Guest Blog Post: Thine Own Self

  • posted by Marci Anderson
  • Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The following post is written by my dear friend and colleague Alex Amorosi. He is a registered yoga teacher and all around amazing human being. He maintains a phenomenal blog here. Enjoy this post he wrote about the art of listening to and responding to the core of your authentic self. And if you love this post as much as I do, definitely check out more of his writing. My most recent favorite is The Fitness Trap.


Each of us has a core of authenticity that we must honor. The authenticity guides us each day, it watches out for us, and makes sure that we never get too far off track.

In the movie "The Matrix" the character Trinity tells the character Neo, "The Matrix cannot tell you who you are", a way of saying, "The world cannot define you." I remember back into days when I really had no clue who I was on the inside and I looked to the world to define me. I wanted my job, or my things, or my relationships to give me a sense of self. It's like having chameleon skin on the inside, never being able to access what is right for myself, always looking to have that defined by the outside. When the outside defines us, we are never secure because the outside is constantly in a state of flux. Our sense of self is never secure because we are not guiding ourselves by a steady and reliable compass.

Underneath this sort of inner chameleon stuff is usually a powerful sense of guilt and fear. I was always afraid that if I were true to myself, I would hurt people. In fact, in being true to myself, I have hurt people. There is nothing that causes me a greater sense of guilt than feeling that someone is in pain because of something I have done. However, when we are truthful in the name of authenticity to who we are, we are actually acting in the most compassionate way possible. Why would we allow ourselves to continue on a road that we clearly know will not serve us? And why would we drag someone else down that road with us? Authenticity demands that we step up to the plate and do what is right. And, as we all know from the cliché, what's right is almost never easy.

We have become so used to listening to outside sources in our culture that we have lost touch with who we are. We are more accustomed to listening to advertising than listening to ourselves. We want someone else or the world to tell us what's right and what we should want. In the yoga world this translates to what I call the "guru trap". We look to our teachers to define the parameters of what is right and wrong, good and bad. We want the teacher to have all the responsibility. And, there are many teachers all too eager to step right into that role. It's a very seductive place for yoga teachers because it makes the teachers feel needed and valuable. But newsflash teachers, it's not about you so get over it, get your validation from yourself not from your classes. The most effective teacher is one who guides you to your own guidance, not one who proclaims they have an answer that you need.

Who we are is who we are. We must be who we are. We must accept who we are, and when we do, then we can let everyone else be who they are. We don't need to, as Marianne Williamson puts it, "police the universe" anymore. We can relax and know that when we are true to who we are, and others are true to who they are, we are all much happier. It doesn't mean we all have to join hands and sing Kumbaya, but it does mean that we can let ourselves and everyone else be. It means that we might finally know that we are ok exactly as we are, and that nothing is more important than to simply be who we are. Trust your own core of authenticity and you will never get far off course, it is always your true and steady compass.

New Years Tips

  • posted by Marci Anderson
  • Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's is often a time of self-reflection and goal setting. So I thought I'd share a couple of tips for you to consider in anticipation of the new year that is upon us.


Tip #1

Consider accepting yourself as you are right now. I can hear all of your objections as you read that first sentence. I can't accept myself as I am- I'm too fat, I'm too ugly, I'm too lazy, I'm too... People often mistake acceptance with stagnation. If I accept myself I'll never change. But that's the crazy thing- acceptance is what actually creates the most effective change. Acceptance allows us to take stock of reality as it is in the here and now and make the best possible decisions based on that reality. If you're interested, you can read more about self-acceptance here

From my perspective one of the most difficult areas people have trouble accepting is their body or physical appearance. I have pre-ordered a book "Living with Your Body and Other Things You Hate" by Emily Sandoz and Troy DuFrene. It utilizes ACT- Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. As the name indicates, acceptance of what is, is at the core of living a more fulfilled life. I hope you'll check it out too.

If you need some more inspiration for body acceptance, check out this incredibly powerful interview with Ellen DeGeneres and model Robyn Lawley. As Ellen points out- as women we aren't supposed to say, I'm comfortable with my body. And THAT is hugely problematic. They take acceptance one step further and talk about body love, which I realize is a hard message to swallow for many of you. At the end of the clip, Robyn also mentions the fact that we shouldn't comment so freely on other people's bodies. I agree whole-heartedly, which takes me to...

Tip #2

Stop gossiping and commenting on other people's appearance, especially those near and dear to you. A client sent me this Q&A from The Boston Globe. A reader wanted to get advice on how to handle her family's gossip and criticism about her weight. Your body is your business and nobody's else's. Unnecessary body talk creates discomfort and hurt feelings that creates walls of defense and avoidance to be erected. Instead, why not discuss the things we are doing and thinking about instead.

I hope 2014 holds the promise of health and healing for each of you. What tips would you share with me and the other readers of this blog?


Weight Stigma Awareness Week

  • posted by Marci Anderson
  • Sunday, September 22, 2013

Weight Stigma is judgment or stereotyping based on one’s weight, shape and/or size.

If you don't think that weight stigma has anything to do with you, please keep reading. It's the number one form of bullying and discrimination in the United States today.

A scientific study of 170,000 people showed that feeling fat is worse for your health than being fat
Research has shown that people are less likely to help fat people after a road accident and more likely to find them guilty when on trial
Physicians are less willing to prescribe tests and lab work for fat people
The majority of fat people avoid seeing a doctor for fear of being ridiculed, judged or otherwise mistreated
The likelihood of being bullied is 63% higher for obese children
The #1 source of weight stigma and bullying is from family and friends

Our communal stigmatization of overweight and obese people is exacerbating physical and mental illness. This week is Weight Stigma Awareness Week. Please, take the challenge to look within yourself. Only as individuals can we obliterate weight stigma. 

