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CEDRIC Client Q and A

CEDRIC Client Q and  AHi Michelle, I have been struggling with my back for about 2 years now, even though I have been exercising lots. There could be a few reasons for this, one of them being my weight. I have lost about 20 lbs this year, but am still over 200 lbs and still at the heavier end of my normal weight. I would like to lose some more weight (hopefully at a quicker rate than 20lbs over 9 months) to alleviate the pain in my back but I am scared to get sucked into a diet mentality. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks, N Hi N. This is a great question and it’s very exciting that you’re asking it because it implies so much about how far along you are in your healing. Any of us who have gained weight as a result of our use of food to cope need to ask this question at some point in our recovery. We naturally want to lose weight and we know that some change to our intake of food needs to happen in order for that weight loss to occur. We also know that it was dieting and restriction around food that led to things getting so out of hand in the first place, so we’re understandably petrified, stuck, procrastinating on doing anything. The key is to be clear in yourself that you’re wanting to make these changes to your food intake (quantity and quality) because you care about yourself from a health and overall wellness perspective first and an appearance perspective second. (more…)

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Be Your Own Valentine!

Be Your Own Valentine!It’s almost Valentine’s day! Those of you in a loving partnership are probably quite excited at the prospect of some romance with your sweetheart. Those of you in a troubled or distant relationship are probably feeling some sense of longing and you may be hoping that this special day will bring you closer together. Those of you in no partnership at all are probably in one of two camps: Camp 1, you have a solid love relationship with yourself and so you’re excited at the prospect of treating yourself to some fabulous things as an expression of your self-love. Or Camp 2, you’re anxious and annoyed that this day even exists and wish that you could just skip it – that the world could just forget about it and then you wouldn’t have to feel so lonely and be reminded, yet again, that you have not yet found that special someone. This article is for you number 2’s! It is also for any of the rest of you who would like to enhance your relationship with yourself and in so doing, strengthen all your connections with others – you see, the greater your self-esteem and self-love, the easier all of your relationships become because you are more solid and grounded and respecting of yourself; you’re also more solid and grounded with others within your relationships. Below are ten suggestions of things you can do to really show yourself that you love and care for you; to show yourself that you believe you are worthy of love and connection even if you haven’t yet found that special someone. Even if you and your sweetheart are experiencing some distance right now, this is applicable. If you’d like to enhance your relationship with yourself, consider committing to following through with at least one of the suggestions for yourself. While you’re working on this, offer yourself this mantra: “I am worthy of love and approval. I offer myself love and approval for no reason at all, just because I exist.” Top Ten List of Things You Can Do To Love Yourself (more…)

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Self Love

Self Love Perhaps I am not the best person to be writing on relationships today. My own ‘life’ partnership ended last week. Actually, it ended in the summer, it just spent the fall and winter decaying and last week turned to dust. No, I’m probably not the best person to be writing on relationships; not if you would like to hear something about how the knowledge and wisdom I have about relationships and self-awareness means that I never have problems in my romantic partnership or how, because I no longer struggle with food and weight issues, everything is always hunky dory in my world. Don’t we all carry those fantasies somewhere within: That everything will be great if I could only get a grip on my food and my weight? I certainly did. I absolutely believed that the only thing standing between me and absolute bliss was my weight. Well…..not quite. You see, my weight and my binging behaviour were only the outer manifestations of my inner turmoil. (more…)

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Tina’s Relationship with Self: The Drill Sergeant Within

Tina's Relationship with SelfI think that the CEDRIC philosophy works because it is based on good common sense. Our February theme for the Blog and Newsletter is ‘relationships' and in keeping with this all important theme I'm addressing an important relationship with myself . It is vital for us to build a sound relationship with ourselves as well as looking at our relationships with others. Here is a bit of sharing about how I have dealt with my relationship with myself where my 'inner critic' or 'drill sergeant' is concerned. The one component of CEDRIC teachings that rings most true with me at this part of my process is the ‘drill sergeant'. The negative voice that used to taunt me constantly when I was in my weakest hours is quieter now that I have done the work that is necessary to allow myself more nurturing and respect from within, but the change required some effort. That endless negative commentary in the back of our heads wants us to think that it is echoing the conclusions of all who you come in contact with. If you are a person given to worrying about what other's think, it can really get a good hold of your psyche and be leveling when it comes to our trying to remain strong and grounded and take good care of ourselves.

Core Beliefs and the Drill Sergeant - What a relationship there!

