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Plus Sized Debate

Hello out there.

There’s a news story that came out a little while ago that I have been reflecting on. I’ve attached the link for you if you’d like to check it out.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-22508670

I wanted to share with you the thoughts that it brought up for me about the Plus Sized Debate that currently rages in our world. 

Plus Sized Debate

Start feeling good enough and stop binging and stressing about food and weight loss.

This link will connect you to an article by a ‘plus-size’ model about clothing sizes and our cultural body image / weight obsession.

I am glad she’s speaking up and challenging the status quo and I also question the definition of this woman as a ‘plus-size’ model. 

I personally look at this woman and struggle to label her as plus-sized in any way. She looks simply healthy and balanced to me.

Maybe I have a distorted idea of what plus sized means…I guess if we look at it literally ….plus = more…but more than what? Is it the fashion industry ‘what’…which we already know is notoriously dysfunctional and promotes the notion of bone-rack-at-any-cost? I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being ‘plus’ that.

Are they referring to the fitness crazed 6-pack-ab, eating clean and lean crowd…not balanced. Not sustainable for most truly and a large proportion of my clients come from this population – dietitians, nutritionists, fitness trainers and coaches, body builders, athletes. Clearly folks can look ‘fit’ but be far from it in terms of balanced self-care. Remember this if you’re looking at your friend the fitness nut and feeling envious of her slim/toned body. Look deeper – how does she really feel about herself; how is her self-confidence; is her fitness focus about true enjoyment and health and wellness or about needing to be thin.  You can be fit and toned and sexy without being a fitness buff and you can look great without having to diet or micro-manage calories and fat grams.

Maybe ‘plus-size’ to some means ‘bigger than normal people’….but, um…what’s normal? different bodies, different genetic heritage and different interests are naturally going to produce different norms (is a pro-skater plus sized because her thighs are bigger than others?).

I suppose in reality, try as we might to avoid it…the ugly truth is that for most folks the term ‘plus-size’ conjures immediate connotations of being overweight. Why do we need the ‘plus’ in the size – can’t there just be different sizes? Again, ‘plus’ what?

I find the same confounding thinking in folks who get stuck on being ‘good enough’.  There is no way, ever that you can be ‘good enough.’ It isn’t a thing or a place you can get to. The term ‘good enough’ on its own means absolutely nothing. You have to qualify it: Good enough for what? Good enough for whom?

Then you get the light bulb moment –  Good enough for my mom; for my ex; for the job I want; to travel to France etc.

Once you qualify who or what you’re striving to be good enough for you can begin to ask yourself some very valuable and freeing questions:

  • What, in the first place, makes me think that this person or situation is the accurate determiner of my worth/good enough-ness?
  • What makes them ‘right’ and me ‘wrong’?
  • What specifically is the criteria that I believe would make me ‘good enough’ for this person or situation?
  • Is it true that I am not that now?
  • Is it true that I can’t be that if I wanted to and spent some time gathering the tools/skills/knowledge etc.?
  • Would I really want to spend my precious life moments trying to be ‘good enough’ for that person/thing?
  • If I weren’t so busy trying to make others think I’m ‘good enough’ what would I really like to be ‘good enough’ at/for?

I could go on – it’s a very key piece of the healing/recovery/stop-overeating puzzle and it is a discussion and process I explore with every single client at some point in their work with me.

From my past experience, I can completely relate to not feeling ‘good-enough’ and to the chronic insecurity and depression that we live in when we feel that, at our core, there is simply something fundamentally wrong with us. There must be something wrong with us, we presume, otherwise wouldn’t so-and-so have loved us? Wouldn’t so-and-so have been kind to us? Wouldn’t we have been given such-and-such opportunity?

Not necessarily – there are many other possible explanations for why so-and-so did what they did that aren’t about you at all. But that’s a topic for another day.

Back to being Plus-sized: I used to eat my feelings (and anything else I could get my hands on). That only made me feel worse – fat, gross, ugly, stupid – I used to call myself that everyday and then some.  I weighed 40+ pounds more than I naturally do now. (I’ve been my natural weight for 2 decades with no dieting or exercise regimes and haven’t weighed myself since ….I dunno when.)

I’m 5’4 and I weigh 125-130-ish lbs depending on the time of year and how active I am – yes my weight naturally fluctuates over the course of the year, and it doesn’t stress me out – my clothes fit me all year round, through the winter I’m less muscly and through the summer more naturally toned – I don’t diet and I don’t calorie count or ‘watch’ what I eat.

I pay attention to how I feel physically and emotionally. I engage in activities that I truly enjoy such as kayaking, mma, an occasional jog, hiking, swimming (in the ocean when the weather is right), snowboarding…etc. – it all depends on the season and the weather – the point really is that it’s all stuff I enjoy and there’s a variety of activities that I feel drawn to explore depending on the variables of season, weather, how much time I have etc.

I respond to my emotions by respecting them and exploring them and, if I’m having a feeling that I don’t want to keep having, I take the time to figure out what triggered it and what I can do to resolve that. This makes me feel like I can trust myself to respect myself and like I can always find a solution to the problems in my life. I didn’t used to feel that way at all – I felt constantly anxious and like everything was insurmountable, and my fault to boot. Somehow I believed that if I was just thinner, these things wouldn’t happen.

The way I see it now, feelings are signs for me to explore how I’m thinking and what’s happening in my life. There is always a solution to whatever is bugging me that will make me feel better about myself and help me to feel peaceful and confident.

If I can eat what I’d like, exercise moderately =have fun/play/dance/kayak/walk the dog, and not have to watch what I eat or weigh myself 5 times a day like I used to ‘to keep myself in check’, I believe everyone can. 

I didn’t used to think I could be happy with myself unless I was eating a certain way or weighed a certain number on the scale or took a certain pant size. And I made that a self-fulfilling prophesy for quite a few years – I was miserable, insecure, anxious, isolating, and binging and dieting my face off. And I kept gaining weight. I felt powerless and frustrated. I started every day by staring at and judging my stomach rolls while simultaneously hopping on the scale hoping that the binge I had last night hadn’t had a lasting impact and that the attempts I made at dieting during the day had at least some effect on the ‘bottom’ line. Inevitably I was doomed – even if, by some miracle, I had lost weight it would be 1/8th or 1/4 of a pound – no where near the 40+ pounds I needed to lose in order to be ‘good enough’.

This naturally led to yet another day of me feeling anxious and insecure and creating a desperate need for binge food while at the same time promising myself I wouldn’t do it again!!! Yep, many years of my life were spent that way.

At that time in my life I was plus-sized. I had to shop in ‘special’ stores, of which, 20+ years ago, there were 2 in all of Vancouver BC. How’s that for the fashion industry delivering a message about my body?

Today, by anyone’s standards I think, I’m a reasonable weight for my body but I still have to buy large undies! It is what it is to me now – I need undies that are comfy and don’t give me panty lines – and these are often a size large – big whoop. But back in the diet mentality days of my life, I’d prefer to chafe and struggle to breathe over buying anything with a ‘large’ tag on it. I’d be mortified. It truly felt like the biggest and worst thing a person could ever be: Large! (insert scary organ music here!!)

But that wasn’t me thinking. That was what I had been taught to think by my parents and their distorted, diet mentality approach to life. I just hadn’t even entertained the possibility that they may have been confused or downright irrational in their approach to happiness and self-esteem. 

Among those who have yet to truly feel ‘good enough’ for themselves,  there is often a desperate need to de-exist (I’m sure that’s a word…) Why are people so eager to be a size zero? What do they believe that will mean?

Are they thinking: ‘I’m finally good enough, attractive enough, lovable enough, sexy enough because I’m so small no clothes will fit me? ‘ 

How does that number on your pants correspond to your worth or love-ability as a human being?

Um….it doesn’t – unless you’re trying to make someone with a small brain and huge judgement finally see you as ‘good enough’ – which I recommend strongly against.

Someone who is truly that ignorant of what true love and true acceptance are about will never be able to be rational enough to have a healthy relationship with you in the first place (probably why you feel so insecure around them in the first place – they can’t meet your needs for reassurance and acceptance because they don’t have a clue how! Not because you aren’t worth it!).

You’ll never be able to feel truly loved by them because they don’t even understand the term. So, move on if that’s you. Even if it’s your mom or dad or auntie or grandma doing the slamming – If they are not simply concerned for your health and happiness and demonstrating they love you and accept you as you are – move on – fast. 

The need to be accepted and loved is a perfectly healthy human need – persisting in trying to find acceptance and love from folks who judge your worth by your weight is not healthy or helpful and will never, ever, be successful.

You truly do deserve better – but you won’t find it if you keep beating your head against that brick wall. And if you’re out there buying it – thinking there is something not lovable or good enough about you and that’s why they aren’t more loving or warm or considerate or accepting of you it’s time for you to learn how to think for yourself and to build real self-esteem and to prioritize values like respect, dignity, compassion, self-care, reliability, integrity and trustworthiness (to yourself and others).

This clear thinking makes you feel more confident and less anxious and naturally leads you to feel excited to take better care of yourself. 

