Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Happy Body Days!

Christmas, Hanukkah, the New Year.  Want to add your body to the list of celebrations?

Here are some powerful messages from powerful women to get you started:

Happy holidays and happy body days.  See you in the new year. . .

Monday, December 10, 2012

Nutritional Recommendations

Recently, I attended an eating disorders talk given by a well-known local dietitian.  Boy, was I in for a surprise!

The R.D.'s talk centered around the benefits of proteins, the dangers of carbs.  Toward the end, she gave us some sample high-protein breakfasts, including a couple she routinely eats. Each contained about 50% of the  calories typically recommended for breakfast by nutritionists.

I was surprised that someone was sharing this information at a gathering of eating disorders professionals and when I asked her how she presents this information to her clients without triggering their symptoms, the facilitator noted that the dietitian was focusing mainly on nutritional recommendations for medical populations (e.g., diabetics).

An eager hospital-based internal medicine doctor in the crowd supported many of the RD's points, stating that he often places his patients on "no-carb" diets for successful weight loss.  I'm guessing that this physician does not follow his patients long-term.

My takeaways from this talk?

1)  Physicians shouldn't be prescribing diets for their patients.  A 2010 study revealed that medical students receive, on average, 19.6 hours of nutritional education, hardly enough to qualify them as nutritional experts.

2)  Again and again, weight loss through restrictive dieting is recommended for medical populations, but typically, these restrictive diets lead to weight-cycling (which has more deleterious effects on health than remaining at a higher, stable weight).  Significant weight-cycling occurs as a function of deprivation-influenced overeating.

3)  Those who struggle with eating disorders need to be VERY careful in selecting their providers.  It is not enough to see a dietitian who lists eating disorders as one of her specialties.  Instead, those with e.d.'s must vet their providers to ensure that they understand typical symptom triggers, promote a healthy relationship with food, and operate from a recovery perspective.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Hot Pants

Have you heard of fat-burning Hot Pants?  One day, I overheard a woman claim to her friend that she was consistently burning extra calories at the gym due to the specific athletic shorts she wore.

Is it that simple?  Can the clothing you choose increase your energy expenditure?  Is hotter better?


A visit to the Zaggora Hot Pants website reveals that their research studies were conducted on 13-14 participants, a far cry from the robust sample sizes needed to draw meaningful conclusions.  This exercise physiologist's website does a good job at challenging Zaggora's claims about their products.

As with many weight loss programs, plans, products, gimmicks, etc., if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  When you learn about the new it-product, remember to think objectively, critically, and scientifically.

So, skip the Hot Pants and save your hard-earned cash for gym wear that provides fit, function, and style.  

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Jenni, Jenni, Who Can I Turn To?

A couple of months back, I received an email from Jenni Schaefer, Author of Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Me.  She and a colleague had stumbled across my blog and asked me to elaborate on my DEWHAED theory.  

We exchanged a few messages, and then I asked her what she thought of the DEWHAED philosophy, to which she replied:
Everyone living in Western society hears that negative voice that tells us our bodies aren't good enough. After fully recovering from my eating disorder, I choose to call that voice Societal Ed -- society's eating disorder. What I have learned is that all people might hear that voice, but we don't all have to listen. I choose not to listen anymore!*
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet Jenni and to hear her speak.  She's a great speaker, funny, informative, and warm.  And check out this amazing poem she wrote.  Can you make these words your own?  Can you turn to and honor this voice, rather than the voice of Societal Ed?

*Jenni Schaefer, Author of Life Without Ed and Goodbye Ed, Hello Mewww.JenniSchaefer.com

Thursday, September 27, 2012

L.A. Woman

(from Los Angeles magazine)

The current issue of Los Angeles magazine has an 18-page spread on plastic surgery.  The cover story beckons:  "Say Hello to the New You. . . "

And what exactly does the new you look like, if you happen to live in L.A.?
One piece, entitled, "Meet the New L.A. Ideal" discusses the features of the new and improved Beverly Hills housewife, whom writer Nancy Miller says is less Pamela Anderson, more Sofia Vergara.  Think long, full hair; bigger facial features; mid-size breasts; and, owing to Sir Mix-A-Lot, an Oakland booty.