When I first began my work at quieting the drill sergeant within, I had to look at the foundation of my self-esteem because that's where the good old Drill Sgt. gets all his material! Core beliefs are just that because they form the nucleus of who we are. What I've learned from exploring the CEDRIC Centre's approach to healing is that most of us who find that life stress sends us running to food to cope have been unconsciously buying into harmful old Core Beliefs. Those beliefs were often imposed on us by people in our past who were responsible for our maturation and development, and we unwittingly accepted those imposed beliefs as law without questioning them and their validity. As children that's impossible to expect of ourselves, we just don't have the awhem with a set of Core Beliefs that accurately portray who we are now.areness, but as adults, we can revisit those old stories we're still carrying and, if we choose, replace them. Imagine driving a car based on what we've been told what others think about driving rather than learning the nuts and bolts of where the ignition is, what the steering wheel does. If we are simply told what to think about driving and then given the keys, we would still be at a loss as to how to make the car function, yet in our daily lives, we accept imposed beliefs much more vital than the information on how vehicles function, as gospel, and then try to function in our lives, basing everything on those old stories. It doesn't work. In my case, I would let that rude drill sergeant berate me about my inability to cope, which made me feel weak, made me tend to falter and before I knew it, that diminishing judgment had become a self-fulfilling prophecy and I would seek to self-anesthetize to keep from feeling like even more of a failure. There's an old maxim I once found in a tea box that was affixed to my fridge door for years. It says ‘If you do what you always done, you get what you always got'. I have learned that this applies so well to the healing process around binging, restricting, purging, drinking and any other form of coping. The CEDRIC program really helps me see that awareness is not enough. While it is a key component of healing, awareness of the problem without new tools for how to deal with it is often more harmful than good because it exposes our pain without showing us how to move through it. Tools for change and the support to change have to be a part of the process we undergo or we wind up spinning our wheels and never achieving a life that is free from thinking one needs escapes at all costs such as eating disorders. So I embraced a bit of change by letting myself become open to new ideas. By addressing my core beliefs, restructuring them to serve me rather than those who were once trying to impose a set of beliefs that would inflict their control upon me, a wondrous thing has happened. I've developed a healthy drill sergeant. In fact, the voice inside me now is so distant from the drill sergeant it is hard to believe it was ever disrespectful or diminishing. The voice I hear inside most of the time now, is not even vaguely related to that judgmental, authoritarian sapper of esteem it once was. Now that I'm clear about what I want to believe about myself; what I know to be true, I have made peace with that harsh internal critic and it's as if this has caused my ‘Drill Sergeant' to turn over a new leaf too. In fact, I was thinking that it's not really descriptive of my internal dialogue to refer to it as such a corporal entity when now my inner voice is one of self-support and nurturing. Sure, when I am feeling overwhelmed, I might try to impose that ‘Drill Sergeant' upon myself as a knee jerk response because that was my prior way of coping, and an old, ingrained habit, but I now recognize the red flag like it's a belled cat and I'm a mouse determined to survive. I head that internal emotional vampire off at the pass, replacing it with my kinder, more benevolent TRUE inner voice, the one that reflects my thoughts and principles TODAY. Hurray! My following this practical philosophy has helped me to become aware of a powerful coping skill that I never knew I had. My natural, healthy internal voice is there now to protect me from external challenges and threats, and if I start hearing more from that critical Drill Sgt. I take it as a sign that I am being triggered by something and need to look at what is going on in my life that might be making me feel fearful or threatened. I really don't have the time or inclination to allow myself to hang out in that scared child place any more and so instead of falling back to my old responses I now acknowledge that I must be dealing with stressors which have put me at the limits of my capacity to cope. My new self quickly interrogates that traitorous internal voice immediately, replacing it with an internal dialogue that mirrors what a good friend's perspective might be on the situation. In Michelle's article, she asks us to explore the foundation, the origin of our beliefs. If I start feeling unimportant, rejected, abandoned, self critical, un-loveable or challenged in my capacity to function, I've learned that I need to take steps to change my response. Those steps include self nurturing and grounding myself by bringing myself into this moment and reminding myself of what I know about myself that I like and admire. Sometimes I do something I know I'm inherently good at. I knit and always have a project on the go, and five minutes alone with it usually reverts my insecure mindset back to a grounded, confident one. I invite you to look at restructuring your Core Beliefs so that they address you now, and as a result, can support you in your healing process. So how about starting with baby steps? Set yourself the intention to have a red flag raise in your mind when you hear the internalized litany of negativity that questions your process or your worth as a human being. Become more aware of that old Drill Sgt. so that you can gently but firmly challenge his old stories and let them go, once and for all. It's a solution that is helping me to make big changes in my life, and I hope that in some small way, reading my experience helps you as well. Namaste, Tina Budeweit-Weeks CEDRIC Web Correspondent

Tina Budeweit-Weeks is a member of the CEDRIC Success Team in the role of staff writer and executive assistant for Michelle Morand. Her philosophy has always been one of self-nurturance and dignity. In support of the complex difficulties clients may experience around regaining a healthy balance, Tina’s writing is designed to sympathize, support, encourage and inform. Although there are many similarities in Tina’s process, she is not a client, but a hard working, behind-the-scenes member of the team, dedicated to helping the CEDRIC Centre stay current and effective.