Self-esteem means you trust your ability to think clearly and reasonably and you have to have confidence in your perspective. That is the foundation for good self-esteem and a happy life and it also naturally leads to the ability for you to change, effectively and respectfully, the things you see in yourself and in your world that don’t make sense.

Then instead of waiting for everyone around you to feel secure enough in themselves to be able to give you the love you desire, you are naturally, fully, giving it to yourself and through your behaviour you are naturally teaching others how love really looks and feels, at any size.

In the U.K. there is a current initiative to change all the mannequins in clothing shops to a size 16 (from, I think, a size 6)  because the real average size of women in that region is much more 16 than 6. I believe it’s long overdue that a more accurate form of the average female in any region be modelling clothing, jewelry and anything else that requires modelling to sell.

In my opinion, if folks are naturally a 16 or 20 or 2, so what? Are they nice? Are they honest, trustworthy reliable folks with a good work ethic? Are they capable of rational thought and action? If so, I love them!

If someone has extra weight on their body because they eat when they aren’t hungry to try and pass the time or calm their nerves or soothe or nurture themselves I help them to feel happy and peaceful and confident in themselves for real – ie. without needing food to make that happen for a moment.

Whatever the number on their pants or on the scale when they reach that sense of inner confidence and strength and genuine happiness has truly no bearing on their deservedness for love and caring or on their intellect or ability.

I say, unless we know how the person we are looking at achieves their current weight or maintains a certain look, we cannot begin to offer comment on the healthiness or appropriateness of their appearance.  I’ve had way too many clients over the past 20 years who are starving themselves or vomiting many times a day to maintain a certain weight while the people around them praise them for their will-power, slimness, and small size. Ya never know what goes on behind closed doors.

For me, I’m far more interested in how happy and confident and secure in yourself you are than in the size of dress you just bought – ‘plus’ or otherwise. 

And I know that anyone who is capable of a truly healthy, loving relationship of any kind is going to think the same.

What do you think? Let’s discuss the thoughts that come up for you when you consider these concepts.

Love Michelle

Posted in: 2014, All-or-Nothing Thinking, and Binging, Anorexia and Bulimia, CEDRIC Centre, Complete Recovery, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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Magical Thinking: The Real Cause of Your Unhappiness

Understanding How Your Thinking Impacts Your Self-Esteem, Your Ability to Create Healthy Relationships and Prevents you From Getting a Grip on Food, Binging and Weight Loss

You’re a magical thinker.

Michelle Morand - Magical Thinking and Self-Esteem

Magical Thinking and its impact on healthy relationships, self-esteem, binging and weight loss – by Michelle Morand,MA, Founder of The CEDRIC Centre for Counselling

That’s not a criticism, or a flaw. It’s the reality of the human brain. Magical thinking is a part of our wiring and it is also a key component of many of the most enjoyable parts of our culture and entertainment and a great way to release tension and stress. And it’s called magical thinking because it is not based in reality or on the facts of the situation as they truly exist.

It’s why kids so readily believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy and monsters under the bed. Magical thinking is the equivalent of clicking your ruby heels together, saying ‘there’s no place like home’ 3 times and expecting yourself to be transported from the gridlock you’re stuck in on the freeway to your front door.

It’s also why, since the dawn of humanity, each distinct culture has had their own spiritual or religious belief system, often with similarities that can only be seen as direct plagiarism, and yet still, each group of believers believes, with absolute certainty, that theirs is the only ‘real’ one.

And, perhaps, closer to home, magical thinking is the reason that, despite the many times your partner has not followed through on doing what he said he’d do, or has treated you disrespectfully, you still think that you’re going to get what you need in that relationship. In reality, it makes no sense to hang around, expecting someone to change a behaviour that is hurting you unless they admit they need to change AND get help to learn why they do what they do and what to do to change it. Anything else is pure magical thinking on your part and will keep you stuck in a relationship that will never truly provide the love and security you seek.

Essentially, magical thinking is an instinctual thought process, designed overall to make us feel happy and hopeful in the face of the many hardships in the reality of life.  The day dream that I’m going to win the lottery helps me, if I’m struggling financially, to not worry so much, at least for that moment, about my financial future and winding up on skid row with my home in a shopping cart.

Hence the magical thinking I engage in at that moment really does make me feel happy and that plants a little seed in my brain – creates some neurones firing in a certain way – that may lead me, the next time I get stressed about my bank account, to revisit that lottery win fantasy and get a break from the stress of my reality.

That’s all well and good if I don’t get stressed too often about money and if I remember that my imagined lottery winnings are a fantasy and not some psychic indicator of what my future holds. If I quit my job and wait for the winning ticket, or I don’t save for my future because I expect my windfall, that’s taking my magical thinking too far and forgetting to include a healthy dose of reality in my planning.

Addictions are a prime example of magical thinking. Imagining that drinking or taking drugs or binging is really going to make things better, beyond the immediate chemical release of feel good hormones into my blood stream, is complete magical thinking and yet, it is because it makes us feel good in the immediate moment and because we don’t know what else to do to solve our problems and feel good in a long-term, big picture way, we keep reaching for those magical solutions.

Relationships are often approach the same way. I know I’m not happy and that I’m not getting what I need in this relationship and yet on occasion things feel good and it’s familiar and so I stick around, allowing my magical thinking to transport me to a time in the future when things will change. And in the meantime I stay put in a crappy relationship rather than leave and create the space for the relationship I really want.

You see magical thinking works two ways – it can tell us fantasy stories of the lovely things that will come, if for no other reason than because we desire them, and it can tell us horror stories of the terrible fates that will befall us if we take a certain action – particularly if we change the current familiar setting of our life such as change our job, move towns, end a relationship or stand up for ourselves with someone.

It is natural for the human brain to lean towards belief systems and explanations of events that will make us feel happy. This has been proven beyond a doubt in many solid scientific studies and is spoken of with great, easy reading detail and wit by Daniel Gilbert in his fantastic blend of science and human interest, ‘Stumbling on Happiness.’

So we come by this magical thinking thing honestly and it serves a purpose in our lives at any age. But it has a serious downside.

You miss out on the reality of life and on many opportunities it naturally provides you to create what it is you really want and to build self-esteem and healthy relationships.

So, you need to be able to be aware of when you are in magical thinking and when you are in reality. This allows you to make a conscious choice and to therefore be in control of where your mind takes you and of the actions you choose in your efforts to make yourself happy.

If you are not trained to think rationally and clearly; If you haven’t been shown how to assess a situation for the actual facts vs. your fantasies, your brain will naturally default into magical thinking – what you wish were true, rather than reminding you that you don’t have enough facts or information to form any sort of opinion yet.

This leads you to continue to see the world in a way that isn’t based on facts and therefore limits you to repeating old patterns and prevents you from taking advantage of the real opportunities that do present themselves.

If you haven’t had solid role models who taught you the basics of functional relationship:

  1. What good communication looks like – how to ask effectively and reasonably for what you need and want;
  2. What is reasonable to expect of others and them to expect of you; and
  3. What you are responsible for in any situation vs. what other are responsible for,

 you, and anyone else lacking that training, will naturally struggle with knowing how to feel confident and secure in yourself and in your relationships with others and this will lead your brain to lean more on the fantasy / magical thinking to make you happy rather than looking for solutions to the actual problems at hand.

 Unfortunately, sometimes the magical thinking part of our brain believes that telling you that you’re stupid or fat or ugly or useless or unlovable or unworthy or just plain ‘not good enough’ is going to help you to be happier.

 The ‘logic’ behind this irrational thought process is that if you are not getting what you need in the way of caring, support and reassurance it is easier for you handle –ie. you’ll be happier – if you think that it’s about you and that means there’s something you could possibly do about the situation to make it better.

 Thus, lacking functional relationship skills, and lacking the ability to think beyond the immediate moment and therefore explore long-term solutions to our present day stress, our magical thinking brain will default to making pretty much everything that isn’t going well for us (and pretty much everyone else), about something that is bad or wrong or unacceptable in us.

 Our rational brain can see that this is irrational. How can I possibly be responsible for my partner losing his job or having a bad day? And even if I did or said something that upset him, how does it make sense that it’s okay for him to yell or to threaten or to withdraw his affection for me? How is that rational, reasonable or at all loving?

 There are lots of appropriate and loving ways to express frustration and hurt in a relationship. You may not have experienced them as a child and as such you’ve got a magical thinking idea that, even though it didn’t feel good and you felt anxious and insecure a lot, the way that your parents or teachers or ‘friends’ expressed ‘love’ is normal and how it should be. In reality, if it isn’t feeling good and respectful and safe to you it isn’t right. End of story.

 If you’re settling for a relationship where you are being told you’re at fault for how someone feels or whenever you bring up a concern about the way your partner is behaving they say something like ‘it’s just how I am,’ your brain is stuck in magical thinking mode and your relationship will not improve until you learn how to master your thinking and to see when others are thinking irrationally vs. reasonably.

 Instead you’ll stay stuck thinking that something is wrong with you and that you need to figure out what it is and change it and then you’ll be able to get the love and acceptance you seek.

 In reality, any time you compromise yourself for a relationship (partner, parent, friendship, or job) you are in magical thinking. You’re telling yourself a story that the only way for you to get what you need (love, support, acceptance) is to agree to something that really doesn’t feel right to you.

