Do I Look Good Enough Yet?

Posted: March 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

I’ve been reading an advance copy of Geneen Roth’s upcoming book “Lost and Found.” It’s brilliant. It’s illuminating. It’s deep.

It’s also about food and money, and there are delicious bon mots throughout the entire read but a recent passage I read really captured my interest.

Roth says the she often tells her students “that they have to want something more than they want to be thin—they have to want to be close to themselves, to know the truth, to question the very heart of who they take themselves to be—because if they don’t, then they will always go back to what they know: their familiar selves, their default ways of operating in the world.”

Yummy material to say the least.

So, I thought, what really is my biggest want? If it’s true, and our actions tell us more about where we are internally—you know, the notion that what you animate says so much more about you than what you tell yourself or the world—then I suppose my great desire is to be thin and look great and have the perfect body. If it wasn’t … if I truly craved a truth deeper, stronger than wanting to be fit and thin, would I, then, self-check myself in the mirror as much as I do on a daily basis?

Mirror, mirror ...

And while I can see that my chronic self-checking has subsided a bit, I found it curious that, after an evening or two of allowing myself to eat the foods I craved, I woke up the next morning studying my body. Was my stomach protruding? Did it flatten? Was my ass hanging lower? Was it tighter? (Damm.. it better be, I’ve been taking all those SPIN classes, right?)

Is my great want to spill forth my love onto others—you know, as in actually helping people—or is it to have my body be the size and shape I believe I need it to be? I discuss this topic, especially as it relates to men, in a section of the new book I co-wrote, “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!” (Let’s face it, when it comes to body image, body image disorder, and eating disorders, men are not often left out of that discussion. (Isn’t all that a woman’s thing, I often hear.)

Fittingly, my co-author Dr. Maria Rago, and I, dubbed our mens’ chapter: “Shut Up, About Excluding Guys.”

All this has also made me recall another of Roth’s jewels … where she tells readers something along the lines of: “reacting to things that are no longer there.” I laughed when I read that and wondered: Who told me I didn’t look good enough? Am I simply responding to old voices that are no longer there? Ghosts?

As these inner tremors keep happening, I was given an opportunity today to actually help somebody get from New York to San Francisco on very short notice—for a memorial this weekend. I watched myself, my reactions, my thoughts … as I was asked to help with $100 or so for a quick flight …

… and then I watched myself when I listened to my gut and decided that I wanted to help; that the amount of money really didn’t matter so long as I was offering it with grace and fiscal responsibility.

And then … as time went on… and the cost of the flight increased, I watched myself again. I began to worry. Could I part with the money? Did I want to part with the money? Fear—it was having a field day inside and the patterns of behavior, so locked into their own groove (“couldn’t we just go back to worrying about becoming thin?”) tried convincing me that I should not fork over the cash.

I did it anyway. Because it felt right.

In the meantime, I’m thinking the only diet I need to go on is “the inner-critic fast.”

Tempting indeed.

Onward …

Courtesy of SUPERSIZE ME

Sometimes awareness is like a double-edged sword—the more you know, the more you know. But what do you do with what you know?

You know?

I’m finding this particular true if not perplexing as I move forward exploring some of my own issues surrounding food, body image and eating disorders. I’m sick just thinking about it. (I said that for dramatic effect because being dramatic, like turning to food when I am not really hungry, seems to be one of the ways I deal with the emotions I’ve led myself to believe I can’t deal with.)

Scratching your head? Pull up a chair. Stay a while … I’m right there with you.

Here’s what’s happening. I cowrote this book called “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches” (See other blog posts.) As I noted in other entries, the book dives into eating issues and body image issues and more, all the while taking a stand against the media, the advertising industry and more. Basically, if you’ve ever felt bullied into thinking or feeling that you can’t be happy unless you’re thin, well, this book could be for you.

Hell—it is for you!

Anyway, as I was writing the book, I noticed that I, too, had some of the issues, we were addressing, particularly a chronic dissatisfaction with the way I look. My mental loop sounded/sounds something like this: “Gotta get thinner; why aren’t I thinner? Am I fat? I look fat? I ate too much yesterday; today I can’t eat so much; my stomach is big; my clothes feel tight; there’s something wrong with me; I’m fat; there’s something wrong with me; there’s something wrong with me; there’s something wrong …”

Relax. I’m really not nuts. Just vocal about what’s happening inside of me.

So, what’s next? Well, I’ve been looking into some sort of group or one-on-one with somebody who handles this issue well. There’s also the brilliant works of Geneen Roth, which I have plunged into—I’ve adored how she writes about what feelings one is avoiding when turning to food; a food binge, and the like, and how that it was never really about her weight, her size, etc., that the issues that wanted to be dealt with would always be there regardless of her size … that something within her wanted to be expressed, felt and the urge to reach for food instead of feel that feeling, was a delicious sign for her to look deeper and, well, feel. There’s also a man spearheading a national program for men who have these issues.