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Helpful Tips for a Food-Stress Free Holiday Season

Are you eager to make it through the holidays without succumbing to the stresses of the season, without feeling restricted and without overeating and gaining weight? If you’re a natural eater then the holidays are nothing special in terms of the abundance of food and the treats that are unique to this time of year. If you’re someone who would define themselves as having to “watch their weight” or who has a stressful relationship with food, the holidays can be a particularly stressful time. Learning how to navigate stress without losing your grip on healthy eating is fundamental to enjoying the holidays fully and freely. The easiest way to make this your reality is to educate yourself on the ways that you might get tripped up in your use of food to cope this Christmas season and to have clear and effective strategies for turning yourself into a natural eater rather than a mindless eater. Natural Eating means eating in response to the natural signals of hunger and fullness from our body and overall making choices that lead to a state of optimum health and wellness. If you eat naturally you have no genuine cause for concern about gaining weight or being a weight that is higher than your natural body weight at any time of year. If you’re a natural eater you feel safe being around any kind of food in any quantity any time because you know that you will:
  • Eat when you’re hungry;
  • Stop when you’re full;
  • Make honoring choices the majority of the time (choices that enhance your health and overall wellbeing);
  • And make choices to have the processed and refined treats that abound at this time of year in moderation.
That’s the natural eater’s experience of the holidays’ they’re not big deal. Now for those of us who struggle with food and weight issues, that feels like some sort of fantasy and certainly seems far removed from how we currently approach food. Those of us who feel stressed about food and weight would say that the following criteria represent us more closely than those of the Natural Eater:
  • We feel controlled by food
  • We feel guilt and judgement from within for eating certain kinds of foods and certain quantities.
  • We feel compelled to restrict certain kinds of food (Whether we’re actually successful in that restriction or not, we certainly do try!).
  • We may count calories, points, grams of this and that, but whatever we use as the determining factor for what to eat and when to eat it is not whether we’re hungry and whether we’re full. Thus we often find that we come away from meals feeling unsatisfied either because we’ve overeaten or we’ve restricted.
  • Often our choices about what to eat are not at all coming from a place of what is the healthiest choice but what has the least fat/caloric/sugar content. This means that instead of having a small piece of something that is a relatively healthy choice (like good quality dark chocolate or a homemade piece of pie for example) we’ll have something that is filled with preservatives and chemicals that our body can’t digest because it’s got no fat or no calories. The irony of that circumstance being that it’s the chemical laden foods that often lead us to overeat because of the chemical reaction they trigger in our body and it is those foods that typically lead us to put on fat as our body works to protect itself from the toxins that are in those foods and in so doing, stores the harmful chemicals within protective fat cells which are then sent as far away from any key organs as possible. This is why there are more fat cells around our middle, our hips, thighs, buttocks and why those are the places we’re likely to add a few extra pounds – they’re the safest locations to store the toxins that we’ve just ingested in the name of weight loss and “health.”
The most important thing to keep in mind about food and the holidays is that if you’re eating and you’re not hungry there is always a valid reason for you doing so. It’s got nothing to do with you lacking willpower or being lazy or not caring enough about yourself. To read more of this article and to register for our free question and answer conference call follow this link:

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Holidays: Like ’em or Lump ’em?

Hello out there in the CEDRIC community. Okay! Is anyone other than me excited with the change in the season!? I love the fall! It’s fresh and crisp and often sunny-ish where I live. Its coming signals the start of the holiday run, with Thanksgiving and Halloween and Christmas and of course New Year’s Eve all on their way. If you don’t use food to cope these are fabulous times where you’re totally present and enjoying the company of the people around you, or even enjoying your own company immensely and in a life-enhancing way (ie. not with food, drugs, alcohol, isolation, procrastination, over-exercise, anger, self-harm, shopping….etc.). However, if you do use food to cope, this time of year can be extremely stressful.

