Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Barbie Makeover; A Sign of Progress!

Ellen Shuman when she got her first Barbie

Ellen Shuman

A Barbie Makeover is in the news…all over the news…

I was about five when I got my first Barbie

I still have all of my Barbie Dolls; Barbie, Ken, Skipper– in a box somewhere in my basement, along with their very glamorous clothes. I loved playing Barbie; dressing her in her best sparkly black strapless gown, striped bathing suit, and pencil thin peddle pusher pants!

My First Barbie

My First Barbies

But ALL I could identify with were her eye and hair color. No one in my family had a body built like Barbie’s. I admit I envied my friends whose Moms could wear skinny pants. My Mom and I could not.

As I watched media coverage this past week about the launch of a new more diverse Barbie line, I took in all the criticisms. Most reports pointing out that Mattel was motivated by “declining sales” since 2012. OK, if more and more of today’s Moms have stopped buying their children dolls with bodies that do not represent real women… and Mattel listened… that’s progress! “There’s still too much emphasis on appearance and fashion.” Likely true, but as a woman and an anti weight-stigma advocate, I’ll take a Barbie makeover as movement toward mainstream body diversity and that’s movement I’ll take anywhere I can get it!

There’s a “Curvy” Barbie! YES! It’s a start…

Barbie Makeover

Curvy Barbie

 

I love that the next generation of little girls (and boys) will grow up seeing some increase in diverse body types, skin colors, and hair textures in their toys. It’s a sign of changing times and it is progress! There will be critics…but I’ll celebrate progress where I can get it…and in my lifetime! Yes! More change needed, but this Barbie Makeover is a good start!

Here’s a video/commercial that shows the toy company’s repositioning of the Barbie brand…

 

I’d love to hear what you think…

______________________________

I’m Ellen Shuman; an anti Weight Stigma advocate and a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Enough with the Dieting Resolutions!

Judith Matz, LCSW on Dieting

Judith Matz, LCSW

It’s January and constant talk about New Year Dieting Resolutions surrounds us.  This can be a tough time of year for emotional and binge eaters…a tough time for anyone who feels uncomfortable in their own skin. (Oprah’s Weight Watchers commercials don’t help!)

Psychotherapist and author Judith Matz ( who has contributed to this blog in the past),  offers an antidote. She has wrtten a wonderful  new post called, ” 8 Reasons Why I Don’t Want to Hear About Your Diet”.  Click here to read it. 

 

What do you think?

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I’m Ellen Shuman and based on the harm I see resulting from dieting, I have nothing good to say about dieting! Instead, I focus on recovery from dieting…and from binge eating disorder treatment. I am a  Coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction; the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Diets and Bodies Are Not All the Same!

Not all bodies are the same …and different people will react differently to different ways of eating. As discussed in this New York Times Report, finally, we’re starting to see evidence that the tide is turning away from blanket dietary recommendations for all. Hopefully, what will follow will also be a move away from blame if you happen to be fatter than you were before you started dieting…

YES! Acknowledgment and proof that bodies are not all the same! Finally, researchers are starting to ask the right questions! Hopefully, we’ll see more and more research moving in this enlightened direction.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll use this new information to eliminate years and year of self-blame and shame…

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I’m Ellen Shuman, a pioneer in the field of binge eating disorder treatment; a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction and this report made me very happy! Finally, some sanity when it comes to diets! I am also founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

My Guiding Word for 2016; “Centered”

My 2015 Word: "Trust"

My 2015 Word: “TRUST”

Each new year, typically on New Year’s Day, I choose a new word. It’s one word I wish to use as a guiding goal for the upcoming year.

In 2015, my word was TRUST. I made huge progress using that word! I am so much more trusting than I was last year…mostly of myself. I trust that I am and will continue to be free from my Binge Eating Disorder because now I know how to live my life without using food to go numb, mindless, and as my primary way to self-soothe. Instead,  I have learned how to live mindfully; how to replace self-defeating emotional eating with Self-Care. Now, I trust I know how to keep that going…

I just searched in the Members’ Forum, to see what I said about TRUST when I first set it as my word one year ago today. Here’s what I wrote…

“I will Trust in myself; that I’ll consistently and simply do what it takes so I “get to” live my best life possible (Members’ Empowerment Tool #23, “I Get to…”). I get to trust that, when I slip, I’ll recommit, without those lifelong well-practiced judgments or recriminations that used to keep my relapses going for weeks, months, even years. I want to trust that I will be more emotionally vulnerable this year; take more emotional risks. As Brene Brown says, live more “whole heartedly”…

I want to reveal more of myself and my recovery to my readers and clients, appropriately. I’ve noticed when I do so, people are willing to take more risks in their own work….I trust that that’s why I’m here…to share and help others who have had emotional eating and binge eating struggles similar to my own…

I will trust that I will exercise regularly and choose healthy foods (most of the times :-), but not all of the time). All or nothing doesn’t work for me!