 Dieting, as it exists in our 21st Century culture, is, for many North Americans (and Europeans and Africans and Asians too as statistics show) a form of magical thinking that has been cultivated by the multi-billion dollar per year diet industry, to such epic proportions of fame and notoriety that the likes of Santa Claus and Justin Beiber could only dream of.

 The Diet Mentality magical thinking goes something like this:

 I am not getting the love, acceptance, job, validation and support that I desire. I am feeling anxious and depressed, stuck and insignificant as a result. If I were thin I would a. feel better about myself and b. others would find me more desirable as a partner, friend or employee.  So, I’d better get thin, fast!

 Forget that I’ve felt this insecurity and self-doubt as long as I can remember. Forget that there are people who do love and care about me and even some that have professed, or currently do profess to find me desirable. Forget even that I’ve tried a bunch of diets before with no lasting success.

 The diet centre people (or the commercial or the magazine cover or the fitness trainer at the gym) said that this diet really works! And if I can lose X pounds per week for X weeks all my problems will be over!!! I’ll be feeling so much better about myself that I’ll be able to figure all the other bits out no problem. All I have to do is just stick to this plan for X weeks!

 Forget that I’ve never been successful with sticking to the plan for that long (like most North American women, you may find that sticking to a diet beyond 2 weeks is highly unlikely) or that some inner part of you is tugging at you, niggling at you, and saying ‘we tried this before and if nothing has changed it doesn’t make sense to assume it’s going to go any better this time!’  You don’t know what to do to make yourself feel more confident and to solve those issues of money, relationship, career etc. so, even if it makes no sense and some part of you is pretty sure you’re wasting your time, you’re going to try the latest diet and hope for the best!

 Sound familiar?

 The diet industry sells a great fairy tale. It’s a lovely story of a brief journey of deprivation which will ultimately provide you the happiness and self-confidence and love and security you seek in the world. How long have you been feeling crappy about yourself or your body? How many times have you tried to feel better by dieting or rigorous exercise programs?

 The reality is, if you have extra weight on your body because of anything other than an illness or injury, you use food to cope. No diet will fix that.

 If people around you say you look fine, even sexy or great, and you still think you need to lose weight, the truth is, no diet will fix that either.

 You don’t need to look a certain way or eat certain foods in order to be lovable or to feel confident in yourself.

 You need to trust that you’re seeing the world and the people in it clearly and that you are capable of communicating clearly about what you feel and need and of setting reasonable expectations for yourself and others. That’s what self-esteem is. That is what makes you feel confident and secure in yourself.

 No amount of listening to someone else tell you what or how to eat is going to provide that for you. No amount of ignoring your body’s cues of hunger is going to build the confidence and security you seek.

 Learning the basics of relationships and self-esteem is the key and then, as if by magic, your relationship with food will change. And you will lose weight and feel great without dieting or being preoccupied with exercise or with what you’re eating. That’s reality.

 But that doesn’t make any money for the diet industry so you won’t hear them telling you that.

 Next time you start to think negatively about yourself or your body or what you’re eating, instead of starting to think about diets and weight loss, try this instead. Ask yourself:

 ‘Separate from food and body image, what was I just thinking about or what just happened that might have triggered the magical thinking part of my brain to make me think of dieting and weight loss as a way of making me feel better?’

 You’ll quickly uncover the really stressor in that moment, which will always have a solution that is much simpler and faster than the diet mentality one you’ve been trying for years with no ultimate success.

 You can train your brain to stay in reality and use the magical thinking consciously for fun and play. Right now, if you’re stuck in the Diet Mentality approach to problem solving, your magical thinking is running the show. The path to real happiness lies in learning to master your brain and be in control of how much time you spend in magical thinking vs. reality.

 This is actually a pretty simple fix. Some basic life skills and self-awareness tools is all it takes to master your brain and stop the magical thinking in your brain from running your life.

Posted in: 2013, All-or-Nothing Thinking, and Binging, Anorexia and Bulimia, Brain Chemistry, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self, Relationships 101, Uncategorized

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The Secret to Creating Great Relationships

The Secret to Creating Great Relationships

Michelle Morand - The Secret to Great Relationships

The Secret to Creating Great Relationships by Michelle Morand,MA, Founder of The CEDRIC Centre for Counselling

Hi all, this article began as a response to a question I received from an on line program member as part of our group chat forum and it’s such a common experience for everyone who uses food to cope I thought I’d turn it into an article and share it with all of you out there in our global community. 

The topic is that of our relationships to other people and how we can get what we need in our relationships with others directly and confidently and not feel so obligated and responsible for everyone else. 

The truth is, everyone who struggles with addictions like binge eating, eating disorders, alcoholism, substance abuse, gambling, over-spending, internet, raging, isolating, procrastinating and all other harmful patterns of behaviour struggles first and foremost with this pattern. So, if this is you, you come by it honestly – and the good news is there is a simple fix.

It took me many years of therapy and some fairly crappy relationship experiences a.k.a. significant learning opportunities to figure this one out. My response below is intended to spare you that time and energy and provide you with what I wish I had all those years ago – a simple way of understanding what’s not working and a simple first step for what to do about it.

Happy reading.

M.

Question From A.S.:

Something I’m a bit unclear about is the idea that it’s not my responsibility to guess other people’s needs. I spend a lot of time feeling responsible for other people and believing I have to figure out what they need and then make sure they get it. I can see how this causes great stress for me and makes my life much more stressful and complicated than it needs to be.

But I get stuck in my efforts to change this because I believe in treating others the way I would like to be treated myself and the truth is I would absolutely love it if everyone could pick up on my most subtle needs and wants without me ever having to articulate them!

So, when I am taking on responsibility for other people’s moods, needs, and desires, I’m actually wishing that they cared enough about me to do the same. How do I sort this out so I can stop feeling so obligated and insecure in my relationships and get what I really need from others?

 

Michelle’s Response:

 The Inside Scoop: What is Really Preventing You From Creating Great Relationships

 This really is a great question because it is an issue we all deal with when we are healing a stressful relationship with food and struggling with negative body image. These two very common coping strategies are key indicators of anxiety/insecurity triggered by confusion about what is healthy and reasonable vs. harmful and unreasonable in relationships.

First, let me reassure you that it is perfectly natural and very healthy to want to be cared for, to feel safe and nurtured and to trust that we are important to other people.

The problem isn’t you. It’s not some fundamental flaw in you or something about your weight, hair color, your style, your laugh or your intellect. And it isn’t your need or desire to feel loved and cared for either. The problem is in the way that you, and most others on the planet, have been taught to go about meeting those natural needs for connection and support that is the real issue.

The old approach to relationships is doomed from the start because it’s based on manipulation, guilt, and poor communication which can never lead to a healthy, loving, safe and secure connection with anyone.  Instead it leads to chronic anxiety, insecurity and self-consciousness; second guessing everything we say and do; and ultimately feeling hurt and resentful because despite our best efforts we don’t seem to be able to get what we need from the people in our lives. And this leads to you focusing on food and body image as a means of self-medication and distraction and, so you believe in the moment, empowerment to change so that you can feel better about yourself and these painful and awkward relationship experiences will stop happening….right?….No, actually, and that’s why these patterns get worse, not better, despite your repeated and determined efforts.

So, you come by it honestly – in fact most of the population of the planet has been trained to approach relationships from this co-dependent perspective – so you’re in good company. The answer to why this training is so rampant is another article entirely. You can find some of the answer in an article I wrote a year or so ago which is posted on my blog and entitled:  The Way We Were: The Influence of our Ancestors on our Lives Today  

 

So, What Actually Does Create Solid, Loving Fulfilling Relationships?

The fact is, instead of this old, rampant but harmful co-dependent training, what people really need to be shown, if they want to feel confident and secure in themselves and in their relationships, and stop leaning on food, isolation, procrastination, drugs and/or alcohol to cope with their insecurity and stress, is a way of relating to other humans that makes sense, feels safe, and most importantly, gets you what you need (most of the time).

In this adult, interdependent approach to the world:

1. We prioritize respecting how we feel – we don’t dismiss and judge ourselves for having feelings;

 2. We take the time to identify and show respect for our needs – we don’t call ourselves weak and needy for having them or let anyone else stop us from respecting them, speaking up about them, or meeting them. We do not give anyone else the power to decide if our needs are reasonable or appropriate – we decide this for ourselves based on how we feel and on our trust in our ability to think rationally and behave reasonably (if you use food to cope, or other harmful coping strategies, you lack this trust and need help to build it – it’s not hard it just takes some guidance and support);

3. We ask confidently and directly for what we need and work with others to find solutions that will work equally well for both of us – and 99.9% of the time there is one! Truly.;

4. We feel strong and confident in ourselves – we trust our perspective and trust ourselves not to compromise ourselves for anyone or anything. We know, in our gut, that we have just as much right as anyone else to take up space and get what we need. And because we also know that there is almost always a way for both parties to get what they really need we don’t feel obligated to compromise ourselves or to push others into meeting our needs. We feel like we belong. We feel truly grown up; a feeling that only comes from taking full responsibility for ourselves while letting others be ultimately responsible for themselves.