Holidays, The Abundant Food and Your Weight

I want to invite you to consider something for a moment: How you feel about the holidays tells you a lot about where you’re at in your recovery and in your personal growth on the whole. Just as summer can be stressful for those of us who struggle with food and body image focus, because we’re forced to wear less or stand out like a sore thumb, not to mention sweat to death; the holiday stretch (as I call it) can be equally or more stressful. This is because it forces us into conscious awareness of each of the 3 key issues that we deal with in recovery: Our relationship with food; Our relationship with others; and Our relationship with Ourselves (a.k.a. our self-perception or level of self-esteem). Ugh! One is bad enough – but the 3 all together – and not just once but a few times in 2 months – that’s just unfair!!! If we overeat, restrict or purge as part of our day to day lives, we are going to feel a lot of stress just thinking about the food and family combo – let alone the issue of what the hell to wear!! Did I say Ugh already!? This used to be a very stressful time for me – darn it all – any time used to be stressful for me. I overate like the dickens, hated myself, thought I was worthless, felt less-than anyone else and like they were only talking to me or being my “friend” because they felt sorry for me. I felt like no one really knew me and so any family or party gatherings were so forced and phony to me and I felt so gross and fat and ugly…..I’d just go home, binge, beat myself up verbally, restrict, force myself to go to the gym, go home and overeat again! Need I say more? Not my favorite time of year at that time in my life! I used to believe, with all my heart, that the reason I felt so gross and so unacceptable was because of what I weighed, which, of course, was a direct result of what I ate. Thus, the culprit, the architect of all my woes, was food. If I could only get a handle on what I ate (for more than 5 minutes!) I would finally be happy, peaceful, free and acceptable. Life would be grand. The only problemo with this perfect plan was that because I needed food to cope and I was totally stressed just stepping out my front door, I couldn’t do anything to change my overeating/purging/restriction cycle (also known as the: Diet – Binge – Guilt Cycle). I was stuck. I felt like a total failure. I knew what I had to do, why the heck couldn’t I just do it? Was I too lazy? Didn’t I have enough willpower? Didn’t I care enough about myself? Was I always going to be overweight and hate myself? Should I just give up and get it over with and stay home and eat and gain 800 pounds!? What’s the use, I would wonder, daily, countless times. You can imagine how energized, enthused and optimistic I felt with these thoughts on constant repeat in my head! Well, the truth is, as long as I, or anyone else for that matter, was focused on food as the problem to be remedied I was going to be stuck. It’s like putting all of your efforts into bailing a leaky row boat without ever taking the time to see if you can find the source of the leak, or, to be more precise; without ever realizing that the water in the boat is coming from somewhere! Now that’s living with some serious blinders on! Think about it. Don’t we do that with food? Don’t we just focus on what we’re eating and how fat we are and how unacceptable our bodies are? Isn’t that like bailing the row boat without even considering that there is a source to the leak? Um….Yeah! Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that our food choices have no impact on our weight. What I am saying though is that if you have put effort into changing or controlling your food choices and you’re still struggling with food and body image issues, there’s a hole in the boat somewhere – guaranteed! Your efforts are far better spent looking for the hole for a little bit so that the next time you start bailing the water will not come back – ever. Oh, but the diet industry has taught us not to look for the leak, or certainly not to look too deeply. It’s about our poor moral fibre you see. We lack commitment, we lack strength, we lack willpower, we lack vision. Uh, huh, right. Think about it. How much commitment does it take to try the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over again for years even though it doesn’t provide the results it says it will? Isn’t that about the greatest sign of faith and commitment any human being can provide? Yes. And haven’t you done that with all the various diet plans and attempts at weight loss that you’ve made? Yes. And what have they all had in common? They all focus on food first. They all focus on the water in the boat without ever exploring fully the source of the leak. That approach will never be successful. It’s that simple. Find the leak, patch the leak, then bail the water. Soon you have a dry and fully functioning boat. Or for our purposes, a healthy, vibrant body that is a natural weight for you. Our holiday stress, to the degree that we experience it, tells us how much we are still focused on the bailing vs. patching the leak. If I’m stressed about seeing certain people, wearing certain things, or being around certain types or quantities of food, I’m still focused on the symptom of the problem and not the solution. My stress about seeing certain people tells me I have unfinished business with them and that I don’t feel confident and secure enough in myself to take care of myself verbally and emotionally, maybe even physically, in their presence. This is an indicator of a need to do some healing around your self-perception and your right and ability to set clear boundaries and to uphold them if they are pressed. It also indicates a need for some skills on respectful, direct, clear communication. My stress about wearing certain things or having to buy new clothes etc. tells me that I still think that what wear or what I look like in it, is a prime determinant of my worth and my acceptability and that people are going to be more focused on how I look than on who I am. This is a solid indicator of a strong external locus of control, where I am more concerned with others perspectives of me than I am with my own loving and valuing of myself as a deserving and worthwhile person. It also indicates that I believe that I will only be safe in social situations when I look a certain way and gain the approval of others. Here we have a strong need for tools to build a solid sense of our own values and principles and to know that as long as we are abiding fully by our own values and principles we truly don’t care what others think – we are doing our very best and we know it. But without this solid core we feel rudderless and constantly second guess how we’re doing and look to others to provide us with their interpretation of our “okay-ness.” Very dangerous stuff: turning our self-esteem over to someone else. And lastly, my stress about food: what’s going to be served; how much of it I’m “allowed” to have; how do I say no without standing out or offending; or conversely, how do I eat all the Nanaimo bars without anyone noticing??? If this is my focus I am in desperate need of the tools of natural eating where I have learned to eat when I’m hungry, stop when I’m full, everything in moderation, no guilt, no negative self-talk all leading to a peaceful and easy connection with food and a natural weight loss that is easily sustainable. So, the things you wonder or worry or outright panic about over the holidays will tell you a lot about where you’re at in your healing and what pieces of the process you need to focus on to cement your recovery. Take advantage of your awareness of the stories in your head these days about the upcoming festivities to ask yourself if perhaps some of the tools I’ve mentioned above might be helpful. And if so, get started on the healing process so that next season, if not this one, can be truly peaceful and fun and so relaxing you’ll wish it was time for a big gathering and feast every day! If you’d like some support or some new tools in your tool kit contact us and let us show you how to have a peaceful and free time with food and body image over the holidays and beyond.     Love M. Michelle Morand P.S. I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts on holidays, food, and the whole enchilada, or pumpkin pie as it were! e-mail me @ and please know that unless you request otherwise your thoughts will be shared anonymously as a follow up to this article. Have a great day.