That’s where I’m at. Looking deeper. Feeling deeper.

About that … I used to think a bunch of chocolate—well, Doritos, bread, cheese, wine—could fix these feelings; this feeling. Now I think the feeling doesn’t really need to be fixed at all—because … if your inner world, your inner universe, is that determined to present you with a swing, it might be best to mood on it for a while.

More soon …

Be careful what you ask for. For years, I’ve been asking the powers that be for guidance, for a sign—God, too many times to count—and/or to be led and shown the way. THE RIGHT WAY. Whatever that is.

I didn’t count on discovering that I have body image issues and, most likely, some kind of eating disorder. I became even more acutely aware of all this earlier this year as I was co-writing my new book, with Dr. Maria Rago, called “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches!” That I would be lead to write a book that directly focused on some of my own issues—priceless.

The book is out now. Indulge.

In the meantime, Thanksgiving weekend. Food. Lots of it.

But this holiday, I didn’t really indulge—that much. I didn’t overeat, something I take some pride in. I just let myself be. And still, even though I ate, what I would consider to be “normal” helpings during meals, I couldn’t help but notice the anxiety I felt when I strolled through some of the men’s clothing stores in Union Square in San Francisco.

Trying on clothes— HELL for anybody suffering from eating and body image disorders.

Your body doesn’t feel like your own. At least mine doesn’t—at times. It feels like this thing I have absolutely no control of; and whose image I often cannot embrace.

So, there I was in Banana Republic, my mind racing, the sadness growing:

“I’m fat. I can’t try on clothes. Maybe when I lose 10 pounds. Maybe then. But not now. Not now when I feel like the Garfield balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade. Certainly not today when my stomach doesn’t feel flat; when I don’t look like a 22-year-old Slim Jimmin’ Twink ringing up people behind the counter; not today when I feel so unattractive and beaten down and

JUST
PLAIN
HUGE!!!!!!!”

Yeah. Thanksgiving Saturday wasn’t a good day for me to step into a clothing store. So I compromised. I bought NORTH of where I felt fat. (Never hurts.) Two nice shirts later, I pranced out of there modestly happy, and all too aware that I got some serious stuff brewing within; stuff that really needs attending to.

And then … this morning: I didn’t really feel fat at all. At least not where I felt fat yesterday.

Am I fat?

No.

But I sure do feel it—most days.

Fat. Skinny. Is there anything right—or wrong—with either? Where did all my judgment come from? When did I allow my entire self-esteem to be controlled by how big, or not big, I feel during the course of a day?

In my new book, we address those suffering from body image disorder; how sometimes they can be shut-ins, closing themselves off from people and events—because, on, say, that certain day, they feel completely inadequate about their body. I recall one day, Maria writing that she knew people who showered with the lights off, mainly because they didn’t want to see there body when they stepped out of the shower.

I was there. (I think, Tuesday? And so many other “Tuesdays” before.)

It’s all perception, of course. But oftentimes, a distorted perception.

I know that there’s nothing wrong with me. There can’t be. That idea doesn’t align with a greater TRUTH.

But I don’t feel as if there’s nothing wrong with me. And that’s the big difference. There’s a huge gap between what I know to be true and what I feel to be true. And someday, I hope to shorten that gap.

For now, each day, as I move through this often frustrating exploration of my own eating and body image issues, I grow more and more fascinated with my mind—and what it’s telling me

… vs. what is really so.

Filling ME Up.

Posted: October 17, 2010 in Uncategorized

I once wrote that some of the best gifts in life come unwrapped: no curly ribbons or bows; no gift-wrapping. They arrive, for some, in the form of curious curve balls–lovely things life tosses our way. It’s up to us what we do with what’s tossed our way.

Which brings me to the here and now.

My journey to this blog actually began more than two years ago. My high school friend, Maria Rago, was visiting San Francisco. We’d been in good touch over the years. Actually, we grew up across the street from each other–she, her sister and I used to pal around and ponder the world, our parents’ behaviors, and so much more. During the visit, Maria caught me up on all the things she was doing with her eating disorders program at Linden Oaks Hospital in Naperville, Illinois. I was so intrigued with one program she launched, dubbed Real Meals, that I wanted to write about. I did and it made its way into the pages of Oprah Magazine. Afterward, Maria and I began discussing the possibility of a book that tackled issues of eating disorders and body image disorders, among other things (loving your body, enjoying food, “thinness” does not magically spawn happiness forever after), and the result came to be “Shut Up, Skinny Bitches! The Common Sense Guide To Following Your Hunger and Your Heart.” Release date: Early December.

