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Posts tagged ‘eating disorders’

Read This, Read This, Read This

There, did I say it enough? I always try to write informative and helpful blogs, but Charlotte, from The Great Fitness Experiment is a professional blogger, and it shows. What I want you to read is her post: Eating Disorders Make You skinny” and Other Popular ED Myths, Debunked.  I want you to read it as eating disorders are sneaky, pervasive and more common than you think. Many people who don’t have full blown eating disorders do engage in disordered eating from time to time. (How’s that for a convoluted sentence?) In other words, we can all have food issues from time to time. Most of us have a very hard time looking at food as fuel, and instead, see it as a reward, punishment, sin, indulgence, temptation, comfort and on and on. Even if it is a full blown addiction, it is one we can’t escape, since we need to eat to live.

I think I’ve mentioned before, my mother was anorectic, and it contributed to her early demise. I flirted with it as a teenager and young adult, and fortunately escaped. Anorexia is a frightening, deadly disease, and bulimia isn’t far behind. There are other eating disorders- binge eating and orthorexia (the obsession with healthy eating), as well as other behaviors that don’t fall into the larger catagories- like only eating a limited number of foods, refusing to eat in front of other people, etc. These diseases are hard to diagnose, hard to confront and easy to disguise until it is too late. While most sufferers don’t die from their disease, they are suffering, mentally, physically and spiritually. No one wants their life to be miserable and tortured, but it is hard to see what you are doing to yourself until it is too late.

If you have any concerns that you might have an eating disorder, or someone you care about does, please read this, and use it as a springboard into a discussion or to get help.

Real life- Being skinny won’t solve all your problems.

I haven’t blogged for a while since I haven’t had any thing to fire me up. Sure, I never shut up about health and fitness, but to take the time to write an entire article, I must have something big to say. Plus, I am REALLY busy.

After reading this article, I have something big to say. Jen Larson had weight loss surgery and wrote a book about it. It doesn’t sound like that big of a deal, except that she is very articulate about how it didn’t solve all her problems. For me, it keys into my very strong thoughts and opinions on the lookism that pervades our society. I hear really nice people talk about how ugly someone is. Fat and ugly are treated as synonymous. I can’t stand the anti fat attitude that people have.

YES! I hear heads exploding all over the place. I can hear you screaming at your computer, “You? All you ever talk about is eating right and exercising? How can you say you aren’t anti fat?!?” I am anti bad health. I am anti hurting yourself. I am anti self-destructive behavior. As a health professional, I can tell you that using looks for losing weight is the weakest, least effective motivator. A friend of mine posted an article about “fuller figured” mannequins on Face book. My husband commented that if I saw it I would want them to lose weight. NO. I don’t think everyone should be a size 4. I want everyone to be as healthy as possible. I think you have to be happy with the body you have, even before you try to change it. If you read the article that Jen wrote, she thought if she fixed the “in your face” problem, everything would be fine.

“He said that like it was a fact about all fat people. All fat people hate themselves. All fat people know that what’s good in life is really only accessible to thin people. Thin is the most important variable in of life’s equations. Thin equals happy, thin equals beautiful, thin equals a life worth living.

The most embarrassing fact of my life – and oh, how many embarrassing facts there are in my life – is that it was true. I was angry at him for saying it, for buying into the cliché of the fat person. For assuming that my life would transform immediately. Because he was saying all the things I had secretly thought. He was reinforcing all the secret fantasies I had about the way everything about me would be more amenable and lovable and acceptable to the whole rest of the world.”

Alcoholics know, just stopping drinking doesn’t solve the problem. Psychology is more complex  than that. Being obese doesn’t just happen. It is an eating disorder, just like anorexia and bulimia.

I hated my hairy legs, I learned to epilate. I hated my glasses, I got laser surgery. You know what? When I fixed those things, other than the satisfaction of not having those things annoying me, NOTHING changed. Gorgeous or ugly doesn’t change life. Gorgeous women suffer from depression, anxiety, and get in stinky relationships. Ugly women suffer from depression, anxiety, and get in stinky relationships. If you think losing weight will change anything other than your health, take some time to rethink things.

The Mind Body Connection

In the world of physical fitness, the mind body connection most often refers to yoga, as if that is one of the few things that bring about a connection between the two. However, there  is no actual disconnect. Your body does nothing without the control of your mind, and you are a result of the million decisions you make each day: what to eat, wear, how much to sleep and every habit you have. What people  are really talking about in the mind body connection is making that connection more conscious and purposeful. Add the dimension of the spirit, and the conversation gets even more murky- where does that fit in? For actual yogis, yoga is a religious practice, not an exercise option.