TRUST…that’s my word for 2015…feels right!”

Turns out, TRUST was a great word for me in 2015!

In years past, I have chosen these words; MINDFULNESS, SELF-CARE, CHOICE, BALANCE, CALM. I find ways to incorporate my chosen word into my everyday routines; be it in a brief meditation each day in the shower, or saying the word as I take a deep breath sometime during a stressful day.Sometimes, I make the word part of my intentions when I set them in the morning (“PENSO”-Members’Empowerment Tool #8).

Sometimes, I write the word at the top of my week’s Willingness List (Empowerment Tool #4, “Mindful Living vs. Mindless Eating”). Yes, I still make a Willingness List every Sunday. I find it grounds me and helps me stay mindful of the week I wish to create. And my word is always on my Self-Care List (Empowerment Tool # 27; “A New Kind of Self-Care List”).

This year I considered several words; FAITH, EXERCISE, PROGRESS, CREATIVITY, SOCIALIZE, FUN! As it always does, the best word for me becomes clear. This morning, I chose CENTERED. When I am centered, I have faith. I have access to my creativity. I am more willing to choose to exercise, be more social, plan more fun, make more progress in any arena of my life where I so choose. So, for 2016, CENTERED it is!

What’s your word for 2016? Would you benefit from creating one? How would you use your guiding word?

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I’m Ellen Shuman and I choose to be CENTERED, in both my personal and professional endeavors. I will be centered as I Coach people; help them overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242. If you would like to explore how I might help you, please get in touch!

Reflection and Gratitude

I was mindlessly watching videos on Facebook a few weeks ago. These days, I do that when I’m bored. I find it to be a much more productive activity than heading to the kitchen looking for something in the fridge to “entertain” me, so to speak.

As always happens, one video leads to another, and another, and then I happened upon this one. It touched me, really got me thinking about the power of reflection and gratitude. See what you think…

I know reflection and gratitude have a positive impact on my life!  Still, I just get so busy I forget to use those activities to my advantage. It’s so easy to reflect and feel grateful! It just requires the willingness to connect!

And that’s why reflecting and feeling grateful are so important to me in my recovery from emotional eating? When I do reflect, I connect. When I connect, I am mindful; in the moment. When I am mindful and in the moment, the need to use food to go mindless just stops. I do not have to eat mindlessly if I choose to be mindful, connected to my thoughts and feelings, and feeling grateful!

I’m thinking I can modify this a little to fit my life. I don’t need to take actual pictures. For me, that feels like too much work. But I am willing to write a gratitude list more often. I already post in the Members’ Support Circle, under the thread “3 Good Things Today”, but not consistently. (Learn more about the Members’ Circle Here)

If curious about whether making a short gratitude list will be helpful to you, try it. Just grab a piece of paper and list 3 Things You Feel Good about Today. (Small things count, i.e., I slept in an extra hour today, I got my bills paid and in the mail, I connected with an old friend via email, I decluttered the family room).

How does that feel? Experiment! Make the list when you have compulsive food thoughts.  Make a short gratitude list first thing in the morning and see if it helps get the day off to a better start. Consider making a short gratitude list anytime you feel anxious, stressed, or depressed.  You get to decide when this activity would be most useful to you.

Let us know what happens…

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I’m Ellen Shuman, a pioneer in the field of binge and emotional eating recovery since 1993; a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment, a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. Have questions? Feel free to get in touch,  ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Wishing You a Guilt-Free Christmas!

Christmas Kitchen Guilt

I Am NOT My Binge Thoughts!

Binge Thought Free Girl on bikeWhat was it that allowed me to finally overcome my binge thoughts and binge eating? That’s a common question my clients ask.

First, I finally understood that I had grown addicted to a behavior; I was using eating as a distraction from my life. I used thinking about food, binge thoughts, and then eating, for various reasons. It was something to look forward to, a reward, excitement, a way to transition from one part of my day to the next. But mostly, I focused on food to avoid feeling—anything. Food became my only way to self-soothe. Eating became the focal point of my life. Emotional eating became a deeply entrenched, self-defeating habit.

