Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Too Thin Cartoon People?; Secret Life of Pets

Too Thin Cartoon Character

Can a cartoon character be too thin? A friend who loves her cat as much as I love my dog went with me to see “The Secret Life of Pets”. Just a few seconds into the movie, she gasped, turned to me and said, “Would you like to leave now?”

She and I both had an immediate reaction to the stick thin, TOO THIN body of “Katie”, owner of “Max”, the dog.  Those red sticks you see in this picture are her legs. For the full effect, to see why we gasped, play the video below. Then freeze it 12 seconds in.

 

Katie appears to be a totally cool young working woman with her own apartment in Manhattan and a great dog; a real role model for millions of impressionable young girls and young boys who will see this movie (not to mention the middle-aged pet enthusiasts like my friend and me). During the story-boarding, animation, and market-testing phases of this movie project didn’t anyone stop and say, “Is there a reason why we’re making this character so thin some people might think she has anorexia? Is this a good idea for a kids movie?” It’s not like there was a subplot coming where the dogs help Katie overcome an eating disorder.

In the past couple of years France, Israel, Spain, and Italy have passed laws cracking down on the use of too thin, unhealthy looking models. Some of the laws require that very skinny models have a doctor’s notes before they are allowed to work.

Lawmakers in California proposed similar legislation earlier this year but I haven’t been able to find news about whether it did or did not pass. I read this quote on The Today Show website, “California Assemblyman Marc Levine, the Marin County Democrat who introduced the bill, says studies show that up to 40 percent of fashion models have eating disorders and as many as 50 percent of girls in 5th to 12th grade think that they’re not thin enough because of the images that they see in magazines.”

Can’t common sense rule? Or do we have to pass legislation banning too thin cartoon characters in movies for kids?

The weekend the movie was released, I read several reviews. Not a single one I read made a reference to Katie’s extreme thinness.

Check out the movie trailer above, 12 seconds in. See what you think. (At least the dogs and cats are shown in all shapes and sizes, as is acceptable for cats and dogs in real life!)

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I’m Ellen Shuman and I believe we all feel impact from what we see on TV and in the movies, whether we acknowledge it or not. I’m a Coach who specialize in helping people achieve recovery from binge eating, binge eating disorder, and emotional eating. 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”. Interested in working with me on your recovery? Please get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

New Weight Loss Surgery

new weight loss surgeryI saw a report on the 6 o’clock news last week about a new weight loss surgery procedure, touted as” less invasive”(really???). This surgical procedure would involve a tube placed directly into the stomach. That tube will come out from the stomach through a port to the outside of the body. Then, right after eating, the person simply empties the contents of their stomach and throws away the predigested food they just ate….so no weight gain.

Doesn’t that sound like Bulimia; just with a new purging method…this one medically sanctioned???

As I understand more and more about why people overeat; emotionally eat, binge eat, feel addicted to food, I am more and more disheartened by the main stream medical community’s lack of understanding, prejudice, and suggested interventions.

Doctors don’t know what to do with people who don’t or can’t comply with repeated recommendations to lose weight. It’s no secret that weight stigma is alive and well in the medical profession (I have co-authored reviews of that literature)…and I know coming up with THE new weight loss surgery is a BIG money-maker for surgeons and hospitals…but what happened to “First, Do No Harm”?

I fully understand the desperation that would make any weight loss surgery seem like a good option to someone who feels out-of-control-with-food and/or with life. I have to admit, even after all these years of being a recovering binge eater, on the surface the idea that I could eat everything in sight, when desired, and not pay for it with weight gain, has its appeal. But then I remind myself that my binge eating was not about food. It was about going numb…and no amount of weight loss was going to fix that. I know that to be my truth because I lost a lot of weight, many times, and I still felt like I couldn’t tolerate being in my own skin. Of course emotional eating and the weight came back, with a vengeance!  Back then, turning to food was the only tool I had to self-soothe. Eating was about comfort and escape, not about food! Understanding that was critical to my recovery!

As I have studied and come to understand the latest neuroscience breakthroughs, and have incorporating those into my work with my clients and into my own recovery from binge eating, I am truly convinced that rearranging one’s organs through weight loss surgery is not the way to fix compulsive overeating, long term. I doubt there will ever be a way to surgically rearrange body parts that will stop that fight, flight, need-to-escape-the-moment-and-go-numb-feeling that takes over right before a binge.

Today, I know that interventions must include how to use our “conscious mind” to change our conditioned brain responses to stress, boredom, anger, fear, loneliness, hurt, etc. The exciting news is that we’re finally learning more and more about how to effectively do this! (Neuroscience looks at the structure and function of the nervous system and brain as they relate to behavior and learning. For more about that, you’re welcome to sign up for my Free Phone Seminar.  I’ll share with you what we’re learning about brain interventions and techniques as they relate to overcoming emotional eating.)

