[Valid Atom 1.0] Life With Cake: Eating Disorder Blog

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Attention Followers! Moving Blog To My Personal Website!!!!

Hi Everyone!!! Just wanted to say THANK YOU so much for following me all of this time on Blogger! I just launched my website. I also just launched a facebook page for my memoir that just came out--Something Spectacular: The True Story of a Rockette's Battle with Bulimia. Also, I have a new Twitter Page!

Check it out!

Website: http://www.gretagleissner.com

Blog: http://www.gretagleissner.com/blog/

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/SomethingSpectacularBook

Twitter: @gretagleissner

Monday, May 28, 2012

Memoir Release!

Hi Everyone, Just wanted to let you know that my memoir, Something Spectacular: The True Story of a Rockette's Battle with Bulimia, will be released online May 29th! Check out a preview on Amazon.com or B&N.com :)

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Pie in the Sky

Recently there has been a similar theme in several of the clients I work with. I guess the easiest way to describe it is that many have great difficulty imagining what recovery and freedom from the eating disorder looks like since they are in the beginning of their process.

I had one client say, "Recovery is like some 'Pie in the Sky' concept. I hear all of these people talk about what their experiences with EDs were like and how great their life is now. But what I don't hear is HOW their life got to be so wonderful."

It can be so difficult in new recovery to imagine how life can feel safe and fulfilling in the absence of the eating disorder. Just HOW is one supposed to deal with thoughts of emptiness, shame, guilt, self-loathing, body image issues, etc. The HOW is the work and it isn't always fun to do.

I am on the other side of this. HOW I got to where I am in recovery today is by identifying the psychodynamic issues, identifying my beliefs about myself around those issues, challenging my belief system, being willing to look at alternative perspectives, incorporating a new thought process and belief system into my daily life, implementing new coping mechanisms, and practicing not using ED symptoms. WOW, that's a bit exhausting just writing it!! BUT... it is SOOOOO worth it!!! And possible!

Coupled with this, it is imperative to have a desire to change, believe you have an ability to change, believe there is a reason to change, and believe there is a need to change, then YOU can commit to your recovery. Of the four areas in bold, if you feel ambivalent about any of those areas then that can be a good place to start the "HOW" work.

The "HOW" is about what you do on a daily basis. Making small, attainable goals is what I have found to be most helpful. Where are you in the process???

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Patience and Perseverance is Key!

So often I hear patients in early recovery questioning whether it is really working because they don't feel better already. They share their discouragement about how they are working really hard and discuss just how hard it is to not engage in their eating disorder.

The first thing I usually ask is how long have they been working on their recovery versus the length of time being in the eating disorder. The answer is usually along the lines of, "Well, I've been in my ED for 5 years and have been in recovery for two months." Most often a smile appears on their faces shortly thereafter as they realize that it might be unrealistic to expect complete satisfaction with their lives after such a short period in recovery.

I remember when I was in early recovery thinking similarly. Recovery is difficult and it often feels unnatural in the beginning--simply because it is! It's hard to use coping mechanisms that are healthy when you're so used to relying on the ED to deal with your emotions. How courageous of you to be willing to do the work!! AND, it DOES get EASIER over time.

I had a philosophy professor that put it like this: Your mind is like a muscle. Thinking differently is like going back to exercising after an injury. At first it is hard, it may even hurt, and you may not want to go back to the gym. But, with some patience and perseverance, it gets easier. You may even start to feel stronger.

Recovery thinking is exactly the same. The more you do it, the easier it gets, and the stronger you feel about your recovery.

How are you feeling about recovery today???

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Vogue Advocating For EDs...An Airbrushed Reality?

I want to believe that it's true, but my cynical side has some serious doubts. Last week, Vogue announced that it will no longer knowingly use models who are under the age of 16 or who look like they have eating disorders.

If the fashion world is defining what an eating disorder "looks like," I question how different the models strutting down the runway will look. Unless the lens of the fashion world has lasic surgery, correcting their long-held distortions and dysmorphia, I question how corrective this measure can actually be. "Who" and "what" measure will solidify the distinction between what defines unhealthy for magazine standards? I highly doubt they will be pulling out the DSM to see the critieria of anorexia nervosa.