But those important insights were NOT enough to help me change. When I had powerful food thoughts and I felt out-of-control, I thought I had absolutely no choice but to act on those food thoughts. Change did not come until I grasped the following.

I am NOT my binge thoughts!

Once I learned  how to OBSERVE and MANAGE my thoughts and feelings, I stopped feeling controlled by them. I worked on getting more mindful; increasingly, I could recognize what was going on in my mind without feeling overwhelmed…or feeling the need to judge or avoid my thoughts. I learned what I call “emotional handrails”. When uncomfortable feelings hit, I noticed those feelings and then I reached for my emotional handrails to help keep me in the moment… instead of flipping on the old “mindlessness- eating switch”. Soon, the food thoughts began to lose their power over me.

Author and psychiatrist Daniel J. Siegel puts it this way. “…a great transformation begins when we look at our minds with curiosity and respect rather than fear and avoidance. Inviting our thoughts and feelings into our awareness allows us to learn from them rather than be driven by them. We can calm them without ignoring them; we can hear them without being terrified by their screaming voices…”

Frankly, after so many years of overusing food for emotional reasons, I didn’t know I could calm a feeling without ignoring it…or  tolerate my thoughts and survive the moment. Surprisingly, it turned out it was not as difficult as I thought it would be. I  just had to learn how…and be willing to practice the heck out of my new skills and behaviors–just as I had practiced the heck out of my binge thoughts and overeating :-).

If you’d like to learn more about the “Emotional Handrails” I’m speaking about, be sure to register for one of my free phone seminars. Find my next Binge Eating Recovery Seminar dates and Register Here.

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I’m Ellen Shuman and for the last two decades I’ve specialized in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out Life Coaching & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and Co-Founder of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Cellulite Cure?

Cellulite Cream

Listening Without Judgment

Binge Eating Recovery Coach Ellen ShumanI was having my hair highlighted recently. My colorist rents one of those tiny salon spaces with just two chairs. The colorist introduced me to her other client and told this woman what I do for a living.

Then, as a captive audience in hair foils, I listened to this other client give me her opinion about why people eat too much and what they “simply” need to do to “gain control”. People just need to “…use a little discipline”, she said in numerous ways…

My ego, my patience, and my emotional regulation skills were put to the test.

She had that air of all-knowing-ness that in the past I would have assumed was because she was “naturally thin”, had no understanding about eating disorders, no empathy, and very little emotional intelligence. (No judgment on my part, huh?)

I tried my best to calmly explain that, often, it’s NOT that simple. I attempted to educate about emotional and binge eating; how some people overuse food to self-soothe and avoid uncomfortable feelings, people, tasks, etc. I might as well have been trying to get through to the chair she was sitting on. So, I just stopped talking.

At first, I felt dismissed, frustrated, angry, and trapped. My internal dialog went something like this, “Hey, I’m the expert; the researcher, the founder of an eating disorder program; a coach with decades of experience in this field and you don’t have a clue. Why aren’t you listening to me?”

Then, I stepped back and observed my own thoughts and feelings. I quieted my ego, my judgments, my need to be right. I decided to just be present; to listen to her with my heart…not easy, as this is a loaded subject for me… and, at that moment, I didn’t like the woman. But here’s what I heard.

I heard her talk about her own very rigid food and exercise rules. Then, she started talking about depression; saying “women need to fend for themselves, pull themselves up by their own bootstraps”.  Then, she went on to say”…depression is all about women in a man’s world, in the wrong job”. A few minutes later I asked her what she did for a living. She spoke openly and honestly about how frustrated she is with the male power base in her corporate job and about all the politics at work.

Now, I was truly hearing her story. This woman was actually sharing her own defenses, her own pain, how she used rigid food and exercise rules; “weight control”, to manage her own depression, dissatisfaction, and disappointment with her career!  In truth, what I was sharing about emotional eating challenged her survival strategies. So, of course what I had to say was of no interest. My insights were not welcome; likely they were even threatening to her…at this moment in time.

Looking back, I’m so glad I stopped trying to get her to “hear” me. I learned something very important. She wasn’t interested in what I had to say. Not everybody is or will be :-).  She was in her own pain. She just wanted to talk about her own pain…

Knowing that… and removing myself from the equation, was very freeing…

I wished her well!

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I’m Ellen Shuman and like everyone reading this post, I am a work in progress! I am also a pioneer in the field of binge eating disorder treatment; a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), and a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012),  ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Health Commitments; All In…or Maybe Not :-)?

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