Is Miller's prototype on point?  How does the ideal woman (as judged by the plastic surgery procedures du jour)  in your city compare?

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Diet Central

Most of us are familiar with Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. However, you wouldn’t know it from our 60 billion (and counting) diet industry. Women try diet after diet after diet, somehow hoping that this one will be the one that works. . . and lasts.

It’s hard to go a few weeks (or minutes, if we happen to have just celebrated a new year) without seeing or hearing commercials from our nation's power players, often pitched by celebrities who have signed multi-million dollar endorsement deals to show how this plan has worked for them.  Does anyone not know what Jessica Simpson has been up to lately?  
How many diet plans can you name off the top of your head?  Can you name more diets or Supreme Court justices?  (no cheating on either!)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Best Eating Disorder Blogs

18 Best Eating Disorder Blogs of 2012

DEWHAED is honored to be included in Healthline's "18 Best Eating Disorder Blogs of 2012."  Check out the rest here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Olympic Pride

As the Olympic fever has settled,  I've paused to reflect on this year's games.

By all appearances, the London Olympics celebrated the female athlete.  More women competed in these games than any in history.  More American women made the team than men, and they won their fair share of our nation's hefty gold medal count.

And by most appearances, the female athlete in London was prized for her strength, her endurance, her power, and speed.  There were bodies of different shapes and sizes, but it seems we focused more on what these bodies were capable of doing, rather than how they looked.

Except that we had to hear about gold medalist Gabby Douglas's hair (occasionally at the expense of her gold-medal accomplishments and the records she set for American women and women of color).

And Holley Mangold's weight (often at the expense at how much weight she was lifting).

And one news story reported that the Brazilian women's soccer team were called "a bit heavy" by the coach of another team.

Can we continue to move beyond these inconsequential details in our appreciation of female athleticism?

A friend of mine recently posted on Facebook that her trainer, with whom she had recently begun kickboxing, commanded her a few weeks ago to "Stop throwing punches like a girl!"

After the games, and in light of American, gold-medalist slugger Claressa Shield's victory, my friend wrote:  "He needs to rethink that statement."

He does.  Because women can be strong and fit and powerful and fast and flexible and tough and determined and fierce, and the shape of their bodies is nothing near as important as their prowess in sport.

Congrats Team USA.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Give Pizza a Chance

Sometimes these blog topics just fall into my lap. . .

Recently, I took a fun, challenging yoga class on a late Sunday afternoon.  After class, as I walked out of the studio, tired and hungry, I peeked into a pizza parlor down the block to check out their menu.  Over my shoulder I heard a voice whisper loudly, "Don't do it!  We just took yoga!"  No, this was not my inner Jenny Craig, but a fellow female yogi. I suppose this woman, about my age, had seen me in class.  And there I was, standing on a summer sidewalk, caught in the moment, trying to walk that fine line between maintaining civility and promoting a cause.

On the spot, what I came up with was, "Aw, it's all part of feeling good." What I really wanted to say was, "What does one thing have to do with the other?" or "Why are you telling me what to eat?"

Why can't yoga and pizza peacefully coexist?

Ironically enough, the website for the aforementioned pizza shop (a place known for its salads, paninis, pizzas, and pastas, as well as its gluten-free pies), proclaims "Eat Well and Be Happy!"

And isn't that the ultimate goal?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Big Gulp

By now, you've probably heard that New York City Mayor Bloomberg has pushed for a measure that will limit soda consumption in the city.  If the soda crackdown passes, restaurants, movie theaters, sports, arenas, food carts, and delis will all be banned from selling sodas larger than 16 ounces.  Of course, diet soda is exempt from the ban, illustrating the mayor's ongoing approval of consumption of mass quantities of sugar substitutes.  And, other loopholes abound, ensuring you can still get your 16+ ounces of sugary soda if need be.  