As someone who has come rather late in life to a cordial relationship with her body, and that through karate, another practice which explores the relationship between mind, body and spirit, I often think about these relationships. As a Christian, I also try and see what the relationship between my heritage and beliefs are, and those of the eastern religions. I’ve written before of how I don’t see a difference between physical discipline and spiritual. Self control is one of the gifts of the spirit, and it leads to others. How can you have peace or joy if you are in the grip of an eating disorder, your finances are out of control, or any other addiction is running your life?

Ga 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23 meekness, self-control; against such there is no law.

The main thought I’m striving for in this post is illustrated in 1 John:

1Jo 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, cannot love God whom he hath not seen.

The physical is a mirror to the spiritual. I don’t know if there is a spiritual thing you can do that is not also physical, because everything we do is expressed by our physical bodies. even our thoughts come of a chemical and electrical brain. (Don’t bring up hormones    –   just don’t go there.)

Right now, since I am practicing fasting for the first time and it certainly is a discipline, that is the focus of my ruminations (pun intended). It is denying the physical in favor of the spiritual. Adding to my contemplation is the fact that my mother was anorectic, and I flirted dangerously close to it as a teenager. Eating clearly shows this mirror to the spiritual. Balance has to be maintained for optimal health, that either extreme falls out of spiritual/mental/physical health. To be clear, I am being pragmatic about this. I am fasting certain meals and reducing my food intake over all, rather than doing a 100% fast. I do believe in the spiritual benefit, but not at the destruction of the body. I am already at the lower end of body weight, and am very active. If God wants me to sacrifice my body, it will have to be for a far greater cause than an exercise in discipline!

In any case, eating occupies a unique place in our life, It is one of the basic human needs we can temporarily abstain from, but one of the few pleasures that can slide into abuse that we cannot refrain from. Our alimentary canal cannot be ignored, it derails the most spiritually minded, bringing them back to earth. We may think we’re too cool for school, till we burp or fart, or just the funny noises our stomach makes in the quietest times. God obviously cares about our food, as I’ve posted about before, there are 163 verses mentioning feast, and 140 with the word food in. Fasting is about penitence, mourning, seeking, a reaching out to God. Feasting is about celebrating and enjoying communion with Him. God would like us to do both, in season. Now that we know how important our digestive tract is to our overall health, it makes even more sense why God is so concerned with our eating. One of the first things he tells Adam and Eve is what to eat.

The symbolic and cultural importance of food cannot be ignored either.  Watch a gathering of people with and without food. With food, people linger longer, relax quicker, act more sociable. Without it, they quickly get their business done and disperse.  Food encourages socialization. To willingly abstain from food puts a person at odds with the society at large. To have a unique diet does the same, but nowadays, that seems to be a popular trend. In the face of the overabundance we have now, people are selectively shrinking their choices, in order to regain control of their eating.

Sorry, this post rambled a bit. It’s hard to quantify some thoughts. Thanks for bearing with me.

Fasting

prayer and fasting

Double Minded?

I do enjoy irony, even when I am the source of it. I was just trying to convince a girl at the gym to eat more on Wednesday, and today I am making preparations to join our church on a fast. It did bring to mind that the same activity can have totally different meanings, depending on your purpose.

Fasting is one of those very complex disciplines. It is physical, but has been practiced for spiritual reasons throughout human history. Most, if not all major religions use it to allow their adherents to get their minds off of earthly things and focus on the spirit. Eating is one of our most basic needs, yet it is the one we can do without. You can’t stop breathing for more than a few seconds, and without shelter, hypothermia and exposure can kill us quickly. Fasting is a way of saying there are some things that are more important than even our physical needs.

Eating, or not eating, is the focus of much of our attention each day. We usually eat many times a day, and then there is the planing, shopping, cooking, and cleaning up after. Taking all of that time and devoting it to meditation and contemplation of the spiritual is very beneficial. The bible says:

De 8:3 And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but that man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.

By fasting, we can take God off of the “back burner” and make him the center of our lives.

Most of the time, I’m not a big fan of fasting. My mother was anorectic, which contributed to her early demise. I have seen what eating disorders do, and how they develop. I am a big fan of being as strong and healthy as possible, which requires adequate nutrition. I think people who fast to lose weight are setting themselves up for failure, since it isn’t teaching them to eat properly.