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Alcohol and Drugs as Coping Strategies

Alcohol and drugs as coping strategies are right up there together with Eating Disorders as among the most life-threatening, harmful ways to deal with life. The definition of a coping strategy is: Any thought, feeling or behaviour that allows us to remain in an uncomfortable situation without being aware of how uncomfortable we are.

It’s clear, from that definition, that food, alcohol and drugs can fit the bill.

Now to be fair, food, alcohol and some drugs also have their place in a healthy, balanced life.  Obviously we need to eat to live – and, while they’re fine in moderation, we don’t need doughnuts and certainly not 12 of them at once. Likewise, not permitting our body to have the nutrients it requires to keep us in optimum health isn’t serving us either.

A drink every now and then at a special function or social gathering is no big deal, even if we’re doing it to loosen up a little.Needing to drink in order to go to a function, or drinking on a daily basis, or drinking to get drunk is definitely a sign of coping rather than balance.

And sometimes we do need prescription drugs to deal with chemical imbalances or other concerns.  The body is a complex organism and sometimes certain things don’t work the way they should. I encourage you to release any shame or judgement you may be carrying toward yourself for needing any sort of medication to deal with something that our body needs help to do naturally. Where drugs become a problem is when:

  1. There is a natural remedy or solution that will resolve the problem entirely but we choose drugs and thus have a bandaid solution rather than a true healing. Often but certainly not always (see above) Anti-depressants and Anti-anxiety medications fit this category: In these cases there is a valid reason for you to feel anxious and depressed and until that underlying reason is resolved the depression and anxiety won’t go away, it will only be masked by the medication. In these cases it is imperative that you identify and resolve the underlying trigger so that you are then free to choose when and if to come off your medication and to see that you can now handle stress without becoming anxious or depressed.
  2. We use them to numb out to stressful life events (whether in the past, the present or anticipated future stresses).

Certain kinds of drugs make us want to eat when we’re not hungry.  Others make us forget that we even have a body and send us into orbit where, for days, we can completely tune out to any signals of hunger we may be receiving. Others still, make us feel so queasy or unsettled in the various stages of getting high and coming down that we don’t want to eat because we don’t trust we could keep it down. Or we feel drawn to eat foods that are high in sugar and fat content but low in any nutrient value just to shut our body up so that we can keep on drinking, toking, snorting or shooting.

Either way, we’re certainly not honoring ourselves or our body when we ignore its natural signals of hunger, fullness, fatigue and pain in favor of completely numbing out to the world as we experience it. (Here, I’m inviting you to consider the possibility that the way you perceive the world may not be entirely accurate and may actually be harming you.)

But, if we come back to our definition of a coping strategy we see that as mechanisms to help us not be aware of the underlying disease and discomfort in our lives, alcohol and drugs work like a hot damn. The only problem is they don’t resolve anything and they create problems of their own – just like the use of food to cope: It doesn’t make the original problem better and it creates its own overwhelming stress and depression which leads us to need to numb out even more.

If you know that you are drinking or using some form of drug, whether prescription or street, to keep you detached from your life then on some level you’ve bought in to some “Learned Helplessness.”

Learned Helplessness is a way of perceiving the world that underlies everything you do, say, think and feel. There are variations on the theme but over all it sounds something like this:

“I can’t do anything to change X.”

“I am powerless to do anything about X”

“There is nothing I can do about X so I just have to find a way to be okay with it.”

This learned helplessness story is at the root of our use of harmful coping strategies. Remember, a coping strategy is anything that allows us to remain in a harmful situation without being aware of how harmful it is.  So, if you are telling yourself that there is something that is bothering you in some way but that you are powerless to do anything about it, what are your options?