Enter the curve ball.

What I didn’t anticipate in writing the book with Maria was that I would come face to face with my own issues surrounding body image and eating. I was an overweight tween and teen. I was mortified every time my mother took me shopping at the boy’s department at Sears, mostly because every visit forced us to go deeper into the nether regions of plus-size pants section for boys, politely labeled “HUSKY.” Maybe it was me, but that area of the department seemed shove into a corner. (Yeah, I think it was me.) Anyway, I never could seem to fit into those jeans. I dreaded zipping up, because zipping up became a major workout. My Polish ass was growing. My stomach was getting bigger. I hated the way I looked.

Hello Hell.

As an adult, I dieted and my weight flucuated but I found a nice plateau where me and my body seemed more in balance (for longer durations than in the past). But as Maria and I wrote our book, I found myself nervous and frustrated and I soon began binge-eating more often, something I had always done over the years but moreso during this time. I could only conclude that in writing the book I was touching a raw nerve. I was, in some way, rubbing up against my own issues. And it didn’t feel comfortable. (Not all growth is.)

Last week, I sat down with a professional to begin trying to understand some of the deeper layers of what’s going on inside of me. The woman I met with was an art therapist who dealt with eating disorders and body image disorder. An enlightening meeting to say the least. (When all else fails, draw. I tell you, you’ll find out something new about yourself.)

What I am most curious about today is not so much the food I wind up eating, or bingeing on … I’m fascinated with what is behind that behavior to do so. Could I be hungry for something I don’t even realize? What is it that is wanting to be fed to such a degree that I could “black out” and eat an entire pie or a huge bag of Doritos?

Author Geneen Roth, whom I recently interviewed, talks about this sort of thing in “Women Food and God.” (A stellar, enlightening read. Get it.)

Another curve ball.

During the last week, after the meeting with the specialist, I noticed something different. For longer durations during the last few days, I felt as if I was meeting myself–like, really my SELF–somewhere new. It felt as if I was touching a pure, undiscovered part of me that had been screaming for attention. I want to give it to that part of myself and so … I go on … learning how … day by day …

More on all this later, but for now, I’ve taken the advise from the art therapist. I purchased an art journal and some colored chalk. Yesterday I drew something. A stick figure. In the midsection, in the colors red, orange and yellow, I drew a bunch of large circles. I colored some gaps in. The stick figure looked as if it were attached in its midsection by behind a giant beach ball.

I felt “fat” yesterday. (Now … how the hell did that F word become such a “bad” one?)

And today? … I’ll suppose I’ll learn more about that when I draw more.

Stay tuned …
Thanks for reading…
Eat up …

Hello World! Eat Up! Round One.

Posted: October 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

So … it’s the first day of a new day of a day I never thought would arrive—the day that seems to have me officially exploring my own Eating Disorder and Body Image Disorder.

Why?

Well, be careful what you ask for.

I’ve been a writer for years and for years, I’ve asked for guidance on what to write about, often following my own instincts. I’ve done well and continue to evolve both professionally and personally. But then … one day, some time in late 2007, a colleague and friend of mine, Maria Rago, PhD, told me about an eating disorder program she runs in Naperville, Illinois. One ongoing event she orchestrated, REAL MEALS, captivated me so much that I wrote about for Oprah Magazine. (In a nutshell: Dr. Rago took her eating disorder patients to feed the homeless in the shelter. She oversaw people with food issues, buying food, preparing food and serving food to people who needed food. It helped the patients see the universal value of food and took them, even if was brief, out of their disorder and right into the benefits of giving service.)

Flashforward: I had been asking for a “sign” for my writing. Somehow, Maria and I decided to write a book, dubbed SHUT UP, SKINNY BITCHES! which tackled eating disorders, body image disorders, why dieting doesn’t work and much more. But during the process of writing the book with her, I found myself binge eating more than usual. I love that I said “more than usual.” I have always binged… not daily, but it seems to happen after much restricting of foods … after failed attempts of controlling my body, my weight, my food intake.  And, mostly, whenever I feel consumed with emotions that I’m convinced I cannot deal with.

Co-writing the book made me nervous. I was irritated. The Swings mooded and I swung on them relentlessly. Why was this happening? It would only be after going through the editing process of the book that I realized just how deep my own Eating Disorder/body image disorder might actually be. Somehow, I had been guided to write about an issue that I was struggling with. I began to wonder: How did I view myself—really? Inside and out?  

Suddenly, I was fascinated. A door had opened.

And now … I’m walking through it.

My intention here is to write about my own experiences surrounding food and body image. Perhaps it can create new conversations–within my own psyche, and with others experiencing the same thing.

Thanks for stopping by …
More to consume soon …