1. Examine your own biases
2. Challenge your own beliefs
3. Get educated
4. Speak up
5. Refrain from weight talk
6. Take great care of yourself 
7. Diversity, including body diversity, is a beautiful thing

The Binge Eating Disorder Association has created a week PACKED with online events to increase awareness about weight stigma. You can also check out the WSAW toolkits. Yours truly contributed by writing articles specific to weight stigma and nutrition counseling. 

Everyone deserves to feel safe enough to walk outside their house and to be treated with dignity and respect. Commit this week to confront your own prejudice and commit to compassion rather than hate.

Guest Post: Obesity as a Disease

  • posted by Marci Anderson
  • Tuesday, July 30, 2013

This article was written by Joanne Sauer, LCSW.  She currently is taking graduate classes at Plymouth State University to further her knowledge and work to help patients diagnosed with Eating Disorders. She works as a Social Worker at the Albany NY VA Hospital.  She also works part time for a managed care company as a Care Manager.  Her interests include caring for her numerous animals, running, reading, kayaking and spending time with family and friends.

As widely reported on network television, the internet and in major newspapers such as the LA Times and the NY times, after much debate the AMA voted to declare obesity a disease with a primary goal of changing the way the medical community evaluates and treats up to 78 million American adults and 12 million children.  The debate centers around whether this action would help people have better access to treatment or whether it would contribute to further stigmatize a condition that is not always easily defined.

There are no real legal ramifications with this vote.  It is more of a declaration.  It is hoped that physicians will communicate more with patients the health related concerns related to

obesity.   Insurance companies will most likely be pressured to increase reimbursements for medical care said to be related to obesity including bariatric surgery, diabetes management, dietary counseling and weight-loss programs.

As cited by Holes-Lewis and Malcolm, there is research that indicates obesity to be associated with related conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, sleep apnea, stroke and certain types of cancer.   However, there is also research that shows that people who are considered overweight can be healthy.  For example, a 2010 study found that middle-aged men who engage in regular exercise are less likely to suffer an early death independent of their Body Mass index.  A recent study by the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism found that obese individuals are not more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease or experience early death than normal weight individuals.  22,203 men and women from Scotland and England were followed for an average of 7 years.

Where does this lead in regards to the big business of weight loss, a massive industry where billions of dollars are spent every year?    It can be speculated that companies will step up their marketing efforts for various diet books, foods, exercise equipment and other interventions.  The media will probably add to their marketing campaigns something that attempts to convey the medical imperative importance of losing weight and avoiding obesity.  The pharmacological industry will certainly benefit as weight loss drugs including the most recent additions to the weight loss arsenal:  lorcaserin (Belviq) and phentermine-topiramate (Qsymia) are increasingly marketed and sold.

It would benefit us as Americans as we focus on healthy eating and lifestyle habits, to remember we are all unique and special.  We can be healthy in all shapes and sizes.  The debate still remains whether obesity is considered a disease.   We know our standard measurement tool, the BMI, has flaws and incorrectly measures children, adolescents and the elderly.    We look forward to the benefits that the AMA declaration will afford those who would benefit from medical treatment that will lead to a longer life.  Positive interventions can include increase in physical activity and behavioral modification as cited by Eckel in his article Nonsurgical Management of Obesity in Adults.  Will the AMA declaration also affect healthy, happy Americans who may have a higher BMI in a negative way?  We need to be diligent to ensure people are not judged, stigmatized, directed towards treatment that isn’t needed or made to feel their body is imperfect. 

Since the AMA readily admitted concern over the possibility of increased stigma over higher weight with their declaration, it would be to their benefit to include in their recommendations the need for less emphasis on BMI with more emphasis on education regarding healthy diet, lifestyle and choices which contribute to our physical, emotional and spiritual health.   

References

Eckel, Robert H, MD; Nonsurgical Management of Obesity in Adults, The New England Journal of Medicine, 358:18, May 2008.

Hamer, Mark and Stamatakis, Emmanuel; Metabolically Healthy Obesity and Risk of all-cause and Cardiovascular Disease Mortality, Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, 97 (7): 2482, July 2012.

Holes-Lewis, KA and O’Neil, Malcom R; Pharmacotherapy of Obesity:  Clinical Treatments and Considerations,  American Journal Medicine Science, 345 (4): 284-8, April 2013

DIY Vision Boards

  • posted by Marci Anderson
  • Tuesday, March 12, 2013

By Elizabeth Jarrard- Registered Dietitian at Marci RD Nutriton

Do you surround yourself with inspiration? Are reminders of your goals staring you in the face when you wake up, when you head out the door? What would happen if they were that close? What would happen if you were constantly reminded of where you want to go in this life, and how you're going to get there? I wouldn't think of traveling to somewhere unknown without a map (or my gps) in tow. So what if we map out what our dreams look like so that we end up at our destination-not lost forever.

 

Vision boards can be a great tool for getting back in touch with what our goals are and where we are headed. The act of creating them should be meditative, soothing and almost therapeautic, as you find images and words that resonate you with. Then when you have finalized it (for the time being), you can hang it as a constant reminder of where you are and where you would like to go. And of course because we are fluid, and our goals and dreams are ever changing it's important to create new vision boards to serve those changed desires.

Making a vision board is easy.

 

1. Gather a large piece of construction or any other "heavy" paper
2. Find a bunch of magazines (from a variety of genres. Beauty, travel, food, you name it!
3. In a peaceful place scour the magazines for words and images that resonate with you and cut them out
4. Arrange the images and phrases on the paper and use good ol' glue or modpodge to adhere them
5. Hang in a prominent place to be forever reminded of where you are heading


I surround my desk with vision boards of past and present

Have you ever made a vision board? How has it helped you? Care to share?