  1. Be aware of your discomfort eternally and of your powerlessness and feel increasingly anxious and overwhelmed as a result.
  2. or Numb out! And Pretend it isn’t happening/didn’t happen or that it doesn’t/didn’t really bother you.

Neither is a really exciting option.  Neither option is going to make us feel better in any meaningful, lasting way. But, if those are the only options we believe we have we’ll take #2 any day any time – we all would.

If you’ve chosen option # 2 there is nothing wrong with you. You are doing your best to cope with a situation that you’ve told yourself you have no power over. You simply haven’t yet come across option # 3. But you’re about to!

Option #3:

  • Be open to the possibility that you’ve told yourself that “X” didn’t bother you and that there’s nothing you can do about it anyway.
  • See how it really did hurt you and that you have a good reason to feel anxious because that happened and because you’re telling yourself it’s beyond your power to change it or stop it.
  • See how your anxiety from that Learned Helplessness story leads you to need food and body image focus, drugs and/or alcohol just to keep yourself from going off the deep end.
  • Trust that someone can teach you how to deal with “X” in such a way that you actually can do something about it; you actually do have power over whether it happens and how you respond to yourself and others when it does.
  • Allow yourself to begin to receive support to let go of your Learned Helplessness story and to learn how to create the most peaceful and passionate life possible and to deal with life’s natural stresses in a way that enhances your self-esteem and reinforces your belief that the world is a safe place for you to bring all of yourself and to be the very very best you can be at all times!

If Option #3 sounds like something you’d like to experience in your life, even if you doubt your ability to have a life like the one I’ve described, let us gently guide you from where you are now to where you truly deserve to be.  And know that if any part of you is doubting your ability to have a peaceful and passionate life that is free from food and body image stress or alcohol or drugs, that’s only the learned helplessness kicking in and it’s going to kick in until you prove to yourself that it’s wrong and you are capable.

Don’t let the old nasty learned helplessness mindset prevent you from reaching out and moving forward with your life. Remember we’ve been there. We know firsthand that all of these harmful coping strategies can be overcome and left behind once and for all.

Let us show you how.

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Alone. Isolated. Frustrated…

Alone Confused and Frustrated

Those are just some of the feelings that described my mental and physical state for so many years. I lived in that state for so long that I figured “Well, even though I am not happy, I don’t know what else to do. Losing weight is all that matters to me, and I don’t care what I have to do to achieve it” It started with a combination of many events in my life that lead me to this point. I was bullied, I was insecure, I was bigger than my other friends for most of my life, I felt bigger than anyone in the world.

I tried my first diet pill when I was 13, I went on my first diet at 14. At first it worked but soon my motivation diminished and I just went back to me old ways; sugary drinks, chips and all sorts of deep fried fast-food.

After years of feeling fat but not doing much about it, I went on a diet and ended up loosing 20lbs. That wasn’t enough, though; I was still “fat” and felt horrible. I continued to use diet pills for years, worked out and slowly weaned almost everything out of my diet. I kept losing weight over the next few years but it never made me happy inside as I had promised myself it would.


I developed this all-or-nothing thinking and decided that I needed to be strict with myself in order to get results. My strict habits turned obsessive really quickly, I figured I had to stay on top of myself or else I’d slip and gain a million pounds. It was deadly, I would go online and seek “support” when really, I was developing an even deeper eating disorder.

Soon, nothing was enough. I fasted, I cleansed, I did extreme “all vegetable” diets and worked out very, very intensely for hours at a time, budgeting myself to a few hundred calories a day and while I lost a little bit of weight, my mental state was lost faster than the weight. I would secretly cry alone in my closet, because I was so empty inside. My boyfriend was very concerned, but I had put up such a huge wall around me, no one was allowed into that area of my life. I had drawers filled with information on anorexia, pictures, and poems, anything that fed my habit. I had numerous books and logs to track every morsel of food that went into my mouth and every minute of exercise. No one knew. I hid everything. People would congratulate me on my weight-loss, as much as you’d think it felt good – it only fed my eating disorder.


I got to a point when my boyfriend turned into my fiancé, I realized I was getting older, wanted to have kids  and basically said to myself “This is NOT working. I don’t feel good, everyone is worried about me and I feel so lost inside” One huge motivator was I did not want to pass on an ounce of this to my children, when I have them.


On a bit of a whim, I called up the Cedric Center and spoke with Michelle, who sounded so kind and understanding right off the bat. Through our sessions, she not only made me see certain events in my life that may have a part in why I am the way I am, but also gave me tools to use in times when I felt that lost, frustrated, alone and felt like regressing into past behaviors. Those tools are so valuable.