In case you’re wondering, everything we do in The CEDRIC Method, whether it is through individual counselling, workshops, books, workbooks etc., or our online education and support program, is geared towards teaching you how to change your approach to life from the old, irrational, harmful insecure one (a.k.a. Co-dependence) to a strong, straight-forward, confident one (a.k.a. Interdependence). We do this by teaching you how to identify what you feel; what that means about what you need; and how to meet those needs in ways that demonstrate respect for you and for the others in your life.

If you’ve been engaged with CEDRIC for any length of time, you know already from your experience with this process that your need for food to cope with stress lessens the more you approach life from this adult, rational perspective.

I’ve written a more detailed response to your question below if you’d like to understand my answer a bit more, but in addition to the above, the short answer to your question is:

If you want something –  anything, from anyone – you need to ask for it, clearly and respectfully, unless you’re prepared to be just fine with not getting it and you are committed to not telling yourself stories about how people don’t care about you because they’re not reading your mind or don’t care enough to think about what you need.

Those are your options if you want to think and feel the way I described above. It’s that simple.

There are ways of asking for things that will create a greater likelihood of a positive response and they all include self-confidence, self-trust, reasonable expectations, and simple, concise requests. In all my work with CEDRIC members and clients these skills are a key component and lead to increased confidence and happiness overall as well as to a complete release from food and body image stress.


Ultimately If You’re an Adult, The Truth Is You Always Have a Choice:

A. Ask directly for what you need and commit to finding a way to meet your need that demonstrates respect for yourself and others. Or

B. Accept that you aren’t ready or willing at this time to ask directly for what you need and get the support to do the work you need to do to identify what is preventing you from doing so and offer yourself empathy and compassion for the life experience that has led you to feel so frightened of direct and honest communication. (By the way, there is nothing about you that will prevent you from figuring this out – if you haven’t mastered this yet it’s only because no one showed you how.)
Or

C. Keep hinting, manipulating, using passive-aggressive techniques and continue to feel insecure and take things personally, damaging your relationships along the way, thus creating “proof” that you are not lovable, worthy, deserving, and therefore shouldn’t dare ask outright for what you need.

I personally am a fan of options A & B in tandem while you’re learning – some situations and people will be easier to be direct with right away and others will require a little processing and coaching – which you can get through the forums and classes on the web program or through an individual session with me. Ultimately you’ll naturally begin to just live in option A – it’s so much easier once you’re thinking clearly. On that note – let’s look a little deeper into what prevents you from thinking clearly.

 

What Gets In the Way of you Mastering the Secret to Great Relationships?

 In order to sort this out first let’s clarify the key assumptions you’re making here that are harming you. Then let’s explore how to shake them loose and start approaching relationships in a way that will truly bring you happiness, peace, and confidence in life.

 Assumption 1:

 If I compromise myself for others they will see that I am doing this and

a. Like/love me more for doing it; and

b. Do the same for me.

Assumption 2:

This will make me happy and lead to healthy relationships where I feel secure and loved.

(Pan to image of green, grassy field with colorful flowers dancing gently in the summer breeze; sun setting as a couple walks peacefully hand in hand over the rise and out of sight.)

Reality:

 

Sorry to trash your dream (and mine too in the past) but both of these assumptions are complete fantasy. That’s why we (and soooo many others) feel so unhappy and insecure in our / their relationships.

No matter what we do; how much we bend over backwards for others, we can never feel safe and secure in our relationships and trust that the other person really loves and cares for us if we continue to approach relationships from these assumptions.

Think of it this way, if you know that someone close to you doesn’t ask directly for what they need, but instead:

a)      hints,

b)      uses silent treatment or manipulation or anger, or

c)      plays the martyr or victim card to get people to do things for them out of pity;

d)     or says or does nothing at the time but laments after the fact about what they needed/wanted/wished someone would have done;

Really? How much trust and safety will you feel in your relationship with that person?

Or what if someone you know allows themselves to be manipulated by such tactics even though they really don’t want to do those things and they feel frustrated, resentful, obligated, and manipulated, how confident are you going to be that they really mean what they say to you?

How solid are you going to feel in that relationship when you know they aren’t honest with others about what they feel and want and need, and that they express frustration behind the others’ back but seem to do nothing to address things directly so that they can actually be resolved?

You’re not going to feel at all solid or secure or peaceful in those connections. Your trust in that person will be very limited. This is the problem with the co-dependent approach to relationships. The co-dependent approach creates a belief that we have to continue to compromise ourselves. It says that we can’t possibly just be honest about what we need or feel, or do or don’t want, because if we did the other person would not like us or want to be with us, they’d leave us / reject us, and we would be alone and unlovable. Pan to grubby bag lady on skid row…

This is what I call all-or-nothing thinking (or irrational thinking) but like all irrational thinking, until we are able to see why it doesn’t make sense and learn other ways of getting our needs met, we won’t see how harmful it is or even that our approach needs a tweak. Sure, we’ll experience the feelings of dissatisfaction and insecurity of this confused and doomed-to-fail approach to getting what we need, but we will mistakenly and confusedly assume that we just need to try harder, do more, be thinner or prettier…and then people will appreciate us, never leave us, and start giving back in kind. Right?? Nope. And you’re living proof of that – as are we all.

It’s the same line of confused thinking that makes us believe that even though every attempt we’ve made at dieting has ended in disaster, we should keep trying the diets because certainly there can’t be anything wrong with dieting – it’s so normal, it’s so popular, it must work, right?? And therefore (the story continues), the problem must lie with us and our intellect (we’re just too stupid), our laziness (we never follow through; we just didn’t try hard enough), our willpower (we just don’t have the inner strength to stick to a commitment), our self-esteem (we just don’t care enough about ourselves to take better care of ourselves) etc. etc.

Not! The problem with diets is that they don’t get to the root of why you have extra weight on your body in the first place.

Why are you eating more than you are hungry for?

What leads you to eat the things you do even when you know they aren’t the best choices for you?

Those are the issues that must be addressed for you to be successful with weight loss and your relationship with food. And once you’ve figured that out your relationship with food will naturally shift and you won’t need any diet program to tell you what’s healthy and what isn’t and when you’re hungry and when you’re not.

 

The Two Types of People You’re Most Likely To Attract – And Why That Isn’t a Good Thing:

In the same vein, it isn’t that you’re not lovable or worthy of respect and caring that makes people ignore your needs or not pick up on your cues, however subtle or otherwise. It’s the fact that you believe in the first place that you can’t just directly ask for what you want and need and still be loved and cared for. Instead you think that you have to be sneaky or hint or manipulate or just sit back and hope for the best or risk abandonment and rejection and the affirmation of your ‘not-good-enough-ness.’ That is what leads you to experience the pain of doomed relationships and why you will inevitably find yourself repeatedly in relationship with one of two kinds of people:

1. The ‘takers’ are very willing to accept your willingness to compromise and use you as long as you’ll let them.

These people aren’t willing or able to reciprocate in kind and the way you approach your relationships makes it so they never have to. Then as soon as you start to want a little more balance in the give and take department suddenly you’re labeled as selfish, demanding, manipulative etc. and they move on to find another who is willing to meet their needs without them having to reciprocate and you’re left assuming you’re the problem and that it’s all because you asked for what you need. In reality it’s because you were willing to accept a relationship where you met their needs without asking for anything directly in return that got you into that pickle in the first place. 

2. Folks like you who don’t feel confident enough in themselves to ask directly for what they need either. 

Those that hint or guilt trip or manipulate or sit quietly, giving, giving, giving and then either just leave the relationship, assuming that you’ll never be able to meet their needs or they finally explode with their pain and frustration from their unmet needs; telling you that you’re selfish, inconsiderate etc. etc. when all the while you’ve been desperately trying to be respectful, read their minds, and meet their needs. This kind of relationship naturally ends with you either feeling highly insecure and dissatisfied because of the lack of direct feedback and communication, or with you feeling totally confused and frustrated because you thought you were meeting their needs – they didn’t say you weren’t – and now they’re telling you you’re selfish or that you can’t make them happy? Argggg!!
 
Now do you see why this approach is doomed? No wonder people choose the monastery!!…or food…or alcohol…or the internet…

The Real C-Word:

Where things go sideways is in the expectations we have of others and the definitions that we have for what caring, consideration, and importance should look like:

As mentioned above, the approach to relationship that you currently struggle with is what is referred to as co-dependent – and that term simply means that we feel responsible for what other people need and feel, above our own needs, and we expect that they should think and behave the same way.

From the co-dependent perspective someone only loves you and really cares about you when they are willing to intuit your needs and meet them without you asking and when they are willing to compromise themselves for you and do what you want whether it’s what they really want or not – in fact, many co-dependents take this one step further, believing that what they want should be what you want if you really cared about them because your life would be about them being happy first and foremost. Clearly there is no room for different needs or opinions or for individuality here.