I’ve been told by many people that they’ve felt pressured by their physicians to consider weight loss surgery; to the degree where the patients stopped seeing those doctors. The patient knew surgery was not going to fix what was driving their emotional eating issues, said they shared that with the doctor but the patients felt their doctors didn’t seem to understand what they were trying to explain or didn’t seem to care. They just kept pushing surgery as the best option.

Medical industry insiders have told me that surgical weight loss interventions were originally designed for those who were at great and eminent risk of dying without it vs the way it it used today. So, it’s critical that we ask ourselves when and why did weight loss surgery, which has little to no data suggesting people keep off the weight long term, become the go-to strategy for improved health (if you can find that data, please let me know)?

($$$$$$$$$$$) Just saying…

 

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I am 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. I am the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present). I was also a founding board member and 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”. Want to know more? Get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Recovery from Binge Eating

It has been a whRecovery from Binge Eatingile since I’ve had a reason to sit down and write about my own recovery from Binge Eating Disorder; from soup to nuts. I talk about it in bits and pieces all day long; when appropriate with the clients I coach….to illustrate how to use the skills and tools I teach. But that’s not my WHOLE story.

So, about a month ago, when I was asked by the publisher of the Gurze/Salucore Eating Disorders Resource Catalogue to write an Eating Disorders Booksarticle about my recovery from binge eating, for their June ENewsletter, I immediately thought, “Sure, I can do that.” (They gave the same assignment to one person in recovery from Anorexia and one in recovery from Bulimia.)

Then, the more I thought about the assignment I’d accepted, the more time I put into conceptualizing my story, the more anxious I felt. I wasn’t nervous about the sharing part. It was the title they gave me that threw me; “Three Essential Steps in my Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder”.  It was a great title but I had never thought about my own recovery in those terms.

If I had to narrow them down, what were those three critical shifts? I wrote and rewrote until it became clear.

The Three Biggest Milestone in My Recovery from Binge Eating Disorder

 

Critical Insight #1: I realized I shifted my attention to “food-thoughts” whenever I didn’t want to think, feel, or do something else.

Critical Insight #2: If I was going to give up bingeing as my primary way to self-soothe, I needed new emotional regulation tools.

Critical Insight #3: “I am NOT my thoughts and I do not have to be driven them!”

To read the whole article, click here. I hope you’ll find my experience useful as you pursue your own recovery from binge eating or emotional eating. If you’re interesting in learning more about the Recovery Skills and Tools I teach, please join me for one of my Free Phone Seminars.

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I’m Ellen Shuman and I’m a Coach who specialize in helping people achieve recovery from binge eating, binge eating disorder, and emotional eating. 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”. Interested in working with me on your recovery? Please get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Biggest Losers Regain–Plus Consequences!

May 12th, 2016 Update

Be sure to read this very sane, well researched article/opinion piece that was published in the New York Times as a follow up to all the crazy attention that Biggest Loser article received, “Why You Can’t Lose Weight on a Diet; The problem isn’t willpower. It’s neuroscience. You can’t — and shouldn’t — fight back”.   (See info about original article below.)

 

Have you read the New York Times article, “After ‘The Biggest Loser’, Their Bodies Fought to Regain the Weight“?

Biggest Losers regain the weight they lost (lost quickly). Surprising? No! We have known for decades that rapid weight loss signals to the body that there’s a famine afoot; causing one’s metabolism to slow down and signaling the body’s hunger hormones to surge.

Disheartening? Sure. But it certainly explains why maintaining weight loss is so hard….for all of us…not just for Biggest Losers.

If you choose to read the whole New York Times article, I’d like to point out some things that were written that should be questioned. Such as,

“Researchers are figuring out why being fat makes so many people develop diabetes and other medical conditions…”

Cause and effect???? There are many new questions being raised about whether being fat causes diabetes or whether the medical condition diabetes causes the weight gain that gets the blame. Check out this video and article I wrote about in my blog.

Cause of Diabetes; A Doctor Apologizes

Diabetes and Weight; Doctors May Have It Backwards

“They are starting to unravel the reasons bariatric surgery allows most people to lose significant amounts of weight when dieting so often fails.”

Bariatric surgery may help people lose significant amounts of weight, quickly…but do they keep it off? Why don’t health reporters address that half of the equasion when they write that weight loss surgery helps “people lose significant amounts of weight”? (That’s a pet peeve of mine!)  In truth, it is almost impossible to get real stats on the weight regain rate after Bariatric Surgery. Why? Because the people who start regaining weight (researchers I have spoken with say that’s often within a year to 18 months after surgery),  drop out of the studies and because many bariatric doctors/centers are not interested in collecting longterm data, as it would not look good for them.

As we know that much of what is done in the name of weight loss backfires, studies like this one (small as it was) bolster the argument for a focus on health and well-being vs weight and weight loss

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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. I am also the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), as well as 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.

Pursuit of Perfection

Pursuit of perfection…unless one is attempting to cut an expensive gemstone–I’ve come to see the pursuit of perfection as a waste of energy…and worse than that; often an endeavor that leads to a great deal of emotional pain. There is no such thing as a perfect person; not in the people we love or in ourselves!

