Weigh This Instead!

Life After Emotional & Binge Eating

Wishing You a Guilt-Free Christmas!

Christmas Kitchen Guilt

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.

Stress Relief; Stop Doing This!

Stress

Wellness Not Weight–Still Hoping!

Can we focus on Wellness Not Weight?I just hung up from a very, very brief phone call from a woman who said she works for a company called R.J. Spencer Associates and was looking for a “weight loss company” for employees at General Electric’s Aircraft Engine division here in Cincinnati. I get these types of calls regularly.

So as to not waste anyone’s time, I immediately explained what we do; that we work with people who overeat due to, among other things, emotional overeating. I said, “We know traditional weight loss programs don’t work for, well, almost everyone!”

“OK. Thank you”, she said very nicely…and hung up without asking me a single question. This still surprises me…that people just don’t get it! Diets really don’t work! Really, they don’t!

I looked up her company..and then felt just a little bit better. Turns out they offer, “…employee discount buying booklet programs; at no cost to the fortune 500…”, so there’s no way to know if GE is even a client, maybe a perspective client, or if she was just looking to fill a brochure with something that says, “Weight Loss“, regardless of the approach.

I hope to live long enough to see companies who offer Employee Wellness programs focus on Wellness not weight…but I do wonder if this will happen in my lifetime…

What are you seeing at your places of work…any improvement or change in focus?

A Sign There’s Less Fat Shaming? Get a Tissue

(FYI, this post is a follow up to the video I posted in this blog on September 5th, 2015 post, Fat Shaming for Sport & Views)

I watched that previous and very moving video of a young woman with an eating disorder (in Great Britain, I believe), asking people who identified with eating disorders and self-esteem issues to draw a heart on her body. I cried as I watched it.

Then, I read a post written about that video. The writer, a health at every size advocate like myself, wondered whether the loving response to a black bikini clad woman, practically naked in public, would have been any different if the woman in the bikini had been a larger, fatter woman.

Then, a middle-aged Mom in Boise, Idaho, answered that question for us.

What follows are her two videos—first her experiment in a downtown public market–followed by her sharing of her experience doing so. I know it could have gone differently. We live in a world where weight bias and weight stigma, and fat jokes are aplenty. But I am so glad both experiments, one across the pond and one here in the US, went the way they did.

I am crying, again, as I write this (Yes, I am a crier!). But this time they’re tears of hope! Maybe, just maybe in our lifetime, we’ll see an end to fat shaming? Wouldn’t that be amazing!

What was your reaction to these videos? Did they stir up any feelings, any judgments, any weight bias–about other people’s bodies…or your own? Feel free to comment below.

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I’m Ellen Shuman and nothing makes me sadder (and angrier) than Fat Shaming! I am a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome body dissatisfaction and shame, as well as emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out Life Coaching (an end to emotional eating and weight obsession) & 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”. Ready to do some work on these issues? Get in touch!  ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Fat Shaming for Sport & Views

As yet another mean-spirited fat shaming video (no doubt posted to get the vlogger attention) appears on YouTube, I found myself looking for uplifting articles and videos to help counter the hatred and cleanse my mind from such ignorance.  (I refuse to share links to videos containing poisonous drivel that spews every erroneous stereotype you’ve ever heard about people of size).

But it is with great pleasure that I share this YouTube video that was posted a few weeks ago and already has over 3 MILLION views. It brought me to tears! It’s an example of the creativity and good that’s happening to counter body stigma and hate. (As of ths writing, the fat shaming video only has 147,000 views–YES! That says something!)

WATCH THIS VIDEO INSTEAD!

Btw, the fat shaming vlogger disabled the comments below her video. Interesting! I’m guessing that’s because she didn’t like what people were saying about her and her stigma-filled rant!

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I’m Ellen Shuman and nothing makes me see RED faster than Fat Shaming! I am a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome body dissatisfaction and shame, as well as emotional eating, compulsive eating, binge eating disorder, and food addiction. I am the founder of A Weigh Out Life Coaching (an end to emotional eating and weight obsession) & 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”. Ready to do some work on these issues? Get in touch!  ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Food Waste-Shocking and Sad

When you struggle with emotional eating, your relationship with food is complicated, to say the least. But after watching HBO’s John Oliver  on YouTube talk about food and food waste in America, I’m reminded just how screwed up this country’s relationship is with food, in general.

How can a nation full of such smart people not care enough to solve issues of hunger and food waste. As Oliver explains (pretty graphically–pardon the crassness and language in spots), we have dumpsters and then landfills full of perfectly edible food that decomposes and produces methane gas?

Why can’t we fix this? As someone who has never gone hungry a day in her life, this issue breaks my heart…

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Ellen Shuman is 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. She is the founder of A Weigh Out  Life Coaching & Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present). She is 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.

Bruce Jenner Interview; Asks for Understanding, Then Calls Former Olympic Competitor Overweight, Therefore a Loser? Really?

Bruce Jenner Interview-ABC News

Bruce Jenner Interview-ABC News

A friend just asked me what I thought of last night’s Diane Sawyer Bruce Jenner interview…

I was moved by Bruce Jenner’s courage and obvious pain. I have great compassion for anyone who feels they have had to pretend to be somebody they are not.