If you believe that can’t be yourself and truly respect what you want and feel and need as well as consider the needs of others, you never get to feel the confidence and trust and intimacy that comes from knowing that the other person really sees and fully loves you for who you are. The relationship is doomed to stay in a state of infancy and insecurity and that gets tiring after a while and many people become disillusioned because their fantasy of their needs always being met has fallen through and rather than exploring the rationality of this expectation they end the relationship, move on, and start again with someone whom they believe will really meet their needs this time.

This is a pattern that can play out not just in romantic partnerships but in parent-child and sibling relationships, in friendships, on school PAC’s and in work settings. And if you have this way of thinking it will permeate all of your relationships not just your romantic partnership.

It is helpful in shedding our old co-dependent approach to relationship to see it not as a flaw of character or some innate dysfunction but for what it really is:

A kind of developmental delay (due to poor role modeling and relationship training) that we can outgrow fairly quickly with the proper education and support. 

 

The Secret to Creating Great Relationships – What Healthy Human Relationships Really Look Like:

Think of it this way:

It’s perfectly appropriate for a little child – an infant, toddler, or preschooler, to expect that their caregivers are going to meet their needs without them having to ask for it because these little people are largely incapable of meeting their own needs or even communicating what they are.

Sure, the little one cries or screams and smiles or laughs to indicate their needs and pleasures but the adults around them have, ideally, been thinking ahead to when they’ll need feeding, changing, clothing, napping etc. and have been meeting those needs without being asked to do so. In essence the world truly does revolve around us when we’re little people, and given we have no other frame of reference for life at that point, this experience gets lodged as peachy keen and as the way we can expect that things will always be.

As we get a little older, we naturally want to explore the world a bit more and unconsciously we still expect our parents or caregivers to be at our beck and call and to solve any problem we might have, usually without us asking. Tantrums ensure when boundaries are set but these can be reduced and set aside with caregivers who demonstrate through their words and actions that they are there for us, they care, and that things are changing and that it’s okay to start thinking about other people as well as yourself.

Ideally at this stage we are gently encouraged to step out on our own a bit, take a bit more responsibility for ourselves (put away our toys, put our dishes in the sink, tidy our room with some help etc.) but ideally the safe container of our caregivers is always there, gently supporting us to take steps to independence but there to catch us if we fall or just to hear about the day’s events and keep us safe from harm that we are too young to foresee or understand. 

At this stage, which carries through into our adolescence, we should feel safe and supported to explore the world knowing that we have reasonable, loving people who have our back and will help us to sort out things that don’t make sense, and who will also set reasonable boundaries to help us understand what is healthy and what is harmful, and what is reasonable human behaviour.

From this place we naturally launch, often still with natural trepidation for the newness of it all, into a life that is more independent – whether living on our own or simply spending more time with school, work, and friendship pursuits. The safe container is still there but we feel supported to launch and live our lives, free from any sense of emotional burden or guilt or need to compromise ourselves for our parents or anyone else. 

Caring but not Compromising

From this place, we naturally care about others and what they feel and need and we are more than happy to help people out when we can, but we know that we are not in any way obligated to compromise ourselves or our needs for others and that if we want something it’s up to us to ask for it and make it happen. From this perspective it also becomes clear to us that if someone else wants something the same is true for them: They need to not expect us to meet their needs unless it’s been previously agreed that we will and they need to ask clearly and respectfully for what they need or experience the natural consequences of their needs not being met as they would like or perhaps even at all.  

From a healthy independent place we also know that we are not obligated to meet anyone’s needs and that our responsibility is, first and foremost, to be clear on what we feel, what that means about what we need, and identify ways that we will get what we need that do not compromise or demand things of other people.

We know that if someone feels they have to compromise themselves or their plans to meet our needs it will only damage the relationship and create a sense of burden, obligation and resentment on the part of the compromiser and some sense of expectation of us making a compromise in return. This, we know, is not an acceptable choice if we value our connection with that person and so we will not knowingly support others to compromise themselves nor will we do that ourselves.

Instead, we will talk with the other involved to explain our needs and to understand theirs and to find a solution that works for both of us, if we can (and 99.9% of the time you can) and if we can’t, we agree to go our separate ways on this subject, and possibly, depending on the issue, for good. But even in that worst case scenario parting-of-ways outcome we know we did our best and we have no guilt, no regrets and move on feeling clear and clean.

If you’re not approaching your relationships in this way you are stuck in the old co-dependent training but you don’t have to be.

 

The First Step to Changing from Co-dependence to Interdependence:

Try a little experiment this week: You’ll learn a lot and it will set the stage for safe, stable, simple, respectful change.

For this week (or for as long as you’d like):

Notice: anytime you’re feeling annoyed, irritated, resentful, resistant or impatient with someone. Or times when you are avoiding seeing or speaking to someone or responding to their communication via text or email.

 Then: Ask yourself these 3 questions as often as you notice the above (Hint – making notes makes things move faster…):

 1. What is it that I really need from/with this person in order to feel open and peaceful with them? 

2. What would I need to say to them to communicate this clearly – what specific, concrete, request could I make that would allow me to feel more safe and respected by this person?

3. Can I commit to doing that asap? If so – go for it!!!  If not – why not – what am I telling myself will happen if I ask for what I need.

This exercise will teach you a lot about what you think of yourself and others and what beliefs you carry about asking directly for what you need – prepare to learn lots and then reach out and let’s get cracking on making the shift from co-dependent to interdependent.

Remember, it’s natural to have doubt about anything new, but change doesn’t have to be hard, slow and painful – in fact it can be simple and even fun and exciting when you’re ready and you have the right guide and the right tools.

Love Michelle
mmorand@cedriccentre.com

 

Posted in: 2013, All-or-Nothing Thinking, and Binging, Anorexia and Bulimia, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self, Relationships 101, Uncategorized

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The Trick to Saying No Without Feeling Guilty – At All…Not a Tinge….Really!

If you’d like to learn the art of saying no without feeling guilty at all, this article will give you the education and information you need to get started! You see, in my work as a specialist with clients who struggle with anxiety, self-confidence, overeating, or dieting and weight loss, at some point we naturally address the topic of how to say no without feeling guilty.

Learn to say no without feeling guilty and stop binging while you're at it.

Learn to say no without feeling guilty and stop binging while you’re at it.

I often hear things like:

  • “If I say no to someone, they are going to think I’m mean or that I don’t care.”
  • “If I only did what I really wanted to do people will think I’m selfish.”
  • “If I ask for what I need, people will judge me as demanding or high-maintenance.”

In other words, a common theme that many men and women struggle with is that they are stuck in the belief that it isn’t possible to get what they need and want without offending or hurting others, and ultimately winding up rejected and alone.

Given that people naturally need to feel loved and accepted, this doesn’t feel like a stellar outcome. And because we don’t know that there is another option, we sacrifice and compromise ourselves for others and wind up feeling overrun, resentful and using food or alcohol, shopping, or T.V. to cope with our frustration and fatigue.

And, in reality, it is true that you cannot guarantee that you won’t “hurt” or “offend” or downright “piss off” others when you take care of yourself. But rather than being proof that you’re doomed to sacrifice and compromise yourself forever, this fundamental truth is actually your key to freedom. (more…)

Posted in: All-or-Nothing Thinking, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self, Relationships 101

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What is Binge Eating?

What is binge eating?

Get help for binge eating, weight loss, emotional eating, and eating disorders

In this week’s article I am going to define binging and ensure that you have a good, clear answer to the question: What is binge eating?

What is Binge Eating?

First off, it’s natural to wonder what the word binging actually means because, in our culture, binging essentially could be seen to have three distinct definitions. One is the definition that the medical and psychiatric/mental health community have given to binging; the other is the definition that family, friends, passers-by, and restaurant servers (to name a few) might give to binging; and the last is our own personal definition.

Just for your own interest, take a moment now to ask yourself: “If I had to, how would I define binging? What is binge eating?” (And don’t just say overeating! That’s a synonym not a definition.) If you’re judging yourself as having binged or maybe hearing someone else saying they binged, what images does that conjure up and what verbal definition would you apply to that?

Simply put, when the definition of a problem is unclear it’s very difficult to solve it. And, it is highly unlikely that the definition your doctor, partner or parent have for binging is the same as your own. This is a huge part of why it can be so hard to trust that what you’re doing with food is reasonable (or not) and why, among other reasons, you may struggle to feel comfortable in your relationship with food. So let’s explore what binging is and what it isn’t. 

First, let’s explore a few scenarios that may have played out in some similar fashion in your own life:

1. Let’s say you’re really hungry at 2 pm and so you do a great thing for your body and you go and get some food. You’re sitting at your desk at work and someone walks by and makes a comment, something like: “Woah! Who got the munchies?” or “Somebody needed an afternoon snack” or “Giving up on the diet already?” etc.

There you were, innocently feeding your hungry body and someone else who knows nothing of your hunger level or what kinds of things you’ve eaten already that day, makes a comment that implies that there is something wrong with you eating at that time or with what you’ve chosen to have.

If you’re feeling sensitive about your relationship with food or about your weight or just unsure of whether you can trust your own perspective, you will be negatively impacted by this and start to judge yourself for eating at that time, regardless of the reality that you were hungry. Is that binging?