The activity of fasting can either be a tremendous spiritual journey, or a carnal nightmare, as tied up to messed up body images and earthly desires as anything you can think of. Fasting is NOT about punishing your body, or beating it into submission. It is almost impossible to separate the physical from the spiritual, since weight loss is a result of fasting, so even if you are fasting for right reason, you will have physical result that you may desire. I suppose it isn’t a bad thing to have a physical benefit to a spiritual practice. I just think if those two motivations are too closely linked, it can blur your focus, or twist a positive into a negative. I think the biggest deliminator is prayer. Prayer takes fasting out of the physical and moves it to the spiritual. It allows you to pay attention to your motivation and stay on track.

My final statement on this is that I am only doing a complete fast one day a week. During the week I will be fasting certain items, to pare my eating down to what is essential, but I am extremely active, and a complete fast could be detrimental to my health. I have enough trouble holding weight. You can fast in all kinds of ways, by denying yourself earthly pleasures.  Whatever you fast, sweets, meat, or favorite activities, it is prayer that takes it from simple self denial to a spiritual discipline.

There’s One Born Every Minute

Most people will recognize the quote from P.T. Barnum, but after finding out about this latest diet book, I’m certain it’s true. You know, I’m not even going to name the book or the author, since that would just give him/her more publicity, and that is the last think I want. However, what makes this diet especially annoying is that it appears to be targeted at young people, and is primed to feed into eating disorders. It features fasting breakfast and replacing it with coffee. The one person cited in the article I read substituted diet pop, since she didn’t like coffee. Like that’s a good idea? Looking at the changes in peoples’ diets, they did make some good choices, changing the meals they did eat for healthy choices. But, when you add fasting to that, this is basically a starvation diet. So, starving yourself will make you lose weight, but who can live like that? What happens to these people when they “go off” this diet?

Do I really need to say that the best way to “diet” is to make lifestyle changes that you can live with forever? Why is this so hard for people to wrap their heads around? Why do these fad diets never lose their appeal? Should this author be forced to set aside part of his proceeds to treat all the young people with eating disorders that will be negatively impacted by his book?

Is there anyone in your life who is following one of these fad diets? What is their rationale? Have you tried to talk them into a more sensible approach?

Just Venting

Indulge me for a moment. I have probably written about this before, but it really bothers me. To begin, I joined a discussion of breakfast on facebook, bemoaning what people consider breakfast food. I was thinking about that this morning, and it brought our church’s fellowship time to mind.

In our church, between the two services, we have a fellowship time where we serve what amounts to breakfast. It is largely donated, but we do buy some bread and coffee. What is donated is often the worst things anyone should be eating. Cookies, cakes, donuts, and assorted pastries. We had some discussions about it, especially since we had a weight loss class going in church. The larger consensus was that it was up to people to police themselves, and make their own choices, rather than ask people to not bring goodies.

I don’t think that makes sense. Our church would never have alcohol at any of our events. Not because we think it is evil, but it is the concept of the weaker brethren, so many people have trouble with it, and the evil that brings to them and others. How is offering an overabundance of sweets different? So many people have trouble with over eating, that leads to physical evil, rather than spiritual. How is causing physical misery any different than causing mental and spiritual misery? Almost no one has will power in the face of food. If you wave one of my favorite treats in my face, I will eat it. It appears to me that we are enticing people to overeat.  I see some of these kids that are already bordering on obese with their plates piled with goodies. How is our behavior helping them?

One of the other rationalizations that is being used is that one meal a week isn’t going to make that much difference. Those with problems will still overeat the rest of the week, so why deny the rest, or make a big deal of it? Again, I would argue, try making that argument with alcohol. Or try this: “Oh, kids will get cigarettes somewhere, I might as well let them smoke.” Also, just because you are not overweight, doesn’t mean you should be eating garbage.

picture equating cupcakes to cigarettes

How do you see it?

I was listening to “Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone” this afternoon, and it made this post more fitting, in my mind. They were interviewing a women who had gastric bypass surgery. She said she was addicted to food. Her experience was heart wrenching. Should we make things harder for people like that? Granted, we all like sweets, and people with food addictions cannot avoid food. It isn’t like staying out of a bar. But wouldn’t a responsible and prudent action be to offer more nutritious, less enticing choices? Put out a tiny amount of sweets, or none. Breads are delicious, and better than cake. We do offer some healthier choices, but with the abundance of tantalizing goodies, who can resist?

I hope that anyone reading this will comment. Obviously, most people disagree with me, or else behavior would change. I welcome your efforts to change my mind. Then I won’t feel so aggrieved by behavior I can do nothing about. Am I making too much of this? Or am I tying the physical and spiritual together incorrectly?

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