Is this measure the answer to our nation's expanding waistline?  New York City has already mandated posted calorie counts at many restaurants and banned the use of trans fats.  Banning soda seems to be the next logical step.  Supporters note that heavily taxing cigarettes in the NYC has led to significantly lower rates of smoking.  But are food-based "nanny state" tactics the solution?  What about the underlying questions of money and class?  In this week's New Yorker, Fran Lebowitz notes: "'These issues are class issues.  Soda is the recreation--the summer-house--of the poor.  It's an indulgence, and it's something they can indulge in.'"  Critics would argue that our tax dollar shouldn't go toward footing the (medical) bill for recreational indulgences.  But, the proposed soda bill begs the issue, where do we draw the line?  Sources have already revealed that milkshakes and movie theater popcorn may be up to bat next.   What about subsidizing fruits and vegetables, instead?  Is there a way to educate, not legislate? 

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice --
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do --
determined to save
the only life you could save. 
 Mary Oliver 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thanks Again

Have you been gravitating toward higher calorie foods since 2008?  In a study presented back in August at the yearly meeting of the American Psychological Association, University of Miami marketing doctoral student Anthony Salerno suggests that your choices may be due to the economy.

Salerno's research found that study participants primed to focus on deprivation chose higher calorie foods, compared to those who focused more on pleasure than survival.

Most of us have accepted the fact that, for any, deprivation around food tends to lead to overeating.  What makes this study interesting is that it widens the playing field to include deprivation as general concepts.  Salerno's results indicate that if we feel deprived at all (not just around food), we may have a tendency to eat more.

Assuming this data translates beyond the lab, it suggests that to curb this form of (biologically induced?) emotional eating, we bring our focus to gratitude.  What is it that you have (vs. have not) in your life?  Can you highlight areas of abundance, rather than deprivation?  This shift in mindset can be profitable across the board.

And, where can you add indulgences that don't cost much?  Can you treat your senses with appealing scents, comfortable fabrics, enticing flavors, soothing visuals, and melodic sounds?  Doing so can ease distress, increase our experience of pleasure, and, perhaps most importantly, communicate to ourselves that we are worth it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

The Not-So-Hunger Games

Current film sensation Jennifer Lawrence recently told Life & Style magazine that she, for one, is not going hungry.

Lawrence says:  "'I remember when I was 13 and it was cool to pretend to have an eating disorder because there were rumors that Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie were anorexic.'"

Now, considered somewhat plump for Hollywood, Lawrence feels differently:  "'I'm just so sick of these young girls with diets.  I think it's really important for girls to have people to look up to and feel good about themselves.'"

And, in another declaration that may serve to benefit the general public, the Equinox chain of fitness facilities recently unveiled a new personal training campaign (see below).  While the focus is still on skinny/fat, it's good to know that a major company is moving toward recognizing that weight is not a proxy for health.  Now if they could just focus on fitness, rather than fat. . .

Equinox | Personal Training

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Israeli Model Law

Government officials in Israel have passed a new law banning the use of significantly underweight models in country-wide advertising.  The law, designed to challenge the glorification of the thin ideal, will also require advertisers who use airbrushing/editing to slim models down to acknowledge this in print.

Officials are hopeful that these measures will reduce the rates of anorexia in Israel.  What do you think?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fitness, Faith, and Fun

Here's what I like about exercising:  Physical activity improves my mood; it makes me feel accomplished; it keeps my blood pressure low and my heart in good health; it makes me strong and, for instance, capable of carrying all the groceries in in one shot, it helps me burn off some restless energy before an entire workday spent seated in a chair; it gives me an opportunity to listen to my favorite tunes and participate in an individual dance party in my head; it allows me to work toward various goals; in a class setting, it helps me to feel the camaraderie of being part of something bigger; when accomplished outdoors, it provides me fresh air, beatific vistas at times, and an opportunity to connect with our earth; and it provides a portal through which I can practice mindfulness, following both movement and my breath.