During my first few sessions I thought everything she was saying made perfect sense, it was logical, practical and eye opening. It wasn’t until I implemented those tools she taught me into my everyday life that I really started seeing (and feeling!) the results, for me it only took a few sessions to notice a huge change. My drill sergeant in my head has taken quite a vacation. I am now able to go out for dinner (which was NOT a pretty scene previously), cook healthy meals anxiety-free, eat lunch during the day and most importantly I am learning to do everything in moderation – exercise, natural eating, listening to my body, and also being able to have a cookie or a dessert if I’m so inclined. Before Michelle, NONE of that stuff would be able to happen. I was a ball of anxiety, always calculating calories, crunching numbers of how much I ate versus how much I had worked out. Nothing was healthy enough for me.


That is now my past. I love saying that! I look forward to a bright, happy and balanced future. I am feeling excited an optimistic. I seriously can say I would not be here, like this, today if I did not call Michelle. She is so educated, experienced and in tune, she helped me realize that I am not alone, she understands this journey.

Thanks so much T. for this wonderful feedback. If any of you readers can relate and would like some support to let go of your food and body image stress, contact The CEDRIC Centre and begin your healing today. 

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Emotional Stress

Emotional Stress is directly related to our use of food to cope. In fact, our level of emotional stress is an indicator of how much we will feel the need to restrict, binge or purge on any given day. Therefore, understanding the triggers of your emotional stress and what to do to decrease your overall emotional stress are two fundamentally important pieces in the process of recovery from any form of eating disorder. Emotional stress occurs when we are in a situation that makes us feel unsafe in some way.  Emotional stress will likely manifest in one of the following ways:

1.      Anxiety (fear, resistance, desire to flee or avoid a person or situation).

2.      Anger (irritation, annoyance, frustration, judgement, blame).

3.      Sadness (feel teary and down, pain or heaviness in chest).

4.      Depression (disinterest, fatigue, isolation, hopelessness).

The sense of a lack of safety that triggers emotional stress arises from a real or perceived threat to our physical, psychological, emotional and/or spiritual well-being. In other words, as long as we lack trust in our ability to keep ourselves safe with any one or in any particular situation we will experience emotional stress, which then, if unchecked, can trigger the use of food to cope. The following are some examples of situations where we undermine our sense of safety and trust in our ability to keep ourselves safe:

·        We have a relative who frequently makes comments about our weight but we don’t say anything because we don’t want to “make a scene” or hurt their feelings.

·        We’re in a meeting at work and a colleague has just said something that we believe is untrue but we don’t call them on it because we don’t want them to be angry with us.

·        We know we aren’t that interested in dating a certain someone but we agree to go out with them because we don’t want to hurt their feelings.

Notice the theme? It’s all about what others are going to think and feel. We’re so very concerned with what others think of us and feel about us that we’ll compromise ourselves time and time again just to avoid any possibility of judgement or rejection.  We can’t possibly begin to feel safe in the world and to feel the sense of peace and happiness and trust in ourselves that we need in order to cease using food to cope if we’re going to keep putting what others think of us ahead of how we feel and what we need. Where does that seemingly insatiable need for external approval come from? It comes from the belief that we are not good enough as we are. Thus we desperately need everyone’s constant approval, regardless of what we have to do to get it, or we will feel the painful sting of the “not good enough” story. One of the primary experiences in childhood/young adulthood that sets us up to believe that we are not good enough is Emotional Abuse.  You’ve probably heard the term but you may not truly understand what it is and how it impacts you – specifically how it is the most significant contributor to your lack of trust and safety in yourself and in the world around you. 
Emotional Abuse occurs when someone manipulates our feelings intentionally. As adults, we are ultimately responsible for what we choose to respond to and for how we choose to respond. As children, we look to the adults around us to model healthy and appropriate behaviour. We look to those same adults to demonstrate, through their caring and treatment of us, our worth or value in the world. If our role models were unable to ask directly for what they needed while respecting our boundaries, should we say no to their request, it follows that we would mature into adults who feel unable to ask for our needs to be met. Given this scenario, we would naturally have a limited concept of what boundaries are and why they are necessary for healthy and respectful interpersonal relationships.The use of guilt, manipulation, threats and the withdrawal of love and affection are all examples of emotional abuse.
Emotional Neglect occurs when our most basic need for love and acceptance isn’t met. As children we all have a need for love and acceptance. It is natural, and it is our right as human beings to have that need met effectively, and consistently. When we do not receive consistent love and acceptance, we tend, as children, to try to make sense out of the pain and suffering we feel by imagining that we are somehow to blame. Somehow, we are not good enough, not loveable enough, and so we don’t deserve love and affection. That is what we tell ourselves to make sense of the lack of healthy emotional connection in our lives. This is a common circumstance and it is a very harmful one. It sets the stage for the internalization of many critical messages that continue to play in our heads long after we have left our family of origin.    The Impact
A study in the Journal of Counselling Psychology, 2002, identified emotional abuse and / or emotional neglect as the experience in childhood most likely to lead to an eating disorder or sub-clinical disordered eating. The experience of emotional abuse or neglect forces us to find ways to cope with the pain of our unmet need for love and belongingness. It is just too painful for us to be conscious of our need for love and not have any effective way of getting that need met. As children or young adults, the best coping strategy that we can think of is to distance ourselves from our feelings and from any awareness that we have emotional needs at all. This is a state of being called “Alexithymia”. It means a lack of connection to and awareness of our feelings and it is the mediating factor between childhood emotional abuse or neglect and the onset of disordered eating. 
The Solution
The answer to overcoming the use of food to cope or other substance abuse concerns is not to ignore your feelings. The answer is not found in berating yourself for having feelings or for not being stronger and more able to cope with the traumatic events of your life. That approach only serves to continue the abuse and neglect from within. It perpetuates the harm that was done to you when you are now an adult and able to have a life that is free from abuse and safe from harm.The answer is found in taking the time to build trust in yourself, and in others, so that you can create the space for the compassion and love that you never had. It is possible and so very rewarding for you to meet your own need for love and compassion. Doing so does not mean that you won’t get that need met outside of yourself – in fact it truly creates a far greater likelihood of getting the need for love and acceptance met in all areas of your life.
Imagine what that would feel like! To truly trust yourself to respect your feelings and needs in any situation with anyone creates such peace and joy within and such loving respectful relationships with others that the use of food to cope just falls away.  It becomes incongruent with who you really are and you just let it go. No fear, no pressure, no pain, just freedom.
If you think that emotional stress may be triggering you to use food to cope let us support you to heal this piece of your life. You deserve to have a life that is free from harm. 
Send us an email and let us know how we can be there for you.

