to write about.  You see, if I had been told to write about the birds of North America I would have felt compelled to write about EVERY bird in North America.  I would have worried about hurting a bird’s feelings if I left it out of the paper or omitting the one most important bird that the teacher really wanted me to include.  My anxiety about not being perfect and unable to please everyone would have compelled me to over compensate.  True, I may have gotten a good grade on the paper, but in reality it was no less stressful than Annie’s having waited until the last minute.

GET TO THE POINT DR. DEAH!

I am blogging about birds and Anne Lamott for two reasons.

1.  If you read the final Issue of Dr. Deah’s Schmooze-Letter that came out on December 1, 2014, this theme may sound familiar.  In the Therapeutic Tidbit of the month, I discussed the tendency some of us have, especially during the holiday season, to over-commit and conflate how much we are doing (e.g. saying YES TO EVERYTHING) with perfectionism and self-worth.  Over the years I have learned that it is a time that calls for finding a balance of setting realistic standards of what is enough; and practicing self-care first in order to be there for others.  Getting through the holidays becomes so much more manageable when we take things bird by bird and, if necessary, leave some birds off the list completely.

2.  My second reason is to introduce you to the last “bird” in my blog series that I started in the summer of 2014.  I had the good fortune of traveling to Holland and the UK last July and was inspired by the work of Fat/Size Activists in Europe (Gisela Enders, Fatima Parker, and Angela Meadows) and Dutch Artists who paint positive images of dikke dames. Today I would like to introduce you to Ada Breedveld.  I asked Ada the same questions I asked Julia Woning, Susan Ruiter, and Lia Schapendonk,  and here is what she had to say.  (Thank you to Chiel Weverling for helping me translate Ms Breedveld’s answers from Dutch to English).

Ada Breedveld Jumping in Field

Bird by Bird

Dr. Deah:  Thank you so much for taking the time and participating in this interview. When did you realize that art was important to you as a means of expression.  Was there a specific aha moment; or was it a gradual process?

Ada Breedveld:  All my life I’ve been drawing and painting, but about the age of 20 I read something about surrealism.  I didn’t know the word so I went looking for the meaning and found that it gave me the room…mindspace…to paint whatever i could think of, even if it wasn’t accurate.  It opened up a whole new world.  In the beginning I expressed a lot of feelings through my art.  Feelings that began as a shapeless goo inside me, but then took form and developed their shape.

DD:  The art work you do is so beautiful, who were some artists who influenced your style?

AB:  Artists that I admired at that time were Dali, Magritte, Delvaux, Max Ernst, etc. Also the Symbolists: Toorop, Khnopff, Klimt, Schielle.

DD:  The shapes and sizes of the women you paint are big and beautiful and feel very positive. Has the subject of body acceptance or size acceptance been a part of your work intentionally? Why do you choose to do paintings of big curvy women?  Do you have any opinions about how the media depicts women’s bodies?

images_ada_breedveld_roler_scate_lady_80_x_110_cm_kleinAB:  The women I paint stand for the female properties and values.  Often woman are judged on their appearance and have to meet the ideal image:  Young, slim, and too strong (muscular).  Even if these are stereotypes, people are expected to meet them, also by the women themselves.  The girl.  She, the woman, fulfills a very important role in every society that may not be visible but is very important. That is why and how I want to show her, paint her and make her visible.
She is the utopia, the mother and the Madonna but also the fertile and the sensual being that comes from and generates her warmth and compassion.  Her roundness and curves are synonyms for motherliness, warmth, security.  She naturally knows, like no other, how to draw from the source of life.  So my paintings are meant to communicate a plea to be who you are regardless of your appearance, color etc.
Her closed eyes are a reference to her inner self, being complete! I show her on the canvas, big and present so you can’t ignore her, and so you can be aware of her values, and those same values in and of yourself.  Filling the canvas and proud!

DD:  (Wow, THAT is a powerful response!)  Do you think that Holland has a more accepting attitude towards diversity of body size for women than The United States?

AB:  I really have no idea what the United States’ opinion is on this but I think that often the opinions are more extreme there.

DD:  Where can people find out more about your work?

ada breedveld

Ada Breedveld’s art

AB:  Often I have exhibitions in The Netherlands and abroad.  Information on that can be found on my website: www.adabreedveld.nl

I hope you have enjoyed learning about some of the inspiring work that is being done around the world in the areas of body image, size/fat acceptance, and redefining standards of beauty for women.  For those of you who are in the shopping mode, click on the links I’ve provided on each of the artist’s names.  They all have exquisite selections from paintings, to calendars and postcards if you are looking for some holiday gifts.  In fact Nomi Dekel, owner of VoluptuArt and ASDAH member has several of Ada Breedveld’s works on her website.  (By the way, I do not receive any financial compensation for spreading the word about these artists or for any sales made via my blog posts.) And please feel free to share other artists in the comment section!  I would love to learn more about them, bird by bird.

Til next time,

Dr. Deah

P.S.  Someone recently shared this video with me and because it is by a Dutch woman sending a body acceptance message I had to share!  Elly Kellner – Decent – Deugdelijk (2014) English subs – Ellybellyrep

PPSS:  The Calmanac turns one year old on December 13th!  Thanks to all of you who have been a part of helping me spread the message of  cultivating a positive body image bird by bird. I look forward to continuing the trend in 2015!!  Remember, unlike a traditional almanac, The Calmanac is not tied in to any specific calendar year.

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04. December 2014 by Dr. Deah
Categories: Beauty Diversity, Body Acceptance, Body Image, Body Positivity, Dr. Deah, Dr. Deah's Calmanac, Fat Acceptance Europe, Self Esteem, Size Acceptance | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 comments

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