Yet, so many of the people I coach are crippled by the pursuit of perfection; this imaginary black or white marker; a determiner of self-worth…applied to self and others.

Holding someone else up to some perfect ideal…or trying, personally, to live up to some self-imposed (or family imposed) impossible standard, feeling driven by perfectionistic thinking, often goes hand-in hand with emotional overeating.

(Excerpt from my Membership Circle Tool # 37 “Do You Feel You Have to Be Perfect?”)

“The pursuit of perfection tends to generate a great deal of anxiety in a person’s everyday life! Emotional eating is intricately linked to perfectionistic thinking. Food thoughts and food quiet the anxiety. Food is also used to manage any unresolved anger and/or disappointment the person may feel about having been a child who was never affirmed for her efforts and was never “good enough”. Additionally, when the person hunts for the ‘perfect’ solution to the eating disturbance, and fails to find it, she uses food to manage her disappointment and pain over this issue, as well.

Often, the person who believes he or she has to do things “perfectly” is aware of this way of thinking and knows the impact it has had on his or her life, but struggles to change it.

Sometimes a person thinks he or she must do everything perfectly, or the world will truly know just how imperfect and flawed they really are.

Trying to be “perfect” is the ultimate cover-up…and an impossible goal.

Perfectionists tend to function under the belief that there is a right and wrong answer to everything in the world – leaving only two possibilities — either a perfect solution or a failure. Since there is often no clear ‘perfect’ solution or response, in most life situations, many perfectionists avoid situations, circumstances, relationships where they will not be able to guarantee success or be affirmed for the effort they puts forth. They tend to not recognize the value of expending effort, even if there is not a ‘perfect’ resolution. They are often unable to own that they did the best they could, given the circumstances, and that their effort was admirable. Everything has to turn out perfectly.”

It’s a tough way to live! I know. I am a recovering perfectionist!

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I’m Ellen Shuman; a proud recovering perfectionist! I work with other recovering perfectionists who also wish to overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the imperfect 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”. Want to pursue imperfection? Get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Leave Our Appearance Alone!

Victoria Beckham

Victoria Beckham-Photo Source Facebook

OMG! As if we don’t already have enough to feel self-conscious about when it comes to our appearance, now we have to be concerned about how we look when our face is at rest???? Apparently we have a new label, “Resting Bitch Face”? Really?

The Washington Post recently reported that Designer Victoria Beckham, singer Kayne West, actress Kristen Stewart, and the Queen of England, just to name a few, each have one…and that actress Anna Kendrick says she does, too. It’s called a “Resting Bitch Face”. Reportedly, it’s a face that tends to, when at rest, look annoyed judgey, bored, or full of contempt.

Oh, my….it has even been studied! Read about that study here, “Scientists have discovered what causes Resting Bitch Face”.

You should see the look on my face right now! Reading that article just made me feel more anxious…how about you?

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I’m Ellen Shuman and I’m perpetually amazed by how many new ways people can bully others. 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, 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 Relationship with Food Made My Life Small

Relationship with Food

Back when I was using my relationship with food for everything– for entertainment, for comfort, disconnection, self-soothing, often just for something to do to keep me from thinking or feeling; to keep me from being present, I had an epiphany. My life had become very small.

I did very little other than work…and think about what I could get to eat on the way home. Weekends, when I didn’t have to work, were filled with DVD’s from Blockbuster–picked up Friday nights on the way home, along with lots of ice cream, m&ms, diet coke, donuts, etc.

I had started reorganizing my days to accommodate eating alone.  I turned down invitations so I COULD be home eating alone. I stopped connecting with friends, except in a superficial way. I stopped planning trips. Actually, I stopped planning adventures of any kind. I went to fewer and fewer movies in movie theaters (this was long before Netflix), or plays, or concerts. I no longer paid attention to what exhibits might be coming to museums in my city. I stopped planning walks, bike rides, or white water rafting trips with friends.

All of my creative energy went into making food plans. Which restaurants delivered? Which ones had drive-throughs? My only adventures were to be found in food. I was miserable! My biggest challenge…how could I NOT think and feel while I waited 30 minutes for the pizza delivery guy to arrive?

Now I know these behaviors were all symptoms of a full-blown binge eating disorder

Does any of that sound familiar?  If it feels like your relationship with food has taken on a life of its own, you’re certainly not alone. And you deserve help! (If you’d like to hear more about what I wrote about above, please consider listening to a recording I just posted; a TeleSeminar with Psychotherapist Trisha Rubin, “Do We Turn to Food Because We Lack Adventure?”. It’s all about how common this is and what we each can do to get our lives back. Anyone can listen for free–just take advantage of a 21 Day Free Trial I offer to visitors.)

How small has your world become? I promise you, it does NOT have to stay that way!

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I’m Ellen Shuman and I have been through it all, personally and professionally! For the past couple of decades, I have been a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I founded A Weigh Out & Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present). I am also a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and one of its founding board members.  Questions about phone coaching?  Feel free to contact me, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

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…

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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.

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