Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Pep Talk

It's been awhile, I know...

Sorry for not getting to the blog. Been busy. Aren't we all?

My publisher sent me a "cool" review of Skinny Boy he snagged from the Internet. Hope you enjoy it.


On a different note, I recently received a letter from a college woman who has been battling an ED for a good chunk of her life. I'm sure many of you out there can identify. It seems so long...so, so long sometimes, like obsessive routines and obligations to diet, exercise, please others, pretend to be someone you're not - the list goes on - will never end. Is this all life is?

Of course not. The ED will tell you you're nothing but a pauper to IT. You going to believe the lie? That's what it is.

Here's my reply to that woman...

I wish I had some magic words to enlighten your brain and motivation to make you let go of this obsession. But you and I know it doesn’t work that easily. In order for you to stop obsessing, it will take a conscious effort on your part to make the change become reality. It will mean not only accepting the challenge but accepting that it will not be easy. You will need to expect setbacks and practice being forgiving of yourself. But, you will also experience exciting steps forwards, and gain valuable self-confidence and insights into what works for you and who you are. Stick with this process.

I encourage you to not give up if “it doesn’t work” or “it’s too hard.” These frustrating, defeating, confusing, guilty, shaming, angry feelings are normal. Openly admit that you are feeling them. Accept them as nicks and scratches on this part of your journey. Your shame, that pesky “voice” inside your head, will lie to you and shout how weak you are when a setback happens. Combat this thought with “Yeah, I may feel like a loser and failure, but that doesn’t mean I am one.”

Feelings are deceptive sometimes. They are not always the best indicator of what actually is true. For instance, you could eat a half PB & J sandwich and feel “fat” or bloated or weak. However, the human body was not created or designed to gain weight after eating a half PB & J sandwich. Reality is that it takes 3,500 calories to gain only one pound. It sounds ridiculous but it is reality. Of course, there’s always water weight that fluctuates daily, and hormonal imbalances, and other things that can affect that number on the scale on any given day. But ultimately, “real” weight takes a lot of calories.

Even though it will be hard, I advise you to get rid of your scale. Your obsession over a “the number” will only prevent you from moving forward. What can really help hold you accountable is a trusted friend, similar to a sponsor an alcoholic has for AA meetings. Commit to having them ask you regularly if you’ve weighed yourself. Then, once a week, have the sponsor weigh you backwards on the scale, so only the sponsor sees what you weigh. Or you can choose to not weigh yourself at all. The goal is to get your thinking on a different track, to not equate weight with success or beauty or self-worth.

Physical weight is irrelevant when you are healthy. Start reading books, articles, affirmations, famous quotes, meaningful Bible verses, etc. and filling your mind with information that focuses on gaining beauty and self-worth that is NOT based on weight, physical appearance, performance, or being “perfect.” Write meaningful quotes, verses, thoughts, or whatever on note cards or sticky notes and refer to them regularly throughout the day. Stick them on your bathroom mirror, in your purse, on the dashboard of your car, and wherever else you will see them regularly. Memorize them. Ingrain them in your brain. And most importantly, apply them to your life circumstances. Have your sponsor ask you occasionally if you are following through. When you slip up (notice I said “when” not “if”) verbally admit to yourself that you messed up, do your best to forgive yourself, try to learn something from the setback, then get right back on that horse and try again. Don’t dwell on the failure for a long period of time, but it is okay to feel discouraged and angry and frustrated and hurt for a little while. It’s normal and natural.

The key is not to dwell on your setback day after day. Just accept your feelings for what they are and move on. Your feelings are yours and okay; however, they are simply that – feelings and nothing else. They do not dictate in any way your worth as a person. Try to explore your deepest fears and where they might be coming from. This can help you revisit old experiences, irrational thoughts that came form those experiences, and discovering a new you. Therapy can really help with this, but if this isn’t an option because of time, money, or other things, talking to a trusted friend about these matters can help you gain insights you never thought of before – helpful insights. Explore your life-long goals. What do you really want to do with your life? What would really make you happy? Hone in on specifics of how you would get there then take steps to make it happen. This gives you a mission and something to keep your thoughts away from your ED habits.

Work on building healthy relationships with your family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors. Build a support network to help you through rough times. You’ll need these people, and they will need you. These relationships will help you change and grow and learn about yourself—the good and the bad. They provide a platform for the necessary changes in your life to happen. Doing this consistently will earn you rewards. But it takes work and conscious effort to go against the grain of what your shame is telling you. Keep in mind that your ED thoughts and behaviors are irrational, deceptive, and destructive. You don’t need to think this way. Life can be easier to manage.

Lastly, when you do start “letting go” of your old ED lifestyle, don’t expect a 100% turnaround. You will feel and experience these pleasant changes and growth will be apparent, but there will always be struggles and setbacks. None of us is perfect and “all put together.” We all will continue to have flaws and run the gamut with emotions at times. To expect perfection in healthy living will only disappoint you. I still struggle with shame to a small degree but I no longer harbor an ED. I now have other coping strategies that work for me to deal with stress, mainly my Christian faith, my family, personal interests, career, and giving back to others.

I hope this helps.

Got questions? Send them my way. I'll do my best to share what I have.

Till next time,