2. How about this one?: What if it’s 2 pm and you’re not really hungry but you can’t stop yourself from grabbing a sugary or carby snack. Whether someone says something or not, the truth is, if you struggle with binging you’re going to feel guilty and shameful because in your own mind you know you weren’t hungry, you know you had something that wasn’t in alignment with your goals for health or weight loss and so you feel out of integrity. And if that same person happens to walk by and say the same thing…“Woah! Who got the munchies?”? Well, that just clinches it and serves to further reinforce your ‘badness.’  Is that binging? What if it was a small chocolate bar? What if it was a small bag of chips? What if it was doughnut or Danish or an Iced Capp? Is that binging?

(For the record, folks who don’t struggle with binging or aren’t stuck in that diet-binge-guilt cycle can have a sugary or carby treat that they aren’t hungry for and not feel guilty or ashamed. They just don’t do it all the time and they naturally adjust their eating for the next meal and wait until they’re hungry to eat and stop when they’re comfortably full. No big deal.)

3. And how about this scenario:  You are out for dinner with a friend. You are famished! You order exactly what you’d like to have (now, I know that if you struggle with dieting and binging you’re not likely to have what you really want, you’ll order what you think others will judge the least, but for the sake of this illustration, go with me on this) and dig in with appropriate gusto given your extreme hunger level. Your ‘friend’ makes a comment about how much you’re eating and how you’d better be careful or you’ll ‘pack on the pounds.’  Are you binging? Are you doing something ‘wrong’?

4. And last, you muster up your courage and go to the doctor to talk about your frustrations with your weight and failed attempts to lose weight or eat a healthier diet.  Your doctor responds with:

  • A lecture about the health risks and your likelihood of developing type II diabetes and/or high cholesterol, and how you really need to stop eating those sugary, carby foods and get more exercise.
  • A suggestion about a diet he or she tried recently or someone they know had success with.
  • A referral to a psychiatrist for medication, or a prescription that they write for you themselves for an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication that is supposed to help you control your appetite and stop you from binging. 

If you struggle with your weight and your doctor is lecturing you or prescribing medication does that mean you binge? (more…)

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How to Stop Binging: The First Simple Steps

How to Stop Binging: The First Simple Steps

 

How to stop Binging, my article from last week, focussed on The Diet-Binge-Guilt cycle: Why we often binge in the first place and began a discussion of how to stop binging for good.

This week I’m going to enhance that discussion with a more detailed exploration of how our intention to limit the kinds (or quantity) of foods we eat can go sideways and, instead of supporting us to achieve our goals and have more self-esteem, our plans, more often than not, actually make us feel more anxious and depressed and more like a failure than we did the day before.

When we’re stuck in this Diet-Binge-Guilt cycle we feel lots of guilt and shame and hopelessness. The last thing we want to do is admit it to anyone, which makes it hard to get help and makes us want to withdraw from people and isolate. This often leads us to have increased social anxiety and insecurity in relationships and to lean even more heavily on those BAD foods to numb and soothe ourselves in order to simply make it through our day. Sound familiar?

My goal is to make sure you have a clear understanding of why it is you binge in the first place and exactly how to stop binging for good; not just for a day or a week, but really, truly, once-and-for-all good. You see, I know you can stop binging for ever because I have (decades ago) and I’ve helped many hundreds of men and women worldwide to stop for good too.

The best part about getting over binging and learning to trust yourself around food is that you now get to enjoy eating whatever you truly want and you no longer feel guilty or ashamed or like you need to exercise like crazy just to lose weight.

When you simply eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, you will naturally lose weight (if you have weight to lose), there will be no need to diet or exercise your way there. Really.

And in order to live in that space (that may sound really impossible to imagine right now) you just need to understand how your thinking and your behaviour is getting in the way of your relationship with food, then you can side-step that whole power struggle once and for all and get on with living life for real and to the fullest.

Last week I explained how our plans for how to eat on any given day seem, on the surface at least, to be well-intended and you believe they will help you achieve your goals of weight loss; feeling in control of food; and feeling better about yourself overall.

Your initial self-commitment of the day may sound something like this:

“I’m not going to eat anything after dinner tonight because if I start I won’t stop and if I don’t binge or snack after dinner tonight I’ll feel lighter and less doped up tomorrow, have less negative self-chatter in my head, and ultimately, if I keep that up, I’ll lose weight and stop being so preoccupied about my body. Then I’ll feel better overall, have more self-esteem, start wanting to have sex with my husband or start dating a great new guy and life will finally be the way it should be.”

That’s definitely a motivating image! Who wouldn’t want that?!!

(more…)

Posted in: and Binging, CEDRIC Centre, Complete Recovery, Tips for Natural Eating, Uncategorized

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How to Stop Binging Part I: Exploring The Diet-Binge-Guilt Cycle

how to stop binging

It isn’t the binge, it’s the diet that’s keeping you stuck in binging behaviour.

 

Have you ever wondered how to stop binging especially when you feel like your urge to binge is so powerful it truly has a life of its own and that no matter how much you know you want to stop binging it just seems to keep happening?

It’s very frustrating to see that night after night, no matter what promises you make to yourself or how you plan your day, you always seem to end up drawn, like the moth to the flame, to the nearest drive thru, local convenience store or perhaps to your own private treat stash.

The lack of follow through on your good intentions to eat well and ‘have a good day’ food wise, has many negative consequences both in the moment and beyond.

For starters, eating more than you are hungry for often adds extra weight to your body. Also the fact that people often overeat foods that are high in carbohydrate and / or refined sugar means that it’s fat we are putting on our body and not muscle mass. Oh, if only we felt drawn to binge on lean protein and veggies rather than on candy and bread. We’d still be overeating but at least the consequence would be less harsh.

 

These consequences that humans experience from binging are both long and short term, and mental and emotional. Some examples are:

a) Being overweight, or at least not your best self physically; perhaps a little more paunchy or jiggley than you might like which can make you feel less confident with others and less comfortable in your own skin and spend your precious life struggling with diets and weight loss plans to compensate.

b) The extreme fluctuations in your mood from the sugar you are ingesting. (Remember that processed carbohydrates like bread, chips, crackers etc. quickly become sugar in your body too, so even if you don’t have a sweet tooth, those savories are impacting you almost exactly as they would if they were candy).

These foods initially trigger a chemical spike in your body that raises your dopamine levels and makes you feel happy and soothed and comforted. (After all, dopamine is known as the feel-good hormone.) Then just as quickly they trigger a compensatory downward spike in your mood as the sugar rush ends, dopamine levels fall, and now you’re depressed, judging yourself, and tired and wanting more.

c) Then there’s the experience of witnessing yourself break yet another promise to yourself. Where is that damn willpower when you need it anyway? How can we be so competent and capable in other areas of our lives and yet seem to completely lack any stamina and follow through whatsoever when it comes to ourselves and what and how much we are eating? (more…)

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Life Mastery Workshop Schedule and Details

Video~Life-Mastery-Workshops~CEDRIC-Centre-Help-for-Eating-Disorders

Life Mastery Workshops – Feb. 22nd to 24th in Vancouver & March 8th to 10th in Victoria, kick off our 2013 Schedule.

If you struggle with behaviour around food and other coping strategies, join us for one of our ‘Master’ Series Intensive 3-day Workshops and learn why you have been stuck in a stressful relationship with food and the steps to take to achieve to maintain a natural weight for your body, for life, without dieting and exercise regimes.  We focus on Mastering Behaviour, Balance and Relationships and empowering you!

See the details below for each of our 3 day events that are sure to change your life forever!

2013 ‘Master Series’ 3-day Weekend Workshop Schedule

(more…)

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New study on Children’s eating habits and adult health

Hi All
I thought you might be interested in this study.

We must always remember correlation doesn’t prove cause. And we must always be open to alternative explanations for our own assumptions and those of researchers.

To me this study is simply supporting what we know- eating well is important for good health.

What suggestions do you think the authors are making about the results of their study?

What conclusions might you draw,
If any?

Press Release 28/01/2014

Poor breakfast in youth linked to metabolic syndrome in adulthood

It is often said that breakfast is important for our health and a study conducted by Umeå University, published in Public Health Nutrition supports this claim.

The study revealed that adolescents who ate poor breakfasts displayed a higher incidence of metabolic syndrome 27 years later, compared with those who ate more substantial breakfasts.

Metabolic syndrome is a collective term for factors that are linked to an increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular disorders. Metabolic syndrome encompasses abdominal obesity, high levels of harmful triglycerides, low levels of protective HDL (High Density Lipoprotein), high blood pressure and high fasting blood glucose levels.

The study asked all students completing year 9 of their schooling in Luleå in 1981 (Northern Swedish Cohort) to answer questions about what they ate for breakfast. 27 years later, the respondents underwent a health check where the presence of metabolic syndrome and its various subcomponents was investigated.

The study shows that the young people who neglected to eat breakfast or ate a poor breakfast had a 68 per cent higher incidence of metabolic syndrome as adults, compared with those who had eaten more substantial breakfasts in their youth. This conclusion was drawn after taking into account socioeconomic factors and other lifestyle habits of the adolescents in question. Abdominal obesity and high levels of fasting blood glucose levels were the subcomponents which, at adult age, could be most clearly linked with poor breakfast in youth.