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Overcoming difficult tasks. One of the primary coping strategies that all humans use from time to time is procrastination: The art of leaving to tomorrow what you could and possibly even “should” do today.  When we procrastinate every now and then with things that aren’t so big it has no harmful or lingering impact on our lives.  We’ve simply chosen to pick up the dry cleaning Friday rather than Thursday and it’s stuff we don’t need until Monday so no biggie.


However, those of us who use food to cope in any way also typically struggle with procrastination in a big way and that has a nasty impact on our overall sense of peace and trust in ourselves. This inevitably leads us to need to use food to cope even more to numb out or to feel that at least we’re on top of something.


The underlying triggers that cause us to reach for food to cope or to restrict set off a chain reaction that looks something like this:


  1. We feel unsafe or insecure about something in our lives – either because it’s new and different or because we’ve been told by others it can be difficult or we’ve tried it before and it was hard, or for some other reason altogether.
  2. We then tell ourselves a nasty story that it’s not going to go well or that we won’t be able to be successful.
  3. This story naturally triggers feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
  4. These feelings are so uncomfortable that they lead us to want to numb out or avoid this thing we’ve told ourselves won’t go well and we do that numbing out and avoiding by using food to cope in some way and by putting off any effort towards the thing that we’ve said won’t go well.
  5. Thus our stress level rises and we have even less chance of success, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and greater likelihood of procrastinating even more furiously next time around.


Not the most life-enhancing course of action when we’re coming from a rational and balanced mind.


But….it makes perfect sense when we really believe at our core that we are incapable; that we are not good enough; that we are undeserving of love and success and freedom and peace and all that we desire. From that standpoint it seems perfectly reasonable to assume we won’t be successful and to just give up before we even start.


Ironically this typically leads us to have to rush around at the last minute and stress ourselves out much much more than we needed to in order to complete whatever “it” is. Or we just get so overwhelmed and we buy so fully into the story that we can’t do it/won’t be successful that we don’t do “it” at all and then have to live with feelings of shame and guilt and embarrassment and all the self-judgment and the “I told you so’s” from within our own head and perhaps even from some key people in our lives.

Overcoming Difficult Tasks with Easy Ones – Procrastination

Procrastination is a killer of peace and of self-esteem and it’s also caused by a diminished sense of self-esteem and the nasty belief that: We just aren’t good enough and we never will be so there’s no point in even trying.


A great place to start to attend to our use of procrastination to cope is to notice that we’re procrastinating and to ask ourselves the following questions:

“What specifically am I telling myself about this thing/event/task that is leading me to procrastinate?”

“Is there any all or nothing thinking in that story?”

“What are some other possible ways that that thing/event/task could be handled or could turn out?”

“Could I allow myself to choose to believe and act on one of those other stories instead of the original, all or nothing, one?”

Give that a go and see what you discover about your thought processes and what happens to your use of procrastination to cope.

If you’re ready to break free of the cycle of procrastination and learn to meet new and old challenges from a place of excitement and self-confidence it’s time to contact The CEDRIC Centre and let us support you to be the best you can be in all ways.

Love M

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