To their credit, I do applaud Vogue for putting Scarlett Johansson and Adele on recent covers. They also get points for at least being thoughtful enough to say that they will "structure mentor programs" to help endorse their new "Health is Beauty" concept.

If Vogue follows through and this is not just hype, then this could have huge implications for influencing what impressionable girls, adolescents, and young women strive for. Moreover, it has the potential to change the visual, social, and emotional landscape for what one defines as beautiful and successful.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

"Urge Surfing"

An important concept the patients learn at Renfrew is Urge Surfing. That is, you ride the wave of the urge to use ED symptoms until it passes. For so many years, I couldn't see that there was a psychological surfboard on which I could ride the crashing waves of my urges and cravings. I would have a thought to binge or purge and it would automatically send me into the action. As if I didn't have a choice. I could have saved years of time wasted on the ED if I had been willing to wait out the emotional storm.

Urge surfing takes SO MUCH practice! It is much like real surfing in that when you first get on the board to surf the urge, you feel afraid, uneasy, and off balance for not giving into the ED behaviors you're so used to. But the more you practice getting back on the board and do the balancing act of recovery, which means resisting those urges, the more steady and grounded you will feel when urge surfing. The waves actually become less intense because you gain confidence in your ability to urge surf the more you do it.

In order to surf your urges, you have to know that YOU don't have to be defeated by them! It is SO hard to remember in the moment that a thought or an urge doesn't mean you throw in your beach towel! It means you get on your board and get ready to ride the wave of the urge. It is an OPPORTUNITY to strengthen your recovery. Don't wait until tomorrow ... you may get swept under the wave, never seeing tomorrow. Start to surf those urges TODAY!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Abyss of Bad Body Image...Don't Get Sucked Under!

How many times in your life have you been having a perfectly pleasant day and then suddenly find yourself drowning in negative body image? In an instant, you feel like X body part has tripled in size even though, rationally, you know that is not possible. Over the course of my life, throughout relapse and recovery, I have had countless moments like this. Every therapist I have gone to throughout my life told me that "body image is the last thing to go" in ED recovery. As a therapist working with ED clients, I endorse this train of thought as well.

Given our culture, I don't know that body image ever fully dissipates. The notion that in order to be successful and beautiful you must be skinny penetrates every media outlet. So, everywhere you go, watch, and read the message is clear. Plenty of women without EDs have moments of "feeling fat" or thinking their quality of life would improve if their pants were just a bit looser. Rationally we know that this is not true, but our minds--ED or not--are not always rational. So, even after years in recovery or being fully recovered, there may be momentary flashes of negative body images.

I would be misrepresenting myself if I said that I don't ever experience body image issues. However, the major difference today is HOW I CHOOSE TO RESPOND. Today when that negative voice tries to disrupt my happiness, I realize that I have a choice. I can choose to listen to it and really get into self-hatred. Or, I can choose to not listen, knowing that nothing good can come out of it. If it pervades and tries to lure me further by giving me a sudden awareness of a certain body part, I have to really ask myself what else is going on? If I am okay with my body one minute, but having issues the next, then, clearly, this is not about body image.

My clients often ask me, so HOW do you choose not to engage in negative body image??? Here are a few actions that work for me:
1.) I recognize that I am having negative thoughts about my body.
2.) I explore possible explanations as to why the thoughts are occurring at this particular moment. Many might think that there are no explanations, and that it "just happens." I encourage you to dig a bit deeper with this. Even if it is ED talking and thus doesn't need explanations, ED is not a separate entity that lives in your brain. It may feel like that, however, you are the only person that is actually thinking and listening to your thoughts.

3.) I MAKE A DECISION NOT TO ENGAGE. More than that, I have to ask myself, DO I WANT TO ENGAGE IN SELF-LOVE OR SELF-HATRED TODAY??? This is what it really comes down to. It might feel like you haven't any choice, but YOU DO!!! I'm not saying it is easy, but you can do this. It is difficult to want to choose self-love when it is so comfortable to emotionally beat yourself up. Recovery from negative body image is hard work, but it is far from impossible!