Here's what I dislike about exercising:  fitness instructors who use weight/food intake to motivate their students.  In a few short months, I've heard several iterations of this.  In a spinning class, an instructor tried to inspire us by telling us that so-and-so celebrity burned x-many calories in her class.  I think it may have been the same instructor who encouraged us to push through a challenging portion near the end of the ride in order to "burn off" a recent holiday meal.  In a yoga class I took several weeks ago, the instructor suggested that a benefit of an inversion practice is reduced cellulite. This weekend, I tried another indoor cycling class at a trendy new studio.  Halfway through the class, the instructor yelled out, "Who wants to change your bodies?" As if dissatisfied  by the moderate, collective cheer, he repeated the question with more oomph to garner more of a response.  Now, if he meant "change," as in get stronger, faster, more flexible, etc., I may have seen his point, But, somehow, I'm not sure that that was where he was going, and it concerns me that the expectation is that, by the very fact that we're there, we're unhappy with ourselves.

The more we exercise to lose weight, burn calories/fat, or to change ourselves, the more likely we are to push ourselves beyond our limits (hour-long inversions, anyone?), turn exercise into punishment, and reduce the joy associated with the inherent act of moving our bodies.  It's no wonder that such a large percentage of people who start an exercise program drop out.  When we exercise to realize the physical and psychological gains associated with movement, to improve our fitness, empower us, and (gasp!) for fun, we can easily sign on for a lifelong commitment.  When we so enjoy dancing and hiking and climbing and swimming and cycling and strengthening and stretching, why would we ever stop?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

New Model Guidelines

The Council of Fashion Designers of American has recently released new guidelines for models who work Fashion Week and other industry events.

As a whole, I applaud the group's focus to educate the industry and encourage healthy eating and treatment, if necessary.  Do you think these guidelines will help?  Do you see any limitations to the guidelines?  Take a minute to read the new guidelines and let me know what you think. . . .

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Georgia. . .

A new campaign in Georgia targeted at childhood obesity has raised significant alarm  in the eating disorder community.  Specifically, many of us who treat eating disorders are concerned that the campaign focuses more on body size than on the promotion of healthy eating and exercise behaviors.  It is negative, shaming, and could actually encourage the development of eating disorders in those who may have such tendencies.

As such, the Binge Eating Disorder Association has developed an online petition, with the hopes of arresting the campaign.

What do you think?  Will you sign?

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Losing the Battle

If, for some reason, you missed the fact that we recently celebrated a new year, you surely cannot miss the barrage of weight-loss advertising appearing in our media this week.  By now, you've probably viewed commercials from our nation's power players, each starring its own celeb:  Jennifer Hudson for Weight Watchers, Janet Jackson for Nutri-System, and Mariah Carey for Jenny Craig (can someone please help me identify exactly what Mariah is doing in this commercial?)  

Upping the ante in cyberspace is a new site that allows dieters to gamble on how much weight they lose.

What I know is that if I had $100 riding on my weight loss, I'd somehow make it happen. What might happen after, though, is likely what happens to most dieters after the fact, highlighted by a recent study among adolescents, which appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health and which concludes in its abstract, “Findings clearly indicate that dieting and unhealthy weight control behaviors, as reported by adolescents, predict significant weight gain over time.”

If you begin a diet, chances are that you'll lose weight.  Chance are also that if you end the diet (which you may do after a pre-specified time or earlier, due to difficulty in adhering to the diet), you will gain the weight back.  In many cases, you will gain even more.  The statistics have spoken loud and clear, and not one product, plan, or gimmick has shown the ability to compete successfully with them.