I fear he’s facing hard times ahead, as he is about to live as a woman. I wish the paparazzi, tabloids, and late night comedians would leave him alone…but I can’t imagine they will. I also hope his desire to make a genuine difference for other transgender people is not tainted by his association, past or present, with the publicity crazed Kardashians.

My only negative feelings came soon into the interview when he shared that he’d recently run into Russian Nikolay Avilov, whose record he broke during the 1976 Olympic Decathlon. With a huge smile on his face, Jenner gloats about Avilov’s appearance today, “He was overweight and out of shape. I won that battle, too.”

So, here is Jenner, asking people for understanding and tolerance as he transitions to being the woman he feels he has always been, but he doesn’t give a second thought to judging the now 66 year old Avilov as “a loser” because he doesn’t look like the athlete he was when he was in his 20’s. Jenner “wins” because he is thinner? Really?

People continue to amaze me! Talk about weight bias being the last bastion of judgment and stigma…and from a person who is asking for tolerance and understanding because he was born in a body that did not match how he feels about himself.

He says he wants “to be remembered as true to himself”. Does that include seeing himself as better than fat people and seeing fat people as losers???? In truth, in the middle of his gender identity struggle, I’m sure it never even crossed Bruce Jenner’s mind that his judgmental comment about another person’s body was intolerant, prejudicial, rude…or proof of weight-ism.

As his appearance changes, I hope people will treat him with less superficial judgment, more thoughtfulness and acceptance than he offered his former fellow athlete. I wish Jenner well…

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I am Ellen Shuman and I am an anti-weight stigma advocate. 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). I am 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.

Weight Bias; Are Doctors Driving Patient’s Shame about Seeking Medical Care?

Weight Bias in the Doctor's OfficeHave you ever delayed or avoided getting medical care because of weight bias or because you felt shame about your body? Were you afraid the doctors or nurses at the doctor’s office might judge you based on what you weighed or whether you’d lost or gained weight since your last visit?

Unfortunately, your concerns may in fact have been valid.

I recently co-authored a review article published in a special issue of the Journal of Obesity in which we evaluated “…the Evidence for Prioritizing Well-Being over Weight Loss”. While doing my research, I read some disturbing but not surprising research about weight stigma in healthcare, reported by the Yale Rudd Center (Now located at UCONN).

When it comes to Weight Bias and Weight Stigma, here’s what their studies found…

• 69% of participants reported that they had experienced weight bias by a doctor
• Over half of participants reported bias from a doctor on multiple occasions
• 46% reported bias from nurses
• 37% reported bias from dietitians
• 21% reported bias from health professionals

(Source: Puhl RM, Brownell KD. Confronting and Coping with Weight Stigma: An Investigation of Overweight and Obese Adults. Obesity.2006;14(10):1802-1815.)

Experiencing weight bias in health care settings may lead patients to:

a. Feel discouraged from making positive lifestyle changes.
b. Avoid seeking routine or preventive care.
c. Engage in unhealthy behaviors in response to stigma.
d. Experience negative psychological consequences.

According to the Rudd Center’s research, there is some hope. Weight bias can be reduced and the quality of medical care can be enhanced when healthcare providers become aware of personal biases and adopt effective and sensitive strategies to communicate with patients of higher weight.

(Sources: Puhl, Heuer, 2010, Puhl, Heuer, 2009, Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity Center’s Course, Weight Bias in Clinical Settings: Improving Health Care Delivery for Obese Patients, and Puhl RM, Heuer CA. Obesity stigma: Important considerations for public health. Am J Public Health. 2010;100(6):1019-1028, and Puhl RM, Heuer CA. The stigma of obesity: A review and update. Obesity. 2009;17(5):941-964.)

Have you ever experienced weight prejudice or stigma in a health care setting? If willing, please tell us about it in the comments section below. You’re certainly not alone!

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My name is Ellen Shuman and I am a staunch advocate of well-being over weight! I am 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 & Online Members’ Circle, Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present), a Past President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (2011/2012), and I started the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”. To learn more, please get in touch, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

Mindfulness and Gratitude; A Video Gift

Mindfulness and gratitudeI spend the majority of my days teaching emotional management and mindfulness skills…to people who wish to stop using “food thoughts” to go mindless and numb. And, to support my own recovery from living life on autopilot; disconnected from my own thoughts and feelings, I write a brief gratitude list every day. So, I tend to think of myself as pretty mindful.

Then, Diane, one of my clients, sent me this video. She learned about it from a friend who is battling cancer. I watched…I cried…and I realized I’m still on autopilot much of the time…and that it is within my power to change my degree of mindfulness.

With gratitude (thank you Diane!), I now pass this on to you. It’s a lovely six minute film by Louie Schwartzberg that I hope will impact how you, too, define and create “a good day”.

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I’m Ellen Shuman, a mindful human in process! I’m also a pioneer in the field of binge eating disorder recovery; a Coach who specializes in helping people overcome binge eating, binge eating disorder, emotional eating, compulsive eating, and food addiction. I founded A Weigh Out Life Coaching & Members’ Circle and Acoria Binge Eating Disorder Treatment (1993-present). I also served as President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association, 2011/2012, and Co-Founder  the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, ellen@aweighout.com, 513-321-4242.

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