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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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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?!!

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

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What’s Causing Your Love-Hate Relationship With Food?

love-hate relationship with food, Woman making a decision

Do you have a love-hate relationship with food?

Do you love the taste of certain foods and find that once you start you can’t stop?

Do you find yourself drawn to eating certain foods even when you know they’re not good for you and you’re going to feel crappy afterwards?

Do you find that even when you know that eating as much as you are eating, or the kinds of foods that you’re eating, is only going to put fat on your body and make you feel bad about yourself, in that moment you just don’t care? …And then you beat yourself up afterwards?

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Posted in: 2013, and Binging, Anorexia and Bulimia, Brain Chemistry

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How Your ‘All or Nothing Thinking’ Impacts Your Eating and Weight

How Your ‘All or Nothing Thinking’ Impacts Your Eating and Weight

This article ‘How Your ‘All or Nothing Thinking’ Impacts Your Eating and Weight’ will help you to understand exactly that, and I’ll give you some specific examples for how you can start to trust yourself to think clearly and make choices that you really feel good about.

As I enjoy the peace, the safety, the trust and confidence I feel in my body and in my world, the warmth and love I share with my colleagues and friends, and the time…..yes, the time, it seems so long ago, that there was a time when I truly felt like I had no time. I wasn’t on death’s door by any means, but I sure lived as though a demon was chasing me.

Before my own recovery from emotional eating (some may prefer to call it binge eating disorder or overeating, whatever you call it – that’s what I did – 24/7!), I lived in a state of chronic, high-level anxiety.

I also felt so fat and ugly that I believed that if someone, anyone, saw me eating anything, they would judge me as fat and gross and bad, and they would be right. Of course, when I examine that story now, it’s just silly. What did I think? Did I think that because I had extra weight on my body I wasn’t allowed or entitled or needing of any food whatsoever? Well, actually, yeah. I did believe that I should just starve myself until I was “good enough” and then I could eat something.

Of course I couldn’t actually sustain my self-imposed hunger strike for very long. It always ended, as it would for any human on the planet as studies have shown, with a great big binge. This is where my insecurity and low self-esteem turned into a full blown eating disorder with me trying to control my anxiety and insecurity through restricting food in the hopes that I would one day be thin enough to be acceptable and lovable and to never, ever, no matter what, be abandoned or rejected or judged by anyone.

Of course, being thin was going to bring me the love and security and accolades that I so desperately sought. Everything would be better when I was thin. Right?

Not exactly.

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Posted in: 2013, All-or-Nothing Thinking, Uncategorized

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Calgary Workshop for Food & Weight Stress, 2013

Updated Schedule for 2013 Calgary Workshop for Food & Weight Stress:

Workshop for Food & Weight Stress
Host: Michelle Morand, MA, RCC:

Master Your Brain – Master Your Behaviour  Dates:July 5th to 7th

‘Mastering Balance: Creating Solid Self-Esteem and True Inner Peace’– Dates: July 12th to 14th

Venue: MacEwan Conference Centre, U of Calgary, 2500 University Dr NW Calgary, T2N 1N4

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Posted in: 2012, workshops

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Mastering The Green-Eyed Monster

how to overcome jealousyI am a specialist who works with those who are frustrated with their bodies and their relationship with food (those who binge or restrict or purge in any way). As you can imagine, in my conversations with clients, the topic of feeling envious of the seeming ease and comfort that others feel in their bodies and with food and then consequently feeling guilty/shameful for feeling envious, comes up daily.

As such, I have, from my own recovery process and countless hours with clients, devised a quick little tool to shift those icky, jealous feelings and the underlying needs that triggered them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you’ll never, ever again start to feel those stirrings of “Why them and not me!?” around those people/places/things that we would like for ourselves or conversely, “Why me and not them!!!?” around those things that we’d really have preferred not to have experienced in our brief but action-packed lives.

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Posted in: CEDRIC Centre

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How to Learn to Eat Naturally Again: The CEDRIC Method Step-by-Step Process

Learn to Eat NaturallyThis week I’m sharing a brief but invaluable tool for any of you who would like to be able to trust yourself to be around any food, in any quantity, any time.  Sound good?

If you follow these steps, you will quickly be able to identify when you’re using food to cope vs. when you are just confused about what to eat and how much, and getting anxious because of that.

If you’re at a point in your use of the core CEDRIC Method tools where you are able to manage your stress in rational, life-enhancing ways, you’ll also be able, in a 2-3 weeks, to trust your body to know what and how much it needs, and as a result, you’ll feel much more peaceful and at ease in your body and around food.
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Posted in: All-or-Nothing Thinking

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Natural Eating 101: Q&A

natural eatingFor the next few weeks, I am going to make my articles specific to those of you who are actively working through Natural Eating or wanting to begin exploring how to go from that annoying old Diet Mentality to the peace, ease, and flow of Natural Eating.

To do that, I’m going to spend the next few weeks answering some questions that I often hear clients asking regarding natural eating.

I’ve listed some of the questions I’ll be answering in the weeks to come below. If you have a question on Natural Eating that is not on that list, send it my way and I promise I will answer it at some point in this series.
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Posted in: CEDRIC Centre, Natural Eating 101

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Perception is Truly Everything

One of the most ironic things about those of us who use (or have used) food to cope is that we’re very smart. We’re also very intuitive. We’re also very trusting and as such, very vulnerable. This above all else means that if we ever hope to be truly free of binging or purging or restricting and any stressful focus on food, we need first and foremost to learn to listen to and respect ourselves about what we’re feeling and needing, and we need to absolutely trust ourselves to respect those feelings and the messages they contain about our needs at that time. We are not fools, and try as we might, we cannot pretend that we’re okay when we’re not or that something isn’t bothering us when it is.

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Posted in: 2010, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Self

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Setting Reasonable Goals

setting reasonable goalsI’ll bet you know something about goal setting. I’d actually be willing to bet that you’re very good at setting yourself goals each and every day about what you’ll eat, what you won’t eat, when, how much exercise you’ll do, how much sleep you’ll get, whose call you’ll return and how much you’ll get done at work or around the house. Chances are, you’re really skilled at setting goals. But…how often do you actually follow through with them? How often do you get to the end of your day feeling peaceful and relaxed that you achieved what you had asked of yourself that day?

If, more often than not, you reflect on your day,  and hear the Drill Sgt.’s critical voice in your head pointing out your shortcomings, it’s a good indication that you did not achieve the goals you set for yourself that day. Same goes for those of you who wake up in the morning to the Drill Sgt. telling you what you will and won’t do that day to make up for what you did/didn’t do the day before.
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Posted in: 2010, CEDRIC Centre, Relationship with Others, Relationship with Self

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