“Further studies are required for us to be able to understand the mechanisms involved in the connection between poor breakfast and metabolic syndrome, but our results and those of several previous studies suggest that a poor breakfast can have a negative effect on blood sugar regulation,” says Maria Wennberg, the study’s main author.

The study has been conducted by researchers at the Family Medicine Unit within Umeå University’s Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine and has been published in the journal Public Health Nutrition.

This paper is freely available for one month

Notes for Editors
For more information, please contact Maria Wennberg.

Telephone: +46 (0)70-4953230

E-mail: maria.wennberg@umu.se

About the Authors

Maria Wennberg, Per E Gustafsson, Patrik Wennberg and Anne Hammarstro¨m

Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Family Medicine, Umea˚ University, 901 87 Umea˚, Sweden

About The Nutrition Society

The Nutrition Society was established in 1941 ‘to advance the scientific study of nutrition and its application to the maintenance of human and animal health’. Highly regarded by the scientific community, the Society is the largest learned society for nutrition in Europe. Membership is worldwide but most members live in Europe.

Membership is open to those with a genuine interest in the science of human or animal nutrition

For further information about The Nutrition Society, go to: http://www.nutritionsociety.org

About Cambridge Journals

Cambridge University Press publishes over 330 peer-reviewed academic journals across a wide spread of subject areas, in print and online. Many of these journals are the leading academic publications in their fields and together they form one of the most valuable and comprehensive bodies of research available today.

For further information about Cambridge Journals, go to http://journals.cambridge.org

About Cambridge University Press

Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Dedicated to excellence, its purpose is to further the University’s objective of advancing knowledge, education, learning, and research.

Its extensive peer-reviewed publishing lists comprise 45,000 titles covering academic research, professional development, over 330 research journals, school-level education, English language teaching and bible publishing.

Playing a leading role in today’s international market place, Cambridge University Press has over 50 offices around the globe, and it distributes its products to nearly every country in the world.

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Self-compassion is key

Self-Compassion is Key

Self-compassion is key to your self-esteem, confidence, and happiness in all areas of your life. No exceptions – you can’t fake it to yourself or to others.

Try this little exercise and then read on to help yourself explore your feelings and thoughts about self-compassion.

Notice what resistance may be arising to this notion; just do your best to allow those feelings, while being aware of any resistance you may be experiencing. Let it be okay to feel what you feel.

And as you are allowing the resistance and the feelings of fear and doubt, know that what you are really doing is being compassionate with yourself.

This is the key to never again needing to use food to cope.

If there is any resistance in you to the thought of offering yourself self-compassion, ask what you did to deserve to be treated with such disregard and negativity. Whatever the answer, could you just allow yourself to feel as deserving of self-harm as you do? Just sit for a moment and allow yourself to feel as deserving of pain, suffering, and all the grim things you have in your life. You’ve been telling yourself for years that there is something wrong with you and that you’re not acceptable as your are or worthy of love and care. Let yourself really let go and wallow in that thought for a moment. 

Do you notice the resistance? If you’re so undeserving of that love and acceptance that you seek (and everyone else seeks too by the way) why are you resisting that story?

Because some part of you doesn’t think it’s really true! Some part of you doesn’t really think that you’re so undeserving, just that you haven’t yet found the right people/person to love you. Why not give that part of yourself a little air time and let it offer you some thoughts about what is good about you – regardless of whether others see it or not. You know that there is something in you that is competent and worthy, loving and loveable – you just fear, because of past experiences and because of your confused thinking, that you’ll never be seen for the loving, amazing person you really are.

And sweetheart, that’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophesy if you don’t challenge yourself to learn to think rationally and to feel and express confidence in yourself regardless of what others think and feel. That is the true secret to self-esteem and loving, passionate, fulfilling relationships. Don’t wait for someone else to see your worth – see it in yourself and shout it from the rooftops – or at least from your balcony! Then watch as the people around you see it too.

Life is backwards and very ironic sometimes – but it works if you’re thinking clearly. You can create a life for yourself that is peaceful and passionate, fulfilling and enjoyable; a life that has a natural flow or groove to it, rather than that same old rut you’ve been living in.

I can help. Reach out and see how simple and speedy change can be.

Now could you let it be okay to offer yourself compassion and love? Even for a moment?
If so – go for it – enjoy.
If not, what are the thoughts that pop into your head that prevent you from just allowing compassion and love for yourself?
What is wrong with you? What do you have to do, be, or have before you can be deserving of self-compassion and self-love?

Really?
Says who?

Let me help set you straight.

Love Michelle
mmorand@cedriccentre.com

Posted in: CEDRIC Centre

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Alexithymia: The Inability to Really Feel Feelings

Alexithymia: The Inability to Really Feel Feelings

Now bear with me here. I’m going to take you on a bit of a journey in order to explain a very important part of your recovery process. If you were sitting in my office I’d be leaning over and beginning to draw a diagram on my white board to illustrate this piece of information and you’d be laughing at my poor artistic ability. But since we’re not face to face right now and the computer won’t draw what I’d like it to I’m going to do my best to explain it, hence I ask for your patience.

A study was conducted by psychologists about 15 years ago that looked at childhood experiences of trauma (physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional and verbal abuse, and neglect) and the later development of disordered eating behaviours. What they were looking at was to uncover what the mediating factors were that lead someone with childhood trauma experience to later develop an eating disorder. And what they discovered was that it was a condition called Alexithymia that came hand in hand with depression and the two supported the development of disordered eating on any level.

Alexithymia is characterized by:

(a)  difficulty in identifying and describing feelings in self or other,
(b) difficulty in distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations associated with emotional arousal,
(c) restricted imaginative processes (few positive dreams or fantasies – can have frequent intrusive ideation*), and
(d) thinking that is concrete and reality based.

[Hendryx, Haviland, & Shaw, 1991; Taylor, Bagby, Ryan, & Parker, 1990]

In other words, Alexithymia makes it really hard for us to know what we are feeling or even if we are having a feeling. It makes it difficult for us to tell whether the sensation we think we’re having is physical or emotional. It makes it difficult for us to dream or imagine positive, fun things. And we get stuck in very concrete “logical” thinking which can make us rigid, most often with ourselves.

The good news is that you can learn to distinguish what you’re feeling and move through that feeling very quickly. Even better news is that in order to be able to let go of what you’re feeling you don’t even have to know where the feeling came from.

Since you’ve very likely been distanced from awareness of your feelings since childhood you may feel some resistance to connecting with them again. You may believe that there will be a great big back log of feelings that will sweep in and overpower you if you were to open the door. That’s just your drill sergeant (otherwise known as your ego) trying to maintain the status quo. He knows that if you begin to connect with your authentic feelings in the moment and learn how to effectively release them you’re going to become more powerful and competent at taking care of yourself than he’s ever been.

Now, again, if you’ve lived your life disconnected from your feelings for the most part you are very likely wondering what the value of being connected to them would be – in fact your Drill Sgt. (a.k.a. your inner critic) may be saying something like: Feelings make you weak; Other people won’t respect you if you let your feelings show; I’m just a cry baby if I can’t control my feelings; etc.

Check in with yourself for a moment and ask yourself where in the past may you have either heard those very words spoken or witnessed  significant people in your life modeling the behaviour of stuffing and discounting or denying their feelings? See, you come by it honestly. Now ask yourself, who in your past would you say was a relatively consistent fixture in your life who modeled the healthy and open expression of emotion and the good solid self-esteem to not be deterred from respectfully expressing their sadness or fear or frustration and hurt no matter what judgement others put forth?  Most likely the answer is a big fat goose egg.

So, cut yourself some slack. If most of your role models for how to be in the world modeled being shut down or overreacting and being scary or withdrawn how can you expect yourself to know how to appropriately feel and express emotions? You can’t. But you can learn now. And when you do, everything will be sooooo much easier in every aspect of your life, guaranteed.

But back to where you are now:

The experience of Alexithymia is what leads us to discount and deny our life experience now.

Have you ever had the experience of suddenly feeling totally overwhelmed, you are certain you’re overreacting and in addition to feeling emotional you’re judging and berating yourself for feeling emotional? You’re certain there is nothing going on in your life to justify you reacting so strongly in that moment. Does that experience sound familiar?

I assure you that if you were sitting in my office recounting a recent experience like that we would be able to put our finger on the underlying trigger(s) within moments – and it wouldn’t be me spoon feeding or forcing those thoughts on you – you would be able to list for me quite clearly all the things that are going on in your life right now, issues with work, home, relationship with others, food and body image would of course be right up there on the list, issues with money, and others would all appear from within you and be highlighted for you to see up on my fabulous white board. At which point you would look at me and say, wow, I guess I do have a lot going on, no wonder why I feel so overwhelmed right now.

At which point I (having brilliantly left enough space at the side and at the bottom of my white board) begin to draw the following.

(Okay, bear with me, I’m drawing a mountain. Just trust me on that.)

So, you’re looking at your list of things that are going on in your life and you’re also seeing a mountain off to the right. This is what I call your “mountain of unfinished business.” It’s all the past experiences that feel unresolved, all the feelings that have been left unexpressed, all the stored trauma and pain of your life to whatever extent it exists is there. At the beginning of the recovery process most people (unless they’ve done a fair amount of therapy or self-work already) have a pretty big mountain of unfinished business. Relax, you don’t have to deal with every thing on your mountain in order for it to dissolve. The solution is much more simple than that. 

Then down at the bottom of the page I draw this:

 

1                                                  5                                            10 …maximum overload

 

I call this your stress threshold scale.

Now let’s say you’re a lucky guy or gal and you experienced minimal trauma as a child, you were taught to have clear and strong boundaries, good self-esteem and you deal with things in the moment as they arise and you have little or no unfinished business in your life (I think there are 5 people like that on the planet.)

If this is you, you wake up every morning and your stress level from every day demands and life events is at about a 2 (probably higher in our society but let’s think the best).

So, if 10 is the point on the stress scale where you get pushed into harming yourself with some unhelpful coping strategy (binging, self-judgement, restricting, drinking etc.), some pretty big events would have to happen all on the same day to max you out.

And because of your self-esteem you would have the self-care skills to be able to attend to yourself before you got to that place anyway barring major ecological disaster. 

But let’s say you’re you. And you’ve got a mountain of unfinished biz.

That means you start the day, before you’ve even got out of bed (here’s where that permeating level of anxiety comes from) at a stress level of 6 (and I’m being generous here – for some of you it may be more realistic to say you’re starting the day at an 9). You know who you are – you wake up feeling anxious and you haven’t even got out of bed yet.

You know what your self-esteem is like and how quickly you rush to take responsibility for everything, including other people’s needs and feelings. Just stepping out your front door is a big deal some days when you’re feeling focused on your body in a negative way and certainly a sideways glance, whether truly directed at you or not, is enough to add a few more points to your stress level. An issue or two with the kids or with work or the car or money or your partner or friend or parent and where are you?

You’re at about a 25 on the scale of 1 – 10.

And you didn’t even realize that you were feeling anything until you suddenly break down crying or you develop a killer migraine or you begin to get very short and tense with everyone or you find that you’ve just eaten an entire box of cookies or all of the above. Even then, the Alexithymia would make it hard for you to appreciate that you had any “good” reason for doing what you’ve done. Your Drill Sergeant will go to town on you, adding to your stress level and before you know it you’re eating again or having terrible thoughts about your body.

So, the unfinished business, plus the disconnect from your feelings that comes from Alexithymia sets you up for overload day after day. Until you begin to acknowledge and validate how much you’ve got going on and begin to develop some strategies for lightening your load (past and present) you will continue to need food to cope (or whatever seems to be your current coping strategy of choice…isolation, anger, internet, t.v., procrastination, shopping, alcohol etc.), in whatever way you use it currently it will remain because it’s the only way you get release.

If you’ve been exploring The CEDRIC Method for a few weeks you’ve likely noticed a lessening of your use of your coping strategy as you have begun to see your underlying stressors more clearly and respond to them more appropriately.

I could go on for hours here because there is so much to say about this point – wait for the book! Two things I want to add:

1. If you read this and said: I wasn’t “abused”; or what happened to me wasn’t that bad; or my parents did the best they could I just have to get over it. Yes your parents did the best they could and I’m not about blaming them – for me assigning responsibility to parents or caregivers for the appropriate and healthy care of a child is not blame. And the only reason I attend to that time in your life is not to blame ma and pa but to support your awareness that there is a legitimate reason for why you are the way you are and for why you do what you do – so your Drill Sergeant will ease up on you, which you deserve, and you can have the space to start to learn to do things differently.  

About the abuse part, the study I mentioned above discovered that the form of abuse that impacted children the most wasn’t physical or sexual – although they had a profound impact on one’s locus of control and self-esteem – it was actually the emotional abuse and neglect that had the most dramatic and lingering impact. This is stuff like “the silent treatment” or withdrawal of love and affection as punishment (This is truly traumatic to a child – nasty stuff, which naturally leads to great anxiety and insecurity and doubt about your loveability, acceptability and worth as a human being). In the section in my book: ‘Food is not the Problem: Deal With What Is!’ on healthy vs. unhealthy relationships you’ll get more information on this.

Intrusive Ideation:

2. In case you haven’t heard of it before, Intrusive Ideation is a thought pattern – borne out of trauma (such as the silent treatment, ostracism and rejection as a child) and a key component of post traumatic stress disorder.

It is a state of mind where you receive a message that your partner is going fishing and before you know it you’re imagining him falling out of the boat, drowning, you feel the sensations of pain and suffering, his panic, your loss and grief, you imagine calling his family to notify them – who first and how to tell them, the funeral, the bills, how you’ll feel what you’ll wear and say and do and ultimately how you’ll cope.

Now your partner has just gone fishing and he’s having a great time – but you’re traumatized and feeling anxiety – you’ve just lived his death very vividly. And depending on where you’re at you may have these experiences countless times a day – where really everything is just fine but you’re taking yourself on a journey to hell with these intrusive fantasies about death and abuse and suffering.

The worst case scenario of every event you and your loved ones experience gets played out before you and you feel it, you live it – and that adds to your stress level for sure. This pattern comes from a misdirected attempt at being in control and prepared for any eventuality, often borne from a time in our lives when we needed to be able to foresee potential worst-case-scenario outcomes and protect ourselves from them, because at one time in our lives those things were happening. You no longer need that kind of thinking or those contingency plans to keep yourself safe.

You really harm yourself in continuing to think that way because not only are you feeling anxious and overwhelmed when you don’t need to be but you’re also consistently taking yourself out of the present moment where your really are safe and in control and instead re-creating that feeling of panic, trauma and powerlessness.

If you’d like to learn more about how to overcome these patterns of alexithymia or intrusive ideation and let go of the mountain of unfinished business in your life, please reach out and I will help you figure out the approach that is truly best for you.

Remember change can be fast and simple when you’re using simple tools that work. 

Love Michelle

 

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Katharine’s Story of Recovery from Dieting and Binging

Katharine’s Story

This is the story of my client Katharine’s*recovery from dieting and binging. Katharine came to me for support after struggling for years with dieting and restriction and binging.

Her vicious cycle with food had triggered consistent and painful sensations in her stomach every time she ate, or even thought about eating, and it was therefore very difficult for her to trust when she was really hungry and to feel safe eating anything at all.

As I heard a bit more about her story and life experience overall it seemed likely that much of Katharine’s stressful tummy trouble was triggered by the perfect storm of stress and binging (which happens to be my area of expertise). I mentioned my hypothesis to Katharine but also that we couldn’t know for sure until she was able to eat naturally (wait until she was hungry, stop when full, have everything in moderation) and we could see what symptoms were left then.

At the beginning or our work together Katharine was naturally quite anxious about food and quite despairing of finding a solution given her years of struggling. After 10 individual sessions and one 3-day live event, she was able to step free. The whole process took her 2 1/2 months. 

Katharine’s Feedback:

“When I decided to sign up for Michelle’s workshop, I was ready to do just about anything and everything to CHANGE my relationship with food. After having read Michelle’s book and seen her a handful of times, I was at a point where I felt more conscious than ever about what was going on with me but I did not truly know what I could do to change it.

The workshop was the catalyst into real change. Knowing I had the entire weekend just to focus and work on this very real vital problem openly and honestly with professional guidance and with a group of wonderful people that have astonishingly similar stories to myself was, in and of itself, therapeutic. The brilliance of having such an intense and long period of time, is not only that you get to learn and practice the tools in real time, but also that you can come back with real life obstacles you encountered from the evening prior. This is invaluable because you can really begin to question certain things you do/think/feel that you might completely not see. And, since you are in a compassionate and supportive climate, you learn how to handle such personal revelations healthfully.

I had a few “aha moments” throughout the workshop that built upon each other over the course of the three days and it still amazes me how we all could get so personal and so deep about such sensitive issues in that group context. I exaggerate not when I say that this workshop truly changed my life. I have increasing awareness and compassion for myself in so many areas of my life ever since meeting Michelle, and while it might make you cringe in the short term to have to jump into three days of discussing some very difficult and painful subjects, the long-term gains are beyond priceless.

THANK YOU MICHELLE and LOVE and COURAGE to all those struggling with using food to cope. There is a light at the end of the tunnel: we are human and that means, by our very nature, WE CAN CHANGE!”

Thank you Katharine!

Naturally I’m thrilled that this was her experience and that her life overall is so much more peaceful and enjoyable.

That is my goal as a counsellor and my purpose in creating the CEDRIC Method and all the resources and programs that we offer.  Her experience is not unusual, it is  not an exception – and neither are you! If you’d like things to be different in your life – fast – reach out, tell me a bit about yourself and together we’ll put together a plan that will meet you where you’re at and take you where you want to go. Change is possible, and it can be fast when you’re using tools that work!

Michelle

 

*Name has been changed to respect the client’s privacy and this feedback has been presented with their approval. Her written portion, in quotations, is exactly as she sent it to me.

Posted in: and Binging, Anorexia and Bulimia, CEDRIC Centre, Complete Recovery, Relationship with Food, Relationship with Self, Tips for Natural Eating, workshops

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